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Today and Yesterday

In Kirtland, Ohio the saints were too proud, foolish and vain for Zion to be established.

In Nauvoo, Illinois the saints were too proud, foolish and vain for Zion to be established.

In Salt Lake City, Utah the saints are too proud, foolish and vain for Zion to be established.

Those who are thinking about this topic today believe themselves to be something other than proud, foolish and vain. But if you read the historical events and compare our conversations, our ambitions, our desires and our self-promotion, you will see we are no better than they were in their own day. WE are not even appreciative of what was restored. When we are asked to remember what Joseph Smith taught, it is opposed by traditions, fears and competing ambition.

Just like in Kirtland, there are many unclean spirits who will deceive you. Unless you anchor what you are taught in the scriptures, and require all truth to measure up, you can be deceived. That is as true now as then. Some people are so thrilled by having any spiritual experience that they accept anything.

Lying spirits appeal to your pride and vanity. God will chasten you and require you to be meek and serve both Him and your fellow man. Lying spirits will tell you that you are some great and mighty person. God will remind you that only He is strong, but He uses the weak things of this world to accomplish His work. Therefore, no one can take credit but Him for whatever is accomplished.

Proud, foolish and vain people have never built Zion. Only the penitent, the meek, and the humble can qualify to be around as God does His work.

Mormon In Context

Mormon, the abridger of the largest portion of the Book of Mormon, has an important context. He abridged the entire collection of prophetic and historic source materials. From Lehi to the time of King Benjamin, however, the abridgment was translated by Joseph Smith and then lost. That work was replaced by the Small Plates of Nephi, which he did not abridge.

Beginning with Mosiah and concluding with his own book, his abridgment remained intact. We now have that in the current Book of Mormon. His son completed the book, adding his (Moroni’s) abridgment and translation of the record of Ether. Then he added his record.

Who was Mormon? What were the circumstances under which he compiled and abridged this lengthy volume of scripture? What things motivated his work?

Mormon was only 10 years old when he learned about the tradition of record keeping among his people. The records were handed down generation to generation. In his day, the previous record-keeper came to him and asked him to continue the work.

Mormon was chosen at 10 years old because he stood out. He was a “sober” minded child. Meaning he could contemplate serious matters in a mature way. He was also “quick to observe,” meaning he would both understand what was needed and be willing to do it. (Mormon 1: 2.) Society, at the time the hand-off to Mormon took place, was undergoing collapse. They were violent and “exceedingly wicked.” There were so few left who would respect the old religion it had essentially vanished from the earth. (4 Ne. 1: 45-46.)

Mormon’s immediate predecessor (Ammaron) is referred to in only three verses before Mormon’s record begins. (4 Ne. 1: 47-49.) Ammaron was inspired to hide the records from the people. He was then inspired to choose Mormon as the new record-keeper because of the qualifications set out above.

Mormon was told to get the records when he was twenty-four years old. (Mormon 1: 3.)

When he was 11, his people fought a war and many died. (Mormon 1: 6, 8.) War only hardened the Nephites, and the Lord withdrew the resident angels so they ministered no more among Mormon’s people. (Mormon 1: 13.) When they withdrew, miracles ceased. When the angels left and the gifts ended, the Holy Ghost also withdrew from the people. (Mormon 1: 13-14.)

In contrast to the damned people all around him, Mormon was “visited of the Lord” and therefore he “tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus.” (Mormon 1: 15.) Like Joseph Smith, Mormon tasted the fruit of the tree of life while still a teenager. He “knew” Jesus and therefore, despite the fact that the people were in darkness, Mormon stood in the light. Darkness among a larger population never hinders an individual from coming into the light.

When Mormon tried to preach to the people, the Lord stopped him. They had willfully rebelled, and were consigned to destruction. (Mormon 1: 16.) If the Lord had permitted him to preach, it would have been an indication the Lord would still allow them to repent. Once the Lord forbid Mormon from preaching, the people were left to their destruction.

Mormon’s people were filled with mischief, looking for power from the wrong source. When the Holy Ghost withdrew from them, they craved its presence and resorted to conjuring and witchcrafts to invoke the only spirits that would give heed to them. (Mormon 1: 19.)

