Archive for September, 2009

The Webster’s definition of apostasy is 1) renunciation of a religious faith and 2) abandonment of a previous loyalty. Tracing the word back to its original Greek, one finds that an apostate could be defined as ‘one who stands apart.’ There are many great men and women who, based on their conscience or on revelation, were called to stand apart from their religious traditions. I would like to consider a few of these great souls both within and without the Mormon sphere.

Martin Luther

I have truly enjoyed reading on the life and works of Martin Luther. For many years, I simply placed him in the realm of a predecessor to Joseph Smith. This is still a valid statement but I believe we can learn much more from his life and struggles. He was born 8 years before Columbus discovered America. He grew up in the home of his parents who looked forward to their son becoming a lawyer and supporting them. While returning to school after a visit home, he was knocked down by a lightning strike. Fearful for his life, he pledged at the spot to enter the service of God. Two weeks later, he entered the monastery at the age of 22 never having read the Bible. When it was presented to him, he devoured it spending many days and months reading the word of God. Continually, through fasting and prayer, he sought to be acceptable to God. In 1510, Luther had the privilege of spending a month in Rome. He returned to Germany disillusioned by the crassness of the priests and the singular focus he saw there on money and excess.

While much of his life in the monastery was filled with the anxiety of a sinful soul, Martin struggled to find peace with God. Something, he realized, that could not happen until the whole man had been changed. With this challenge he struggled for many months. In 1513, he was assigned the chair of the Bible. Teaching from the Psalms brought him to the realization that Christ had indeed taken upon him our sins. It was an epiphany for the man who came to realize that he had did not have to rely on the myriad of acts demanded by the Holy Roman Church but only upon the merits and mercies of Jesus Christ.

This awakening caused him to rethink all that he had come to accept within the church and quickly led to the 95 Theses hanging on the door of the church in Wittenberg. His path took him before kings and princes. He was thrice excommunicated and condemned to death for his efforts to reconcile the actions of the church with the scriptures. His writings were burned and his life was only spared by the help of friends.

While he did not initially intend to break from the Catholic Church, he succeeded in crystallizing the German efforts to separate themselves from the Italian papal domination.



“Here, I stand” Words Martin Luther is said to have uttered as he stood before Emperor Charles V who was awaiting a recantation of all the ills that Luther had brought out upon the church. Luther did not recant but branded himself an apostate. One who stands apart.

(Here I Stand, A Life of Martin Luther by Roland H. Bainton and The Life and Times of Martin Luther by J. H. Merle D’Aubigne’)

Lehi

What would you call a man who deserted his home and struck out into the wilderness with his family without telling anyone? What would you think if this same man sent his sons back to kill one of the leaders of the church, kidnap his assistant and steal the sacred records of their faith?

I have often wondered what Lehi must have endured to follow the word of God into the desert. In this day, I would liken it to someone fleeing out of Salt Lake only to return, kill a church official and steal one of the original copies of the Book of Mormon.

Here is a man who, based on a dream, packed up a few possessions and disrupted the lives of his family in a major way. I don’t think Laman and Lemuel ever got over it as they stated in 1 Nephi 18:

21 Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy.

22 And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people; and our father hath judged them, and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his words…

Lehi was called to leave his comfortable surroundings and his family, friends and church at the request of God. He was to separate himself from the life and environment that, undoubtedly, was comfortable and appealing. Wouldn’t Lehi have been considered an apostate by the leaders of the Jerusalem community? What kind of faith would it have taken to leave behind the comfort of orthodoxy for a tent in the desert?

Lehi, the visionary man, was willing to stand apart from what had been his entire life and livelihood. He caused his family and selected friends to leave the known and comfortable for the unknown and painful. While he may have been an apostate to the elders of Jerusalem, he was the father of a new nation to us… all because he hearkened to the word of God given him in a dream.

Alma the Elder

Alma had things going quite well. He had recently been elevated to a high priest position under great King Noah. He, perhaps along with his wives and concubines, were likely living large as we read in Mosiah 11:

14 And it came to pass that he (King Noah) placed his heart upon his riches, and he spent his time in riotous living with his wives and his concubines; and so did also his priests spend their time with harlots.

15 And it came to pass that he planted vineyards round about in the land; and he built wine-presses, and made wine in abundance; and therefore he became a wine-bibber, and also his people.


That is, until he heard Abinadi preach of Christ and was convinced that something was seriously wrong with what he was seeing. Unable to convince Noah of the error being committed, Alma was forced to flee for his life. He found refuge in the wilderness and was led by God to form a community based on principles that set him apart from his former life and position.

