2 Nephi 31: 13

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall  follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” 

Now we get the explanation of what it means to “follow Christ.” It is not merely the act itself, but the underlying intent of the act.  To follow Him requires:

-Full purpose of heart. What does that imply or require?

-Acting no hypocrisy. How so?
-No deception before God. Can a man deceive God?
-Real intent. What does “real intent” include?
-Repenting of your sins. How does one repent of their sins?
-Witnessing unto the Father: How do you witness to Him?
-Willing to take upon you the name of Christ. How?

The only way I can think to touch upon Nephi’s meaning is to get personal about this process. It is by how I have lived that I have come to understand Nephi’s meaning.

I remember as the missionaries were teaching me that I came to the conviction that the restoration of the Gospel had indeed happened. It was not a happy thought. I did NOT want to become a Mormon. It seemed like a terrible change to attempt to make, in what was an otherwise content life at the time. As a lifestyle some of it seemed to have merit.  Not drinking, smoking and living a higher moral standard certainly made some sense to me. But the association with Mormons had no appeal to me at the time. I thought them shallow and artificial in many ways, and did not want to become immersed in a society that seemed to be either a pretense, or if not, then living a standard I could never attain.

I reluctantly accepted baptism, not because I wanted to become Mormon, but because I truly believed it was the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. However humiliating it may be to associate with a social group I had practically nothing in common, it was the right thing to do before God. I told God that I was doing this because of Him, and that I doubted I could live these standards, doubted I could be happy among these odd people, that I did not know if they were really sincere, but that I was. I intended to try to leave such sins behind as I understood I was committing, and to attempt to become part of the artificial life-form known as “Mormon.” But I doubted my capacity to continue on to the end. In all this I was absolutely sincere, but completely hopeless about what it would result in over the long run.

I was, in fact, willing to take upon me these obligations as a matter between me and God.  However badly it may turn out between me and other Mormons, I expected that as between me and God it would be better than alright. I thought it would please Him.

So I was baptized.

Oddly, upon baptism things changed. A great deal, in fact. What seemed unlikely for me to be able to do under my own capacity, became almost second-nature. These people who I feared I could never fit in with became my brothers and sisters. It took a surprisingly short time and I found that what I feared most was the lightest of burdens to carry. Associating with other Mormons was delightful. I found that I loved the Mormons and I loved being one of them. It ceased to be “them” and “me” but turned into “us” and “we.”

And, by damn, we are a peculiar lot. We’re the oddest people on the planet. Peculiar doesn’t even begin to capture our quirkiness, phobias, longings, hopes, aspirations, misunderstandings, convictions, genius mixed with stupidity, juxtapositions of truth and error, traditions and deep doctrines. We’re a cacophony, really. But underlying it all is a hope that we are on the right track and a conviction that we’re going to please God even if it requires us to offend Him.

I appreciate the faith restored through Joseph at a whole different level than the one which brought me into the fold. It IS true.  Abidingly and without any failing, the faith restored through Joseph is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The sad truth is, however, that faith has not been preserved as Joseph brought it back.  Even from the time I was baptized in the waning four months of President Lee’s administration until today, the faith has undergone a radical revisionism. Today it isn’t even what President Kimball presided over. It is becoming increasingly altered, bureaucratized, regimented and turning into a religious product managed by an increasingly menacing middle-management which prefers rules and regulations to the Spirit and truth. They manage it as if it is another Fortune 500 company whose product line is religion and religious paraphernalia. The Spirit increasingly withdraws from our councils, our conferences, our private as well as public conversations, because it is grieved, and not many people seem to notice as it does so.

The faith I joined still exists. But it is covered by layers of sediment making it progressively more difficult to breathe life into it. That original faith, the one that attracted me, was always meant to connect the believer to Christ. Directly, and without intermediaries. Each Saint was to be a prophet, because the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, according to John the Beloved. 

But I began this process “acting no hypocrisy” and I will finish it remaining so. My “real intent” is before God, and the resistance, opposition and criticism of men will not alter that. Indeed, it cannot. As soon as I respect the opinions of men more than the “full purpose of heart” required of me, I cease to be “willing to take upon me the name of Christ.”

I understand Nephi’s words. I live them. I cannot do otherwise at this point. It is for that reason, therefore, that I have been privileged to receive “the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost;” which has permitted me from time to time to “speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.”  It has not been easy. It is certainly not what I wanted when missionaries interrupted a content life, and introduced this inconvenient faith to a reluctant 19-year old. It was not what I expected when the journey began before baptism, nor what I thought would then follow immediately after I was baptized. I find now, as I survey the altered and altering faith practiced by the Church I belong to, there are increasingly more troubles in living and acting with:

-Full purpose of heart

-Acting no hypocrisy
-No deception before God
-Real intent
-Repenting of my sins
-Witnessing unto the Father
-Willing to take upon me the name of Christ

But that will always remain a matter between the Father, the Lord and myself. Nephi lived these things, too. It was for that reason he understood them and was able to set them out with clarity in writing. Light and truth, which is intelligence, only come as a consequence of living it.

