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Remembering The Covenant 5 Vols.

For years now I have received requests to put this blog into print. Part of it is already in print titled Removing the Condemnation. It is available through Amazon. Now that I have finished what I had to say using this medium, the entire content of this blog is now available in print titled Remembering the Covenant. It is a 5 volume reprint of this blog from its beginning to the end post titled “A Sign.” It contains only what I have written, and none of the comments.

Before you decide to purchase a copy, I would remind you everything in these 5 volumes is already on the blog for free. You needn’t buy one to have the information. The blog will remain up. However, interruptions in the Internet, as well as planned regulation of the Internet may affect whether this blog remains.

I don’t plan to post on the blog any longer; though I do plan to write.

The 5 volumes does not include any of the essays that are linked on this blog. There will eventually be a separate volume of essays which will contain those, and some additional material. No date is planned for completing that volume.

If you decide to purchase the books then you should know the 5 volumes are comprehensive, and therefore include what has already been printed in Removing the Condemnation. The material from that book takes two volumes (volumes 2 and 3) of the new set. If you already have Removing the Condemnation and decide you would like the rest of the material, then you needn’t purchase volumes 2 and 3. In Removing the Condemnation, the material is compressed into a single volume with smaller print size and more pages. In this new set, the type is larger, so it required two volumes.

For those considering purchasing, the books make some few improvements. First, some subjects were interrupted by some added posts and then continued. In the printed version, the subjects are gathered together and the interrupting blog posts moved to follow, rather than intrude into the discussion of a certain subject. There are a minimal clarifications of what may have been ambiguous. There are no hyperlinks, therefore all the scriptures referenced are now footnotes on the same page as the scripture reference. There are over 2,400 pages of materials. Each book contains approximately 400 pages. There are over 2,700 footnotes in the volumes. Pages are numbered in sequence, from page 1 in volume 1 to page 2,400+ in volume 5.

Below are the Table of Contents from each of the 5 volumes:

Vol. 1:    [ISBN: 978-0989150309]
CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
Peculiar Indeed…………………………………………………. 1
Grow in Light………………………………………………….. 19
Angels and Mysteries………………………………………… 43
What Guarantee Do We Have?…………………………… 63
Truth Is Independent……………………………………….. 105
My Glasses Aren’t Rose Colored………………………. 147
D&C 132……………………………………………………….155
Grow Where You Are Planted……………………………173
Humor Requires Underlying Truth……………………… 187
The Traditions of Men…………………………………….. 229
Awake and Arise…………………………………………….253
Philosophies of Men……………………………………….. 301
Isaiah 53………………………………………………………..335
The Scriptures Have Answers…………………………… 353
Speaking Plainly………………………………………………363
A Message of Warning……………………………………. 393

Vol. 2:  [ISBN: 978-0989150316]
Alma 13………………………………………………………… 437
3 Nephi 16…………………………………………………….. 499
1 Nephi 13…………………………………………………….. 527
1 Nephi 14…………………………………………………….. 557
3 Nephi 21…………………………………………………….. 599
2 Nephi 28…………………………………………………….. 641
2 Nephi 29…………………………………………………….. 729
2 Nephi 30…………………………………………………….. 759
2 Nephi 31…………………………………………………….. 789

Vol. 3:  [ISBN: 978-0989150323]

2 Nephi 32…………………………………………………….. 843
2 Nephi 33…………………………………………………….. 863
The Remnant………………………………………………….  891
3 Nephi 20…………………………………………………….. 921
The Remnant Continued………………………………….   956
3 Nephi 11…………………………………………………….. 966
3 Nephi 12…………………………………………………… 1013
3 Nephi 13…………………………………………………… 1099
3 Nephi 14…………………………………………………… 1131
3 Nephi 15…………………………………………………… 1157
3 Nephi 18…………………………………………………… 1173
Summary ……………………………………………………. 1217

Vol. 4:  [ISBN: 978-0989150330]
Restoration and Apostasy……………………………….. 1221
Passing the Heavenly Gift……………………………….  1279
Turns and Returns…………………………………………. 1347
Priesthood…………………………………………………….1369
Let’s Just Vote on It……………………………………….1397
Interpreting History……………………………………….. 1427
It Was Already Like This When We Found It……. 1463
Nephi’s Brother Jacob……………………………………1531
Jacob 5………………………………………………………. 1553
Themes from Jacob 5……………………………………..1619
Criticism of the Church………………………………….. 1631
Joseph Smith History ……………………………………. 1649