Mormon was only 16 when he was asked to lead the people into war. He knew Jesus, was prevented from preaching the truth about Christ, and he was living a life of violence and warfare. (Mormon 2: 1-2.) The war was bloody, the losses were great, and the people Mormon led were humbled by their losses. Mormon saw this terrible downfall and destruction as vindication of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecies against the rebellious Nephites. (Mormon 2: 10.)

When the people cried out in anguish from the burdens imposed on them by their awful circumstances, Mormon thought their cries were a hopeful sign. He supposed that perhaps the Lord would forgive them and reclaim them. (Mormon 2: 12.) But these people were not repentant, merely self-pitying because God would not support them in their wickedness. (Mormon 2: 13.)

Instead of looking to God and repenting, they resented God and cursed Him. (Mormon 2: 14.) For them, “the day of grace was passed with them” and they could no longer be saved. (Mormon 2: 15.)

There is a limit on the Lord’s forgiveness. When people claim they understand the Gospel, have the fullness, and therefore deliberately rebel against God’s messengers, driving the Holy Ghost out from among them, then the day of grace has passed.

Mormon was the great abridger of the Book of Mormon. But his life was lived in a society that was corrupt, vile, violent and void of the Holy Ghost. Yet he lived with God’s grace, as well as knowledge from Christ. These wicked and corrupt contemporaries were unable to even feel the Lord’s grace, but Mormon lived as one of the Lord’s friends.

From this, we can see just how little the social decay of a population affects the lives of the Lord’s followers. An entire nation can be blind, but that does not prevent disciples from seeing. Neither religions, traditions nor governments keep an individual from repenting.

Mormon was the perfect candidate to abridge the book. He lived at a time in where it was possible for him to understand us perfectly. He explained: “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envyings, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.” (Mormon 8: 35-36.)

UPDATE:
I’ve received complaints from several people, including Symons Ryder, pointing out Mormon 8 was written by Mormon’s son, Moroni.

Email Response “Second Time”

I received an inquiry about my comment in the Ephriam talk about God’s hand “the second time.”  The inquirer referred to a letter Joseph wrote, directed my attention there, and asked about the “second time.” My response appears below:

God may yet set His hand a second time in still another generation (or generations, depending on the reaction today), if the work required is not done today.  When God begins to speak, we are obligated to inquire, listen and heed.  At present I do not expect any success in the present generation.  This world is so captured by a faithlessness and hardness that even the trump of an angel would fail to reach those alive today.  If mankind knew what He offers now, we would all make the necessary sacrifice to receive it.


Joseph spoke as the Elias sent to prepare.  He accomplished all that was required in his day.  But he did not accomplish what might have been done if those who lived in his day had been faithful.  There will come another with the Spirit of Elijah, whom Joseph foretold.  When that window opens it will require better response than in Joseph’s day, or another generation will pass away un-redeemed, but not un-warned.  Right now the question is whether we are willing to still receive what Joseph in the spirit of Elias gave us.  Hence the present series of talks.  They are designed to let us remember.  Before the Spirit of Elijah will be permitted to be heard, we must remember.  God cannot give more when we forget what we already have received.  

Then still another will come who is the Messiah.  But all these are part of “the second time” in the Lord’s economy.  Likewise, they will all minister to a “generation” in the language of prophecy, while in the reckoning of men it involves generations.
____________________________________________
I got a response saying the writer was trying hard, but seemed to be spending too much time with things like changing diapers to get any real breakthroughs.  I responded:

changing diapers and being a husband and father are EXACTLY what will bring about both what you seek and what God wants to happen as well.  


Daily, small acts of service to others, and in particular inside the family, are what we lack.  We need better husbands and better fathers, more loving marriages and healthy families most of all.  I will not get to that topic for two talks.  But it is coming.

Too much attention is being paid to matters outside the family, where we have no control.  It is family life, above all, where God’s great work gets done.

Ephriam Transcript – Christ: The Prototype of the Saved Man

The Ephriam transcript is now posted to Scribd. It is an expanded version and will read differently than the recording.

It is linked on the blog under DS Talks.