I will never stop being Mormon, nor forsake the faith I have accepted. I love associating with the Saints. I’m also glad to not be a part of leadership. I wouldn’t want the condemnation that accompanies leading these people in the course that we are currently set. It is better to practice the faith as I understand it, explain it to those who care to listen, support those who try to keep my ward family at peace with one another, and raise my children to respect the light and truth.

I am content. More than content, I am filled with joy and hope for what lies ahead for myself and all those who have the testimony of Jesus.

15 thoughts on “2 Nephi 31: 13

  1. I love it when you share your personal experience and thoughts. It really brings things to a level of understanding that is refreshing and clear. It helps me better understand what I need to do and gives me confidence that I can do it too. Your personal experiences in “The Second Comforter” is one of my favorite parts. Thanks for sharing the lessons and peek into your life.

  2. Thank you for this post. It can be very lonely in this church. It gives me hope to know that there are others who really want the truth, not the games.
    The scriptures and this blog have become a source of comfort as I slowly peel the dark layers away and see things in their true light.(or quickly, 4 months ago I could have never guessed what the answer would be to a lot of heart felt prayers to not be decieved.)

  3. All,

    Denver adds his eloquent testimony to that of Nephi, Zenos, Isaiah, and Moroni concerning the altered and prideful course we are on today. Those who have felt a desire to follow the Savior with full purpose of heart welcome his testimony as one who feels the same as they do.

    The great test of our day is found in these words of the Lord “For they that are wise and have received the truth and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide and have NOT been deceived – verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.”

    In the day when the power of godliness is being denied in the Church (2 Nephi 28:26) the Lord has seen to it to provide witnesses such as Denver to teach those very principles that are being denied by the very ones who are to be teaching them to those seeking.

    The great test of the Saints today is whether or not we will take the Holy Spirit for our guide in this time of denial and when leaders have proclaimed our day as a “time of peace” and the Lord hath no need of the watch tower (D&C 101:44-62, Joseph Smith taught this parable was for our day, not his.)

    If we are faithful we will recognize the Holy Spirit when he comes to take up a body and reprove the world of sin (John 16:7-14, 2 Nephi 21:1-5). Then we will be assured that those feelings within us today, were indeed, true.

  4. Denver,
    I joined when I was 18 for the same reasons. I KNEW that IF God had a church on earth, this was it. Began to become active in Vietnam and FELT the Spirit in this church for the first time. Later, stationed in Calif., in my first Ward experience there was a profound Spirit, a glow that I felt every time I entered the old chapel, every time I home taught, every time I taught my 12 year old class and I too had the BoF experience, much as you describe it…because of sincere desire to know, sincere attempting to live for Christ, sincere asking the Father in the name of Christ. Over the years I had wondered where that beautiful glow that I so often felt in church had gone…supposing it was me that had somehow changed and lost something. Most often in recent years I have felt like an alien in the church, not fitting in, not happy like I was long ago. Your blog, your books, your talks have made me aware at long last that the Spirit is still alive…as you said, it is just buried under layers of useless crap!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you…and THANK HIM who commissioned you to this work you are performing! You are loved and appreciated because you have helped many here find their way back to the strait and narrow path that leads to HIM!

  5. I really enjoy these blogs and I too love to hear Denver speak in such personal terms.
    I’m wondering when there was a golden age for the church that Denver seem to lament that we go back to. I can’t find one. Perhaps Joseph gave his remarkable talks and revelations in Kirkland and Nauvoo and some of the saints experienced a pentecostal experience during the dedication of the temple. But there was still turmoil in the church at that time and all of Joseph’s words weren’t published until the saints got to Utah so I don’t see those as the good ol’ days. Denver acknowledged that it wasn’t until Hugh Nibly that the Church started studying seriously the Book of Mormon (so anything days before Hugh couldn’t be an example). Very few revelations have been given since Joseph’s days (redemption of the dead vision is an exception) other than the authorities telling us that they are receiving constant revelation in leading this church from the whisperings of the Spirit. Denver gave the Pres Lee/Pres Kimball time frame when the church started becoming so bureaucratic that it is now completely changed. What does Denver mean that it is managed by middle management? Does this relate to the church office building? Because wards and stakes have run the same since I can remember back into the 60s? (cont)

  6. As for me, I’m not sure how affected I am by the church office building other than the manuals they produce, which I and most readers of this site think have been dumbed down. I have a couple of thoughts. From sources I have spoken to who have been to Africa, there are some tremendous things happening in the church in areas of Africa that rival the faith and experiences ever mentioned in our church history. I’m amazed at the faith those saints exhibit in the midst of terrible things around them. So for them, this is a golden age of faith. Outside the bureaucracies of the church I still see tremendous examples of faith and sacrifice even here in Gentile Utah (although I highly acknowledge that we are becoming more gentile-like all the time and we are fulfilling Nephi’s prophecies concerning us). (cont)

  7. Also, even though I have been converted to the idea that we are sliding as a church and becoming more like our fellow gentiles, I not going to think I have become a victim to any backsliding of insensitivities of members of the church. I’m not a victim of them. Even with their faults, I love the saints and find them good people to be around. One of the strongest messages I got out of Denver’s book was that we need to love our fellow saints and pray for them. I think that includes not thinking we have become a victim of them. Sometimes I read comments from readers of this blog that sound like they have become a victim in the church (I’m not referring to any comments of today). I honestly I’m not pointing an angry finger at these people. I just think that this blog site has attracted a unique group of people who have gained faith and hope from reading Denver’s books, to make great strides in their lives. I encourage our (referring the readers, not to the owner of this blog site) comments to be in this spirit of new learning and discussion and not be an avenue for gentilish complaints. It mostly is which I am grateful.

