Category: condemnation

More on the Brazilian Claims

Yesterday I met with Joseph Frederick Smith, the great-grandson of Joseph Smith. I heard his account of his involvement with the claims that a man from Brazil has been given the plates of the Book of Mormon. Listening to him I had no reason to doubt his sincerity. If there is mischief afoot, he is not the author of it, but the victim of it.

I offered him a few words of caution because I believe he will be the one who will be scorned if this proves to be a misadventure. If it all proves to be false, as I suspect it will, then the great-grandson of Joseph Smith will be the largest target of the critics. It will potentially be used as additional fodder for condemning his great-grandfather as well.

So far the Brazilian claims are not connected with any translation of a text, but have been confined to witnesses claiming to have seen plates purporting to be the Book of Mormon. I reminded them that the witnesses to the Book of Mormon in 1830 did not testify apart from a published text. There is a great difference between testifying to attract readers to take the text of the Book of Mormon seriously, as was done in 1830, and testifying without a text for anyone to consider, as now being done.

The claimants assure the public that a text will be forthcoming. Until there is such a thing, there is nothing to consider.

So far all that has been advanced is testimony about “signs.” Since “he that seeks signs shall see signs, but not unto salvation. …behold, faith comes not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.” (T&C 50:3.) The news of “signs” does nothing to attract me.

All three of the original witnesses to the Book of Mormon eventually abandoned Joseph Smith. The “signs” to them failed to produce enduring faith. That is because signs do not, indeed cannot, produce faith.

When the saints were condemned in 1832, the words of condemnation stated: “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things that you have received, which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation rests upon the children of Zion, even all, and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon, and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do, according to that which I have written, that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s Kingdom.” (T&C 82:20.)

Coincidentally, I have written nearly 4 million words testifying, explaining, exhorting and teaching primarily from the Book of Mormon, and secondarily from the other works of Joseph Smith. I have labored for years to directly remove the condemnation, by remembering and teaching the Book of Mormon. I know of nothing that the man in Brazil has labored to do to remove the condemnation. I only hear of miraculous events wholly divorced from any sincere effort by those involved to repent and remove the condemnation imposed in 1832 upon all the children of Zion.

If there is ever a text to examine, I will gladly review it. I accept truth from any source. I would like to see what God withheld from the published Book of Mormon because it was too sacred to reveal to the public in Joseph Smith’s day. Since I have seen things which are not lawful for man to utter, nor is man capable of making them known, I would very much recognize a true text that removes the veil and puts on public display those most sacred and unspeakable things. I expect to be able to recognize immediately if the text is authentic. If it proves to be true, it will be an astonishing thing for the world. Heretofore the Lord has commanded, “You shall keep the mysteries of the Kingdom unto yourself, for it is not given to the world to know the mysteries.” (T&C 26:20.) If there is a text, it will no doubt explain why these heretofore withheld precious mysteries are now being published for the world to see.

In the history of the world, God’s greatest mysteries were kept from public display. They become known according to a pattern: “Knowledge of the mysteries of godliness is obtained only through obedience to God. He ordained this method to make His greatest truths universally available to all His humble followers training for the ministry.” (T&C 159:31.)

I very much appreciated the visit, and when our meeting ended, sincerely wished for God to go with Joseph Frederick Smith. We agree on more than we disagree. I regard him as a brother in Christ.

3 Nephi 12: 21-22

3 Nephi 12: 21-22:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you, that thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God;  But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
 
Christ is elevating the Law of Moses by raising the expectation for human conduct. He moves from mere outward conduct into the inner soul of the man. You are not doing as you should if all you do is refrain from killing. Instead, you need to remove anger.
 
The prior obligation (“said by them of old”) focused only on your conduct, now it is your motivation.

You can judge another based on conduct. They either do or do not do something. The conduct is observable, and therefore capable of being judged. Now, however, Christ moves the battleground inside a person.  It is now in the heart. On such terrain as that, man is incapable of knowing, and therefore, of judging.

 
With anything involving truth and rules of conduct, there are always some reasons to depart from the rule. Christ departed from this rule.  So we must consider the departures to understand the rule.
 
