Friday, January 23, 2015

Further Thoughts on the Holy Ghost

The purpose of the Holy Ghost is to convey truth, understanding and knowledge. Our reaction may be emotional, but the Holy Ghost is informational.

The information we obtain from the Holy Ghost checks emotions, and produces self-control. Paul explained that our flesh is prone to lusts (Gal. 5:19) and to “hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, …envyings” (Gal. 5:20-21). But the Spirit helps check those through self-control. A healthy appreciation of our limitations leads to “longsuffering, gentleness, …faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23) which are gifts produced as a byproduct of recognizing our weakness.

If there is a consistent experience produced by an encounter with God while filled with the Holy Spirit, it would be “dread” or “fear.” Comparing our fallen nature to the purity of God causes shame. (The language used by those who experience this include these accounts: “racked with a consciousness of your guilt”—Mormon 9:3-5; “Woe is me, I am undone”—Isa. 6:5; “a great quaking…they fled to hide”—Daniel 10:7; “an horror of great darkness”—Genesis 15:12.)

We become meek, temperate and long suffering with others as we comprehend how little we are in comparison to God. We have no reason to boast after we have encountered purity and intelligence. It is a fearful thing to come into contact with the Living God (Heb. 10:31.)

Intelligence is light and truth (D&C 93:36). Truth is knowledge of things as they are, were, and are to come (D&C 93:24). We clearly see our weakness when in contact with God (Ether 12:27). But the purpose of showing us our weakness is to cause “weak things become strong” (Id.). This “strength” does not produce bragging, assertiveness or boasting. To the contrary, it produces recognition, meekness and fear.

When an authentic encounter with God happens, the person will be filled with anxiety for the salvation of others. (See, Lehi’s immediate concern for his family: 1 Ne. 8:12; Enos’ desire for his brethren and his enemies, the Lamanites, who he viewed as “brethren” also: Enos 1:9, 11; the Sons of Mosiah, who after their own conversion could not bear to have any soul lost if they could convert them: Mosiah 28:3; and the Apostle Paul, who went from persecuting to proselytizing; among many others.)

The results are not magic. It is a natural progression based on knowledge and understanding. God shows us something, and we take it into account. We know more, understand more, and have a far more realistic recognition of what is happening here in this fallen world. Then, with that increased understanding, we look to contribute to saving souls (our own included). This is comforting, because it is real.

The frequent testimonies declaring that a person “knows” something is true because the speaker or writer was stirred with emotion is not enlightening, enlivening, increasing understanding, bestowing knowledge, telling us saving truths, or based upon an actual encounter with God. God awakens us from slumber; which can be distressing and even alarming.

But we need to awaken. And we ought to be alarmed.

(I have used the terms Holy Ghost, Spirit and Holy Spirit interchangeably. I have previously explained how I understand the terms are correctly used in scripture.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Thoughts on Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost can and does speak to everyone, Baptists, Lutherans, and Catholics included. C.S. Lewis could not have written and comprehended what he wrote and understood, unless the light of the Holy Ghost shown upon his mind. He declares the light of eternal truths in his writings. This is one of the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, or Comforter. 

Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment. (Moses 6:61) 

This is in contrast to the power given by Christ to lay on hands for the Holy Ghost. For power to do that, Christ touched (and must touch) the man given that power. When Christ actually gave power to give the Holy Ghost, the Book of Mormon account stresses repeatedly that He touched them: There is a difference between a visit by the Holy Ghost and having its presence always to be with you. "A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him." (D&C 130:23.) This difference accounts for the Holy Ghost being available to all, on the one hand, and the power to lay on hands to confer the gift given by those upon whom Christ has laid His hands, on the other hand.

Many people believe they have the Holy Ghost with them when their emotions are stirred, or they are thrilled by some appealing talk, comment, praise or flattery. However these incidents do not increase light and truth, comprehension or intelligence and are not the Holy Ghost. They are only emotional experiences. Emotional experiences can be replicated in a number of ways. Music, movies, television commercials, general conference talks, books, testimonies, prayers and any number of physical experiences can create tears, goosebumps, or other things that we have incorrectly associated with the Holy Ghost.

