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3 Nephi 11: 23

“Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.”

The candidate for baptism must first qualify themselves by “repent[ing] of his sins.” That’s an interesting pre-condition in the Lord’s instruction.  Until one has determined to abandon their sins, they are not fit for baptism. They first decide to lay things behind, move forward in following the Lord, determined to serve Him. This decision to make a change must come “through your words.” Meaning that before someone can repent, they must first learn the conditions for repentance and following the Lord.

This is much like the instructions given by revelation to this dispensation about how baptism is to be performed. We were told, “All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.” (D&C 20: 37.) 
After having made the decision to be baptized with a broken heart and contrite spirit, confessing before the church that you have repented of your sins (or be willing to change and follow Christ), determined to endure to the end, a person receives from the Spirit of Christ a witness that changes their behavior. Their works show they are penitent. At this point a person is ready for baptism. Until then, they are not ready and the ordinance is not appropriate.
Now the instructions in Section 20 are more complete than the abbreviated statement in Christ’s instructions to His Nephite disciples, but it is to the same effect. When this pattern is followed, people are converted and follow Christ. Their baptism matters and will change them. When these instructions are not followed, the ordinance is relatively meaningless and people drift off into inactivity. I believe today the numbers evidence that approximately 10% of those who are baptized are actually converted. The rest are just names and numbers used as membership statistics to be reported and proclaimed each April in a worldwide conference.
The Gospel of Christ is quite exact and it works whenever it is tried. It is tried today in about 10% of the cases of those who are baptized by our missionaries.
Perhaps the ordinance ought to be offered to more of our adults as they come to recognize that they may not have actually been prepared to receive the ordinance when given to them. No matter, there’s always the Alma exception. (That’s when in the course of baptizing someone else, you go ahead and take the covenant yourself. See Mosiah 18: 13-15.) Clearly Alma was baptizing Helam at the time, and added himself for good measure; he (Alma) feeling the need for the ordinance himself. He went ahead and was baptized again for good measure. This seems to be a precedent that would allow for others to do likewise – perhaps when performing a vicarious baptism for the dead. I leave the Alma exception for your own consideration, and will stop short of advocating such a thing. I just notice things and share what I notice.  I’m not trying to convince anyone to do anything.
In Christ’s instructions, and in Section 20, the heavy lifting of repentance precedes baptism. Then, after determining to change and follow Christ, leaving behind the foolish errors of the past, the person is fit to be baptized. At that point the baptism symbolizes the new life being undertaken. The presence of the Holy Ghost then ratifies the purging of the repentant, now baptized convert. But that comes next in Christ’s teaching. 

3 Nephi 11: 22

3 Nephi 11: 22:

“And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.”

Space was limited and the mechanics of writing was difficult for Mormon. Therefore, in his abridgement of the account, for all others “the Lord called,” and the ceremony was repeated for each. In the process, He “said likewise” unto each of them. Every individual person was acknowledged by the Lord as having conferred upon each of them “power to baptize” by the Lord.

None of those who received this power had any doubt about their authority to act in this ordinance in the Lord’s name. None of them lacked the “power” to baptize others. None of those who were present, and still kneeling during the ceremony, or who overheard the Lord’s words had any doubts about those who held a commission from Christ to baptize them. Finally, none of those present would have any doubts about the need to be baptized by this newly bestowed power.
Although every one of them had been baptized previously, it becomes apparent that once new power to baptize has been given by Christ, that  power ought to be used. It is not given to be neglected. Nor can power endure through neglect. So when given, the power is to be used, and all who were present are candidates for baptism.
Then comes the instruction from Christ as to the manner for performing the ordinance. “On this wise shall ye baptize…” begins the instruction.  If the Lord provides the power and then gives the instruction, can the ordinance be changed? What if someone else says they hold the keys, and we all accept the person does in fact hold the keys, can such a person change the manner of baptism? If there is a potential convert who is infirm, ill or elderly and is unable to be baptized in the prescribed manner, can the ordinance be changed in form to accommodate the need? That is exactly how the ordinance was changed after the New Testament times. A reasonable need, and accommodation for that need, resulted in an exception. Then the exception became the rule, and the original manner was forgotten.

If the Lord’s instruction regarding the manner of baptism in this verse cannot be changed, even by one holding keys and authority to do so, then what about other ordinances? Can other ordinances be changed by one who holds keys if they choose to do them differently? Why not?  What happens when the one in a recognized position to perform ordinances decides to make changes to the ordinances?

