Category: repentance

Easter

We remember Easter foremost for the resurrection. The Lord remembers it foremost for the suffering in Gethsemane. In 1829, the Lord shared His reflection in a revelation to Joseph:

Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit. (D&C 19:15-20.)

It was important for the Lord to attain the resurrection, for it completed the process that frees mankind from death. But it was more important for the Lord to free us from sin. Because of what He accomplished in Gethsemane, we are able to be reconciled to God. It was “sore… exquisite… hard to bear…” and caused Him to “tremble because of pain,” and ask His Father that He might not drink the bitter cup. It caused the “greatest of all” to “shrink” away from the abyss of suffering.

By partaking anyway, and despite His desire to be spared, He “finished [His] preparations unto the children of men.” It was only “preparation” of an atonement because we are required in turn to receive its benefit through baptism and repentance. If we are unwilling to do this then it is as if no atonement were made for our sins, and we then are called upon to likewise suffer. The Lord has explained that if we refuse to repent then “our sufferings shall be sore.” Almost incomprehensibly difficult for us to bear.

The greatest response to the Easter celebration would be repentance and baptism.

Come Unto Christ

Immediately before taking Peter, James and John to the Mount of Transfiguration, the Lord prophesied there were “some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt. 16:28.) This He fulfilled on the Mount when these three were shown the day of the earth’s transfiguration at His coming. (D&C 63:20-21.) One of the Lord’s gifts to many of His disciples is to show them His coming, judgment of the wicked, and redemption of the righteous.

In the final days of His earthly ministry, He was approached by His disciples in private and asked for an explanation of His coming in glory. The group who approached Him included men and women followers. (Matt. 24:3.) He then told them plainly about His return. We have two restored accounts of His lesson: D&C 45:16-59; and the re-translated version of Matthew 24 (JS-Matthew in the Pearl of Great Price). In both, He refers to “holy places” where His disciples will stand “and shall not be moved.” (D&C 45:32.) They will first be gathered by Christ, who “shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (JS-Matt. 1:37.) These are “they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, to bring as many as will come to the church of the Firstborn.” (D&C 77:11.)

The Lord’s return is always a subject He wants us to keep in mind. All the latter-day events that will mark the time for His return will happen in a single generation. (D&C 45:30; JS-M 1:34.) Therefore, when that generation begins to witness the signs of His coming, they should prepare so the return of the Master does not find them abusing others. (Matt. 24:44-51; JS-Matt. 1:49-55.)

Among the gentiles, the “covenant” will only be established in His church. He defines His church as “whosoever is baptized unto repentance.” (Mosiah 26:22.) More clearly, in our day He has said, “Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same in my church.” (D&C 10:67.) As Christ promised to those living on this land, “But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto who I have given this land for their inheritance; And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.” (3 Ne. 21:22-23.)

Covenants can be broken. By changing the ordinances covenants are broken. (Isa. 24:5.) No organization exists with an intact covenant, but there are messengers the Lord has chosen and sent, preaching and offering the Lord’s covenant through baptism. Salvation is not related to joining an institution, but it is dependent on repentance and receiving baptism at the hands of those He has sent. There is a website where baptism can be requested by one with authority. Baptism can be received even if one chooses to worship with Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslins, or Mormons. Faith in Christ and covenant with Him does not require anyone to be part of an organization run by men. It requires repentance and faith in Christ.

I am sent as another witness to testify He will return. Signs have been, and are being given both in the heavens and on earth. Today there are “false Christs, and false prophets,” who are doing their work “that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (JS-Matt. 1:22.) The elect are only protected “according to the covenant.” (JS-Matt. 1:20, 22.) He has authorized baptism as His own covenant to preserve all who receive it. I have seen His return and I know this newly offered baptism will be respected at His return by those who will return with Him. Baptism is offered as a covenant between you and the Lord. There are no institutional demands made upon you as a result of receiving the ordinance. It is an invitation to renew your relationship with Christ and take an act of faith to show Him you keep Him in your heart.

There is a requirement to record on earth so it can be recorded in heaven. (Rev. 20:12; D&C 128:6-9.) Because it must be recorded, the recorder’s clearinghouse allows you to submit your name on-line. The record consists of only a name, without any contact information. These names are kept confidential.

If, on this journey, you find yourself looking for fellowship with like-minded people, the fellowship locator allows you to locate, or announce your own fellowship and invite others to share in worship. These are voluntary associations and anyone can choose to participate.

Every nation, kindred, tongue and people, black and white, male and female, young and old, are invited to be baptized. There is no charge, and you make no commitment to men. You only covenant to follow Christ.

He is aligning events to complete His work, and the signs of His return are being given to this generation. The time will soon come when it will not be possible to receive this invitation any longer. Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance.

Forgiving to be Forgiven

Once you begin to repent the real work commences. God forgives, but retaining forgiveness requires that we follow Him. We are not going to develop into His children until we have become acquainted with His way. He tells us what we must do to learn of Him. We must do His work, join in His labor to save souls:

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6: 31-38.)

Once forgiven, we forgive. We take on ourselves the role of the intercessor by accepting the shame and abuse of this world, and both forgive and pray for those who give offenses. Through this, we come to understand our Lord because we are like Him.

This is what we see in Lehi. After learning of God’s impending judgments against Jerusalem, he prayed on behalf of “his people” (those who were condemned) with “all his heart.” 1 Ne. 1: 5. His example can be found mirrored in all who repent. They display His grace by what they suffer for His cause.