Very often the truth conveyed by the Holy Ghost is hard to hear, difficult to follow, and breaks your heart. Sometimes the truth is bitter. But bitter truth is better than pleasing lies and flattery. It is a profound misunderstanding of the "Holy Ghost" when a person concludes it can never convey a message that condemns, convicts or challenges you. Much of what the Holy Ghost will convey - light and truth - causes pain, provokes change and repentance because you are convicted of errors. 

Alma was tutored by the Holy Ghost and it convicted him of his sins. He described it as "my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror." (Alma 36:14.) "For three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul." (Id., v. 16.) He said "I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins." (Id., v. 17.) He repented because he received accurate information by the power of the Holy Ghost showing him exactly where he stood before God. This enabled him to repent and return to God. 

It is a mistake to conclude that only good feelings, reassurance and praise comes through the Holy Ghost. It is likewise a profound error to assume a message that challenges you, tells you bad news about your present mistakes, and warns you to change course is dark, evil or cannot be from God.

There is no organization controlling the Holy Ghost.

Missionaries quote Moroni 10:4, and admonish everyone to pray and ask God if the Book of Mormon is true. Investigators are promised that God will manifest the truth of it unto them "by the power of the Holy Ghost." These are unbaptized, unwashed, and uninitiated investigators who are told they can hear the Holy Ghost speak truth to them. The Holy Ghost does, can, and will speak to anyone.

The claim an organization has a franchise over the Holy Ghost is hollow. The idea the Holy Ghost can be controlled is false. The fact LDS Mormons are acquainted with the Holy Ghost means very little. That acquaintance does not distinguish Latter-day Saints, and it does not separate others from the Holy Ghost and its ministrations, no matter who they are.

The Holy Ghost does not thrill, it informs. It gives understanding. Thrilling music can rouse you. A great TV show can give you goose bumps. That is not the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost enlightens minds, it enlivens senses, it brings light and new and more complete understanding.

"The first Comforter, or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence." TPJS, p. 149. 

"No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator." TPJS, p. 328.  

There are some people who have the Spirit with them in such abundance, that to be in their presence is to understand things better. Understanding, comprehension, light and truth—these are the effects of the Holy Ghost.

The word "apostle" means someone sent. An apostle of Jesus Christ must be sent by Him to claim to be His apostle.

Christ gave the power to baptize in 3 Nephi 11:19-21 by telling Nephi (and later others) He empowered them: "And Nephi arose and went forth, and bowed himself before the Lord and did kiss his feet. 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." Christ did not touch them because it is not required for this authority to be given by Him. He only said to them, "I give you power to baptize."

Although the record does not mention any prior ordination, these disciples in all likelihood had been previously ordained. But when Christ came to the Nephites, He was renewing His church. All that was needed for Him to convey the power to baptize was (and is) for Christ to tell the recipient of the power that it is given.

"And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of these sayings, he touched with his hand the disciples whom he had chosen, one by one, even until he had touched them all, and spake unto them as he touched them. And the multitude heard not the words which he spake, therefore they did not bear record; but the disciples bare record that he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost. And I will show unto you hereafter that this record is true." (3 Ne. 18:36-37.)

The Book of Mormon does show how it was given: 
"And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles." (Moro. 2:2.)

Laying on hands for the Holy Ghost is an ordinance belonging to an "apostle" or witness to whom Christ has ministered and empowered. Acts 1:22; see also Oliver Cowdery’s February 1835 charge to the twelve found at DHC 2:192-198, reproduced in part below.

In our own dispensation the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost was likewise an ordinance to be performed only by an "apostle" upon whom Christ laid hands: 
"An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize; …And to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures…" (D&C 20:38, 41.)

Section 20 was given in April 1830 when the term "apostles" was not associated with an organized church administrative body. At the time the revelation was given, the likely candidates for properly claiming the title of “apostle” were Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris. These four previously had the heavens opened to them. They had seen the plates of the Book of Mormon, and heard the voice of God declaring a message to them. However, there were many others in the earliest days who claimed to be "apostles," and the term had no settled meaning in April 1830.

