2 Nephi 29: 4-5

“But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles? O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.”
If you wonder at the Lord’s patience and willingness to forgive you have an answer here.  The Lord’s respect for and defense of the “Jews” as His “ancient covenant people” is unmitigated by any criticism of them. Instead He points to their “travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews” experienced in bringing forth this Biblical record.
The Jews deserve our thanks, our gratitude and our respect for this great work of preserving the record.

Twice the Lord calls the Jews His “ancient covenant people.” The Bible is a record of rebellion, persecution of the righteous, and slaying of prophets. It is a record of a fallen people who were often in apostasy, resisting true prophets calling for repentance, and suffering the judgment and condemnation of God.  When the New Testament record (also a product of Jewish writers–even in the case of Luke who, though born to gentile parents, was converted to Judaism) came into existence it was the Jews who resisted and persecuted the Lord. Yet He still calls them His “ancient covenant people.” He insists we have been ungrateful to the Jews for their work on the Bible.
This is the Lord speaking in the first person.  Nephi is quoting Him. These are the same people Lehi taught would be the only ones “who would crucify their God.” (2 Nephi 10: 3.) Yet despite that, Christ refers to them as His “ancient covenant people” to whom we owe a debt of gratitude! How merciful is our Lord?
Now, those who produced the Bible text are not merely the believers, true prophets, and victims of Jewish hostility and persecution.  The text may have originated with the prophets, but it passed quickly into the hands of the priests and Levites, scholars and Rabbis.  These others may not have had the same divine inspiration and association with angels, but they nevertheless attended with strict discipline to preserving the record of the prophets. Even those who directly challenged the Lord included the scribes who worked to preserve the records of the prophets. These “labors” and “pains” and “diligence” have produced gratitude from the Lord!
If He is willing to thank them, how generous is our Lord in His thanks to mankind! How ungrateful are we?
We tend to see those with whom we differ as enemies. But the Lord does not want us to approach religious disagreement in this way.  Instead he would have us “recover” them. He says: “ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them.” As Joseph Smith’s History recounts, his persecutors ought “to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me.” (JS-H 1: 28.) That is the only way to obtain agreement – persuasion, gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned. (D&C 121: 41-42.) Instead of “holding a court” against someone, we ought to preach the Gospel to them and teach them the truth with love and meekness. It is clear the Lord is showing by example how our attitudes ought to be displayed with those who persecute and reject us. But, then again, He taught the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5, 67) and in how He lived (John 8: 10-11) and died (Luke 23: 34). Oddly we would convict and excommunicate the adulterer, but our Lord would not. Nor does He who holds the greatest claim to condemn the Jews condemn them. Instead He says we ought to have gratitude for their pains, labors and diligence.
What does our ingratitude merit us? It merits us judgment. For the same judgment we apply to them will in turn be applied to us. We will see it used as the basis for His rejection of us:  “I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.”
Being a religious people is fine; but being a self-righteous people has always been perilous.  It is no different today. We should use the scriptures to inform our inner life. It is meant for internal use only. External application is likely to cause burning.

44 thoughts on “2 Nephi 29: 4-5

  1. Are you saying excommunication should be done away with? Alma Sr. had a related question and it troubled him. (Mosiah 26:13) Basically he was told that he who repents shall be numbered among the Church and he who does not, his name shall be blotted out. “Whosoever will not repent of his sins the same shall not be numbered among my people; and this shall be observed from this time forward.” (Mosiah 27:32)

    Or is it the “court” setting that you dislike?

    I wonder if there’s another factor in our removing certain people from our numbers, especially those guilty of heinous acts against children (although I’ve also heard you practically have to murder someone to be ex’d in Utah anymore)…

    Namely, the example. First, within the Church. I know with my ex having been present on some church courts where adultery was the issue, he would come home amazed at how loving and positive the whole experience was. “That wasn’t so bad,” was his line of thinking. He, you might guess, followed suit not long thereafter.

    Then there is the example toward those out of the Church. “…the wickedness of the church was a great stumbling-block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in its progress.” (Alma 4:10) I knew of a man who said, “If your church will not excommunicate XXX, I have no respect for it.” Now, I’m not talking about the simple, oopsie-I committed adultery, I’m talking heinous things. (Incidentally, XXX was ex’d and this person who made the statement joined the church, does HUNDREDS of temple sessions yearly and has not missed home teaching for 21 years, just to give you a small indication of his seriousness to the gospel.)

    My experience (weird as it is) involves people who’ve been ex’d “only because I was living outside of Utah” and many who’ve done things to children that should cause even the most “tolerant” leaders to recoil, but yet there they are, participating in Church as if all is well.

  2. Wow – excellent analysis of those words.
    I have always wondered (same as Joseph) at my non-Mormon friends who have hammered at me for my beliefs, why they could not use kid gloves to turn me from my “deluded state” to “the light”. I have rarely experienced such venom as when dealing with them on matters of religion to the point that I generally avoid all fanatical members of a baptizing sect knowing what grief I will have to endure at their hands.
    My best friend at work is a practicing “kohen” and I feel such a strong affinity for that group. I cannot wait for when the Lord comes to them and we are once again gathered mercifully under the same tent with the same master.

  3. A very good post, but I must respectfully disagree with one point:

    Denver wrote, “Oddly we would convict and excommunicate the adulterer, but our Lord would not.” I participated in a Church court where the Lord’s Spirit very clearly directed that a man who had committed adultery be excommunicated. It was not the stake president nor the high council who decided it. It was the Lord. In this particular case, it was what was best for the individual. Other times, that might not be the case. But in this case, it was.