Christ taught who He was, then lived the example of what a redeemed life would be. He sacrificed Himself. Similarly His followers sacrifice themselves. Perhaps not by dying, as He did and as Joseph did, and as Steven did, and Paul, and Peter, and Abinadi and Hyrum. But by the way they live – taking offenses and forgiving. This is how we obtain broken hearts and contrite spirits, because this world is always at war with the Saints of God. Here the Children of God are strangers and sojourners.

Time Required to Repent

Repentance does not require a time period. Look at Alma the Younger, the sons of Mosiah, and the Apostle Paul. Now these were encounters with God, but so were the conversions of many of the Lamanites. (Alma 18: 40-42; 22: 18, among others.)

The Lord tells you to repent. If you do, He remembers your sins no longer. Confess and forsake them, and you will be forgiven. (D&C 58: 42-43.) Or, in other words, change. Turn away from your sins and face God instead.

All those labors performed by Alma the Younger, the sons of Mosiah, and the Apostle Paul, after repentance, were not to obtain forgiveness. They were the “fruit” of repentance, or the result of the new direction that they were heading. (See Matt. 3: 8; Luke 3: 8; Alma 5: 62; 13: 13; Moroni 8: 24-26.)

God alone forgives. His forgiveness is not dependent on your good works; your good works are proof of His forgiveness. (Helaman 12: 24; Gal. 5: 22-25.)

Sorting Things Out

We should be more interested in the truth than in just inspiring one another with stories that flatter us, or make us feel we are better than others. We cannot afford the luxury of thinking ourselves right when we believe an error. Promoting “faith” in errors is what the Book of Mormon calls “unbelief.” When we prize our errors and hold them as true when they are not, we dwindle in unbelief. This is a frequent occurance throughout the Book of Mormon, and results in the inability to understand God’s word. (Mosiah 26: 1-3.)

We cannot afford to be popular. The price is too high. We cannot turn away from truth even when it causes us painful and difficult repentance. We must not shrink away from what is required to remove the scales from our eyes.

I thought I had said all I needed on the topic of plural marriage, but a friend has loaned me a copy of the multi-volume work of Arnold Boss on the history of plural marriage. It is apparent more needs to be said to make the matter clear. Therefore, I am going to return to the subject and history to clarify some things.

As far as I can determine, Arnold Boss is an honest man. I do not question his ability to record and report what he has recorded in his account. I accept his account of the interview in 1929 of Lorin C. Woolley, meaning that I trust the interview took place and that Arnold Boss accurately reported the contents of that interview. The defect does not lie with Arnold Boss, but in the account told by Lorin C. Woolley.

Assuming they are interested in the truth, I will lay this matter out in a series of posts that I think will be helpful to the Fundamentalist community. I have been acquainted with this event for over twenty years. 


Here is the account given by Woolley in the interview recorded by Arnold Boss on September 22, 1929. I leave the punctuation and spellings as in the original. The “guard” speaking in the narrative is Lorin C. Woolley. He is relating to Arnold Boss the events that took place on the night of September 26-27, 1886 involving church president John Taylor. This is what purportedly occurred during the night of September 26-27, 1886:

That evening I was called to act as guard during the first part of the night, notwithstanding the fact that I was greatly fatigued on account of the three days trip I had just completed.
The brethren retired to bed soon after nine o’clock. The sleeping rooms were inspected by the guard as was the custom. President Taylor’s room had no outside door. The windows were heavily screened.
Sometime after the brethren retired and while I was reading the Doctrine and Covenants, I was suddenly attracted to a light appearing under the door leading to President Taylor’s room, and was at once startled to hear the voices of men talking there. There were three distince voices. I was bewildered because it was my duty to keep people out of that room and evidently some one had entered without my knowing it. I made a hasty examination and found the door leading to the room bolted as usual. I then examined the outside of the house and found all the window screens were intact. While examining the last window, and feeling greatly agitated, a voice spoke to me, saying, “Can’t you feel the spirit? Why should you worry?”
At this I returned to my post and continued to hear the voices in the room. They were so audible that although I did not see the parties I could place their positions in the room from the sound of the voices. The three voices continued until about midnight, when one of them left, and the other two continued. One of them I recognized as President Taylor’s voice. I called Charles Birrell and we both sat up until eight o’clock the next morning.
When President Taylor came out of his room about eight o’clock of the morning of September 27, 1886, we could scarcely look at him on account of the brightness of his appearance.
He stated, “brethren, I have had a very pleasant conversation all night with brother Joseph.” (Joseph Smith) I said, “Boss, who is the man that was there until midnight?” He asked, “what do you know about it Lorin?” I told him all about my experience. He said, Brother Lorin, that was your Lord.”
We had no breakfast, but assembled ourselves in a meeting. I forgot who opened the meeting. I was called to offer benediction. I think, my father John W. Woolley, offered the opening prayer. There were present at this meeting, In addition to President Taylor, George Q. Cannon, L. John Nuttal, John W. Wooley, Samuel Bateman, Charles H. Wilkins, Charles Birrell, Daniel R. Bateman, bishop Samual Sedden, George Earl, My mother Julia E. Woolley, my sister, Amy Woolley, and myself. The meeting was held from about nine o’clock in the morning until five in the afternoon without intermission, being about eight hours in all.
President Taylor called the meeting to order. He had the manifesto, that had been prepared under direction of George Q. Cannon, read again. Then he put each person under covenant that he or she would defend the principle of Celestial or Plural marriage, and that they would consecrate their lives, liberty and property to this end, and that they personally would sustain and uphold that principle.