Assume for a moment the Lord instructs Nephi on how to perform baptism, but Nephi decides thereafter to make a change to it. How would that reflect on Nephi? How would that reflect on the Lord? How would it reflect on the Lord’s instruction? What about Joseph Smith’s statement: “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.” (TPJS p. 308) If the Lord gave Nephi the “power” to baptize, does that carry with it the “power” to change it as well?

Well, the purpose behind the Lord giving instructions was that “there shall be no disputations among you.” Does the instruction given by the Lord end as soon as we begin to see “disputations among” followers? Can an opinion poll that shows a majority of those who practice the ordinances don’t relate to them anymore and want to see them altered, create a “disputation” that allows the instruction from the Lord to be altered?
As stupid as these questions may seem, there are people who are genuinely confused by them. So I ask them. You must decide if the Lord’s instructions deserve respect and ought to be followed. Apparently men of good faith, honest hearts, and sincere desires can by reason of their status alone, contradict the Lord’s instructions and people won’t even blink. That’s the beauty of the claim that Rome makes to having Peter’s keys and the ability to seal on earth and in heaven. The Catholics can change anything and no one doubts they had the authority to do it. To allow the possibility that God would not support the Pope would be to entertain the unthinkable. So don’t even hold that thought.

3 Nephi 11: 21

“And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven.”
Notice the Lord does not touch Nephi. He speaks the words. The Lord’s word is sovereign. If the Lord speaks it, it is so. It is not necessary for the Lord to lay hands on the servant He has just called, only that He speak the words of commission which give the servant “power.”

Notice that it is “power” and not authority. It is the “power” to baptize “this people” which is granted Nephi. Why would “power” be required for a man to be able to baptize? What if the man possessed “authority” to baptize, but lacked any “power” in his priesthood? Is “authority” anything if it lacks “power?” What is the difference? Can a church spread about the “authority” to do ordinances if that church lacks “power” to do so?

Why are “that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven?” (D&C 121: 36.) If indeed all rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, can a man who has never felt, experienced or had any connection with heaven hold any power? Hold any priesthood? What connection did Nephi have with heaven the instant the Lord spoke to Nephi the words: “I give unto you power”?

Why is it that “the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness?” What about ambitious men who view holding an office in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as entitling them to direct, preside, control and dictate to others? What are the “principles of righteousness?”  

Now, I ask those questions not to give people reason to rebel against those who preside over them. It is not for us to weigh, measure or respond with accusations against those in positions of authority. I feel a great sympathy and pray for them. However, I offer it as a self-governing, introspective question to anyone who has any calling, family position or power over another person. Whether it is in church, or at work, or in the family, or elsewhere, the way we deal with others ought to be informed by the same standards as use of priestly authority. But these things are for internal use, not as a measuring stick to be applied critically against others.

Often we are able to see clearly the errors of others, but are completely unable to see our own glaring errors. This is why I have said repeatedly that the Gospel is for internal application only, and not for external use in judging others.

In the case of Nephi, he already held power, did he not? He had preached the Gospel, used words having such power that listeners could not disbelieve them, raised his brother from the dead, and cast out devils.  (3 Nephi 7: 17-19.) Despite all this, Nephi was called forward to receive from the Lord power to baptize?  Why? Why if he already had such great power as to be able to raise the dead, did he need a new grant of power to baptize?

Does the possession of authority in one dispensation (Moses’) continue into another dispensation (Meridian of Time)? When a new dispensation of the Gospel opens, does authority need to be conferred by angels (or the Lord) in the new dispensation? Without a commission from Christ, could Nephi continue his ministry into the new dispensation?  Why not? Did the end of the prior dispensation of carnal commandments require a new delivery of power to those serving into this era of a new covenant?  (Hebrews 8: 13.)
Does the Lord’s reference to “when [He is] again ascended into heaven” reveal anything to Nephi? To us? Does it confirm the Lord’s status, power and right? Does it confirm, also, the Lord will be leaving the Nephites again? Does it reestablish what they saw when He first appeared, that He now belongs to heaven? Do we need to keep that in mind as well?

3 Nephi 11

3 Nephi 11

I have always wanted to do something with Christ’s sermons to the Nephites. It seems to me that we’ve been running through prophecies and warnings which serve one purpose, and leaving another one neglected. Balance requires us to return to another important purpose of the Book of Mormon. Namely, testifying that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of Israel and the whole world.

So for that part, we’ll turn attention to Christ’s Nephite sermons.

I’ve already dealt with what I have termed the “Ceremony of Recognition” involved in Christ’s initial appearance. That is covered in The Second Comforter and won’t be repeated here. So I’m going to skip to verses 3 Nephi 11: 18-20.