First, however, we need to know and understand the rule. The “judgment” which you are “in danger of” by being angry with your brother is not your brother’s anger, but God’s. The judgment of God is provoked by those who are angry with their brother.
 
We are not to be angry with our brother because that is the beginning of a whole sequence of events, the culmination of which may be killing. Before killing, however, there are other troubles and offenses along the way. Anger leads to abuse. It leads to discourtesy, dishonesty, and cheating. It justifies miserable conduct because you think it right to give offenses to another. It corrodes relationships and makes society sick.
If you can prevent this at the heart, you can heal society. Refrain from letting offenses turn into anger. Deal with them inside, showing forgiveness and compassion. He will stress this further in subsequent verses.
 
The terms “Raca” and “fool” are derisive names. Christ is saying that applying derisive names to others is wrong, even damning. He is not preventing you from identifying foolishness. He often spoke of fools and foolishness. (See, e.g., Matt. 23: 17, 19; Matt. 25: 2-8; Luke 12: 20Luke 24: 25-after His resurrection; and 2 Nephi 29: 4,6.) He would even use the term “foolish” in this same sermon. (3 Nephi 14: 26.) So it is not at all inappropriate to use the term “fool” or “foolish” when discussing foolishness. What is wrong it to regard your fellow man with derision and use terms of derision to describe them. 
 
Even with this rue of conduct, however, Christ applied a derisive term to King Herod. He called him “that fox.” (Luke 13:  31-32.) This was a term of derision, but appropriately applied to a wicked king meriting derision.  He was corrupt, evil and vile. Therefore, with respect to Herod, Christ’s example allows for terms of derision to be appropriately applied to those who merit them. Christ was able to weigh the heart. For Him to make that conclusion was a matter of Divine prerogative. I suppose that we are equally entitled to apply such terms of judgment and condemnation, including terms of derision, if we obtain them by inspiration from the Lord. That is, if the Lord inspires such a term of derision to be used, then it would be appropriate despite this verse. For whatever we do, even if sharpness is involved, is appropriate when moved upon by the Holy Ghost. (D&C 121: 43.) So, also, even killing another can be done when the Lord is the one deciding life and death. (1 Nephi 4: 10-13.) 
 
The tendency is to always think the exceptions allow your anger. I would suspect the best approach is to do as Nephi did. That is, insist upon following the one standard of conduct and always refrain. Always. Then, if the Lord is going to have it otherwise, leave it to the Lord to make that insistence so dramatic, so undeniable, so compelling, that you know it is the Lord’s judgment and not your own. Removing anger from the heart is a difficult enough challenge to last the rest of your life. To start thinking any passing offense justifies an exception because it may be “inspired” is the way of a fool. Do as Christ bids you to do in this sermon. If He wants a different approach, you ought to require that to be made absolutely clear by Him before you depart from this standard.
 
Remember how often great souls have interceded for their fellow man.  I’ve written about that so often in my books I won’t repeat it again.  However, intercession for your fellow man, including those who give offense to you, is one of the hallmarks of the saved soul. This is who Abraham was, and why he became a friend of God. I’ve hesitated to even discuss the exceptions to the rule because everyone wants the exceptions to apply to them. No one wants to comply with the rule. The higher way is, however, found in following the rule. It should be an absolute sacrifice, and a painful one at that, for the exception to be applied in your life. If an inspired condemnation is required at your hand and by your voice, then immediately afterwards you should make intercession with the Lord for those condemned. That is the way of those who know the Lord. Those who have been forgiven much– including those who have been forgiven everything– always love much in return.  (Luke 7: 47.)

3 Nephi 20: 27-28

3 Nephi 20: 27-28:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Nephi 31: 2

“Wherefore, the things which I have written sufficeth me, save it be a few words which I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ; wherefore, I shall speak unto you plainly, according to the plainness of my prophesying.”
Nephi has been pondering for over four decades about the great revelations given to him in the Arabian Peninsula. (2 Nephi 4: 16 and 2 Nephi 5: 34.) His creation of, and inscription on the plates were after these long deliberations and reflections.

