Which one of you, having a garden with both good and bad fruit, when the harvest comes will gather into your home both the good and the bad? Would you not gather the good, and leave the bad behind to be burned?
Month: April 2015
The Lord’s hand moves and it is largely unrecognized by the world. Most of those who see it reject outright what they see. Generations pass, and finally acceptance comes too late. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36.) Those who belong to it are strangers and sojourners here. Nuisances to those who do not see.
Christ was born in a small Roman-controlled province, far from the world’s power, governmental and social center. During His life, few people knew of Him. Of those who knew of Him, most rejected His message. Even more obscure was His forerunner, John the Baptist.
Christ explained that John the Baptist was “more than a prophet” (Luke 7:26) He declared, “Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet then John the Baptist; but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:28.) This messenger, although sent by God, was rejected by those in authority, while accepted and followed by the “least” among them:
“And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” (Luke 7:29-30.) The people, including the lowly publicans, believed and were baptized. But the proud leaders rejected God’s counsel delivered by John. God’s counsel condemned them and told them to repent. They would not accept that counsel because it was “against” them.
Christ reflected on the sad state of affairs: “Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” (Luke 7:31-34.) It does not matter how the message is given, nor who the Lord sends, the world rejects, criticizes and judges.
Christ formally began His ministry in Nazareth in His local synagogue. He had been there many times before. Like He had done many times, He participated in the Sabbath service. This time, however, He offended those who heard Him because of His message:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, [He was in the habit of regular attendance at this synagogue. This Sabbath He would begin a new ministry.] and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place [He searched for these verses. He had a message to deliver and found where it was foretold.] where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me [He was the Messiah, or one anointed by God.] to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. [See Isa. 61:1-2] And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, [He started by unequivocally declaring He was the fulfillment of the prophecy.] This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. [The rest of His words are not recorded, but they were gracious and filled with light.] And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? [The idea someone as common as Jesus, who grew up among them, could be God’s anointed was too difficult to accept.] And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: [Which would be fulfilled as He was on the cross (see Luke 23:25; 27:41-42).] whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. [Not every one was saved, and not every one knew about it as it happened. Obscurity at the time it happens is never an accurate way to measure God’s hand.] And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.But he passing through the midst of them went his way, And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power. [They could sense something powerful in His message.] (Luke 4:16-32.)
The fact that God sends a messenger, (or even His Son), does not mean the world will notice or accept it while the message is being delivered. Only a few are ever willing to hear His voice. But the few who do are always chosen by God and acknowledged by Him as “His sheep.” (John 10:27.) They suffer rejection but then learn to understand the Lord through experiences shared with Him. He does not leave them comfortless. He manifests Himself to them, (John 14:18) because their hearts are broken and their spirits contrite. This is His gospel and it was meant to be lived. Very few people notice. Great things in God’s eyes are not the same thing as great things to this world. But those who choose to notice are given treasures of understanding. They hear, see and understand things which are entirely hidden from the world.
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David was a man “after the Lord’s own heart.” (1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22.) But David “hath fallen from his exaltation[.]” (D&C 132:39.)
If A=B then B=A. Therefore it can be likewise said that Christ was a man “after David’s own heart.”
Was the Lord considering David’s situation when He refused to use power given Him to satisfy His hunger? (Matt. 4:3-4.) Was David on the Lord’s mind when He instructed those He healed to “tell no man?” (Matt. 8:3-4; Mark 7:32-36; Luke 8:54-56.) Did the Lord know admiration and praise had been toxic to David and would likewise be toxic to Him?
Was the Lord thinking of David when He refused “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them?” (Matt. 4:8-10.) Was David on the Lord’s mind when He declared His “kingdom was not of this world?” (John 18:36.) Did He remember David when He explained His example of servitude after kneeling and washing His followers’ feet? (John 13:4-16.)
Christ knew and stated He was “greatest of all.” (D&C 19:18.) He has explained He is “more intelligent than they all.” (Abr. 3:19.) Yet He came without crown, wealth, or earthly power. He was “meek and lowly of heart.” (Matt. 11:29.)