“And it came to pass that he spake unto Nephi (for Nephi was among the multitude) and he commanded him that he should come forth. And Nephi arose and went forth, and bowed himself before the Lord and did kiss his feet.  And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him.”
The Lord has appeared, is identified and recognized by those who were at the Bountiful Temple. (This is probably an open air temple much like what we find in the Parowan Gap. If you consider the entirety of the description, it is not likely a closed structure like we build.) And those who are there have engaged in an Hosanna shout. (3 Nephi 11: 17.) When the ceremony has ended and the place has become sanctified by His presence, and the body there recognizes and accepts Him as who and what He is, the stage has been set for a further ceremonial event.
Christ speaks to Nephi. He calls his name. Important stuff. Being called by name by the Son of God! Now we’re seeing something really important. For those whose names are called by God are not merely being addressed. They are, the instant the Lord calls out their name, “called.” That is, the Lord will never speak one’s name to them unless He calls them to a work. So when we read that the Lord speaks to Nephi we know the Lord has both called Nephi’s name and called the bearer of that name to do a work. Nephi knew it. The crowd knew it. All present would have understood that Nephi just became the chief prophet of those present.
Nephi is told to “come forth.” It instantly puts us in mind of Lazarus being called forth from the tomb. (John 11: 43.) Like Lazarus, who rose from the dead by the speaking of those words, Nephi now goes forth to a new life. Resurrected from his prior status and put into a minister’s role by the Lord of all mankind.
Called, commanded to “come forth,” and endowed immediately with the Lord’s anointing voice, which bestows power and authority upon a man, (see, e.g., D&C 132: 46) Nephi arises from his kneeling position and steps forward.
Every knee remains bowed except Nephi’s. For a brief moment, as he walks forward, he alone, of all those assembled in the crowd, is the one who stands in the presence of the Lord. (c.f., Luke 1: 19). Others kneel, Nephi stands. It is honor, glory and privilege being displayed in this ceremony. Christ as King and Lord calls, His chief servant rises while all others remain kneeling. We are getting informed about the Lord and His ways in detailed ceremony conveying vast information in passing movement. It is too wonderful for words.
Nephi knows what he must do. For the servant who has been called to stand above his peers must then descend below them. Pride is unthinkable when in the presence of such a meek and humble figure as our Lord. It is required that the balance be restored. Nephi, who has been made to rise, must on his own choose to descend and abase himself. Those who seek their own glory will fall, while those who seek to humble themselves will rise again. So Nephi does what any person filled with light and truth would do in these circumstances. He comes to the Lord, falls below all, and descends to kiss the Master’s feet. He kneels again, bows to the ground. And in an ultimate sign of humility, he kisses His feet, which on any other being is the symbol of uncleanliness itself. Nephi can do nothing more to show his own submission to the Lord. He can do nothing further in ceremonial activity to say he is nothing and the Lord is everything. He can show no greater respect and gratitude. Here is a servant indeed. A chief servant to the Servant of servants! A Master and servant whose hearts are alike. Nephi is, above all else, showing to us all how we ought be.

The gentiles love those who rule over and exploit them. (Matt. 20: 25.)  But Christ’s true followers do not crave chief seats. They desire to serve. They will hold others up, even if it requires them to descend below to lift them. Nephi is not a gentile, nor one who would ever exercise unrighteous dominion over others. (D&C 121: 39.)

The ceremony now requires the abased to respond to the Lord’s command again. Nephi is commanded to “arise.” It was not enough to “come forth” to the new life. Now, having been chosen, Nephi must also “arise.” It is a terrible burden. How can man “arise?” How can a man assume his position alongside His Lord? How can one who feels more suited to kneel and kiss his Master’s feet, rise up and look his Lord in the face? It is all too much. One hardly can bear the burden and difficulty to “arise” when it is the Lord’s own countenance you must confront. Too much. Too difficult. Too heavy a burden to lay upon mere man. How does Nephi dare to respond to the command to “arise?”

Through the swirling anxiety following the command, Nephi doesn’t have the strength to do so until the realization that “arising” is the Master’s will. It is the Master’s command. It can be done through faith in Him. For He gives no command without having prepared the means to accomplish it. (1 Nephi 3: 7.) It must be possible for Nephi to actually arise. Though a lifetime’s dread and remorse says to remain on your knees, it is the Master’s will that you nonetheless arise. And so you begin the dreadful effort, and your trembling knees respond. To your own surprise you find it possible to arise and look into the face of Him who is compassion itself. There can be no pride in this, for rising is by His command, and not by your own will. You may want to join in Moses’ chorus that “for this cause you know man is nothing!” (Moses 1: 10.)  But it isn’t necessary to voice the thought. It is enough to understand the thought.

