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Themes, Truth and Scripture

There is a great work left undone. The field has been abandoned and there is no harvesting taking place. We are all required to repent first, then to learn something before we attempt to teach others.

In doing the work I have been asked to do, I am relaying what I have been instructed needs to be taught to this generation at this time for the Lord’s promises to be fulfilled. That requires time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thought to be given to the Lord’s design. Although I do not consider myself equal to the task, I am nevertheless doing what little I am able to do as part of the Lord’s work.

To the best of my ability, I seek only to lay out what should be noted about our present challenges. I do my best to avoid a fanciful, or flowery or heated imagination in discussing salvation. While others may do so, I do not intend to trifle with the souls of men.

Joseph Smith’s counsel is appropriate and guides my thought on these things: “A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity-thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men.” (TPJS p. 137.) I have never trifled with men’s souls.

I have never given any one permission to speak for me, use my name to support their cause, or advocate using me as their source to make their ideas or teachings credible. If someone has a good idea, it should stand on its own. It should be reasonable. If an idea is so weak and fanciful, then associating my name, Joseph Smith’s name, or some general authority’s name with it should not overcome the weakness of the idea.  I do not believe in citing any authority other than scripture and Joseph Smith. Check the books I’ve written and talks I’ve given. Check my blog. There you can find what is true, taken from the authority of scripture. It is self-evident and capable of standing on its own. The truth I advocate is so self-supporting that I need to make no claim to authority.  


Yes, doubt everything other than truth taken from the scriptures.  They are the standard by which I teach.

Because this generation does not understand their precarious situation, they are unable to repent. But it is only repentance which can save some few souls. People are so quickly and easily drawn away from the challenge to repent before God into some other vain and foolish track. That is necessary, however, because in Joseph’s day we failed in Kirtland, failed again in Missouri, failed in Nauvoo and then lost Joseph. In Brigham’s day we failed in Salt Lake. The effort to save great numbers has not and will not work. There have always been comparatively few who have the patience and devotion to allow the Lord to do His work. Men and women charge into the upward pass and are slain by the beast who guards the way generation after generation, while God works patiently to save some few. In the meantime, if great numbers can be persuaded to wander off or charge impatiently, then so be it. Had they remained, they would have spoiled what lies at the top of the mountain. It is better, therefore, that they be taken in their vanity than to bring it with them into a society where such things would be ruinous.

King Benjamin is a more important topic for today than ever. But I get a flood of emails and comments asking about other, ridiculously extraneous things propounded by others using my name for credibility. You should already know enough to determine on your own the significance or insignificance of these side show issues. If you do not, then you deserve your confusion. You are on trial here. You must grow to stand on your own. Do not be dependent on me or any man for your knowledge of the truth. You must be able, by the power of the light given to you, to decide between truth and error, between what comes from God and what is of men and devils. If you are unable to determine that for yourself, then relying on others will never qualify you to enter into the Lord’s rest.

We have gotten to the reaction of King Benjamin’s people to his sermon. They were brought to repentance. But we have not yet taken a look at the overall setting wherein King Benjamin taught. Nephi established a line of prophet/priests to whom was given the charge to teach the people. That line’s work is recorded in the Small Plates of Nephi. At about the same distance in time from Nephi as we find ourselves from Joseph Smith, we read on the Small Plates of Nephi: “I know of no revelation save that which has been written, neither prophecy…” (Omni 1: 11.) I’ve discussed this in Eighteen Verses.

The prophetic line ended in silence. Whole generations record only one verse, admitting their failure; then the Book of Mormon reignites with King Benjamin. After generations of dissipating the light and falling into darkness, he represents the return of the prophetic. He is a symbol of restoration, a type of how God reclaims His people when they err. By his day, the people were overcome again, and needed return to the faith that could save them.

