Tag: flattery

The Whole Not the Parts

There are a few important ideas that define my understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as restored by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith. These are the ideas that make the Gospel whole, and not just a group of disconnected thoughts. Until these were part of the core of my understanding, I was left with disconnected dots and no overall harmony from which to orient myself.

First and foremost is that we are not to follow any man or men. No man is worthy of discipleship. Not me, not another. There is only one who is worth following. He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14: 16). Beside Him there is no other person who can save you (Mosiah 3: 17).

This first principle is what has motivated all I have written. It is a mistake to think there is a departure in Passing the Heavenly Gift from the topic begun in The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil. They are both necessary. They do not reflect a change in my testimony or commitment to the truth, only an elaboration on the essential core principle that we are not going to be saved by following men. Rather, you will become “darkened in your mind” if you do so. (TPJS p. 237.)

Second and equally important, it is not the depth of your study that matters, but the quality of your connection with heaven that matters. Expounding doctrine is not only insufficient, it is oftentimes a distraction from what matters. We go from unbelief to belief when we learn truth. Not every source, including institutional sources, can be trusted to tell you the truth. Only the light of Christ, followed by the Holy Ghost is a reliable guide to distinguish between unbelief and belief. We go from belief to faith as we take action consistent with belief in truth. Faith is a principle of power. It will lead you to receive angels who still minister to those of a sound mind, not given to flights of fantasy or unstable behavior (Moroni 7: 30). We are brought from faith to knowledge as angels prepare us through their ministry. (Moroni 7: 31; Moroni 7: 25; Alma 32: 23.) Knowledge comes from contact with Jesus Christ. (Ether 3: 19.) This is the knowledge that saves, and nothing else. (John 17: 3.) The idea that knowledge of Christ through His personal appearance to you is now unavailable is an old sectarian notion and is false. (John 14: 23; D&C 130: 3.)

Third, there is no written record, including the scriptures, which are able to tell you all you must know. You can only know the truth by having it revealed to you from heaven itself. (D&C 76: 114-118.) This is the reason Joseph said if you could gaze into heaven for five minutes you would know more than you would by reading everything that has ever been written on the subject. (TPJS p. 324.) Either you do as James says, and ask of God, or you will forever remain ignorant of the only knowledge which can save a man. (JS-H 1: 13, referring to James 1: 5.)

Fourth, the truth is intended to save us. We should welcome corrections. Too often, however, we are offended and think the truth is a hard thing to endure. (1 Ne. 16: 1-3.) That is a product of pride and arrogance. It is impossible to learn what must be learned unless we are willing to be corrected. (Mosiah 3: 19.) Therefore, only the qualified will arrive at the gates, because the rest are unwilling to take the trip required of them.

Fifth, this is a personal journey which each must take for themselves. It cannot be shared. You must approach the Throne yourself. Joseph was alone when he met the Father and Son. Moses was alone when he ascended the Mount to meet the Lord. Enoch was alone when he was caught up to heaven. Elijah was alone on the mountain when the whirlwind, lightning and earthquake preceded the Lord’s own voice. Daniel alone saw the vision of the Lord. Paul alone saw the light. Nephi alone saw his father’s vision. Enos was alone in the wilderness in his encounter with God. Abraham was alone when the Lord spoke to him. Jacob slept alone when the ladder to heaven descended for him. You will also be alone should the Lord come to visit you. This cannot be borrowed from another.

These are the core. This core is what faith, repentance, baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost are meant to bring about. The religion of heaven always involves heaven. It does not involve men and administration and popularity. It is solitary, between you and God. The proud, however, are content to proclaim their righteousness and sit in judgment of others. They live without God in the world (Mormon 5: 16), and their end will be destruction. They think their own imagination is revelation, and they foolishly value only their conceit. (Proverbs 26: 11-12.)

I will never flatter you. But I will never lie to you, either. My faith in the Gospel is stronger now than the day I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My fidelity to the church is greater now than it has ever been. It offered me baptism and I gladly accepted. If offered me scriptures, and I gladly accepted. It offered me ordination, laying on hands, washings, anointings, covenants and sacraments, and I gladly accepted them all. It gives me fellowship, and I value it. But my faith is in Christ alone.