No man assumes this honor for himself. He must be called by God to stand in His presence. 
And so Nephi arose, and stood before His Lord.

Remnant, part X

First, a slight detour because of comments or complaints. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the only church I have ever joined. I owe to that church my knowledge of the truth. If you’ve read my original explanation of this blog, you would know that already. If you’ve read the books I’ve written, you’d know that already. I haven’t changed my position. I’m still what I was all along – a faithful, active Latter-day Saint.

It is from the church I have received the ordinances of baptism and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.  

It is from the church I have received the scriptures, other ordinances, and authority.
I pay tithing to the church, attend regular meetings with other members, and receive the Sacrament weekly. I raise my children to attend and be faithful to the church. I am grateful to the church for its programs for children.
I listen to General Conference, and attend a large gathering on the BYU campus with my sons every six months during the Priesthood Session of Conference. I drive my children by the conference center during conference to see the protesters and read their anti-Mormon signs. This reminds my children that, although we are in the majority here, we are not liked by the majority elsewhere.
I have no intention of ever leaving the church. I see no reason to ever do so. I know the church welcomes me and my family. I know they are grateful that I attend, pay tithing and support the programs as we are asked to do.
I mention that only to make certain that some of those who read here are not misled. I have no ambition to lead the church or any person other than my family. I am grateful others are called to do so. I pray for them and do not think I could do any better job than is being done. On the contrary, I think I would make things worse.
I love my fellow Latter-day Saints. Even those with whom I have deep disagreements over doctrine. I enjoy associating with people who can discuss some of the important issues facing us, even if we hold very different views of what the solutions should be. At the end of the day, in order for the church to survive, it needs to have a mechanism to bring debate to an end and make a decision. That mechanism is in place and I respect it. If it were to be altered, it would likely break the entire system. The system is essential for the church’s survival.
I sustain President Monson and do not think anyone other than him has final decision-making authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Think about what it would mean if his decisions could be vetoed endlessly from his office down to the lay members. This would cease to be a meaningful organization.
We have tremendous problems facing the church at present. I think they are all due to the abandonment of a pattern originally restored, in favor of innovations recommended by social sciences. The Correlation Department has accelerated this metamorphosis of the church and now leads it. The possibility remains that the church will return to an earlier pattern, but that seems quite unlikely at this point. To paraphrase Deseret Book: “Doctrine doesn’t sell now.” Doctrine does not matter as it once did, and as a result, the gentiles are not even aware of the content of the scriptures, the messages addressed to us, the responsibilities which have been laid upon us, and the warnings about how we are proceeding. The prophetic pessimism of the Book of Mormon prophets is not found in the modern messages. In fact, the  feel-good messages seem to be denounced by the Book of Mormon and foretold as a sign of our own erring.
As a single, private member of the church, the only tool available to me approved by scripture is persuasion. If what I write does not persuade, I own no office, hold no calling, and command no position from which to insist you trust, believe or accept what I write. Oddly, no priesthood position in the church, from the least to the greatest, is entitled to insist you trust, believe or accept what they say. (D&C 121: 41.) I see very little demanding when it comes to actual presiding authorities. But I see a lot of that being urged vicariously, on behalf of presiding authorities, and in their names. It appears that between the Brethren who preside, and the common members, there is a disconnection wherein the Correlation Department has inserted themselves. Into that arena they have brought increasingly more intolerant and strict rule-making. I think there are talks every General Conference intended to work against that mischief. But, alas, the COB is a difficult beast to ride. It will take a grizzly bear to wrestle it into submission, I suspect.
In any event, the gentiles must fulfill their own destiny. Although there will be failings, limitations, foolishness and apostasy by the gentiles rejecting what is offered them, they will perform a great act. They will be the means of bringing back the remnant. There will be those who believe the Book of Mormon, teach correctly to the remnant about their own fathers, and assist in bringing about the New Jerusalem.
This interplay between gentile and remnant destinies is very real, and requires a work of the gentiles not yet completed.
I do not know how much further to pursue this topic. There are prophecies Joseph made about the Rocky Mountain gathering. There is the controversial “horse-shoe prophecy” about the travel of the Saints before the New Jerusalem would be founded. There is Joseph’s finger on the map pointing where he suspected the New Jerusalem would be built. And the fellow who saw the pointing who speculated it was around where Snowflake, Arizona is presently located. However, the map had no borders, no states, and Snowflake didn’t exist at the time. So a finger on a map could be hundreds of miles away from Snowflake. I’m not inclined to do much with that right now. I’m more inclined to take up some other stuff and leave the remnant alone for the time being.
As I said when this started, it was going to take a while. I’m thinking it might be better to change topics for a while and turn attention to some other things. The remnant will reappear in its own natural order as we move along in any direction we take. Their appearance is so widespread in latter-day prophecy that it is unavoidable. Many of you hadn’t noticed it before. Now you have some background and ought to be able to pick up the matter on your own and see it for yourselves.

