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Roles and Limitations

My wife is gone and I have access to the blog, so I will add a thought to this line of discussion as an aside:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a role in the Gospel, but not the central role which some have tried to make it assume.  It prints copies of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.  It conducts Sacrament Meetings at which an essential ordinance is performed.  It provides missionaries an opportunity to teach, and then gives the ordinances of baptism and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.  These are important and I do not think there will be any freelance practice of these rites so long as the Church exists.  All of these things take place at the lowest level, where the hand of the Lord is still apparent.  Elder Oaks’ examples of the Holy Ghost come from that lowest level of the Church.  It was at this level I first received companionship of the Holy Ghost as a gift, and not merely a visit to bear testimony of the truth.


The Church above this local level, however, has become somewhat of a deterrent to the Saints’ progress and happiness.  Mandates and control from an increasingly distant hierarchy more often than not detract from what could be enjoyed.  The Church has first sought to obtain the ability to micro-manage every member’s lives through the correlation process, then upon securing that ability has felt duty-bound to exercise that control.  Now it is a matter of whether you are a “good member” if you conform to the central authority’s direction on everything from opening your scriptures in Sacrament meeetings, to engaging in an order of prayer in the privacy of your home, to your lesson’s content when permitted to teach in a class of the Church.  The color of the priests’ shirts, the length of their hair, their dietary habits and dating restrictions are all weighed against programs like “Duty to God” and conformity to “Church Standards.”


The standards and conditions ALWAYS have as their goal the betterment of those involved.  But the results are to mislead those who conform into thinking they’ve become better as a result.  The practice of universal conformity becomes a distraction in which the distracted believe their strict Church regimen pleases Christ; when it was the heart He was always after.  It was the religiously scrupulous who persecuted and killed Him.  His persecutors were careful about their diet, dress, language, behavior and conformity.  We may be reminding Him of His mortal opposition when we engage in this conformist behavior.  He captured the hearts of fishermen, outcasts, prostitutes, tax collectors, the heretical and rebellious.  Their outward behavior may not have conformed, but their hearts were in the right place.


The Church has something to add, to be sure.  But what it adds comes to an end, so far as I can tell, once you move above the ward level.  As LeGrand Richards quipped: “Everything above the Stake is just talk.”  He’s right, but I would have said the Ward instead of the Stake.  And some of that “just talk” actually interferes with the development of the Saints’ hearts.  It would be better to remain silent than to speak up and justify interference by a flawed program between a man and his God, or a woman and her Lord.


I am active, but not merely in my weekly Church attendance.  I am active also in my daily obligations to the Lord.  It is my daily service which I consider the more important of the two.

3 Nephi 21: 25

3 Nephi 21: 25:

“And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.”

What does the “power of heaven” include? (We’ve already looked at 1 Nephi 14: 14 which is speaking about this same event, you should read again that post.)

What is the difference between the “power of heaven” and the Lord’s presence?

Why would the power of heaven come first, then the Lord?  (Moses 1: 11.)

What would it require for you to be able to endure the presence of the Lord? (Moses 1: 2.)

If you are not prepared for His presence, what will your reaction be?  (Mormon 9: 3-5.)

Those who are directly in a covenant with Him, who have been promised forgiveness of their sins by Him, and who have sought and obtained His face, will be able to dwell in His presence. They will be prepared for His glory, have part in it, and thereby be protected when they are with Him.

If people have the “power of heaven” with them, do they need some other means to protect them as well? Why not?

Haven’t we already been promised this as early as 1833?  (See D&C 97: 15-19.)  What happened that we did not obtain these things? Have our Temples been kept undefiled?  If not, why? Have we permitted the unclean to enter? If so, why?  Is the glory of the Lord in our Temples? Can we behold His presence there? If not, why not?

If the promise was made to us in 1833 and we haven’t realized it from then till now, then are we to be numbered among those who will have the Lord “in their midst” as set out in this verse?  What should we do to change that?

By and large, the church has failed to honor the Book of Mormon, keep its terms and become heirs of its promises.  Our collective failure does not prevent individual success.  Individuals may still realize the blessings offered. But each of us must meet the exact same conditions. Having met them, however, nothing can prevent you from obtaining the blessings.

