BOWbutton

This button is a resource to link those desiring baptism with those having authority to baptize. More information can be found here.

 

2 Nephi 28: 5

“And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;” 

The defect Nephi terms “deny the power of God” is an interesting matter to ponder. What do you suppose denying that power involves? How would it manifest itself in the way religious people go about their lives? Is praying without seeking an answer “denying” God’s power? Is presuming you have an answer when your own desires are all you are considering perhaps also “denying” God’s power?

I reflect on how many times I’ve learned something surprising, unanticipated, or which had never before entered into my mind. I think, too, about Joseph’s comment before his First Vision that “it had never entered into [his] heart that all were wrong” (JS-H 1: 18), but the answer from God informed him otherwise. God’s answers are quite often:
-unanticipated;
-never something you would have considered;
-inconvenient;
-requiring of you something you would prefer not to give or do;
-clear and unequivocal;
-enough to make your frame shake as it penetrates to your soul.
When prayer gets through to God and provokes an answer from Him, it is offered with a sincere heart, having real intent. (Moroni 10: 4; James 1: 5.)  If a prayer is offered without a sincere heart, and while lacking real intent, is this “denying” the power of God?
If a minister lacks real intent, and does not go to God in mighty prayer, has never become acquainted with the “power of God,” but proceeds to teach with their own learning anyway, do they deny the power of God?
In place of preaching what the Lord reveals, men will claim they teach correct “precepts.” They have all the revelation they need, and they are now proceeding with the authority given them by God. But they don’t hear from Him, don’t have new revelation to deliver from Him, and do not expect God to be involved any longer.

In effect, God has become so distant that “there is no God today.” He finished His work. He’s given His authority to men.

Whether the claim is based on Protestant claims that authority is derived from the New Testament, and all men who believe have authority from God, or it is a Catholic claim to have a line of authority back to Jesus Christ, it is the same. Without some involvement from God in the church itself, the teachings end in the same conclusion:  “God has given His power unto men.” The institution has taken over. The claim is always that “the church is true” without regard to whether the Lord remains involved, revealing Himself to the church. This is what the Catholic Church has claimed for centuries  God has finished His work and surrendered the “keys of authority” to the church. Now God has transmuted into a church, a Holy Roman Church, to which you may confess your sins, obtain absolution for your sins, and have entry into heaven provided to you.
With such a claim, why ask God for help? Why turn to a priesthood advancing such claims?  Why make the difficult, inner changes that bring about real intent and faith in Christ?  Why seek for and come into contact with “the power of God” if a church can be an adequate substitute?
How like the Catholics have we become?
Was Nephi only warning about Catholic error?  Do his warnings apply equally to all?

2 Nephi 28: 4

2 Nephi 28: 4:

“And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance.”

Nephi foresees that churches in our day will argue over the claim to have truth. When it comes to the Latter-day Saints, the relentless accusation made against us is that we aren’t “Christian.” This accusation is made by those who claim the right to define the word “Christian” to necessarily include acceptance of the creeds of Historic Christianity. These creeds are an amalgam of Neo-Platonic philosophy mingled with scripture.

We just ought to concede the point. We should proudly acknowledge we are NOT part of Historic Christianity. We disagree with Historic Christianity, and at a fundamental level we denounce it as false. We are a restoration of Primitive Christianity. We do not share in accepting the creeds which Christ Himself denounced as “an abomination in His sight.”  (JS-H 1: 19.)

Oddly, from our end, we try and avoid the argument, fit in, claim we are “good Christians too,” and part of the larger community of churches. There isn’t as much fight left in us as there was once. Or, perhaps more correctly, our arguments are focused instead, toward those who attempt to preserve practices from the early part of the Restoration. In other words, we try to make ourselves seem more like Historic Christianity, and avoid or discard what once set us apart. We have inverted the picture from where we began. (Nephi will address that, as well.)

Although there are numerous examples of how we have altered our views to become more like other faiths, we can take just one to illustrate the point. We have abandoned plural marriage. But it is hard for us to claim the doctrine is false because it remains in Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants. While we do not practice it, and believe those who do have failed to stay on track, we cannot gainsay that the doctrine is true. Yet no other church is so vehement in denouncing and persecuting those who practice plural marriage. It is as if we want to lead the argument against the practice in order to distract people from the fact that the practice is approved in our scriptures.

