Category: faith

Faith Requires Correct Acts

James wrote, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18.) To the same effect, Lectures on Faith explain, “it is faith, and faith only, which is the moving cause of all action, in them; that without it, both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity, and all their exertions would cease, both physical and mental.” (Lecture First:10.) Faith sets man into action, and whatever it is that man believes he acts in conformity with that. All that is required to trap mankind is to have us accept false ideas. We cannot help but act in conformity with them–whether they are true or false.

Saving faith must be grounded upon a correct understanding of God’s will. As Lectures explain, there are some indispensable requirements for saving faith in God, including “a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.” (Lecture Third:4.) We cannot be wrong about God and have saving faith. If we misapprehend His character, we are darkened in our understanding and are likely to be misled. Faith in the only true and wise God gets replaced by worship of others thought to be among the hosts of heaven, like the evil king Manasseh. Manasseh brought into the temple altars to worship the “hosts of heaven” like the heathen (or Wiccan) do. This folly offended God, and God spoke to condemn it, but the people would not listen to God. (2 Chr. 33:2-10.) The false worship of the “hosts of heaven” brought the judgments of God upon those who should have known better. They were warned, failed to heed the warning, and were destroyed. (Zeph. 1:4-9.)

Faith likewise requires we have “an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.—For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Lecture Third:5.) It is impossible to disobey God and obtain the assurance from Him that a man is pursuing His will.

If we are not doing His will, He will not give us such an assurance. It is contrary to His nature to confirm to us we are pleasing Him when our acts displease Him. When a man or woman worships the hosts of heaven, a divine mother, false spirits, or pursues a course different from the one that follows God’s will, any “assurance” that we are pleasing God comes from a lying source. If we are deceived by a lying spirit, it is impossible to have faith. Joseph Smith said,”A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God.” (See Times and Seasons, April 1, 1842, “Try the Spirits.”) He also taught, “Lying spirits are going forth in the earth. There will be great manifestations of spirits, both false and true. … Every spirit, or vision, or singing, is not of God.” (DHC 3:391.)

Saving faith also requires worship of God by correctly identifying the object of your worship. We are authorized to extend faith in God as correctly identified in the Lectures. Whenever the subject is God, “the Godhead: we mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things—by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space—They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;—he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh—and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer, or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be. But notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God, and remained without sin: Showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin. And also, that by him a righteous judgment might come upon all flesh, and that all who walk not in the law of God, may justly be condemned by the law, and have no excuse for their sins. And he being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one, or in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things: by whom all things were created and made, that were created and made: and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one: The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power and fulness: Filling all in all—the Son being filled with the fulness of the Mind, glory and power, or, in other words, the Spirit, glory and power of the Father—possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom: sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father—a Mediator for man—being filled with the fulness of the Mind of the Father, or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father: which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments: and all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all: being filled with the fulness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.” (Lecture Fifth:1-2.)

This description of the Godhead excludes a mother-in-heaven, the hosts of heaven, and other extraneous objects of veneration. Faith must be centered in the God of heaven or it cannot save.

FAIR Conference

FAIR held a conference in Provo on August 6th and 7th. Presentations included the following speakers/topics:

Ed Pinegar: How to help young Latter-day Saints deal with criticisms against the Church and the doubts they cause while remaining faithful.

Margaret Barker: The Mother in Heaven and Her Children.

Brittany Chapman: An Act of Religious Conviction: Mormon Women and Nineteenth-Century Polygamy.

Ron Dennis: Captain Dan Jones: Defender of the Faith in Wales.

Brant Gardner: History and Historicity in the Book of Mormon.

James D. Gordon III: Faith and Scholarship.

Mrs. Brian D. Hales: Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding.

Cassandra Hedelius: A house of order, a house of God: Recycled challenges to the legitimacy of the church.

Michael R. Otterson: Correcting The Record.

Dan Peterson: The Reasonable Leap into Light: A Barebones Secular Argument for the Gospel.

Paul Reeve: From Not White Enough, to Too White: Rethinking the Mormon Racial Story.

Stephen Webb: Why Mormon Materialism Matters.

Lynne Wilson: Christ’s Emancipation of Women in the New Testament from their Cultural Background and Baggage.

These all sound like great presentations. But the LDS Church News only reported on two of the talks: Otterson’s talk (he is employed in the LDS Church Public Relations Department) and Hedelius, an attorney working for the government somewhere near Washington DC.

The LDS Church News article did not clearly identify what (or who) Hedelius was targeting. (See, Speaker identifies ‘spiritual threat’, August 16, 2015, p. 11.) That omission has been fixed by LDS Meridian Magazine which has now published her entire talk, with footnotes, here: “A House of Order; A House of God: Recycled Challenges to the legitimacy of the Church.” http://ldsmag.com/a-house-of-order-a-house-of-god-recycled-challenges-to-the-legitimacy-of-the-church/

Dan Peterson and Ed Pinegar are usually more noticed than an obscure speaker on her maiden voyage into FAIR.

