70: Effective Study, Part 2

Today, in Part 2 of this series on Effective Study, Denver continues addressing the following questions: “How do I get the most out of Gospel study?  Where do I begin? It can be frustrating to read and not really get much out of a text aside from the most obvious and superficial reading. What can I do or what skills or approaches do I need to utilize in order to make my study effective so I can both understand and experience the Gospel as well as prepare for Zion?”


Nephi pondered about the things that he had seen and heard. He constantly meditated upon that, and wrote some 40 years after the fact. The revelations that Joseph Smith received, including that one that he received in the sacred grove was not all to be comprehended in the first pass through.

The things of God are of deep import. Why did God reveal what He revealed when He revealed it? Why did He reveal it in the order in which He revealed it? What was He building upon? Why in the first revelation did He go there? Why in the next did He go to that point? If you think Joseph’s mind wasn’t caught up in the things that he had seen and heard, just as yours should be about the things that you’ve seen and heard, then you need to think again, because the things of God are of deep import, and time and care and careful and solemn and ponderous thoughts are the only way in which you, or anyone can find them out. That applies especially to you because you control you. You determine how much light and truth you will receive. And it is predicated upon a law that was ordained before the foundation of the world. Anyone of you can obey it. God is no respecter of persons, and you are authorized to exercise faith in Him unto salvation. You are authorized to exercise faith in Him, until you know Him. You are authorized to see His face and know that He is; everyone of you.

If you intend to survive His return, you are going to have to be able to bear His presence. Hence, the need to talk about this material in the agenda that we are on in these series of talks. We introduced it. We talked about faith, we talked about repentance and we are going to talk about covenants next.

I know not everybody comes to all of these. I don’t expect people to. I don’t even expect you to get the disks and listen to them. I’m trying to transcribe them and fill in with the things that I’m thinking about even if I do not give you the scriptures. They will be up on the Internet and available for you to read. I am introducing things. I am trying to provoke you to study. I am trying to provoke you to look into this stuff. But I cannot babysit you, and shouldn’t. I would only make you weak if I attempt to do that. You need to take this as the beginning point and go on and discover for yourself, how great things the Lord intends to do. One of the neglected volumes of scripture you need to spend some time with is The Lectures on Faith. They remain Scripture.

I told you how the Lord vouched for Joseph Smith. The Lord vouches for Joseph Smith again. If nobody will say it, I will declare to you. If you ignore Joseph words, you ignore them at your peril. If you allow any man, or men, if you allow any committee, any institution, or organization to claim that they have the right to alter, neglect, or discard the words of revelation given by God through the Prophet Joseph Smith, they will damn you if you listen to them. And they will surely be damned for doing so. No one has the right to do that.

God’s work is the same yesterday, today and forever. Those who would like to throw you about by every wind of doctrine are teaching you merely the commandments of men, as if they were doctrine and they aren’t! When God spoke through Joseph and we forget him, then we have no right to expect collectively, that He’s going to move anything forward for us. The first order of repentance is to remember what God gave to us through Joseph. You do that, and then you find God is perfectly willing to pick it up and move it forward. You don’t do that, and God will simply wait for you to get around to discharge the duty that is devolving upon you. God vouched for Joseph Smith. God spoke through him. I don’t have the right to move one of his words. But I do have the right to listen to him, to follow what came through him, and to lay hold upon the blessings that were promised as a consequence of remembering him. To remember the words of Joseph is to remember your Lord. Remember Him. And do not let anyone tell you that they hold some authority that allows them to neglect, change, discard, veto, forget, or contradict what God told you through the voice of the Prophet.

In verse 12 it talks about how there is going to be a restoration of “knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.” (2 Nephi 3: 12) And then in 15 it says, “And his name shall be called after me [the “me” being Joseph of Egypt; therefore the name of this seer will likewise be “Joseph”]; and it shall be after the name of his father [requiring the seer’s father to likewise be named Joseph]. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation.”

