Archive for July, 2009
Beginning with the 1921 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, the book no longer contained what was called the ‘Lectures on Theology’ and later the ‘Lecture on Faith.’ I thought it would be of interest to briefly recap some of the aspects of this change to our inspired standard works. As a reference point, I have scanned the first pages of the two major sections of an 1898 edition of the D&C. You see below that the first section was composed of the Lectures on Faith with a header noting the Lectures focused “on the Doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, originally delivered before a Class of the Elders, in Kirtland, Ohio.”
The next major component of the book contains the sections as we would expect in the D&C. As you can see, this second part of the book is called the “Covenants and Commandments of the Lord, to his servants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The words ‘covenants’ and ‘commandments’ are then found at the top of all pages in this segment of the book while the first segment has ‘lectures on faith’ across the top of each page.
So, why would it be acceptable to include the Lectures on Faith in the Doctrine and Covenants for 86 years, but then remove the information? FAIR has summarized the church’s viewpoint on this matter here.
From an historical perspective, the effort began in September 24, 1834 as noted in the minutes of the High Council meeting at Kirtland:
The council then proceeded to appoint a committee to arrange the items of the doctrine of Jesus Christ, for the government of the Church of Latter-day Saints, which Church was organized and commenced its rise on the 6th of April, 1830. These items are to be taken from the Bible, Book of Mormon, and the revelations which have been given to the Church up to this date, or that shall be given until such arrangements are made.” (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts, 2:, p.165)
This committee was composed of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams. Little is known about the activities of this committee but one can find a reference to Joseph Smith activities subsequent to the formation of the committee in this diary note:
January, 1835.-During the month of January, I was engaged in the school of the Elders, and in preparing the lectures on theology for publication in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, which the committee appointed last September were now compiling. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts, 2:, p.180)
It appears from this entry that it was clearly Joseph’s intent to include the lectures in the replacement for the Book of Commandments to be known as the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.
On August 17th, 1835, a general assembly of the church was held at Kirtland. The main purpose of the meeting was to ‘take into consideration the labors of a committee appointed by a general assembly of the Church on the 24th of September, 1834, for the purpose of arranging the items of doctrine of Jesus Christ for the government of the Church.’ The full text of the report on this meeting is found In the History of the Church, vol. 2, pages 243-246; I will attempt to summarize the proceedings.
The assembly of the church was presented with the proposal to include the ‘lectures on theology’ and the assembled revelations in the new Doctrine and Covenants. The first recorded pronouncement came from W. W. Phelps who ‘bore record that the book presented to the assembly was true.’ Other members and quorums followed suit with a similar witness acknowledging the proposal ‘as the doctrine and covenants of their faith, by unanimous vote.’
Elder John Smith, speaking for the High Council in Kirtland ‘bore record that the revelations in said book were true, and that the lectures were judiciously arranged and compiled, and were profitable for doctrine.’
The testimony of the twelve was also recorded ‘that these Commandments were given by the inspiration of God, and are profitable for all men, and are verily true.’
The report ends with this statement. ‘The several authorities and the general assembly, by a unanimous vote, accepted the labors of the committee.
The Doctrine and Covenants was then published later that year, 1835, and contained the following description of it contents addressed to the members of the church in the preface:
Dear Brethren: We deem it unnecessary to entertain you with a lengthy preface to the following volume, but merely to say that it contains in short the leading items of the religion which we have professed to believe.
The first part of the book will be found to contain a series of lectures as delivered before a theological class in this place, and in consequence of their embracing the important doctrine of salvation, we have arranged them in the following work.
The second part contains items or principles for the regulation of the church as taken from the revelations which have been given since its organization, as well as former ones.
At first glance, the two parts discussed would seem to carry at least equal weight. In the first part, we are presented with material describing the ‘important doctrine of salvation’ while the second part contains ‘principles for the regulation of the church.’