    As Denver pointed out in the previous post, it’s good that the Lord is the real judge, because in His incredible love for us, He does what is best for us at all times. Sometimes it looks loving and sometimes it doesn’t. But it always is.

  4. I believe Christ would have probably excommunicated that woman taken in Adultery, but he probably left it up to the local leaders of the time. We don’t have the whole story.

    The fact that he forgave her does not mean she had repented, which doesn’t happen just because you’re caught in the sin. His forgiveness does not mean he can or would withhold needed consequences to help her truely repent & realize the seriousness of her sin so she won’t repeat it, like most in her situation do.

    Discipline is actually the loving thing to do for the sinner, no matter how much you forgive them. Consequences help the sinner to seek greater spirituality by having to earn blessings
    & membership back.

    Serious sins like Adultery, Abuse & Abandonment are almost impossible to repent from without the help of serious discipline, like excommunication, like Pres. Hinckley said was usually the penalty.

    Adultery is such a destructive & vile abuse against the spouse that those who commit such are almost, if not completely past feeling. Usually only the greatest consequences like excommunication will cause that person to repent from such deep rooted devilish desires & actions.

    It is also loving to the ‘victim’ to discipline the sinner/abuser/adulterer/abandoner so the victim is protected & given justice for their loss & pain. Complete restitution & then some, must be required from the sinner to the amount possible or else it’s just further abuse on the victim.

    If Christ had let the adulteress just walk away & no discipline applied, how would the woman’s husband ever feel justice was done for him or he be assured she will repent & recompense him for his pain & loss from her unfaithfulness to him?

  5. Continued….

    This is Christ’s Church & despite the fact that Christ continually forgives us, even in the moment of our sins, he still asks his representatives (as Pres. Hinckley said) to usually excommunicate for all forms of abuse, adultery & abandonment (divorce). For that’s usually vital to help the sinner repent fully. Light punishment or none at all, is usually an UNloving thing for serious sin, for it is usually extremely hard to repent from such sins without firm consequences like excommunication or else it usually just causes the sinner to repeat the sin & get worse & brings greater abuse on the victims.

    What spouse is going to return & repent to their good spouse if not given severe consequences for divorcing them? Or especially if they are allowed to just remarry in the temple to someone else? This only encourages more abuse & adultery & abandonment. Children watch & learn to do the same & not take marriage covenants or even the Church seriously if parents, adults & leaders don’t.

    The Scriptures teach that if there is no punishment for sin it’s as if there is not law against it.

    Abuse, Adultery & Abandonment & Addictions are rampant in probably every ward in the Church. A major cause for this is the serious lack of consequences by leaders for those who do such things. This is a huge injustice to the victims but mostly to the sinner himself. How will he ever come to repent before it’s too late & he dies, unless leaders apply needed consequences & protection for the victims.

    Leaders bring heavy & dire judgments on their own heads when they do not discipline sufficiently those who commit adultery (including porn), all forms of abuse, & abandonment & divorce of a good spouse.

    Many non-members I have known have lost any trust or desire to investigate our Church when they see that our Leaders don’t discipline for & thus make allowance for these types of serious sins that their own Church would never allow.

    A religion or Church is only as good & safe as how it protects, especially women & children (& men too who need it) from abuse, adultery & abandonment(divorce) & how much is applies needed firm consequences for sin.

  6. There was a time when I would have agreed with that view. In the early church of this dispensation, the purpose of a church court was to obtain a confession. If someone confessed during the court, or immediately before, they would be forgiven and the court would end. If someone got excommunicated because of a sin, and they confessed the next day, they would be reinstated the next day. Once the confession was made, forgiveness was more or less immediate. Take a look at that early history. It is interesting.

    For those who are excommunicated, we rarely see them again. The numbers are overwhelming against their return. So essentially an excommunication means the end of that person, oftentimes also his/her immediate family, and the descendants of those.

    Sin is wrong, and needs to result in repentance and change. But for the most part that is between the person and the Lord. When it involves others, it also includes them, too. But we sometimes cause a great deal of unintended consequences to even the unborn when we excommunicate.

  7. I can see Denver’s point here:
    “So essentially an excommunication means the end of that person, oftentimes also his/her immediate family, and the descendants of those.”

    But I would say it’s everything that led up to the excommunication, not the excommunication itself that spelled the end of that person.

    I suppose we all have different slants and experiences on this subject.

  8. “Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness.” The Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. (Teachings p. 247)

    Victims don’t need justice. Justice excludes and elevates them above their offenders. It fosters a false sense of superiority when, in fact, we are all beggars. Justice fosters a sense of victimization where extending mercy is empowering.

    What victims need is to embrace the law of Christ which is to bear one another’s burdens, realizing that we are all subject to temptation. This is the balm of Gilead.

    If we demand justice, then that is the law by which WE are judged. I, for one, would rather find shelter in the Savior’s merciful embrace by extending mercy to others. Especially those who’ve despitefully used me.

  9. Anonymous: You try to make a convincing argument for punishing the sinner. Some of your points may be true but many of your remarks have an undertone of anger and hate (which can be very real when we have been treated in such a manner). The Savior forgave the adulterer. We should take the story for what it teaches us, not use it to teach punishment by assuming the Savior sent her to local authorities for punishment. I could take exception to several of your other remarks but I would not feel happy in doing so. I just favor a different spirit in approaching the issue of punishing our fellow man. I have very close friends who have been abused and cheated on. The decision by the spouse and church leaders became a very personal thing as to how they approached the sinner. I’ve seen extraordinary miracles when a spirit of forgiveness was used even when some disciplinary actions were taken.

