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Churches Built By Men, Part 3

Nephi explains these latter-day false churches accomplish the opposite of Zion. In Zion everyone is to become “one.” Zion is unified in purpose and in heart. In these false churches people become competitive with one another. This leads to dishonesty between them.

“[L]ie a little, take advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor” is the operating standard of conduct. (2 Ne. 28: 8.) This is believed to be harmless. (Id.) And if you die in this fractious and competitive condition, then all will be well with you. If God is offended by it all, then you will be chastised, but “at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” (2 Ne. 28: 8.) The idea of punishment and damnation is not to be taken seriously. It is as if everyone will enjoy a position of glory, no matter their conduct. Therefore, we should enjoy our lives and not take too seriously any need to change.

Conspicuously absent from these false teachings is any need to repent. Repentance is not even part of the latter-day religious agenda. But, then again, since everyone will fare well in God’s judgment, there really is no need for it under this religious system.

According to Nephi, this is the widespread doctrine of the latter-days. But these teachings are “false and vain and foolish.” (2 Ne. 28: 9.) Nephi notes that the only effect this gives to mankind is to make us “puffed up in [our] hearts.” (Id.) The vanity of it all is intoxicating. We get to wallow in our pride. After all, we are saved and highly favored.

If we are honest with ourselves, this assessment of the latter-days seems uncomfortably accurate.

Churches Built By Men, Part 2

Following hard on the idea that God has given His power to men is the necessary corollary precept that there are no longer miracles. (2 Ne. 28: 6.) Because the claim by men that they have been given God’s power and authority is false, there can be no miracles. This requires the additional doctrine that miracles have ceased.

This false doctrine is also later addressed by Moroni. He bluntly informs us that “if these things have ceased (miracles, visits by angels, etc.), then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.” (Moroni 7: 38.) In our own day we are instructed by the Lord that “signs follow those that believe.” (D&C 63: 9.)

What then is the appeal of a religion that falsely claims to have God’s power, but teaches there can’t be any miracles because those have all ended? Why would this appeal to man? Nephi answers that the doctrine includes the reassuring teaching that “it shall be well with us” and we can go ahead and “eat, drink and be merry” because we are highly favored. (2 Ne. 28: 7.) These false religions of our day make us feel good. They assure us we are saved. We are in the right way. We can enjoy life.

These powerful and persuasive doctrines are only the beginning. Nephi’s warning continues into the rest of the latter-day religious landscape.

But these initial false doctrines are sobering enough. They are a caution to all mankind about protecting ourselves against false notions that creep in and can poison any believer. They are designed to draw men away from Christ, the One who can save.

I am so grateful for the candor in Nephi’s prophecy. He cares about our souls. If he didn’t, his message would not be so carefully crafted, and so brutally honest about the latter-day doctrines designed to capture and captivate us.

Churches Built By Men

In our day Nephi foretells of churches that are not built to the Lord. (2 Ne. 28: 3.) These institutions will claim to be the Lord’s though they are not. (Id.)

After Nephi explains that the problem lies generally in the false teaching that men should rely on their own wisdom rather than on God (2 Ne. 28: 4), he makes this claim as the significant defect in latter-day churches:

“[B]ehold, there is no God today, for his work, and he hath given his power unto men.” (2 Ne. 28: 5.)

The idea that the Redeemer no longer works directly with mankind is denounced. In its place we have men who pretend they have authority to replace the Redeemer, and to become the new, vicarious light to which men should look for their salvation.

When men have God’s power, and therefore can open or shut the doors of salvation for others, then men wielding this power command respect, power, wealth, political influence, and this world’s goods. Men desiring to have salvation will give everything, even their own souls into slavery, to men who hold such power.

Nephi lists this problem as the first great lie taught by latter-day gentile churches because it is so very pernicious. It kills those who believe it. They move their love of God to a worship of men.

The Redeemer has never surrendered His role. (John 14: 23; D&C 130: 3; 2 Ne. 9: 41.)

Only the deceived will believe the Redeemer of mankind has given His power unto men. But, based on Nephi’s warnings, this false idea will control latter-day churches as one of the most successful deceptions.

Fireside Details

The location for the fireside to be held on Sunday, October 28th at 7:00 p.m., will be:

Weber State University
Shepherd Union Building
Ballrooms A, B, & C  Third Floor
On a WSU map, building #36

There are elevators up to the third floor. Since it is Sunday, all parking is free.

The doors will open at 6:00 p.m.  There will be some prelude music beginning at approximately 6:30 p.m. 

We would request those who attend leave your cell phones and other recording devices, cameras, etc. in your cars and not bring them into the fireside. There will be professional sound recording taking place, and a high quality digital recording will be made available. There is no reason for anyone to bring any recording device of their own. 