While the Lectures on Faith remained in the Doctrine and Covenants for more than 8 decades, there appears to be some concern for their placement as summarized by the following footnote from the History of the Church written by B. H. Roberts:
These “Lectures on Theology” here referred to were afterwards prepared by the Prophet, (see page 180) and published in the Doctrine and Covenants under the title “Lectures on Faith.” They are seven in number, and occupy the first seventy-five pages in the current editions of the Doctrine and Covenants. They are not to be regarded as of equal authority in matters of doctrine with the revelations of God in the Doctrine and Covenants, but as stated by Elder John Smith, who, when the book of Doctrine and Covenants was submitted to the several quorums of the Priesthood for acceptance, (August 17, 1835,) speaking in behalf of the Kirtland High Council, “bore record that the revelations in said book were true, and that the lectures judicially were written and compiled, and were profitable for doctrine.” The distinction which Elder John Smith here makes should be observed as a marking the difference between the Lectures on Faith and the revelations of God in the Doctrine and Covenants. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts, 2:, p.178)
Under the direction of Heber J. Grant, the 1921 Doctrine and Covenants was published without the Lectures. The following comment can be found in that edition:
While this seems to be a technicality, I would submit that the Lectures on Faith were indeed accepted by the assembly of the church as representing the doctrine of their faith. The original directive was to capture ‘items of the doctrine of Jesus Christ, for the government of the Church of Latter-day Saints.’ B.H. Roberts then rejects the Lectures because they weren’t revelation? So can I assume that the definition of revelation could easily cover both the pronouncements appended to ‘thus saith the Lord’ as well as those inspired documents developed for the education of our missionaries, especially when it is directed by Joseph Smith? Are the words found in the Lectures on Faith no longer considered to be the ‘doctrine of our faith’ as they were presented in 1835?
I find it interesting that the section of the original Doctrine and Covenants which was pronounced to be ‘embracing the important doctrine of salvation’ was demoted while the section pertaining to the principles for the regulation of the church’ remained intact. Which of these two topics would you consider more valuable?
What has really happened here? Seventy-five pages of material that Joseph Smith intended to be included in the Doctrine and Covenants are summarily discarded from the Book seventy-seven years after his death. Was the exclusion of the Lectures ever put to a vote by the assembly of the church? I can find no record of this event. On the other hand, I have submitted above the record of the general assembly of the church accepting the contents of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants as true. Did Heber J. Grant have the authority to ‘trump’ the intention of Joseph Smith to include the Lectures on Theology in the sanctioned scripture of the Church?
Did this change that occurred more than 80 years ago represent a step closer to the true doctrines of the kingdom? Have you considered reading and studying the Lectures on Faith as the pronouncement from Joseph Smith as being important for our salvation?
Perhaps I should offer my opinion. I have no doubt that Joseph Smith was called to restore the fulness of the gospel as found in the Book of Mormon. Along with that charge, he was to establish an organization to assist in the teaching of the gospel. I believe that he was given a reasonably wide degree of freedom in how to achieve that. The development of the original Doctrine and Covenants was Joseph’s best idea at the time to give the members a glimpse into the theology as he understood it in 1835.
I do consider the Lectures on Faith as a valuable source for insights that Joseph and Sidney received through the variety of spiritual experiences they received. It also contains some ideas that appear to conflict with the current view. As such, it is for me a springboard for forming questions and aids in my search for understanding faith and truth. I agree with the assembly that voted to accept the Doctrine and Covenants as defined by Joseph, Oliver, Sidney, and Frederick as representing the doctrines and commandments needed for the administration of the church. Should the 1921 Doctrine and Covenants have been ‘stripped’ of its doctrine? I think we lost something in the process.
What think ye?
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.”
(2 John 1:9-10)
John’s challenge to us in this scripture is to stay true to the doctrine of Christ. An acceptance and commitment to this doctrine or teaching is the path to eternal life with the Father and the Son. Rightly so, we, each of us, should be concerned about staying true to the doctrine of Christ.
Today, as in any other time in history, doctrines flow readily from many sources, we regularly receive warnings in the scripture to be watchful of the source of the doctrines presented to us “that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” (Ephesians 4:14)
In First Nephi 15:14 we read:
“And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.”
The remnant of Jacob, along with the Gentiles who receive the message of the restoration, shall come to a knowledge of the doctrine of Christ. This information contains instructions about what we must do to ‘come unto Christ and be saved.’ It is incumbent upon each of us to understand and embrace this doctrine and reject any attempts to replace it with the teachings of man.
As with the definition of the gospel, the definition of the doctrine of Christ is clearly outlined in the scriptures. Three times in the latter day scriptures, the Lord defines that which constitutes His doctrine.
In Second Nephi, chapters 31 and 32, we are presented with the doctrine of Christ. I will add some highlighting and commentary:
2 Wherefore, the things which I have written sufficeth me, save it be a few words which I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ; wherefore, I shall speak unto you plainly, according to the plainness of my prophesying.
3 For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.
4 Wherefore, I would that ye should remember that I have spoken unto you concerning that prophet which the Lord showed unto me, that should baptize the Lamb of God, which should take away the sins of the world.
5 And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!
6 And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?
7 Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.
8 Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove.
9 And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.
Nephi stresses that, in the context of following the commandments, Christ can be used as an example.
10 And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?
11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.