Let me be clear that I do not advocate the practice nor recommend it. Nor do I think those who continue the practice do so either with approval or authority. I’ve explained the defects in their arguments to authority in Beloved Enos, and I am confident in the explanation given there.They do not possess the keys to continue that practice. Their own position is self-defeating.

Nor do I think these people will be given the hand of fellowship until Zion returns. But when it does, I do not expect those who follow the practice if plural marriage in a humble and devout way, having real intent, and proceeding prayerfully will be excluded from the gathering. It also seems self-evident that if John D. Lee, who was executed for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, has been reinstated to the privileges of the church, that those practicing plural marriage after the 1905 letter from President Joseph F. Smith will some day not also be reinstated to church membership.

Well, that was an aside merely to illustrate a point. We fail to contend about errors of other faiths, fail to defend our unique status, and in turn attack doctrines that we know to be true. 

What Nephi will focus on in his prophecy is not the contention, but the absence of guidance from the Holy Ghost. This criticism will become the theme of the coming chapters. This collection of chapters at the end of 2 Nephi are his final warnings in which he tells us the great themes of prophecy that rest so heavily upon his soul. He is most alarmed that, in our day, men will ” teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance.” What do you suppose it means to “teach with their learning?”

We know that other churches employ trained theological experts to professionally teach them as a paid clergy. We have always been critical of that approach because once a minister has been to college and been trained for the ministry, they mingle the philosophies of men with scripture. We have always been taught that even a child with the Spirit can edify a congregation in Sacrament by speaking with the influence of the Holy Ghost. We intend our meetings to be directed in word and thought by the Holy Ghost. But how much of what we are taught in our meetings and conferences are the result of man’s learning? Of focus group opinion gathering? Of opinion polling? Of careful study of trends and development of data bases from social sciences? (See Slippery on February 22, 2010.)

How much of what we are taught is from the “Spirit which giveth utterance?” How often are we fed as the Lord directed in D&C 84: 85 through entirely spontaneous utterance?  If Joseph was commanded to speak spontaneously so the Spirit could direct him (D&C 100: 5-6; see also D&C 24: 5-6) then why is a Correlation Department allowed to control talks today and prevent any spontaneous speaking in our conferences?

I know the purpose behind correlation was to insure false doctrine was not taught. They seem to have instead insured that no doctrine is taught.

In my view, correlation has failed in its purpose. It has stifled the Spirit and stripped us of doctrine which should be prized and taught. Furthermore, it has not insured the doctrine it permits to be taught is true or consistent with scripture or earlier teachings.

Even though correlation has not prevented us from having errors of doctrine I do not believe an error of doctrine makes a person a bad man. Joseph Smith said: “I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.” (DHC 5: 340.)  I do not believe anyone should ever be subject to church discipline for believing false doctrine. The false teaching should be overcome by teaching the truth, not by stifling discussion. The quickest way for truth to triumph is to allow free discussion. When we are open, the truth will always win out.

I agree with Joseph Smith that teaching false doctrine does not prove “that a man is not a good man.” Take the Proclamation on the Family, for example. It states: All human beings —male and female— are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”  This statement conflicts with what President Joseph Fielding Smith taught in the arrangement prepared by Bruce R. McConkie (and therefore undoubtedly approved by Elder McConkie as well): “Some of the functions in the celestial body will not appear in the terrestrial body, neither in the telestial body, and the power of procreation will be removed. I take it that men and women will, in these kingdoms, be just what the so-called Christian world expects us all to be: neither man nor woman, merely immortal beings having received the resurrection. (Doctrines of Salvation 2:287-288; emphasis added.)  In another place President Smith taught, “Is not the sectarian world justified in their doctrine generally proclaimed, that after the resurrection there will be neither male nor female sex? It is a logical conclusion for them to reach and apparently is in full harmony with what the Lord has revealed regarding the kingdoms into which evidently the vast majority of mankind is likely to go.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol 4, p.66–a set that was also edited by Elder Bruce R. McConkie.)

If it is a grave offense to now err in doctrine, either President Smith and his son-in-law Elder McConkie should be condemned, or those who signed the Proclamation on the Family in September 1995 (the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve) should be condemned. They contradict one another. The Apostle Paul would seem to agree with President Smith and Elder McConkie. (See Gal. 3: 28.) The “Christian” world, of course, denounces marriage in eternity precisely because they disbelieve sexual identity ends with mortality. They base this upon Luke 20: 34-35, Matt. 22: 30, and Mark 12: 25 as well as Paul’s statement in Galatians.