Today many Latter-day Saints associate the term “apostles” with a quorum that did not exist in 1830. Reference to this "quorum" could not have been the meaning used in Section 20. When this revelation was given, all the elders in the church called themselves “apostles” of Jesus Christ. That practice gradually changed after the quorum of twelve had been organized. Reinterpreting the term used in Section 20 because in 1835 there was an organization of a church quorum of twelve is not justifiable. 

Arguably members of an administrative body, even if given the honorific title "Apostles," would still need to qualify as "apostles" to have the power to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The quorum of twelve were chosen by the Three Witnesses and ordained as Apostles by them. Oliver Cowdery gave them a charge that imposed the same obligation on the quorum as would be expected of any “apostle.” Cowdery’s charge told them it was necessary to have Christ lay hands on them to complete their ordination:

"It is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven to yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out; although many will not give heed, yet others will. You will therefore see the necessity of getting this testimony from heaven.  Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off your doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid his hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid his hands upon his disciples, why not in latter days? . . .  The time is coming when you will be perfectly familiar with the things of God. . . . You have our best wishes, you have our most fervent prayers, that you may be able to bear this testimony, that you have seen the face of God. Therefore call upon him in faith in mighty prayer till you prevail, for it is your duty and your privilege to bear such a testimony for yourselves." (DHC, 2:192-96, emphasis added.) 

LDS practice does not limit laying on hands to an apostle Christ has touched and given power. Nor do members of the quorum of the twelve receive the charge given by Oliver Cowdery to the first apostles called by the Three Witnesses.

Many people foolishly conclude that the Holy Ghost is telling them something is "dark" or "evil" if it causes discomfort, pain or disappointment. The emotional response should be separated from deciding whether it comes from the Holy Ghost, or if the message is truthful. Does it enlighten? Does it impart knowledge? Does it cause a desire to change? Repent?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

About the Tree of Life

In response to an email about the Tree of Life in Lehi's dream, and the potential for John the Beloved to be directly involved in latter-day events, I responded with the following:

__________________________

During the time when their natural lives had ended, the ministry of the Three Nephites was not public.  They ministered to Mormon and to Moroni, but did not minister openly. This is a type of how John also will minister. I do not expect him to openly minister again. The challenge is for mortals to cope with the mortal condition, aided by ministering angels (one of whom is John, others include the Three Nephites, and the cities of Enoch and Melchizedek, and Elijah).  The list in Section 128 includes some of the identities.

But the point is that Mormon as a mortal ministered to mortals. Moroni as a mortal likewise did so. The Three Nephites ministered to the ministers. This is the pattern we see likewise with Joseph. Christ and various other ministering angels ministered to Joseph, and Joseph ministered to the believers.

The challenge is to elevate others without elevating yourself. The idea of having a strong leader with everyone looking to them for salvation is a demonstrably inadequate model. It did not work with Moses. It failed in the New Testament. It failed with Joseph. It will fail if used again now.

The successes are Enoch's and Melchizedek's. Both of them confined themselves to the role of preaching and teaching repentance. That's it. Repentance and faith in God. The meekness of Moses notwithstanding, he failed to bring Zion. The prophetic and productive work of Joseph the Seer notwithstanding, he failed to bring Zion. 

The challenge is to get people to take that step of partaking of the fruit. No one fed it to them. No one got the fruit from the tree, took it out to the wandering and wayward people and handed it to them. No one other than the individual themselves could partake.

We are left with the only approved tools:
-persuasion
-kindness
-meekness
-love unfeigned
-pure knowledge
THESE must typify the ministry of whoever will bring again Zion. Use of any other means will not succeed in allowing the individual to make their own choice to come and partake.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Freedom To Worship

I have written over 2 million words explaining my understanding of Mormonism. It has largely been an exposition of the scriptures to show how they anchor all my beliefs. The scriptures are a library of material about Christ, written by those who knew Him and had understanding given to them by Him. The value of scripture is directly related to the writers' proximity to our Lord's mind and words.