Faith

The scriptures say that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6.) Have you thought about what that means? From the Lectures on Faith it is clear that faith is a “principle of action.” If it is a principle of action, whose action is it? Must you do something, and if so, what? What action must you take? What is the role you occupy in faith?

The Lectures on Faith also say that faith is a “principle of power.” What does that mean? Whose power? Is there a relationship between the action of man and the power of God?

Think of any great example of faith in scriptures and apply these questions to them. It can be as simple as David and Goliath, or as complicated as Elijah. After you have studied the example, ask yourself, “what action did the man or woman take? Why did they act in that way? What was the intention? How was God’s power used? Who controlled the power? More precisely, from what source did the power come? Is this principle of power connected with priesthood? (D&C 121:36.) If it is, then when any person exercises faith as a principle of power, are they exercising priesthood?

Signs

Signs do not produce faith. (D&C 63: 9.) Signs follow faith. (Id.)

Those who “seek signs” are wicked, often adulterous. (Matt. 12: 39, Matt. 16: 4.) Those who want a sign before they will believe cannot develop faith. (Ether 12: 6.)

Signs which follow faith do not come as a result of what men seek, but come as a result of what God wills. (D&C 63: 10.)

Signs, given by God, according to His will, create mighty works by men. (D&C 63: 11.) However, God’s mighty works are often accomplished by small means. Events that are “mighty even unto the power of deliverance” (1 Ne. 1: 20), can be accomplished by so little a means as God warning a family to flee. (1 Ne. 2: 2.)

God preserved His Son through “small means.” (Matt. 2: 13-14.)

The Lord preserved mankind through the destruction at the time of Noah using only a small family. (Gen. 7: 23.)

There will be “signs” and “small means” and “mighty works” still, but they will seem as nothing to those who do not believe. But to people of faith, they will be the power of God unto salvation.

A Question About “Seeds of Doubt”

This comment was a question I received this week: “You are hinting that we have ‘strayed from mine ordinances’ and broken the covenant as a people. Does this encourage faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? I would argue that it does not. You appear conflicted. You appear to be trying to plant seeds of doubt because of changes to the temple ceremonies over the years.”


This is a question only an idolator could ask. The question presumes the object of faith should be an institution. That is idolatry.


To the extent that the church teaches faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is of value. To the extent it teaches faith in itself, it will damn you.


Those who inherit the Telestial Kingdom, or the lowest condition in the afterlife apart from outer darkness, will keep company with liars, thieves and adulterers. (D&C 76: 103.) These damned folks, who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, (D&C 76: 106) are the ones who worship the church, but not Christ. They prefer the institutional leaders (D&C 76: 99-100) rather than receiving the testimony of Christ (D&C 76: 101).


These people are those who “love and make a lie” because the truth is not in them. (D&C 76: 103.) They lie about the terms of salvation. They substitute the commandments of men for faith in Christ. This is the heart of lying – to deceive on matters affecting the souls of mankind.


Let me be as clear as I possibly can: I am not trying to “encourage faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” That would damn anyone who would listen to me. I have tried to encourage activity in the church; to encourage payment of tithes, support of leadership, serving in callings, and living its standards. But NOT faith in the church.


I am trying to encourage faith in Jesus Christ. The Articles of Faith clarify who we are to have faith in: “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Article of Faith 4.)


It is incidental to that faith that we believe in a church organization. (Article of Faith 6.) Nowhere in the Articles of Faith, nor in the scriptures does it require anyone to have “faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” for salvation.


The person (or committee) who posed the question should repent. They suffer from a damning form of idolatry, denounced in scripture, which will condemn them to hell unless they repent– if the revelations from Jesus Christ can be trusted. If they teach this as doctrine to others, they are leading them astray.


As to the other part of the question – that the temple ordinances have been changed, let me be clear on that also. Yes, they have been changed. Your question admits it. We all know that is true. They have been substantially reworked, deleted, portions eliminated, whole characters removed from the presentation, and even the parts that are identified as “most sacred” have been altered. They certainly have been changed. I leave it for each person to decide the extent to which these alterations are or are not important to them.


I will add, however, that when a Dispensation of the Gospel is conferred on mankind through a Dispensation head (like Enoch, Moses, Joseph Smith) then those who live in that Dispensation are obligated to honor the ordinances laid down through the Dispensation head by the Lord. For so long as the ordinances remain unchanged, the ordinances are effective. When, however, the ordinances are changed without the Lord’s approval [THE critical question], they are broken. At that point, the cure is for the Lord to bestow a new Dispensation in which a new covenant is made available.