Given that King Noah was the ruling secular and religious authority at the time, I am sure that Alma was branded as an apostate; one who has abandoned his previous loyalty. To us, Alma was responding to the promptings of the spirit – first, seeking to give a man of God a wide berth but ultimately to re-establish the church of Christ in the wilderness.

Good Apostate or Bad Apostate?

The message here is that there may be times when being an apostate is doing the right thing. If the existing religious framework has become disconnected from the original mission of the church, it may take an apostate or two to bring some, perhaps a remnant, back in alignment with the will of God. Samuel the Lamanite stood on the wall and delivered a message to the Nephites that God was not pleased. Some people heard his words and repented. Most times, it seems these outliers are given the task of taking the message of repentance to the majority and are then encouraged to flee for their lives.

In D&C Section 112, we are told that ‘vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth’ and ‘upon my house shall it begin.’ The meaning here to me is that latter day church is to encounter a correction or cleansing. Several times in the Book of Mormon, we Gentiles are told to ‘repent and return’ to the gospel. We are told that only we Gentiles who repent will participate in the building of New Jerusalem (3 Nephi 21:14-24). I believe there are many scriptural signs that dictate we, as a people who profess to have taken upon them the name of Christ, will need to repent and return or be left behind.

Have our hearts been so focused on riches that we are ripe for the message of Samuel the Lamanite to be delivered to us? Could it come from someone who was branded by the hierarchy of the church as an apostate? Time will tell.

What think ye?

The title of this post is from a comment made by one of the missionaries that stopped by the other day. We were discussing the church that Christ established among the Nephites. The elder was adamant that the twelve disciples selected by Christ to lead His church were not apostles and, therefore, were not as ‘important’ in terms of hierarchy and mission. I would grant that these twelve men would not be ‘judging the house of Israel’ as was assigned to the original twelve apostles at the time of Christ, but it has occupied my mind considerably these last few days just what basis should be used to assess their contribution to the kingdom of God. And by extension, what we should expect from the men who are called to lead the church of Christ today.

By my estimation, the best measure is the fruits as we read in Matthew 7:

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

It would seem to me that an examination of the fruits would be appropriate in understanding the differences between the ‘disciples’ of the Nephite church and the ‘apostles’ of today’s restored church.

First, let’s look at the twelve selected to lead the Nephite church. We only know a small amount about these men. We know their names and we know how long they lived (including the three Nephites). The scriptures do tell us that these men were able to establish a Zion community as we read in 3 Nephi 26:

17 And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen began from that time forth to baptize and to teach as many as did come unto them; and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus were filled with the Holy Ghost.

18 And many of them saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written.

19 And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another.

20 And it came to pass that they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them.

21 And they who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ.

These men were able to extend the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost to all the members. They were able to teach marvelous things. Perhaps most important in my mind is that the community they led was able to employ the law of consecration – they had all things common among them. This is similar to the experience of the apostles at the time of Christ. They, too, were able to see the baptism of fire among the members and they too were able to establish a community based of the law of consecration.

How close to living the law of consecration are we today? What are the leaders of the restored church doing to bring the people to this state? Should we be satisfied with the terrestrial law of tithing as a marker of the condition of the church?

Another equally important product that the disciples were able to provide is found in fourth Nephi:

5 And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.

These men were able to work miracles among the people. The scriptures repeatedly tell us that the presence of these miracles is a marker, not of just the men who perform them but of that veracity of the church of Christ. These works, as demonstrated by the Nephite disciples, are defined as the works of God and are required of His church, as found in 3 Nephi 27:

10 And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it.

11 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.

12 For their works do follow them, for it is because of their works that they are hewn down; therefore remember the things that I have told you.

The works of the Father are indeed the miracles as brought by the disciples. These men were able to demonstrate the works of the Father among the people to which they ministered.

So what of the apostles of today’s LDS Church? What are their fruits? Why are such miracles as described at the hands of the Nephite disciples not prevalent among the apostles of today? When was the last documented miracle by an apostle in the restored church? Why are they not blessing the church on a daily basis through these types of miracles?

What are the works of the leadership of the church? Should the building of 140 temples be counted as the works of the leadership of the church? Or the thousands of meeting houses and stake centers? Should we consider the ‘requirement’ by every apostle to publish their own words? What are the works of the corporate church? Is the billion dollar reconstruction of the area around the temple considered to be one of the major works of the men who lead the church today? These, unfortunately, are the works of men and they will only ‘have joy in their works for a season’ before they are hewn down.

