Category: power

LDS Temple Ordinances

Can LDS Temple ordinances have “power?”

It is an interesting question. The answer depends on each individual who participates. The ordinances can be either meaningless (or worse) or they can be beneficial.

Temple rites communicate information through symbols. If we look at the underlying meaning, and see more light and truth through them, then they can powerfully instruct and edify.

The rites warn us we need to be “true and faithful in all things” when we seek “further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord through the veil”–which is very good. Faithfulness to what light we’ve been given is a prerequisite for getting more light. Knowing that gaining further light and knowledge is possible, actually expected, is essential. Believing that God will converse with us is also foundational to salvation.

Perhaps the greatest idea is that we can converse with God through the veil preliminary to entering into His presence. In that idea is found the promise of communication with God, followed by Him allowing us to visit with Him through the veil. Every soul who has faith in that and acts consistent with their faith will obtain the most glorious assurances from God. They will not be barren or unfruitful in their knowledge.

If the rites are viewed as some authoritative guarantee of something in the afterlife, without regard to our need to search, they can be destructive. Instead of a humility and meekness before God, the false idea that the rites make you special, chosen or better than others can lead to pride and arrogance. That separates us from God. It increases the distance between ourselves and the light of truth. Such an approach makes the rites a tragic and negative misstep instead of a blessing.

I would encourage everyone to reflect on the message of the temple rites. In the right frame of mind, their symbols are useful. The form presently presented in LDS Temples is still a useful collection of symbolic teaching about the mortal quest to find God.

Scriptures, 2

“[T]hey are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him; To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves; That through the power and manifestation of the Spirit, while in the flesh, they may be able to bear his presence in the world of glory.” (D&C 76: 116-117.)

“And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks.” (1 Ne. 14: 1.)

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?

BFHG, Conclusion

The “third member of the Godhead” is still in a probationary state. “The Holy Ghost is now in a state of probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has.” (WJS, p. 245,  27 August 1843.) Perhaps you understand that now.

The Holy Ghost is “a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” (D&C 130: 22.) It is “the testator” of the Father and the Son. (TPJS, p. 190.) Perhaps you understand that now.

The baptism of water is unto repentance. It is done upon the body you occupy. You no doubt should understand that.

The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is unto sanctification. It is done upon the body and Spirit within you. Perhaps you understand that now.

There is “power” which sustains everything, as we have discussed over the last two weeks. (D&C 88: 13.) That power is called the Holy Spirit. Among its many attributes is the Holy Ghost. But no matter what you think you know, there is always more to learn. The responsibility to teach what cannot be said is reserved for God. God teaches, or “reveals” to man through the Holy Ghost the deep things of God. Hence the saying by Joseph that “the Holy Ghost is a revelator” and “you cannot receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelation.” (TPJS, p. 328.)

Man was made in the image of God. (Moses 2: 27.) Man’s destiny is to be redeemed. God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the eternal life and exaltation of man. (Moses 1: 39.) That work is not completed until you sit upon the same Throne as Christ and His Father. (Rev. 3: 21-22.)

Nothing here is static. Things in this sphere are either growing or decaying. There is either increase or decrease. These two opposing forces bring new life into this world and then decay and destroy it. Then it is recycled as another life rises from and uses the elements of the prior, deceased plant, animal or man. The purpose of baptism of “fire and the Holy Ghost” is to preserve and to purge a living being. It is to render indestructable the organism upon which it descends. It is not to prevent earthly death, but to allow eternal life. Christ’s Gospel is to bring eternal life so that those who die may live again eternally. (John 11: 25.) These people never die, because they live eternally through the fire bestowed upon them. (John 11: 26.) Such eternal life begins now, while still in the flesh. They live here as members of another assembly, and then pass from here to join them again. (D&C 76: 67.) Though they are men in the flesh, they are gods, even the sons of God, and all things are given unto them. (D&C 76: 58-60.)