It appears to me that someone errs in doctrine. Despite that, I absolutely DO NOT BELIEVE that either the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in 1995, nor President Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie are bad men. Nor do I think that the contradiction should be managed by the Correlation Department. I think it should stand and become something on which each of us consider, ponder, pray and reach some conclusion for ourselves. It isn’t necessary for us to always have controversies taken away from us, particularly at the expense of losing our doctrine.

The approach now is to prevent spontaneous talks from being delivered under the influence of the Holy Spirit because of fear that we would excite criticism by contradicting one another. I think this is wrong. If we want to be cautious about doctrine, then we ought to call men who understand and teach doctrine to preside. I see trustworthy men and women on KBYU discussing doctrine all the time. Elder Packer was a Seminary Instructor before his call to be a General Authority, and he has always been reliable on doctrine. I would love to hear him speak spontaneously every time he speaks. Elder Scott, also, seems to me to be a man who, if allowed to speak without a prepared text would have a great deal to share. It would be delightful to hear him speak extemporaneously. There is something valuable enough when an inspired man does this that the D&C admonished Joseph Smith to only address the Saints in this manner. If that was the Lord’s desire for Joseph, and it remains in the D&C, then it is little wonder we pay a price as a result of the correlation process.

This is what the verse we are considering here it telling us SHOULD be the case. We cannot help but “deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance” when we do not permit the Holy Ghost the opportunity to inspire by giving spontaneous utterance.

2 Nephi 28: 3

2 Nephi 28: 3:

” For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord—

The Book of Mormon will become available to the remnant in a day when there will be “churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord.” Generally this is interpreted by Latter-day Saints to mean OTHER churches, but not ours.  However, the context requires all, including our own church, to be considered at risk as well. Here are the questions bearing on whether we (LDS) are among those being warned:

-Is the prophecy limited to the time before the Book of Mormon comes forth? (No; it will reach until the time when other records of the Lost Tribes are to come forth–a future event. (See, 2 Ne. 29: 13-14.)
-Is the prophecy about only those churches created by man, and not one intended to become Zion? (No; see verses 21-24.)
-Can a church established by the Lord become one which is not built up to Him?  (Of course; see Eze. 44: 10; Isa. 53: 6; John 5: 39.)

Does the promise that the Lord will never abandon His latter-day work (D&C 138: 44) mean that the church He established will not drift into condemnation?  (See D&C 84: 55-58.)

Should we, therefore, consider these warnings to be equally applicable to us as Latter-day Saints as to the larger community of churches? 

Nephi warns that each church will claim it is the Lord’s. Do we do that? Each will claim divine authority and approval. Do we do that? Each will assert it belongs to the Lord. Do we do that? But the question Nephi focuses upon is whether it is “unto the Lord.”

What does it mean for a church to be “unto the Lord?” What would the opposite be?

How certain are we that what we do as a church is building up to the Lord?  Do the procurement practices of the church “build up unto the Lord?” Does the auditor’s report in General Conference even begin to allow you to make that determination? If some of the large and well-connected Latter-day Saint families own the businesses which contract with the church and have become wealthy by reason of trading with the church, is there some question which ought to be considered about “building up unto the Lord” in how business is conducted?

I explained how the church distinguishes between tithing money and “investment income” in a post on April 1, 2010. Does this seem consistent with the Lord’s parable about the talents? (Luke 19: 20-23.) If in the parable, all returns realized on the money were the Lord’s, why does the return on the Lord’s tithing now become investment money to be used for commercial projects developing condominiums, shopping malls, banks, and other income-producing ventures? Who is benefiting? What careers and fortunes are being made? What families are being benefited? Are they the Lord?

Assuming the purpose of a church were to “build up unto the Lord” what single purpose would be most important? In the Book of Mormon, as I’ve explained earlier, the writers seek to have you trade unbelief for belief; then to trade belief for faith; then to come beyond faith and receive knowledge. The knowledge it would have you obtain is of Christ. (See Ether 3: 19.)

The lack of knowledge condemns a people who claim to be the Lord’s. Nephi quoted Isaiah in 2 Nephi 15: 13: [You will not understand Nephi’s purpose in quoting Isaiah if you are unacquainted with Nephi’s Isaiah.] “Therefore, my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.” Captivity comes from a lack of knowledge. Joseph Smith warned that “a man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge.” (DHC 5: 588.) The ones who are considered “honorable” are “famished” because they lack knowledge. The “multitude” who follow the “honorable men” are in turn “dried up with thirst” because they are not taught enough to become saved. (2 Ne. 28: 14.)