Remnant, part IX

The interplay between the latter-day gentiles and the remnant has been illustrated repeatedly in the Book of Mormon prophecies. We have seen Nephi’s prophecies of the event, and Christ’s affirmation and expansion on the event.

Gentiles would be offered the fullness and would reject it. Then the gentiles would take the gospel to the remnant who would receive it.  The remnant would then blossom with the gospel, ultimately establishing the New Jerusalem. When the New Jerusalem is built by the remnant, a few gentiles who had received the fullness would be able to “assist” in bringing again Zion. (3 Nephi 21: 23-24.)

We have at least a reasonable basis for fearing the gentiles rejected the fullness by not building the Temple in the “appointed time.” Inside this Temple, the fullness was to be revealed. (D&C 124: 28, 32.) Joseph Smith, who possessed the fullness, was taken 3 1/2 years after the revelation warning to act with speed in building the required Temple. When he died, the walls had not yet been completed to the second floor.
If we assume the worst, and the fullness was taken by the failure to complete the Temple in the permitted time, what then? Do the gentiles have no further use? Are the gentiles without a role in the latter-day events? That is hardly the case. The gentiles continue to occupy a central role in the latter-days, despite their failures.
The gentiles will bring the Gospel to the remnant. (1 Nephi 15: 13-14.)  The gentiles will be commissioned to preach, teach, baptize, lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, carry the Book of Mormon forward throughout the world, and preserve truths which will enable others to be saved. The gentiles will shoulder a prophetic burden they alone will be able to bear off in the last days.
When Moses was taken, along with the higher priesthood he possessed,  the Lord did not cease to recognize ancient Israel as His people. They were indeed His people, and the ones with whom He worked. He cared for, and watched over them, although we know in hindsight they were a hard hearted and foolish people who rejected something far greater than what they kept. If we rejected a fullness by our own failures, that does not mean we are cut off. We are the Lord’s people. We have a form of priesthood, and the right to organize and preach the Gospel throughout the world. We are being watched over. We are the means through which the Lord will bring to pass all of His latter-day plans.
You should also not worry that our collective limitations apply to individuals. That has never been the case. There have always been those who have risen up, shed their sins, repented and come to the Lord individually and been redeemed. That pattern appears throughout scriptures. The Book of Mormon is a product of one family, led by one man who repented in a generation scheduled for destruction. He led his family, preached the Gospel, had sons who accepted the invitation to receive from the fruit of the tree of life, and established a righteous branch of Israel. The Book of Mormon at its foundation is a testimony that the Lord is ever willing to receive any who will come to Him.
The gentiles are integral to the Lord’s work. We should never fear that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is meaningless, irrelevant or without God’s watchful care. It is the means by which people are invited to come to Christ today.
In Eighteen Verses I describe the phenomena of building a new religion inside the original one established by revelation through Joseph Smith.  This new, false religion is designed to interfere with the Gospel, enshrine worship or adoration of a priestly class instead of the worship of Christ.  The Correlation Department’s effort to correlate teaching has created a new ambition to correlate power and control over everything. Part of that involves the adoration of a person, or as I explained it in Catholic terms – the cult of personality. This is a tried and true pattern for compromising the Gospel and rendering it a means for controlling and dominating socially, politically, religiously, and ultimately dictatorially.
The way the adversary works is always the same. It is not to destroy the work of God by annihilation, but to co-opt it and make it his. Satan wants to supplant God as the god of this earth. Therefore, anytime God has a work underway, Satan is eager to rush in and become the one the Lord’s work follows. The “arm of flesh” as opposed to the “Holy Ghost” is the difference between following in the single, strait, narrow path which alone will bring people back to God, and the altered and compromised path that will take you elsewhere.
I thought President Uchtdorf’s analogy about the airplane being only one degree off would become 500 miles separated from its target at the equator was particularly apt. (A Matter of a Few Degrees, May, 2008 Ensign.) This is how men and institutions fail. How can mortal man be vulnerable to err, and committees of mortal men are not? It is an almost universal truth that committees multiply errors, not decrease them. And who of you have ever sustained the Correlation Department?  
We are fools to believe that the same pattern of compromising the truth that resulted in the apostasy of the church established by Christ will not relentlessly press against the restoration of our day. I know there are quotes saying otherwise–that the church cannot be led astray– but I cannot believe them, try as I might. Joseph, Brigham, John Taylor, President George Cannon all said the exact opposite. Even when Wilford Woodruff was claiming he would “not lead the church astray” he did not mean what we have attributed to his words. He was saying, in effect: “Don’t worry, the Manifesto is a lie. We’re not really abandoning plural marriage.” The Manifesto did NOT stop plural marriage and it was not a revelation. He referred to it as “beating the Devil at his own game.” Meaning it was intended to mislead the public. It was a press release designed to stop the persecution of the church and the threatened legislation to dis-incorporate and confiscate the Temples. Criticism by the eastern press resulted in it becoming part of the Doctrine & Covenants. Plural marriages continued from then until after President Joseph F. Smith testified before the Senate in the seating of Senator Smoot in 1905. When the excommunications of the Apostles Taylor and Cowley in 1911 happened, it was not based on the Manifesto, but on the letter of President Joseph F. Smith actually ending the practice. The fundamentalist groups know this history and use it to persuade others that their current practices are justified. Their practices today are wrong, as I’ve discussed in Beloved Enos. But their use of history to trouble the unaware has been effective in many cases. [Now this is entirely a side issue and I’m not interested in pursuing it at this moment. I’m only mentioning it in the context of another thought.]
So ask yourself which is better: 
1.   Presume that no man can err who becomes a President of the LDS Church in direct contradiction to what Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor and George Q. Cannon taught?
2.  Presume that without the ratification of the Holy Ghost bearing testimony to you that a matter is true, no man can be trusted and your salvation is based on what God alone tells you to be true?