But King Benjamin did not operate on his own. He taught only what had been given to him to teach by an angel. (Mosiah 2: 2-4; see also Mosiah 4: 1.) Because God renewed His covenant with King Benjamin, it was through King Benjamin that the people could once again make an acceptable covenant with God. The purpose of sending the angel to King Benjamin was not to offer him alone salvation, but to offer once again a valid covenant through which others could repent. (Mosiah 5: 5-7.)

This is how the Gospel works. Even the chosen people of Lehi and his son Nephi brought to the promised land failed to abide the conditions of the covenant. But God did not abandon them. When enough generations had passed to allow the Lord’s hand to be revealed, then the Lord acted. The heavens were opened, the covenant was offered again, and souls were saved.

This is a great type. The Book of Mormon is far more relevant for our day than we imagine. It is a blueprint for how our own history is unfolding. It is a sobering lesson in how to fail and how to wait for the Lord to reclaim and redeem us.

We ignore or misunderstand the content of The Book of Mormon at the peril of our own salvation. When we do, then no one can be saved.

Your Only Hope

Contrast the reaction of King Benjamin’s audience with modern expectations and sensibilities. We want to hear smooth things. We want our self-image enhanced. We want stories that tell us we are good people in a good place doing good things and getting better every day. We want to feel reassured. King Benjamin’s audience felt threatened, unnerved and dismayed. They were reduced to fearful trembling, instead of hurrahs for their greatness. A sermon like the one King Benjamin delivered would drive the audience out the doors today.

Keep that in mind as you read the reaction recorded in Mosiah, Chapter 4: “when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them. And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.” (Mosiah 4: 1-2.)

Fear had come upon them! They viewed themselves in their carnal state! They thought themselves less than the dust of the earth! They cried out for mercy! Interesting indeed!

No hymns were sung thanking God for a prophet-king to guide them. No hymns proclaiming that all is well, all is well. No praise to the man who shook their hearts and minds with fear. Instead, it was contrition and prayer for Christ’s atoning blood to remove their sins and purify their hearts.

We read this stuff but don’t recognize any contrast between ourselves and these earlier “saved” people. We think we’re like them. But we are not. We’re nothing like them in our faith, in our practices, in our humility and in our understanding of God’s plan of salvation. We are filled with pride and foolishness, leading one another about from vanity to trifles, like drunkards who vomit upon one another and then view the results as proof of our inspiration. (Isa. 28: 1-3.) We get angry at the idea we need repentance because we are not yet saved. Our anger is proof we have fallen for Satan’s lies. (2 Ne. 28: 20.)

Joseph Smith decried the Saints of his day (with a lamentation that has increased in relevance in our own) with these words: “How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations—too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God. None but fools will trifle with the souls of men.” (TPJS, p.137.) If sermons were trifling in his day in ours they are vaccuous. This thin gruel cannot sustain us. Oddly, we are supposed to be constantly reminded of the need for spiritual nourishment to sustain life. When you participate in religious conventions dominated by theatrics, mood lighting and musical manipulation it is a substitute for the Spirit, not the Spirit itself. Theatrics are never an adequate substitute for Gospel substance. Everything money can buy can make an impressive show, but in the end it is just another example of how you can buy anything in this world for money. Being heart-warmed is not the same thing as being brought to repentance.

You will lose your soul if you seek foolishness instead of truth. Like King Benjamin’s audience, you should be afraid. Your only hope is through Christ.

King Benjamin’s Faith

King Benjamin is great even as he proclaimed his weaknesses. Only a confident leader, secure in his worth before God can admit all King Benjamin admitted about his own weakness. Concerning his moral worth he declared: “I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind…” (Mosiah 2: 11.) Concerning his physical vitality he explained “For even at this time, my whole frame doth tremble exceedingly while attempting to speak unto you…” (Mosiah 2: 30.)