Not all scripture has equal value. The Book of Mormon has the greatest value because of its origin. Its prophecies are more relevant to us than those of the Bible

Other than the scriptures, the sources I trust most are approved or written by Joseph Smith, or his brother Hyrum, and others that include the earliest contemporary accounts of beginning LDS history. The further away the source is from the actual events, the less reliable they prove. There are some accounts that have become "history" that were not even written by a witness. They were fanciful recreations intended to promote belief in the religious systems that followed Joseph's death. They are not true.

Lately, more reliable source materials about early LDS history are available to the public for the first time. Older accounts written without using the new source material are unreliable and outdated. Defending LDS historical accounts using unreliable source material no longer persuades those who are well read in new material. I have tried to make a positive statement of what I have learned and how events can be better reconstructed using what is now available.

The contradictory clutter of post-Joseph contentions advanced by church apologists are neither consistent nor coherent. Those who prize these sources and find virtue in them have courage. I confess I lack the courage to trust myth without searching to discover truth.

Even after all I've written, I still have venomous critics who attribute to me the opposite of what I believe.
-Although I condemn plural marriage, I'm accused of wanting it.
-Although I abhor concentration of power in church leaders, I'm accused of seeking to establish my own organization to control.
-Although I spend my own money to teach and serve, I'm accused of somehow wanting to profit from these expenses I bear.
-Although I have told people to remain LDS if they are happy with their situation, I'm accused of driving people away from the church. (I really like Latter-day Saints. They are among the best people I know. If they follow their faith, they are upright, decent and moral people for whom I hold high regard. They only bother me when they ignorantly and vocally damn me for things I do not believe or advocate. Apart from that, I have no complaints.)
-Although I harbor no ill-will to any church authority, I'm accused of railing against them.
-Although I recommend we return to the original name for the priesthood, I'm accused of wanting to rename priesthood after myself.

As the Lord said, "blessed are you when men shall say all manner of evil against you FALSELY for my name's sake..." It seems I qualify. The critics do not bother to say what I actually advocate, choosing instead to spread false accusations suggesting I believe the opposite of what I actually believe.

The 11th Article of Faith declares:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

I believe this. I also claim this right. I appreciate the opportunity claimed by every "Mormon" sect accepting the Articles of Faith as part of their beliefs. When others want to attack this right, let's band together to oppose them. Let everyone be free in their beliefs and worship.

It should be no concern to anyone what, how or where I choose to worship. If I am wrong, that is between me and God. I am only sharing what I have learned with those who are interested. You are free to reject my beliefs. If you are right, then you should rejoice in the truth you have found and try to persuade others to see the truth as well.

No one should "own" a religion. It is morally corrupt to claim anyone can dictate what others believe, what they should believe, how they should worship or what they must do to satisfy a man's demand in order for God to offer salvation. If you think a Pope, or Priest or Prophet can save you, then by all means go get yourself saved, as you understand it. If I think only God can save me, and that too by the grace of Christ, then permit me to seek for my salvation at the feet of the Lord whom I worship.

If we are both deluded then let's permit each other the joy of our delusions without rancor or contention. You revel in what brings you hope and satisfaction, and allow me to do the same. If we are all wrong, the least we can be is accommodating and happy.

Because of our limited time in mortality, we will all know soon enough the answers to all the questions. While we are here, let's be courteous to one another. When at last we arrive, we can compare notes and see what other insights we can share with one another.

Until you have done what I have done, you cannot possibly fully understand my faith, and likewise, since your experience is foreign to me, I cannot possibly fully understand your faith. We ought to resign ourselves to peacefully allow one another the privilege to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience, and trust that we all take seriously the obligation to search for truth.

Assuming we all act consistent with our conscience, then why damn each other for our good faith beliefs and efforts? Why not be open, even with disagreements? Why feel threatened when someone understands our history, scripture, and God's will differently? When we allow one another the freedom of belief, an open discussion helps us understand the reason for a different view, and lets us reconsider our own views in a healthy, useful way. Over time we inevitably grow more unified by open discourse.