[I skip several pages to get to the part most important to the Fundamentalist movement:]

John Taylor set five apart and gave them authority to perform marriage ceremonies, and also to set others apart to do the same thing as long as they remeined on earth; and while doing so the prophet Joseph Smith stoood by directing the proceedings. Two of us had not met the prophet Joseph Smith in theis mortal life, and we, Charles H. Wilkins and myself, were introduce to him and shook hands with him.

Because of what I know and what the scriptures relate, this account, though I believe faithfully recorded by Arnold Boss, is riddled with errors. Lorin C. Woolley has embellished the account, and his additions reveal the fraud. We will go through some of the many errors in a series of posts to show why it is false.

There is a principle important and binding on all of us: The things given us by the Lord should never be overstated. They should be given without embellishment, additions, or interpolations. They are not ours, but the Lord’s. When He entrusts us with something (or anything), then it is our duty to faithfully perform and to keep everything within the bounds the Lord set. Our additions detract from the Lord’s work. Joseph constantly understated his experiences. This is one of the signs he is telling us truth.
It is in the embellishment that Lorin C. Woolley reveals this is a dishonest account. And this event is critical for those who want to claim they can still practice plural marriage, because the authority has remained in the Fundamentalist groups.

Miscellaneous

In response to comments:
The deaths of Joseph and Hyrum were necessary. The older brother as prophet-priest died first, and the younger brother as priest-king died second. The prophecies, including many of Jesus’ parables about the end times, lay out two incompatible processes that were to happen.

In one, the gospel “net” extends to catch anything it can. This requires an aggressively marketed latter-day church whose sweep is non-exclusive and non-exclusionary. It must gather into itself “all manner of fish,” some are good and some are bad.

In the other, the angels will pick through the “net” and gather out of it “the good” fish to be kept. It is exclusive and it is exclusionary. It comes only after the widely cast net has first gathered.

Doesn’t matter if you read the parable of the Ten Virgins, or the vineyard, the theme is the same: There are two latter-day processes. If you didn’t kill Joseph and Hyrum, and you left intact the process which would have created Zion, then the larger, public outreach seeking to gather anyone into the “net” would have ended. The smaller, more restrictive gathering by the angels of only “the good” would have been confined to so small a sample of humanity that the world could complain there wasn’t enough of an opportunity given them.

The world was not ready for Zion. The angels were willing to begin the harvest, but then again, they would have been willing to do that in the New Testament times. (Matt. 13: 28.)
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The reason for the “offer” put up yesterday is to disabuse the notion I am an enemy to the church. I am not. I am its greatest friend. But the “Sunday School” educated saints, who long ago surrendered their minds to others to be controlled, find any effort to deal with the depth, height, width and breadth of the gospel to be frightening. These insecure folks want to complain, rather than stretch or stress themselves by searching into the things required to understand our faith and our faith’s history. Church leaders are very understanding –  until they get alarming reports about people losing faith because of something someone has said or written.

I’ve thought about publishing a sample of the comments that come to me from those whose faith and church activity have been strengthened by what I’ve done, but that seems self-serving and offensive even to me; so I won’t do that. Far, far more people have been helped than harmed by what I’ve written. But even if there is one, I’m willing to help to assist them in their crisis of faith. They deserve to be helped, and if I can help I’m willing to do so.

I got several reports about some of the “often in error but never in doubt” crowd of ‘Mormon experts’ who think I need to be “handled” by the church. At least one with a name you’d all recognize. The offer to meet with others was made to leave no doubt about my sincerity, faithfulness and willingness to do what I can to help keep people active, and inside the church.

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The “awful situation” in Ether 8: 24 certainly has a political, governmental and economic component. But these are all Babylon. They will fail. Fixing them is temporary. Focusing on them can be distracting. What will endure are the souls of men. They need to be reclaimed. That happens through repentance. If they will repent, then as a natural result they will end their involvement with the many political and economic conspiracies presently underway. Attacking them without saving men’s souls is an exercise in futility. This is why I do not bother spending any time writing about them.

God sees their doings. Their secrets are not hidden from Him. To the extent that they revel in their great gains and well laid plans, they are destined for disappointment. We should not be trying to join them, nor to become part of their great system of benefits. Too much of that has distracted the church and its members already.

The cure lies in repentance. Not in politics. We aren’t going to legislate or regulate salvation. The coming violence and captivity will help save men’s souls.

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Prophecies are not given to enable us to understand details of the Lord’s plans in advance. They are not designed to allow you to parse apart God’s plans and know what He plans beforehand. They are only meant to be understood after they have happened. Then, when they have happened, you will understand what God was saying and that He was in control all along.

You should be very careful about settling on a final interpretation of any prophecy because they were not given with that in mind.

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Mortal man is responsible for fulfilling the Gospel. Until they rise up, everything remains unfulfilled. The “Davidic King” is not an identifiable person, nor will he be, until he has accomplished the tasks assigned to the role. Whether anyone will ever rise up to accomplish that is not a matter of destiny, but it is rather a matter of finally accepting and acting consistent with the Lord’s will.

Every dispensation of the Gospel is the “last Dispensation” until it fails. Then another is sent and it is the “last” until it fails. This will continue for so long as man continues to fail. God is in no hurry. Apparently we are not either.

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.

Mosiah 3: 26-27

Mosiah 3: 26-27

“Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; therefore, mercy could have claim on then no more forever.


And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever. Thus has the Lord commanded me. Amen.”

The strong, direful, terrible warnings continue from the angel:

Those who ignore the obligation will, in the afterlife, have:
“drank out of the cup of the wrath of God…”

Notice this is phrased in almost identical language to Christ’s terrible suffering in the atonement. (See 3 Ne. 11: 11; D&C 19: 18.) This is so awful an experience the Lord cannot capture adequately in revelation the words to describe it. (D&C 19: 15.)