The Lord has been willing to bring individuals back into His presence on the same conditions throughout all time. Read again The Second Comforter if you do not remember what those conditions are. He is as willing to make you a citizen of Zion, member of the church of the Firstborn, and part of the general assembly today (D&C 76: 66-69) as in the future established Zion spoken of in the verses we have been reviewing. Many have done it in times past. Some have done it in our day. All are offered the same opportunity, but always on the same conditions.

The unchanging Gospel of Jesus Christ is always the same, and its blessings are always available.

3 Nephi 21: 23-24

3 Nephi 21: 23-24: 

“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.  And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.”
Who are those referred to as “my people?” “My people” are “the remnant of Jacob.”
Who are those referred to as “they?” The “they” are gentiles who have repented, come to Christ, entered into a covenant with Him, received the fullness of His Gospel, become heirs, and received the promise of land, and a connection with the promises to the remnant.
So it will be these few, chosen, covenantal gentiles who will “ASSIST” the remnant.  
-They won’t lead them,
-preside over them,
-control them,
-subjugate them,
-nor dominate them. 
They will “assist” them. What does “assist” mean? Who is taking the lead if the gentiles are only to “assist” in the process?
What will the remnant do? What city is to be built? Why is it called the New Jerusalem?
Forget everything you think you know about where the New Jerusalem is to be built. Most of the myth and traditions about it are based on incomplete and inaccurate recreations of the events. 
Joseph sent the first missionaries to the Lamanites to find the place. The entire block of Native Americans east of the Mississippi, from the Delaware to the Cherokee, had been relocated at the time of the 1834 revelations regarding the New Jerusalem. At that brief moment in time, all of them were located just over the boundary of western Missouri. The closest you could get to them was Independence, Missouri. Since it was the remnant who would build the New Jerusalem, the obligation was to find them, preach to them, and assist them in building. But the missionaries couldn’t do that. When they tried, they were sent out of the Indian Territory on the threat of being imprisoned. So Independence was as close as they could get.
The Native Americans have relocated and relocated again. Now they are nowhere near Independence. When Joseph fled Nauvoo in late June, days before his death, he was leaving for the Rocky Mountains where he intended to locate the remnant. He returned, was killed, and never made it out here.

Brigham Young tried to locate the remnant. In fact, the St. George Temple was built as the next fully functioning Temple at the chosen location precisely because it was intended to be near the remnant. In the very first endowment session, the Hopi Chief and his wife went through, received their endowment, and were sealed the next day. They were invited to try and connect with the remnant and this tribe was suspected as the one the Saints were to locate.

We’ve lost that fervor. We’ve assumed Independence is the site. We think we’re going to build it. We have no clue we are only to “assist” and not control.
All of this is worth some study. But you’re going to have to search back into history and ignore all the recent re-done and re-worked histories that ignore this early material. It’s too much to get into in this post, but maybe I’ll take it up at some point.

Temporary Blog Disarray

While my wife is at girl’s camp for the next few days you may notice some temporary disarray in things here.  This is caused by my direct involvement in the blog, rather than hers.

The problems you witness as I take a direct hand will be less, I’m sure, than the domestic tragedies which will undoubtedly unfold in the absence of my wife.  Fortunately, I recognize my limits and will make use of Taco Bell, KFC and Arby’s to avoid some of the perils I now face.



She has scheduled posts I wrote before her departure for the next few days, and they will come up in regular order.  I may add comments as well, but they will interrupt the discussion rather than continue it.


I’m hoping things will not deteriorate too far before her return.  And that I can keep the garden watered…  

The dog seems to recognize his life is temporarily in jeopardy.  But I think I have my son and remaining daughter fooled into thinking its going to work out.

3 Nephi 21: 21-22

3 Nephi 21: 21-22:  

“And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.  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 whom I have given this land for their inheritance;” 

Again the warning and the promise. Vengeance and fury are terrible words. It will be the responsibility of Christ to inflict it, and Christ says it will be His. “I will execute vengeance and fury” not “the Father.” This is Christ’s assignment – His cup.