It arouses my curiosity when someone offers a new understanding of scripture. Curiosity is a very good thing. It is perhaps the most childlike thing about us; something Christ said was required for us to see His Kingdom. When we react in fear and anger at other religious viewpoints we are really submitting to the enemy of our soul. Fear is ungodly. Faith casts out fear. Can you imagine a child who refuses to consider anything new because they fear to hear about it?

We should allow everyone to state what they believe and why-- in THEIR own words. Redefining them, attributing motives they do not claim, or questioning their good faith can never lead us to an understanding of one another.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Things Now Underway

For the first time since Joseph and Hyrum died, there is actual progress now being made. Instead of the atrophy of three and four generations merely marking time, we now see new life begun. There are two important, interrelated challenges before us.

The first is remembering the restoration and reclaiming its truths, ordinances and vitality. This began in earnest with the final talk given in Phoenix on September 9, 2014. Since then, hundreds have gone through the simple but necessary process to reclaim authority and obtain the now required sustaining vote to exercise that authority with God's approval.

Fellowship groups are collecting tithing and using it to assist the poor among them, and when their group's needs are met they support others who are in need. I have received wonderful accounts of how local groups are organizing themselves.

One group has two boxes when they meet. In one they deposit tithing, all in cash to make it easy to distribute immediately. In the other, those with needs write down their need. Following sacrament, the needs are reviewed and prioritized based on the group's agreement of greatest need requiring the most immediate attention, and then ranking second, third, and so on. After agreement is reached, the tithing money is counted and, if all needs can be met, the funds are given to those in need. If only part of the needs can be addressed, the money is distributed according to the agreed priority.

In some accounts sent to me, children of the fellowship see the gospel in action and are impressed with the power of faith to bless and care for one another's needs. They see this immediately. They see people ministering to one another as the result of the faith they share in Christ and the effort to obey Him.

This renewal allows the great financial power of Christ's teachings to be fully devoted to immediate needs. No one administers the tithes, nor does anyone control the resources. Common consent is used to accomplish good and address immediate needs. No one is paid to serve, and nothing is required to support an administrative or professional class.

In this new pattern the great evil of priestcraft condemned by the Book of Mormon is avoided. No one can profit, and no one can obtain money and earn their living through this system. The poor alone receive the benefit of the tithing collected.

This pattern mirrors the one commended by the Book of Mormon:
Alma 1:26: And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God, they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.

It avoids the practice of priestcraft condemned in that same chapter:
The man Nehor preached in favor of a professional and popular clergy.
Alma 1:3: he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people.

Nehor was popular because he did not preach repentance. Quite the opposite, he reassured his audience that they would certainly be saved, appealing to their pride.
Alma 1:4: And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.

In competition with this false priestcraft, there was an unpaid clergy offering an unpopular message. These true priests warned people tot repent and follow God. The Book of Mormon shows in plain simplicity the religion Christ wants mankind to follow.

The simple but necessary steps have been declared again with God's approval. In response hundreds now have authority and several thousand have returned to the root of the restoration. These will survive the Lord's return, because their authorized and authoritative baptism is the sign now accepted by God as proof of faith by obedience.

This will continue to roll forward. Even in this cold weather, over the last two weeks there have been baptisms in the Boise River, northern Utah, and elsewhere. It is delicate and vulnerable, but I do not believe it will go backward. The season is upon us.

This vital new growth from a dead root is a sign heaven told us to watch for in the last days. It is fulfilling the prophecy of Zenos, and the promises given by Christ. This is a new beginning. With this beginning, I think there is every reason to rejoice and take heart.

The second challenge is to see Zion gathered from among the scattered into a single place in the mountains where an ensign will be built. There the Lord will gather some under His wings, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. However, Zion must wait for strength to develop in the first fellowships.

Like men in all generations, I too want to see the foundation of Zion built in my day. This desire sometimes leads me to have unreasonably high expectations for others. This is wrong of me, and leads to my disappointment. Disappointment is always a product of expectations. Because I expect more, when I should not, I am led to want more than is possible for others to give or do. That is wrong of me, and I acknowledge my misplaced expectations.

