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I recently had a conversation with the bishop of our ward when we crossed paths at a community event. He was elated that the recent troop surge, sorry, missionary expansion, had increased the elders and sisters from a historical two pairs to five pairs of missionaries in the ward. He warned me that I, as a lost sheep, may be seeing more visits by these young men and women, as their efforts would include re-activation in addition to finding those who can be taught the gospel.

When I am visited by the missionaries, I usually have several simple questions that I ask them. They are questions that I would hope each one of us have answered, in the context of the latter-day scriptures.

  • Who are the Gentiles?

  • What is the definition of the gospel?

  • What is the definition of the doctrine of Christ?

  • What is the definition of the church of Christ and how does one become a member?

  • What does it mean to be ‘born again?’

Unfortunately, I have not met a single missionary that could answer these questions with specific scriptural references. One would think that those who are called to preach the gospel would be able to clearly define these answers, but to such end I have been disappointed. To me, these questions form the core of my spiritual worldview. They represent the crucial information for which the restoration occurred. Let me attempt to concisely answer these questions, based on my study of the scriptures.

Who are the Gentiles?

According to the title page of the Book of Mormon, the book was written to three specific groups – “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile” To which group do most of the current members of the Church belong? I would suggest the church today is made up of mainly Gentiles, as characterized in the Book of Mormon.

The house of Israel lost the truth because of their unbelief. The Gentiles will receive a testimony through the Holy Ghost (3 Nephi 16:6-7)

The Gentiles are the ones that receive the ‘fulness of the gospel’ in the latter days (1 Nephi 15:13)

They are also the ones who sin against the gospel and have it taken from them. (3 Nephi 16:10-13)

What is the definition of the gospel?

I believe that operating under the correct definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ is critical to one’s stature with God. Paul told the Galatians that “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” It was the contamination of the gospel that prompted the restoration. Should we not make sure that we are, indeed, preaching the gospel that we have received?

Christ defined the gospel during His visit to the Nephites. (3 Nephi 27:13-21)

There are also three instances where the gospel is defined in the Doctrine and Covenants. (D&C 33:11-13, D&C 39:6, D&C 76:40-42) The essence of the gospel as I gleaned from these references is the we are to repent and be sanctified by baptism, first with water, then with fire and the Holy Ghost. These steps are necessary for us to enter His kingdom.

What is  the definition of the doctrine of Christ?

Paul told the Ephesians that we should not be ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men.’ (Eph 4:14) We should be equally diligent with respect to the restored doctrine of Christ.

Nephi brings us the first specific reference to this doctrine of Christ. ( 2 Nephi 31:2 – 32:6) He also tells us that ‘there will be no more doctrine given’ until Christ is manifest in the flesh.

When Christ appeared to the Nephites, he added to His doctrine. (3 Nephi 11:31-41) In this treatise, Christ states that anyone who declares ‘more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil.’

I have often pondered what the impact is of this comment. Are we today awash with the doctrines of men rather than holding to the specific aspects of the doctrine of Christ found in the scriptures? What are the potential consequences of expanding the doctrine of Christ to include things that don’t belong?

Both the twelve selected from among the Nephites to be disciples as well as those of the current restoration were told to speak only the words that they received from Christ. “…of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.” (D&C 19:31)

In the tenth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord states:

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.

Again we are told that we must not add to or take away from the doctrine of Christ.  I believe the warnings are very clear. If we do not adhere strictly to the doctrine of Christ in our teachings we are built on the sandy foundation and risk being washed away.  I wonder if this is not why we are seeing such an outflow from the church. We are to be firmly grounded on the doctrine of Christ if we are to maintain our ability to attract those who seek the truth.

What is the definition of the church of Christ and how does one become a member?

The above quotation from D&C, section 10, represents the specific definition of the church directly from the Savior. In light of the current ‘church,’ is there both a corporate and a spiritual church? What would our organization look like if the church consisted of only those who repented and came unto Christ?

I would suggest that Moroni, in the sixth chapter of the book that carries his name, gave us clarity on what it means to come unto Christ and the criteria for membership in his church. We must bring forth fruit as a demonstration that we are worthy to receive baptism. We must come forward ‘with a broken heart and a contrite spirit,’ and witness unto the church that we have repented of all our sins. We must take upon us the name of Christ, determined to serve him to the end. What does it mean to take upon us the name of Christ before we are baptized? There must be this level of commitment in order to be a candidate for baptism.

After one is baptized, they are to be ‘wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost’ before they are considered a member of the church of Christ. How should this apply to us today? The scriptures tell us that the gospel of Christ outlines the principle of a remission of sins through the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. This gate, as defined by the doctrine of Christ, is how we are to gain access to the ‘strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life.’ How many of us have entered the gate, being cleansed of our sins  – having them remitted by the second baptism? This is what is required of us to be considered members of His spiritual church.

What does it mean to be born again?