  10. I think if we had people skilled enough to identify when someone has confessed a sin and found the root of the problem, we would notice the signs that prove the trouble has passed and the person is back to a normal state and ready to be reinstated. Crimes could be dealt with through a municipal organization outside of the Church. In the Book of Mormon, if apostate murderous Lamanites or Nephites agreed not to take vengeance anymore, Captain Moroni promptly let them free. If they did not confess their course was wrong, the imprisonment had to remain. Once the trouble is past, where is the danger? If there is a imposition of a debt to society, let it be paid off through the organizations of the society, but indeed, let it be paid off and done with.

    Have we abolished the class system in America? Apparently only if you don’t break the rules. If you break the rules, a class is assigned to you forever, with no possible chance for movement between the kingdoms. The allusion to other doctrinal thoughts is intentional. With a people such as us, the Lord would be compelled to go the second mile with us in revealing D&C 76 and codify our comfortableness just to get in as much info as He could. The Lord in His liberality takes good use of loopholes, in my opinion. Shall we curse Him for that? Or, if you would wish to move from one class to another after being judged, would you not wish for a loophole yourself? Think on that long and hard.

    Even if there are no loopholes, wouldn’t it be wise to grant people status changes now in the chance that we might need the same mercy sometime in the future?

    Consider this: under the demands of justice, there is no movement between kingdoms. Period. But mercy is a different plan. It cannot rob justice, of course, so a person must fully qualify for mercy. But if a person does qualify for mercy, they are exempt from justice. The rules are all at the discretion of the mercy-giver. Justice can not rob mercy either. Think on that. We are told the qualification to receive mercy is to be merciful yourself. And there you have it. The loophole.

  11. I agree with Denver (from one of his most recent posts, which also applies here) that forgiveness on our part — on everyone’s part — is a first and profound key to our becoming like the Savior.

    I noticed some years ago that the verses just beyond the frequently quoted D&C 64: 9-10 seem to be unnoticed by us:

    9 Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
    10 I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.
    11 And ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.
    12 And him that repenteth not of his sins, and confesseth them not, ye shall bring before the church, and do with him as the scripture saith unto you, either by commandment or by revelation.
    13 And this ye shall do that God may be glorified—not because ye forgive not, having not compassion, but that ye may be justified in the eyes of the law, that ye may not offend him who is your lawgiver—
    14 Verily I say, for this cause ye shall do these things.

    So this says to me that discipline is required by the Lord to be exercised by Church leaders by scripture and by revelation, not because they need it to forgive the person, but to glorify God and to remain justified in the eyes of the law and not offend God.

    A genius program for disciplining children is called “Love and Logic”. It is based simply on the concept of remaining in a loving and kind relationship with your children at all times while allowing them to experience and suffer the consequences of their choices — with the consequences being as natural or logical to the situation as possible. Children who grow up with no loving discipline do not feel loved nor do they know how to deal appropriately as adults in the real world.

    God loves us and provides many natural consequences for us throughout our lives on earth. Sometimes the logical consequence of an action includes Church discipline. And verse 13 above says why really clearly.

  12. I’m sorry but I don’t think any of you that have responded caught what I was saying, except maybe Anon. 8:40pm.

    Most leaders have been trying your ideas for some time now & still the Church’s problems are getting much worse & marriages & families are rapidly disintegrating before our eyes, right & left.

    The Prophets command leaders to apply serious consequences for sin for a reason. Not because we are thirsting for justice or angry at the sinner or haven’t forgiven them, but because we love the sinner & when someone commits a serious sin, it usually takes a consequences as sore as the sin to help wake them up, even if it takes years to do so.

    Better to stand for right & apply necessary consequences than to go along with evil, for it will just get worse & worse, even if everyone still comes to church & pretends righteousness. Denial is more dangerous & blinding than anger is for being cast out. The anger subsides eventually, denial rarely does.

    It’s worse too, for children to see their parents getting away with evil & going unpunished & the Church leaders appearing to support their evil & thus teaching the children that the Church really isn’t that serious about their standards, commandments & covenants & thus the children will learn they don’t have to take them seriously either.

    This is one of the biggest problems the Church is dealing with right now. Much of the youth won’t keep their covenants & commandments because, when you look closely, their parents didn’t either & their parents still come to Church & have callings & are treated like nothing is wrong, so why should the children take the commandments seriously, when there is no real punishment for breaking them.

    And since the #1 responsibility of Bishops, Stake Pres. & G.A’s is to protect those who are or might be injured by other’s sins, like adultery, abuse or abandonment, it’s extremely dangerous for leaders to go along with evil. For they have the serious obligation to apply the needed consequences to make sure the sinner repents fully, not just confesses & doesn’t continue to hurt others.

    It brings punishments on the heads of leaders if they are soft on sin, especially if the sinner didn’t truely repent & instead gets worse & hurts more & more people, as is what usually happens with serious sins like abuse, adultery & abandonment.

  13. Those who truely love & care about serious sinners, apply firm consequences until they not just confess, but truely & completely repent & make full restitution as far as possible to those they hurt.

    To go along with evil, even if it keeps them coming to Church or to our family functions, is evil.

    For it encourages ‘denial’ which is far more blinding & deadly than ‘anger’ at being cast out. Anger often eventually subsides, denial rarely does.