Vol. 5:   [ISBN: 978-0989150347]
Unity or Hierarchy………………………………………… 1677

I Am a Mormon……………………………………………. 1689
Power in the Priesthood…………………………………..1727
Mosiah…………………………………………………………1749
Tattoos and Plural Wives………………………………… 1807
Received of His Fulness…………………………………. 1849
Hyrum Smith………………………………………………… 1889
Sorting Things Out…………………………………………. 1907
Forgiving and Charity……………………………………..  1933
God’s Many Works………………………………………..1953
Baptism of Fire & the Holy Ghost…………………….. 1973
Role of Women…………………………………………….. 2005
The Battle Is Within You…………………………………  2025
Churches Built by Men…………………………………… 2067
Scriptures……………………………………………………. 2081
144,000………………………………………………………..2089
Index………………………………………………………….. 2123


These are now available directly from Createspace.com as well as at Amazon.com. A link has now been put to the Amazon site by clicking on the Volume numbers above. Remember though, that the content will remain available here for free.

A Sign

When the Seed of the Woman was born, a new star appeared in the heavens. In like manner, when the Lion of Judah returns, as with his first coming, there will be a new star seen. All the world will note its appearance and shall be troubled at its meaning. When it makes its appearance, you may know His return is soon upon the world. You may also know by that sign that He has given to me the words I have faithfully taught as His servant.

Christ Clarifies His Role

I’ve been reading the 1830 Book of Commandments as reprinted in The Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations, Vol. 2. I’ve been struck by how many clarifications Christ made of His role to the early saints. It is apparent there were a number of false notions in circulation about who Christ was and what His future role would include.

The Lord clarifies that the saints should: “look not for a Messiah to come which has already come.” (Chapter XVI, verse 27.)

He later adds that when He does return: “they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory, with all the holy angels.” (Chapter XLVIII, verse 37.)

If that were not enough to remove the question about His return, He further explains: “the Son of Man cometh not in the form of a woman, neither of a man travelling on the earth.” (Chapter LII, verse 21.)

He mentions Enoch, telling us that Enoch and his brethren “were separated from the earth, and were reserved unto [God], a city reserved until a day of righteouensss shall come, a day which was sought for by all holy men, and they found it not because of wickedness and abominations.” (Chapter XLVIII, verse 14.) Since “all holy men” sought for this city, but found it not, it is apparent that the rule is failure because holy men cannot teach righteousness to the wicked who prefer their abominations, pride, vanity and errors. The exception is success.

The Lord clarifies there will be success before the world will see Him. He will have a holy city built, which He will call “the New Jerusalem.” There, His glory will rest upon these few inhabitants: “it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the most high God. And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it: And it shall be called Zion.” (Chapter XLVIII, verses 59-61.)

When He does show Himself to the world again, it will be in judgment: “I the Lord …will come down in heaven from the presence of God, and consume the wicked with unquenchable fire.” (Chapter LXIV, verse 36.)

I’ve heard some of the same errors discussed among Latter-day Saints who would know better if they read the scriptures. As early as 1830 the Lord explained He was the Messiah, and had already come. He will not return as a man walking on the earth, but will come in glory and judgment when He returns, and that we need not look for another to come in that way.

I am surprised at how difficult it is to hold on to doctrine. It evaporates almost before our eyes. Perhaps the greatest miracle of the ages will be this latter day New Jerusalem. For, despite all the wickedness and abominable beliefs of mankind urging them to vanity and faithless pride, there will be some small group willing to learn and walk in the way of God. That will be a miracle indeed among the people living in this generation.

Questions From This Week

Since mentioning it, I’ve gotten a number of questions about President Eyring’s General Conference talk: Families Under Covenant. Part of his remarks are particularly insightful. After talking about the church’s ordinance, he elaborated:

The way to do that is clear. The Holy Spirit of Promise, through our obedience and sacrifice, must seal our temple covenants in order to be realized in the world to come. President Harold B. Lee explained what it means to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise by quoting Elder Melvin J. Ballard: “We may deceive men but we cannot deceive the Holy Ghost, and our blessings will not be eternal unless they are also sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. The Holy Ghost is one who reads the thoughts and hearts of men, and gives his sealing approval to the blessings pronounced upon their heads. Then it is binding, efficacious, and of full force.”