IF (and I leave it to you to answer that question) you decide the ordinances are now broken by the many changes, then you should look for the Lord to deliver them again. IF (and I leave it entirely to you to decide) the many changes were authorized by the Lord and approved by Him, then you have no concerns. The covenant was not broken. Everything continues intact. It would be curious to know why He changed them. Particularly when Joseph (the Dispensation head) said that couldn’t be done. But if your confidence is in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the instrument of salvation, then you should  not trouble yourself with this question. If your faith is in Christ, then take the matter up with Him and let Him explain to you what your state and standing is before Him. I know what mine is. I have no fear of His judgements.


I don’t know if I could be any more clear. Maybe I should add that if I were a church leader, I would never have agreed to any change ever to any of the ordinances. But I was not a church leader, and when the great changes were made in 1990 no one asked me to even sustain them. Those in charge imposed them. As a member, I wasn’t even afforded the chance to give a sustaining vote on the question. I have never been required to take a position, either by the church or the leaders or common consent. The church just DID it. To the extent that anyone is accountable for this, it cannot be me. That leaves everyone the freedom to decide individually what these things mean to them.


I would also add that if I’d been asked to vote I would have voted against it. Today, if the church provided periodic sessions using the earlier form, I would make it a practice to always attend only those sessions. I wish I could provide those for my own ancestors as I attend sessions now. I attended so frequently before the changes that, even today, when attending I still recite in my own mind missing portions of the ceremonies. I cannot avoid it. They are embedded and remain, despite not being present in the temple ceremony any longer.


Have faith in Christ. He doesn’t change. (1 Ne. 10: 18; 2 Ne. 27: 23Moroni 10: 7, among many others.) I concede that it’s weird an unchanging God has a predeliction in this Dispensation of changing His ordinances. He, at least, doesn’t change. If you lose your idolatry and anchor faith in Him, you will be fine.


So, where does that leave us with the issue of “seeds of doubt?” I doubt:
-men
-institutions
-lies
-foolishness
-vanity
-error
-pomposity
-arrogance
-ignorance
-good intentions
-the value of sincerity
-the commandments of men
-the present generation
-the popular solutions to most problems
-Hollywood
-opposing attorneys
-Chief Justice Roberts’ reasoning
-quantative easing as a long term solution
-quantative easing as a short term solution
-the assumptions contained in the question I have answered in this post.


But I do NOT doubt Christ.

Salvation and Signs

There are “signs” that show a person is not apostate. Mormon’s teachings to his son recount the signs which show God is saving souls. These teachings are in Chapter 7 of Moroni’s book. The whole text is worth careful study.

Moroni records that God will let all mankind know with power and great glory at the last day that “the day of miracles” has never ceased. (Moroni 7: 35.) Nor have angels ceased to appear and teach those who are in need of instruction. (Moroni 7: 36.) Nor has the “power” of the Holy Ghost receded. (Id.) This is because these things are required for “one man upon the face [of the earth] to be saved.” (Id.)

When there is faith, there are miracles. (Moroni 7: 37.) When there is faith, then angels minister to the faithful. (Id.)

If the time comes when there are no more miracles and there are no more angels ministering to mankind, then it is because of “unbelief, and all is lost.” (Id.)

Moroni explains in simplicity and clarity: “For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.” (Moroni 7: 38.)

The priestly tradition mentioned here can provide the rites, teach the doctrine and preserve the truth, but the underlying reality must be pursued for salvation. Moroni explains how we must push beyond the mere symbol to the reality.

Rites may teach us about conversing with the Lord through the veil. However, when the rite is over it leaves you with only the idea, the outline, the admonition of how the Gospel operates. Then it is up to you to pursue the practice of the rites by your life, your faithfulness, and calling upon God to know Him.

Signs do not produce faith and never have. Signs do, always, and will forever, follow faith. (D&C 63: 9.) Moroni taught sound doctrine.

For each of us, the priestly tradition is never enough. Ancient Israel had their rites, observances, feasts and rituals. They could acquire ceremonial cleanliness by following the rules for purification. But, as the Lord observed, outward cleanliness can belie the inward filth if they failed to connect with God. (Matt. 23: 25-28.) It is always easier to be ritually clean and religiously pure than it is to be approved of God. It is much easier to rise inside an organization than it is to part the veil.

However, for those who seek God, no amount of praise in this world can tempt them to ignore the path of faith where they encounter the Holy Ghost, angels, the Lord, and the Father. (John 14: 23; D&C 130: 3.)