Nicodemus was told by Christ that we all must be born again and have been privileged to have more witnesses given us relative to this critical element of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Alma stated that “… 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.” (Mosiah 27:25) We have the examples given us in the scriptures of the people of Benjamin, of Enos, of the three hundred Lamanites, of our father Adam. All of these stand as beacons of the gate to the strait and narrow path.

Among many of the Christian denominations, one is expected to become a new creature in order to be received into His fellowship. Many have used the opportunity at revival meetings to come forward with their commitment to Christ. Is this a legitimate baptism of fire? I will let God be the judge.

I regret that, for much of my life, I looked at those who claimed to be a ‘born again Christian.’ with pity. Oh, how sad it is that they have missed the mark. I now know that, for many years, the pride of my heart blinded me to the fact that the latter-day scriptures bear witness to the necessity of this second baptism – the one that cleanses of our sins and grants us access to the strait and narrow path and membership in His church.

Those are the five simple questions that set me on the path I am now treading. When I had my crisis of faith back in 2000, I had to rebuild my spiritual worldview. I had to sift out of my many life experiences those events which were ‘emotional’ and those that were incontrovertible expressions of the spirit. When I was done, I had only two that I was determined to build upon. I had received a strong witness that the Book of Mormon contained the word of God as a young man and I had my amazing experience at the age of 19 when I was lifted out of deep and dark despair and infused with indescribable joy and peace.

These two experiences confirmed to me that there was something outside this mortality. I could not deny the existence of some spiritual world even though I could not see, touch, or hear it within the context of my physical senses.  I began a quest to understand what I was supposed to do. I purchased and devoured hundreds of books containing the words of men. I sought the Lord in prayer and fasting for answers. These answers did not come quickly and easily. I came to realize that I was looking in the wrong place. I would not find my Lord through any other man, nor the words that are written by man. I would only find Him by reading the scriptures and applying them in my life.  I could only find Christ by coming unto Him.

I still struggle in my quest for eternal life, which is at the end of the strait and narrow path. I take solace in the words of Nephi when he said

O wretched man that I am!  Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.

Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time. (2 Nephi 4:17-23)

In spite of my sins and weaknesses, I have a full heart because of the bits of knowledge I have received. I do not yet know where my journey will take me. I am grateful for the opportunity to express the thoughts of my heart here and hope that I may have some sliver of influence on those who have walked a similar path.

To those who seek the truth, I can only offer my feeble example as a proposed course. Shed the words and works of man. Do not trust in the arm of flesh. Seek God with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Ask the simple questions.

What think ye?

98 Responses to “Five Simple Questions”

  • Good Will:

    Dear Spektator,

    I loved this post! I am continually amazed at how nourished I am by those, like you, who have taken the Holy Spirit for your guide, have asked the “simple” questions and then have pursued the truth, fearlessly, wherever it leads you. Your efforts are an inspiration! Thank you, once again, for clarifying both the doctrine and the gospel of Christ for all of us.

    We have, indeed, gone astray, haven’t we? We (the LDS) have “magnified” the gospel and overlooked the core. Baptizing our children at eight years old, before they have “awakened” to a knowledge of their own guilt (except to the smallest degree), deprives them, in my view, of the regenerative, convicting influence of the Holy Spirit that is so overwhelming, so reformative, and so inspiring to those who, otherwise, taste of darkness and thus discern the presence and value of light. One understands why the Church (and its membership) do this (at the first opportunity, much like the Catholics), hoping to “inoculate” our offspring against evil, as if baptism were some “spiritual vaccine”. But it is not. Baptism, both of water and the Spirit, is a supernally important ordinance to be received by commandment. Are we doing our children a disservice by baptizing them almost unawares? Surely one deprived of “bringing forth fruits meet for repentance” can only enjoy but a paltry “feast”.

    What good does it do to feed a man who is not hungry? Will he not reject the meal (or spit it out?) If he eats, will he enjoy it? Will he want more? Such “forced feedings” may only do him harm and turn him away from what is given.

    Who were those people who tasted of that fruit which is most delicious and then turned away? Wasn’t it delicious (enough) to them? What made them think they could find better fare elsewhere? Didn’t they already know they couldn’t?

    It’s almost a curse to be born in a palace. A lowly manger and deprivations can be a better nursery. Likewise, an empty glass is more easily filled than one already full and, once filled, is more greatly appreciated. It’s not a bad thing to be hungry, even VERY hungry. So much the merrier when one partakes!

    Nevertheless, children ARE accountable before God for their sins (few as they may be) and baptism is available, even mandatory, for them to receive salvation. Still, the ordinances of God are best reserved for them who “hunger and thirst after righteousness”. After all, “hungry” souls are the only ones for whom said ordinances can be of any worth. The rest will despise them and only partake begrudgingly.

    The question remains (by your tacit acknowledgment that the influence of the Holy Ghost and our Savior’s supernal presence remain elusive, because of our fallen natures): How do we retain that gift? How do we pierce the heavens and come back into our Lord’s presence in His fullness, in our flesh?