When Sister Eyring and I were sealed in the Logan Utah Temple, I did not understand then the full significance of that promise. I am still trying to understand all that it means, but my wife and I decided at the start of our nearly 50 years of marriage to invite the Holy Ghost as much as we could into our lives and into our family.

I agree that men may be and often are deceived about who is worthy and who is not. But the Lord alone will judge righteously. Therefore, He decides who will be sealed and who will not. President Eyring is teaching true doctrine.
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The portion of the scroll (which was quite long and included different segments) Joseph translated the Book of Abraham from is described in church history. There are three critical features to this text:

The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies, is (1) beautifully written on papyrus, with black, and (2) a small part red, ink or paint, (3) in perfect preservation. (DHC Vol. 2; 348.)

Color Plates of the Hor Book of Breathings are available in Appendix A, starting on page 33 of The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary, Studies in the Book of Abraham, Vol 2; (FARMS/BYU Press 2002). The contrast between Joseph’s description in church history and the photographs of the recovered papyrus requires nothing more than looking at it.
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The description “a strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness” (Moroni 7:30) involves at a minimum the following:
-Strong faith is obtained by obedience and sacrifice, as explained in the Lectures on Faith. It requries the sacrifice of all things to obtain favor with God. No one attains to this by cowardice or respecting the views of men above the commandments of God.
-Every form includes not merely passing acquaintance with the Lord’s will, but an earnest search into the things God wants from you. And, as you find His will, then to obey it. Everything must be put on the altar. Whether it be friends, property, or life itself, it must be every form.
-Godliness is different from virtue. It is even different from righteousness. I’ve explained both previously and won’t repeat it. Godliness requires you to become godlike in your sentiments and in your meekness before Him. Whether men understand you or attribute motives to you, the relationship is between you and the Lord. Godliness is when your walk here is along the path He has chosen for you.
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Prophecy requires someone to fulfill it before you can know who was being identified. Until the work is done I think it is a foolish thing to speculate about identities. There’s probably been hundreds of potential individuals, living and dead, who might have done a greater work than they accomplished here. However, they are blinded by the craftiness of other men, or they fall victim to those who deceive, or they allow traditions to control their understanding and fall short of the glory they might have obtained. Hence the saying that many are called, but few are chosen. 

Ignorance Enshrined

A purported group of “over 260 active and disaffected Mormons” claims responsibility for a “95 Theses” document released recently. (The quotes in the preceding sentence are theirs. This is how they self-describe.)

Unlike Martin Luther, they choose to categorize themselves rather than to expose themselves by using their identities. There are only a few who identified themselves. For the most part, they remain unidentified. That betrays a weakness of character and leads to the conclusion they want to complain, but they do not want to be responsible for complaining. A “reform” movement must be made of sterner stuff. They appear only willing to whine; not to do the work or take the risk Martin Luther took when he wrote the document they mimic.

I’ve looked at the 95 Theses. They are largely based on upset stemming from astounding ignorance of our history, scriptures, doctrine and teachings. However, this is a relatively common condition we find ourselves.  As a community of believers in the restoration through Joseph Smith, we’ve neglected to teach and/or learn the very things that would benefit these “260 active and disaffected Mormons.” These people may well be of good faith and honest intent. I’ll assume that of them. But they are unable to reconcile some of the things from our past with the things they thought they knew about Mormonism. The problem is that what they thought they knew about Mormonism is not at all what I know and what they should have known about Mormonism. That may not be entirely their fault, but they must shoulder part of the blame.

I understand it from a different perspective because I’ve paid a price in study, prayer, practice and devotion. In The Second Comforter I said: “The truth will scratch your eyes out, and then scratch them in again.” I’ve been through both. These “260” have been only through the first.

They have 11 troubling points about the Book of Mormon. I’ve discovered many more. I’ve reconciled them all in my mind.