King Benjamin was not seeking admiration. He did not give his people reason to envy him, nor did he take wealth or support from them. He provided for himself and labored with his own hands; never imposing anything upon his people. He was a servant, though a king. He measured his life by what he gave others, not by what he received from them. (See Acts 20: 35.)

King Benjamin did not even deliver his own message. Instead, he taught what an angel told him to teach. “[T]he things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God.” (Mosiah 3: 2.)

This was a meek king, whose own life modeled the life of the coming Savior about whom he testified. The testimony of his own weakness affirms King Benjamin’s willingness to value service to others above self-interest.

How different from our leaders today was this ancient king! This model of meekness is so unlike the proud, the vain, the self-willed who lead today in government, education, religion, business and society. The contrast is so great that it helps us to understand why angels would minister to King Benjamin and the heavens are silent with leaders today. There simply is not a leader among us who is willing to give in sacrifice what is required to know God. King Benjamin illustrates the principles of the Lectures on Faith, Sixth Lecture:

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An actual knowledge to any person that the course of life which he pursues is according to the will of God, is essentially necessary to enable him to have that confidence in God, without which no person can obtain eternal life.

It was this that enabled the ancient saints to endure all their afflictions and persecutions, and to take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing (not believing merely) that they had a more “enduring substance” (Heb. 10:34). 

Having the assurance that they were pursuing a course which was agreeable to the will of God, they were enabled to take, not only the spoiling of their goods and the wasting of their substance joyfully, but also to suffer death in its most horrid forms; knowing (not merely believing) that when this earthly house of their tabernacle was dissolved, they had a building of God, a house “not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1).

Such was, and always will be, the situation of the saints of God, that unless they have an actual knowledge that the course that they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint; for such has been, and always will be, the opposition in the hearts of unbelievers and those that know not God, against the pure and unadulterated religion of heaven (the only thing which ensures eternal life), that they will persecute to the uttermost all that worship God according to his revelations, receive the truth in the love of it, and submit themselves to be guided and directed by his will, and drive them to such extremities that nothing short of an actual knowledge of their being the favorites of heaven,and of their having embraced that order of things which God has established for the redemption of man, will enable them to exercise that confidence in him necessary for them to overcome the world, and obtain that crown of glory which is laid up for them that fear God.

For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God, but actual knowledge; realizing that when these sufferings are ended he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God.

For unless a person does know that he is walking according to the will of God, it would be offering an insult to the dignity of the Creator were he to say that he would be a partaker of his glory when he should be done with the things of this life.

But when he has this knowledge, and most assuredly knows that he is doing the will of God, his confidence can be equally strong that he will be a partaker of the glory of God.

Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things; it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.

When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain.

Under these circumstances then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.

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

…Those then who make the sacrifice will have the testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of God, and those who have this testimony will have faith to lay hold on eternal life, and will be enabled through faith to endure unto the end, and receive the crown that is laid up for them that love the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who do not make the sacrifice cannot enjoy this faith, because men are dependent upon this sacrifice in order to obtain this faith; therefore, they cannot lay hold upon eternal life, because the revelations of God do not guarantee unto them the authority so to do; and without this guarantee faith could not exist.

All the saints of whom we have account in all the revelations of God which are extant, obtained the knowledge which they had of their acceptance in his sight, through the sacrifice which they offered unto him. And through the knowledge thus obtained, their faith became sufficiently strong to lay hold upon the promise of eternal life, and to endure as seeing him who is invisible; and were enabled, through faith, to combat the powers of darkness, contend against the wiles of the adversary, overcome the world, and obtain the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls.  

But those who have not made this sacrifice to God, do not know that the course which they pursue is well pleasing in his sight; for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their minds; and where doubt and uncertainty are, there faith is not, nor can it be.

For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time. So that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence; and where unshaken confidence is not, there faith is weak; and where faith is weak, the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.
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It is from the example of King Benjamin we can see the Sixth Lecture in action. Likewise, in King Benjamin’s sermon we see the fruit of that faith: the ministry of angels to the king, and his knowledge of God. Therefore, King Benjamin had the kingdom of heaven with him, because he showed the living fruit which comes from that heavenly vine.