The Lord is patient, and He knows what will follow and how it all will unfold to fulfill His promises. I have seen the potential of some of you and want that to turn into more than perhaps it ever will or can. For the last few days I have reflected on Sidney Rigdon. He was so important, useful and valuable to Joseph's work as it began. With time, Sidney became a hindrance. So much so that Joseph asked the church to vote him out as a counselor to Joseph--but instead, the church reelected Sidney. Like Sidney, many others of Joseph's inner circle proved themselves incapable of rising up and realizing the opportunity presented to them. In the end, Sidney and others skewed the restoration, and in may ways opposed and hindered what the Lord might have accomplished with more obedient and humble people.

In the same January 1841 revelation reminding the church it had forfeited the "fulness of the priesthood" (D&C 124:28), the Lord confirmed upon Hyrum "the office of Priesthood and Patriarch" (D&C 124:91). In Hyrum, like the prophets of old, God gave us a "prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto [God's] church" (D&C 124:94). Hyrum was a man who could "bind on earth, bind in heaven, loose on earth, and loose in heaven" (D&C 124:93). He was the means to preserve the restoration, had he lived. By June 1844, it appears to me only Joseph and Hyrum were equal to fulfilling the Lord's requirements.

But Joseph and Hyrum were brothers, and therefore both "pure blooded Ephriamites" (JD 2:269; see also Ensign, January 1991, Of the House of Israel). The ancient covenants required this bloodline to bring forth the Book of Mormon and commence the restoration. However, they, and the priesthood line through them, needed to end before other covenants could be fulfilled. Zion will come through both Judah (king) and Joseph (priest), to fulfill the promises of our Lord (D&C 113:5-6; Isa. 11:10). Accordingly, both Joseph and Hyrum were taken, Hyrum the first to fall.

Hyrum's line was to be kept "in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever" (D&C 124:96). Even after the Patriarch's office, held by Hyrum's descendants, was discontinued in 1979, the church still held some tenuous claims. In 1979 Eldred G. Smith was released and never replaced, but he lived on for decades. The office has now altogether ended according to church publications.

Upon his death in April 2013 at 104 years of age, the sign of the passing of the fourth generation was given. By April of the next year the Lord concluded His work through the LDS Church and set His hand to begin something new, now underway.

The first process of fellowshipping in local groups today is saving souls. It is a required first step, and therefore anyone who claims to have faith in Christ must now come and receive their baptism as a sign of faith in Christ through this required manner. Even if the recipient chooses to continue activity in the LDS Church, or any other church or group, all people of faith must receive the baptism now being offered.

But the second challenge, to have Zion return, is the true object of our Lord's heart. For that to come, the challenge is an order of magnitude greater than fellowshipping, and will require much of us.
______________________________
One word of caution: new things taught using the scriptures always give pretenders, ambitious and cunning men an opportunity to improve their deception. Information can be abused, and there are those who are eager to deceive to get power, popularity and financial gain. You must assume the burden of distinguishing light from darkness, truth from error, and pretenders from those sent by the Lord with counsel from Him. Trust no man. Go to God and ask Him about everyone who teaches and everything taught.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas

We celebrate our Lord's birth tomorrow.

What a wonder He was and is. Although He was the greatest and "more intelligent than they all," (Abr. 3:19) He came to serve, kneel and wash the feet of the unworthy, bless, instruct and endure abuse. He was meek and lowly (Matt. 11:29), yet spoke as one having authority (Matt. 7:29).

He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

He bore our infirmities.

With His stripes we are healed.

The world took little note of His arrival on that Spring day. He was born in the springtime to herald new life, resurrection, and rebirth. We celebrate it in the darkness of the winter which can likewise testify of the end of darkness and increase of light--for all things testify of Him. (Moses 6:63.)

The heavens themselves were stirred at His birth. Stars aligned, signs appeared, heavenly choirs sang, and prophecies, covenants and promises were vindicated through His birth, lowly life, exalted teachings, and sacrificial offering. All this before the eyes of a blind, murderous generation, who would kill their God. (2 Ne. 10:3.)