Yet in all this man cannot glory in man, but must glory in God. The victory is His alone. (D&C 76: 61.)

This topic cannot be adequately explained by man to another man, but it can be known to any man through God. It is intended that all should be converted and experience this, including you. Be believing. Ask. Seek. Knock. It will be opened to you, as it has for all those who are faithful and trusting of God.

The Holy Ghost is not only “the Comforter” but also:
-the record of heaven.
-the truth of all things.
-that which quickeneth all things.
-that which maketh alive all things.
-that which knoweth all things.
-that which has all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment.
(Moses 6: 61.)

Therefore I say unto you: “receive the Holy Ghost.”

Forsake, come, call, obey, keep, see, and KNOW

I had a discussion about the difficulty of rising above the sins of this world. It was provoked by the recent post on adultery. It has in turn led to these additional thoughts.
 
It is impossible to become altogether clean in this fallen world. We can do our best, but in the end we’re going to find we are lacking. The scriptures admit this. The proposition is so fundamentally understood among most saints that it goes without saying. We’re all in need of redemption from an outside power, someone with greater virtue and power than we have, who can lift us from our condition into something higher, cleaner, and more godly. This is the role of Christ. His atoning sacrifice equipped Him to accomplish this.
 
The atonement, however, is not magic. Through it, Christ accomplished some very specific things, and has the power to lead us all back to the presence of God, the Father. The process was difficult for Him and is necessarily difficult for us.
 
Christ participated in the ordinance of the atonement to acquire two things. First, knowledge. (Isa. 53: 11.) It is through His knowledge He is able to “justify many.” The knowledge was acquired through His suffering the pains of all mankind. That allowed Him to know exactly what weaknesses afflict mankind, and how to overcome them. This allows Him to succor, or relieve, or teach mankind how to overcome every form of guilt, affliction, and weakness. (Alma 7: 11-12.) This knowledge was gained by suffering guilt and remorse for sins He did not commit exactly as if He were the one who committed them. He performed this great burden before His Father, who would never leave Him; even in His hour of temptation, despite the fact that all His followers would abandon Him. (John 16: 32.) When He suffered the guilt of all mankind, it was necessary for His Father to draw near to Him. (Luke 22: 42-43.) This was required because it is impossible for Christ to know how to redeem mankind from the guilt and shame of sin unless He experiences the pains of uncleanliness before God the Father, as mankind will do if they are unclean in the day of judgment. (Mormon 9: 4-5.) Unlike all of us, however, Christ knows how to overcome this shame because He has done so.
 
Second, Christ acquired the keys of death and hell by suffering, reconciling, dying, rising, and reuniting with the Father. (Rev. 1: 18.) Because the keys of death and hell belong to Him, He has the power of forgiveness. He can forgive all men all offenses. But He requires us to forgive others. (D&C 64: 9-10.)  If we fail to forgive others, we cannot be forgiven. (Matt. 6: 15.)
 
We do not move from our state of evil to redemption by Christ’s sacrifice alone. It is required for us to follow Him. (John 10: 27.) We follow Him when we allow Him to succor us, to impart knowledge to us, and to forgive others through His knowledge gained from the atonement.
 
Through the keys of death and hell, Christ’s atonement cleanses us from our errors, our failings, and our deliberate wrong choices. He provides cleansing from those failings. But His atonement does not change our character unless we follow Him. The atonement, if properly acted upon, frees us to develop character like His, unencumbered by the guilt of what we’ve failed to do. He removes our guilt. But developing character like His is our responsibility.
 
We cannot be passive and obtain what He offers. We are required to actively pursue the redemption we seek through Him. When the sin is removed from us, we are free to pursue virtue without the crippling effects of remorse which He removes from us. (Alma 24: 10.) When freed from the guilt of sin, the past mistakes no longer haunt us. Our sins are no longer remembered by the Lord, and we are free to confess and forsake them. (D&C 58: 42-43.) The reason we can publicly confess them is because they are no longer us. They do not define us. It is no longer our sin, nor our character. We have chosen to follow Him into a new life.
 