Then Lehi goes on to tell his son in verse 23: “Wherefore, because of this covenant [meaning the one that was done with Joseph of Egypt], he [the son of Lehi] is blessed, for his [the son of Lehi’s] seed shall not be destroyed, for they shall hearken unto the words of the book. And there shall rise up one mighty among them [I talked about that in Boise. If Joseph Smith fulfills this ancient prophecy given by Joseph of Egypt and repeated by Lehi which is recovered in part through this passage in the Book of Mormon, then Joseph Smith should give to us the ability to know something about these covenants that were made with the fathers.]”

Well, we do not have to rely upon, merely what we have in 2 Nephi chapter 3. Nor do we require the Brass Plates, either, as it turns out. Because Joseph Smith restored the prophecy of Joseph of Egypt, and you can read it in the Joseph Smith Translation beginning in Genesis chapter 50 at verse 24. It reads slightly different than Lehi’s summary. Lehi’s choice of what he adds in and what he selects out, in contrast to what Joseph of Egypt actually wrote provides some interesting insight into Lehi. It is absolutely worth your time to study out all the differences. You ought to pick apart what it is that Lehi did, because it tells you much about what father Lehi choose to include and what he chose to pass over as a reflection on this prophet-father.

The work of salvation is not achieved by ignorance and indifference. The Gospel of Christ is not limited to, making you feel better about yourself. Quite frankly, my wife and I marvel all the time at how unprepared and unworthy she and I feel in everything that has gone on. But, I know God. And therefore, because I know God, I am confident that you can know Him too. I am absolutely confident that you can know Him too. He will speak to any one of you, just as He spoke to Joseph Smith, and that He will answer any earnest seeker. No one is sent away disappointed.

Do you think the Lord, who would not turn away the blind, and the halt, the crippled, and the leprous, do you think the Lord who, seeing the widow whose only son was being carried away dead, and was moved with compassion to restore the life of that young man, so that she, in that circumstance, in that culture, in that environment, she now had future security because she had a son to look out for her; do you think that that Lord doesn’t intend to answer the prayers of the earnest seeker? My suspicion is that God has answered, and you have turned a deaf ear to much of what you looked for, because you want something other than the answers He has already given in the material that sits in front of you unexamined. My suspicion is, that if you would spend time looking into the revelations given us by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and studying history, however perilous that may be a prove to you, that you will conclude that God has already given an answer to the inquiry you’ve made. And with a little effort you can find it. [Holding up the scriptures.] And when you find it, you’ll hear the voice of God saying, “There it is. Now was that so hard? Why don’t you keep going and see what else is in there for you.” Because this stuff was given to us at the price of the life of a 38 ½ year old young man and his older brother, whose blood was shed in order to restore what we now have in our possession. And we take it lightly and we look away.

I could write my own Gospel. I could bear my own testimony. I could invent a new narrative about our Lord, if it were necessary to do so. But I will tell you the only thing that is necessary is to open the scriptures and read them, and to tell you, the things that we looked at tonight are true. Like Jacob. In fact, if you go all the way back to Jacob chapter 6: 1: “And now, behold, my brethren, as I said unto you that I would prophesy, behold, this is my prophecy—that the things which this prophet Zenos spake, concerning the house of Israel, in the which he likened them unto a tame olive-tree, must surely come to pass.”

So here are the words my prophecy: That the things that we have looked at this evening, restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the seer named Joseph, the son of the father named Joseph, fulfilled the promise of Joseph of Egypt, and they are all true. I know them to be true. And you could know them to be true too. But the price you have to pay to gain that knowledge is to study what was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Otherwise, they’re just something gathering dust on a shelf. Don’t read them as if you’re trying to vindicate the religion you already understand. Don’t read them as if you’re trying to defend your current group of preferred doctrines. Read them as if you are as ignorant of the will of God as the convert is that you hope to make living somewhere in Florida or New Guinea or Guatemala. Because the truth of the matter is we have been devolving in our understanding from the day of Joseph Smith until today at an ever accelerating rate. And what we have left, Enoch called gross darkness.