    That is the desire of many here, who have tasted of His goodness and now yearn for His fullness.

    My wife and I have asked ourselves this question and have concluded that NO ONE is “worthy” to come back into His presence.

    Denver Snuffer reminded us of this fact on his blog regarding Alma 13:30 (June 21, 2010):

    “It is awful, fearful and dreadful to be in the presence of God. You realize the horror of your own darkness. (Gen. 15: 7-18.) You cry out with the realization that you are unclean, living your life among the unclean, and you are not ready for His presence. (Isa. 6: 5.) You are not prepared, and all your careful pretensions dissolve until you stand naked, revealed, hollow and unworthy to stand in His presence.

    “How, then, does a man stand in His presence? Through the merits and mercy and grace of this, our Lord. (2 Ne. 2: 8.) If your mouth is unclean, He will use an ordinance to cleanse your lips. (Isa. 6: 6-7.) If you are covered by the blood and sins of your generation, He will cleanse them. (John 13: 5-13.) If you cannot stand, He will raise you up with His own hand. (Daniel 10: 5-10.) He is the God of mercy. Your discomfort is relieved by what He does, and this not of yourself, least you should boast. There is nothing in you from which to boast other than the merit and mercy and love and sacrifice given to you by Him.

    “How can He love so? It defies explanation. Words fail. You can search your lifetime through every word you have ever seen or heard – nothing comes close to being able to describe it. It cannot be spoken…. Too sacred for language to capture. Beyond our power. So, you are left saying only: “Come, see.””

    Is anyone of us ready for that?

    So we persevere, even unto “the end” — whenever that “end” will come (in this life or the next), when we shall meet Him — feasting on His word, obeying His voice, keeping His commandments. And waiting. Waiting patiently upon Him. And persevering. In prayer. In obedience. In faith. That is all we can do.

    Meanwhile, we are becoming more like Him.

    Denver Snuffer pointed out that it is in keeping the commandments that the revelations of God are REVEALED in us, by the fact that in DOING them we gain understanding of them and from them. The doing CONDITIONS us, it PREPARES us, it EMPOWERS us to receive further light and knowledge as we become more like our Law Giver, for we, as the scriptures say, will be doing whatsoever thing He does (or did). What more could be asked of us than to become more like Him? What more could we want?

    After all, we are not waiting for Him. He is waiting for us.

  • Good Will:

    Spektator,

    We are commanded to “meet together oft” (3 Ne. 18:22) “to fast and to pray”, “to speak one with another concerning the welfare of [our] souls”, to offer our oblations and partake of the sacrament, confessing our sins to our brethren (4 Ne. 1:12; Moro. 6:5-6; D&C 59:12).

    How can we qualify to receive His Spirit and enter into His rest if we willfully disobey these commandments? The Church has many shortcomings. But Jesus never counseled His followers to avoid either synagogue or temple. He commanded them, rather, to follow whatsoever their wicked leaders told them, but not to do as they did (Matt. 23:3).

    How are you (or the Church) better served by being inactive?

    • Rob:

      For what it’s worth, the JST of the Matthew 23 verse varies considerably from the original:

      KJV: “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.”

      JST: “All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, they will make you observe and do; for they are ministers of the law, and they make themselves your judges. But do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not.”

      This makes a lot more sense to me, as it never jived with me that Jesus would command folks to do what the Pharisees said to do, since they preached the false traditions of their fathers.

      • Log:

        JST: “All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, they will make you observe and do; for they are ministers of the law, and they make themselves your judges. But do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not.”

        This makes a lot more sense to me, as it never jived with me that Jesus would command folks to do what the Pharisees said to do, since they preached the false traditions of their fathers.

        Rob,

        I’m not sure that changes things, for Christ also taught this, which seems to be the implicitly assumed attitude one must have towards all.

        3 Nephi 12:38 And behold, it is written, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;

        39 But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also;

        40 And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also;

        41 And whosoever shall compel thee to ago a mile, go with him twain.

        Moreover, this submissiveness, which the Apostles clarified was due even by slaves to one’s owner (Col 3:22, Eph 6:6), makes sense of why Christ said “But do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not,” since the disciple was expected to do what they were told. Christ nowhere sanctioned rebellion as a precept.

      • Log:

        I am content to do what the leadership says, as the Lord has counseled, until I am told to do differently. I submit that Snuffer has also exemplified that approach.

        I repeat: Christ never sanctioned rebellion as a precept, but the opposite. The significance of that undercuts your argument.

        Indeed, I am reminded of the abusive husbands who lord it over their wives in their carnal blindness, citing the image of the Savior cleansing the temple with the whip as their justification.