In a talk given in Calgary, Alberta through the Church Educational System on May 7, 2000, Elder Dallin H. Oaks expanded the definition of miracle with these words recorded in the Church News of May 13, 2000:

Other far-reaching miracles occur as a result of obedience to the commandments of God. For example, he added, “there is something miraculous about the way the members of our Church pay their tithing so faithfully and are so blessed for doing so.”

Other large-scale miracles are occurring in the Church’s family history work, he said. “The effect of our Family Search Internet Genealogy Service in the year it has been available is truly miraculous. After one year our Internet site averages 8 million hits per day, representing daily visits by about 130,000 persons. In this same one-year period, the site registered users from 117 countries who downloaded over 410,000 copies of our Personal Ancestral File. This was an 8-fold increase in usage over the prior technology.”

Should the definition of miracles be changed to include the ‘works of man?’ Is it acceptable to the Lord that the works of God – raising the dead, healing the sick, the blind receiving sight, and the deaf receiving ability to hear – be supplemented with the works of man – the payment of tithing and the development of a popular website? As I have said before, should the condition of the church be measured on the terrestrial law of tithing, or the number of temples, or any other man-made activity? God had made it very clear that a church build upon the works of man will fail.

In summary, the lowly Nephite disciples who were called to lead the church of Christ were commanded to be ministers and servants to the people, they baptized them with water and with fire and the Holy Ghost. They were able to establish a Zion community, based on all things being common, that lasted three generations. They blessed the members of the church with mighty miracles – raising the dead, healing the sick. If I were to choose which made an adequate contribution to the kingdom of God, I would choose these disciples. They are an example of what our apostles should be today.

38 For it shall come to pass that the inhabitants of Zion shall judge all things pertaining to Zion.

39 And liars and hypocrites shall be proved by them, and they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known. (D&C 64)

What think ye?

I am going to diverge from my usual discussion items relating to doctrines in this post. I want to spend some time rehearsing some of my thoughts on genetics and the human soul. I have a son who is finishing his PhD in Molecular Biology at Berkeley. I have been ‘forced’ to educate myself on the topic so as to be conversant with him on his research and studies.

First, please understand that I am by training a computer engineer so this relieves me of any claim of expertise in my presentation on the topic. Here is some base information on the topic. The human genome is made up of 3.2 billion base pairs. These base pairs are made up of four different sugar and phosphate-based molecules which have been identified as adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C) and guanine (G). As you may know, DNA is represented by a twisted ladder with pairs of these ‘chemicals’ loosely mated together by nitrogen based compounds where adenine and thymine (A-T pair) and cytosine and guanine (C-G pair) form the steps. So, you have the 3.2 billion rung ladder that represents the set of instructions that are used to guide the operation of our bodies. These base pairs are grouped together by function into genes of which there are about 30,000 in humans. These genes are grouped into chromosomes. All living things use this same template of base pairs and genes. The number of base pairs range from about 1.8 million in the influenza bacteria to 100 million in plants to 2.6 billion in mice and up to our 3.2 billion pairs.

Every cell in our body (with the exception of sperm and eggs) contains the complete DNA string described above. Every cell also only ‘activates’ a small portion of its genetic information in the production of proteins which are necessary for the purpose of that particular cell. In the normal operation of a cell, the nucleus or center of the cell manufactures a particular protein that is then transported to the edge of the cell where it is used for some purpose. So, a liver cell has the same base information as a skin cell but they operate completely differently with selected gene being activated in each circumstance.

Hopefully that is enough background for what I would like to discuss. For those interested in this topic, I would highly recommend the book Genome by Matt Ridley.

One aspect of this topic that amazes me is how incredibly complex the process is to get us to a functioning human being. What begins as a single cell, the union of sperm and egg, results in a uber-complex body with each subsystem working off the same ‘template.’ As this original single cell begins to divide, it is only a few days before these cells are called upon to begin to specialize. The mass of cells, which were originally identical, now are called upon to form every organ, bone and muscle found in our bodies. How does one cell know what it is to do? Right now there are only theories on how a cell at one end of the mass of cells is guided to start forming the head and its components while another at the other end works of the feet and toes. How do these cells ‘communicate?’ At this time, I have only found theories that suggest the original mass of cells differentiate based on the presence of electrical or chemical markers that vary by the position in the cell mass. I find these theories woefully inadequate in explaining how my fingers and finger nails formed at the end of my arms rather than on the top of my head ;-].

The other amazing aspect of ‘life’ is commonly referred to as ‘instinct.’ Those innate abilities that we are born with that seem to be hard-wired into our brains. One example is that kittens separated from their mother before their eyes are opened will attempt to cover their fecal matter. Is there some ‘universal’ cat etiquette that is carried into the next generation?