Las Vegas and St. George

Las Vegas Lecture

Date:  Friday, July 25, 2014
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Place: Fiesta Henderson Hotel & Casino
          777 West Lake Mead Parkway
          Henderson, NV 89015
Seats: Cancun Room A/B, seats 150

St. George Lecture

Date:  Saturday, July 26, 2014
Time:  9:30 a.m.
Place:  Lexington Hotel and Conference Center
           850 Bluff Street
           St. George, UT 84770
Seats:  Ballroom, seats 275

One Talk

The series of lectures that began in Boise and will end in Phoenix are one talk. There are three left. Each one of the talks builds on earlier material.

If you are interested in understanding, then it would be beneficial to rehear or reread the previous ones. The later talks will connect things that were raised in the earlier ones. It is not possible to state everything at once. Pieces must be put together systematically.

Remember

“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” (D&C 88: 33.)

From the moment Joseph Smith died, we have lost our memory of what God revealed through him. By forgetting we refuse the gift given by God.

First we must remember.

Until we remember what we were given, there is no reason for God to give more. Today we are being tested to see if we can be stirred to remember what came to light through Joseph.

It is up to God to decide whether the test is being passed. If we fail, there will be nothing further given this generation. We are on trial.

Will we remember? Will we finally rejoice in the gift and its giver?

Or will we cower in fear and look for every reason we can summon to ignore, oppose, dismiss and reject what we were offered? As Christ put it: “O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” (Luke 24: 25.) Nothing has changed. Mankind is the same now as ever.

Sunstone August 2 @ 2:00

The preliminary program has set my Sunstone paper (Cutting Down the Tree of Life to Build a Wooden Bridge) for Saturday, August 2nd at 2:00. The session will last until 3:30 and include my paper, a response, and Q&A from the audience.

Today Joseph and Hyrum Died

This is the day Joseph and his brother Hyrum were killed. To be more accurate, it is the day Hyrum first, then Joseph momentarily afterwards, were killed.

I spent some time speaking yesterday with a friend I baptized shortly after my own baptism just over 40 years ago. He was a member of the LDS Church for thirty years, and was then excommunicated. I was a member for 40 years, and was then excommunicated. Neither of us intend to ever return to LDS Church membership, and therefore have no reason to curry favor.

The truth is, however, that both of our lives have been fundamentally blessed by the time we were members of the LDS Church. Both of us have experienced the “fruits” of converting. The results include reforming how we lived, what we did with our time, how we pursued education and employment, who we associated with, even how we look at the world now in contrast to how we did before.

I am grateful for every moment I belonged to the LDS Church. I hold no resentments toward it and believe that struggling to remain a member of the organization is worth the effort. It saddens me that there will be a mass resignation to protest the LDS Church’s policies this coming Pioneer Day. That is not the way to leave.

Both my friend and I were excommunicated. I didn’t quit. I would never have quit voluntarily. I would have stayed and tried to work within the organization to persuade by example, by precept, and by my testimony. Inside my own ward and stake I was very quiet. When asked to teach, I taught. When asked to speak, I spoke. But I didn’t force my views on anyone.

It is true I wrote a book. But the book is overpriced to discourage its purchase. It is not easily available, not advertised, not promoted and I’ve never handed it out to anyone. I think it is true. But it was written to help, not hurt. I think it does help.

I believe Joseph and Hyrum died in a worthy cause. I think the energy and light that exploded onto the world through Joseph Smith’s ministry has powered the LDS Church since his passing. Joseph’s profound effect was so great that, even in the absence of any leader even a fraction of Joseph’s stature, the LDS Church has been able to amass followers and do some considerable good. The absence of another leader like Joseph has slowed the momentum, and now the energy is almost entirely gone. But that does not change the goodness yet to be found inside the LDS Church still.

The forces who are in control of the organization are working harder to stifle what little light that still remains. But those who see this should not desert the battlefield. Stay and testify to what you know to be right. Fight against the darkness. You can be holy even if those around you are not. Read the circumstances in which Mormon and his son Moroni lived. We have not yet fallen to that state.

There are problems to be sure. Why run from them? Why not confront them by your quiet example, your goodness and firm testimony of truth? Why not bring to the attention of others what they have not yet noticed on their own? If they cast you out, then it is their doing, not yours. Let them be the aggressor, and you stay true to the Lord and His path. It is better to offend them by your example of righteousness than to take offense at their example of unrighteousness. Christ is your example.