2 Nephi 28: 22

“And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.”
How can the devil “flatter” someone? Why would it be “flattery” to tell someone “there is no hell?” What does it mean that “there is no hell?” Have you ever heard this idea taught?  Historic Christians are fully persuaded of the existence of hell. We, on the other hand, have three degrees of GLORY in which the idea of hell is sometimes lost.
So, is there a “hell?” (D&C 19: 15.) Do those who go there suffer? How difficult is the suffering? (D&C 19: 16-18.)
How can it be flattery for the devil to tell someone “I am no devil?” Would his appearance to someone as an “angel of light” be flattery? (2 Ne. 9: 9.) Did the devil attempt to do this with Joseph Smith? (D&C 128: 20.) How was Joseph able to determine the devil was the devil, rather than an “angel of light” when he appeared? Did Joseph learn something about detecting evil spirits from this encounter?  What did Michael do to teach Joseph how to detect the devil? What did Joseph later teach about how to detect the devil? (D&C 129: 8.)  What kind of a handshake would you expect to be used to detect a true messenger?
Have others been confronted by Satan appearing as an angel? (Moses 1: 12.) Now if one were deceived by the devil, thinking him an angel of light, would the devil teach them false doctrines? (Alma 30: 53.)

Would the false doctrines make them and those hearing from them feel secure, or would it stir them up to repentance?

What does it mean for the devil to claim “there is none?” I’m reminded of Peter asking a minister if he knew who he (the minister) worked for. The minister did not know, and so Peter informed him he worked for the devil.  We don’t think about that much anymore, but it is nonetheless the case that there are many people offering instruction who are really either in the employ of the devil, or using then precepts of men as the fodder for their teaching.
What comes to mind with the image of the devil “whispering in their ears?” How close must the devil come to be whispering into a person’s ears? How attentive must the devil become to his target?
Why “awful chains” and not just “chains?”  Are there “chains” that are not “awful?” Why would these particular chains always become “awful?”
What does it mean that “there is no deliverance” from these chains? Why would there be no more deliverance provided?
The verses we are considering are part of a careful message and cannot be separated from each other. They blend together. So when considering this portion of the message you must also keep in mind the other things that went before in Nephi’s sermon.
I am awestruck by this great prophet’s message. It inspires fear for my fellow man when I read it. The plight in which some men find themselves by the traditions handed to us seem to be such a trap as to defy escape.  What can I say to liberate them?  What can I do to help them escape? Who am I to even dare think I can make any difference? What petitions might I weary the Lord with to help avert this end for others?

We seem to all be asleep and incapable of noticing this terrible warning. Why cannot we all awake and arise and put on the beautiful garments, going forth to meet with the Bridegroom? (Moroni 10: 31; D&C 133: 10.)

Perhaps some of you may make a difference in this battle. All of our souls are at risk and we seem more interested in preserving our current circumstances than in understanding them.

This Book of Mormon is alarming when we consider it a warning for us. Not at all the docile and superficial text we can turn it into when studying 8 chapters in a single 50 minute Gospel Doctrine class– reduced by the time taken for announcement, opening and closing prayers, and witty banter exchanged among affable Saints as part of our renewal of weekly fellowship. Those things are good, of course, but the book commands deeper attention.

If I had to say one thing has done more to bring me into harmony with the Lord than any other thing it would be this: I have taken the Book of Mormon seriously. I have assumed it is an authentic and ancient text written by prophetic messengers whose words ought to be studied for how they can change my life.  Though all the world may treat it lightly, I have tried to not do so. For that I believe the Lord’s approval has been given to an otherwise foolish, vain, error-prone and weak man.

Take the Book of Mormon seriously. Apply it to yourself. Not as a means to judge others, but as a means to test your own life. It is one thing to evaluate our circumstances, which the book compels us to do, but we needn’t go further than to realize our terrible plight.  From that moment the warning should work inside ourselves to help us improve within, see more clearly our day, think more correctly about what is going on, and act more consistent with the Lord’s purposes.

The Book of Mormon is the most correct book available. A person can get closer to God by abiding its precepts than with any other book.