One of my favorite examples of instinct is the cuckoo bird. There are species of cuckoo bird that do not build nests but simply lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. The cuckoo egg is ‘programmed’ to hatch before the eggs of the host nest and the young cuckoo chick pushes the other eggs out of the nest. Having removed the competition, the young cuckoo bird now is nurtured by the host. The thrush, in this picture from Wikipedia, continues to feed what is an obvious (to us) intruder. I think that the positive aspect here is that there are no bounds to the love of a parent. Looking at the size of the nest, you can get some perspective on how ‘out of context’ this situation is.


So… how does the young cuckoo bird know to push the other eggs out of the nest? It had no clues from its parents or the environment to trigger this behavior. How is this invasive species able to continue this behavior over generations?

These are only a couple examples of instinctive behavior among living beings. How does a human baby begin life with the innate ability to suckle from the breast of their mother? How does a sea turtle deposited as an egg in the sand of the beach inherently know to move toward the ocean when it emerges from the egg? How does a spider know how to create a web even though they are separated from any examples?

These are all questions related to how species-related information is transferred to offspring. Through the miracle that is the development of a living organism; basic skills are, somehow, implanted in the brain. In many cases, these implanted skills, or instincts, are necessary for survival.

So, this brings me to the crux of the matter. How can a sequence of sugars and phosphates linked by nitrogen-based chemicals govern the incredibly complex process in the development of a living entity? How can this sequence of chemicals develop into a cognitive being with certain skills imbedded in their brain?

As I peruse the available scientific literature, I find references to this information contained in what is currently called ‘junk DNA;’ segments of our genetic material that has no apparent purpose. There are other theories regarding how this information is carried in the DNA structure but none seem to satisfy the programmer in me. We share with other mammals between 70 and 90% of our genetic material. The unique material is what differentiates us physically from the mice and birds and whales in the world. I find it implausible that the same code used to build the physical body could also contain the programming.

In my mind, the argument is the same as saying a computer parts list when assembled correctly will automatically contain the operating system. As an engineer, I know that I can easily assemble a computer if I have all the physical elements needed. I also know that the computer will not be viable until an operating system is installed. The operating system is the set of instructions needed to make use of the physical components.

Our brain and the associated body are not viable without the equivalent operating system software. In my opinion, the ‘instincts’ we are born with partially represent the fundamental equivalent to this operating system. This is where I need to inject the spiritual aspect of this discussion. I hold that we, as souls or living beings, are a combination of spirit and body.  I believe the spirit which is embedded in the physical body at some point when the cells begin to differentiate carries with it the basic information needed to act in the ‘role’ defined.

It is easy for me to believe that all living things are a combination of physical and spiritual entities. The spirit of the yet to be born bird, or spider, or for that matter, any other living thing brings with it the necessary instincts and basic operating system to function in the context of its existence. We begin with this basic instinct to build our knowledge. I believe that this basic toolkit with which we are born gives us not only the basic tools but also the intrinsic uniqueness that every living thing enjoys.

As I contemplate the incredible complexity of my own body and as I have watched the process wherein new life is brought about, I find it much easier to believe in a creative God than in evolution’s process of trial and error .

From Genesis, chapter one, we read:

20  And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22  And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

The miracle of life is a testimony to me of the existence of this unseen world. There are clues all around us, if we but pay attention.

What think ye?

The Book of Mormon records the visit of Christ to the ‘people of Nephi.’ As a missionary, I recall the recitation of the scripture in 3rd Nephi as follows:

…they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.

I still hold closely the feeling I had as I struggled to learn this in a foreign tongue; we had new information to share with the world. Christ visited his people in other lands. His message was for all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues. I never got to use that lesson very often as it was next to the last of the missionary discussions but the feeling persists to this day.

What a privilege the people of Nephi had in being able to approach the resurrected Christ and thrust their hands into His side and feel the prints of the nails in His hands and feet. This was the first action Christ directed upon His glorious arrival. The second was to call forward Nephi to come before him as recorded in 3 Nephi, chapter 11:

 

18 And it came to pass that he spake unto Nephi (for Nephi was among the multitude) and he commanded him that he should come forth.

19 And Nephi arose and went forth, and bowed himself before the Lord and did kiss his feet.

20 And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him.

21 And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven.

22 And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize….

Here we find the twelve disciples charged with the authority to baptize. Along with this we find that Christ explicitly defined the baptismal process that the twelve were to follow. I find it interesting that throughout the rest of the description of the people of Nephi, I cannot find any place where this was delegated beyond the twelve. As I read of the visit of Christ, this time I wish to focus on what I would call the roles and responsibilities of the twelve as defined by Christ.