Did Christ know if He were made great by men He, like David, could be drawn away into the same sad end? He was tempted, as all men are. But He prevailed because He “gave no heed unto them.” (D&C 20:22.)
Did Christ remember David when He rebuked a man who praised Him and called Him “good.” He retorted, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Matt. 19:16-17.)
If our Lord refused honor, acted as if a servant, and rejected praise from others, shouldn’t we also? How can anyone “aspire to the honors of men” or hold any “vain ambition” or seek to exercise “control or dominion or compulsion upon” others or claim to have “power or influence… by virtue of their priesthood”? (D&C 121:37-41.)
Christ behaved wisely and meekly. If He is the prototype of the saved man, who among us can be great without kneeling, serving, persuading, enduring with long-suffering, and relying on gentleness to bring others to come to Christ? Who would want to place themselves above their fellow-man, when the Lord knelt to wash men’s feet?
We should weep over our plight, and deal in kindness toward each other in our lost and fallen state. I hardly have the strength to speak when I consider what confronts us in this dark place. I think of David and the Son of David and fear for my own weaknesses, foolishness and pride.
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Joseph Smith wrote this counsel in a letter to the church in March 1834:
[T]he commandments of our Lord, we hope, are constantly revolving in your hearts, teaching you, not only his will in proclaiming his gospel, but his meekness and perfect walk before all, even in those times of sever persecutions and abuse which were heaped upon him by a wicked and adulterous generation. Remember, brethren, that he has called you unto holiness; and need we say, to be like him in purity? How wise; how holy; how chaste, and how perfect, then, you ought to conduct yourself in his sight; remember too, that his eyes are continually upon you. ( JS Papers, Documents, Vol. 3, p. 474.)
This is consistent with his many other letters and public sermons. He denounced sexual impurity and promoted chastity in word, deed and thought.
In that same letter he wrote:
[T]hough we cannot claim these promises which were made to the ancients …we can approach the Father in the name of Christ as they approached him, and for ourselves obtain the same promises. These promises, when obtained, if ever by us, will not be because Peter, John and the other apostles, with the churches at Sardis, Purgamos, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, walked in the fear of God and had power and faith to prevail and obtain them; but it will be because we, ourselves, have faith and approach him in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, even as they did; and when these promises are obtained, they will be promises directly to us, or they will do us no good; communicated for our benefit; being our own property, (through the gift of God,) earned by our own diligence in keeping his commandments, and walking uprightly before him. (Id., pp. 483-484, italics in original.)
This explanation is consistent with Lectures on Faith. He urged us, like the ancients, to all approach God. He believed the religion of antiquity could be lived again by us.
In 1839, the Lord predicted the following regarding Joseph: “fools shall have [him] in derision, and hell shall rage against [him]; While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under [his] hand.” (D&C 122:1-2.)
More than two centuries after his birth, he remains controversial and misunderstood. Even those who acknowledge him to be a prophet fail to understand the man. His legacy was entrusted to a group of people in Nauvoo. In his last general conference, April 1844 he said this about the members in Nauvoo:
You don’t know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I could not have believed it myself. I never did harm any man since I was born into the world. My voice is always for peace. …When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will know me then. (TPJS, pp. 361-362.)
If those he lived among never knew him, then what they bequeathed to us only makes our challenge to understand him even greater. Many people, even believing Mormons, attribute to him the worst of malignant conduct. They believe him to be morally corrupt, lacking virtue, an egomaniac and a liar. Can anything good come from a man such as that? Fools hold Joseph in derision still.
Recently, I was asked, “What would you change in your writings if you had it all to do again?”
If I were writing The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil today, I would write it differently. But I do not regret having written it in its present form, and will not go back and edit it to change the content. It is an accurate book for the moment in time it was written. It is important to preserve that moment in time.