He preferred Isaiah and the Psalms to other scripture of His day. He used a small canon of scripture to expound and teach.

How wonderful.
How mighty.
How meek.
How lowly.
How great.
How kind.
How worthy was the Lamb!

There is none like Him, dead or alive. We are all lost to the grave and prison without Him.

His rescue mission extends to all mankind. We will all be rescued from the grave. He intends to work to bring about our immortality and eternal life (Moses 1:39), even if this requires worlds without end (D&C 76:112).

A Roman centurion and his cohort said it best: "Truly this was the Son of God." (Matt. 27:54.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Answers/Email

I received an email that refers to some specific people, events, places and individuals. Therefore I will not put the email up. But the response has a broader application and it is copied below for anyone who is interested to consider.

The reference to the "light winning over darkness" on the Winter Solstice is based on natural ebb and flow of sunlight on this planet. The longest night and shortest day are the day before the Solstice. The beginning of light returning, and lengthening daylight, is the Solstice.

I understand the dilemma you mention. I also think that Joseph rushed in to correct errors and preserve the group too quickly, and with too much centralized control. Had he allowed others to wander away, the restoration may have included fewer people, but they would have had a greater chance of achieving Zion. For Joseph, the mission was global and he wanted to have the entire human family reached by his ministry. It is apparent, now in hindsight, that the world will never qualify to be gathered. Now the focus must be to find only the very few who, by their patience and heed can qualify to be true, faithful, patient, meek, humble and willing to allow the Lord's timing and not their own control the events.

I know of all the things you mention. I am acquainted with the various things underway, and have some understanding of the errors of each of these various groups. I have not, and will not intervene. They must be allowed to take their own course. In the end, there will be only a few gathered. Those who qualify will have proven themselves true and faithful in all things and prepared to converse with the Lord through the veil.
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In response to a question about God not presently having a house on earth, it should be clear this is not a reference to men as the temple of God. God does dwell with some now living.

Nor is it a reference to the various synagogues, cathedrals, chapels, temples and religious facilities constructed by all the various religions in which men practice their rites and devotions to God. Some of those are lovely, quiet and filled with reverence and beauty.


It is a reference to a House God will visit and accept as His. He will appear there, send His messengers (angels) to visit and open a fiery corridor between heaven and earth. Or, in other words, a place where a pillar of fire will dwell. 


This was not a criticism of places of worship used by men today. It is an observation of present conditions and a description of what will need to be built and accepted prior to the Lord's return. It will need to be constructed strictly, in accordance with the pattern God requires, and not something men presently construct as their places of worship. 


Everything from the location to the details of the design must be according to God's instructions. It will be proof on the earth for heaven to behold, showing to the Powers of Heaven that mankind (however few) are listening to Him and are now willing to do what He asks. God will control if and when it will be done, and who will be permitted to construct His House. This will not be a volunteer project. God alone will bring it to pass, using means determined by Him.


There must be a site prepared, and an invitation extended, before the Lord's return. That place must be hallowed. It is a necessary precondition for His return. It is from that site the sanctification of the earth will proceed. Eventually the whole earth will be renewed. 

MP3s

With help from a volunteer the 40 Years in Mormonism has now been converted into a downloadable MP3 format. We hoped to release those before Christmas (and still may). This blog site is not equipped to handle that kind of service. Therefore, we have secured a new website from which all the papers and the recordings will be made downloadable. There remain some technical details to coordinate on that website, and so we may not make the Christmas target. But it is coming, and as soon as we can solve the issues of uploading and authorizing the downloading, a link will be put here on this blog.

I appreciate all the work done by everyone involved to record, copy and preserve the talks. I also appreciate the work done to convert the material so it can be made available.

I am working to produce a book based on the talks and some other material from the blog and the Sunstone paper delivered this year. The book will be different than the talks. It a different and more extensive project involving thousands of additional hours of editing and writing to add additional scriptural and historical support to the topics discussed. It is the most work I have ever invested into a single volume. There is no projected completion date. At present I am only finished through the Las Vegas talk in a first edit. It will go through approximately 3 edits. Completion of the book will likely be sometime mid-2015, at the earliest.