The Book of Mormon is a treasury of eternal truth, told in example after example, testifying to the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can all get closer to God by abiding its precepts than from any other book.

Stiff Necks, Ancient and Modern

King Benjamin explains something which ought to give us all pause. “[T]he Lord God saw that his people were a stiffnecked people, and he appointed unto them a law, even the law of Moses.” (Mosiah 3: 14.) Think about all that implies. The people who God claimed as “His” were nevertheless “stiffnecked people.”

He didn’t abandon them because of their spiritual stubborness. Nor did He reject them because they were suffering from their own pride and self-will. They were still “His.”

But, because they were unable or unwilling to really come to Him and be redeemed from the fall (See Ether 3: 13) He gave them something to trouble them: the law of Moses.

This set of rules, sacrifices, ordinances and observances included worship within a Temple or House of God. There, in rich symbolism, they were reminded about the real thing: His presence. They were taught about His real nature. They were shown symbols that foreshadowed His coming into the world to be the bread of life, the light of the world, the sacrifice for sin, and the one through whose blood it was possible to enter back into the Holy of Holies. They had symbolic clothing, sacred language, Divine ritual, and sacred space given them. All this because they were “a stiffnecked people” who were unwilling to enter into His actual presence.

These benighted and proud people then looked at all others and regarded them as less than “the chosen people” because the law of Moses given to them entrusted them with sacred space, sacred ritual, and sacred observances.

These stiffnecked people made the law of Moses an end in itself. It was their special set of rites, their sacred space, their hidden rituals participated in by only the “worthy” and “chosen few” that reassured them they were God’s chosen people. And they were chosen. But they were chosen to be an example of foolishness, an example of pride, and ultimately an example of those who reject God and kill His Son. They were chosen to show how to miss the mark while standing atop sacred ground dedicated to the God they claimed to worship. They were chosen to be foolish, so we might be wise. They were chosen precisely because of their stiff necks to show how God does not delight in the mere observances of outward rituals, but expects our hearts to be made righteous. They illustrate how God rebuked the ancient chosen people for their failure to follow Him in the heart, rather than just in their empty ordinances (1 Sam. 15: 22).

In King Benjamin we have the wisdom of a godly king. He is warning us about the foolishness of God’s people. It is a powerful insight into what God prizes and what God thinks of those who, because of their stiff necks, will not bow down in prayer to seek His presence. King Benjamin is not a fictional character. He is a prophet-king whose wisdom exceeded the young Joseph Smith’s when Joseph translated the record of this fallen people. It contains wisdom that still exceeds the grasp of those who claim to follow the religion restored through Joseph.

Scriptures, Not Traditions

Mormon’s abridged account of King Benjamin gives us a wealth of background information about the Nephite sacred history. Look at what leaks through in these opening verses:

“And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who belonged to king Benjamin, so that king Benjamin had continual peace all the remainder of his days. And it came to pass that he had three sons; and he called their names Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman. And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers, which were delivered them by the hand of the Lord. And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God. For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time. I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.” (Mosiah 1: 1-5.)

Notice the “plates of brass” are mentioned. These are not the Nephite records, but the records obtained from Laban. (See 1 Ne. 3: 3; 1 Ne. 4: 24; 1 Ne. 5: 10-16.) These Old Testament records were “in the language of the Egyptians” which was required to be able to “read these engravings.” Therefore, it was necessary for King Benjamin’s sons to “be taught in all the language of [King Benjamin’s] fathers” in order to be able to read these records. From this we can conclude the earliest Jewish records were composed and preserved in Egyptian rather than Hebrew. As a matter of historic fact, Hebrew did not exist as a written language until several thousand years following Egyptian writing. This is an interesting detail that leaks through. Joseph Smith would not likely have known this.

