Category: Revelation

144,000, part 3

One final passage of scripture seems connected to this process. A question was posed by Elias Higbee. Joseph took this question to the Lord. The question and answer is in D&C 113: 7-8:

“Questions by Elias Higbee: What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion—and what people had Isaiah reference to? He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her strength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost.”

Although the number 144,000 is not mentioned here, this is also clearly a last-days event. The individuals involved are those who “God should call in the last days.” The verses describing the 144,000 make it clear they will be called of God, and will receive sealing from the angels; as Revelation 7: 3, D&C 77: 11 and D&C 84: 42 all reference.

The “power” of the angels “over the nations of the earth” (D&C 77: 11) is needed to prevent Zion from being overrun or destroyed by the nations of the earth. These other nations, if they oppose Zion, will be destroyed. (See Daniel 2: 31-45; D&C 87: 6.) The “powers of heaven” which will hover over Zion will discourage any army from battling her. (D&C 45: 70.)

I put the term “powers of heaven” in quotes because this refers to the hosts of heaven. This is why the term “powers” and not “power” is used in D&C 121: 36. Priesthood is always a relationship between man on earth and the “powers” or hosts of heaven. These angelic or heavenly beings were those who escorted men to the first heavenly Zion (Moses 7: 27), and will do so again. 

It will be the relationship between those who have been “sealed …of our God in their foreheads” (Rev. 7: 3) and the heavenly powers or angels which grants “the power of the priesthood to bring again Zion.” (D&C 113: 8.)

Notice the return of Zion is connected also with “lineage” in the answer above. Or, in other words, the bloodlines of Israel are required to be found in those who will be gathered. This has always been true of Zion. In the first Zion, the gathering of individuals was carefully assembled to bring together “a mixture of all the seed of Adam” so all the families were included. (Moses 7: 22.) There was one exception, however that bloodline was likewise preserved through Noah’s son’s wife. (Abr. 1: 21-23.) The Lord, therefore, took measures to keep either in Zion or on the earth a representative descendant of “all the seed of Adam.”

As the revelation explains, to “put on the authority [notice here authority is singular] of the priesthood” is necessary to “bring again Zion.” This is why the Lord says HE will “bring again Zion” and not men. (See Isa. 52: 8; 3 Ne. 16: 19; see also the description in Moses 7: 62 of the Lord’s role in the final Zion.)

Zion is the Lord’s and His name is “the King of Zion.” (Moses 7: 53.)

In the answer found in D&C 113: 8 the priesthood power has been “lost” and needs to be returned. This raises the interesting question of whether this is referring to the final calling of the 144,000, or if it means the restoration with Joseph Smith. Have/will we successfully perpetuate the authority from Joseph’s time until the return of Zion? (Look at D&C 86: 11.) Or will it require a new connection between man and the “powers of heaven” and a new “sealing” of men in their foreheads by the angels? Revelation 7: 3 implies this authority will be returned immediately prior to the plagues described in the next chapter. But it is up to the Holy Ghost to provide a correct interpretation of these verses. I leave that to you to receive.

The Lord appears in prophecy to claim a direct or immediate role in establishing Zion. And the verses we have considered appear to make it a project which will involve not only the Lord, but also angels and the Father. Indeed, the “powers of heaven” appear to all have some hand in bringing again Zion, do they not?

The most interesting thing to me is the symbolic nature of the number 144,000. If the Lord intends to preserve the blood of all Twelve Tribes, and there are perhaps as many as a thousand different families connected together in your own ancestors, could one man account for a thousand of these 144,000? Could his wife account for another thousand? How few individuals could be able to preserve the bloodlines of the twelve thousand families from each of the Twelve Tribes?

For those who are not included, they will nevertheless have part in the resurrection. The scriptures promise it will be “tolerable” for them. (D&C 45: 54.)

Power in the Priesthood, Conclusion

All things are governed by God’s will. In general conference we are taught that we cannot have the Holy Ghost as our companion unless we are obedient and faithful. In a recent example, President Eyring explained how behavior such as looking at “images which incite lust” or inappropriate Internet or media access to pornography, or even immodesty or vulgarity will forfeit the companionship of the Holy Ghost. (God Helps the Faithful Priesthood Holder) This is describing how the Holy Ghost is a temporary visitor with most people, even in the church.