  14. JohnC-
    I find your counselling on the subject of anger and hate interesting considering your experience goes no further than having friends who’ve been cheated on. What’s the biggest trial you’ve been through thus far? I think you overestimate your own understanding.


  15. Anonymous,
    There is something that my experiences have taught me and that scripture corroborates: Sin has its own consequences and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished.

    We don’t need to go out of our way to punish each other, the natural consequence of sin is unhappiness.

    Our desire is for all men to repent and turn toward God. It is Satan who tries to impede that change of course, not the men of God. Excommunication should be reserved for the most extreme cases.

    Elder Burton gave a wonderful talk on the meaning of repentance in which he validates the sentiments expressed by other here – you can read it here: http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=e7578b5c1dbdb010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=f318118dd536c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

  16. MercynGrace,

    Adultery, Abuse & Abandonment are the extreme cases. You can’t get much more evil than that.

    And Pres. Hinckley said over & over that excommunication is usually the penalty for these things. A Prophet words always trump an Apostle’s.

    I agree that the goal is to help the sinner repent, but usually the only way is by severe consequences, for severe sins. For the people who commit such sins are usually ‘past feeling’ or close to it & only a very firm & lasting consequence UNTIL they repent fully is almost always the only way to get them to repent. It’s the only loving thing to do.

    And yes, the wicked do punish the wicked. But it is also the strict obligation of leaders to discipline the wicked & do all they can to stop their evil & thus protect the innocent or the leaders bring those sins on their own heads & will have to answer for the suffering of the innocent they refused to protect.

    Prophets have taught that the greatest ‘sin of Sodom’ was not all the immorality going on, (that happens in every major society, as it is happening today), but the sin of ‘refusing to protect the innocent & vulnerable’ is the greatest sin & makes a city or people ripe for destruction.

    For without protection by so-called ‘good people’ or leaders, there is no hope left for that society. All is lost. The innocent will just be destroyed by the wicked.

    When men & leaders will no longer protect the innocent, Heavenly Father steps in to protect them, by destroying those who won’t.

  17. In the timeless book, Les Miserables, Inspector Javert demands that Jean Valjean pay the price for his crimes (and he did commit crimes). Conversely, Javert freely forgives those who have abused him, including Javert.

    Ultimately, Javert dies of his own doing (suicide), because he can’t live in a hell knowing that he was released (by Jean Valjean) based on mercy. My guess is that his torment continued into the afterworld.

    Jean Valjean, on the other hand, dies surrounded by the ones he loves and who love him. He is greeted on the other side by those whose lives he affected. His heaven continued.

    It is true that Jean Valjean committed crimes. There was a system set up for those who stole bread, and tried to escape prison. He was “processed” through this system, and all it did was make him hardened, until he found the healing power of mercy. In the end, the one demanding justice found it, and the one offering forgiveness found it.


  18. Dave,

    While it is vital that we come to forgive those who harm us, our forgiveness doesn’t exempt sinners from having to endure dire consequences for their sins in order to help them feel the need to repent.

    It would be great if just our forgiveness could take away a sinner’s need to have consequences & if our forgiveness would just heal them, but unfortunately the sinner’s repentance has little to do with our forgiveness & is a separate thing & usually he must pay a heavy price for his sins, whether we forgive him or not.

    The tales men think up are not the best place to learn truth about such vital things.

    All our learning should be based upon the words of the Prophets about these things, or we will easily be decieved on how to deal with these issues.

  19. We must realize that ‘Justice’ is actually a very good & vital thing.

    Elder Scott not long ago spoke in our area & gave a talk just on ‘Justice’ & on how wonderful & necessary & comforting it is.

    There can be no Mercy until there is 1st Justice or at least the promise of Justice.

    When someone hurts us, if we thought nothing was ever going to happen to them for their sins & they would forever get away with it, would make it very difficult for us to have compassion on them & want to forgive them.

    Alma the Younger had such great compassion & love precisely because he knew what Justice the Lamanites were going to have to pay & thus he then wanted to do whatever it took to help them repent.

    Without the knowledge that Justice was coming, his compassion & willingness to help them would not be nearly as strong.

    Thus, justice is vital if we are ever going to be able to have forgiveness & call for mercy for those who have hurt us & want to do what we can to help them repent.

    Christ forgave his enemies while still on the cross & prayed for his Father to forgive them, for he knew what Justice they were going to receive. But his forgiveness didn’t take away the dire consequences that they would have to pay for what they did to him.

    Not even Christ can erase those consequences, they must always be paid. It’s an eternal law. But those consequences are much less if we repent in this life than if we wait until the next.

  20. Anonymous 11:06

    I don’t think anyone is advocating that justice isn’t necessary or vital. The question lies in who is the one who sets the standard for “justice”. The Lord does it perfectly and it is His responsibility. Man does it imperfectly. I think most are saying because that is reality, leave it between the Lord and the individual. We should have less involvement rather than more. Just my thoughts.

    “When someone hurts us, if we thought nothing was ever going to happen to them for their sins & they would forever get away with it, would make it very difficult for us to have compassion on them & want to forgive them.”

    I don’t think I fully understand the above statement. Forgiving others shouldn’t have anything to do with whether or not we think they will be punished or get away with something. Forgiving others means that we have faith in Christ and the atonement, who payed for all our sins and knows how to succor perfectly. I thought Denver’s chapter regarding this in “Come Let Us Adore Him” was the most profound I have read. I would recommend rereading that.