“mercy could have claim on them no more forever.”
Meaning that if they choose this path, they will suffer. There will be nothing to mitigate what they will endure. Mercy will not intervene and lessen the ordeal.

How often has the Lord used such terrible phrases to describe the damned as:

“torment as a lake of fire and brimstone”–because we all know the pain of having our skin burned. It quickly conveys the idea of torment into our minds,

“whose flames are unquenchable”–because it will burn away until nothing impure remains,

“whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever”–because this process is eternal and will be the experience of anyone and everyone, worlds without end, who merit this purging and refining fire.

These words from the angel were delivered to a king, to be taught to his people, in a gathering in which all those who attended then covenanted with God. The audience would “have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” (Mosiah 5: 2.)

Why does it require this message from the angel to produce this result?
Could they be saved by praising them, telling them they were chosen and the elect of God?
Could they be saved by telling them they were a royal priesthood?
Could they be saved by telling them that all was well with them, they prosper in the land because God is with them?

Why is it necessary to tell them of hell?
Of damnation?
Of eternal suffering and unquenchable fire?

In The Second Comforter I remarked “there is no veil to our feelings.” That is true, but the feelings one experiences by coming into the presence of God are almost universally fear and dread. The scriptures confirm how fearful this has been to mankind:

To Abraham, it was a “horror” to draw near the Lord. (Gen. 15: 12-13.)
To Isaiah it was woeful, and terrible. (Isa. 6: 5.)
To Daniel and his companions, quaking fell upon them, many fled, leaving Daniel alone. (Dan. 10: 7-8.)
Mormon explains how men react to God’s presence as being “racked with a consciousness of guilt.” (Mormon 9: 3-4.)

When popular mythology constructs fantasies of coming before the Lord, they make it happy – not dreadful. They despise the call to repent because it disagrees with their happy myths. The angel is not overstating the case. He is explaining the great gulf that exists between fallen man and God. (See Moses 1: 10.) The unrepentant and foolish are completely unprepared for God’s presence. (Mormon 9: 2-6.) The words of the angel are attempting to give some indication to the faithful of how deeply, how completely, and how great the scope of repentance must be to avoid the similar pains of death and hell the Lord suffered on our behalf.

We delude ourselves when we think the angel’s message was not meant for all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If the King Benjamin’s audience acquired their salvation by coming down in the depths of humility and repentance (Mosiah 4: 2), then we fool ourselves if we think anything less will be expected of us.

Was the angel bitter? Angry? Harsh? Unkind? Of the wrong “spirit?” Not the kind of messenger we should expect would be sent from God?

Was his message not kind enough? Not inspiring? Not faith promoting?

Can an angel or a prophet ever save anyone if they do not focus on the great burden left for mankind to repent and return to God? Will flattery ever save a man?

Samuel the Lamanite was sent to cry repentance. He put the case clearly to them and to us, but his words are no more comforting than the angel’s words were to King Benjamin and his people:

“Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.

But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.

Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.

O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?” (Hel. 13: 26-29.)

The Apostle Paul described such folks as having “itching ears.” (2 Tim. 4: 3-4.) It is a fairly apt description. These folks think themselves righteous, but they are unrepentant, unforgiven, and unsaved. They follow a religion which cannot save them, because it has become nothing more than a false idol, appealing to their vanity.

Mosiah 3: 25

Mosiah 3:25


“And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls.”

The angel now transitions the message to King Benjamin forward to the time of the final judgment. In that setting he suggests a scene to the unrepentant. Before looking at the words, however, why do you suppose the description is from the vantage point of the damned? Why not from the vantage point of the saved? The final three verses of the message are all viewed from failure, rather than from success. Why?

Is this “negative?”

Does this make you think the angel is offensive? He doesn’t “have the Spirit” with him? That you “don’t get a good feeling” when you listen to his words?

Do you think the angel should be ignored because he makes you “feel bad” by the things he speaks? Would you prefer to hear a “more positive message” Things like this just “can’t be from God” because of how they make you “feel?”

If this is an angel from God speaking, and the above questions reflect your attitude about a message warning you to repent, then perhaps it is your attitude that is wrong – not the angel or his message. Perhaps the annoyance of being awakened from your deep sleep is worth the angel telling you in unmistakable and harsh terms that you are about to be lost if you do not repent. Perhaps the angel would prefer to deliver a hopeful, even lighthearted message, but the words orignate from God. God’s efforts are to bring you to immortality and eternal life. (Moses 1: 39.) Maybe God has a better view of our awful state than do we.

The angel speaks in terms of:
-“consigned to an awful view”
What does this suggest? What would be “awful” about failing to repent? Why is it a “view?” What will we “see” in that day?

-“own guilt and abominations”
Why guilt? What “abominations” attach to every soul who does not repent? Why is religious error, pride in believing falsehoods, and failure to repent always an “abomination?”

-“doth cause them to shrink”
Isn’t this the same agony Christ experience in Gethsemane? (D&C 19: 18.) Why would you “shrink” from the presence of God? What does “shrink” mean?

-“into a state of misery”
Why would you want to withdraw into a state of misery? What is it about failing to repent that causes you to behave this way when judged by God?

-“endless torment from which there can be no return”
Why is this the formula to describe the reaction? (D&C 19: 6-12.) What is it about this experience that will last forever in the mind of anyone who suffers it? (D&C 19: 15-18.) Why would this haunt the person forevermore? Even if it came to an end at some point, why are you “unable to return” from that experience? What trauma is caused by this that can be avoided by repenting?

-“drunk damnation to their souls”
Why this graphic description? What is it about this experience that makes the very soul be damned by the ordeal?