They have 5 troubling points on the Book of Abraham. I’ve discovered many, many more. This is a vital topic for study. I’ve gathered a library of materials on this text. When I was teaching the Priests’ Quorum in my ward, I took 4 weeks with them teaching on the Book of Abraham. I wasn’t going to let any of them get “poached” by critics because they didn’t have enough background information to understand the issues and history. Using the Documentary History of the Church, they were shown what Joseph described he translated as the Book of Abraham. They were shown the photographic reproductions of the papyri returned from the Metropolitan Museum of New York to the church. The difference between these scroll documents and Joseph’s description did not require a commentary. They saw with their own eyes the difference between the two. No one is ever going to convince them using an argument based on misinformation.

These “260 active and disaffected Mormons” have 11 troubling points about Polygamy and Polyandry. Again, it betrays a shallow understanding of our history and comprises only a fraction of what we should all know about this issue. Until we face this, discuss it openly, and put history and context together in a forthright and honest way, we are vulnerable to upset and distress anytime someone who knows a little more than we know comes along with a “fact” from our history we can’t put into context.

This raises enough to make the point:

We’re losing the battle with many of these souls. The more honest and intellectually open of our members are being taken in traps precisely because their greatest strengths (confidence and openness) allow the critics to show them our weaknesses. This should not be allowed to happen. Narrow-mindedness and dogmatism, as a result of fierce and unrelenting loyalty to an institution, should not rule the day. The winnowing out, if allowed to continue, will produce a frightening form of Mormonism akin to the more radical political movements currently underway in the world.

When Joseph Smith was alive, Mormonism embraced all truth. “The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds.” (Letter from Joseph Smith to Isaac Galland, March 22, 1839; The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, Dean C. Jesse, editor; Deseret Book, p. 421-22.) I’d like to see that be the case once again.

I’ve never found a problem in the faith for which I could not ultimately find a solution or answer. The faith is quite resilient. But, oddly, some of the actual answers are thought to be so fearful that they must be ignored, suppressed or denounced. Fear is not only the opposite of faith, but it contains within it the bitterness of hell. (Moses 1: 20.) We have become too fearful.

Tradition’s Grip

Assume you are taking a course at the local university on William Faulkner. The book for study this semester is The Sound and The Fury. This course does not require you to actually read the book. Instead, the information in this class will come exclusively from your professor. To begin the semester, she will be lecturing and instructing you on ‘all things Faulkner.’ She will discuss biographical information, including everything she could find about his personal life. She will give lectures on his writing. There will be discussions about literary criticism given his writings and awards he has won. You will listen to audio recordings of Mr. Faulkner reading passages of The Sound and The Fury. 

As the semester progresses, she will begin to discuss the book. She will tell you about the first time she read it, and what kind of impact it had on her. She will tell you why she decided to teach an entire semester course on this one work of Faulkner’s. You will learn what her expectations and preconceptions were before she even began reading. You will hear all her first impressions. She tells you that she thought it was difficult the first time. There will be lectures on the genre, characters, plot, setting, style and structure, point of view, images, symbols, and themes. She will discuss the reception when first published. She will discuss each part of the novel in detail. She will then tell you how her personal reactions have changed as her understanding has deepened. As the semester winds down, she will end with her explanation of the literary significance of this book. With that, the semester is over.

Shortly after the end of the semester, because of this class and the things you learned, you decide to actually read The Sound and The Fury:
Do you suppose, with your first reading, you could formulate any thought about this book independent of what your professor fed you?
Could you make your own critical evaluations about characters, plot, point of view, themes, or symbolism?
Could the biographical information you learned about Mr. Faulkner be extricated from your psyche in order to have a blank slate from which to assess Mr. Faulkner’s reason for writing this novel?
Could you read this book through your lense?
How much of your professor’s impressions, understanding or analysis would you have to completely discard in order to form your own personal conclusions about this material?
How many times would you have to read it before you began to make your own analysis?
Would the professor’s framework control your first reading?
Could you ever escape from her views to discover your own?

The Lamanites were unable to convert, even when taught the truth, because of the traditions of their fathers which were not correct. (Mosiah 1: 5.)

“Becoming as a little child” is necessary, because children are able to be taught. They are still open. They want to be filled. For such is the kingdom. (Luke 18: 16.) None of the arguments our Lord was required to endure with His fellow-man was ever with a child.