The development of a godly character happens in stages, gradually. We are forgiven in an instant, suddenly. (Alma 36: 18-20.) When forgiven we necessarily turn to a new life, in which sharing the joy of forgiveness and the joy of redemption through Christ is our abiding desire. (Alma 36: 24.) The mind changes in proportion to the joy found in the new life. (Romans 8: 5-6.) Such new people are no longer the sons of men, but they become the sons of God. (Romans 8: 14-17.) They know the joy of having the voice of the Father declare to them that they have been begotten by the Father and are the sons of God. (Psalms 2: 7.) 
 
Remaining mired in the flesh is evidence a man has not been redeemed, not been succored by Christ, not accepted the saving knowledge which He can impart, and has not risen up to receive salvation. The atonement is not active in such lives. The fullness of the atonement is the fullness of knowledge, which comes by following Him and abiding the conditions. No one can receive what He offers unless they conform to the conditions He has established for redemption. (D&C 93: 27-28.)
 
This is the Gospel of Christ. This is the news which comes from the Lord – the Messenger of Salvation. Those who know Him will declare these things in unmistakable words to allow others to come and partake of the same fruit of the tree of life. All the other vitrues, causes, programs and, “inspirational stories” are distractions which, if indulged in to the neglect of these other things, will damn you. 
“Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am; And that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world; And that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one—The Father because he gave me of his fulness, and the Son because I was in the world and made flesh my tabernacle, and dwelt among the sons of men.” (D&C 93: 1-4.) 
 
I am not that Light. But I have seen that Light and can testify He lives, and His atoning work continues today among all of those who will receive Him. If you will receive Him, He will not leave you comfortless, but He will come and take up His abode with you. (John 14: 18.) Not only Him, but the Father also. (John 14: 23.) This is literal, and the idea this is only an abode “in your heart” is false; for they will come and make themselves known to you. (D&C 130: 3.) Eternal life is to know Him. (John 17: 3.) This means to come into His presence again. (Ether 3: 19.)
 
These things are the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Anyone who teaches otherwise is in error and a deceiver.

Dolores Umbridge

In the Harry Potter series, I like how Dolores Umbridge turns questioning her actions into questioning the Ministry of Magic.  And by extension questioning the Minister of Magic.  What a power-hungry wench she was.  She parlayed herself and her every move or decision by extension into the acts of the very pinnacle of their social authority.  It is a sort of pathology you only see in very unhealthy social groups who are ruled by fear and intimidation.  I thought it was brilliant of J.K. Rowling to envision such a character.

Perfect love casts out all fear.  (Moroni 8: 16.)

Peter gave instruction about how the church ought to operate.  It was never through fear or intimidation; but through gentle example: “I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 5: 1-4.)
What a marvel the Gospel of Jesus Christ is in all its details.  When it appears on the earth, it appears in weakness, does not force itself upon the world, and persuades others to the truth.  When it is lost, then religion turns into the means to control and exercise compulsion.  It becomes all that Catholicism was.  Though, in truth, once the Protestant Reformation gathered power it greatly improved Catholicism by reducing its capacity to rule and reign with compulsion and intimidation.  By disposition men tend to abuse power whenever they think they hold it.  (D&C 121: 39-40.)  Just like men, institutions are best when humbled, and worst when they reign with pride and power.
How delightful it is when fiction, like the Potter series, captures a character which puts a timeless conflict into a modern yarn.

3 Nephi 13: 9-13:

 
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
 
Simple. Direct. Plain.
 
Christ assures us that He is “Our Father” and not just His. We are all united in sharing that status with Christ. We are a family.
 
First He identifies the Father as “ours” and then, least we should presume too great a familiarity, He adds “hallowed be thy name.” A name is important for many reasons. In the case of Deity, it was an ancient presumption that if you knew the name of an angel, demon, or god you could summon such a being by using that name. Here, however, Christ is applying sacred status to the Father’s name. It is His Fatherhood that is emphasized, not His hallowed name.
 
