Category: hosts

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.

2 Nephi 28: 32

“Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.” 

After all these warnings, the mention of Zion, the foolishness of following the “precepts of men” Nephi turns again to identifying the most relevant group being warned. It is “the gentiles” (or us). As he considers our collective effort and how we allow the “precepts of men” to be our guide, he states his overall conclusion about our performance: “Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts!”

This is the third wo. And it is accompanied by a three name title. This time incorporating the “Hosts” or Family of God. This is the Father’s judgment upon us. His status as the “Lord God of Hosts” is clearly intended to let us know those proud gentiles who rely upon  the sparks of their own fire as their light will lay down in sorrow. (Isa. 50: 11; 2 Ne. 7: 11.)

When the Lord’s open arm is extended all the day, they reject Him and walk away. They prefer their own false ideas to the truth found in Christ. In the end they have “denied the Lord” because all His efforts toward them have been rejected.
Still, despite all these failings, and all the wo’s pronounced upon them, it is NOT the Lord’s failure. It is the gentiles. Even now the Lord would welcome them “if they will repent and come to Him.” His arm is yet “lengthened out all the day long.” So long as life remains, He is pleading for our repentance. So long as we are here, He will welcome our repentance. And, so we do not miss the point, He also uses a three-name title when extending the plea to us for our repentance. He is speaking on behalf of, and as the chief among, all the “Hosts of heaven.”  The entire council would welcome us back, if we would but return.
Can you not sense the agony of this plea? Can you not feel the mercy God would grant to any penitent soul? Despite this, men prefer their arrogance, their own precepts, their own false teachings to being taught by the Holy Spirit. We refuse to repent because we prefer our false teachings. We prefer our traditions that build up our pride, and tell us we are going to be exalted because we are good and deserve God’s favor. We’ve put up with tithing, and with faithful meeting attendance, and followed faithfully all kinds of leaders in every ward and stake we’ve ever attended. We’ve passed temple recommend interviews and attended faithfully our tithing settlement meetings – in short we think we’ve done everything God could possibly ask of us. 
Except we have NOT repented and come to Christ. Had we done that, we would have been embraced in those opened arms of our Lord. In five points of contact with a loving God, we would have heard unspeakable things and know we escaped the wo’s pronounced by Nephi.
Nephi’s assessment of the gentile performance is consistently pessimistic. Coupled with Nephi’s description of a consistently open and accepting Lord who would welcome us at any time were we willing to repent.
Nephi’s message gets mangled in our distorted cultural rewriting of meanings. When someone points out what he’s saying, it produces anger and resentment. The result is not particularly encouraging for the gentiles. Not merely because of Nephi’s prophetic words, but also because of our reaction to them.