      • Rob:

        I am agreeing that he never taught “rebellion” (in general) as a precept. In fact, he spoke against rebellion (in general). However, it is abundantly evident that he preached against obedience to false teachings. I am not disagreeing with your position (do what you are told by the church until and unless the Spirit tells you otherwise). What I am saying, strongly, is that it is to be expected that, no matter the church, there will always be deviations from the will of God, and therefore plenty of opportunities to obey the Spirit against what you are told by leaders. If you have not yet had that opportunity, please send me your address so I can move into your ward :)

      • Log:

        Maybe there will be deviations. I’m not persuaded that there necessarily will be plenty of opportunities to obey the Spirit against the leaders – for I’m not persuaded the Spirit will move one to do so very frequently, if at all; the majority of my test is to bow down under the iron yoke, until the Lord says otherwise. The Lord’s house is a house of order, even if not all of them whom He calls are qualified for their callings. Maybe it helps that I live pretty far from UT, for in the parable of the olive trees in Jacob 5, the tops thereof began to perish before the rest.

        Nevertheless, I think most of the time, when they rise up against their leaders, people are hearkening to their pride and the spirit of the accuser, rather than the Spirit of God. Yuck. Hate even using that word in the Church – “leaders” – but that’s the Church we’ve inherited; authoritarian and hierarchical. “Brother” and “Sister” are vestiges of Zion. And I’m not sure insisting on being called “President, President” is an improvement over the forbidden “Rabbi, Rabbi.”

        One sign which verifies to one that one is on the Lord’s errand is that one is filled with true joy at one’s persecutions, whereas when one is not on the Lord’s errand, one feels rather oppressed and aggrieved, and more prone to reviling and finding fault.

      • Rob:

        God does not use compulsion (D&C 121). Therefore, if his house is a house of order, it must be so because the inhabitants willingly obey his voice. Therefore, his house cannot be an earthly institution governed by men. It must be a spiritual institution whose membership is defined by how one exerts his will. If one obeys God, he will become a member of the house. If one disobeys God, he is excluded from membership by his own volition. If the church is institutionally capable of disobeying God (and it is), than it cannot be the house of God. Therefore, the house of God being a house of order does not support your point. In actuality, it supports my point, because in order to be a member of the house of order, you must obey the Spirit, which is things as they are, were, and shall be. This brings you into conflict with much of the official material distributed by the church and written into the handbook. If you have not seen many opportunities to deviate from that, it is a function of how little your local unit adheres to the official manuals and handbook, and not a judgment for or against the official position of the church.

      • Log:

        Rob,

        I, too, have noticed we don’t see eye-to-eye. I, of course, have a theory as to why that is, and I’m sure you do, too. Let us see therefore if we can find out where we hold things in common.

        In your view, did Joseph organize an earthly institution governed by men?

      • Rob:

        Log,
        Be glad to continue our conversation in private. My email is 2 rob smith @ gmail.com

      • Log:

        Rob,

        Do you not feel that such a conversation may profit more than just those who are engaged in it? If not, then I’ll email, but it seems these might be things that could edify many.

      • Rob:

        Alma 12 is in play, therefore I’m not comfortably publicly disclosing what I imagine will be broached here.

  • Spektator:

    Good Will,
    When I began my journey, I was told that I would not find what I was looking for inside the church. Much of the learning I have received from the scriptures is not consistent with the correlated program of the church. I do attend when the prompting comes.

    How much time is allocated your church meetings to ‘speak one with another concerning the welfare of our souls? How much time do we spend confessing our sins to our brethren? Is the sacrament that is offered consistent with revelation? We are told that we are to fast and pray in our closet rather than demonstrate our piety in public.

    It was also made clear to me that there would be a time in the future when I would be able to participate more fully in the ‘formal’ church. That time is apparently not arrived.

    I can only suggest that I feel I am following the guidance of the Spirit in what I do. I commune with others in a virtual mode. I seek to help those I can in an informal manner.

    I understand what you are saying about young people being baptized at 8 years old. Isn’t that a commandment from the D&C also?

    I don’t think there is a single right answer for any of the questions you asked. It is the same dilemma that Nephi faced when commanded to kill Laban. I can only say that what may be expedient in one person’s case that is not consistent with another’s perspective does not mean it is wrong. We each are tasked to follow the Spirit.

    Spek

    • Good Will:

      Spektator,

      Yours is a noble and courageous search for truth. I had to smile at your response! As for the time allotted “to speak one with another concerning the welfare of [our] souls”, that is supposed to occur in all three public meetings each Sunday, as well as in other “leadership” councils (to which I have never been invited).

      We spend virtually no time confessing our sins to each other. (People get very uncomfortable when we do that!) Our meetings are nothing like an AA meeting. There is little openness, but much pretension and fear of offending (or alerting) the leadership. I am proscribed in nearly everything I say and do at Church. I can’t even bear my testimony anymore without being criticized by the powers that be. They’ve actually told me I can only bear testimony of the truthfulness of FIVE things: God lives, Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith was a prophet, the Book of Mormon is true, and the Church is true. Deviations from this — in our ward, at least — are not appreciated nor permitted. The stake president actually pulled me aside after I told my “story” of coming unto Christ one F&T Meeting, by which I bore witness of the Son, His light, goodness and glory which I had witnessed. The stake president said to me, “You finally got around to [bearing your testimony], sticking it in there at the end.” He told me to keep such things private. “Stick to the basics” he told me. I asked him why we didn’t just tape record the “five things” and play the loop continuously for the entire hour, to save time and avoid the long, empty pauses.