To even be capable of reading these scriptures, the Nephite student was required to be proficient in another language. This proficiency was required in order to prevent this line of faithful descendants from “dwindling in unbelief” because they would never be able to remember all of God’s “mysteries” apart from the record. When they lose this kind of information they “know nothing” and “do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.”

What is the difference between ignorance of scripture because they cannot be understood due to the inability to read the language (Egyptian) and ignorance of the scripture because you do not study?

Do we dwindle in unbelief because we fail to study as easily as one would who couldn’t read the language?

Can we overcome the incorrect traditions of our fathers if we fail to study the scriptures any easier than we could if we were unfamiliar with them because of apathy?

Is it possible today to dwindle in unbelief because we do not study the scriptures and acquaint ourselves with God’s mysteries?

King Benjamin intrudes into the Nephite record following the content of the Small Plates of Nephi. The Small Plates document a dwindling by the descendants of Jacob. The greatest content is early, and as the record moves along, it has less and less to offer about God and His mysteries. Then abruptly, King Benjamin reverses this pattern. He emerges as a figure of restoration in a pattern of decay. But his ability to serve in that role was directly related to him “remembering” God’s mysteries, which came directly from his study of scripture.

You neglect the scriptures at your peril. You dwindle as you lose contact with God’s mysteries contained in scripture. Trusting in the traditions of our fathers is risky. Traditions get measured against scripture, not the reverse.

The Constitution is likewise a guide to protect our liberty. We are free to ignore it, and thereby lose the protection it provides us. Because we have done this, we have destroyed our freedom. The scriptures are also a guide to save us. Because we ignore them, we have lost our way. In place of liberty and salvation we have chosen captivity and damnation. The cure for both is only found through repentance and remembering God’s great mercy to us, then laying hold again upon that mercy.

An Ideal Society

King Benjamin taught how to be engaged in the work of God. “I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2: 17.) Service to others, and charity to others, not judging the begger but relieving their suffering, these were the hallmarks of King Benjamin’s religion. He practiced his faith by helping others. He tied together forgivness of your sins with helping those who are in need: “For the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God– I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.” (Mosiah 4: 26.)

King Benjamin is teaching the ideal. This is his pattern of righteousness for his people. If they follow this sermon, there will be unity and no poor among them.

This single focus on helping others was to the exclusion of a lengthy discourse on evil. In his great sermon he only briefly discusses evil, focusing instead on avoiding contention. He taught that contention allowed an evil spirit to enter in, at which point other bad things would follow. (See Mosiah 2: 32-33.) He admonished you to return what you borrow from your neighbor. (Mosiah 4: 28.)

To cover the topic of evil, he wisely counseled as follows: “I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.” (Mosiah 4: 29.) That frank assessment by King Benjamin is beyond the wisdom of a young person to grasp. It reflects the lifelong contemplation of an aging king, not the clever fiction of a young Joseph Smith. It is one of the reasons I do not believe Joseph Smith authored the Book of Mormon and one of the proofs it reflects a greater wisdom than was his when the book was first printed. King Benjamin was unwilling to give a lengthy list of what not-to-do, because the list would be endless. Instead he tells what ought to be done to avoid it in an ideal society.

Likewise, the Lord was not concerned with all the temptations which befell Him. Instead, He chose to give them “no heed” (D&C 20: 22), staying focused upon what good He could do to His fellow man. Had it been followed, King Benjamin’s blueprint would have made a better Nauvoo. The fact it wasn’t is proof Joseph Smith did not author the Book of Mormon, nor possess the society-organizing wisdom of King Benjamin. But, then again, Joseph died at 38, and King Benjamin lived into old age.

False but Repeated

There is a false rumor which gets often repeated, and I thought I’d mention here.