Mosiah 3: 10

The angel’s message in Mosiah 3: 10 is the same as Zenos’ message. Zenos prophesied more than a century before Lehi left Jerusalem. His record was on the brass plates obtained from Laban. During the three days in the tomb, Zenos added the detail that the isles of the sea (which included the Americas/2 Ne. 10: 20) would be given the sign of three days of darkness. (1 Ne. 19: 10.) King Benjamin knew this information from existing scripture. Once the angel declared it, however, rather than having belief in the account based on study, he would have faith of the event because the angel told it from heaven. The Book of Mormon regularly moves one from belief, to faith, to knowledge. This is an example of moving from belief based on study of scripture, to faith based on the testimony of an angel.

Not only would the Lord rise from the dead, but He would also “stand to judge the world.” That is an important reference. It identifies the Lord’s status as judge, and it clarifies He would “stand” to judge the world. The word “stand” is symbolic. It implies, among many other things:
-He will endure.
-He will be in control.
-He will triumph.
-He will rise up.
-He will command respect and obedience.

However, the strongest implication is that after death He will return to life to “stand” to judge the world. He who passed through the grave, and triumphed over it, will live again as the triumphant judge of the living and dead –  for He has been both.

He gains capacity as He passes through these states. He does all these things “that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.” Or, the judge will necessarily experience all He will go through so He can understand all things required for a proper judgment. (See D&C 88: 41.)

God’s mercy is extended to all who have “fallen by the transgression of Adam” or, the death that comes upon mankind will be defeated. (D&C 88: 14-17.) Christ’s death, or His “blood atoneth” for mankind’s death. Through the infinite sacrifice of an innocent life, death is satisfied. It would be unjust to ask for more than an everlasting life, for by definition that life is infinite. Christ deserved everlasting life. Instead He submitted to death.

“The sins” of Adam’s descendants are paid, also. He will blot them out. However, those who refuse to repent, or turn away from their sins will remain “filthy still.” (D&C 88: 35.) They may have the power to return from the grave through Christ’s grace. However, if they refuse to abandon their sins, forgiving them will accomplish nothing. Because they love their sins, they remain as if there were no redemption made.

All those who died without knowing the will of God are also benefited by His atonement. For them it will be “tolerable” in the day of resurrection. (D&C 45: 54.) Though they may not have received a fullness because they failed to qualify (D&C 130: 20-21), they may still be “added upon.” (Abr. 3: 26.) Joseph explained it this way: “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.” (King Follett Discourse, TPJS, p.348.)

No one can arrive at the throne of God in any other way than all have taken to arrive there. Everyone develops the same way, through the successive stages of Jacob’s Ladder.

Christ’s atonement makes it possible for all of us to attempt that trek.

3 Nephi 14: 9-11

3 Nephi 14: 9-11:

“Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
 
This is not self-evident. If it were, then there would be more people with faith. The truth revealed here is that God is always going to bestow a worthy gift upon the person requesting it.

He will not give you a “stone” if you request “bread.” He will give you “bread.” He knows the difference. He will not disappoint you.

 
He knows better than any kind and caring earthly father what the needs of His children are. He intends to meet them.

However, when His children ask for something, (“bread”) and they do not yet qualify to receive, He sets about preparing them to receive it. He is willing to give. We are not always prepared to receive. Therefore, when He intends to bestow the gift upon the person requesting it, He first prepares the vessel.
 
We are impatient. We want quickly what can sometimes only be obtained in patience. We are in a rush, but our development requires patience. Some things require time and persistence to prepare us for the blessing we seek. Joseph remarked: “The things of God are of deep import, and time, experience, and careful and ponderous, and solemn thoughts, can only find them out.” This is the way of God. It is adapted to give us what we lack, even if we are unaware of what we lack.
 
The Father always intends to give to those who ask, seek and knock just as Christ has explained. However, the Father knows “much more” than do we as to how to “give good things to them that ask.” He will not merely give the thing requested. He will add to it such things as are needed to prepare you to receive them.
 
This, then, is the process: We ask. Without a request, the laws governing things prevent bestowal. We can’t be given until first we ask.
 
When we have asked, the Father will give. He will give “every good gift” needed, and not just what has been asked. If there is, (as is almost always the case) a gulf between what you have asked of Him, and your capacity to receive it, then He will set about giving you every needful thing to enable you to receive.
 
If you ask for strength, He will provide you with that experience necessary to develop the strength you seek. If you seek for patience you will be given Divinely ordained experiences by Him that are calculated to develop in you what you have sought. He knows you and knows what you need. Whatever is asked of Him, He will set about to ordain.
 
It will come in a perfectly natural progression. It will occur in accordance with both natural and eternal law. If you fight against it, you prolong the time when you will receive what you have asked of Him. If you cooperate, it will flow unto you without compulsory means in a natural progression. (D&C 121: 46.)
 