  21. Heavenly Father & Christ do not set the demands of Justice. Justice just is. It’s an eternal law that even the Gods must respect & live by.

    Pain or punishment is an absolute requirement of Justice. The pain actually & ideally mostly comes from our conscience, especially in the next life. But in this life we are obligated to apply painful consequences to hopefully bring people to the pain in their conscience about what they have done wrong.

    It is ‘everyone’s’ responsibility to a certain extent, to help bring people to feel the pain in their conscience & repent. Basically that’s what we are doing when we give talks & lessons in Church. We try to do it gently. But sometimes people refuse to repent & thus more forceful restrictions must be applied, for their good, so they will hopefully one day finally miss certain blessings & want to earn them back, like freedom out of jail or membership in the Church or earn their family back.

    Most people in this world though will never fully repent until the next life, when sufficient pain of conscience is applied to help them repent.

    It helps if we take this to a personal level. Imagine if, as a parent you allowed your son to hit your daughter & never stop him or discipline him. How long would the daughter feel like forgiving her brother if she knew he would never be punished or stopped from hurting her repeatedly & her whole life she knew he would hurt her.

    How long would a person be forgiving of a person who continually stole from them or hurt their children over & over. Or how long would a spouse feel loving & forgiving of their spouse who abused them or cheated on them repeatedly with no end in sight or punishment from God ever. How many people would stay married to that spouse & love & forgive them despite all they continually do to them? Would you?

    Without Justice (knowing they are going to suffer for what they have done, in this life or the next) it’s very hard, if not impossible to feel forgiveness for them.

    The promise of justice or punishment is vital to being able to forgive.

  22. There seems to be a lot of philosophies of men going on here. Don’t take the bait! It is more of a reflection of where the individuals stand than it is a declaration of truth.

    The notion of everyone must feel pain for a sin, or pay the price via suffering was conjured up by those in power, seeking to oppress their congregations. How do you think the apostate church of antiquity filled their coffers? With the money from those making (literal) payment or penance for their sins. The root of “repent” comes from the same meaning as “suffering” (poena) and regret (penitire). You will not find that version of the word in the Greek or earlier translations of the Bible.

    I see no support in the scriptures that it is requisite that repentant individuals must suffer for their sins. In fact, the opposite is indicated:

    * When a man with palsy was brought to the Lord, He forgave the faithful man’s sins, and he was instantly healed, his suffering released. There was no trip to the doctor, or a prescribed period of healing. It was instantaneous.

    * When the woman taken in adultery was brought to the Lord, he said that he did not condemn her, and to “go, and sin no more.” He didn’t add, “and follow a 12 step program of the wickedness of adultery, and feel sorry for a long long time… THEN you will be forgiven.” Why do we put words in God’s mouth and make assumptions? Why do we not accept things as simply stated in the scriptures? Is it possible that the woman was forgiven then and there, and all her suffering nipped in the bud?

    * When we hear of the thief, who on the cross proclaimed the Lord’s Kingship and acknowledged his own crimes, and that he will be with Christ in Paradise, we like to add, “but that doesn’t mean he will actually be saved. The man will have to go to spirit prison and suffer for his sins, because it doesn’t really count that he repented right before he was to die.” Why do we not believe Christ?!

    * Literally moments after the Lamanites were slaughtering their brethren, they became distraught and repented of their murders… RIGHT THERE. It was practically instantaneous. As soon as they did, they became numbered with the “people of God” because they were forgiven on the spot by the victims. THEY WERE MURDERERS! It does not say that they went through a long period of pain and cleansing, to make their way back into the fold, or that they became second class citizens or doomed to the Telestial Kingdom because they had murdered. In fact, it says they became the “people of God” and “therefore, we have no reason to doubt but what they were saved.” Does the acceptance of the forgiving Lamanites have anything to do with them becoming people of God? Could it be that the born-again Lamanites made no claim of justice on those who were murdering?

    I believe there is more pain involved with recognizing our unbeliefs and turning from them, than there ever should be for paying a price for sin after we have repented. This is the basis by which we’re going to be judged, people. Why take a chance and demand justice, when we can relinquish that for ALL others, and thus, for ourselves?

  23. Just because the Savior forgave the woman taken in Adultery doesn’t meant she had a change of heart yet & would not commit the sin again. He only admonished her to not continue in the sin. We don’t know if she was strong enough to listen to his counsel or not. As we see today, adultery is a pretty heavy addiction to overcome. Most never can over come it in this life, despite the Savior’s teachings they know to be true & punishments they might receive.

    Yes, there are times when a person can realize their wrongs on the spot & start the repentance process with a complete change of heart. But repentance is still a process, restitution being the greatest part.

    A repentant person will go on with their changed heart, but still have to feel pain & remorse at the memory of their sins & how they hurt others. And if their sins were really serious, they usually spend the rest of their life making restitution by doing all they can to put things right again & make it up to the injured persons & restore trust again.

    The reason we must adminster the demands of justice when needed is because if we don’t, we will bring condemnation on our own heads. For we maybe could have saved sinners & souls had we used consequences upon them to help them repent.

  24. In order to maintain the Spirit here, I vote we not ‘criticize’ or ‘name call’ other’s comments, just because we may disagree with them.

    Let’s just agree to disagree & be free to state our points & let the Spirit decide what is true or not.

    For if we criticize & degrade others, the Spirit can’t be here & it thus becomes pretty useless to keep discussing anything.

