Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Most answers are in the scriptures

I've been reflecting upon a conversation I had with a  self-described "tax protester" who has not paid income taxes and is now facing legal issues as a result.  After a couple of days of reflection I had this considered response to this dilemma:
I use a particular method in determining what issues I need Divine direction to resolve and what issues I need no direction from the Lord to resolve.  If there is an answer in the scriptures, contained in the teachings of Christ, then I simply do not ask the question.  Instead I assume Christ's teachings are intended to govern my conduct and I comply.  On the tax issue, for example, Christ did not resist paying taxes.  (Matt. 17: 24-27.)  Nor did Christ teach anything other than to pay taxes.  (Matt. 22: 15-22.)  Therefore, it would not occur to me to even ask the Lord about whether or not to pay taxes.
When it comes to asking the Lord about something on which His teachings are already clear, a person risks receiving permission to do what will ultimately instruct them by sad example that they ought to have followed His earlier teachings.  The best example of this is when Joseph requested he be allowed to let Martin Harris take the 116 pages and was told "no."  He persisted, and despite having been told "no," he asked again and was then told "yes."  The "yes" was not because God had changed His mind, but because Joseph simply refused to learn by anything other than sad experience to respect God's counsel.  (D&C 3; D&C 10: 1-30.)
Therefore, when there is already an instruction on point from the Lord, and we ignore it, the answer we receive may be for our benefit.  We may need to learn by sad experience what we might have learned instead by precept and wisdom from the Lord.
It is this kind of experience men repeat by failing to follow God's counsel.  Then, when they might have avoided the sting which follows, they choose instead to suffer.  Oftentimes they will blame the Lord for the hardships they brought upon themselves, when, if they had hearkened to the Lord's counsel in the first place, they would never have had to suffer.
This is why it is so important to study the scriptures.  If the answer is in there (and almost everything IS in there) and we do not choose to find it, but to inquire for a new revelation instead, we oftentimes doom ourselves to a sad experience.  His counsel should be heeded.  When we don't heed, and ask instead for new or different guidance, we may be given permission to do what He has already told us to avoid.  This is one of the great lessons from the lost 116 pages.


  1. This seems to be (for me) especially true of the Book of Mormon. I have been surprised at how many of my personal problems or questions have been answered as I read the Book of Mormon.

  2. I agree with what you posted but just wanted to add a reminder while personally applicable, we should not typically try to judge why another person passes through adversity.

    Some suffer through sad experience because of their hard-heartedness, sin, or refusal to accept the word of the Lord. Others suffer so that the glory of God may be made manifest through them.

  3. This is not a comment but a question. I just finished the chapter on gethsemene in Come Let Us Adore Him, I was amazed and I feel that I was taught how to forgive in my life just the way you state. Many years ago my best friend and my husband fell in love. As you can imagine when I found out I was devastated. The Lord was so merciful with me though because when I was experiencing my most pain. He came and I was comforted. I felt total peace and love from the Lord. It was like a cloud over my house. I can now state with conviction I understand what the Lord means when he says "A cloud by day and fire by night" Anyway I was able to forgive my husband and my friend. I am still married to the same man and I love him and pray for him all the time, but I don't have a relationship with that friend anymore. I have seen her and talked with her and I don't have really any feelings of anger or anything like that, but after reading this chapter I can see that I could start praying for her. Thank you so much for the insight of this chapter. I mentioned a question at the beginning. What does it mean then in the scriptures about the blood of the saints crying from the ground against them. How does this fit in with mercy.

  4. I think a person is only able to heed the teachings and scriptures they understand. The teachings that I understand and can apply to my life, for me, come step by step.

    If someone were to point out or tell me I had or was learning by sad experience and self inflicted suffering because of not following counsel in the scriptures, that could be very difficult and come across as very unkind. In many cases it may not be that a person ignored counsel in the scriptures, fluffed them off and or sought new revelation on something that had already been explained. (admittedly I'm sure that happens)

    At times I think it's possible that in my,(I'll use my self as the example) own experience, reading the scriptures, and doing my best to apply what I knew, I didn't understand a particular concept or teaching or the correct application. (beyond basic things like whether or not to pay taxes or honor your parents) To someone else the scriptural teaching was obvious, and criticism would come easily, but to the person it may have been new or a different application to life than they were familiar with. A helpful friend would have had endless value in such a case. I'm grateful for such friends.

    Perhaps your post was more addressing a different sort of mentality.

  5. Hi Denver, in one of your books you said we never outgrow the programs of the Church. I think that may be true for some Church aspects, but I also have a different viewpoint: what about programs that are designed to help us outgrow them? And when we "graduate" if you will, and learn the lesson intended by the ordinance, that doesn't mean we should stop going or practicing it. I'm just trying to fine tune your statement and also consider something else you said about the 10 lepers. Couldn't you say the 1 leper "outgrew" his need to see his bishop for every little thing because he found the person bishops are the symbols of, the true Bishop? I realize you have to be careful not to rationalize and truly have to find the Savior before realizing this maturity level, but what do you think? Could your statement do with some revising?

  6. I see your point and wouldn't necessarily disagree. But even if I don't like Sunday School, for example (and I don't by the way), I still want Sunday School to be available for my children, and for investigators I bring to Church, and for my grandchildren, etc. So even though I don't use it, I still haven't outgrown it.

    Also, just because I may not get something out of a meeting or program, that doesn't mean I won't support the program. Nor does it mean I won't get something out of it for a friend, neighbor, investigator, child, grandchild, etc. as mentioned above.

    I've come to see some things in an entirely new light. But even then, I don't completely discard the things seen in a different light. They just take on a different relevance.

  7. I should probably add (because I think it goes without saying, but I realize sometimes others need me to say it before they know I think this), I want to pay tithes. The Church allows me to do that. I want to partake of the sacrament. The Church allows me to do that. I want to attend the Temple. The Church allows me to do that. So in many ways, I won't ever outgrow it.

  8. And, oh yeah, I never gave any judgment about the tax protester. I explained why I could never join in protesting taxes. It was my reflection. Had nothing at all to do with judging the fellow who decided he would protest. I'm not in a position to begin to do that, and therefore made no comment about that subject.

  9. Denver,
    Thanks for clarifying. The post didn't seem judgmental at all. I added that comment because of who I once was (more judgmental than the friends of Job), not because of who you are.

  10. Well, I'm not sure I can extrapolate Matt 17 (specifically) to suggest that Christ paid his taxes, if that "tribute" is indeed the annual taxes we're so accustomed to (social security, federal, state, local, sales, property, medicare, yada yada yada).

    It's interesting to note just how exactly Christ paid the "tribute" and where that "tribute" came from. It's the ultimate fish story and possibly the "original" fish story.

    All I'm saying, I need me a fish or two come the end of the year. That way I can pay my taxes with the "lost" coin(s) of some poor soul who tossed his coin into the lake, probably in some attempt to curry favor with the universe. That's what I need. :)

    Come April 14th of next year, you can find me at the local pond with a fishing pole hoping to find the gold or silver coins someone put there for me to find and pay my taxes with.


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