The power of priesthood, however, is speaking about a higher order of things. In that order the Holy Ghost is a “constant companion.” (D&C 121: 46.) These individuals are no longer wishing they had power in the priesthood, because they have obtained knowledge through the things they have done and the pattern they have followed. They have invoked the law ordained before the foundation of the world and have obtained the associated promised blessings.

The scriptures rarely speak about the instruments of power. In the context of priesthood, however, the Lord does use the image of “scepter”–an indication of wielding the power of God; as well as “dominion” –an image of acting with God’s appointment over a charge or stewardship or message given to you by Him. But in this revelation it is used as a symbol to show a connection of the individual to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. (Id.) The revelation ties “scepter” to “an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth” coming once “virtue” has “garnished thy thoughts unceasingly.” In other words, you have come to see the difference between “virtue” and positive, directed action undertaken on the Lord’s behalf and at His insistence through the Holy Ghost.

This is how priesthood power is acquired. It is how all prophets, from Adam to the present, have been called of God and then endowed with power by Him. It is a principle of action, requiring you obey the law under which this power is conferred. It connects you to Him. For He alone is the source of power.

Truth and righteousness go together, but truth requires you to see things as they really are (D&C 93: 24), not through a distorted lens that tells you all is well when it isn’t (2 Ne. 28: 24). No person can behold the truth unless they are willing to be righteous, and act on what they learn. If they are willing, they will have a scepter forged in the truth and righteousness, in which they see clearly, as if standing in bright daylight while all around them people wander in darkness. (D&C 50: 23-24.)

Such a process gives man dominion over lusts, ambitions, pride and desire to succeed in this world or to have its praise. They follow their Lord and do as He did. (Matt. 26: 39.) They know Him because they have offered sacrifice for Him in the same pattern as He did. Having obtained dominion over their own desires, they are given that dominion everlastingly, for “[their] dominion shall be an everlasting dominion” and they have overcome the flesh. (D&C 121: 46.) The Lord overcame the world. His followers must overcome the world. (D&C 63: 47.) When you subdue the desire to be something in this world and lay everything on the altar other than your love of God, you have won the victory. Then the “god of this world” has no claim upon you; for you belong to another.

When the followers of the Lord have gained dominion over their ambitions and lusts, thereby overcoming the world, they receive an everlasting dominion which will allow them to go no more out into the world. They have learned the principles by which all things are governed, and by their knowledge “and without compulsory means it shall flow unto [them] forever.” (D&C 121: 46.) It is not “compulsory” because they follow the Lord, act with constraint of the Spirit, and know they cannot compel men to come to salvation. They have been taught the three grand truths by which God governs. They can invite, testify, and teach, but they cannot use compulsion. Therefore, they have arrived at the point it is possible to understand the doctrine of the priesthood. They live it, therefore they understand it. They are it, and their understanding reaches into heaven itself.

Joseph knew this. It was revealed to him, and to us through him, but to understand it we must live it like Joseph lived it. For the doctrine is understood only in the doing. (John 7: 17.) To everyone else it remains only a matter of mystery, or of abuse when they pretend to things which are not given to them.

Everything is in the scriptures and before us all. So we are all accountable for knowledge we claim we possess. Therefore, since we claim to have “all truth” and to offer “salvation” to all the world, even the dead, we will be judged by the standard we claim to hold. It would be wise, therefore, to begin to give careful heed to the scriptures.

Power in the Priesthood, Part 2

When Joseph Smith was confined to Liberty Jail, suffering personal abuse and abuse for his people at the hands of government, he received a revelation regarding abuse of authority. However, it was not about the power or authority of government, but instead about abusing the power of God. Sitting in a Missouri dungeon, Joseph (and all those who read this revelation) are cautioned about how to handle priesthood. Things all follow rules, or laws ordained before the foundation of the world. (D&C 130: 20-21.) They cannot be violated and are invoked whenever men make choices. Choices lead to consequences, and these are ordained by God. We are free to choose. But we are not free to change the consequences.

The power of priesthood is connected with heaven. If any of us sever that connection we sever the priesthood. (D&C 121: 36-37.) If or when we abuse others by exercising unrighteous “conrtol, dominion or compulsion” and thereby forfeit priesthood, we are left to ourselves. We no longer have a connection to heaven. This is true of husbands who “rule” over wives by claim of priesthood. This is true of any of us serving in the church.