13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
What better summary can there be of the doctrine of Christ than is contained in verse 13. The Lord is asking for complete commitment. He expects us to repent of our sins and be baptized both by water and by fire and the Holy Ghost. I have bolded what I consider to be the key points of the doctrine of Christ as presented by Nephi.
14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.
15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.
16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
It is important to note that repentance, baptism by water, then baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost represent the gate. By gate, I interpret this to mean the starting point. We are all expected to follow the example of Christ in completing the commandment outlined in this verse. We are all expected to receive the two baptisms, “first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior” ( Mormon 7:10)
18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
Once we have passed through the gate of baptism by water and by fire and the Holy Ghost, then we are on the strait and narrow path. The following verse now lays out what should be our objectives for the rest of our lives
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.
Nephi ends this sermon with two key messages. First, there is no other way to salvation. I take this to mean no amount of hometeaching, tithing, temple attendance, and the other ‘markers’ matter if they are not predicated on the passage through the gate defined above. Secondly, Nephi makes the point that this is the only and true doctrine. I find it interesting that he chose these words. Does this make the other doctrines we cling to today null and void? Could this make other aspects of doctrine taught today as the doctrines of men? Moving on to chapter 32.
1 AND now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way. But, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts?
2 Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?
3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
6 Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.
Nephi understood what was in the hearts of his listeners. To answer the concerns, he encourages them and us to stay close to the Holy Ghost. How does one speak with the tongues of angels? I would submit that this is our ability to rely on the Holy Ghost to know what to say. As the missionaries were sent out in the early days of the church, they were told:
“Wherefore, lift up your voice and spare not, for the Lord God hath spoken; therefore prophesy, and it shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (D&C 34:10)
Returning to the discussion of the doctrine of Christ, the comment is also made that there will be no more of the doctrine of Christ given until He comes in the flesh. This occurred when Christ visited the Nephites after His resurrection. At that time, He did present more of His doctrine as found in 3 Nephi, chapter 11:
28 And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.
29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.
31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
The doctrine of Christ recited here correlates well with the sermon of Nephi cited earlier. We must be baptized, by water and the Holy Ghost, to be saved
36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.
37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
Become as a little child… What a tremendous challenge for us the rid ourselves of our envies and jealousies in becoming as a child. One that exhibits implicit trust and love; one who can then truly be called a son or daughter of God.
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
41 Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.
The warning here is that we are not to add or take away from the doctrine of Christ. I have pondered this for a long time. Can it be that the whole substance of the doctrine of Christ can be found in these two scriptures found in second Nephi and third Nephi? I must answer affirmatively. By commandment, we are told to sustain this as the “only and true doctrine” of Christ. While there may be other doctrines such as the doctrine of the priesthood or the doctrine of the resurrection, etc. there is only one version of the doctrine of Christ that promises sanctification and salvation.
Let us now look at the third reference to the doctrine of Christ found in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 10:
“67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.
69 And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.”
In this component of the doctrine of Christ, we find His definition of the church that bears His name. I would hearken back to the scripture I quoted in 1 Nephi 15:14 where we are told that the doctrine of Christ will teach us how to come unto Christ. I would submit that to come unto Christ is to be baptized by water and by fire and the Holy Ghost. I say this because this is exactly what has been defined as His doctrine in the earlier scriptures cited.
We can be considered His church only if we repent and come unto Him. Anyone who declares more on less than this is not of Christ. I would suggest that you ponder the implications of this scripture found in D&C 10. What if the only acceptable criterion for belonging to His church is that we repent and come unto Him? What if repenting and coming to Him is only defined in the scriptures cited earlier? What would his church look like today if this were the only condition for membership?
What think ye?
In one month, we will come upon the tenth anniversary of the deadly tornado that coursed across Salt Lake. On August 11, 1999, Utahans stood in awe as nature unleashed a whirlwind packing wind speeds as high as 150 mph. As many of you may remember, the tornado cut a swath across downtown, shattering glass and ripping off roofs. The Delta Center took a direct blow shortly after the tornado touched down. Follow a northeast path; it then shredded a temporary tent set up for a retail event. Here is where the storm’s only fatality occurred. Moving quickly, the storm then hit temple square, ripping the east doors off the tabernacle, uprooting the famed ‘Sweetheart Tree,’ and shattering panes of glass of the rotunda in front of the Christus statue located in the North Visitor’s Center. The tornado then crossed North Temple and toppled a crane on the site of the assembly hall construction. Its final target was the area around the state capitol where roofs and trees were forfeited to the fury of the storm.
Here is a graphical representation of the storm’s path from Salt Lake City’s Tornado’99, a Deseret News book published shortly after the event.