If the Lord promises to never abandon His latter-day work (D&C 138: 44), does that mean men cannot abandon Him? Although men may abandon Him, can He work with you individually and “remember” His promises? Even if others are without knowledge, can you still obtain knowledge from Him? Though others may be “dried up with thirst” can you still obtain “living waters” from Him?

Can you rely upon the assertions from any church today that it is “built up unto the Lord?”  How can you be “built up unto the Lord” even if you do not have any institution you can trust to bring to you that knowledge? Was the Lord always intended to be directly involved in your life? (Matt. 11: 27-30.)

If “captivity” comes from a lack of knowledge, and Joseph Smith tied knowledge to salvation, then why is the correlated curriculum of the church focusing less and less on doctrine? Why was the Relief Society and Priesthood Manual on Teachings of the Presidents volume on Joseph Smith carefully edited by the Correlation Department so as to support meanings somewhat different than Joseph’s? If you think meanings were not changed, then go to the sources quoted in the History of The Church and read each of the whole statements made by Joseph from which the excerpts were taken. I leave it to you to decide if the edited versions in the church manual were or were not both incomplete and misleading.  [Personally, I was dismayed. But I have a sensitivity to words that is quite acute, and therefore something left out that is important to me may not be significant to you. You must decide that question for yourself. You will find it an interesting exercise even if you disagree with my conclusion.]

If a church claims to be built up to the Lord, but does not attempt to confer knowledge of the Lord upon people, then how are you to seek after this knowledge? [We are going to be discussing Nephi’s instruction to us about this very subject for the coming weeks. So keep the question in mind as we go forward.]

Remember this is the promised day when all are intended to grow into knowledge of the Lord, from the least to the greatest. (See, e.g., JS-H 1: 41 and Joel 2: 28-29; and D&C 84: 96-97.) “Those who remain” will remain because they have “knowledge” that will save them. Hence Joseph’s teaching about the link between “knowledge” and “salvation.” Also, the captivity spoken of by Nephi because people lack knowledge.

Go back to the post on Lecture 6 of the Lectures on Faith, April 21, 2010. If your church encourages you to become part of a broad mainstream without asking for the sacrifice of all things, then it is not requiring you to take the steps necessary to develop faith to save you. Rest assured, however, the Lord still has the same requirements, and He will work directly with you to develop you into a person who has the required knowledge. It was always intended to be individual. It is your quest. Others may encourage you along, but you must confront the process for yourself.

______________________________

[Now, as a complete aside, I want to address the misapplication and overreaching misinterpretation of the idea one is “evil speaking” when a person explains something that concerns them. First, we are dealing with the souls of men. We are addressing salvation itself. If there is an error in doctrine or practice, everyone has an obligation to speak up, from the least to the greatest. (D&C 20: 42, 46-47, 50-51, 59, among other places.) Second, the “truth” cannot ever be “evil.” Though the truth may cut with a two edged sword, truth is not and cannot be “evil.” Therefore, if someone should say something that is untrue or in error, then correct their doctrine, show the error, but do not claim what is good to be evil, nor support what is evil by calling it good. (2 Ne. 15: 20.) Using a broad generalization to stifle a discussion of the truth is a trick of the devil, who is an enemy to your soul. It is not the way of our Lord. He was always open to questions, always willing to answer questions, ever willing to speak the truth even when it caused those with authority over Him to be pained by His words. We must follow Him, and not men, in that example. Even if we would personally prefer to not endure insults but remain silent. So, rather than condemn something as “evil speaking” that you believe to be wrong, explain the error and bring us all into greater understanding. But if something is true, then even if it disturbs your peace of mind, it cannot be evil.]

2 Nephi 28: 1-2

2 Nephi 28: 1-2:
 

“And now, behold, my brethren, I have spoken unto you, according as the Spirit hath constrained me; wherefore, I know that they must surely come to pass.  And the things which shall be written out of the book shall be of great worth unto the children of men, and especially unto our seed, which is a remnant of the house of Israel.”
Nephi, as any prophetic writer, says what “the Spirit hath constrained” him to say.  This is the very definition of using the Lord’s name with permission and not using His name in vain. (Exo. 20: 7.)
Nephi held power from God in the words he used. Therefore he could “know that they must surely come to pass” because he sealed them as he wrote them. (D&C 1: 38.) For any person holding the sealing authority (which is an indispensable part of the Patriarchal Priesthood discussed earlier), the authority requires an alignment between the prophet, the Lord and the Lord’s will. (See, D&C 132: 45-49, in particular verse 48 which mentions “by my word and according to my law”–which required Joseph to align himself with the Lord before using that power.) Those who have this authority will not do anything contrary to the will of the Lord. (Helaman 10: 5.)  It is because of this trust between the Lord and His messenger that the power is given to the man. Nephi was such a man. His book contained a seal upon it bearing the power of God.
Nephi knew. Knowledge came from Christ. Nephi knew Christ. (2 Ne.11: 3.)