This is free to the public and anyone who is interested may attend.


General Conference

General conference is now over. I listened with interest to the many talks and the few announcements. Here is what I noticed:

The word “revelation” was not used to describe the change to missionary age requirements during the conference.

Immediately following the Saturday morning session where President Monson made the announcement, there was a press conference. The press conference was conducted by Elder Holland and Elder Nelson. In the conference the words used, if my memory is correct, were “revelatory process.”

The only other speaker that I recall mentioning the process was Elder Cook. The word he used was either “inspired” or “inspiration.” Again, I am just going from memory.

As a result of the foregoing, the conclusion I find the most interesting is that Elder Nelson was willing to use the word “revelation” in meetings with stake presidents and mission presidents, but did not use that word in the press conference. It is interesting to me that a much stronger word would be used in private meetings.

Knowing the mysteries

Despite the millions of Mormons, we live in a very small church. We cross paths with one another after years of living in different states or different parts of the world.

As a result of how small our community is, I have run into people after years of separation and often times been astonished by the difference in them. One of the increasingly frequent things I have noticed comes from a verse in Alma.

Alma taught, “They that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction.” (Alma 12:11.)

I have noticed that the vindication of this doctrine is unrelated to whether my friends have had administrative success in the church. Many of those who have lost understanding and who preach against “knowing the mysteries of God” do so because they have had local administrative positions.

Alma connects losing knowledge of God’s mysteries directly to being “taken captive by the devil” and being “led by his will down to destruction.” So when these friends preach to me against the mysteries and claim they have no desire to know about them, I am troubled in my heart.

The less we trust the teachings of the Book of Mormon the more we draw distant from God.

Weightier matters

The gospel contains practically an infinite amount of information. You can study a lifetime and not exhaust what is contained the scriptures and the ordinances.

Christ distinguished between mere physical conformity to rules, like tithing, and the “weightier matters.” While acknowledging that there is a need to do the outward ordinances, Christ elevated “judgment, mercy, and faith” to the status of being “weightier.” (Matthew 23:23.)

The Apostle Paul went one step further and elevated charity (the pure love of Christ) to being so important that salvation itself depends upon a person’s charity. (1 Corinthians 13: 1- 3.) 

Paul describes charity as longsuffering, kind, without envy, humble, meek, thinking no evil, rejoicing in the truth, willing to bear all things, full of belief and hope, and willing to endure whatever is required. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7.)

Our conversion to the gospel should produce fruit. Of all the fruit that evidences our conversion, it is our charity or love toward others which most demonstrates the gospel has taken hold in our heart.

We can be proud of our knowledge. But we can never be proud of our charity. Pride and charity are incompatible. Some of the most eager latter-day saints demonstrate by their ambition and impatience that they are unprepared for the Kingdom of God, and have not given adequate attention to the weightier matters.

Forty is a symbol

The number 40 appears in a several different places in the scriptures, almost always in the context of purging or purification. When the Lord destroyed the wicked at the time of Noah, He caused it “to rain upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 7:4.) When Moses met with the Lord on the Mount, he was in the presence of the Lord “forty days and forty nights” (Exodus 24:18.) When Israel proved unprepared to inherit the promised land, the Lord left them in the wilderness for forty years. (Deuteronomy 8:2.)

Elijah was fed by an angel before being sent into the wilderness. After the meal, Elijah “went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.” (1 Kings 19:8.) In preparation for His ministry, the Lord likewise “fasted forty days and forty nights.” (Matthew 4:2.) That preparation culminated in angels ministering to the Him. (Matthew 4:11.)

In these examples, it is not a man volunteering or choosing to afflict his soul for forty days. The period of purification is imposed by the Lord. We do not get the choose to be purified through suffering for a period of forty days, or forty years, or any other amount of time. However, if the Lord chooses to purify a soul, and that suffering does last for forty days, you can take it as a sign that the purification was given of God.

I know people have tried to voluntarily afflict themselves for forty days. I think an effort like that shows a poor understanding of how God deals with man. We wait on Him. We submit to Him. Then He alone chooses.

All earthly things?

Lectures on Faith, Lecture 6: 7

“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.”

Is the sacrifice of all earthly things always necessary for faith unto salvation?

This kind of sacrifice is between the individual and God. You cannot fabricate a sacrifice to try and qualify. It is the Lord who sent Moses back to Egypt to confront Pharoah. It is the Lord who asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It is the Lord who sent Lehi into the wilderness. It is the Lord who allowed the brothers, Joseph and Hyrum, to fall into the peril that would take their lives.

It is only when the Lord requests the sacrifice that it becomes possible to make the sacrifice knowing you are pleasing the Lord. The result does produce saving faith.