Thursday, June 17, 2010

Alma 13:23

 
"And they are made known unto us in plain terms, that we may understand, that we cannot err; and this because of our being wanderers in a strange land; therefore, we are thus highly favored, for we have these glad tidings declared unto us in all parts of our vineyard."
 
This doctrine contained in the scriptures was understood by this audience. The same audience who was full of iniquity and abominations because of their false religious traditions. It was in "plain terms" in the scriptures, if one doesn't "wrest" them to their destruction.

To "wrest" means to apply such twisted reasoning that the philosophies of men are mingled with scriptures so that the result is error.

The object of the scriptures is to make matters "plain" and prevent people from "erring" in their effort to follow God.

What is the difference between someone who with their scriptures before them, finds their message sufficiently "plain" and "understood" that they "cannot err," and someone who has the same set of scriptures and engages in "iniquity" and "abominations" because of their false religious ideas?  How can someone who is religious be certain they are not among those who err, but is instead among those who find holiness and develop faith to repent?
 
How do we know which side of this line we are on?
 
Both sides are religious. Both sides have their traditions and teachings.  Both sides are sincere and following what they believe to be true.  However, one is engaged in "abominations" because of their false beliefs, and the other has entertained angels and received such cleansing that their garments are white before God.  One side does not understand their awful state.  But the other is certain of their promise of exaltation and purity before God.
 
So, how certain are you?  Do you know you are pure before God?  Holy?  Having entered into His holy order after the order of the Son of God?  Or do you entertain some doubt about whether the traditions which you value are actually based on the truth?  Is it possible that you "err" or "wrest" the scriptures as part of your religious tradition?
 
According to Alma, all of this care by the Lord is because they are "wanderers in a strange land." Meaning that they are in this spot at this time because they have been taken from Jerusalem, the land of their forefathers, and placed in a new, promised land. They have been persecuted and evicted from land by their aggressive cousins.  All of this to stir them up to repentance.  It is God's care for them, God's careful tutelage of them, that leads them to receive this profound understanding. They are on God's errand, and therefore entitled to God's guidance. God is providing the "glad tidings" which will permit repentance to occur.

So, applying Alma's teaching to us, we should ask ourselves if we have repented? If we have received a message from angels declaring glad tidings? If we have received what we would recognize as a message from the Lord by someone declaring repentance?  Or do we have a weak tradition which assures us that we are right, while letting us entertain abominable (false, religious-based) errors in our beliefs?
 
These are troubling questions. Worth careful, solemn and ponderous thought.  Perhaps even prayerful thought where we ask the Lord if these things are not true.  And if we ask with real intent, He may make the truth known to us.  At least that is what He has said through past messengers. I see no reason why it would not work for us.  It's at least worth a try, isn't it?

Powerful teachings from Alma. But then again, one should expect nothing less from a true messenger bearing a holy order of power and authority after the order of the Son of God.  A weak and vacillating voice telling us all is well and we're going to be fine just seems wrong by comparison.  At least I would think so. 

17 comments:

  1. The "weak and vacillating voice" mentioned reminds me of Revelation 3:15-16...

    "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
    So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."


    It makes me wonder on what points during my day am I neither cold nor hot? Do my actions during the day (and beyond) set me up to be spued out? And what can I do to ensure my family and those whom I serve aren't spued as well?

    Spuing's not only a new Scrabble word; it's s a seriously big deal.

    ReplyDelete
  2. OK, now a question (or two):

    What are we to do if or when such "all is well" statements (over pulpits, broadcast signals and publications) become consistent, the rule rather than the exception?

    Is this indicative of a spiritual myopia which threatens to pacify and lull the very members of the church?

    EC

    ReplyDelete
  3. "And they are made known unto us in plain terms, that we may understand, that we cannot err; and this because of our being wanderers in a strange land;"

    The first thing that came to mind on this phrase was that we are wanderers in a strange land - we have left the presence of God and are here on earth - wanderers trying to find our way back home - that's why Father has given the information to us "in plain terms" - so we cannot err and we are left without excuse - the path is straight and before our eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Reading the last two posts and the verses from Alma, I have these thoughts coming up:

    This is a wicked people, and Alma is stretching forth his hand unto them and teaching in a mighty voice, perhaps that he may be recognized by all as an authorized servant and messenger of God.

    I wonder why I don't recall ever seeing anyone preach doctrine in this manner in my lifetime. Perhaps I just have not seen it? Perhaps it's something else? The Lord certainly has true ministers teaching people around the world, but to my knowledge even when they are truly teaching by the Spirit and perhaps even with the tongue of angels, I personally do not know of anyone presently stretching their hand forth as Alma while teaching doctrine. So why did Alma? Alma is not teaching them at the temple, is he? So it seems that what Alma did here is not a "within the temple only" matter, as Alma does this while teaching the wicked out in the city.

    Why was it important for Alma to do this, and for us to know it, as it must have been to be included in our scriptures? Is it perhaps somehow tied directly to Alma speaking in a mighty voice? I hope I am crossing no lines, as I truly am pondering these questions, not yet having answers to them myself.

    And how could these wicked people recognize the import and meaning of what Alma was doing unless they had been taught to recognize it before, and had since either forgotten or rejected it?

    But in spite of their wickedness,(or maybe because of it?) the people are taught these things, and they register and understand what is taught to them, regardless of whether they embrace it or not.

    I find it amazing and actually painful to see how these doctrines are currently missed, misunderstood, ignored, or even avoided. I'm ashamed I've missed and misunderstood them for so long myself. I think am only beginning to scratch the surface of them now. Yet this wicked people was taught and understood them plainly, that they could not err. Time for me to repent.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mike -- Wow, that last paragraph of yours...I couldn't have put it better. You nailed it for me.