Notice how Nephi refers to the “remnant” who are “our seed.” Nephi refers to the remnant variously as:

-descendants of his father Lehi (1 Ne. 13: 34)

-descendants of his brethren (1 Ne. 13: 38-39)
-his family’s descendants or “our seed” (1 Ne. 15: 13-14)
-a mixture of Nephi’s descendants who are among his brother’s descendant’s (1 Ne. 13: 30 

Nephi’s primary line of descendants would be destroyed, but that destruction would not include all. There would remain a mixture of blood that would include partial descent from Nephi. (1 Ne. 13: 30-31) The various bloodlines remained identified as Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites. (Mormon 1: 8.) Although it would be impossible, without revelation, for us to determine which of these lines a person might belong to today, the Lord nevertheless revealed in 1828 that these various divisions remain identified to Him. (D&C 3: 16-19.) No doubt, in time, He will restore to the remnant descendants this knowledge of their sacred paternity and eternal identity.

Their blood may be mixed, but the remnant remains. Nephi may have referred to them more often as descendants of his “brethren,” but they have within them some of his blood as well. In the day of redemption and restoration, the promises will all be fulfilled. The whole of the family of Lehi will be represented in the remnant.

Notice Nephi’s prophecy is that “words which shall be written out of the book” rather than the book itself. This is, of course, exactly what we have. The actual book has been withheld. Only words from the book have been given us. But those words are intended to be of great worth to mankind, and in particular to the remnant.

This process is sacred, the promises are from the Lord. These words are given to us by Him, through a servant possessing authority to seal them up. We cannot prevent them from happening. We can, however, align ourselves with them and in turn be saved as well.

2 Nephi 28: 1-2

2 Nephi 28: 1-2:
 

“And now, behold, my brethren, I have spoken unto you, according as the Spirit hath constrained me; wherefore, I know that they must surely come to pass.  And the things which shall be written out of the book shall be of great worth unto the children of men, and especially unto our seed, which is a remnant of the house of Israel.”
Nephi, as any prophetic writer, says what “the Spirit hath constrained” him to say.  This is the very definition of using the Lord’s name with permission and not using His name in vain. (Exo. 20: 7.)
Nephi held power from God in the words he used. Therefore he could “know that they must surely come to pass” because he sealed them as he wrote them. (D&C 1: 38.) For any person holding the sealing authority (which is an indispensable part of the Patriarchal Priesthood discussed earlier), the authority requires an alignment between the prophet, the Lord and the Lord’s will. (See, D&C 132: 45-49, in particular verse 48 which mentions “by my word and according to my law”–which required Joseph to align himself with the Lord before using that power.) Those who have this authority will not do anything contrary to the will of the Lord. (Helaman 10: 5.)  It is because of this trust between the Lord and His messenger that the power is given to the man. Nephi was such a man. His book contained a seal upon it bearing the power of God.
Nephi knew. Knowledge came from Christ. Nephi knew Christ. (2 Ne.11: 3.)

Notice how Nephi refers to the “remnant” who are “our seed.” Nephi refers to the remnant variously as:

-descendants of his father Lehi (1 Ne. 13: 34)

-descendants of his brethren (1 Ne. 13: 38-39)
-his family’s descendants or “our seed” (1 Ne. 15: 13-14)
-a mixture of Nephi’s descendants who are among his brother’s descendant’s (1 Ne. 13: 30 

Nephi’s primary line of descendants would be destroyed, but that destruction would not include all. There would remain a mixture of blood that would include partial descent from Nephi. (1 Ne. 13: 30-31) The various bloodlines remained identified as Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites. (Mormon 1: 8.) Although it would be impossible, without revelation, for us to determine which of these lines a person might belong to today, the Lord nevertheless revealed in 1828 that these various divisions remain identified to Him. (D&C 3: 16-19.) No doubt, in time, He will restore to the remnant descendants this knowledge of their sacred paternity and eternal identity.