    We can’t believe anything written here. We must take it all to prayer, for only the Spirit can tell us what is truth & what is a philosophy of men. No one here has the power to decide that for others.

  25. Anonymous 12:11 said:
    “Restitution is the fruit of repentance. Not the other way around.”

    That sounds like repentance is separate from restitution. I believe restitution a part of the process of repentance.

    I would call restitution the fruit of a ‘change of heart’ for even a change of heart is not total repentance. There is still much work to be done.

    Many people have a ‘change of heart’ about their sins, but still don’t make full restitution. But without restitution a person hasn’t fully repented.

    I know many people who had divorced their spouse & who later felt bad about it & knew it was wrong, but they never went back to that spouse & tried to get them back & put the family back together, even if it took the rest of their lives to convince the other to trust them again.

  26. Anonymous,

    Have you never seen someone saved because he was extended compassion? Paul and I have. In fact, as he put it “We love Him because He first loved us.” He also says Christ loved us while we were yet enemies. The extension of that undeserved kindness, that act of grace, changed me. And I’ve seen it work wonders in the lives of others when I have been willing to bear an injustice on their behalf.

    Pure love changes people. Pure justice just casts them out. I don’t want my loved ones cast out, Anonymous. I want them changed.


    PS You didn’t read Elder Burton’s talk did you?

  27. Mercyngrace,

    I understand pure love. Though we are commanded to love our enemies, that does not mean not disciplining them for serious sins.

    For not even pure love will usually change those who are really hardened or past feeling, at least not in this life. Those who commit serious sins, as the ones mentioned above, usually need something painful to wake them up & in some cases they will never wake up & repent in this life & thus they need to be permanently restricted so they don’t hurt anyone anymore.

    The problem with our society today is sin & crime are so often left unpunished or given just a slap on the hand. Thus such light consequences just encourage the person to continue to get worse & worse, not repent.

    Marriages & Families in the Church are disintegrating rampantly because is seems there is little being done to discipline abusive, adulterous, abandoning spouses.

    Most spouses I know who break their marriage covenants & divorce are just let right back in the temple to remarry someone else & the misery continues to get worse for all involved, whether they realize it or not. The children’s testimonies are shattered no matter how perfect the new remarried couple tries to act, for it appears to the children that the Church doesn’t consider marriage covenants sacred anymore, so why should they?

    Pure love applies firm consequences when needed, which usually is needed in serious cases.

    Now, if a person will repent without having to have any consequences applied here on earth, then that’s wonderful, no discipline needed. But it’s very rare that a person repents from serious sins on their own without the help of others applying consequences.

    Love is usually spelled D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E.

    And yes, I have read Elder Burtons talk many times. And I agree with him. Punishment & Pain is not repentance, it is something usually needed to help people to repent. Repentance is a change of heart + restitution, If people would have a change of heart there is no need for punishment any longer.

  28. “Pure love applies firm consequences when needed, which usually is needed in serious cases.”

    Moro. 7:47
    But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

    Moro. 7:45
    And charity suffereth long [is this ‘pain and suffering’ or patience?], and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things…[and applies firm consequences when needed.(?)]

    I’m not trying to mock, Anonymous. What I’m wanting to say (and perhaps the others are too) is that true repentance is a gift that is granted to us. There is nothing we can do of ourselves to merit it, other than accept it. Restitution may come, but like a friend recently told me, it, too is a gift from the Savior. Then again, I might not be directed to make restitution. Regardless, if I accept repentance, I am forgiven.

    Repentance meets the demands of justice through Jesus Christ, our Mediator. In my mind, if I demand pain and suffering to a repentant soul, then the Lord says, “Okay, here is the whip. I will take the lashes.” That’s not something I care to experience.

    Justice demanded that the woman taken in adultery be stoned. It was the law. We do not have to know what happened after the Savior forgave her. He was justified in throwing a stone at her. That was the prescribed pain and suffering associated with the serious case of adultery. The woman hadn’t committed adultery against the accusers, yet they were willing to inflict pain. And it was just. The Lord was willing to pass on applying/encouraging suffering and pain, even though it was perfectly appropriate in that society.

    At any rate, it’s not likely that my words or expressions of true love (charity) will have an effect on anyone. Maybe Christ’s will.


  29. Doug,
    Christ did not have to follow the lower laws of the day. He brought the higher laws, which taught that stoning for adultery is not right anymore, if it ever was.

    But Christ still would have required her to ‘work out her repentance,’ including much restitution to her husband for his pain & suffering.

    I do not agree that repentance is a gift, forgiveness is a gift but repentance is a ‘work’ we have to do & restitution to the amount possible is always required & also can be a hard thing to do, but we will want to do it to make up for our wrongs.

    While Heavenly Father can help us & strengthen us to repent, we must do much of the work ourselves by learning to control our thoughts, words & actions.

    When Charity ‘suffereth long’ it is talking about the pain & suffering brought on by other people’s sins.

    Like if your spouse is out every night having an affair while you are home alone, if you have Charity you would choose to still love & be faithful to them & treat them kindly & lovingly when they do come home, even if their sins cause you much pain & suffering until they repent someday. And yes, it also includes lots of patience.

    But while suffering for & because of a spouse’s sins you would also apply, or have leaders apply, firm consequences for them, to help them repent.

  30. “I do not agree that repentance is a gift…”

    Alma 13:30
    And may the Lord GRANT unto you repentance [not forgiveness], that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.

    Alma 42:22
    But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance [not forgiveness] GRANTED; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.