When I wrote it, I was an active, faithful member of the LDS Church. The book was written inside that environment and represents a triumph of the faith. The triumph was achieved inside the institution. For that reason, the book continues to remind me, and every reader, that it is possible to devote yourself to Christ under challenging circumstances.
Nephi’s Isaiah is also a book I would not change, because it likewise demonstrates that an active, faithful LDS Church member can awaken to the terrible circumstances of our plight. It is a key book. It shows a pattern: God passes information forbidden to be revealed as a new, original revelation, and leaves Nephi to the task of teaching by using earlier writings. Nephi used Isaiah, Zenos and Zenok to deliver new revelation using old, familiar scripture. It is a key to understanding Nephi; and a key to understanding a modern burden I carry.
Things are changing rapidly. The books I have written reflect changes underway. Circumstances changed affecting the content of later books. The changed conditions and changed response are chronicled in the series of books. It is important to leave them as they are, reflecting the different moments in time.
As things continue to change, what I write will reflect the events taking place. Nothing is static. Everything is in motion.
I want to reiterate what was said at the end of the ten lectures (as it has been edited for the forthcoming book). Below is an excerpt dealing with the problems I warned were coming:
There are so many potential mistakes we can make we ought to remember the early problems in Kirtland. D&C 50:2-25. “Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world. And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you. Behold, I, the Lord, have looked upon you, and have seen abominations in the church that profess my name. But blessed are they who are faithful and endure, whether in life or in death, for they shall inherit eternal life. But wo unto them that are deceivers and hypocrites, for, thus saith the Lord, I will bring them to judgment. Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power; but behold such shall be reclaimed.” [This is not referring to the hypocrites, because He will not reclaim them. But He will reclaim those who are deceived by the hypocrites.] “But the hypocrites shall be detected and shall be cut off, either in life or in death, even as I will; and wo unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world. Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me. And now come, saith the Lord, by the Spirit, unto the elders of his church, and let us reason together, that ye may understand; Let us reason even as a man reasoneth one with another face to face. Now, when a man reasoneth he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you that you may understand. Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained? To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth. And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified? Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong. Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God. And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? If it be some other way it is not of God. Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together. And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you; He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all.”
This is how we should edify one another, how we should be preparing our children. This is what we should seek: truth, light, understanding, knowledge of the principles of truth by the power of the Holy Ghost.
False spirits will come among you. Prideful and pretentious people will ask you to give them honor. Honor God instead. Do not let a personal revelation displace your attention from the scriptures. Our scriptures are sufficient for our day. I hope this new book demonstrates that. I have expounded the scriptures as Moroni did to Joseph, and as Christ did on the road to Emmaus the day of His resurrection. We must first remember and observe. Preserving the restoration requires us to be very familiar with the scriptures of the restoration. At present we should fear most our ignorance of them.
I had the following brought to my attention by an email this morning. It was written in January, but the content of this is so worthwhile I post a link to it below.
I was very encouraged by the discussion identifying false and deceiving spirits. Then the discussion about the limits and responsibilities within a sharing, cooperative community was insightful and instructive. I do not know who wrote this, and have not had time to read any other post on that blog, but this post was instructive and worth everyone’s time to read.
Whether we welcome or oppose it, the truth is going to win. Monuments and cultures erected on lies will weaken and fall to the dust. But truth has a strength that does not decay. Lies cannot defy it, greed cannot corrupt it, lust cannot tempt it, and wicked men cannot for long successfully imitate it.
The times of the gentiles is ending, and truth has begun to break forth; just as Christ explained to His disciples while living among them (and then repeated to Joseph in 1831):
And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel; But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men. And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land. But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die. (D&C 45:28-32.)
When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering, O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? (Matt. 16:2-3.)
The Lord described our day. But we live in it and do not see it right before our eyes.
Brian Hales has responded. His response misstates my position, teaching, testimony and message, but it is nevertheless his response. For those interested you can find it at:
His biggest error in the response is to cite as authoritative a number of sources I would question. Brigham Young’s ability to ignore revelations of others does not contribute to whether the revelations of others should be ignored.