If you do not ask, it will not be given. If you do not seek, you cannot possibly find. If you are unwilling to knock, the door will remain shut to you. But if you do these things, then you must cooperate with Him as He prepares you to receive what He will bestow.

After asking, seeking and knocking, then a process is invoked in which the Father prepares you to receive. You will receive as soon as He can prepare you by experience, by careful, thoughtful, ponderous thought through time and experiences adapted to give you what is asked. When, at last, you have been adequately prepared, you will have gone through exactly what every other soul before you has experienced to prepare them. There are no shortcuts. There are no exceptions. It is in accordance with laws ordained before the foundation of the world. Everyone who has obtained what you seek will have done so in conformity with the very same laws. The Father will work with you to prepare you to receive what you seek.
 
This is a reaffirmation by Christ of the process and the Father’s role in bringing it to pass. If you trust Him, trust also His Father’s deliverance of you. You will be delivered. You will receive from Him who knows how to bestow every good gift what you have asked of Him.

3 Nephi 14: 7-8

 
“Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”
 
Just after the caution to not give holy things to the unworthy, Christ reminds all of their obligation to ask, seek and knock. If you will ask it will be given to you. If you seek, you will find it. If you knock, things will be opened to you.  But be careful not to give what is holy to the unworthy.

These ideas are related in two ways:
 
First, if you want what is holy, then stop being a “dog” or a “swine.” Ask, seek and knock.
 
Second, if you are one who is qualified and will receive holy things by your willingness to be repentant, then press forward by asking, seeking and knocking. If you do, the things which are most holy will be given.
 
“For every one that asketh, receiveth.” Really? Everyone? Even you? That is what Christ is saying. However, the manner in which you will receive is illustrated by “The Missing Virtue” in Ten Parables. Meaning that the effort to receive what you have asked the Lord could take nearly two decades, and a great deal of internal changing before you acquire what you lack. Receiving may include not only what you’ve asked to receive, but also everything you do not have in order to finally qualify to receive what you seek.
 
What do you associate with “findeth?” Does it suggest to you active effort, or passive receipt? To “find” something you are missing (even a small thing) what must you do? If searching is required to locate, then what do you suppose the Lord is implying by the word “findeth?”
 
What does it mean that “it shall be opened?” Does “opening” imply merely a view? Does it suggest also ‘entering in?’ If it opens to view, and you then fail to ‘enter in’ has “opening” been worthwhile? Has anything been accomplished?  Does it suggest that there is activity required of someone who has something “opened” unto them?
 
It is my view that the words chosen all imply a burden upon the one who asks, seeks and knocks. They are not entitled to anything just by speaking the words. They must make the effort to search into and contemplate the things they seek. Then they must change and repent of everything amiss in their lives that is revealed to them. This is to be done before they can see what is to be shown to them. If, for example, a person wants to see the other side of the mountain, they can ask daily for a view to be opened to them without ever seeing the other side. But if the Lord prompts them to take the path to the top, the Lord has given them the means to “find” and “have opened” to them the very thing they seek. Provided, of course, they are willing to walk in the path to the top of the mountain. When they remain on the valley floor, asking or demanding more, they are not really asking, seeking and knocking. They are  irritating and ungrateful. The Lord’s small means are capable of taking the one who seeks to the very thing they desire. (Alma 37: 7.) But without cooperation with Him they can receive nothing.
 
The Lord’s small means are how great things are brought to pass. (1 Ne. 16: 29.) But for some people the Lord’s answers are never enough. However, when the humble who ask, seek and knock follow Him in these small means, they will eventually stand in His presence and partake of eternal life. But not until they have done as all others have done before them. Faith is only replaced by knowledge when the faith is strong enough to rend the veil. At that point, there is no great advantage to the person who has already attained to this understanding by their faith. I’ve written about this in The Second Comforter. It is a true principle and remains true even today.

3 Nephi 12: 2

 
“And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.” 
 
Some people are given knowledge. (D&C 46: 13.)  This would include the Prophet Joseph Smith. Others believe on their words and trust in Christ through what they have learned from witnesses of Him. (D&C 46: 14.) This would include President Thomas S. Monson, who in last General Conference testified he has no question about the testimonies of those who have seen Him. As President Monson testified: “I have read—and I believe—the testimonies of those who experienced the grief of Christ’s Crucifixion and the joy of His Resurrection. I have read—and I believe—the testimonies of those in the New World who were visited by the same risen Lord. I believe the testimony of one who, in this dispensation, spoke with the Father and the Son in a grove now called sacred and who gave his life, sealing that testimony with his blood. Declared he: ‘And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father.’ The darkness of death can always be dispelled by the light of revealed truth. ‘I am the resurrection, and the life,’ spoke the Master.Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.’ Over the years I have heard and read testimonies too numerous to count, shared with me by individuals who testify of the reality of the Resurrection and who have received, in their hours of greatest need, the peace and comfort promised by the Savior.” (He is Risen!, Sunday Morning Session, April, 2010 Session; footnotes omitted.)
 