We read the following in chapter 12 as Christ began to speak to the multitude:

Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am.

Here we read that the disciples were chosen to be ministers and servants. I wonder what it must be like to be called to lead His church and be told that you are to be a servant. I believe this was a message to the twelve to maintain their humility and shun any pride or ego that could come from such a calling.

Following His discourse, Christ then gives another commandment to the twelve disciples, as found in Chapter 18:

3 And when the disciples had come with bread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed it; and he gave unto the disciples and commanded that they should eat.

4 And when they had eaten and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude.

5 And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name.

I find it interesting that there would be ‘one’ of the disciples ordained among the people of Nephi to prepare and administer the emblems of the sacrament to the members of His church. Again, I can find no evidence in the subsequent discussion of this people that indicates the sacrament was treated any differently.

Then, Christ, speaking of the baptism and the sacrament, says the following:

11 And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.

12 And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock.

13 But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them.

The disciples are to baptize and conduct the sacrament. The warning comes next. If they continue to do these things, they will be built on the rock of Christ. But… if they do ‘more or less’ than this, they will build on a sandy foundation. What is the message to us here? How much credence should we place on the Book of Mormon and the visit of Christ to the people of Nephi in the definition of the role of the twelve chosen to lead the church of Christ? Should their role be constrained to baptism and sacrament, no more no less? Should the charge given to the modern leaders of the church be significantly different than that presented in Christ’s visit? How can we possibly accomplish this if those that are members of His church are not gathered together?

In the next verses, the disciples are charged with not allowing anyone to partake of the unworthily when they shall administer it. This again reinforces the idea that the twelve are responsible for the correct administration of the sacrament.

In verse 37 of chapter 18 we read that Christ ‘gave them power to give the Holy Ghost.’ Christ, in praying to the Father said in chapter 19 verse 20 ‘Father, I thank thee that thou has given the Holy Ghost unto thee whom I have chosen.’ I take this to mean that the disciples, in a similar manner, are able to call upon the recipient to ‘receive the Holy Ghost’ but it is incumbent upon the person to prepare themselves to receive this gift from the Father.

Again in chapter 19, we read:

13 And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

All the disciples were baptized by water, and they then experienced the second baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. This event transpired at the beginning of their ministry not as an imperceptible event after a long life of Christ-like service. We read later in verse 28 that these men were ‘purified.’ This is consistent with the remission of sins through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost (see 2 Nephi 31:17-20). Should we expect anything different from the twelve that lead the church in modern times?

Speaking of the twelve disciples, we read:

8 And when they had ministered those same words which Jesus had spoken—nothing varying from the words which Jesus had spoken—behold, they knelt again and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus.

When the disciples ministered unto the people, they used only the words that Christ had spoken, ‘nothing varying.’ How important is it for the disciples to stay on message? As they were warned earlier, they were not to do more or less than what Christ commanded them. What are we to think of the modern disciples who are ‘obligated’ to publish books of their wisdom? Does this seem to be consistent with the message delivered by Christ to these earlier disciples? Is it right that leaders of the church of Christ supplement their incomes with the book profits from adding to the words of Christ?

Because the disciples stayed on task this was the result from chapter 26:

17 And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen began from that time forth to baptize and to teach as many as did come unto them; and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus were filled with the Holy Ghost.

18 And many of them saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written.

19 And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another.

20 And it came to pass that they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them.

21 And they who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ.

We read later that as the disciple passed away, others were ordained in their stead. There is again no mention that their responsibilities were delegated to others. The message is clear to me – the environment necessary to being about the implementation of the law of consecration (all things common) is achieved by both the disciples/leaders and the people staying on task with baptism, the sacrament, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, to receive all the other blessings that come from the ‘true’ church of Christ (4 Nephi):

5 And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.

How much of this is required of us today? Can we reach this ‘Zion’ when we are not willing to stay on task? Has the ‘gospel of prosperity’ supplanted the gospel of Christ among those ‘who profess to be called by His name?’ Do we seek after drivers and limos and multi-million dollar penthouses instead of seeking to be servants?

I am reminded of the pride before the fall:

25 And so great was the prosperity of the church, and so many the blessings which were poured out upon the people, that even the high priests and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure.

It took only a decade for the people described in this quote from Helaman, chapter 3 until ‘they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten…until they had lost possession of almost all of their lands.’ Is that what awaits us if we do not see the situation we are in? Is all well in Zion?

What think ye?