Their blood may be mixed, but the remnant remains. Nephi may have referred to them more often as descendants of his “brethren,” but they have within them some of his blood as well. In the day of redemption and restoration, the promises will all be fulfilled. The whole of the family of Lehi will be represented in the remnant.

Notice Nephi’s prophecy is that “words which shall be written out of the book” rather than the book itself. This is, of course, exactly what we have. The actual book has been withheld. Only words from the book have been given us. But those words are intended to be of great worth to mankind, and in particular to the remnant.

This process is sacred, the promises are from the Lord. These words are given to us by Him, through a servant possessing authority to seal them up. We cannot prevent them from happening. We can, however, align ourselves with them and in turn be saved as well.

Discussion of the Gentiles and the Remnant


We’re still in a discussion which began June 7th to try and make sense of the present and future of Zion.


We have seen how priestly authority is more complex than a list of names on a page showing some connection to the Prophet Joseph Smith. We have examined how necessary it is to reconnect with heaven itself to have not just authority, but also power in the priesthood. That connection of power in the priesthood comes from the hand of God, not from another man. The powers of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven and the hand of God.  (D&C 121: 36.)
 
Men do not make priests, God does. For those who have eyes to see, God’s hand in priestly authority has been seen by endowed Latter-day Saints from Nauvoo onward. Men do not make prophets. God has reserved that right for Himself.  (Numbers 12: 6.) God will call them whether or not men accept or recognize them.
 
We think we have a hope in membership in the church, but the scriptures offer us no reason for that hope. Hope lies in Christ.

We have seen how carefully the Book of Mormon distinguishes between the “remnant” to inherit great promises, and “gentiles” who must align themselves with Christ to become inheritors of those promises. We have seen how members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are always identified with the gentiles (D&C 109: 60), and not the remnant.

 
We have seen how the gentiles will be given authority over the remnant, and will be permitted to abuse and tread upon them for a season. We have seen that the promises once given the remnant will be given conditionally and for a season to the gentiles, who will receive the book written by the remnant’s forebearers. The gentiles will become a great nation, and will be protected and powerful. They will be greater than any other nation on the earth. We have read how that will result in pride and foolishness.
 
We have seen that the gentiles will be swept away, just as the remnant was swept away. But those gentiles who will repent and receive Christ will receive a covenant entitling them to also belong to and possess this land as a place of inheritance.
 
Those gentiles who enter into this covenant, repent, come to Christ and receive Christ’s presence will be preserved as the remainder of the gentiles’ probation ends. When the time of the gentile dominance ends, they will be swept away.
 
We have seen that the gentiles who do not possess the covenant will become trodden under foot just as the remnant.  The world will descend into darkness, as the Spirit and the Light of Christ withdraws from all but those who are chosen heirs. The wicked will destroy the wicked. The gathered faithful will have the Lord’s Spirit as a protection and shield. The wicked will fear and not go near them, for they will be “terrible” to the wicked.
 
The covenant people will be gathered in the “tops of the mountains” where there will be a refuge and the Lord will be among them. When the destruction ends and the wicked have been swept away, the Father will return these gathered covenant people to their lands of promise. When He does, His hand will be over them, and will be their rear guard. Nothing and no-one will hurt or make them afraid.

This orients us to begin to consider more carefully what the gentiles have done and will do with their opportunity. So we return to Nephi’s writings to look more carefully at ourselves and the perils we face.

 
All of this is an experiment to see if it is possible to have this kind of discussion take place on a blog. I used to teach a weekly Book of Mormon class where we examined the text carefully. In those ten years we were able to go from 1 Nephi 1:1 to Jarom 1: 4. I know the material could be taught in that setting because the people were in front of me and I could take in what they were receiving as I taught. This is an alien way to teach, where disembodied words are put into a blog to be read by those who may or may not be attentive, diligent, prayerful and prepared. I cannot gage the effectiveness of this as well except from how the Lord assists me at my end.  At the reader’s end I am divided by circuitry, time and space and cannot measure as I could if you were in front of me.
 
I will continue the experiment, but remain doubtful that this will work as well as a book or a meeting would. In the end, the reader (or listener) must have the Spirit to be able to take in any light taught. So you will determine for yourself if you will receive what is offered. So, we will see…

3 Nephi 21: 29

3 Nephi 21: 29:
 
“And they shall go out from all nations; and they shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward.”
 