As we get to the topic of sealing power there are some things about that you need to have parsed, and you need to understand differently than what is taught us. When we talk about priesthood we throw about lavish claims among ourselves, because we have a vocabulary. As a consequence of possessing that vocabulary, we think then that we have understanding. Instead the scriptures are telling us a whole different story. That whole different story is what we are pursuing here today. Hopefully when we get to the end of this today, you will walk away and say, “I need to back and study my scriptures! Because it sounds like there’s a whole lot in there about priesthood that makes distinctions which I had not heretofore appreciated.”

As you read Section 76 remember that the things of God are not to be taken lightly. Nor are they given to you merely by study. You also must receive revelation in order to understand revelation. The scriptures are a launching point to take your mind upward. You must commune with God to understand the things of God. Do not be fooled by man’s pretentions into sloth. No man, or committee or organization will ever save you. Nothing some financial institution managed by lawyers, bankers, managers, businessmen and professors offers will matter in the afterlife. The only things which will matter there will be what you secure for yourself from the Powers of Heaven while you live here. This is a probation. Act like the choices you make are the choices a god-in-the-making would choose. Be responsible for your life’s outcome. When the Day of Judgment comes you will not be able to hand a Temple Recommend to your Diving Judge and have Him respect a mere man’s judgment of you. All that document proves objectively is that you paid money to the church. It is a receipt. And you don’t even know what your money got used for, because you do not even dare to ask the question of your leaders about how the money was spent. For the rest of the Temple Recommend questions, they are merely subjective in nature and allow the vain, the misled and the blind to announce their purported “worthiness.” All of that is a mirage which will pass away when you depart this life.

It is not that God loves one more than another, it is that some of you love Him and others do not. By this He knows whether you love Him: It is whether your heart is soft and willing to receive, or you deliberately choose to be blinded by the false traditions handed down to you, to which you hold fast because you have not faith.

Religion is intended to be between you and God, deeply personal and individually redemptive. Christ is as accessible to you as He was to Moses on the mount. And what was Moses’ ambition? It was to bring everyone up on the mount to likewise see God. What did the children of Israel say? “No, you go talk to Him. We don’t want to.” And today why don’t we want to see God? Because instead of us meeting Him it is easier to have pride, to study the subject of God, and not change your heart. You can become a respected authority without ever knowing Him. You can expound history, can parse through the vocabulary of the Restoration, can pretend to prove what God is going to do next, without ever knowing Him. All this is vanity.

I will tell you what God is going to do next. You may find it hard to believe and that is your right. But what God is doing next is what is going on right now, today in Ephraim, Utah.

In the pride of your heart, blindness of your mind, and in the hardness of your soul, some of you will not receive God. But God is saying to each of you, “Ignore the man with a microphone and come to Me.” Although I speak as He has asked today, I am not important. The message is, because it is not mine. Joseph bore testimony of God. I bear testimony of Joseph. If Joseph was one witness, I am a second. I have used Joseph’s revelations and sermons to teach today. Believe in them, for they are true.

Some of you refuse to say, “Perhaps the words of scripture means something different and more intensely personal than I have ever taken them to mean before.” They do. They are for you. God wants you to respond to them.

I recognize that I am not the best messenger. I wish I had the voice of an archangel. I wish I could do something to soften the hearts of you all. Some of you will never respond to the Lord because you cannot overcome your preoccupation with me. That saddens me and I regret that deeply. But that is your choice, and you can choose differently.

Christ is in fact holy, and I am deeply aware of the fact that I am not. I can’t redeem any of you, but He can. I can testify of Him, but when it comes down to it, you should be able to feel faith. You should be able to feel something important was communicated by God today. Some of you know that. In the Doctrine and Covenants you are warned it can be taken from you. The wicked one comes, and he takes away the light from you. He does this through your disobedience. What is the source of your disobedience? “That wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.” (D&C 93:39.)