Is the angel overreacting? Is this terrible assortment of adjectives necesssary? Why would God send an angel with this message to King Benjamin (and to us)?

Mosiah 3: 24

Words from God, delivered by someone who is authorized to speak them, “stand as a bright testimony against this people.” (Mosiah 3: 24.) It is a “bright testimony” because it illuminates the wickedness and hard hearts of the people when they reject it. Or, alternatively, it is “bright” because it opens the mind of those who will receive it, and they become enlightened by receiving truth from God. Either way, it is a “bright testimony” and will cut against all who fail to respond by repenting.

The purpose of the message is to make everyone aware of their duty to follow God. That purpose becomes most fully understood “in the judgment day” when the Lord’s messengers stand beside Him. (Moroni 10: 34; 2 Ne. 33: 11.) It will then be obvious who He sent and who pretended to be sent. (Deut. 18: 20.)

The angel then says “every man shall be judged according to his works.” (Mosiah 3: 24.) This means what you “do” in response to the warning to repent is what determines your final fate. Your “works” matter because if you respond by repenting, then you will “work out your salvation.” (Philippians. 2: 12.) If not, then you have procrastinated and will be damned for your failure to work. (Alma 34: 33.)

The symmetry and simplicity of the message is astonishing. Everyone can understand it, but that is never the challenge. The challenge is always whether or not to take it seriously enough to act on it.

Acting on it does not involve a public display. It only involves what goes on inside your heart. You repent before God, and come to Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit and beg for forgiveness. When the Lord forgives, then you change from the inside out. The only real change that matters comes from within. Outward display first is artificial. When a new heart is inside a man, then the outward behavior, and eventually even countenance, will change to reflect what lies within the man.

Given the seriousness of the message, you would think all who hear it would at least consult with God before turning away. However, it has always been the most religious who will not listen to a message of repentance.

Traditions and social reinforcement from others who think alike, all prevent the message to repent from getting through. Instead of a message of repentance, mankind prefers a prophet who tells them they are good. They are justified. They are righteous! They are chosen! God loves them in their sins! They need only pray, pay and obey and all will be well with them! Then people do pay, so that such characters become rich and powerful. (Helaman 13: 26-28.)

There is perhaps no greater revelation of the plan of salvation ever composed than the Book of Mormon. Beginning with Mosiah the text is abridged by Mormon. I think, however, this chapter from Mosiah was left as in the original. What Mormon did here was keep intact the transcript of the angel’s message. I can almost hear it echoing still. Can’t you?

Mosiah 3: 23

“And now I have spoken the words which the Lord God hath commanded me.” (Mosiah 3: 23.)

The angel added nothing. He hid nothing. He delivered what the Lord told him to deliver.

These are not merely the words of an angel. Becuase the angel certifies they originated from God, they are the words of God. (D&C 1: 38.)

When anyone, man or angel, is entrusted with a message from God, the message is God’s. God makes no distinction between the messenger and Himself. The words “shall all be fulfilled.” (Id.)

This system of empowering a messenger with a message, and then holding mankind to account may seem too slender a thread to have power. The truth is that the power is in the words, not in who speaks them. It does not matter that they come from a frail, elderly King from another time who has no authority over us today. It does not matter that he was alone at night with an unnamed angel without a second witness to vindicate the words. It is true and binding because:

1. It agrees with and does not contradict any other message from God.
2. It preaches repentance and warns us of consequences.
3. The words are independently corrobrated by the Spirit, if we read with the Spirit.
4. The words have been certified to us by our own inquiry (Moroni 10: 4-5.)

This is how the Lord sends His message. Through a solitary figure like John the Baptist, or Samuel the Lamanite, or Abinadi, or Jonah, or Amos, or Isaiah, or so many others. The message is the credential. It puts us to the obligation of then seeking to know if it is true or not. For that we must turn to God.

The message originates with God, and the message drives us to Him to determine if it is true.

The Lord’s ways are ever the same. We get no less a challenge in our own day.

As you reflect on this you can see why Zion will be a “city” and not an intercontinental, multi-million member organization spread throughout the world. It will be small. It will be local. (D&C 133: 12.) The Saints will be gathered from all the world into Zion. (1 Ne. 14: 14.) This is because once a messenger has delivered “the words which the Lord God hath commanded me,” then we are responsible for how we react and whether or not we repent. If we repent, angels will gather us. (D&C 77: 11.) If we do not, they will not gather us.

Mosiah 3: 20-22

The angel foretells of a time when “knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.” (Mosiah 3: 20.) This raises a question about the word “knowledge” and its meaning in the context of this verse:
-Does it mean “awareness,” or that people have heard of Christ?
-Does it mean to “know,” or to have met Him?

Almost always in the Book of Mormon the term “knowledge” involving Christ involves the second meaning of having met Him. In this verse, however, the context raises the possibility it is in fact the first. That is, once people are put on notice that there is a Savior, they have a duty to investigate. The burden is on them to inquire and learn what the Savior can save them from, and on what conditions He will save.

If you are being cautious, then you would use the first meaning and assume the angel is saying that as soon as you become aware of a Savior, you need to then seek for salvation through Him.

If you are reckless and willing to take a great, eternal risk, then you will confine the angel’s meaning to the second, and will assume the burden is not imposed until the Lord has appeared to you. That, however, seems self-defeating. The Lord will not appear to you until you have met the conditions. Those conditions involve obedience.