When the time comes to redistribute the survivors to their respective promised lands of inheritance, they will not flee, nor will the process be hurried. No one will pursue them. They will at last be free to go to their homes without being molested along the way.
 
The Father will go before them. The Father will be on their rear guard. His glory and His presence will be their shield and protection.
 
How will the earth respond to such a passage? Psalms 48: 1-4 gives some idea of this great and joyful procession. Psalms 67 is another great anthem of this event.
 
Though the days before were terrible, in their wake all be comforted, for to know the Great Comforter is to know at last peace. Isaiah could not refrain from adding to the anthems of praise of this future event: “Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;  That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.  Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.”  (Isa. 49: 8-13.)
 
This ultimate triumph was always intended to be the outcome.  The end will be joyful. Though His covenant people may pass through the trials and rigors of mortality, the fruit offered to them is delicious even in times of tragedy and distress. (Alma 32: 28.) To make it through what is coming and endure to the final comfort, it will be necessary to come and plant that seed inside you now. Unless you do so, you will not have the strength to lay hold on the promises of the Lord.
 
The end will be worth all the shame and bitterness endured while the world still lies in sin and error. (2 Nephi 9: 18.) The final triumph will be won by those who can endure the presence of the Father. This requires more than enduring the presence of the Son. Those who can rise to this glory must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, and become kings and priests, holding that same priesthood and bearing that same right which was in the beginning and is named after the Son of God. They will be everlasting, for they came from everlasting and have reconnected with that while here in mortality.
 
The Book of Mormon is a message of hope and triumph. But to win that triumph and possess that hope requires the reader to follow the same path and take the same steps as all others who went before. There simply is not a way to avoid the rigors of the journey. It must change YOU. The work of the Father is to develop YOU. To do so it will require you to cooperate with Him. It is His work and His glory, but you must choose to let Him bring you along. Read Nephi’s remarkable summary:  “Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.  And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked.  And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes.  He ruleth high in the heavens, for it is his throne, and this earth is his footstool.  And he loveth those who will have him to be their God. Behold, he loved our fathers, and he covenanted with them, yea, even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and he remembered the covenants which he had made;”  (1 Ne. 17: 36-40, emphasis added.) Can you not see the pleading, the meekness and the humility in this description of our God?
 
Great is His wisdom and endless His mercy and the extent of His doings no man can find out! He makes Himself known to those who seek after Him, and those who cry out they do not know Him is only because they have chosen to ignore His plea!
 
We will return then to Nephi’s writings and continue this effort to understand what great covenants the Book of Mormon lay before us if we choose to receive them.
 

3 Nephi 21: 27-28

 
“Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name.  Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance.”
When it begins in earnest and for the last time, it will be universal. There won’t be an effort among one part of the vineyard which isn’t mirrored by similar efforts in other parts of the vineyard. All the natural branches will be returned and reunited with the natural roots, as all are gathered again into one.
The Father will determine the timing. The Son will implement the plan. The process will require everyone, in every scattered part of the vineyard, to “come unto Christ.” Unless they “come unto Christ,” they will not be gathered and cannot be saved.
 
When they are brought again into their original state and begin to bear fruit, “they may call on the Father in [Christ’s] name”  with His approval and blessing. Without that, the “gathering home” cannot become a reality.
 
The Father’s work will be “among all nations” because it will involve the judgment and destruction of all nations. (D&C 87: 6.)
 
This will “prepare the way.” Why does the work need to happen “among all nations” for the way to be prepared?

What does it mean to now call all those who are to be included in this final gathering “his people” meaning the Father’s people? Why would they end their long sojourn by becoming the “Father’s people?” Christ has spoken of them being “His people” (meaning Christ’s) but now the culmination will result in them becoming the “Father’s people” as well. (D&C 76: 92-95.)

 
Notice that part of the final covenant being fulfilled involves re-gathering into the lands promised as their inheritance. This does not mean a single step. It means that the great work of the Father in destroying the nations, eliminating the wicked, and returning knowledge and a connection to Him through His Son, will prepare the way for the final step of gathering the chosen people into the lands of their inheritance.
There will be gatherings, and a great gathering, and at last a distribution of the survivors into their respective promised lands. Between the time of the great upheavals, and the time of the final distribution, there will be a season in which there will a great gathering in the “Mountains” (2 Ne. 12: 2) where it will be a fearsome, even terrible thing for the wicked to contemplate. (D&C 45: 68-70.) This will be in “the tops of the mountains.” (Micah 4: 1; 2 Ne. 12: 2; Isa. 2: 2.) This will be where the New Jerusalem will exist. This will be before the final distribution into the various places of inheritance of the Lord’s people.
 