If you believe the first, your religion is new, post-Correlation and will damn you. I do not intend to disassociate with you, and will gladly let you practice your faith if you will permit me to practice mine. If you believe the second, you are a Latter-day Saint who accepts accountability for what you believe and will work out your salvation with fear and trembling before God. You believe as I do, that Joseph was the means through which the Lord initiated a work for the salvation of mankind, and that work continues today. You believe in revelation and in God’s continuing hand with us still today. You accept such good things as come through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, rejoice in them, pay tithing to them, and are blessed by what things the church continues to preserve and practice. However, you are not deluded into worship of men.

The gentiles include both. The gentiles will be instrumental to the Lord’s work in the last days, whether they are Saints or Brethrenites. The remnant will come to the faith, receive the Gospel and become acquainted with their fathers through the Book of Mormon delivered by gentile hands. (2 Nephi 30: 3-5.) Without faithful gentile Saints, the work of the Father will not happen. Therefore, no matter the condition we find ourselves, we have an obligation to the Lord and to the prophets who went before, to so live as to bring these things to pass.

3 Nephi 20: 27-28

3 Nephi 20: 27-28:

“…unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles, which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel.  And they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land.  Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fullness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father.”

The reason the gentiles received access to the Holy Ghost was to fulfill the purposes of the Father. The remnant would reject the Gospel, and as a result merit judgment. Judgment would come through the gentiles. For that to occur, the Holy Ghost needed to inspire gentile successes.

The Spirit would be responsible for such great gentile success that they will be made “mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people.” That is, no other people will be able to prevail against the gentiles of North America while the Holy Ghost was with the gentiles. They will be a “scourge” upon the remnant as a result of the Father’s judgments implemented by Christ, using the Holy Ghost.

The Spirit will entitle the gentiles to be offered the fullness. They will qualify by their acts and obedience. When you receive light and stay true to it, you are offered more light. The gentiles will accept and pursue more light, and will merit an opportunity to receive the fullness of the Gospel.

Gentiles did have the fullness of the Gospel, which requires the fullness of the priesthood that was offered while Joseph Smith was here. It was given sometime between 1829 and 1832, and removed before 1841. (See prior post and 132: 45 and D&C 124: 28.)

When the gentiles were offered the fullness, they displayed little interest in it. Joseph remarked: ““I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen.”  (DHC 6: 184-185; see also D&C 121: 40.)

When the Saints were given a final opportunity to receive the offered fullness extended to all, they needed to show their willingness to accept it by completing the Nauvoo Temple within a short time. They were given long enough to complete it, and if it was not completed in that appointed time, they would be rejected. (D&C 124: 32.) We have seen how the Saints proceeded to build Nauvoo and their own homes rather than the Nauvoo Temple from 1841 to June, 1844 when Joseph and Hyrum were killed.  (See The Remnant Part VII.) When Joseph was taken, the Temple walls had not yet been completed to the second floor.

When the Twelve prayed in the Temple on February 8, 1846 that the Lord would bless the Saints to be able to complete the Temple, the Temple caught fire the next day. 