The Father’s will is not done on earth. Here, there is rebellion, rejection, chaos and despair. Here, order is imposed by the strong upon the weak. Men exploit, abuse and misrule. In heaven, however, the Father’s rule establishes order, kindness and equity. Anyone who is aware of the fallen conditions here will ask for the Father’s will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
That petition can also be read to mean: “Let me live on earth as if I were in heaven.” Or, “let the Father’s will come to earth by the life I live here.” Or, “let me prove myself worthy of heaven’s companionship, though I live here on earth.”
 
The prayer links forgiving others to being forgiven. This is not merely a wise petition, it is also a statement of cause and effect. We merit forgiveness as we give it. It is by forgiving that we are forgiven.
 
We pay our debts by giving others forgiveness of their debts to us. I’ve written a chapter about this in Come, Let Us Adore Him. We merit what we give to others. We establish the criteria by which we will be judged as we decide how to treat others. He will return to this concept in 3 Nephi 14: 2.
 
When the Father leads you it will never be into temptation, but will always deliver you from evil. This is a petition which reminds us to be willing to be led. We are literally to ask the Father to help us be led by Him. Through Him we will obtain deliverance.
 
The Father owns the kingdom, the power and glory. Mankind does not confer that upon Him. It is His. But mankind can acknowledge it. By making that acknowledgement we are able to have confidence in Him. We can trust His power to deliver, His ability to bring again His kingdom, and to bear and share in His glory as He has promised.
 
Many of these simple statements are confessions of our own desires and clarify we have understanding. God’s kingdom, power and glory exist independent of our prayers. But when our prayers attest that we understand this, we are making our submission and meekness known to Him. We are stating our trust in Him.
We acknowledge His kingdom is His, to be restored in His time, with His power. It is His to control. We do not envy that control, nor attempt to force Him to do our bidding. We acknowledge that His right exists, independent of man’s will or ambition. He will decide and we will accept. We can ask, but He will determine the events that will take place and when they will unfold.
 
This prayer is an acknowledgement that we are not trying to control God, but instead are willing to be subject to Him. He is the sovereign, we are the subjects.
 
We ask, He decides. If He determines to do a work we defer to Him. The greater the recognition of His kingdom, power and glory, the greater the confidence we have in His decisions. The less we are inclined to argue with Him or to substitute our desires for His.
 
When the Lord decides to bring again Zion, it will be because the Father has decided it is time to do so. It will not be because a group has volunteered to accomplish it. When He decides, and He is the author of it, no power under heaven will stand against it. When men have ambition to create what is in His power alone to do, then they will not just fail but will be swept away.
This petition to the Father instructs us in patience and faith.

3 Nephi 12: 5

3 Nephi 12: 5:
“And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

This earth abides by a Celestial Law. (D&C 88: 25.) Therefore, it is destined to become a Celestial Kingdom because it will be sanctified by a Celestial Law. (D&C 88: 25-29.) The destiny of the earth is glory. (D&C 84: 101.) Therefore, to “inherit the earth” is to inherit a Celestial Glory.

Since this is so, you need to understand the definition of “meekness.” Elder Hales made these remarks about “meekness” in General Conference: “To be meek, as defined in Webster’s dictionary, is ‘manifesting patience and longsuffering: enduring injury without resentment.‘ Meekness is not weakness. It is a badge of Christian courage.” (Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship, October 2008 General Conference, Elder Robert D. Hales.)

I’ve given another explanation in Beloved Enos. There I explained it is necessary to be meek first before being trusted with great power. The power to seal on earth and in heaven is something which cannot be handled apart from meekness. Without meekness a man cannot be trusted with such a power. When Enos used the power, he did so meekly. He asked rather than pronounced. He petitioned rather than decreed. Though the Lord would hearken to his words, he refrained from acting.