  8. This discussion reminds a little of Nephi (son of Helaman)’s lament:

    “Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord— Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren. But behold, I am consigned that these are my days, and that my soul shall be filled with sorrow because of this the wickedness of my brethren.”

    At the time of first Nephi, the Nephites “did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things…” However, it wasn’t long (just a few years after Nephi died) that “the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices…Yea, and they also began to search much gold and silver, and began to be lifted up somewhat in pride.”

    Where are we now in the cycle: Nephi, son of Lehi or Nephi son of Helaman? How do we get back to the days of observing the commandments of God in all things?

  9. Whose days would you choose? The Lord’s, who had a traitor as a companion and a denier as chief apostle? Or Nephi, who had brothers who not only disagreed with him but tried to kill him? Or Joseph, whose people would not accept what he tried to teach and his former friends tried to kill him? Or Brigham, who tried to teach people the nature of God and to qualify them to enter Zion? While we MAY have the higher priesthood, which ancient Israel in general did not have, they at least entered their promised land and we NEVER did.

    Maybe Enoch or Melchizedek.

  10. Ah, now I can see how my discontent can turn into content. It doesn’t really matter about the structure of the church or what’s wrong or right with it. What matters is just where I take my relationship with the Lord. Because that just takes two.

    Thank you for this intimate insight on being content.

  11. You know I started reading this blog to see if it was ok to read Denver’s books. I read the first 30 pages of the second comforter and was very impressed. My wife did some research and pointed out the testimony at the end where a visit from the savior was disclosed. I have no doubt this can happen, but to announce it in this manner was a huge red flag. Still I thought maybe a little more research is in order because certainly the Lord could command that this be disclosed. This post and the responses are very concerning. Of course the church has changed. That’s what a living church does. The Lord commands and revokes. Sometimes this is based current cultural norms i.e. plural marriage. Sometimes we may not fully understand the reason. To find fault in the brethren for doing this is very dangerous ground. I know they are men, but they are the men God has called and we must follow the brethren. Go ahead try to follow the path on your own without the guides the Lord has provided and you will end up on the wrong side of eternity. I certainly believe in the personal relationship sought after by most here. But it any of you think this will be achieved by discounting the leaders of the Church and their instruction you will apostatize. Very disappointed and it seems I’ve found my answer.

  12. Anonymous [August 30, 2010 7:16 PM]

    1. Denver isn’t perfect. He makes mistakes and sometimes jumps too quickly (imo) to criticism of the institution of the church when other interpretations are equally possible.

    2. Stop reading the blog, read the books first. Second Comforter will show you that Denver does have a relevant and true message.

    3. Really, read ALL the books. They help put what is going on here in proper context.

    4. STOP reading the comments. Focus on the blogs posts themselves. Frankly, I wish Denver would be more selective in allowing comments (yes, mine too) and only post those that further the discussion. There are WAY too many that delve into philosophizing, speculation, etc. that do more harm to his message than good.

  13. Anonymous of August 30, 2010 7:16 PM, you may’ve missed:

    -The comment of Denver’s that mentions the General Authorities supportive of his work and in conversations with him via email.

    -Boyd K. Packer’s mentioning the Brethren think they may not be able to correct the Church’s course (way back in 1990, although they were trying)

    -Boyd K. Packer’s recent Ensign article saying a lot of mocking of people like Denver will come from within the Church.

    -D. Todd Christofferson’s chastening rebuke that we haven’t even started Zion yet and have far to go.

    -Elder Oak’s repetition of the Church being under condemnation.

    -Pres. Monson’s suggestion that there will be a lot of changes

    -Elder Cook’s condemnation of some charitable giving not at all being related to charity.

    -The rest of Denver’s books past 30 pages which clearly represent his views and sustaining support of the Brethren.

    -Denver’s testimony of Pres. Monson’s service.

    -The difference between laying the blame on the Brethren vs. highlighting problems that the Brethren have asked us to consider and try to purify our lives so it can be reformed (read any Conference report)

    -The fact that you may’ve decided your answer long before investigating it. The formula in the Book of Mormon is you must hope that it is true, being reluctant to accept that something so good could be false. Then the Holy Ghost will prove it to you. Remember how many times you probably tried to convince others to treat the Book of Mormon with as much civility?


  14. This verse is so good but oh I’m so full of hypocrisy… It’s terrible. I’m going to need Christ before I’m able to act in no hypocrisy. This is kind of a riddle.

Comments are closed.