My voice will fall silent in your ears in a few moments. You are going to leave and go on. There are going to be a thousand voices and traditions galloping to intervene and take away your attention. Come the morrow, you are going to attend meetings in which you hear a lot of things expounded that just aren’t true. Their traditions will take over, and your families are going urge upon you the tradition they have handed down. You will sing about blessed noble pioneer ancestors, and the cacophony of voices will arise and the critics will chirp up. Through all these the wicked one will come and take away Light and Truth.

I cannot be with you always, and if I were, it would only cripple you. And I’m not here to cripple you. You must study these things. You must ask God.

I hate the fact these 10 talks will all be given by me. I wish they were 10 talks given by 10 different people. That way you would not say, “Well, he is something important.” I am nothing. I am keenly aware of my own limitations. But I am also keenly aware of our Lord. When I have had discussions with Him, they have invariably involved parsing through the scriptures and Him explaining things to me. When I have inquired and gotten answers, it is because there are things in the scriptures I did not understand.

I bear witness of Christ. I have seen Him! I know He lives! I know He is coming in judgment, and I know that before His coming, He has wanted some things to be declared. I have been as faithful as I can be in declaring the things asked of me. I sense keenly my own inadequacy. I beg you to overlook all that and not let me become a stumbling block. Look at the scriptures, look at the words of Christ, look at the explanations we got from Joseph, look at the things that are true, and go to Him in faith believing.

I began with a description of Him. I want to repeat that. The Lord is affable, but He is not gregarious. He is approachable. He is not aloof. He is patient and He is willing to guide and willing to teach. He is intelligent, but He not overbearing. He is humble and approachable in His demeanor, even though His power is absolutely undeniable. Therefore, He is both a Lamb and a Lion. If you come to Him in the day He offers redemption to you, you will be coming to the Lamb. But if you wait for His coming in judgment, you are waiting on the Lion, and you will not like what you will see.

I asked you to remember He is quick to forgive sin. He allows all to come to Him. He is no respecter of persons. I said that when I began, I’m saying it again as we end today. He is real! He lives! His work of redemption continues right now, just as it continued throughout His mortal life, just as it continued as He hung on the cross, just as it continued in His resurrection in Palestine, and as He came to visit with the Nephites. He ministered to other sheep, and He has called other people. There are, in fact, holy men who ye know not of who still remain on earth.

If there was anything more I could do or say that I thought would convince or persuade you to believe in Him, I would do it or I would say it. But despite it all, I realize some of you are going to walk out of here thinking that I’m just another one of these latter-day blowhards. That is all good and well. Please however, give heed to the scriptures I’ve read, the words of Joseph I quoted, and the fact I do have a witness that Christ is approachable. He is every bit as much alive today as when He was when He walked on the road to Emmaus. He is every bit as willing to come and redeemed you from the Fall as He was willing to redeem others before. His work and His glory culminates with your redemption. His success is redeeming you. You think the scriptures give you hope of eternal life. That is true. I have used them today to show you how great things the Lord has done.

The scriptures testify what I am saying is true. If you think, “Well, He is aloof and He is distant, and this is an impossible high thing to achieve.” The fact of the matter is, it is a greater achievement on His end to redeem you, than your end to be redeemed. There is more anxiety, more desire, and more rejoicing in heaven when He redeems someone from the Fall than there is here.

“…because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him [This man knew he was God] And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting. Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him.”

God is known by his many works. Faith gives way to knowledge. He ministered to him. Notice that in verse 18, “he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites.” Verse 20: “he did ministered unto him.” Christ has a ministry. His ministry is not yet complete. His ministry includes coming and bearing His testimony, for that is the testimony of Jesus we should receive while in the flesh. That ministry continues.

Look at chapter 4 verse 7. “And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.” [This is the ministry of the Lord. This is the comfort He promises to bring us.]

This text in Ether chapter 3 is probably the best single text in existence to study about gaining the knowledge of God, and the process by which it is gained. Most importantly, it exposes the attitude possessed by the person who comes back to be redeemed. It tells you, not directly, it tells you indirectly by telling you what the brother of Jared did. Go thou and do likewise. Everything that you have been put through, and every challenge that you have been given, and every weakness that you possess, have all been given to you in a studied way to bring you, hopefully, to your knees. To bring you, hopefully, to feel the chastening hand of God, so that you, in your day, in your circumstance, can look upon it all as a gift, because it surely is.