Why would someone be “more blessed” because they “believe in the words” of those who have “seen Christ” than those who have seen Him? What is it about believing on the words of those who have seen which is “more blessed” than the ones who see Him?
 
Notice once again the connection between having seen the Lord and “ye know that I am.” Notice the use of “I am” in the statement of the Lord about Himself.
 
Now note too how the “believing in the words” is not enough, because He adds action to the belief. That is, those who “believe in your words” are required then to “come down into the depths of humility and be baptized” for the “blessing” to have any effect. It is not enough for someone to be moved to believe when they hear a witness of Christ, they must also respond to His invitation to be baptized. Before being baptized they need also to “come down into the depths of humility.” The intention and inner meaning are everything. But the outward act confirms the inner change which takes place.
 
Action is married to belief and intent. Both are necessary.
 
When it is done in faith, sincerity, complying with the steps the Lord has prescribed, He promises to visit the obedient “with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” This is how a person will know they have received “a remission of their sins.”
 
The instructions of the Lord are intended to change lives. Change is repentance. And repentance leads to redemption. He expects our behavior to mirror our beliefs, because if behavior does not model our professed beliefs then we are hypocrites – not converts.

This is why commandments are given to us. They tell us how we can continue to receive and renew a continuing conversion to Christ’s way of life.  Commandments are not a burden to bear but a roadmap to follow. They are not a measuring stick to judge and then abuse others. It is a light for us to follow.

These explanations by Christ are beyond the question of “faith verses works” because Christ is telling us we act from our heart in faith, receive ordinances because of our faith, then have our hearts filled again. We proceed from grace to grace. This is how Christ received the fullness, and the only way we may receive the fullness. (D&C 93: 12-14, 19-29.)

 
The task of knowing God always begins by trusting on the words of those who have seen Him. But it should never end there. Everyone is invited to lay aside their sins, call upon God in faith, obey His commandments, listen to the voice of inspiration and do as you are told, thereby coming to see Him face-to-face. (D&C 93: 1.) This is the reason for the book The Second Comforter. It is a manual for how any person can come back into the presence of the Lord and join those witnesses who can testify they have seen Him.
 
He lives. And He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

3 Nephi 11: 37-38

“And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.”
Repentance is not likely unless a person is willing to undergo a change to become more “childlike” in perspective and attitude. I’ve written a chapter on this in The Second Comforter. I used that as the basis for my comments at the recent Chiasmus Conference. It is more than just an analogy or good advice. It is a prerequisite. It is the only way you can “inherit the kingdom of God.”
Children are open to change and willing to learn. They welcome new ideas for all ideas are new to them. The world is new to them. They feel their ignorance and are anxious to fill it with information and understanding. They know they are unable to cope with the world they live in unless they obtain more understanding than they have. So they relentlessly search to know more.
On the other hand, adults are generally closed. They believe they already know something, and therefore are unwilling to receive more. (2 Nephi 28: 29.)
Adults learn disciplines of study and then think the Gospel should be viewed by the tools of the scholar. To the economist, all of the Gospel appears to be financial. To the philosopher, all of the Gospel appears to be dialectic. To the lawyer it is a legal system. But the Gospel is separate from the understanding of men. It requires us to surrender our arrogance and foolishness and come as a child to learn anew everything about life and truth. This is why the Gospel always begins with creation, informs of the Fall, and preaches the Atonement.
We must “repent” because the foundation of accepting new truth begins with the realization that we’re not getting anywhere by what we’ve already done. We need to abandon old ways and begin anew. Until we are open to the new truths offered through the Gospel, we can’t even start the journey. We’re headed in the wrong direction and don’t even know it. First we need to realize our direction is wrong. Then stop going that way. When we turn to the new direction, we’ve begun repenting. (2 Cor. 5: 17.)
From repentance comes light and truth. At first, just turning to face the new direction is a great revelation. But you’ve not seen anything until you walk in that direction for a while. As you move toward the light and receive more, the world itself changes meaning and nothing you used to think important remains important. (Isa. 65: 17.)
Becoming as a little child, or repenting, must precede baptism if you are to be saved. Otherwise, you cannot “receive these things” or, in other words, you cannot accept the new truths and perspectives the Gospel will require you to know and accept. Unless these steps are taken you cannot “inherit the kingdom of God” because only such people will be able to enter.