The priesthood is to bless others. It succeeds when we elevate others, bless their lives, bring them truth, and connect them with the Lord. When we focus on ourselves, or seek our own vainglory, we are abusing the priesthood and therefore, do not possess it. It is a call to serve, to kneel and wash another’s feet. It is not to claim superiority over anyone we are asked to serve.

When we behave like the “gentiles” (Luke 22: 24-26), we are left without authority or power.

This solitary state of being alone, without God in the world (Mormon 5: 16), or being “left to himself” has a natural progression. The progression that follows, once our priesthood is gone, is that we “kick against the pricks”–meaning we then oppose the will of God, and it will harm us. (D&C 121: 38.) It is a law we are following. We cannot help ourselves. We must thereafter oppose the will of God and bring harm upon ourselves. In doing so, we also must “persecute the saints”– meaning that when this route is taken, we will look for and oppose those who have remained in contact with the Lord. (Id.) It is a natural result, and it is irresistible. If this is the chosen course, anyone who follows it must seek out and oppose those who follow God’s will, because they “fight against God” when they are in this gall of bitterness.

This an explanation about priesthood abuse. It cannot apply until someone has first been ordained, or in other words “called” to a priestly office. This is entirely internal to the church and its officers.

Further, the one engaging in the abuse must be in a position to actually assert “control” or “dominion” or “compulsion” over others. That would not include those who are not in positions of authority. Those who have no right to claim control, dominion or compulsion under the claim of priestly office would not be able to abuse that power. In other words, this revelation to Joseph Smith about abusing priestly authority or status is a fundamental statement of how we conduct our church. It is how we are to behave while serving in church offices.

Note also, it would apply broadly in any context where someone relies on their “priesthood” as a basis for claiming priority or demanding surrender. For most men, that hits closest in their marriage. Persuasion, gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned has its greatest application within the family. Fathers should lead always with “pure knowledge” and through revelation.

The result is that while many are called (offered the chance to receive priesthood from heaven) only very few will be chosen, or receive power in their priesthood. (D&C 121: 34, 40.) Along the way the many who are called will refuse to submit to heaven and will instead become preoccupied with “covering their sins, gratifying their pride, and accomplishing their vain ambition.” (D&C 121: 37.) When they do this they will exercise unrighteous control over others, establish their dominion, and wield control over the souls of men. This is the order the Lord’s return will crush, because it is the commerce of Babylon to trade in the “souls of men.” (Rev. 18: 13.) Churches, like the Roman Catholic Church, or some of the Fundamentalist LDS sects, claim to hold keys to consign men to hell or raise them to heaven. Such purported keys and power from God let them trade in the souls of men. These are the only ones who could conceivably trade in the “souls of men” referred to in Revelation. They are, therefore, Babylon, and the target of the Lord’s destruction at His return.

On the other hand, when you find a soul in possession of the priesthood their conduct is altogether different. Since it is impossible to compel men to salvation, the priesthood can only invite, and persuade. The priesthood acknowledges it has the burden to persuade, and to convince, and cannot simply say something is so because they have authority. (D&C 121: 41.) Those who hold priesthood power can only proceed using “persuasion, longsuffering, gentleness and meekness” to enlighten those with eyes to see. (Id.) When this process is followed there is another law which confers upon the practitioner “love unfeigned” for those to whom they minister. (Id.) When they walk alongside their Lord and accept His yoke they find His love for others. This is the natural result of obeying the law governing priesthood. Love does not need to be feigned when the Lord bestows it as a grace, or an endowment, or a gift of His Spirit to one who follows Him.

It is a natural occurrence for those who abuse, rebel and apostasize from priestly ordination to then persecute the lowly and insignificant saints of God. It is natural for those who receive and magnify priesthood to find themselves loving the lowly and insignificant saints of God. These are natural gifts, normal graces bestowed by the power of God through laws instituted before the foundation of the world. It is part of the Lord’s orderly program.

2 Nephi 29: 10-11

“Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.”
Within the Book of Mormon, as a new volume of scripture, is the caution that even it is incomplete. What a marvel that is if you think about it. Here’s a new revelation telling us that there are other revelations that aren’t included in either the Book of Mormon or the Bible.