“I give unto men weakness that they may come unto me, and if they humble themselves and come unto me, I’ll make weak things strong.” That is also in the book of Ether. It is an aside in which Moroni was complaining that the Gentiles were not going to believe his book. Moroni feared the Gentiles were not going to believe this record but would notice its weaknesses.

Ether chapter 12 verse 26: “And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness; And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.” [That’s unavoidable. That’s an inevitability. You stand in the presence of a just and holy being, you will realize your weaknesses. You are going to recognize what you lack.]

I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

How do weak things become strong? Not by fighting a battle you are going to lose. It is by appreciating as the brother of Jared did, the fact that none of us can come into the presence of God without feeling keenly this scripture. “Fools mock, but they shall mourn.” This is Christ speaking. “I give unto men weakness,[for one purpose], I give unto them weakness that they may be strong.”

That anvil you are dragging around was given to you by God as a gift. Don’t curse it. Pray for God to come and lift it. You are never going to be able to get far carrying it anyway. You may not even be able to lift it, but in the economy of God, that is a gift. A gift! Not for you to act upon, nor to surrender to, but for you to fight against in humility and meekness and to say, “I’m not winning. I haven’t won. It goes on and on, and yet still I fight against it.”

When will you finally come to Him and cry out? When, in the bitter anguish of your soul, like Joseph Smith in Liberty jail, will you cry out, “How long must I endure this? How long do I have to suffer from the abuse of the guards? How long do I have to sit inside a gated room, in a dungeon, to hear stories about the rape of the people who followed me? And the murder of the people that believed what I was teaching?”

How long did Joseph’s heart break in Liberty Jail? He emerged from that ordeal a fundamentally different man than the one who went in. People who say, “Oh yeah, in Nauvoo he got carried away with all kinds of things.” We will talk more about that tomorrow. We will talk more about  this idea of marriage, and will touch upon the notion of plurality of wives. We’ll brush up against that tomorrow.

Look, these Scriptures, these invitations, these prophecies, and this message that began in Boise and will conclude in Phoenix. This message is inviting you to do what was originally prophesied as this dispensation began, that we looked at those prophecies in the beginning in Boise, Idaho. The game’s afoot. The challenge is underway. The opportunity is here.

There was some eagerness on the part of father Hyrum (Joseph’s older brother), before the Book of Mormon was even in print. He wanted to begin preaching repentance, because he believed in the work. But the Lord held Hyrum back. If you go to Doctrine and Covenants section 11 beginning at verse 13, this a revelation given to Hyrum:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive. Behold, I command you that you need not suppose that you are called to preach until you are called. Wait a little longer, until you shall have my word, my rock, my church, and my gospel, that you may know of a surety my doctrine.”

Hyrum was told, “it is good to be eager, but don’t go out and try to preach something because you’re not yet qualified. You don’t have enough knowledge in order to do so.” Likewise, Adam and Eve, were not qualified at first. The circumstances of their lives did not prepare them to do it, until there were generations already alive on the earth. Then they were given the gifts, the endowment necessary in order to begin preaching.

Hyrum was told in verse 21: “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men. But now hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men, and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men, or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto.”

Hyrum Smith would eventually become co-president with Joseph. Hyrum Smith whom the Lord would command to be ordained, not only to the office of the priesthood, but become the one possessing the sealing power over the Church. Hyrum Smith, who would be the successor to Joseph, though he was killed before Joseph. This same Hyrum Smith who was the prophet of the Church (and Joseph rebuked the Church because they weren’t giving heed to Hyrum’s words), Hyrum Smith who’s letter to the Church ought to be in the Doctrine and Covenants because he was a President, and he issued a general epistle admonishing people, Hyrum Smith, whose name is omitted from the list of Church presidents, even though it should be there, Hyrum Smith was told by the Lord do not go out and start preaching yet. You need to learn some things first. You need to be qualified first, in the revelation to Hyrum given in 1829. Similarly, in the lives of Adam and Eve God was in no great hurry to get them preaching before they were qualified.