Many people, including those who criticize Passing the Heavenly Gift, claim that the talks I began on September 10, 2013 in Boise, Idaho were to “promote” that book. That accusation comes from the stake president’s letter demanding that I not promote the book in his summons letter. That letter was written before any of the talks were given. He was guessing the about the talks. I responded to him, and on this blog, that I’ve never promoted the book and the planned talks have nothing to do with the book. The subject of the lectures is Zion. I have concluded five of them. You can search them if you like. There is nothing in any talk that promotes Passing the Heavenly Gift. If it is mentioned, it is only to give context to something discussed. I do this with other things I have written. It helps quickly put something in context. That is not promotion.

Before the talks began the Salt Lake Tribune also said the purpose of the upcoming talks was to promote the book. They took that from the stake president’s letter. Of course, since no talk had been given, they were merely speculating along with the stake president.

Reviewers writing after the Zion talks began, the Salt Lake Tribune writing before the talks began, bloggers writing after the talks began, and those making comments on news articles both before and after have repeated the stake president’s unsubstantiated fear that I was planning to promote the book on a speaking tour. When the accusation was originally made, he didn’t know what I was planning to speak about and he feared (or more correctly those who were behind the court feared) it would be about the book. The accusation continues to be repeated that I was excommunicated because I refused to stop promoting the book. The fact is that I’ve never begun to promote it. It is dishonest to continue to claim the contrary, even when five of the talks have now been given and they have nothing to do with promoting a book.

At the talk venues, which I pay to rent, the public is invited to attend without any cost. My books are not available for sale at the venues. Those who spend their own time, provide the equipment and recording media sell copies of the recorded talks. They charge to offset their costs. I get nothing from the sales, and any portion considered mine is donated to further the missionary effort of the church.

The talks are about Zion. You can read transcripts of them by using the links on this blog. If you find something promoting Passing the Heavenly Gift in any of these talks, please send me a comment pointing it out to me.

The first five talks laid a foundation for the next talk, which will address Zion directly. The talk after that (which will be the seventh) will speak of Christ. Thereafter, the criteria and characteristics of mankind related to Zion will be discussed. All of the talks are on one subject only: Zion. In retrospect you will see there was only one talk given, in ten increments, on that single topic.

Just to be clear, I am not angry. Sometimes in this politically correct culture, correcting an error is thought to represent an angry outburst. That is not the case. I just want to be clear about the truth. If you believe I am promoting a book in the talks I have been and will be giving, then you are mistaken because you believe a false accusation which, by now, has proven to be untrue.

Benjamin, Christ and Joseph

King Benjamin’s teaching are astonishing to read. For him the critical question was his conscience: “I had served you, walking with a clear conscience before God.” (Mosiah 2: 27.) This was important because he knew he needed to put the burden upon his people by warning them, otherwise he would be accountable for failing to warn them. His sermon was so that he “might be found blameless, and that your blood should not come upon me, when I shall stand to be judged of God of the things whereof he hath commanded me concerning you.” (Id.) He knew that warning the people in plain language would be the only way his conscience would be clear before God. Then his people could choose between heeding his teaching and thereby obeying God, or rejecting his message and being accountable.

King Benjamin also taught a lesson almost identical to what the risen Savior would later teach. Here is King Benjamin’s language:

“O my people, beware lest there shall arise contentions among you, and he list to obey the evil spirit, which was spoken of by my father Mosiah. For behold, there is a wo pronounced upon him who listeth to obey that spirit;” (Mosiah 2: 32-33.)

Here are Christ’s words:
“And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.” (3 Ne. 11: 28-29.)

Neither King Benjamin nor Christ anticipated complete agreement among their followers. All of us understand things somewhat differently, and in some cases more completely as a subject begins to be studied. Even the same individual will understand things differently at different times. As you study in good faith and confidence before God you may believe in a proposition that you will change your understanding about later. That is inevitable when we are progressing.