The sharp differences in views are useful. I leave it to the reader to sort out the truth from error.
The voting on the Recorder has concluded and Ken Jensen sent me an email confirming the outcome. His email is below:
86% of the participants voted for Keith Hernderson
I asked Keith Henderson for his contact information and permission to post it here. He gave the permission and provided the following:
This is the holy day on which the Lord rose from the dead. He lives. I know because I have seen Him and He has ministered unto me.
Not everyone knows He has risen, yet believe it to be true. Those who believe witnesses, whether in scripture or living, “might also have eternal life if they continue faithful.” (D&C 46:14.)
He will return again, descending from heaven. (Acts 1:11.) He “cometh not in the form of a woman, neither of a man traveling on the earth” (D&C 49:22) but now appears in glory.
He sits on the throne of the Father, and offers us that same throne if we overcome: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3:20-21.)
Joseph of Egypt was a prophet, seer and Patriarch. He was a remarkable and gifted prophet. God promised through him a last-days seer would be sent to the world. The promise was accomplished through Joseph Smith:
Joseph truly testified, saying: A seer [Joseph Smith] shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins. Yea, Joseph truly said: Thus saith the Lord unto me: A choice seer [Joseph Smith] will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and he shall be esteemed highly among the fruit of thy loins. And unto him will I give a commandment that he shall do a work for the fruit of thy loins. And unto him will I give commandment that he shall do a work for the fruit of thy loins, his brethren, which shall be of great worth unto them, even to the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers. And I will give unto him a commandment that he shall do none other work, save the work which I shall command him. And I will make him [Joseph Smith] great in mine eyes; for he shall do my work. And he shall be great like unto Moses, whom I have said I would raise up unto you, to deliver my people, O house of Israel. …But a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and unto him [Joseph Smith] will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins–and not to the bringing forth of my word only; saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them. …Behold, that seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him [Joseph Smith] shall be confounded; for this promise, which I have obtained of the Lord, of the fruit of my loins, shall be fulfilled. Behold, I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise. (2 Ne. 3:6-14, emphasis added.)
I reject the accusation Joseph Smith was ever a “fallen prophet.” He was promised by God, sent by God, commissioned, guided, directed, inspired and led by God. His life was foretold in prophecies almost as many centuries beforehand as Christ’s life was foretold. We diminish Joseph Smith and his ministry at the peril of being “confounded”–as the prophecy of ancient Joseph of Egypt promises.
Where does the prophecy God gave to Joseph of Egypt foretell the promised seer’s failure? Instead of failure it promises the seer “will the Lord bless” and the Lord will “make him great in mine eyes” and he would “be esteemed highly” among people of faith. God said to Joseph, “I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee [Joseph] even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity[.]” (D&C 132:49.) Those who testify against him do not persuade me to disrespect him.
God blesses and visits those who take seriously the Book of Mormon, which we only have because of the latter-day seer, Joseph Smith.
Joseph was not without his faults. But they were acknowledged by Joseph publicly, condemned by God in revelations, and apparent in the history. For example, he lost the 116 pages, was reprimanded and lost possession of the plates, Urim and Thummim, and gift temporarily as a result. God rebuked Joseph: “behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men. For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God.” (D&C 3:6-7.)
He admitted his foolishness. (JS-H 1:28.)
He failed in business with the Kirtland Anti-Banking Society in 1837, and had a pending bankruptcy when he died in 1844.
He was told by God he could not judge between the righteous and wicked. (D&C 10:37.) That would plague him throughout life, and lead him to foolishly trust John Bennett.
Joseph made other mistakes and had other failures. Weaknesses are nothing, for all men are subject to weakness. For our part, we should “take no advantage of [any man’s] weakness.” (Ether 12:26.) Weaknesses are unimportant to me because we are all imperfect. (Ether 12:25-27.) Joseph Smith was great in God’s eyes (2 Ne. 3:8) and therefore great in mine also.