      He had no response.

      I must say, while we fast in private — and few, if any, mention it during F&T Meeting — the “testimony” part is now vastly restrained, proscribed, and prohibited. (Most don’t do either.)

      Nothing but “that which is edifying (meaning “that which no one finds offensive, alarming or unexpected) is permitted in Church anymore. Even the talks are dictated by management.

      So I empathize with your efforts.

      The sacrament, too, has been altered by us. We use not wine, but water. The deacons DON’T partake to be “filled” first, as prescribed by Jesus, but afterward, and not before imparting first to the PRESIDING AUTHORITY. Another alteration.

      You do a GREAT job of communing with others via the internet. Thanks for that!

      You avoided, however, addressing the injunction by Jesus to “follow the leaders that be” in their words, but not their deeds, doing whatsoever they say, but not what they do. How does that “fit in” with your not going to Church? (Sorry to make this personal, but it is relevant.)

      • Spektator:

        Good Will,
        Should Alma the senior have stayed and tried to influence King Noah? Should Lehi have stayed in Jerusalem and continued to prophesy? Should Samuel the Lamanite kept his mouth shut? The scriptures are replete with examples of people who are prompted to step out of the current structure and make something happen.

        While I do not put myself in the same category as these scriptural examples, I do see that the Lord can and does use us in ways that may not fit the ‘norm.’ I fully support Denver Snuffer and his accepted role to stay active and promote change from within. People like that are needed. At the same time, I fully support a person who is willing to stand up and step out when there is a clear gulf between the scriptures and the program of the church.

        I cannot say why I have been prompted to assume the stance I have taken. I was a TBM until 2000 and was what I consider uber-active. Now I feel as though I have received a different calling. Perhaps I can to provide influence to a different group of people. I can only say that I have prayed mightily regarding my ‘role’ and feel that God is directing my efforts.

      • Good Will:

        I’m confident the Lord is guiding your efforts, Spek. The inspiration of the Lord is evident upon you.

        Nevertheless, you seem ambivalent, even uncertain about what your role and obligation are. “Do I stay or do I go?”

        When in doubt, stay. Let the Lord lead you by vision and decree.

        With you NOT in the Church, that’s just one less person in Church who stands and bears witness of the truth.

        Keep doing what you’re doing. But please consider coming back. We need you.

  • Log:

    And we are also tasked to judge not – “Man shall not smite, neither shall he judge.” If our religious sensibilities are so fragile they cannot withstand discussion, then our faith is in reality dogma, and we are as hypocrites which do deny the faith. It is on that basis that I appreciate your openness, Spek.

    I caught a couple of barbs in your post, but I am unrepentant. I have asked Christians outside of the Church for their experiences, and the ones I have spoken to have not been baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost. What they have received is what is more commonly referred to as “receiving a testimony” in LDS circles. It is simply a witness by the Spirit of the truth or reality of Christ, but not an abiding presence of the Spirit in their heart, neither the experience of rebirth. They are honorable people, and there are some miracles done among them. As you and I know the Book of Mormon to be scripture, it would be odd for one who is a child of God to reject it, would you not agree?

    • Good Will:

      Log,

      I would not have said this two months ago, but I believe now that I was “baptized by the Spirit” before I was baptized into the LDS Church (when I first came unto Christ as a Baptist). That Spirit guided me to the LDS faith. I was filled with light and love and knowledge such that everything (LDS) I first doubted, disbelieved and rejected as senseless, useless and distasteful then became delicious and comprehensible to me. I was enthralled and “reborn”. So great was the transformation that by the time I was baptized LDS (two weeks later) none of my friends at school recognized me. (The haircut surely had something to do with that!) But I was most assuredly “reborn”.

      It wasn’t my first conversion. I was “born again” when I came unto Christ initially. Then I was overwhelmed with the Spirit, again, when I joined the LDS Church. Then I received an additional endowment of light and knowledge after I received the priesthood. Visions, dreams, revelations, the power and gifts of the Spirit, purging me of all desire to do wrong, were ever-present, so long as I sincerely repented and “pressed forward”.

      Then I tried to be a “good Mormon” and conform to the culture of the modern LDS Church.

      That’s when everything stopped. Dead.

      During the time I was “inspired”, I was in constant opposition to the culture of the LDS Church. The majority of my “Mormon” friends should hardly have been regarded as Christians! (I didn’t know that at the time. I was very young and naive.) They gave no thought to Him or His words and spat out His name almost as an epithet whenever they ended their prayers or gave a contrived talk or “testimony” in Church. Their faith was very weak.