There was this comment Joseph Smith made “I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow, and He is within me, and comprehends more than all the world: and I will associate myself with Him.” [That’s from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 350.] This was what qualified Adam and Eve to declare repentance to their children. This was what qualified them to know the truth of all things, and have the wisdom to impart it, so that they could persuade their children to believe in Christ. This is the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You, to be competent in teaching your children, must first have the Holy Ghost as your guide. Then, once you have that, you ought to have familiarity with the scriptures, just as Hyrum was told to first learn what was in them before trying to teach others. Then you are qualified to go and teach your children, and you have an obligation to do that. Children are the means to preserve Zion. Without the conversion of children, Zion has no chance of surviving.

I’ve read this before. This is Joseph Smith writing from confinement in Liberty jail. This is after Joseph, in Liberty Jail, had months to reflect upon what happened among the Saints before his imprisonment. He wrote:

“The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity–thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations–too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God.”

Do not waste your time when you are with one another! Learn, study, testify, search the scriptures, and worship God. If you are still LDS, use whatever good you find there. Do not waste time. Use it in the serious pursuit of the mysteries of God. Search deeply. Reflect quietly. Ponder and pray with purpose.

False spirits will be among you. Prideful and pretentious people will want to impress you to give them honor. Honor God instead. Do not let a new revelation displace your attention away from the scriptures. They are sufficient for our day, as these ten sessions have demonstrated, I hope. 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 the scriptures.

You should not waste another three-hour block of time fiddling around with nonsense, because you don’t have permission from God to do that. Preach the principles to one another. If you spend time in LDS meetings, as some of you will do, then study your scriptures, comment with the truth, and improve your moments with the Latter-day Saints. If a fellowship has significant numbers who still attend meetings, then meet in your own fellowship before or after the three-hour block, or on another day of the week.

If in your fellowship you don’t think you know enough to do anything else, get together and read the scriptures out loud. Have your children study scripture. Teach them to use written copies of the scripture, not electronic devices. Studies show comprehension is greatly reduced by using electronic versions instead of printed books. Do not cripple your children by having them use computer-based scriptures. Get them their own copies and have them study them. Ask them to research subjects using their scriptures. Walk them through the parables of Christ and teach them to see symbolism as something familiar. Get them to consider analogies and types as tools used in scripture. Help them to reason a problem through using the scriptures as a guide.

In the early church, in this dispensation, when they got together, one of the things done regularly was everyone in the meeting prayed in turn. Everyone prayed. The meeting would last until all present had prayed. They called it a “Prayer Meeting,” oddly enough. One of the early brethren and didn’t like that. He didn’t feel like he could pray vocally around other people. There is a revelation admonishing him that he needs to pray.

If you don’t have any wisdom to impart to one another, get together and pray. Get together and read the scriptures, but don’t get together and read out loud out of any recent publication from Deseret Book. It has become little more than a vanity press, offering bright covers to serve up hollow slogans inside. If we are going to begin again, it must be in conformity with the Doctrine of Christ, it must be taught by the spirit of truth, and it must follow the pattern and warnings given in Kirtland for us to follow.

QUESTION: As a second witness then, which you have proclaimed you are, how is the Savior working through you to continue the restoration, he began through Joseph Smith?

God could, does, and will work through anyone who awakens and then pays attention. There’s an army of witnesses and awakened individuals that are being assembled by God. It’s required to know him, and I know him. I’ve been taught and understand his gospel. The first task is to assure people that he lives and that his gospel is an authentic method for saving souls. The second task is to remember the restoration Joseph gave his life to begin.