This is because the proper way to use such authority is only and strictly in conformity with the Lord’s will. The reason Nephi received the authority was because he was meek. The account of the conferral is also the account of his qualification: “Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments. And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will. Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people. Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people. And thus, if ye shall say unto this temple it shall be rent in twain, it shall be done. And if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done. And behold, if ye shall say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass.And now behold, I command you, that ye shall go and declare unto this people, that thus saith the Lord God, who is the Almighty: Except ye repent ye shall be smitten, even unto destruction.” (Helaman 10: 4-11.)

This is meekness. First, Nephi had conducted his life meekly. He did not fear others. He was not afraid to lose his standing, even his life. He kept God’s commandments to him above all else. He possessed an iron will, his face like flint, unwilling to waiver from what the Lord would have him say and do. He could not be tempted to betray the Lord’s will. Therefore, the Lord knew by the way Nephi lived his life that he would “not ask that which is contrary to [the Lord’s] will.” Never.

Therefore, when the Lord had tried him and determined he was willing to serve Him at all costs, he qualifies to receive trust from God. That trust allows the Lord to confer upon the man great power. (See also TPJS p. 150: “After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, is baptized for the remission of his sins, and receives the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness and living by every word of God. The Lord will soon say unto him, ‘Son, thou shalt be exalted.’ When the Lord has thoroughly proved him and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and election made  sure.”)

Meekness is required to qualify for great power. And you know a man is meek when, having great power, he uses it strictly in conformity with the Lord’s will; never varying from the Lord’s command, and never pursuing his own agenda. This kind of meekness is men is a rare thing. Nephi, after receiving that power, was instructed that he was to deliver the Lord’s message: “thus saith the Lord God, who is Almighty: Except ye repent ye shall be smitten, even unto destruction.” It is the Lord’s judgment. It is a meek man who delivers it. But such judgments only come after the Lord has a meek soul upon whom He can place this trust. For He has covenanted to always first employ such a servant before imposing judgments upon mankind. (Amos 3: 7.)

Therefore, when the Lord teaches the “meek shall inherit the earth” it is a statement which includes exaltation for the meek. It is one of the Lord’s deepest teachings, and most profound descriptions of those who will be exalted and why. 

3 Nephi 11: 22

3 Nephi 11: 22:

“And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.”

Space was limited and the mechanics of writing was difficult for Mormon. Therefore, in his abridgement of the account, for all others “the Lord called,” and the ceremony was repeated for each. In the process, He “said likewise” unto each of them. Every individual person was acknowledged by the Lord as having conferred upon each of them “power to baptize” by the Lord.

None of those who received this power had any doubt about their authority to act in this ordinance in the Lord’s name. None of them lacked the “power” to baptize others. None of those who were present, and still kneeling during the ceremony, or who overheard the Lord’s words had any doubts about those who held a commission from Christ to baptize them. Finally, none of those present would have any doubts about the need to be baptized by this newly bestowed power.
Although every one of them had been baptized previously, it becomes apparent that once new power to baptize has been given by Christ, that  power ought to be used. It is not given to be neglected. Nor can power endure through neglect. So when given, the power is to be used, and all who were present are candidates for baptism.
Then comes the instruction from Christ as to the manner for performing the ordinance. “On this wise shall ye baptize…” begins the instruction.  If the Lord provides the power and then gives the instruction, can the ordinance be changed? What if someone else says they hold the keys, and we all accept the person does in fact hold the keys, can such a person change the manner of baptism? If there is a potential convert who is infirm, ill or elderly and is unable to be baptized in the prescribed manner, can the ordinance be changed in form to accommodate the need? That is exactly how the ordinance was changed after the New Testament times. A reasonable need, and accommodation for that need, resulted in an exception. Then the exception became the rule, and the original manner was forgotten.

If the Lord’s instruction regarding the manner of baptism in this verse cannot be changed, even by one holding keys and authority to do so, then what about other ordinances? Can other ordinances be changed by one who holds keys if they choose to do them differently? Why not?  What happens when the one in a recognized position to perform ordinances decides to make changes to the ordinances?