      God poured out His Spirit upon me. But after I began trying to “conform”, out of fear of men, and trust in “authority”, I “died” spiritually. I became weak and subject to temptation, blown by every wind of “doctrine” (the teachings of men). Like Peter looking at the raging waves, I began to take note and give heed to the words of those who clamored that I stop being a “goody-goody”. I let down my guard. I compromised. I listened to them, was seduced, and, ultimately, begged to be excommunicated to appease the demands of justice for my “crimes”. I became the worst of sinners. Sadly, with a testimony.

      My fall was slow and agonizing. The devils laughed as I was sifted as wheat. To this day, I am “ruined” in the Church. Though I have since repented, have a wife sealed to me in the temple, hold a current temple recommend and have born seven beautiful, faithful children in the Church, I am not to be trusted. Ever. Never to teach. Never to hold a calling that requires I open my mouth or have any influence.

      I was never an apostate. But today, bearing witness of Christ or teaching that one ought to be singing “follow the Savior” rather than “follow the prophet” is considered akin to blasphemy in “the Lord’s” Church. Teaching that one must be “born of the Spirit” is practically heretical. No one talks about the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Ever. No one mentions it. Those who do are shunned as “fanatical” and “on the fringe”.

      If the Church is “true”, then it is only as “true” as a 9-volt battery that barely elicits a “tingle” when touched by the tongue. There’s still “juice” in there, but not much. The branches are NOT bearing fruit. Not the kind of fruit the Lord is saving anyway.

      I don’t know ANYONE else — other than those I’ve met online — who have been introduced to the Savior or have had personal experiences with Him.

      No one.

      Well, I take that back. A personal friend (who is now a bishop) confessed to me that He saw the Savior in a dream many years ago. That counts in my book. My experiences have been similar. Like mine, his experience with Jesus became the bedrock of his faith.

      Of course, we want more. That’s NOT going to happen as a typical result of activity in the modern LDS Church. Not even apostles or prophets today bear witness with the alacrity, power, or insight of a Bro. Snuffer. By following the Spirit, it is possible to distinguish between true prophets and those who claim to be.

      It’s as easy as discerning a trickle from a flood. No General Authority — including the dear apostle who blessed and named my first born — has done more to bring me to repentance or inspire me to aspire to higher than Denver Snuffer. I have known many good, faithful, devout and sincere officers of the Church. Men who have “honored their priesthood”, as they supposed, and exercised it wisely and prudently. I have been the beneficiary of bishops and stake presidents who were holy men, and a patriarch who saw beyond the veil to reveal my challenges and empower me with words of comfort and direction. General Authorities (ironically among them, Elder Paul H. Dunn) have guided me by inspiration, to include miracles. I have done the works of God while on my mission and elsewhere. I know that several of the apostles today are inspired of God and that God continues to guide me now, most assuredly.

      But not with the flood I first experienced (until recently). I chalk that up to adopting and following the teachings of men and the customs of a fallen people. I still need further repentance in order to be received. I believe that God is now calling and guiding me again, by influences such as can be found here and elsewhere.

    • Good Will:

      Log,

      Regarding whether or not “it would be odd for one who is a child of God to reject [The Book of Mormon], I do not expect (or require) my children to receive — or even to understand — all that I offer to them at once. They must “grow into it”, by and by. A child of God can still be child of God, even at a more primitive stage of advancement and development. We must be careful not to crush the wheat, or reap the tares, before each is fully ripened.

    • Spektator:

      According to D&C 20:5-6, Joseph Smith received a remission of his sins before he received the visitation of the angel Moroni.

      5 After it was truly manifested unto this first elder that he had received a remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world;
      6 But after repenting, and humbling himself sincerely, through faith, God ministered unto him by an holy angel, whose countenance was as lightning, and whose garments were pure and white above all other whiteness;

      Can a man receive a remission of sins simply, as you suggest, through the love and power of God? I think the scriptures plainly state that the remission of sins comes only from the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. Therefore, Joseph received his baptism of fire prior to the angel Moroni’s visit.

      Joseph was not able to ‘retain’ a remission of his sins by following the guidelines found in Mosiah. He, therefore, had to repent and humble himself sincerely to recover his position with the Lord. I believe that applies to all of us. If we do not retain a remission of our sins, we are returned to a state of sinfulness and must once again repent and come back to the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit just as Joseph Smith did.

      Cornelius was also baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost when he was visited by Peter. In Acts, chapter 11 we find this:

      15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
      16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
      17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

      Peter states here that Cornelius received the baptism of fire – “the like gift as he did unto us” likening the experience of Cornelius with that of the apostles. Again this leads to the conclusion that the baptism of fire occurred with this person before they were baptized. I don’t see any indication that this was a temporary condition.