We’re ungrateful when we fail to remember and practice it. At the moment, there is almost no clear understanding of that gospel. I’m working to set that out in a comprehensive way. It’s never been completed. There’s a great deal prophesied to roll out as part of the restoration that has not even commenced! Do we have Zion? What about the lost teachings of the brass plates? Do we have the rest of the Book of Mormon? Do we have the testimony of John? Do we have restored knowledge of the Jaredites? The list could be very long. But the fact that there is a list, tells us that the restoration must resume at some point in order to be completed. We don’t have it on the table, but we’ve forgotten what we once had.

So the first job is to show that we are grateful enough to remember. And to remember it in a fulsome, comprehensive way. Before God is going to say, now I will permit it to move forward. We haven’t gotten to the point of remembering yet. Which is why we ought to be studying a lot more diligently the material we got in the restoration. We ignore it at our peril.

Mormonism is true but it is possible for people to believe in Mormonism and have a whole bundle of ideas in their head that I don’t share with them. The difference between the views that I have of Mormonism and the views that that person has of Mormonism can largely be accounted for based upon how much study, effort, review, thoughtfulness, has gone into where they are and where I am. The effort to uncover the story of the restoration is still left undone, it’s still incomplete. I have been working as diligently as I can in every spare minute that I have, and I have to tell you, there’s still a monumental pile of material yet to be reviewed before I get to the end of what’s out there. I work full time for a living. I don’t have the luxury of doing this as a profession; I do it as a hobby. These things are expensive to acquire and require months to review and get through and find. But let me tell you, the search is worth it.

No matter how shallow the pool is that you’ve drunk out of in trying to figure out what the history of Mormonism is, let me assure you that if you uncover a question there is an answer to your question. There is something out there that will give you the truth of the matter. I get so tired of reading these silly, inane anti-Mormon rants like that Grant Palmer book: An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins is silly. It’s trite. That letter to the CES thing that has caused a crisis? I read it and I laugh out loud at how superficially silly it is. In my view there is a great work left to be done, and I have to stay focused on some things that are important, some things that still never got completed in Joseph’s day that got promised would be completed at some point. We may yet see the restoration take on a power and a glory that it hardly attained to at the beginning. The easiest way to hijack that is to spend all of your time dealing with refuting arguments about our history. I have given up any ambition of either refuting critics or refuting my own critics. The only thing I’m interested in doing is trying to at last state truthfully, based upon the work that God had Joseph do, what it was that God accomplished through him. Historians can go back and take everything I’ve written and they can fill in all the gaps, and they can defend everything I’ve written. I’m going to keep pressing on and I’m going to keep plowing new ground in order to try and construct what it was the restoration was intended to accomplish.

I would encourage every one of you to take seriously the restoration of the gospel. I would encourage every one of you to realize that Joseph Smith was exactly what he said he was and probably a whole lot more than he was ever willing to disclose.

I haven’t said for many years that the Church is true but I have said, and I say again, the Gospel is true, the restoration is true, Joseph was what he claimed to be and probably a lot more. And, if you stumble into questions in LDS Church history that raise some doubts in your mind about the restoration itself, trust me. If you’ll just study the matter out and take the time to look into it, you’re going to find an answer. Very often those answers are quite glorious, glorious beyond anything that you could imagine. If anything, Joseph Smith understated what he did. That list I read you, which is found in D&C Section 128, doesn’t tell you what “divers angels from Adam or Michael down to the present,” who claim and declared the keys, the rights, the honors, doesn’t tell you what was involved there. Joseph Smith left out more than he put on the table.

Joseph’s original Mormonism was inclusive, not exclusive. All truth belonged to Mormonism but it never pretended to have it all. Mormonism was the search for truth. It was originally the search to discover “truth” without fear of finding something new. To Joseph, Mormonism did not possess all truth. His religion was not based on conceit, but on humility—the willingness to continue to search, pray, study and hope for newly revealed additions. It was understood there was a great deal more yet to be discovered. The claim that Mormonism was the “only true and living church” presumed the willingness to hear God’s voice and receive new truth; it was not because it already had all truth. It was “living” during Joseph’s life because it continued to grow and expand. Living organisms grow, dead ones decay.