Assume for a moment the Lord instructs Nephi on how to perform baptism, but Nephi decides thereafter to make a change to it. How would that reflect on Nephi? How would that reflect on the Lord? How would it reflect on the Lord’s instruction? What about Joseph Smith’s statement: “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.” (TPJS p. 308) If the Lord gave Nephi the “power” to baptize, does that carry with it the “power” to change it as well?

Well, the purpose behind the Lord giving instructions was that “there shall be no disputations among you.” Does the instruction given by the Lord end as soon as we begin to see “disputations among” followers? Can an opinion poll that shows a majority of those who practice the ordinances don’t relate to them anymore and want to see them altered, create a “disputation” that allows the instruction from the Lord to be altered?
As stupid as these questions may seem, there are people who are genuinely confused by them. So I ask them. You must decide if the Lord’s instructions deserve respect and ought to be followed. Apparently men of good faith, honest hearts, and sincere desires can by reason of their status alone, contradict the Lord’s instructions and people won’t even blink. That’s the beauty of the claim that Rome makes to having Peter’s keys and the ability to seal on earth and in heaven. The Catholics can change anything and no one doubts they had the authority to do it. To allow the possibility that God would not support the Pope would be to entertain the unthinkable. So don’t even hold that thought.

1 Nephi 14: 14

1 Nephi 14: 14: 

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.” 

Once the whore sets about to destroy the Lamb of God, He does not remain in His pavilion away. He takes up the fight for His Saints.

What is the “power of the Lamb of God?”

Why does this “power” “descend” upon the Saints?

Why are there two groups identified, “the Saints of the Lamb of God,” and also, “upon the covenant people of the Lord?”  Are these the same or two different groups? If two, what is to happen in this descending of “power” upon these two?

Why are the “Saints” and the “covenant people” both “scattered upon all the face of the earth?” Why are they not gathered together in one place?

What does it mean to be “armed with righteousness?”

Why are “righteousness” and “the power of God” two different things?

Do the “covenant people” have to have “righteousness” to receive the “power of God?” Are they blessed for the covenant’s sake? What about the others? Who are “righteous” and their protection? Are they protected for righteousness sake?

Assuming the “power of God” is given to protect these groups, do they need munitions? Do they need intercontinental firepower? Do they need to form an army for their own defense?

What is the “power of God in great glory?” Will the children of the great whore be able to behold this “power of God in great glory,” or will it be hidden from them? If hidden, will they sense something? Will fear fall upon them that they flee from the presence of this glory? Wasn’t that the case with Daniel’s friends? (Daniel 10: 7.) Wasn’t that the case with the companions of Saul? ( JST Acts 9: 7 “And they who were journeying with him saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him who spake to him.”) Will Zion not be protected by this “power of God?” (D&C 45: 70.)  If it is to be like the days of Noah (Luke 17: 26-27), then won’t there be someone who can speak the word of God and mountains flee, armies held at defiance, and rivers turned out of their course? (Moses 7: 13.)

Will the same things happen that happened at the time of the great flood? If so, how much relevance does the history from Enoch through Noah have to our day? Should we be familiar with that pattern to know how the pattern may repeat itself? 

What can you do to be numbered with those who will be spared? Does the known history of the antediluvians tell you anything about how you need to prepare? Since Enoch had 365 years to develop a people who were worthy to be spared, how much greater a work will it be to prepare now that life spans are generally less than 90 years? How great a work lies before you?

3 Nephi 16: 12

 
“And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.”
 
Gentiles shall NOT have power over Israel. Gentiles, filled with pride, claiming to hold the power of God, sitting in the Temple of God and acting as if they were God, will lose their grip. (2 Thes. 2: 2-4.) They will be cast down like Lucifer, after claiming they would sit in the congregations of the north, like the Gods. (Isa. 14: 13-15.)
 