The Ongoing Battle

Although I know of no one who has left the church or “lost their testimony” as a consequence of reading my book, Passing the Heavenly Gift (“PTHG”), there continue to be accusations that this has/does happen. Therefore, again, I want to reaffirm the purpose of PTHG.  

Let me give some background. I joined the church while in the Air Force, stationed in New Hampshire. After joining, I was a zealous missionary, and there followed over a dozen conversions of other military young folks who would listen to me explain the restoration. I got them open to the idea, then the full-time missionaries and ward members would take over. Mormonism was an exotic religion in New England. Little was known about the faith. So we got to begin with a relatively blank slate and tell the story our way. 
I was transferred to Abilene, Texas shortly after joining the church. In Texas things were very different. At the local Laundromat I used, there were racks of religious tracts on the wall. Included in these were a wide assortment of anti-Mormon pamphlets intended to “prove” Mormonism was false. We went from being exotic to being the devil’s workmanship. Missionary work in Texas was a good deal more difficult. Even though I served as a Stake Missionary, and took the third-Elder (who awaited his Visa to Brazil) every evening and weekend as a companion to tract and teach, the results in Texas were nothing like what had happened in New Hampshire. 
The organized effort in Texas was supported by radio programs, Sunday sermons, and the occasional editorial in the local newspapers. The “Christian” churches were tired of losing their best congregants to the Mormon Elders. So the effort to oppose the church was inter-denominational.  
I joined the church in 1973 and finished my Air Force term in Texas in 1975. This is now long ago. Since then, the growth of the church has left no corner of the United States untouched by wards, stakes, missions, temple districts and advertising. We are no longer exotic anywhere – including New Hampshire. 
The result of church growth has been the increasing awareness of Mormonism’s effect on other religions. It is not a happy thing for other faiths to see our church grow at the expense of their own congregations. The original inter-denominational cooperation I saw in Texas in 1974-75 has now spread. It is now worldwide. All churches are wary of the loss of revenue and participation represented by each Mormon convert who leaves their fold to join ours. 

Today there is widespread sharing of anti-Mormon material among other denominations. The best defense is an organized offense. In many areas, Elders (who are easily identified) are followed in order to discover who they are teaching. Then the investigator is contacted by volunteers who distribute anti-Mormon material to prevent conversions. Some years ago there were ministries who bragged they could not only prevent conversions, but they could take it one step further: They could convert the Mormon Elder! That led to a growth in seminars, literature and preaching about ways to “convert Mormon Elders” while they are on their missions. 

I do not think there has been any significant success in actually converting active Mormon missionaries. But that isn’t the point. It is the Evangelical perception of that success that has fueled two things: First, it has helped insulate converts, because if the Elders can be converted, then Mormonism must not be true (or so the reasoning goes). Second, it creates more confrontation by anti-Mormon forces aimed directly at our missionaries.

The Evangelicals have realized that the best way to practice this kind of undermining of Mormon missionary efforts is to take the soft-sale approach. Instead of Bible-bashing, just ask questions the Elders can’t answer. Make the Elders do the thinking and work to solve the riddles. When they can’t, then they are filled with doubts that linger.

This is not just happenstance. This is an organized and inter-denominational effort that began decades ago. It now bears so much fruit it is is alarming to Mormons. Returned missionaries are falling away. When I was in charge of missionary work in my stake, I attended regional leadership meetings at which the Mission President and a Seventy advised us of the trends underway. The inactive church members were called “low hanging fruit” who could swell our ranks just by returning to activity. One category of the “low hanging fruit” was the returned missionary population. At that time, (years ago now) it was estimated there were 40,000 returned Elders along the Wasatch Front, from Ogden to Provo, who were so inactive we didn’t have a reliable address for them. The suggestion was to contact the families of the inactive, returned missionaries and locate them that way.

This background is part of why PTHG exists. This battle has been underway for decades, and the most successful topic being used to question our members and raise doubts is our history. The anti-Mormon forces know we are generally ignorant of our history. We don’t know enough to answer hard questions. So all that needs to be done is to put the right question to the ignorant, but believing Latter-day Saint, and the doubts will eventually percolate into disbelief and abandonment. I do not think most of those who have and are leaving do so because they know the church is not true. They leave because they no longer think the church has answers to the difficult questions. Part of the reaction of the church has been to run from the hard questions, which reinforces the idea that we don’t know the real answers. 