Everyone nation, from time to time, received sacred messages from the Lord! No matter where they are – east, west, north or south, He’s been in touch. They have written it down. The records are sacred, and He watches over them.  They will be revealed. And, the good/bad news is that from their content we will be judged.

We are judged “according to our works,” but measured against “that which is written.” Think about that for a moment.
What if they haven’t come to light yet? Are they still written? Are they still going to be used to measure us? If we haven’t seen these words, why would it be appropriate for them to be used as a measuring stick for our conduct?  Was the Book of Mormon’s standards binding upon us even before the record came forth?
Why does He assure us He is unchangeable? Why does He assure us He is the same yesterday, today and forever? Is the standard going to change from ancient record to ancient record? If it does not change, then are we accountable for the same standard of conduct no matter when or where we live? How can we be held to account for things that are yet to be revealed?
If we cannot be judged against something we do not know (Mosiah 3: 11), how can these words set a standard for judging even before they are published?
I want to propose a concept that appeals to my mind. When we are trying to “prove” a proposition, it is possible to set up an experiment where we control all variables but one, then see what that one variable does. How it acts, or reacts. Life here is like that, I think. A fallen Telestial Kingdom, “or the world in which you presently reside”– to quote an authoritative source– is the same place for Able and Cain, Enoch and Noah, Abraham and Nimrod, Moses and Pharoah, Jesus and Ciaphus, Jacob and Sherem, Alma and Nehor, Joseph Smith and Thomas Sharp. Same place with all of these contemporaries. But with the exception of Enoch and Noah, (who took different routes, but nonetheless were both favored by God) all the other pairs had dramatically different outcomes? Why?
This world is a fallen, but controlled environment. We get introduced here with free will and the capacity to change. Inside that environment of a fallen world, there have been people who have come and lived with all the same limitations that we have, but who have grown to know God. Their lives are proof that it can happen. Their testimonies and records of success are part of the “proof” of God’s fairness and of mankind’s freedom to return to Him.

If the Bible and the Book of Mormon both attest to the fact that it is possible for mankind to overcome by faith and return to God’s presence, then we have the proof needed to see how this life should be lived. We have the evidence of God’s willingness to receive us, and of our own capacity to overcome and return to Him.

Testimony after testimony, experience after experience are recounted in the Book of Mormon. We have enough “proof” that this process is available and works. If we were to have more, in a different record, reaffirming the same thing involving other people, would it add any different proof than is already in our possession? If not, then can we be judged by the same standard without having the specific life stories before us to illustrate in another hundred ways how men have triumphed and men have failed?

Is it possible there are others, some of whom are still living, who may also have recorded unspeakable things? Do their words count? Are they binding upon us for no other reason than to prove that in this contemporary world of sin it remains still possible to return to God’s presence?
What interesting things the Book of Mormon raises for our pondering and edification. It is a revolutionary book, in the sense it revolutionizes our understanding of how God deals with mankind.