The angel explains that once one is aware of the existence of a Savior for mankind because this information has been spread throughout the world, then “none shall be found blameless.” (Mosiah 3: 21.) Or, in other words, the Lord will hold every person to account for how they responded to the news of a Savior. Once they know of Him, they must pursue Him. Like the wise men who embarked on a two-year journey from the east to come and worship Him, we are also obligated to seek after Him. (Matt. 2: 1-11.)

This burden on man is imposed as a reasonable responsibility for anyone who has learned of a Savior. When we have that news, we have that duty.

The duty is to come before God “through repentance and faith on the Lord God Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3: 21.) Here the angel uses three titles for Christ:
“Lord” because we are to obey Him.
“God” because we are to worship Him.
“Omnipotent” because we are assured He has the power to save.

And so the obligation remains for us to “repent” to be saved. This is why, of course, any true prophet will always preach repentance. Men can only be saved through repentance. Anything which does not alert mankind they must repent is foolish and vain. Therefore, if a prophet is saying anything other than repentance they are failing in their obligation to God and to their fellow man.

Even if we never meet a prophet of God we have the words of an angel before us. We do not need to have another person declare the conditions for our salvation to us, because we have the words warning us of the duty we bear.

The words of the angel impose upon the people of King Benjamin the duty to repent and “they [are] found no more blameless” because of the words of the angel. (Mosiah 3: 22.) You also have them before you. Therefore you are no longer blameless. You must repent, or you will be cast off because you are judged on the basis of the words given you. You have the words of an angel before you.

There are conditions for salvation, and the Lord can impose those conditions immediately after sending an angel to warn people. It does not matter if you take the warning seriously. The Lord has done what is required to make you accountable. You are left without any excuse.

One of the signs of authenticity in the Book of Mormon is the existence of passages like this one. It is an authentic ancient form that goes back to the beginning. The Lord delivers the message and immediately men are accountable.

King Benjamin, alone and at night, receives instructions from an angel. We have never met King Benjamin, don’t have a duty to sustain him, nor reason to respect him, but we receive a written transcript of the audience between one man and an angel sent from God. We are accountable for what is contained in the warning.

How oft would the Lord have gathered us, but we will not see what stares us plainly in the face! The Lord does the same thing generation after generation. So few ever notice, however, even when it is as plain as words can be. (2 Ne. 32: 7-8.)

Criticism of the Church, Part 3

I reject the idea it is criticism or “evil speaking” to discuss candidly the church’s history. Here is a sample of one fact which I welcome anyone to correct if I am wrong:

It is my conclusion that the Nauvoo Temple was never completed. Those who worked on it, went inside it, participated in work on it, and knew its condition never claimed it was completed. Never. The words used by those who knew about it were carefully phrased. They said it was “considered sufficiently completed to dedicate.” That is much different than being completed.

Joseph Smith died before the walls were completed to the second level. The lower part of the Nauvoo Temple was essentially a copy of the Kirtland Temple. The upper levels were not fully designed. The top attic floor was largely open, a few offices at either end and a large, open area inbetween. When the attic was adopted as the location for endowments, the area was unsuitable because Joseph never lived to work with design and construction crews to adapt the facility for use in endowment work. It did not have the kind of privacy and separate rooms needed to initiate through the ordinance.

Joseph had ordered a large quantity of canvas to cover the outside bowery next to the Temple. The weather made public meetings unpleasant, and many ended early because of rain or snow. The canvas was intended to let these meetings continue despite the weather.

In the winter of 1845, when the pressure to abandon Nauvoo became so great, the decision was made to use the attic space to do the endowments. The canvas was used to partition off areas in the attic and divide the area up so the ceremonies would be possible. The attic was “tented off” into separate rooms where the endowments were performed from December through early February. As they pulled out of town, the church’s leadership prayed for the Lord’s assistance in completeing the Temple. The next day the attic caught fire and the attic area burned. The fire was extinguished, but not without considerable damage to the roof and attic area.

The roof was repaired, but since the attic was no longer going to be used, the interior was again not completed. The rest of the temple interior was never completed. It was merely “considered complete enough” and was dedicated.

A year after the dedication of the Temple and before there was any damage done by the mobs, a newspaper editor from Palmyra, New York toured the Nauvoo Temple and remarked about its condition. Among other things, he observed in an article titled “The Deserted Mormon Temple,” these things about various parts of the Temple:

“The first sight we had of it gave us a pang of disappointment, for it looked more like a white Yankee meeting house, with its steeple on one end, than a magnificent structure that had cost, all uncompleted as it is, seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. But as we approached nearer, it proved to be something worth seeing… [In the attic:] The chamber itself is devoid of ornament, and I was unable to ascertain whether it was intended to have any, if it should have been completed… [In the basement baptistery, speaking of the font:] It is very plain and rests on the back of twelve stone oxen or cows, which stand immersed to their knees in the earth. It has two flights of steps, with iron bannisters, by which you enter and go out of the font, one at the east end, and the other at the west end. The oxen have tin horns and tin ears, but are otherwise of stone, and a stone drapery hangs like a curtain down from the font, so as to prevent the exposure of all back of the forelegs of the beasts… The basement is unpaved… [Overall comment:] The whole is quite unfinished, and one can imagine what it might have been in course of time, if Joe Smith had been allowed to pursue his career in prosperity.” (The Palmyra Courier-Journal, September 22, 1847.)