So, I wrote the book to deal with anything I thought was out there being used or potentially being used against us. I assumed the audience would be those who were already in distress, already having doubts, already aware of these efforts to undermine faith and create doubts. It was intended as relief from anxiety over the battles which have raged for decades now. 

Instead of this audience, there are some who have picked the book up and thought it was intended as a hostile attack on the church, its history, and its doctrine. Thankfully, such readers are already sure they belong to the “only true church” and therefore their ire is only directed at me. They aren’t leaving the church. They’re only interested in damning me for writing something they can’t conceive of as helpful.

Well, I have literally dozens, perhaps hundreds of emails and letters from readers who were the intended audience. Person after person, young and old, male and female, returned missionaries and church leaders have thanked me. Some who left the church have returned. Some who have had their names removed from the records of the church, or were considering it, have written to tell me they were remaining in the church.  At last, they say, they can find faith and answers that enables them to remain in fellowship with the church.

For those who were never intended to read the book, but are now angry at me for having addressed this problem, let me assure you:

First, I believe in the restoration of eternal truths through the prophet Joseph Smith. My testimony of this truth is rock solid. My purpose, and all that I seek to accomplish by writing, is to further this work and be a small contributor to development of God’s work. 
 
To be clear: 

1.     I sustain today’s church leaders as prophets, seers and revelators.  The scriptures give them the right to use those titles (D&C 107: 92). They preside, and it is their right to do so. They have our common consent and ought to be upheld by our “confidence, faith and prayers” (D&C 107: 22). I uphold them in this way. They carry heavy burdens and have my sympathy, not my judgment, for any human frailties they display.  

2.     It is utterly untrue that I have said the church is apostate. I reject the accusation. If the narrative I suggest in PTHG is true, then the Lord’s post-Nauvoo ire is evidence the Lord is still watching over and intends to further His work with the members of this church. Those whom He loves, He chastens. (Heb. 12: 5-11; Helaman 12: 3; D&C 95: 1.) Mine is not a faithless, but a faith filled history.  I’ve reiterated this before and reiterate it again. (See my post: The Traditions of Men, Part 1, April 21, 2010.) 

3.     I believe the church possesses the right to seal on earth and seal in heaven, and have agreed with President Eyring’s general conference talk on the subject. 

4.     I believe that all organizations, including the church, tend to characterize their history in a light most favorable to them. They have that right. I take no issue with it and think it should be expected. That does not change the divine origin and mission of the church.  

5.     The church provides ordinances required to see and enter into the kingdom of heaven, in addition to providing us with the necessary scriptures. Through the church, we  receive the foundation of faith, repentance, baptism and enduring to the end. I hope to endure to the end myself and I seek to help others do so.   

I am still in the battle to help people find and focus upon Christ. As a faithful Latter-day Saint I owe my knowledge of the Lord to the tools I obtained through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have enjoyed every minute of my association with the church, and I intend to remain a faithful member. The current war we face did not originate with blogs or bloggers. The blogosphere is following the battle, not leading it. It began long ago, and the efforts to deal with it here are because of the many losses we have and are suffering. They are needless losses. We just need to be willing to discuss and recognize there certainly are some tough questions. They don’t go away because we ignore them. They grow.

A couple of Questions

I was asked the following:

1 Ne. 10: 11 And it came to pass after my father had spoken these words he spake unto my brethren concerning the gospel which should be preached among the Jews, and also concerning the dwindling of the Jews in unbelief. And after they had slain the Messiah, who should come, and after he had been slain he should rise from the dead, and should make himself manifest, by the Holy Ghost, unto the Gentiles.”

Is this talking about a physical manifestation to the Gentiles? Does Christ show Himself to others physically by the power of the Holy Ghost? Or is this to the Gentiles’ hearts and minds before the Restoration?

This is speaking about the immediate post-resurrection ministry of the Lord. At that time He visited only with the tribes of Israel in their scattered condition. He did not go among the gentiles. Nephi explained that in the last days ministry of the Lord at that time, He would appear to the gentiles “in very deed.” (1 Ne. 14: 1.) This is why the Lord appeared to Joseph Smith (JS-H 1: 17-19) and Oliver Cowdery (D&C 110), and to Sidney Rigdon (D&C 76), and to others.

