Archive for June, 2012

Posted by James

I have been one to seek earnestly after spiritual things. I love the things of God and love to learn of Him. There was a brother in my ward that thought that my approach to spiritual things was seeking after signs. His statement worried me. Was I seeking for signs? Weren’t people that seek for signs usually faithless, wicked people?

I wanted to make sure what I was doing was ok, so I asked Heavenly Father if seeking after spiritual experiences was acceptable to Him. I received an answer. The answer I received was a reminder of Nephi, Lehi’s son. Nephi heard of his father’s spiritual experiences and he too wanted to experience spiritual things.

1 Nephi 10:17
And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.

Nephi thirsted after the same spiritual blessings that his father received. Nephi later testifies:

2 Nephi 4
23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.
24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.

The Lord told Joseph Smith:

Doctrine and Covenants 46:8
Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;

Moroni also admonished:

Moroni 10:8
And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.

After receiving the understanding that God does want us to seek His gifts and spiritual things, I then asked Heavenly Father what does it mean then to seek for a sign? Heavenly Father led me to read this account from Joseph Smith:

When I was preaching in Philadelphia, a Quaker called out for a sign. I told him to be still. After the sermon, he again asked for a sign. I told the congregation the man was an adulterer; that a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and that the Lord had said to me in a revelation, that any man who wanted a sign was an adulterous person. “It is true,” cried one, “for I caught him in the very act,” which the man afterwards confessed when he was baptized. TPJS Pg. 278

Joseph Smith was also told by the Lord:

…he who seeketh after a sign is an adulterous person; and that principal is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars in heaven; for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man.
TPJS Pg. 157

Jesus also said:

Matthew 16:4
A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign;

I then asked Heavenly Father why an adulterous man would ask for a sign? What is it that makes a man do that? I again received an answer. The reason an adulterous person asks for a sign is because the spirit of the Lord is so withdrawn from them, that they cannot discern things spiritually. The only way they can test or discern something is with the natural senses of the body. They want something they can see, touch, taste, smell, etc. That is the reason they ask for a sign.

So as you can see, there’s a huge difference between sign seeking and spiritual gift seeking. Why is this important to know? Because if satan can make you think that seeking after spiritual gifts and experiences is seeking for signs he can prevent you from moving forward spiritually.

Posted by James

I was living in Australia. Heavenly Father wanted me and my family to move there. My wife is Australian, so when we first moved there I stayed at my father-in-law’s house. I had a terrible time trying to find a job. My wife was pregnant, I couldn’t find work, it was a really humbling experience. I became best friends with a Mauri brother in the ward. He was extremely spiritually gifted. One day as we were talking about spiritual things the spirit was really strong and he suggested we should take advantage of the spirit and pray. After our prayer he said to me “the spirit says you’re going to have a spiritual experience in the next few days.”

I wanted a spiritual experience, so I prayed and fasted the next day, Sunday. I broke my fast because we were invited to eat at someone’s house that night.  On Monday I decided to do as Enos and Nephi and fast and pray all day. I went out into a bungalow and prayed vocally for as long as I could. When I couldn’t think of things to pray about I read my scriptures. I prayed until the afternoon, but nothing happened. I was really discouraged. That night I went to my Mauri friend’s house to talk about things. He gave me a blessing.

The next day was Tuesday. I was unemployed at the time, so I decided to give it another go. I broke my fast and went out to the bungalow to pray again. I prayed for about an hour and this happened:

From my journal:

I knelt down and was praying to the Lord with all   my heart that I might receive evidence that what I was doing was right.    I could feel the spirit in my chest and my face was tingling.  While   feeling this I pleaded that I might have greater evidence.  All of a   sudden I felt power come into my body.  As Nephi said it consumed my   flesh.  So much so that I felt that my hands were out stretched and my   chest was pulled up and power surged through me like I have never felt in all   my life.  It was so powerful that I could hardly control myself.  I   felt like I was being shocked with energy.  I knew it was the energy of   God.  I felt His power!

 

At the time I wasn’t sure what had happened, but it wasn’t long after that Heavenly Father began to help me understand that I had experienced the baptism of fire. Here are a few things that I learned.

 

1. The baptism of fire is indeed a baptism or immersion in the spirit. For me it was a powerful experience, but it may come in a serene, peaceful way. Both Adam and Jesus received the baptism of fire immediately after baptism

Moses 6

64 And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water.

65 And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man.

Mark 1

9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

2. The baptism of fire does make a change to the body

Mosiah 27

25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;

26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

3. The baptism of fire is instigated and performed by Jesus

3 Nephi 9:20

And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost…

4. The baptism of fire changes your disposition

Mosiah 5:2

2 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

5. The baptism of fire can happen right after baptism, or it may take years. When we are confirmed members of the church we are asked to “receive the Holy Ghost.”  This is an invitation to us. I didn’t experience it until I was 33. Notice that Alma is asking members of the church if they have experienced it.

Alma 5
14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

6. The earth follows the same pattern of being saved through the ordinances of the gospel. The earth was baptized by water during the times of Noah and will be baptized by fire upon Jesus return to usher in the millenium.