Repairs and further work allowed a dedication to finally take place at the end of April, 1846, nearly two years after Joseph’s death. The dedicatory prayer petitioned the Lord to “take guardianship into Thy hands,” but by September the keys to the Temple doors were handed to a mob which had overrun Nauvoo. It was the position of Elder Hyde that the Saints performed as they were required “by the skin of our teeth,” thereby escaping rejection by the Lord.  (This was discussed in The Remnant Part VII.)

The prophecy of Christ, as commanded by the Father, foretells that if the gentiles do reject the fullness, then the Father will “return their iniquities upon their own heads.” Meaning that the gentiles will, by reason of their rejection of what was offered them, merit condemnation for ingratitude. (D&C 88: 33-35.)  They remain “filthy still” because that which would have cleansed them was not received in gratitude. It was rejected. When a people reject the Lord, the Lord, being governed by law, must reject them.

This is the reason the coming judgments are necessary. Where much is given (and we were offered everything) then much is expected. (Luke 12: 47-48.) When everything is rejected, then the punishment merited reflects complete rejection of the Lord. You must keep this in mind as you read the judgments Christ prophesies upon the gentiles.

And remember also that no matter what the collective gentile conduct may be (or fail to be), the Lord approaches each of us individually. The Book of Mormon is intended as the final opportunity for gentile salvation. The church is under condemnation for failing to remember its contents and take them seriously. (D&C 84: 54-58.) That scourge needn’t be applied to you, if you will “repent and remember the new covenant” offered to you. There is, for any gentile who will repent and take the covenants offered in the Book of Mormon, an opportunity to yet become associated with the remnant and an heir of the preservation and salvation offered to them.

As we survey the condition of the gentile church today, there seems to be less and less made of the Book of Mormon’s contents. The Correlation Department’s teachings are insubstantial and becoming even less so. However, you have the Book of Mormon in front of you. You don’t need anyone to prepare a manual for you. You have the text itself.

I am hoping what I’ve written, particularly in The Second Comforter, will show you how the Book of Mormon teaches you the return to the fullness.  Nephi’s Isaiah informs you of the Book of Mormon’s prophecies of our days and our failures.  Eighteen Verses shows how Book of Mormon doctrinal teachings address every major dilemma of our day.  Beloved Enos shows what the fullness will confer upon you. I believe whatever merit the Lord has conferred upon me arises out of my serious study of the Book of Mormon. Though everyone may treat this covenant lightly, I have not. I would encourage you, therefore, to do the same, and prayerfully study the most correct volume of scripture we possess. It is a lifeline extended by the Lord to us. However, it cannot do you any good if you fail to act on its contents. Do the works, and you will know the doctrine. I suspect our universal failure to know doctrine today is because we do not live as we should. Understanding doctrine is tied to living it.  The more you live it, the more you will comprehend it. (John 7: 16-17.) The less you live it, the more elusive it becomes to you. Until at last, you become like Deseret Book, incapable of offering anything other than romance novels, “inspirational” mush, and historical fiction, all with a veneer of Mormon vocabulary. Kitsch and superficiality, more distracting to the reader than edifying to their soul. Making one think there is some good being accomplished by participating, all the while forfeiting the days which might have been better spent.

3 Nephi 20: 25-27

3 Nephi 20: 25-27:

“And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.  The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant—  And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed—unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles, which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel.”

These verses connect a single doctrine. That doctrine is at the heart of “turning of the hearts of the children to the fathers,” which is the result of any restoration of the Gospel. The definition of “children of the prophets” is that one has accepted, believed, and followed the Lord’s true messengers. They become children of Abraham and receive priestly authority sealing them into the family of God, joining the “fathers.”  From the time of Abraham until today, all who are redeemed have become a part of his household.

The phrase “turning the hearts of the children to the fathers” is a reference to the restoration of sealing authority, allowing a connection between man living on the earth, and the fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). In this dispensation, that restoration occurred when Joseph Smith was given the sealing authority and priesthood whereby he could ask and receive answers. (D&C 132: 45-47.) As discussed earlier, this was sometime between 1829 and 1833, though I think it was more likely the earlier date as I have explained. Coincident with receiving this authority, Joseph’s calling and election was made sure. (D&C 132: 49.) I have explained this in Beloved Enos. This priesthood, having the hearts of the recipients turned to the fathers, and the promise of exaltation, are interconnected.