His fury will be executed upon disbelieving gentiles, as well as the offending and violent heathen. When the spirit withdraws and they are left to themselves, it is only the limits of their cruel imagination that will compass the torture and evil they will visit upon one another. He will allow it by withdrawing the light of Christ, or His spirit. Without conscience, without remorse, without affection, filled with anger and hatred, it will be vengeance and fury.

This is juxtaposed with the reminder that “if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts” He will be with them. If they will follow His path, His light and spirit will not forsake them. They will not descend into the same violent vengeance and fury. They will remain at peace. They will have hope in Him.

For those who will “repent,” and “hearken unto His words,” He will establish “my church” among them.  Does this mean The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the church of the Firstborn?

When His church is joined it is through “the covenant.” What “covenant” is that? Merely baptism, or something more?

When the “covenant” is given them, they become “numbered among this remnant of Jacob.” Who is that remnant? When they become “numbered” among them, what significance does that hold? Does it imply a covenantal link which, like being sealed to someone, makes you part of that eternal family line (as discussed earlier)? 

Why is it necessary to become first in the covenant and numbered with the remnant before they receive the blessings of being “given this land for their inheritance?” What does the promise of land have to do with entering into a covenant? Can it ever be the same as the covenant made with Abraham if it does not involve an inheritance of land? If, therefore, the covenant of land is part of that new and everlasting covenant which was begun through Joseph, is this a promise of reuniting the recipients with the “fullness of the Gospel” as opposed to receiving “much of the Gospel” discussed in earlier posts?

What is the Lord setting out in this declaration and prophecy?  How do we become part of those promises? Is this something which an institution can do for you? Must you repent and come to Christ in order to become a part of it? If so, why not repent?

One a Day

I will be posting one post a day Tuesday and Wednesday because I will be gone.

CM

3 Nephi 21: 19-20

3 Nephi 21: 19-20:

“And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away.  For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel;”
Notice that the first four defects that are to end, include “lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes.” These are somewhat different than the next two. These first four are character flaws that lead to the next two.
The character flaws should not be thought of as defects in our ability to do business or conduct commerce. These are flaws leading to the failures of our redemption. Therefore, think of them as flaws in our beliefs, leading us to have what the Book of Mormon terms unbelief.
What lying goes on among us leads to priestcraft? How is our lying keeping us from knowing the Lord? What is it about our peculiar form of false belief that leads us to believe in, and spread about lying as part of the fallen, false faith we entertain?
What deceivings are part of our culture of unbelief? How is it we can celebrate the great priesthood “authority” we possess while acknowledging that it lacks any “power?” Are we deceiving ourselves? Are we alienated from God while thinking ourselves His peculiar people?

What envy is there among us? Has envy become a tool for church governance? If so, how does it become a tool for church governance? Have we built it right into our system at present?

Are we filled with strife? Is strife among us suppressing healthy exchange of ideas by labeling such discussion as “contention?” Is strife different from contention? Is uniformity of ideas and suppression of dissent something that will remove strife? If not, then why not?
These character flaws in turn lead to “priestcrafts” where people seek approval of the world but not the best interest of Zion. (2 Ne. 26: 29.) Do we want popularity from the “world?”  What is the “world?” Why would someone practicing priestcraft seek in particular to have approval and lead the world? Why is the distinction made between the interests of Zion and the interests of the world? Is public relations always focused on approval from the world? If so, why are we seeking such approval? Does the world’s opinion of us matter? Why? When have the followers of Jesus been popular? What have they suffered for His name? (Heb. 11: 36-40.)
Then we see “whoredoms” which we have discussed earlier. David Christensen’s comment on the meaning of false religion is worth returning to read again in this post.
Then Christ sounds the alarm, attributing it to the Father.  Repent. Come unto Christ. Otherwise you will be cut off. What does it mean to come to Christ? Read the short statement in D&C 93: 1. There is a succinct description of the process. You haven’t come to Him until you have “seen His face and know that He is,” or, in other words, until you hear from His own voice that He has atoned for your sins and He promises you a place in His kingdom.
All of these warnings are being given to orient you to what is important. The important thing is to come to Him. As Christ put it to Martha, “but one thing is needful.” (Luke 10: 38-42.) Until we have come to Him, all our concerns about other matters must remain secondary. Of what good is it to know all mysteries, if we have not come to Him? This is why, in the middle of this warning of calamities to come, the Lord places this invitation to come to Him. He can help. He can restore and protect. But only if you are His.