2 Nephi 29: 9

“And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.”
The assurance to us by the Lord that He is the “same yesterday, today and forever” appears often in scripture. (See, e.g., four times by Nephi including 1 Ne. 10: 18; 2 Ne. 2: 4; 2 Ne. 27: 23, and above; Alma 31: 17; Mormon 9: 9; Moroni 10: 19; D&C 20: 12; and D&C 35: 1, among other places.) Why do you suppose the Lord wants us to trust in this idea? What is it about the Lord’s “sameness” that is important for us to understand?
Are the Lord’s expectations different from one generation to the next? Are His teachings?  Are His ordinances? Can we discard what He has given us and be justified? If His expectations are as unchanged as He is, then how important is it for us to study and retain all that He has given by revelation to mankind? How important is it to keep ordinances entirely intact?
If the Lord does not change, and the story of the Nephite people is a story of temporary success followed by ultimate failure, then how relevant is that account for us? Does temporary success in repentance guarantee constant favor from the Lord? When the Book of Mormon follows splinter groups in the narrative, because the splinters kept the commandments of God better, does that preserve a relevant lesson for those reading the book today? If so, how?
If the Lord “speaks forth [His] own words according to [His] own pleasure” then how can we control to whom and when He is permitted to speak? If He reserves to Himself this right, what effect does our system of recognizing an authoritative message from Him have upon His right to speak? Did the revelation given to Oliver Cowdrey that told him that he could not write commandments, but only according to wisdom, and never command Joseph Smith who presided over Oliver, establish a binding precedent on the Lord? (D&C 28: 4-6.) If so, what limit does that place on the Lord?  Does the limitation on someone being sent forth as a missionary to preach the Gospel, and the requirement they be “regularly ordained by the heads of the church” limit the Lord’s ability to speak His own words?  (D&C 42: 11.) If so, in what way?
Does the revelation to Joseph Smith informing the Church in 1831 that no one other than Joseph Smith is to receive commandments and revelations for the Church limit the Lord’s ability to speak to anyone else? (D&C 43: 1-6.) In particular, what of the Lord’s counsel that this limitation was intended as “a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.” (Id. verses 5-6.) Does that prevent Him from speaking “according to His own pleasure?”
What about the 1830 revelation given to Joseph Smith that no one other than Joseph Smith is to receive revelations and commandments in the church? (D&C 28: 2.) Does that limit the Lord’s ability to speak according to His own pleasure?
Do the promises given to Joseph Smith apply directly and continually as the binding precedent and complete limitation on the Lord’s capacity to speak to us? If so, then can He still speak to individual members of the church but without providing a “revelation and commandment” to the entire church? For example, do we expect only President Monson to receive revelation on the individual members of your own family? How is President Monson supposed to be doing that for the families of some 13 million church members? If that isn’t possible, then what about the approximate 2,000 stakes? Do we expect only President Monson to receive revelation about each of these divisions? If the stake presidents have been delegated responsibility, then can the stake president receive all revelation for each family within the stake? Can the stake president alone receive revelation for the families of his stake?
If each person is intended to receive some revelation for themselves, is that an absolute bar to receiving revelation for another? If, for example, someone were not in your ward, not in your stake, not even living in your state, but asked you to give them a blessing because of illness or injury, are you entitled to receive revelation while giving the blessing? Even if you have no connection to this person by family or church calling?  Should you proceed with the blessing? If so, would you expect the Lord to assist, give revelation, and even inspire a commandment to the person if it were appropriate?
How hard and fast are the rules we impose on the Lord? Does His statement that He alone will decide when and to whom He speaks according to “His own pleasure” need to be weighed as part of the equation? If He cannot speak to anyone other than Joseph Smith, then did Joseph’s death prevent Him from speaking further? If He cannot speak to anyone other than Joseph’s successors in the office of President of the High Priesthood, then what if the occupant of that office is ill, infirm, or disabled?
Would the “system” govern, or the Lord’s “own pleasure” govern? If it is “His own pleasure” then how can we possibly know when He speaks?  What about the Lord’s house being a house of order? Once He has a church established, should we trust He will confine His efforts to that church alone?
I suppose all these questions are answered by the Lord adding to “His own pleasure” that “because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.”
In the final analysis, it is left to us to fast, pray, seek the guidance of the Spirit, and to find where the Lord’s own pleasure in speaking is to be found. I do not expect someone other than the presiding authorities to conduct the affairs of the church. Nor would I expect anyone would organize a ward or stake other than someone having authority over that responsibility, regularly recognized by the church. I would not expect to either pay tithing to, nor be asked to pay tithing to, someone other than a Bishop in the church.  But, just as Elder F. Enzio Busche encountered gifted sisters with the gift of prophecy and visions, I do not believe revelation is or can be confined to any single office, person, or group. (See F. Enzio Busche’s book, Yearning for the Living God.)  While serving in various church leadership positions, including as a General Authority, he encountered gifted women with spiritual capacities who astonished him. But, to his credit, he did not doubt them.
God speaks according to His own pleasure. He cautions you that just because He says one thing at one time, He is never limited in what He may say at another time; even if you think it contradicts His earlier statements. He is living and He has the final decision in what He says and to whom He speaks. We must not forget that principle. Even though we may not like the uncertainty this introduces to our trusted systems. He alone will remain in control.

The arm of flesh

When the church commissions an opinion poll and then, as a result of that poll, concludes that some program or position is popular, or would be accepted by the Saints without complaint – and then adopt that position in a public statement – has a “revelation” been received? I do not think so. I think an opinion has been obtained, and a policy or statement has been adopted.  Therefore, I do not think there is one thing wrong with disagreeing with the policy or statement.