This was a unique event. It was the only tornado to hit Salt Lake City in its recorded history. Such a rare event should be notable; but is there a deeper spiritual meaning to this event? Why would He who controls the elements allow such an event to transpire? Should we, as members of His church, have taken a message from this whirlwind that struck at the center of Mormondom?
As I pondered this question, I was reminded of the scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants, section 112:
23 Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face.
24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.
25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.
So… it appears here that the Lord is issuing a warning, not just to the church but to ‘all flesh.’ We are to look forward to a ‘day of desolation and lamentation.’ The image the Lord uses in this circumstance is that of a whirlwind or tornado. This is certainly appropriate given the images recorded of the devastation of 8/11/99.
The warning here is clear that we, the inhabitants of the earth, are in for some trying times. What should be of more interest to us is that the ‘housecleaning’ is to begin with us. I believe that ‘house’ as the Lord uses it here, can have a dual meaning. It can signify both His temple (D&C 94:1) and His people (D&C 103:22).
First, let’s look at those ‘who have professed to know my name.’ In Isaiah 52:6, we read that ‘my people shall know my name.’ I would suggest that there is a spiritual link between knowing His name and membership in His kingdom. I would suggest that this may have a deeper meaning and the topic of another discussion. For now I would assert that knowing the name of God means to know who He is, what He does and how He does it. A similar discussion on the conditions pertaining to His church is found here. But what if I only ‘profess’ to know the name of God but don’t really follow through? I would align this with ‘talking the talk but not walking the walk.’
We find a similar thought expressed in D&C 56:1 as follows:
HEARKEN, O ye people who profess my name, saith the Lord your God; for behold, mine anger is kindled against the rebellious, and they shall know mine arm and mine indignation, in the day of visitation and of wrath upon the nations.
The section continues with a chastisement of several members for stiffneckedness, pride, and selfishness. I suggest that the message here, as well as in Section 112, is that we, as members of His church, need to repent.
Next, consider what the Lord means in reference to those of us who ‘have not known me.’ Knowing Christ is essential to eternal life as we read in John 17:3:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
To gain eternal life, we must be cleansed by His blood and receive sanctification:
And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; (3 Nephi 27:19-21)
We are sanctified by receiving a remission of sins through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. As stated in 3 Nephi 12:1, Christ, himself, administers the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. I believe that this is an essential component to knowing Christ and to Him knowing us.
The final warning in D&C 112 is against those that blaspheme against God in the midst of His house. Blasphemy could present itself in many ways. Certainly using the name of God in vain qualifies. To speak against God is another way it is presented in the scriptures. But what does it mean to blaspheme in the midst of his house. Is house, in this context, his people or his temple, or both?
First , as a people. Is it blasphemy to make light of the things of God? Do we utter mindless blessings on food or utter the pat answers with our head and not our heart? Is it blasphemy to stand before the congregation and announce our testimony of God by reciting a travel dialog?
Second, as a temple. Has the Lord’s temple been a site for conducting the business side of the corporate church? Is God pleased when we assign spiritual strength to the works of men? In 3 Nephi 27:11, the Lord speaks of His church in these terms:
But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return.
Do we blaspheme our God when we replace His works with the works of men? It would seem so since those who do so end up at the same place as the rebellious described in D&C 56:1
So, in summary, I would suggest the long forgotten tornado of 1999 can easily be categorized as a warning to the members of the church. How important is the fact that this act of nature occurred where it occurred, that it struck with such force to the sacred places of the church, that it seemed to be aimed directly at the assembly hall under construction? Such should be the subject of our pleadings with our God. What does this mean to me?
What think ye?
In my first post on this topic, I attempted to show from the scriptures that the latter day church is included with the Gentiles from a Book of Mormon perspective. I would encourage anyone to do their own study on this topic by searching out all the references to ‘gentile’ in the scriptures and formulating their own opinion. There are only 309 references to ‘gentile’ found in the scriptures, but it would be interesting to include the term ‘nations’ in the Bible as ‘goyim’ is translated as both. I would also like to hear comments from anyone who could provide an alternative viewpoint as to how the LDS Church fits into the context of the Book of Mormon.