    Alma 22: 14
    And since man had fallen he could not merit ANYTHING of himself (is restitution my own merits? Are pain and suffering my own DEMERITS?); but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory…”

    Alma 24: 10
    And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath GRANTED unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the MERITS OF HIS SON. (again, is restitution and sorrow my merits or His?)

    Hel. 14: 13
    And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through HIS MERITS.

    I do agree that he brought the higher laws. The question is, which laws am I living today? The “higher” or the “lower?”

    BTW, the definition of GRANT: to bestow, confer, give, offer, transfer.

    Anyway, it’s not my intention to Book of Mormon bash with anyone. I just want to ask the question (and then I’ll be quiet): Is it possible that like so many other things we’ve discovered recently, could the idea we have had about repentance which was taught to us all these years… could THAT be an unbelief (or perhaps the “lower” law)? What does it mean if it is? What would happen if I pleaded to the Lord to GRANT me repentance?


  31. Doug,
    I read those scriptures to say that we are offered or granted the ‘opportunity to repent’, not repentance as a completed thing that HE does for us.

    It’s actually absolutely impossible for God to give us ‘Repentance’, even though he might love to, but that would be like helping a chick out of it’s shell. We would die spiritually & not be able to learn & progress as we need to.

    Repentance is one thing he has no power to give, he cannot make or get anyone to repent in this life or even the next. That must be our decision & hard work. It is a work that every person must earn & do themselves, though he can help us do it.

    It is a most sad thing to him that he cannot step in & stop all the suffering in the world, especially for innocent people, by making or doing the work of repentance for wicked people.

    It sounds like your take on all this is just another way of wishing we could get out of our personal responsibility & obligation of having to ‘work our our salvation’.

  32. Anonymous,

    To clarify:
    * YES! The opportunity to repent is always there! Isn’t it beautiful? His hand is extended all the day long, if we but RECEIVE IT.

    * Obviously, there is some effort required on our part. But it’s not (IMO) pain, suffering and 10 lashes, but a broken heart and contrite spirit (my will is broken and I am eager to do God’s will).

    * I believe the “work” comes as a result of true repentance, not the other way around. If there is restitution or other good works, glory be to God! For He has directed me there and given me the opportunity for service, closure or whatever is required. But it’s HIS will, HIS works, not mine. When did Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah truly repent? They had done some big time damage. Was it after the years of work in the mission field, or after the angel appeared to them the first time? Could it be that the WORKS they did, were their attempt to sing praises to God? When Ammon was rebuked for boasting, he did not say that he now felt that he had finally repented after all these years of working for some sort of restitution. He said, “…let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel…” Once repentance happened, the fruits of it were manifested and claimed as God’s, not his.

    Anyway, as much as I have enjoyed this conversation, it’s probably time to move on. There is more delicious fruit awaiting us. Come, let us partake!!


  33. A parable: There was once a man whose wife left him and married another. This man searched and searched his heart and the Lord revealed to him that his cause was just, and the wife was wayward. Yet, this is all that the man desired to know of the Lord. He took it upon himself to showcase the justness of his cause, by being the best righteous fellow he could be. He sought no praise from anyone for this, which strengthened the justness of his case. He became very good at it, which intrigued the devil. The devil enjoyed watching the spectacle, but wasn’t sure this man would pull it off. The devil became very impressed with the lengths to which this man would go to hide from his pain. True, the pain, if realized, would almost bring the man to death in suffering if suffered all at once, but this man was so persistent in his cause of ignoring the pain, that he didn’t even allow for incremental mourning. The devil became ecstatic and sealed a mark upon the man’s head. He delighted in the soul he had won. The end.

  34. Anonymous:

    You sound terribly hurt. There appears to be much pain in your words.

    You’ve done well at communicating your view about forgiveness, restitution, consequences, justice etc… and why you feel the way you do. I think those who read your words will understand you.

    Looks also like Doug has shared some uplifting scriptures and a different viewpoint on the subject that is having a hard time getting through the fog of hurt and pain.

    Many of us reading (I’m assuming) do want to understand you, we care, we want to see and share joy, to see love and light come to our fellow blog commenters.

    Just as a point to ponder. May be just my opinion… But your words and sentences are phrased as though you are speaking universal truth. THE truth. Yet it’s pretty clear that what is said are just YOUR views. Views that are very concrete and not willing to see it any differently. I thought for a while about what it would be like if I were to implement your belief system about restitution and forgiveness and consequences for sin. The fruits were a bit sour.

    None of this was/is meant to offend you. If I didn’t care, I would have not said anything at all. By all means ignore my comment and don’t read any further if I’m not saying anything of value.

    The scriptures shared in this back and forth with Doug in my view were peaceful, calm, elevated, anything but sour. They made me feel happy and loving towards all, yet aware that my responsibility isn’t hypothetical challenges, or a burden to swallow an entire lake of difficulty that isn’t asked of me.

    Hope your open to the possibility that there may be an more too this topic than the current way your viewing sin and what consequences should be imposed to help a person repent. There may in fact be much more to it that brings more fruits of joy, and elevated thought.

    Can’t speak for the others reading and occasionally commenting on this blog but you are welcome here, we want to offer love, many of us are glad you share your thoughts concerns and experiences. Our hope as I see it, is to share light, truth and correct any error through meaningful discussions.


  35. …and for those who find Denver’s posts uncomfortable to contemplate or offensive, don’t flatter yourselves, the parable is not about him. It’s intended for everyone, myself included.