      As far as other people outside the church, I have found that they tend to speak a different language from the LDS culture. I have used the quote before from Joseph Smith regarding the Lord seeking another people if they cannot be purified. How do you know God is not at work establishing another group of the ‘pure in heart?’

      As I said in the post, I cannot categorically state that a person outside the LDS church cannot receive a baptism of fire. I am not willing to put constraints on what God can or cannot do.

      • Log:

        According to D&C 20:5-6, Joseph Smith received a remission of his sins before he received the visitation of the angel Moroni.

        5 After it was truly manifested unto this first elder that he had received a remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world;
        6 But after repenting, and humbling himself sincerely, through faith, God ministered unto him by an holy angel, whose countenance was as lightning, and whose garments were pure and white above all other whiteness;

        Can a man receive a remission of sins simply, as you suggest, through the love and power of God? I think the scriptures plainly state that the remission of sins comes only from the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. Therefore, Joseph received his baptism of fire prior to the angel Moroni’s visit.

        Yes, a man may receive a remission of his sins through the love and power of God (and, in fact, it stands to reason one MUST receive a remission of one’s sins to endure the presence of the Holy Ghost for any length of time!). I have mentioned this before – the manifestation is a burning in the busom. This does not mean one has been sanctified, neither is it the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost. Ask someone who has been baptized, even a child, what they feel, and you may hear something along the lines of “I felt all warm inside.” They in fact did receive a remission of their sins, even if they had not fully complied with the whole-souled commitment required to be baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost.

        Moroni 8:26
        26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

        Peter states here that Cornelius received the baptism of fire – “the like gift as he did unto us” likening the experience of Cornelius with that of the apostles. Again this leads to the conclusion that the baptism of fire occurred with this person before they were baptized. I don’t see any indication that this was a temporary condition.

        And you could have cited Helaman 5 to the same effect – but in both cases, you’ll notice, it was by the ministration of prophets.

        As far as other people outside the church, I have found that they tend to speak a different language from the LDS culture. I have used the quote before from Joseph Smith regarding the Lord seeking another people if they cannot be purified. How do you know God is not at work establishing another group of the ‘pure in heart?’

        Maybe He is – I just haven’t met them yet.

        As I said in the post, I cannot categorically state that a person outside the LDS church cannot receive a baptism of fire. I am not willing to put constraints on what God can or cannot do.

        My point was not logical, but evidentiary – I have found none outside of the Church, and precious few within it, who have been born again. I nowhere said my sampling was complete or comprehensive, but after looking for leprechauns for a while and not finding them, you begin to disbelieve they exist.

      • Spektator:

        Log,
        Where in the scriptures do you find support for your position the the ‘burning of the bosom’ is sufficient for a remission of your sins? Where in the scriptures is the notion that we must be free of sin before we can feel the influence of the Holy Spirit?

        The Holy Ghost will work in us as long as we are accepting of the promptings. That does not require us to have received a remission of our sins. A warm feeling does not bring a remission of sins.

      • Log:

        Where in the scriptures do you find support for your position the the ‘burning of the bosom’ is sufficient for a remission of your sins? Where in the scriptures is the notion that we must be free of sin before we can feel the influence of the Holy Spirit?

        The manifestation is not mentioned in the scriptures as a sign that one’s sins are remitted. However, I have established, by Moroni 8:26, that the remission of sins preceded the baptism by fire under normal circumstances among the Nephites. Indeed, one must have received of the spirit of Christ unto the remission of sins before one is worthy to be baptized, even today (D&C 20:37). We don’t listen to that very carefully.

        And, if you will accept it, a perpetual burning in the busom is the sign that one’s sins are remitted. It is what is given to them who do not qualify at present to be redeemed from the fall. That is what the disciples of Christ felt when Christ walked with them, and they knew Him not (Luke 24:32).

        It stands to reason one’s sins must be remitted to endure the presence of the Holy Ghost for any length of time because He is God, and no unclean thing can dwell in His presence. I believe that each time the Holy Ghost visits a man to bear a message from the Father and the Son, that that man’s sins are remitted at that time, and that he is filled, however temporarily, with the light and love of God, and can bear the presence of God. Some people, having received a visit by the Comforter, believe they have been born again, when they haven’t been.

        Not each visitation of the Holy Ghost results in the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost, as Joseph said – D&C 130:23 “A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him.” Joseph also said “There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this … ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him.”

        Being born again fills one as if by fire, and brings the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, that one is always filled with light and love, communing with God, and unable to sin so long as their eye is single to the glory of God.

        The Holy Ghost will work in us as long as we are accepting of the promptings. That does not require us to have received a remission of our sins. A warm feeling does not bring a remission of sins.

        The influence of the spirit of God, or the light of Christ, is not identical with the Holy Ghost, who is a person. The spirit of God is that which pervades all of reality, emanating from God to fill all things, upholding all His works, and so forth (D&C 88).