As we consider the topic further, let’s go back to Nephi’s vision found in 1 Nephi, chapter 13. Here are some of the key verses found there:
- “among the nations of the Gentiles the formation of a great church” (verse 4)
- “a man among the Gentiles…went forth upon the many waters…to the promised land” (verse 12)
- “many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise” (verse 14)
- “mother Gentiles were gathered together… to battle against them” (verse 17)
- Nephi sees a book that “is a record of the Jews” (verse 23)
- This book goes from the Jews to the Gentiles but “many parts which are plain and most precious” of the gospel and covenants are removed (verse 26)
- “I will be merciful unto the Gentiles… I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel” (verse 34)
- Nephi’s seed will write many things and “these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles” (verse 35)
- “other books…came forth…from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed” (verse 39)
- “these last records… shall establish the truth of the first” (verse 40)
It is important to note that the Lord did not change how he called this people after they received the gospel. They were Gentiles before the restoration and they were still Gentiles after. From the perspective given us through Nephi’s vision, we were Gentiles then and still Gentiles now.
The thirteenth chapter ends with this statement:
“And the time cometh that he shall manifest himself unto all nations, both unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles; and after he has manifested himself unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles, then he shall manifest himself unto the Gentiles and also unto the Jews, and the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” (verse 42)
While I go into more detail on my website www.fulness.com/lastfirst , let me just say that the manifestation unto the Gentiles represents the restoration of the Gospel to us, being the Gentiles. This verse also indicates that ultimately, the Lord intends to manifest Himself unto the Jews.
So let us consider what the Book of Mormon says about our future. We see in verse 42 above that there is a transition from Gentile to Jew, just as there was a transition from Jew to Gentile in the meridian of time. I am sure that you will agree that the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews at the time of Christ did not bode well for them. In a comment to the Gentiles-R-Us Part 1, NEPT pointed out the discussion of the inspired version of the Bible dealing with Matthew 21. I would encourage you to read it. The essence of the discussion in the verses is that God will take the kingdom of God from the Jews and it ‘shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof; (meaning the Gentiles).’ However, we find in verse 56, that the fruits are short-lived:
“And then understood they the parable which he spake unto them, that the Gentiles should be destroyed also, when the Lord should descend out of heaven to reign in his vineyard, which is the earth and the inhabitants thereof.”
Why would we as Gentiles receive the kingdom of God but then be destroyed? It can only be a result of our rejection of the fulness of the gospel. Let me explain.
In Part 1, I discussed the verses found in 3 Nephi 16 surrounding the believing and unbelieving of the Gentiles. This chapter also supports the prophetic demise of us, as Gentiles, when the Lord states:
“And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.”
This verse portends the rejection of the fulness of the gospel by the Gentiles. In the BYU series on the Book of Mormon, Robert Millet and others discussed this scripture. To listen to a portion of that discussion click here. I might note that the reference in this audio clip to the twelve may be more appropriately pointed at the original twelve apostles of the Lord than Bro. Millet’s suggestion that this applies to the latter-day apostles. I don’t believe you can separate out today’s leadership from the rejection of the gospel. It is the whole church that is under condemnation.
In the context of the 16th chapter of third Nephi where this is found, it applies to the Gentiles collectively, both believing and unbelieving. And what does the Lord do with the fulness of the gospel that is taken away from the Gentiles?
“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.” (verse 12)
So, just as predicted in 1 Nephi 13:42, ‘the last shall be first, and the first shall be last’ with the Jews receiving the fulness of the Gospel after it is rejected by the Gentiles.
The plea from the Lord at this point is thus:
“But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.” (verse 13)
We are asked to repent and return so that we may be included among His people.
So… what must we repent of? Pride is certainly one item mentioned in 3 Nephi 16:10. Sinning against His gospel is another. I would suggest this be a critical topic of prayer and fasting. Here are some suggestions to ponder:
- What is the fulness of the gospel that is rejected?
- Where is the fulness of the gospel found in the scriptures?
- What is the definition of the gospel found in the scriptures?
- What must I give up of this material world that is restricting my ability to acquire the fulness of the gospel?
- How does the Lord measure His church?
I believe that the scriptures have answers to all these questions.
Here is one final topic to consider. Growing up in the church, I was given the distinct impression that one day, we would be called to go back to Missouri to establish Zion and build His temple. So, what does the Book of Mormon have to say on that topic?
Speaking of the Gentiles, the Lord states in 3 Nephi, chapter 21 verses 22-25:
“But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;
And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.
And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.”
In a close reading of this chapter, the Lord is asking us Gentiles to repent. If we do, we will have his church established among us. I get the distinct impression that the establishment of the church He speaks of here happens well after the restoration of the gospel and shortly before the events surrounding New Jerusalem. I would also note that it is the lot of the Gentiles to ASSIST the remnant of Jacob in the building of Zion. Not the other way around.
The warning is clear. We must repent and return. We must accept the fulness of the gospel. We must subdue our pride and understand that we will be the assistants to the remnant of Jacob in the building of Zion.
What think ye?