7. There is a difference between the gift the Holy Ghost and the baptism of fire. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost based on righteousness. The baptism of fire is the actual reception of the Holy Ghost. 3 Nephi 19 is a great example of how the baptism of fire is receiving the Holy Ghost.

3 Nephi 19

9 And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.

10 And when they had thus prayed they went down unto the water’s edge, and the multitude followed them.

11 And it came to pass that Nephi went down into the water and was baptized.

12 And he came up out of the water and began to baptize. And he baptized all those whom Jesus had chosen.

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.

14 And behold, they were encircled about as if it were by fire; and it came down from heaven, and the multitude did witness it, and did bear record; and angels did come down out of heaven and did minister unto them.

15 And it came to pass that while the angels were ministering unto the disciples, behold, Jesus came and stood in the midst and ministered unto them.

16 And it came to pass that he spake unto the multitude, and commanded them that they should kneel down again upon the earth, and also that his disciples should kneel down upon the earth.

17 And it came to pass that when they had all knelt down upon the earth, he commanded his disciples that they should pray.

18 And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.

19 And it came to pass that Jesus departed out of the midst of them, and went a little way off from them and bowed himself to the earth, and he said:

20 Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world.

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16)

We are given, by virtue of the Book of Mormon, insight  into the meaning of this verse in the New Testament. Christ taught those at Jerusalem that they were not the only ones who were of the House of Israel. After the Savior finished teaching the Nephites that which He taught His followers in Jerusalem, He elaborated on the meaning of these ‘other sheep.’

But, verily, I say unto you that the Father hath commanded me, and I tell it unto you, that ye were separated from among them because of their iniquity; therefore it is because of their iniquity that they know not of you.

And verily, I say unto you again that the other tribes hath the Father separated from them; and it is because of their iniquity that they know not of them.

And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (3 Nephi 15:19-21)

It was because of the iniquity of those in Jerusalem that they were not told of these other tribes. The twelve disciples of the Savior were given the knowledge that there were others beyond them who were to receive a visit from Him.

AND verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister. (3 Nephi 16:1)

We learned that Christ was to visit these other sheep after His sojourn with the Nephites. That they, no doubt, would also record their experiences with the risen Lord. Is it because of our iniquity that we, ourselves, do not know of these other sheep? Have we not been told that we would receive these records if we were ready/righteous? Where are they?

Christ taught the Nephites that the record of this scattered people will be made available to the seed of others of the house of Israel, who were scattered,

And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer. (3 Nephi 16:4)

I would submit that we, today, could take advantage of this same promise: If we ask the Father, we will receive a knowledge, by the power of the Holy Ghost, of the existence of the progeny of those to whom the Lord spoke, as well as those others who were led away. We have not received this information collectively, but I would expect this could be received individually.

We also learn in this passage that it is through the Gentiles that the remnants of these scattered members of the House of Israel will receive this knowledge. This idea is reaffirmed in several places in the Book of Mormon.

And after the house of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again; or, in fine, after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel, the natural branches of the olive-tree, or the remnants of the house of Israel, should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer.” ( 1 Nephi 10:14)

We also find this later in the same narrative in first Nephi.

And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed—

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. (1 Nephi 15:13-14)

The fulness of the Gentiles is noted in these passages. The Gentiles, the same ones who fought against the mother Gentiles to establish this land of freedom would receive the fulness of the gospel. The Book of Mormon was  “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile.” (Title Page) Of these three groups, to which do you belong?

I would suggest that most who read this should consider themselves Gentiles. This is the Gentile church, which received the gospel of the Messiah through the restoration. We are blessed with a knowledge of the fulness of the gospel.

And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. (3 Nephi 16:6)

We, again, are blessed to receive a confirmation through the Holy Ghost of these things. Who else could the Lord be talking about? WE are the recipients of the fulness of the gospel as contained in the Book of Mormon; we are the ones who are promised that we can receive a testimony of these things in and through the Holy Ghost.

Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them. (3 Nephi 16:7)

In this latter day, are we the believing Gentiles or the unbelieving house of Israel?

For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel. (D&C 42:39)

Do you find yourselves among the rich Gentiles who have embraced the gospel or are you among the poor of the house of Israel?

In the dedication of the Kirtland temple, Joseph Smith characterized our situation in this way:

Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles. (D&C 109:60)

In the context of the Book of Mormon, and, as cited here in the Doctrine and Covenants, are we not these ‘believing Gentiles?’  Are we not these Gentiles who have received the fulness of the gospel through the Book of Mormon? Are we not the ones, as Gentiles,  who are supposed to take the message of the gospel to those who are of the house of Israel?

Now, returning to the Book of Mormon, we can read more regarding the Gentiles.

But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles—for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them; (3 Nephi 16:8)

How can we accept this reference to the ‘unbelieving of the Gentiles’ if we do not have the ‘believing of the Gentiles?’ It is here we find that those who did not believe in the restoration; those who did not receive a confirmation in and through the Holy Ghost are responsible for the scattering of the house of Israel in this land.