  36. I find the “oddly we excommunicate” comment very different, and a bit strange, compared to the 5th chapter of Eighteen versus, which I just finished.

    I think your comments in the book are right.

  37. One last thought. What if while we (or anyone else) being harrowed up in the memory of our many sins, did turn to the memory of the Savior, who atones for all who receive? What if, while catching hold onto this thought, we cried in our hearts, “O Jesus, thou Son of God, HAVE MERCY ON ME, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death!”

    Could it be that this one act would take away the memories of our pains, to be harrowed up no more? Could it be that this one act would change us so much, so that our joy would become sweet and exquisite? Could we then behold other angels, singing praises to their God, indeed would we want to sing praises ourselves, and have a desire to labor without ceasing that we might bring others to taste that same joy?

    Is it possible, that all we have to do is cry unto the Lord, “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me!” with pure intent, and our once heavy laden yoke now becomes light as we strive to do God’s work and not our own?

    Could it really be?


  38. When we cross the veil we are going to see how much our brothers & sisters have to suffer for their unrepentant sins, far more than we would ever want even our worst enemny to suffer. We will feel to plead for mercy for them & wish we could save them, but the price must be paid.

    When we realize how great our unrighteous loved ones & friends suffering will be in the next life, if they don’t repent here, we, like Alma the Younger, will do anything, or apply any consequence that is needed to help them repent here before it’s too late, & where the suffering is not near as great.

    Since most of us would have a hard time excommunicating someone for serious sins, that is why Heavenly Father has already made the call for us & requires leaders, by Prophet’s command, to apply excommunication most of the time for unrepentant sins like all forms of adultery, abuse & abandonment & other serious sins.

  39. Anonymous August 15, 2010 6:45 PM: How is your interest in crossing the veil as soon as you can in this life as Denver suggests in his books? Just curious of your outlook on that.

    Doug: Try using a different definition for the word “light”. Not to say other definitions don’t have their use, but let us suppose that after finding that our part in the repentance process is easy, we find the work God gives us after is still very burdensome (at least to start–let us suppose). If there is a heavy burden still, and a lot of work to do (suggested by the yoke idea), then this hypothetical would have to throw out “light” as a reference to “weight”. What else could “light” refer to? That’s a rhetorical question.

    I think we’re getting to mince words in some of these arguments. There really is a lot of common ground. The point is there is work to do. It has been said God authors the work and we have to perform it. This may relate to repentance. There is an awful state of mind called hell. A man filled with the love of God is anxious to help people avoid it. We all agree with Anonymous really, it seems. There is no argument. We are simply adding that the work we do is classified as originating with God’s thoughts about how it should be done and if we think up how to do it without revelation, we will fail. That is an additional thought. I don’t think Anonymous really has an issue with that…do you? Why is there a contention on this? Just because it sounds like the saved by grace doctrine? That is not what we are saying. We’ve gone over that. Are you hell-bent on thinking you’re right and everyone else is wrong?

    When it comes down to it, I think we are in agreement here, really. This is strange. Is there anything we can help you with? You are amongst friends. What is bothering you?

  40. I think we’re trying to set a new record for the number of posts on this one.

    Brian, I like the thought of Christ’s burdens being “light.” As in not related to weight. Also, you’re right. There is a lot of “violent agreement” going on. Although, I never really felt that it was contentious. Anonymous has never expressed him/herself that way.

    It is a seemingly small thing, but the origination of the works I do is an important doctrine to ponder. It really can make the difference of heaven or hell… But we’ve discussed it enough, I’m sure. We are where we are.

    Anonymous, I’d love to talk to you some time. Like Denver says, you can’t judge someone’s intent by their actions (or even their words), so I just assume that everyone on here has the same intent… to come closer to Christ. And that’s where I hope we all have common ground. Let’s move forward with hope in Christ!!


  41. Zang,

    I agree that we all have alot, if not mostly common ground on this subject. If we were all sitting around discussing this face to face, I’m sure we could come to understanding & agreements alot easier & faster. I wish we could get a discussion group together.

    As far as my view of crossing the veil? I surely believe it should be all of our greatest thought & desire each day. But I know that the secret to it is sitting across the dinner table from us each night.

    I believe it’s far easier & doesn’t take near the time we may think to receive it.

  42. Thanks for both the thoughts, Doug and Anonymous. And I appreciate you sharing your view about the veil, too. It’s nice to take a rest from the debate and refresh appreciation to remember there are people behind the words. Blogs can be a frustrating medium.

    I still hold that all opinions deserve their voice. I think we can move forward with more civility after this, yes? There may be some minute differences, and they may be important differences, but I have also ranged in my views to include all the thoughts that have been expressed at some point or other.

    I think we all just want the right to contemplate every alternative in the quest for the truth in its complete form, whatever it may be. I am becoming firmer in what I believe due to it growing and sprouting on its own, but it has not grown up to perfection yet. Therefore, I am not able to portray it correctly all the time.

    So you have some views about the importance of eternal marriage it seems, Anonymous. And since this is Denver’s blog, are you mentioning it because you feel it fits in with the topic being discussed, perhaps feeling it is an important piece that is maybe being neglected in either the blog or the comments? I’m just trying to anticipate where you’re going with it and wanting you to expound on your views.

  43. Zang,
    I appreciated your post. Thank you.

    Yes, I do feel strongly about eternal marriage. I mention aspects of it when I think it’s important to what we are discussing.

Comments are closed.