Teachable. Open. Willing to receive more. Able to endure difficulties as a result of the changes which come to them. Patient. Submissive to God.  And eager to learn more. (Mosiah 3: 19.)

Not arrogant. Not trying to fit the new truths into your existing framework of false notions. (Mark 2: 22.) Not resisting truth and arguing against it. (1 Tim. 6: 4-6.) Not proud or boastful, secure in your own salvation. (Luke 18: 11.) Not holding a testimony that you will be saved while others around you will be lost because they do not believe as you do. (Alma 31: 14-18.)
How few there will be who find it. (Matt. 7: 14; 3 Ne. 14: 14; 3 Ne. 27: 33; D&C 132: 22.) Most people are simply unwilling to repent.  They have such truth as they are willing to receive already, and want nothing more. (2 Nephi 28: 14-15.)
Even Christ is unable to persuade them to accept His Gospel.

2 Nephi: 28: 28

“And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.”

This is the constant problem. People do not care about religion. So when someone like Nephi delivers a message to the audience that is threatening because it contradicts their presumptions, they get upset. They are fearful. They “tremble, and are angry.” When Nephi puts out the message, he knows those he addresses are going to react in a very negative way. He will become the object of their distrust and dislike.

But Nephi reminds the audience that it isn’t him they have a problem with. It is “the truth of God.”
There are two reactions: One is anger, because it condemns them. The other is gladness. Those who are “built upon the rock” –meaning Christ– have their hope and faith in Him, for He is the “Rock of Heaven,”(Moses 7: 53) and they “receive it with gladness.” 
Those who are “built upon a sandy foundation” will “tremble.” This would mean they are struck with fear. They are afraid of the message. They fear because they begin to realize their religious convictions may be wrong. They are afraid they “shall fall,” or in other words, if the message is true then they may be doomed and their high hopes dashed.

They would rather be angry and try and suppress the message than to receive it and repent. If someone has a good heart, then any warning is appreciated. Even if it informs them they are mistaken. They want truth. So a warning is appreciated when it permits them to correct their errors. These people are built upon the Rock, because truth alone determines what they will accept. They “hearken to the truth” because they are interested in knowing truth.

This message from Nephi reminds all of us about the difference between those who are grounded in the testimony of Jesus (the Rock) and those who hope their brand of religion will aid them (the sand). False hopes are quickly threatened when exposed to the truth. Knowledge that you are built upon the testimony of Jesus, however, cannot be shaken. Critics will be ground into dust by such a stone, but will not damage it. (Daniel 2: 45.) Those with such knowledge would suffer death, but not deny the Lord.  (Mosiah 17: 10.) Though called upon to suffer for His name, they will not submit, but choose to die secure in the knowledge they have of Christ. (D&C 138: 13-14.)
This kind of faith requires sacrifice, as explained in the Lectures on Faith previously posted. The Book of Mormon calls it “knowledge” and that lecture requires you “actually know the course you are pursuing is pleasing to God.” That is, whether you call it “faith” as the Lectures do, or “knowledge” as the Book of Mormon does, it is the same. You must come to know Christ has accepted your sacrifices. You should re-read that if you want to reacquaint yourself with the requirements for gaining such faith.

3 Nephi 21: 1

Now we jump to late in His ministry where Christ is teaching the Nephites. We pick it up in 3 Nephi, Chapter 21:
 
 
And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place—that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion;”
 
Christ is telling the Nephites (and us) about timing. He will provide a “sign” to those who watch for such things. Contrary to what you’ve heard all your life about “signs,” they are and always have been part of the true Gospel. They invariably follow faith, but do not and never have produced faith. (D&C 63: 9-10.) There are examples of signs throughout God’s dealings with those who follow Him. (See, e.g., Helaman 14: 4; Ezek. 24: 24; Ex. 10: 2; Acts 2: 22, among many others.) We are supposed to see signs, that we may know God is dealing with us. (D&C 68: 10-11.)
 
Christ is giving a sign to us so we may understand when His Father’s promises are being fulfilled.
 
The time when His Father’s covenants are to be fulfilled will be the moment when Christ will “gather in, from their long dispersion, my people.” Note it is “I” meaning Christ, who will do the gathering. Christ is the great husbandman of this, the Lord’s vineyard. It is Christ who will personally do the gathering. How do you suppose Christ will “gather in” those whom He calls “His people?”

Notice how the gathered are referred to by Christ as “my people” and “house of Israel” and “my Zion.” When the gathering is complete, the various groups are no longer separately identified. On the other side of this gathering they will be “one” people and a restored “house of Israel.”

 
But note the sequence:
 
First, gathering in from a long dispersion.
 
Second, they convert into “my people” or the “house of Israel.”

Then they are “established” as “Zion.”