And because of the mercies of the Father unto the Gentiles, and also the judgments of the Father upon my people who are of the house of Israel, verily, verily, I say unto you, that after all this, and I have caused my people who are of the house of Israel to be smitten, and to be afflicted, and to be slain, and to be cast out from among them, and to become hated by them, and to become a hiss and a byword among them— (3 Nephi 16:9)

The events which transpired were to, one, stand as a blessing to the Gentiles, as they came to possess the land and , two, a judgment against those who were of the house of Israel who were smitten because of their unbelief.

But, what is to become of these Gentiles, both believing and unbelieving?

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. (3 Nephi 16:10)

The Gentiles, both believing and the unbelieving, are prophesied to sin against the gospel and reject the fulness of the gospel.

How does one ‘sin’ against the gospel? I would suggest that the sin comes from accepting membership in His church but not seeking to understand, and receive a confirmation on what is the gospel as defined in the scriptures. Could it be this same reason that we are still under condemnation?

And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—

Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.

And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written— (D&C 84:55-57)

What is the new covenant described here? I would suggest that it is none other than the covenant we make when we receive the gospel.

Verily I say unto you, blessed are you for receiving mine everlasting covenant, even the fulness of my gospel, sent forth unto the children of men, that they might have life and be made partakers of the glories which are to be revealed in the last days, as it was written by the prophets and apostles in days of old. (D&C 66:2)

Here the Lord equates the everlasting covenant with the fulness of the gospel. Participation in the glories that are to be revealed to us is contingent on the reception of this everlasting covenant which is the fulness of the gospel. We are told in the history of Joseph Smith that the fulness of the everlasting gospel and covenant is found in the words of the Savior to the Nephites ( Joseph Smith – History 1:34)

The Lord, Himself, defines this gospel in the 27th chapter of third Nephi. He came to draw all men unto Him. The last verses of this discussion are repeated here:

And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men.  And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.

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; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do; (3 Nephi 27:18-21)

This covenant has us repenting and coming unto Christ. He, in turn, will sanctify us through the Holy Ghost.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, we find the Lord rehearsing, again, the definition of His gospel:

Yea, repent and be baptized, every one of you, for a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.

Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and remember that they shall have faith in me or they can in nowise be saved; (D&C 33:11-12)

Both these baptisms are essential to our salvation, as was conveyed to the Lamanites by Mormon.

And ye will also know that ye are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; therefore ye are numbered among the people of the first covenant; and if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior, according to that which he hath commanded us, it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. (Mormon 7:10)

It is through this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost that we receive a remission of our sins (see 2 Ne. 31:17) and are sanctified. This is the everlasting covenant, even the fulness of the gospel. This is the two-way covenant that we are called to make in order to be numbered with his people.

Now let me return to the discussion of the verses in third Nephi. How will we, as Gentiles, reject the fulness of the gospel? I would suggest that by rejecting the true meaning and process associated with the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost as it pertains to the fulness of the gospel, we are rejecting the fulness of the gospel. If we reject the scriptural definition of this sanctification through baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, we are rejecting the fulness of the gospel. It is incumbent upon each of us the study and understand the meaning of the fulness of the gospel. The Book of Mormon was expressly delivered to us in this latter day so that we could be given the chance to receive this fulness.

In third Nephi, chapter 16, verse 10, we read that, not only will we, Gentiles, reject the fulness of the gospel, but that we will ‘be lifted up in the pride of [our] hearts above all other nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and deceits, and of mischief’s, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret combinations.’ This speaks to all Gentiles, but one must ask the question. Are we as the ‘believing’ of the Gentiles guilty of these same things?

Do we have pride? Do we practice lyings and mischief’s and hypocrisy? Do we practice priestcraft and whoredoms and secret combinations? This prophecy suggests that we do. If so, then the outcome is the loss of the fulness of the gospel; the Lord states that he will take it from among us.

Does that mean that we will lose the ability to receive a remission of our sins through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost? Is that true individually as well as collectively?

To avoid this situation, we must follow the Lord’s admonition found in this passage:

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.

And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father.

But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.      (3 Nephi 16: 13-15)

We have an opportunity to return and repent. If we do so, we can be numbered with the house of Israel. How can we return if we were never there? If we choose not to repent, we will be treated as the salt that has lost its savor. This has direct connotation to the loss of the covenant and the gospel.

When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men;

They are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that salt of the earth lose its savor, behold, it is thenceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. (D&C 101:39-40)

The scriptures warn us against being complacent; we should not be at ease in Zion. The scriptures warn us that we are under condemnation; we should individually and collectively seek to remove this burden. The scriptures warn us that, because of our pride and practices, we are to lose the fulness of the gospel and its covenant. If we are to regain that which is lost, we must take these warnings to heart, repent and seek the Lord.

We must all cast off our sleepy rituals and awaken to the duty that must be ours. We must seek in the scriptures the true meaning of the fulness of the gospel. We must each be willing to approach the Father for the knowledge and confirmation of our path. We must, collectively, be willing to make the same covenants as did the people of King Benjamin.  We must prepare ourselves to be a Zion people, individually then collectively.

What think ye?