When the church endorses something or some position, I do not think it is right to simply “fall in line” behind the statement without also thinking the same issue through and reaching my own conclusion.  The first question I ask myself is what the statement is, and does it imply a revelation from the Lord. 
I can think of two examples.  One was a public announcement that was heralded in the press. The other was the subject of a letter from the First Presidency read in sacrament meetings.  
The public announcement was regarding the housing and employment of homosexuals in Salt Lake City, using the force of government sanction to prevent an employer or owner of property from refusing to grant equal access or rights to homosexuals.  I’ve previously commented here in a critical way about that announcement.  This is an example of how I view things. 
Since the church’s position on the matter had absolutely nothing to do with revelation, and the church did not make any attempt to claim the position came through revelation, I do not believe it is immune from question or criticism.  Indeed, the defense of the policy to the press involved a public relations/opinion poll driven justification.  It was expected to “resonate on the basis of fairness” with all those in the middle, and only offend those at the two ends of the spectrum.  This is opinion gathering to inform a position, then announcing the position because of the results of opinion gathering.  It is what a politician or a marketing firm would do.  It is not at all akin to a revelation, and should not command my respect.  I am under no obligation to alter my view based on what the church’s opinion gathering has concluded.  If that were the case, then the church’s ability to control everyone’s thinking would be based only upon prevailing opinion at the moment.  This is the “tossed about by every wind” concern which Paul addressed in one of his letters.  (Eph. 4: 14.)  Shifting opinion is not revelation.  I am free to point it out, disagree with it, and explain my contrary view.
Another example is the letter from the First Presidency asking speakers in sacrament meetings to no longer ask those in attendance to open their scriptures.  No explanation was provided in the letter.  It was just an instruction to the Saints to no longer let sacrament meeting speakers tell those in the meeting to open their scriptures and read along. Perhaps it was as a result of someone being irritated by the noise of rustling scriptures.  Perhaps it was someone with a hearing aid, whose aid frequency was tuned to pick up the rustling so well that it drowned out the rest of the speaker’s voice.  Perhaps it was because the meeting got delayed and disrupted by the folks struggling to find their scriptures, and open them up to the relevant page.  I can’t say for certain.  But I did raise my eyebrows when the letter was read in advance to the High Council. 
My candid reaction to that letter was that it diminished the office of those who signed the letter by the petty micro-managing of opening the scriptures during a sacrament gathering.  I wondered in amazement that someone in the Church Office Building got the First Presidency to sign such a letter.  I wondered at how, with all that threatens us today, opening scriptures in order to read along in sacrament meetings managed to become so important that the First Presidency would write and send a letter worldwide to be read in the stakes and wards.  It was perplexity on stilts.
Beyond that my approach has been twofold:  First, I have NEVER asked anyone to open their scriptures in a sacrament meeting since then.  However, I have said in talks during sacrament that “I cannot ask you to open your scriptures and read along” in order to call attention to the policy.  I have also said, when teaching outside of sacrament meetings, that I was free to ask them to read along in their scriptures “because we are not in a sacrament meeting.”  I do this to call attention to the policy.  I think to call attention to it is to cause people to wonder at the pettiness and inconsequential nature of a letter from the First Presidency addressing the opening of scriptures in sacrament meeting.
These are just two examples.  There are many.  As I have said before, I pay very close attention to the church, what is said and done, and how relevant or irrelevant some position, letter, emphasis or program is in an absolute sense.  I try to take it all in and reach my own conclusions.  Looking at it all, I am quite concerned.  Faithful, tithe paying and active, nevertheless quite concerned. 
I believe if enough people were similarly concerned that eventually the “opinion polling” might obtain reasonable results.  That is, the top would hear about reasonable concerns and learn of reasonable opinions, and then promulgate policies and send out statements accordingly.  That, however, will require a great effort to call attention to the things that matter most, and clarity in pointing out the things that do not matter at all. We fret over trifles while things are burning down all around us.  I wonder how long it will take for the polling to inform the Saints of the fire burning around them.