Abraham not only held this authority, but received the promise that all who received the Gospel after him would become his descendants.  From the time of Abraham to the present, every saved soul has had their heart turned to him, become his son or daughter, and receive that same priesthood. (Abraham 2: 10-11.) When Joseph received this, he was not merely sealed up to eternal life, but he became part of the family of Abraham. If you remember the diagram of the celestial kingdom referred to earlier on this blog, you know Joseph became one of those who was grafted into the family tree, and would then in turn preside over others who were sealed up to eternal life thereafter.

The sealing authority used by Joseph in December, 1832, was to seal others up to eternal life. (See D&C 88: 2-4.) This promise had been previously conferred upon Joseph in that portion of Section 132 referred to above. In fact, Joseph’s use of that authority in December, 1832 on behalf of others is evidence that the promise to him recorded in Section 132 was necessarily received earlier than December, 1832. If it had not been received earlier, there would have been no need to make the statement in D&C 132: 49 to Joseph, because of what is in Section 88. Why tell Joseph his calling and election was sure in 1843 if it had happened already in 1832? This is another reason you can know Section 132, although recorded in 1843, was in fact a revelation received by Joseph much earlier. It was reduced to writing in 1843 at Hyrum’s request. 

The reference to “turning the hearts of the fathers to the children” made by Elijah was not because Elijah conferred those keys upon Joseph in the Kirtland Temple (D&C 110: 16), for they arrived years earlier than 1836. Elijah was confirming that the keys were now all returned so the hearts of the children could turn to the fathers, and in turn the father’s hearts to the children. (D&C 110: 15.) And, so as to signify he was a true messenger, Elijah also showed a sign by his hand to Joseph whereby Joseph could recognize a true messenger. (D&C 2: 1.)

In Christ’s statement to the Nephite audience, He confirmed that they were “the children of the prophets” because they followed the prophets’ teachings. Therefore, because of their obedience they were “of the house of Israel” and had realized that status because “of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers.” That covenant was given “unto Abraham” promising to Abraham: “And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.” All those after the day of Abraham who received this priesthood and sealing would become the seed of Abraham. They become heirs of the promise, and children of Abraham.  They are sealed up to eternal life and therefore their hearts have turned to the fathers. 

Christ was sent to these Nephites because, “The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant.” Realizing the promises, and being visited by the Lord are also connected. When enough are ready to enter into this order, have their hearts turned to the fathers, receive the covenant, then the Lord will bring again Zion.

3 Nephi 20: 24

“Verily I say unto you, yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have testified of me.”
The Lord chose and established Israel. He would remain committed to them, although they went whoring after other gods.
Moses held the fullness of the priesthood. He conferred blessings upon others. Although Moses was taken from Israel, the blessings of the priesthood remained. Moses blessed Joshua, and Joshua held the blessings of the priesthood for so long as he lived. But the fullness of the priesthood, that portion which permitted a man to see God face to face, was taken with Moses. (D&C 84: 20-25.)
When Joshua died, both the priesthood that left with Moses, and the blessings from that priesthood were lost. What remained thereafter was a lesser form of priesthood called the Levitical or Aaronic Priesthood.  This continued to be ministered from Moses until Jesus Christ.
The prophets, however, were something different.  They came through diverse families and from unexpected places. They were not part of the leading Levitical families and not even from that tribe on occasion. Their priesthood was not reckoned by what was then on the earth, but was given to them directly from heaven itself. Joseph Smith taught: “All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself” (TPJS, pp. 180-81).
The men who held the higher form of priesthood, the fullness that made it possible for them to behold God face to face, were “all the prophets from Samuel and those that followed after.” Having this form of priesthood they could behold God face to face and live. (D&C 84: 22-23.)
The power to see God face to face is not real if the man does not actually behold God face to face. It is powerless. It is theory. It is a notion and not a reality. This priesthood the revelation speaks about is not a theoretical idea, but an actual, real power which allows the person holding it to behold God and live. Therefore, when Christ states that “all the prophets from Samuel and those that followed after” had “testified of [Christ]” this is more than rhetoric. They became prophets by reason of the Lord having appeared and spoken to them; having testified of Himself to them. Therefore their status as prophets and their witness of Him were coequal. They sprang from the very same thing – the same event. This, then, formed the basis for their service as the Lord’s prophets. They knew Him. They could testify of what they knew, heard and saw, rather than what they believed to be true from what others had said. God had made Himself known to them.
Christ was confirming that these prophets had testified of Him because He was the one who had called them. He was the one who qualified them. He was the one whose witness and message they bore to others. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy! (Rev. 19: 10.) Here He confirms again that those prophets sent by Him have testified they know Him. They do not testify of themselves, but of Him. They do not point to themselves, but they point to Him. They do not promise salvation through themselves, but invite others to come to Christ and be saved. They will understate rather than overstate their calling and standing before God.