When he says “the things which I have written sufficeth me,” he is putting a punctuation mark on his plates. He is saying he has finished his ministry, finished his prophecy. He has refined and set out his message in a deliberate, careful way. These books of Nephi are not internet blogs undertaken daily. They are not rapid-fire responses, nor stream-of-consciousness statements. They were planned for the ages. Born from pondering, inspired by revelation, described as prophecy by the author, and filled with light and truth if considered with care by any reader. Nephi’s pronouncement that they “sufficeth me” is a powerful statement by an aging prophet.

Years of preparation and reflection allow him to “speak plainly” to us. There’s no need to be vague. No reason to hide our plight from us. He wants us to understand. When he attempts to “speak unto you plainly, according to the plainness of my prophesying,” we read into it the wrong definitions, associate his words with others who will never read the book, and consider ourselves blessed and vindicated instead of condemned, and called to repentance. We do that a lot. What good is it to read things which tell you to be proud?  Why follow a religion that tells you you’ve no reason to repent? Everyone but you is going to hell, right? (Alma 31: 17-18.) Because so long as you remain affiliated with the broad mainstream of your church, God will save you. And if there’s any hint of error, He will beat you with a few stripes and all will be well. Nephi has already condemned that as an error, hasn’t he? (2 Nephi 28: 8.)

If his words were plain and intended to be taken at face value, why read into them justification for yourself and your sins? Why think they condemn everyone but you?  Why are they speaking in disparaging terms about those who will never have the book? Why did Nephi write a book condemning only those who will never read it? Surely, if he was in fact “plain” in his meaning, then we ought not read anything into it other than what it says and how it says it. It must be a message to us.
If it is addressed to us, then we have more than one “wo” pronounced upon us by Nephi. We have been warned. We need to change what we are doing. The gentiles with whom we are identified (D&C 109: 60) are collectively condemned. We need to separate ourselves by our behavior from theirs. We need to repent.

Now, just in case you think, as a recent comment has asserted, that the Lord has sent another message vindicating us as a collective gentile body/church in D&C 1: 30, I would remind you that revelation came from the Lord in 1831. In the following year the Lord gave another revelation that put the church under condemnation. (D&C 84: 54-58.) We know that condemnation was not lifted, because of President Benson and Elder Oaks. 

More troubling still is the Lord’s threat to reject the gentile church altogether in January of 1841 if the church did not follow His strict appointment and complete building a temple in the time He provided. (D&C 124: 31-32.) The warning was given that even if the temple were built, we would still be condemned if we failed to do what He said. (D&C 124: 47-48.)
Did we keep the appointment given us? The Nauvoo Temple was not completed before Joseph Smith died. The endowment was not completed by Joseph, but Brigham Young was told he had to finish it. (See this post dated June 30 titled 1 Nephi 13: 33-34.) Did we keep the appointment? Have we been able to avoid being rejected as a church? Have our covenants been fulfilled?

Why do we repeat endlessly the praise from 1831 but ignore the threatened rejection that came in 1841? From January of 1841, until Joseph’s death in June of 1844, we had three and a half years to complete the Nauvoo Temple. Was that “sufficient time” to do what was required of us? If so, we did not complete it. Why was Joseph taken?  Was that any indication about when the “sufficient time” expired? If so, what then?  Where would that leave us?

Is our best hope to be found in the messages and warnings of the Book of Mormon? Can there be gentiles found who will believe its message? How carefully ought we study it?

Did you know the church had almost no use for the Book of Mormon until Hugh Nibley’s efforts? (You know that if you’ve read Eighteen Verses.) Hugh Nibley, by his efforts beginning in the 1950’s, practically discovered the Book of Mormon for the church. He’s gone now.

Even though Moses was taken from ancient Israel, and with him the authority of the priesthood, (see D&C 84: 25-26) the ancient Israelites remained the Lord’s people. He still worked through them and sent them messengers from time to time. These messengers were rarely the High Priest. Although in Samuel’s case he displaced the High Priest.  (1 Samuel 3: 1-21.) They were sent from time to time. Their qualifications were private, as the Lord told Moses they would be. (Numbers 12: 6.) I have no doubt Hugh Nibley was sent to us. If you’ve paid close attention, his departure has created an intellectual collapse at the center of the faith, with various egos contending to be noticed. They aspire to put upon them Hugh Nibley’s mantle. They are not made of the same stuff, called with the same calling, nor endowed with the same capacities.