Before the return to the lands of inheritance, however, there will be terrible days, the likes of which have only been seen in the final pages of the Nephite record. (Mormon 6: 6-22.)

The choice is between the Lord, His offered redemption and protection, and destruction. The gentiles are now offered a choice while reenacting the same poor judgment that led to their own loss of opportunity. That needn’t be true of individuals. It seems apparent that the prophetic message of the Book of Mormon foretells gentile arrogance and pride, collectively claiming they are on the road to Zion, while they are instead doomed to repeating the errors of prior civilizations of this continent. We will get to that in the coming days, but for now we remain interested in the definition and destiny of the “remnant” of the prior occupants.

(What an interesting text this Book of Mormon proves to be. It makes one wonder why it would ever suffer from neglect.)

3 Nephi 21: 26

3 Nephi 21: 26: 

“And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem.” 

Christ reiterates again the work of the Father is only at its “commencement” when the fullness of the gentiles is completed. The gentile day ends, the message goes to the remnant, and then will the work “commence at that day.”

We think the work was underway when Joseph initiated it. In one respect it was. But Joseph never lived to locate the remnant, nor to deliver the Book of Mormon to them, nor to see them return to believe in and obtain a renewal of their covenant with Jesus Christ. It was one of his great priorities.  But Joseph was killed before the work advanced to the point which is called the “commencement” by the Lord in this prophecy.

The work of the Father consists in fulfilling covenants. His great latter-day work of bringing the return of the Gospel to the remnant, who had the promise, used Joseph Smith and the gentiles to lay a foundation.The work of the covenant, however, will commence when the gentiles hand off the restored truths, the record of the fathers, and the reminder of what great things are promised, to the remnant.

The work of the Father, once it commences, is not limited to restoring the remnant to their former status. It reaches to all those who had been “led away out of Jerusalem.” Therefore, all of those tribes who are “lost” to us, but are not lost to the Father, will be brought back and restored to the Lord.

This restoration of the lost tribes and return of the covenant is a subject Isaiah wrote and rejoiced about. I do not intend to take that detour in this post, but if you read Isaiah (particularly those portions quoted by Nephi), you will see how great a focus this final restoration has been.

We call our time the Dispensation of the Fullness of Time, because our time is leading to that return to fullness. However, in one sense Joseph Smith was much like the Protestant fathers who laid a groundwork for a greater, further return of light. They did not see the full return. We might.

From the time of Joseph Smith until now, however, we have neglected or forgotten a great deal of what Joseph was given.  There are doctrines we circulate today that are incomplete or misleading. We have not been diligent, and as a result our conferences, meetings, associations and discussions continue to be too low, too vulgar, too condescending from what we were called to receive.

How few or many of us will be permitted to participate in the on going process of the Restoration remains to be seen.  However, when the fullness returns, those who become the heirs will look back on the era of the Latter-day Saints with much the same reaction as we look back on the Jewish era in which Christ lived. They will be astonished at the great principles of truth we discarded, neglected or ignored. They will wonder in astonishment at our groveling to gain acceptance from a doomed and ignorant religious tradition calling itself “Christianity.” They will find it utterly incomprehensible that we argued we should be regarded as one of them, rather than proclaiming their doctrines are the commandments of men, having a form of godliness but lacking any power.  They will wonder why we would trade the power of God for acceptance and popularity; particularly when we were told that pandering for popularity is at the heart of priestcraft. Why, they will ask, did the Latter-day Saints invest tithing in opinion polling and focus group testing to insure the language and opinions of doomed Babylon were employed in declaring what little we kept of the restored Gospel? Our failure will be clear to them, although we find it quite opaque. We still think we’re approved by the Lord, even though our condemnation is set out in scripture.

The work of the Father will commence in the future. What is underway at present cannot be what was intended to bring the return of the Lord’s Zion because we have neglected the ordinances, forgotten the teachings, and drifted into a “feel good” sentimentality which suggests that all of us are likely to be exalted. Using a gambling term to capture the grave risks we take, Deseret Book proclaims: “Odds Are, You’re Going To Be Exalted”–while they risk damning all those who are willing to gamble with them on such foolish, vain and untrue notions.  Nephi condemned that foolish idea long ago in a book which, if we kept its principles, would have spared us from our current plight.  (2 Nephi 28: 8.)