In a 1962 Deseret Book publication, the Nauvoo Temple’s state of completion was described in these words: “Perhaps there were many rooms in the building whose walls were not covered with lath and plaster. Perhaps factory cloth, canvas, or other curtain material covered the walls and ceilings in the upper story rooms. There were some large assembly rooms and many small rooms that were not to be used in the temple ritual, so they were not put in order and beautifully decorated and furnished with the best of equipment. In all such rooms the pungent odor of fresh pine timber, uncovered by plaster, pictures or carpets, greeted the visitors. There may have been many plank floors and stairways uncovered with carpets, and many walls and ceilings presenting an unfinished condition. …Bare boards in many rooms, large and small, might have been visible, but the rooms that were necessary for the temple ritual were quickly prepared, and tne endowment was administered within the new temple though the building was not as elaborately furnished as was the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.” (The Nauvoo Temple, E. Cecil McGavin, Deseret Book, 1962, p. 56.)

The content of Section 124 is what it is, and requires what it requires. History shows the Temple was only “considered complete enough” and was not in fact complete. The diaries of church leaders commented on the incomplete condition of the Temple. It appears to be a fact that “considered complete enough” to be used in the endowment, and later for purposes of being dedicated, is not the same thing as completed. Subsequently, after the Saints abandoned Nauvoo, and after the Palmyra editor’s visit, the building was burned down. Later it was struck by a tornado. Then the remaining, partial structure was considered a hazard and demolished by the City. By the time it was reconstructed, not one stone of the original building remained on the site. Some excavation located the font area, and some artifacts were recovered, but the structure was gone.

My view is that this has some relevance to our history. I think the early Salt Lake City refugees from Nauvoo suffered through great want, difficulty and hunger. Because of their hunger, they were boiling saddles to soften the leather enough to be able to eat it. This was very real privation and seems to represent something other than God’s blessings upon them. In the context of Section 124, it is at least plausible it represented God’s displeasure, and not His vindication of the Saints. It states “If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy. And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.” (124: 44-45.) This was the revelation given in January 1841, three and a half years before he death of Joseph and Hyrum. The “servants” appointed were Joseph Smith, and the new Co-President, prophet, seer and revelator who was also to be ordained to the Priesthood and given the sealing power by the word of God, Hyrum Smith. (See 124: 91-95.) The saints were warned that if they failed to complete the temple, according to the revelation that: “I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfill the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord. For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practice before me, saith the Lord.” (124: 47-48.)

It is clear we have history to help us answer the questions: Were they blessed? Were they not moved out of their place? Were they cursed? Did God’s wrath and indignation visit them?

None of this is criticism of the church. It is an attempt to understand history and to read the meaning of events through the lens of scripture, rather than through the lens of conceit. Why should scripture not be used to help us understand history? If God chastens those whom He loves (Rev. 3: 19), then why do we fear acknowledging chastening from God? Can’t that be a sign of His love? What is the powerful insecurity that prevents us even considering the possibility of an early failure and God’s displeasure? Even if the work was interrupted, we can still have faith in the Restoration. After all, the Book of Mormon predicts we will get off track. It also assures us the Lord will set His hand a second time to recover us. The allegory of Jacob 5 also foretells of the eventual return of natural fruit. What fear should we have? Why would we not want to fully understand the Lord’s work instead of some alternative carefully composed fiction, or in other words a cunningly devised fable telling us “all is well,” when the evidence strongly suggest things are not at all well?

This is not criticism. This is a labor of love to understand fully the Lord’s dealings with us and our true standing before Him. Why would we reject it? Because it requires repentance and return to Him? What right do we have to think we don’t have to repent? How much of our story is motivated by pride, contrary to scripture, and inconsistent with facts?

If you attribute ill-will to those who diligently seek the Lord, then we ought to just disband as a religion claiming to follow God, and admit we are content to be a social group instead. We would still qualify for tax-exempt status. Then we won’t be encumbered by any of the rigors of what required the lives of Joseph and Hyrum, and which requires the sacrifice of all things, including our own lives if necessary, to produce faith.

“It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtain faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they, in like manner, offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.” (Lecture 6: 8; Lectures on Faith.)

When we will tolerate only praise for one another, and cannot abide correction from the Lord in the revelations He gave us, we are no different than the Zoramites scaling the Rameumpton and proclaiming our conceit.

There is a great difference between pursuing truth, accepting the unpopular role of saying what needs to be said inside a group who does not welcome it, and merely criticizing the church. I utterly reject the idea. I know I am not qualified to be popular, or advance in the organization because of what I write. The organization resents me, and has made that clear. Even as I seek its best interests, I find myself the object of its ire. On the other hand, I have come to know God by the things I have sacrificed for Him, and I would never alter that bargain; even for the whole world.

Jacob 5: 66-70

In order to develop and grow the tree, the Lord requires there to be good fruit growing before cutting away the bad. (5: 66.) The pruning and trimming away the bad will accelerate as good continues to grow. The good growth cannot be threatened by the bad, because the Lord will cut off, cut down, and discard the bad as the good develops.

Ultimately, the purpose is to have the good overwhelm the bad. When that happens, the bad will be cut down, thrown in the fire, and burned. (Id.) They will not be allowed to overcome the good, or “cumber the ground” of the Lord’s vineyard. (Id.)

It does not matter if the bad occupy positions of authority, or have been “called of God” into the lofty positions of the tree. They will be struck down when they attempt to overcome the good growth. (D&C 85: 7.) The intention of the Lord, and His prophetic promise is that His house will be set in order. (Id.) This, however, is still future.

The natural branches are to return to the natural tree (5: 67) to produce the natural fruit again. (5: 68.) That is the original doctrine, the covenant of adoption to God’s family, the return of covenant Israel. Children suitable for Zion are the Lord’s agenda. It hasn’t changed. He will bring it to pass, and we cannot claim any credit when it comes, for it is the Lord alone who will “bring again Zion.” (See, e.g., 3 Ne. 16: 18; Mosiah 12: 22, 15: 29; D&C 84: 99; Isa. 52: 8.) This is His work, after all. We get to participate in it, but the work is His.