Assuming we take seriously King Benjamin’s and Christ’s instruction to refrain from contending in anger with one another, how do we proceed as brothers and sisters in sorting out our unavoidable disagreements? The answer, of course, is provided in counsel from Joseph Smith found in scripture which clarifies how we overcome our disagreements:
-by persuasion
-by long-suffering
-by gentleness and meekness
-by kindness
-by pure knowledge
(D&C 121: 41-42.)

The inappropriate disputations and contentions that were condemned by King Benjamin and Christ would likewise fit Joseph’s scriptural clarification. We are warned not to:
-cover our sins
-gratify our pride
-pursue our vain ambitions
-exercise control
-exercise dominion
-exercise compulsion
-persecute the Lord’s saints
(D&C 121: 37-38.)

One of the strongest evidences Joseph Smith was in harmony with the Spirit of the Lord is shown in his words mirroring both King Benjamin’s and Christ’s. King Benjamin counseled his people after a lifetime of service and contemplation. Christ’s counsel was given following His resurrection in His appearance to a Nephite audience. In contrast, Joseph’s inspired words came while he was confined to Liberty Jail in Missouri. Gracious words from all three, but Joseph’s were composed in the worst of circumstances. This is one of the reasons I have such respect for Joseph.

The News to Rejoice

King Benjamin’s instruction to his people (and in turn to us) was not just a good man giving fatherly advice at the end of his life. His message was given to him to deliver by heaven itself. King Benjamin said, “And the things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God. And he said unto me: Awake; and I awoke, and behold he stood before me. And he said unto me: Awake, and hear the words which I shall tell thee; for behold, I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy. For the Lord hath heard thy prayers, and hath judged of thy righteousness, and hath sent me to declare unto thee that thou mayest rejoice; and that thou mayest declare unto thy people, that they may also be filled with joy.” (Mosiah 3: 2-4.)

First, it is noteworthy that the message he received was because “the Lord hath heard thy prayers.” The message would not have come without a petition.

Second, the petition was granted because the Lord “hath judged of thy righteousness” and determined King Benjamin was qualified to receive the messenger and the message. The petitioner must be judged righteous. Petitioning without qualifying would not have accomplished anything.

When a sermon has a Divine source, it is important to listen. More than what an academic can offer, an angel’s message is given from God, who is the author.

Notice the purpose of the message is to cause the recipient to “rejoice” and for those who he was permitted to relay the message to likewise “be filled with joy.”

When you read the message, however, there are many things contained within that do not cause us to “be filled with joy” because we learn about the coming of the Lord Omnipotent into the flesh (Mosiah 3: 5) to “suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death” (Mosiah 3: 7). The message continues that men will “consider him as a man, and say he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.” (Mosiah 3: 9.) Yet despite these horrible details of the Lord’s life, we all (King Benjamin, his people and us) are told this is news which should “fill us with joy” when we hear it. It is as if the Lord wants us to be mature enough to look beyond the trouble, the difficulty, the terrible price and to the effect of His sacrifice. To the extent we ponder His awful suffering, it stands as a powerful symbol, testimony and record of His great love and willingness to go to the extreme to reclaim us from condemnation and suffering. We should stand in awe of His love, because this suffering was born from His great love. In no other way could He open the door to bring us back from death and hell. Therefore, the message must necessarily include these awful details.

The joy we are to feel comes from the result of His suffering: “he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.” (Mosiah 3: 10.) Christ will rise! Through the power of this suffering He is qualified to judge! He will judge righteously!

The good news continues: “his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.” (Mosiah 3: 11.) These are good things, indeed.

However, what decides if we are blessed by the Lord Omnipotent when He stands “to judge the world” and imposes a “righteous judgment?” King Benjamin expounds this sermon precisely to teach his people how to take advantage of the atonement of the Lord Omnipotent. I think the sermon is worth studying. It was given to allow those who hear this message (including us) to take advantage of the Lord Omnipotent’s great sacrifice. We ought to all be interested in doing that.