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In Mosiah16:1 and Alma 13:21, it says the phrase “he stretched forth his hand.” What does that mean? Raising it to the square? Using the priesthood to testify of what he is about to teach? A little help here would be wonderful.

Read Mosiah 15: 31 to understand 16: 1. He is demonstrating the Lord’s action, thereby affirming he is His messenger. He had been given the sign to testify, and used it as his sign that he was a true messenger.
In Alma 13, the prophet concludes his testimony of Melchizedek by using a sign to evidence his authority. He used this sign because he was authorized to do so, and knew what it meant as he did.  Although those who were there may not have understood, it was a sign he was a true messenger.

We cannot be saved in ignorance.

Once the key of knowledge is lost, mankind is lost and cannot be saved until that key is returned.  Prophets sent with messages who testify to an ignorant people use signs that the Lord recognizes and authorizes, but they may not be noticed or understood by those who hear the message.  Nevertheless, the testimony becomes binding when the Lord’s seal is put upon it. This often involves a required sign to be given, or in other words, for hands to be stretched forth. 

Misunderstandings

I received the following comment, which I am putting up because it does a good job of illustrating a number of misunderstandings:

Mr. Snuffer,

I am not a follower of your blog but I love some who are. When I read your recent post, “I’ve been getting emails and comments asking if I’m alright. I’m fine. When I have something to say I’ll say it” I thought wow. It feels so unkind? People have become dependent on your claims to know Heavenly Father’s will. Many have abandoned their own voice of reasoning leaning on your daily prophesies. They no longer feel secure in their understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ without your input so I question how you are okay with dropping and then mocking those who you have called into your fold? I expect all is not well and pray that Heavenly Father will be able to mend His children’s fearful hearts, including yours. Peace and goodwill.

This comment contains a number of misunderstandings:

It is abhorrent to me that anyone would “become dependent” on me. I’ve worked to point to the Lord, never to myself. If there are some who have “become dependent,” then there is every reason for me to withdraw to prevent that from happening. It is wrong for any person to be dependent upon another in matters of faith. We should all be dependent upon the Lord alone. As Moroni confirmed, citing Acts 3: 22-23, the only “prophet” people must hear to avoid being “destroyed” is Christ. Those who will not hear His voice will, according to Moroni, “be cut off from among the people.” (JS-H 1: 40.)

If it is true that, “Many have abandoned their own voice of reasoning leaning on your daily prophesies. They no longer feel secure in their understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ without your input” then the only proper response on my part is to withdraw. It is wrong of them to do this, and it is the more wrong for me to facilitate it. This idea is one I have rejected, repeatedly denounced, and consistently stated that I am unworthy of followers. It would be wrong of me to continue.

I have not intended to “mock” anyone who is seeking to know more of Christ and to understand His Gospel more clearly. I have done what I could to assist. In doing so it has been my purpose to point to Him, never to myself. I have fully recovered from the last surgery. I lift weights; I walk several miles a week, and I am in better physical condition than I have been in some time.
I have no “fold” and I am not a shepherd of anyone. Even my own children are asked to find Christ and His truth for themselves.

My “heart” is not “fearful” of anyone, or of anything. I am at peace with God, and I hope others will become similarly at peace with Him. I have been asked to accomplish a number of things and I have accomplished them. Until asked to do something further, I stand at the ready and await His counsel and guidance. In the meantime, I serve as asked in my ward and stake, and try not to call any undue attention to myself.

I hope that this Christmas season will be filled with remembrance of the Lord and His great condescension coming here to live among us. His birth was necessary to allow Him to die for us. He entered mortality foreordained to die for our salvation.  He willingly came here, endured what was required of Him, and suffered the will of His Father in all things, even drinking out of the bitter cup given to Him when He begged to have it taken from Him. Bethlehem and Golgotha are linked together by the ministry of our Lord; the one necessary for the other. I would hope also some reflection would be given to Mary, whose soul was inevitably to be “pierced” also as the prophet Simeon foretold to her. (Luke 2: 34-35.) Our Lord, His Father and His mother all paid a price both to bring Him into this world and to witness His sacrifice for us.