Those who falsely claim to be the Lord’s will be “cast away” from the tree, because they can never bring again the natural fruit. (5: 69.) This great last work, which will unfold over generations and result in a restored tree, will be the last time He will work in His vineyard. (Id.)

The Lord sent His servant to labor. There were to be others. But the numbers of the servants who would be sent were disproportionately small. The servant went, and there were “other servants; and they were few.” (5: 70.)

We do not get to chooose who the Lord sends. He does. When He sends a servant we have the rare and infrequent opportunity to be invited back to the roots of the restoration again. There is no point in insisting that we are doing things right, and that we have no need to repent and return. We must respond, repent, regain whatever was offered, reconnect with the fathers, or risk being utterly wasted at His coming.

I think the proposition is self-evident that this will always be in or near the church. The numbers may not be large in comparison to the world, but the work of the Lord has never created a great harvest. The last days vineyard is either filled with bad branches requiring trimming and burning, or in the Lord’s parable, always mingled with tares needing gathering and burning. (See Matt. 13: 30; D&C 86: 7.) The field is always to be burned. (D&C 86: 7.)

Remember, however, that any fruit produced is infinite, eternal, and will produce forever in His House. (See D&C 132: 20.) Even if there were only one couple saved, from that single source there would be worlds without end, and seed like the sand of the sea or as the stars in heaven for their number. (See Gen. 22: 17.) Therefore, from this vantage point, you cannot look upon the harvest as meager. From the vantage point of the Lord in His vineyard it is infinite and eternal. Even if the harvest produced but one, how great would be the joy in heaven over that one. (See D&C 18: 15.) And if there were one, how much greater would it be if there were as great a number as seven? (D&C 18: 16.) Remember the first Zion was made of seven patriarchs and their families. (D&C 107: 53.)

The labor to produce fruit is great. The amount of humility and meekness required to repent and return is almost beyond the tolerance of mankind. Even those who learn a little think they know much more than they do. We tend to gather together, speak reassuring words to one another, and stop up our repentance by the mutual praise we lavish on each other. We interfere with our own repentance.

I’ve often reflected on our presumption that we can apply the words of scripture that were originally given when Joseph Smith was the church’s presiding officer to all later times and individuals. Joseph, of course, stood in the presence of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Therefore, the revelations to him – about him – have their veracity derived from that standing. Can we now apply statements to him, or about him to every situation we’ve encountered since then? Do we have the right to do that without some further revelation giving us that right? Is God’s promise about His protection of the church from error, given while Joseph was living, still applicable when we have lost the man who communed with Jehovah? Are we to expect all successors to also act as if they too hold the keys to the mysteries and sealed truths (D&C 28: 7) even when some have told us they have never received any audience with angels or the Lord? Are we allowed to presume the Lord invariably “sends another” when we vote to fill Joseph’s former office? (Id.) Our traditions gives us an answer that we heard again in last General Conference through President Eyring’s Priesthood Session talk. (Families Under Covenant) That talk was reassuring indeed. I hope it is altogether correct. I hope it answers this question.  

Nephi’s Brother Jacob, Part 9

Jacob remarked about the great holiness of God: “O how great the holiness of our God!” (2 Ne. 9: 20.) He makes this exclamation after explaining the “mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel!” Jacob is taken by the enormity of God’s mercy. It is proven beyond any dispute in that “he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.” (2 Ne. 9: 19.) Having seen what awaits the unrepentant, Jacob marvels at God’s great mercy. The Lord’s “saints” will be spared this torment.

In contrast, Jacob points out that there is nothing but woes awaiting the unrepentant. “But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold their treasure shall perish with them also.” (2 Ne. 9: 30.) It is a marvel we can read these verses and have no concern for the multi-billion dollar church renovation project underway in downtown Salt Lake City. Upscale housing, retail and office space are being built to stimulate investment in the downtown economy. This is all under the supervision of the Presiding Bishop and First Presidency, using a for-profit corporation. Though Jacob seems to speak about individuals, it leaves us wondering if the same might be said of institutions as well.

Jacob said, “Yea, who unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them.” (2 Ne. 9: 38.) That is why we are never to allow any man or group of men to get between us and God. God alone is worthy of worship. If you put another man or institution between you and God, you are the delight of the devil of all devils, for he has made you his. You will suffer the wrath of God (D&C 76: 104-106), and not qualify for the mercy which Jacob taught proved God’s holiness.

Jacob anticipated there would be those who would reject, even become angry by what he taught. But he cautioned them: “Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you, for if ye do, ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken.” (2 Ne. 9: 40.) This is another proof we are reading the words of an actual prophet. They speak the truth. They cry repentance. They point to the Holy One of Israel. Prophets do not fear the anger which others will hold toward them. They know they speak what the Lord would have said.

Jacob observes “if ye were holy I would speak unto you of holiness; but as ye are not holy, and ye look upon me as a teacher, it must needs be expedient that I teach you the consequences of sin.” (2 Ne. 9: 48.) How marvelous it would be if Jacob had been freed up to speak only of holiness. What great things might this prophet-teacher have given us? How might he who stood in Christ’s presence have taught us if we were holy and not in need of repentance?

With almost every new revelation from heaven, mankind learns first and foremost that there is more work to be done to tear down false tradition and error in doctrine. Building Zion will never begin until the errors of teaching for commandments the doctrines of men has been subdued. Jacob is a reminder that great things must be preceded by repentance, and repentance must be preceded by an awakening to the awful situation in which we find ourselves.