 
Why does the Lord refer to it as “my Zion?” Can you have Zion without the Lord’s presence? Can there be Zion without the Lord dwelling among them? (Moses 7: 16-18.) Notice in Enoch’s City that it was the Lord who came and dwelt there, then later the Lord is the one who names or calls the people “Zion.”
 
When the Lord calls it “my Zion” how literal is this? How directly will the Lord be involved?

If you want to have a place there, do your connections in a church, organization, fraternity, fellowship, quorum or brotherhood matter? If not, what association alone will allow you to participate? How important is the “testimony of Jesus?”
 
Read again the description of the group of Saints who are included with those who will comprise Zion. As you read, keep in mind all we have discussed up to this point as you recognize familiar words used below:
 
“51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—

  52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;

  53 And who overcame by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.

  54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.

  55 They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—

  56 They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;

  57 And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.

  58 Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—

  59 Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

  60 And they shall overcome all things.

  61 Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet.

  62 These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.” D&C 76: 51-62.)
 
These, then are Zion.These are those who become “one” and are called by the Lord after they are gathered in the “house of Israel” and “my Zion.”

Alma 13: 29

Alma 13: 29:

“Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.”

Here you have faith, hope and charity (or love). You only have a fraction of the understanding of what faith in the Lord means until you have done as Alma is explaining here. True “faith” which is a principle of power, is acquired by the method Alma is preaching.

Hope that one can receive eternal life is not the vague optimism that it might happen – it is a certitude. You have the promise. You know you will have eternal life. You haven’t died and entered into the resurrected state yet. Between the time of the promise and the time you leave this sphere, you have hope. (The way it is used here is defined in Eighteen Verses.)

When God has promised you eternal life then you have “the love of God always in your heart.” It is there through the indelible promise He has made. He has changed your status. He has declared through His own voice what great thing you have become. Therefore it is by knowledge alone that such love resides in the heart of man.

This life will end. But you will be raised up. You know when you are lifted up in the last day it will be the power of God that raises you.  Such power as God employs to lift a man up confers upon such a person eternal life. The promise alone is a power, conferring the right to lay hold on eternal life when the moment comes. No power in earth or hell can rescind God’s word.  (D&C 1: 38.)  It cannot be done. Therefore, you have knowledge that you will not only be raised from the dead, but “lifted up” as well.  Powers, principalities, dominions, exaltations are all promised as yours.

This is how you attain to “rest.” It is the “rest of the Lord” as soon as the promise is made by Him. It is His rest when you inherit it in the last day. The words of the promise are enough to guarantee the inheritance. Therefore once the promise is made it is true enough that you have entered into the rest of the Lord. However, until you depart this life, you remain subject to the difficulties of mortality.  Graduation is assured, but you must tarry for a little while here.
As one possessing this hope, being filled with faith, hope and charity, it becomes your responsibility to raise up others. Hence the ministry of Alma, and Alma’s exposition on the ministry of Melchizedek. God does send true messengers. They can lead you in the way of life and salvation.

Alma 13:4


“And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.” 

The result of what went on before is the reason for the ordination or calling.  That is, “thus they have been called.”  Meaning that all of what went into the earlier experiences i.e., being left to choose between good and evil, and having chosen good, having “faith” and good works, is the reason for their ordination. These souls are not novices. They are not getting authority here for the first time. They come with power from beyond this earth, bringing it with them to this earth. They qualified before and elsewhere.  

All of this is “on account of their faith.” All things are obtained through faith. That is explained in the Sixth Lecture, quoted here.  Faith is a principle of power. It is capable of making things happen. There must be a connection between faith and power; between faith and priesthood. 

Others reject the Spirit of God and, therefore, do not have this power.  These others may claim to have authority, but they do not really receive power from the Spirit of God.  They are animated by a different source.  

What, then, causes someone who has a little authority “as they suppose” (they don’t really have it, you see), to attempt to use that pretense to control and dominate others?  The answer is contained in revelations already in print. It is their pride, their insecurities, the need to control, to be praised and celebrated, the need to gratify their vain ambition. These are character flaws. They cover up these flaws by claiming to have priestly authority from God.  (D&C 121: 34-44.)

They are the world’s Pharaohs, not the world’s Abraham’s. Their hearts are hard, their minds blind.  

They do not hear the Spirit of God, and therefore none of the powers of heaven are with them.

This was/is their choice. They could have had the same privilege.  But, alas, they prefer instead their own aggrandizement. They prefer monuments built with their names engraven on them. There is no message of truth and hope coming from them. Their words (the only things which really endure), will fall to the ground unfulfilled.  They will not be remembered.  They will return without a saved soul.

What stunning doctrines we have stumbled upon here!  I’m getting worried about things as I look about. This Book of Mormon is alarming…