I doubt we’ll see someone like him again. Perhaps we may someday see someone with an equally important message, but among those born in this dispensation, there is none to compare to Brother Nibley.

Well, now we’re off-point again. So back to Nephi…

2 Nephi 28: 15

“O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!”
Now we reach a terrible point. Nephi records an inspired condemnation. For a person in Nephi’s position, recording words of condemnation holds terrible significance. They are not written unless they are instructed to do so, because their words will be fulfilled. I’ve explained this in Beloved Enos.

Nephi pronounces three “wo’s.” This is a three fold condemnation. It goes beyond this life. It will follow them into the hereafter.

Associated with the three “wo’s” are three names used for God: “Lord God Almighty.” It is a three fold assertion of divine authority. “Lord” refers to the Savior as Guide. “God” refers to Divine right and authority. “Almighty” refers to the irrevocable nature of the word used by God, and in turn the words given to Nephi. When you are confronted with all three, the “wo’s” are pronounced by a power that cannot be altered.

This is more than a setback in the hopes of the “learned, and the rich” who are being condemned. This is a condemnation which reaches into hell itself. It is so significant a pronouncement that when you read it you should pause and think of the dreadful import for anyone who fits into the curse.

Those, who in their pride, use the precepts of men as the basis for their “preaching false doctrines,” are not just wrong, they are damned for this perversion of the religion entrusted to them to preach in purity and truth.

In effect, they were given a precious and eternally significant treasure, and they have diverted it into something that makes them rich, puffed up, and powerful. It is tragic. It is pitiful–meaning it should inspire pity in each of us. These could be well meaning people who have fallen into this error. But they claim to preach the truth, using God’s name in vain, while they spread a vain religion which cannot bring people to the knowledge of Christ.

Who would wish such a condemnation upon others? Who can read these words and not be moved with compassion and alarm for those who have fallen under this condemnation? Who would not remove it from those who are condemned if they could?

Nephi could not make a greater plea for the salvation of all those involved. The pronouncement is terrible and its implications eternal. Yet this verse seems to have escaped notice.

Who alone claims they are speaking for God Himself when they preach?  Who could possibly qualify for this level of condemnation? This should make all of us think long and hard about any utterance we speak before we make our assertions “in the name of Jesus Christ.” The thoughtlessness which accompanies that expression among the Saints is contrary to the seriousness of the condemnation we invite if we preach false doctrine while puffed up in pride; thereby perverting the right way of the Lord.

In an example which is chilling to read, the first anti-Christ we encounter in the Book of Mormon (Sherem) uses this phrase to justify his preaching. He accuses Jacob of “perverting the right way of God.” (Jacob 7: 7.) He brings himself under Nephi’s curse. It was a small thing, therefore, for Jacob to reiterate the condemnation of Nephi against Sherem. (Jacob 7: 14.) Jacob was merely repeating what Nephi had already pronounced. And since Nephi had sealed the condemnation, it would be Nephi, not Jacob, who was responsible for the cursing.
This three fold wo, and use of three titles for God all suggest that teaching false doctrine and using man’s learning, while being filled with pride is so grave an offense that great care should always be taken before teaching, preaching or expounding on the Gospel. Only a fool would undertake to do so without knowing their words are approved of God. You cannot take cover using a Correlation Department, or a commentary, or a scholar’s words, or a selected bibliography. When you presume to preach the truth, you need to realize how serious a matter you are undertaking. Joseph Smith wrote from Liberty Jail: 
“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, according to the purposes of His will, from before the foundation of the world!”  (DHC 3: 295-6.)
When we speak about Christ and His Gospel with others, we should do so with a sense of terrible awe and fear. If we have doubts about our message, we should remain silent rather than risk proclaiming what may be an error. It is a burden to be carefully undertaken.
As Nephi warns about our day, there will be many who will teach vain, foolish and false things coming from the precepts of men.