D & C 132, part 3

Further on Section 132:
 
Joseph taught that we can’t expect to achieve the same glory as the ancients if we do not make a similar sacrifice as they did.  It’s all in Lecture 6 of the Lectures on Faith.  I’ve quoted that stuff in several books and won’t repeat it here.  If you don’t have a copy you should get one.  And read it.
 
Anyway, it is quite important to note the necessity of sacrifice to produce the kind of faith which saves.  Joseph’s explanation required us to sacrifice all things to be able to lay hold on saving faith.  Without the knowledge that we would give up everything, even our own lives if necessary, we cannot receive eternal life.  We have to trade this life for the next.  No trade, no exaltation.
 
So when a man or woman reaches the point where she/he can be tested, the Lord will supply a test to them to prove (to themselves) that they will sacrifice all things.  [The Lord already knows, but we don’t.  And it is OUR faith which is required to be tested.]
 
For most women, they make this kind of sacrifice when they marry.  They literally “give up their lives” and become a wife.  Even to the point  they surrender their prior name and become known by a new name and begin a new life.  The sacrifice for them is completed in childbirth, where they risk their life and then shed their blood to bring a new person into the world.  For women, therefore, this estate provides a ready-made opportunity for the development of this faith.  For men that is much different.  That is why we produce so few men worthy of preservation into the next life in an exalted state.
 
Joseph Smith succeeded in receiving his calling and election.  His promise of eternal life appears within Section 132.  That is no accident.  If the revelation is a series of communications, beginning in either 1829 or 1831, and continue through nearly the time of the recording in 1843, all of which are on the same subject, then they are all interrelated.
 
Joseph’s sealing authority is confirmed in verse 46 and his calling and election is confirmed in verse 49.  This would have been after Joseph had received the beginning of Section 132 and had actually begun to live it.  Meaning that Joseph was doing what he was commanded to do, and that in so doing he was sacrificing everything.  Even his own life was being sacrificed.  He was developing the faith necessary to know he would surrender everything to God by this principle.  Later, when he would go to Carthage and die, it was not as difficult for him to do because he had earlier lived a principle which proved to him that he would obey God at all costs.  Death under such circumstances was not a test, merely a confirmation of what Joseph already knew.
 
Plural marriage was so difficult for Joseph that it was THE means by which he advanced in faith to the point he knew he would surrender all things to God.  It was the key to his exaltation.  Not because plural wives are needed, but because of the difficult sacrifice this practice imposed upon him.
 
Now if that were true for Joseph, then we should not think the practice of plural marriage, with all its difficulty and sacrifice, something desirable to undertake. Nor should we be fooled into thinking that Joseph wanted or welcomed it. The revelation belies this notion.
 
Therefore I take it as a given that plural marriage was introduced as a test.  Not as a reward or as a holiday for Joseph Smith and his close associates.  It was a difficult, trying ordeal. 
 
Now there’s more to be said, so I’ll add another post at some point on this as well.

True and living

The Lord’s reference to the Church in a revelation received on November 1, 1831 as “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1: 30) was true for the following reasons:
 
First, the Church was established by revelation, visitations from angels, and delegation of authority.
 
Second, it was “living” because the authority and gifts were present and unfolding; and new scripture and revelations were being received.
 
Third, it would continue to grow in knowledge, light and truth as further ordinances and rites were restored.
Finally, it was “true” because it taught the doctrines which gave converts the tools with which they could grow in light and knowledge until the perfect day. (D&C 50: 24.)
 
The Lord’s description in 1831 is what we should aspire to have said about us still, today.  But, of course, that would require us to also be “true” and “living” in the same way as the Church in 1831. 

Trials

On Friday Marie Osmond’s son died in LA of an apparent suicide.  My heart goes out to her.  Some trials in life are not meant to be understood, but only to be endured.  The suffering from unexplainable ordeals can bring us closer to the Lord, who alone can comfort us in such extremities.

In Chile there are over 200 dead and many missing.  There is a race to rescue about 100 people trapped in a building.  Aftershocks and injuries threaten those who are trapped.

There are no magic words to console those who endure tests in mortality.  But we do have the promise from Him whose word is law and cannot return to Him unfulfilled:  “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”  (Rev. 7: 17.)  If God intends to do this in the final day, the only God-like conduct we can imitate is to lessen the burdens felt by those with a sense of loss today.