    All -- Denver's blog posts (and especially the dialogue among us) have really awakened my immortal soul to a lively sense of my own guilt.

    Yet through it all, it has been invigorating to see, with new eyes, what great pains the Lord has gone through to gather and save us.

    A few days ago, someone was mentioning a time when Pres. Hinckley mentioned something about wishing to scale back or eliminate many programs and auxiliaries of the church, yet didn't do so because the saints wouldn't allow it. **I wish** I could read that talk.

    I wonder if instead of implementing such a course of action, he instead asked all of us to read the Book of Mormon so we could see for ourselves how things should be.

    I must confess that although I met his challenge, I fell far short of seeing what I should have in the scriptures.

    ReplyDelete
  6. In looking at this sermon to Zeezrom, it made me want to see if the same process occurred elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, and to my astonishment, I can see patterns all over the place. I put together a chart here to show references and such.

    The premise is thus: Being born again comes from seeing a demonstration of God’s power through His true messengers, a realization or understanding of what truth REALLY is (a change of heart or mind), followed by repentance.

    I just looked in the Book of Mormon for the first three instances that came to mind (Alma I, Alma II and Zeezrom), but I'm sure there are more. So much to feast upon!

    ---Doug

    ReplyDelete
  7. EC - I was the one who mentioned that talk. I don't know for sure if Pres. Hinckley didn't do it because of us, that part was a guess. I don't have the talk handy, just remember it clearly. Your search for it would be as good as mine. Your thought about the Book of Mormon challenge seems spot on to me if the line of thinking I suggested is correct. Very interesting. I fell short then, too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Cool Chart, Doug. I love it.

    To Denver....are you willing at all to expound a little bit on what you see as some of the foolish traditions or traditions of our fathers that are present in the church today? Please?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Doug -- thanks for the fabulous chart. I just downloaded it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. To EC:

    As a mother of 7 ranging from 18 to 4 months...I distinctly remember the talk you were referring to from Pres. Hinckley. He had mentioned that there would be some changes coming and my husband and I anxiously anticipated hearing what those changes would be...being a former YW president I could think of at least a dozen suggestions! :) When he finally gave the talk, he said that after careful review, there were too many benefits coming to people from these programs and they just couldn't find where they could change things...so the ONLY TWO THINGS they announced were that they would now make your temple recommend renewal interview occur every TWO years instead of annually, and the announced that they no longer wanted us to have "farewells" for missionaries departing. They gave some other counsel about not having open houses etc (none of which is obeyed where I live, by the way).

    Because I am the mother of seven....I don't have the time to look up exactly what year that took place....but those two hints about the policies that were changed should give you the information you need if you really want to go back and read it.

    P.S. LOVE this blog. I look forward to reading, studying and pondering from it everyday...several times a day.

    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous- In regards to your question about foolish traditions... there are several posts from Denver.

    The traditions of men, part 1 (Continue this post for parts 2 and 3)
    Weep for Zion for Zion has fled

    There are other hints scattered throughout the blog. Also, if you search "traditions" you will find all sorts of relevant stuff. Hope that helps.

    ---Doug

    ReplyDelete
  12. FWIW...

    Gordon B. Hinckley, “To Men of the Priesthood,” October 2002 General Conference (Ensign, Nov 2002, 56):

    "I need not tell you that we have become a very large and complex Church. Our program is so vast and our reach is so extensive that it is difficult to comprehend. We are a Church of lay leadership. What a remarkable and wonderful thing that is. It must ever remain so. It must never move in the direction of an extensive paid ministry. But we know that the administrative load is very heavy on our bishops and stake presidents, as well as some others. An awareness of that fact has led the Presidency and the Twelve to hold a number of meetings, some of them long and interesting, in which in effect we have taken the Church apart and then put it together again. Our objective has been to see whether there might be some programs we could do away with. But as we have analyzed these, we have not seen much that could be dropped. To drop one is like giving away one of your children. You haven’t the heart to do it. But I wish to assure you that we are aware of the burdens you carry and the time you spend. In this priesthood meeting I wish to mention a few of the items we have discussed. I think you will note that we have made some progress, although it may be small."

    By the looks of it, they evaluated all church programs and determined that none "could be" done away with...because they didn't have "the heart to do it."

    ---------

    Pres. Hinckley gave his Book of Mormon challenge nearly three years later, in the August, 2005 Ensign.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'd add to Doug's comment: ...also look at "Constantine and Correlation" as a post.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you Doug and Denver....I will review those posts.

    ReplyDelete
  15. justwaitingcheerfulJune 18, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Is it only me or does it seem like we (the Church) have never obeyed or intend to obey D&C 42: 72-73? It says 72 Or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services, either a stewardship or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counselors and bishop.
    73 And the bishop, also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his services in the church.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is in response to the comment by "justwaitingcheerful" (I love the name by the way). D&C 42 deals with the law of consecration and therefore the references you quote would not apply to us today since we do not live under that law. However, while reading the Book of Mormon this year I read Mosiah 18:26 and then Mosiah 27:5 and it hit me like a bolt of lightening that we do in fact have a paid ministry in this church. The verses read as follows:

    Mosiah 18:26: And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.
    Mosiah 27:5: Yea, and all their priests and teachers should labor with their own hands for their support, in all cases save it were in sickness, or in much want; and doing these things, they did abound in the grace of God.

    The bible dictionary defines "grace" as an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts. Now I would say that is pretty good pay!
    Jim Boud

    ReplyDelete

What Say You?