3 Nephi 21: 15-18

3 Nephi 21: 15-18:

“And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds; And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers; Thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands;  And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities.”
 
Cleaning up things so that the course of wickedness comes to an end involves some highly specific purging. However, the description is not given to us so we can know what will be coming as much as it is given to us to guide our own conduct and beliefs.
 
“Cities will be cut off” means what? “Strongholds thrown down” refers to what? Interesting things to contemplate to be sure.  But much more relevant are the warnings in what follows:
 
“Cut off witchcrafts” is a warning to those who engage in certain practices. What should you do to avoid being cut off as a result of being involved in “witchcraft?” What does that mean? Are only wiccans being warned by this?
 
Who are the “soothsayers” who are to be terminated? What constitutes “soothsaying?” Look that word up. It appears in interesting contexts. The typical example involves predictions made using means other than true prophecy. But you should look at it and ask yourself how it would apply in modern applications: in business, government, economics, weather–especially long-term weather, politics, etc.
 
What are “graven images?” What are “standing images?”  Why are the “standing images” said to be “in the midst of thee?”
 
What does it mean to “worship the works of thy hands?” How can a person worship their own works?
 
What are the “groves” that are to be plucked up? Why are the groves also “in the midst of thee?” The ancient usage of groves involved fertility rites, sacred sexual practices, or the worship of intercourse. What modern versions of this ancient form of fertility worship would be similar to the ancient behavior as to merit being called the same thing?
 
What does it mean to have our “cities destroyed?” Does this have anything to do with the other prophecy that the final victory of Israel will inhabit the desolate cities of the gentiles?  (Isa. 54: 3.)
 
Remember this is Christ speaking. This is the Redeemer, the merciful author of our salvation. Therefore, you must conclude that these direful predictions are actually based on the overall long-term best interest of those involved. They are better off, improved and advanced by these judgments. Imagine that. The wrath of God is best visited upon those who are destroyed, rather than leaving them to continue the course they are headed in. It is an interesting thing to contemplate.

3 Nephi 21: 15-18

3 Nephi 21: 15-18:

“And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds; And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers; Thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands;  And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities.”
 
Cleaning up things so that the course of wickedness comes to an end involves some highly specific purging. However, the description is not given to us so we can know what will be coming as much as it is given to us to guide our own conduct and beliefs.
 
“Cities will be cut off” means what? “Strongholds thrown down” refers to what? Interesting things to contemplate to be sure.  But much more relevant are the warnings in what follows:
 
“Cut off witchcrafts” is a warning to those who engage in certain practices. What should you do to avoid being cut off as a result of being involved in “witchcraft?” What does that mean? Are only wiccans being warned by this?
 
Who are the “soothsayers” who are to be terminated? What constitutes “soothsaying?” Look that word up. It appears in interesting contexts. The typical example involves predictions made using means other than true prophecy. But you should look at it and ask yourself how it would apply in modern applications: in business, government, economics, weather–especially long-term weather, politics, etc.
 
What are “graven images?” What are “standing images?”  Why are the “standing images” said to be “in the midst of thee?”
 
What does it mean to “worship the works of thy hands?” How can a person worship their own works?
 
What are the “groves” that are to be plucked up? Why are the groves also “in the midst of thee?” The ancient usage of groves involved fertility rites, sacred sexual practices, or the worship of intercourse. What modern versions of this ancient form of fertility worship would be similar to the ancient behavior as to merit being called the same thing?
 
What does it mean to have our “cities destroyed?” Does this have anything to do with the other prophecy that the final victory of Israel will inhabit the desolate cities of the gentiles?  (Isa. 54: 3.)
 
Remember this is Christ speaking. This is the Redeemer, the merciful author of our salvation. Therefore, you must conclude that these direful predictions are actually based on the overall long-term best interest of those involved. They are better off, improved and advanced by these judgments. Imagine that. The wrath of God is best visited upon those who are destroyed, rather than leaving them to continue the course they are headed in. It is an interesting thing to contemplate.