These Gentiles will not have “power” over the house of Israel, though they may claim to possess great authority. (D&C 121: 36-37.)  What, then, is the difference between the Gentiles lacking “power,” but holding authority?
 
How will the Lord remember the covenant?

What does it mean to come to “the knowledge” of something, rather than to start believing in something?

 
What does it mean to have the “fulness of [His] Gospel?”
 
What does “knowledge… of the fulness” imply about the degree to which it will be revealed as part of remembering the covenant?
 
Why is the Gentile rejection of the fullness tied to the house of Israel receiving the fullness?
 
Are the basic Gospel Principles the same as the fullness? If not, what is the difference? What do the Gentiles risk when they reject the fullness and focus instead upon the basic principles?
 
How perilous is it for the Gentiles to suppress the mysteries of godliness and retain only the most basic of doctrines as their focus?
 
Unto whom is the Lord to teach doctrine? Who is prepared to hear?  Are they necessarily to be first weaned from milk and prepared to understand meat?  (See Isa. 28: 9-10.)  If that is so, then what do we need to do to wean ourselves off the milk and be prepared to receive weighter matters?
 
When will these things be? How will you know when the spirit begins to withdraw from the Gentiles and blessings begin to be poured out on others of the house of Israel?

Well, let’s keep going…..

Alma 13: 16

Alma 13: 16:

Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.

Notice the shifting back to “ordinances” from the discussion of priesthood. What ordinances? What manner?

Why would what happened with Melchizedek and Abraham be something pointing to the Son of God?

Why would such an ordination and ordinance always be something that would prepare people to understand and accept the Son of God?

How was it a “type” of the Son of God’s order?

What is this referring to in plain language? Is it that the ordinances will reveal a pattern that will unmistakably point back to the ministry of Christ? How?

What is there in conferring priesthood and endowing with understanding that points to Christ? Was Christ endowed with knowledge? Power? Authority? From on-high? When? What account do we have of it? Was it at His baptism when the voice of God declared, “thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (which wording was deliberately changed during the Fourth Century Christological debates to read instead: “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”)?  How does this identify both the holder of this holy order of priesthood and confirm Christ’s ministry as the Son of God?

More importantly, why are these things not being taught to us today? This is such basic and important doctrine that Alma is teaching it as introductory material to a potential group of converts.  But as faithful members of the Church we aren’t even familiar with them. What have we been doing with the Gospel we received?

Why was the “manner” something which would let those who learned about it know and identify the Lord?

Do we expect to follow Christ? If so, why aren’t we anxious to learn about this holy order? Can we follow Him unless we do what is necessary to take upon us that same holy order? If so, then how are we to find it today? Who teaches about it?

It is interesting to read this chapter of Alma. It reinforces that the Book of Mormon is still being neglected. We cycle through it every four years. Perhaps we are still neglecting it’s true message? I think this chapter gets lumped in with three others and covered in a 50 minute class every four years. Maybe that is what is meant by  “neglect.” Oooops….

“Power” or “Authority”

In the church we have a regular system for ordination to give someone priesthood authority.  It requires the candidate to be interviewed, found worthy, recommended by the presiding authorities (Bishop or Stake President) to a congregation who sustains the ordination before it is performed.  The ordination takes place by the laying on of hands, is recorded, and a certificate is issued to the one ordained.
 
In contrast, the Lord’s ordination among the Nephites required only His word to be spoken, and power was conferred:
 
“And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him. And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.” (3 Ne. 11: 20-22)

 

It is interesting that the word used in His conferral of priestly right was “power” and not “authority.”  Consider the difference.  Consider what it means for the Lord to speak unto a man and tell him that he has “power” from the Lord.
 
Is there a difference between having the “authority” to baptize, as we spread it about in the church today, and having the “power” to baptize as conferred by Christ?  If there is, then what is that difference?
 
Good questions to ponder.  Particularly as you consider President Packer’s timely reminder of the general lack of power in the priesthood of today’s church in his recent General Conference address, “Power in the Priesthood.”