        The influence of the spirit of God indeed works in us as long as we do not harden our hearts. When we submit fully to its influence, through mighty prayer unto faith in Christ, we then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost through the baptism by fire.

  • Log:

    If I were to speak my mind fully on this, I think I’d offend many. All I can say is I have examined the claims of the “born-again” Christians who have been forthcoming with their experiences, and they don’t conform to the scriptural model. I do agree they have experienced the power and love of God. I do not agree they have been born again. As Joseph taught, the Holy Ghost may descend upon someone and not tarry with them; if Cornelius had not been baptized, what influence of the Spirit he’d received would have left him.

    Joseph himself was filled with the love and power of God at the time of the first vision – but that left him, impelling him eventually to inquire as to his status before God, which brought the visitation of Moroni, and so forth. He was not reborn until after his baptism when he received the Holy Ghost.

  • Log:

    … Which means, among other things, Joseph, like John the Baptist, was doing the works of God whilst unsanctified.

    • Good Will:

      Log,

      While we have had this conversation before on another thread, I believe I have misunderstood you. You claim that those who receive a witness of the Holy Ghost, but who do not subsequently get baptized, do not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and the Spirit invariably departs from them.

      I agree.

      I would think that the Holy Ghost would depart from anyone who does not continue in the way of righteousness. The Holy Ghost leads us along toward all truth.

      Your “born again” friends, no doubt, continue to receive, from time to time, the ministrations of the Holy Ghost inasmuch as they “continue” to receive of Him. But you are undoubtedly right: the gift of the Holy Ghost — which is the promise that He will be in you and abide with you forever — cannot be received except by ordinance, even though one may be “baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost” (as shown by the scriptures) despite not having (yet) received baptism by water or the ordinance of the gift, as described.

      Even those who are “baptized by the Spirit” must receive the ordinance, by and by, in order to “continue”. Where is it written that the “baptism of the Spirit” has taken place when a legal administer was not also present to deliver the ordinance?

      With Adam?

      Perhaps there is an explanation for this (apparent) exception.

  • Good Will:

    You do not offend (those who love righteousness), Log.

    I cannot discern the nature or extent of my family’s religious conversions. They claim (whole-heartedly and fervently) that they were “turned to Christ” and “reborn” on such and such a date. As far as I can tell, they have lived lives of piety and devotion to Christ ever since (though they are not LDS).

    Have the heavens been opened to them? They have beheld the Savior in visions and dreams.

    Joseph Smith was brought into the presence of the Father and the Son years before his baptism. Even after he was baptized (and thus was enabled to prophesy and sing praises to God), he subsequently encountered darkness and loneliness, too. The Spirit left him (on occasion). Did that mean he wasn’t “baptized” by the Spirit or didn’t possess “the gift”?

    We have an ordinance (since April 6, 1830) called “the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands”. But, historically, that gift has been given to saint and sinner, before baptism, after baptism, during baptism, and without baptism, by hands and without hands. Does the ordinance grant a special dispensation of “staying power”, somehow binding God to continue with the individual thus receiving it? Are the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, received at that time, intended to continue? If so, they may only be received upon principles of righteousness and that, too, no doubt, would require baptism by His (the Lord’s) authority, found (nominally) in His Church.

  • Good Will:

    I might add, the Holy Ghost ministers to the telestial world. Should it seem strange to us that those destined thereto should claim to receive Him and not be mistaken? How far any will walk with Him is a function of one’s own agency, dedication and spiritual aptitude.

    One may be “born again” and not live for but a season. Those scorched by the heat of day or choked by weeds certainly did “sprout”. They were indeed “born”, even if they “died” before full “delivery”.

  • Log:

    Moroni 8:24-26
    24 Behold, my son, this thing ought not to be; for repentance is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law.

    25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;

    26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

    The visitation of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, is the baptism by fire (Moses 6:59-68).

    So, yes, it is to continue – through diligence unto prayer – even continual prayer (Alma 34). And, as faith without works is dead, so also the recipient must do the works of God, both in charity and in power. Retaining this gift from day to day is the whole point of Mosiah 4.

    As for Joseph – I did not know that he was ever bereft of the Spirit following his baptism – do you have a source I could read?

    • Good Will:

      Log: “And, as faith without works is dead, so also the recipient must do the works of God, both in charity and in power. Retaining this gift from day to day is the whole point of Mosiah 4. As for Joseph – I did not know that he was ever bereft of the Spirit following his baptism – do you have a source I could read?”

      I do not contest that the Spirit of God must be possessed to do the works of God (the only “good works” that count) “both in charity and in power”. Thank you for that reaffirmation.

      But as for Joseph being bereft of the Spirit, I mistook his losing the gift to translate as a loss of the Spirit. I have no other ideas on the subject.

      We’ve spoken of how one might distinguish between the revelatory experiences of the 300 Lamanites (who came to kill Nephi and Lehi) and the epiphany of Alma the Younger and that of King Lamoni. Were they not all “baptized in the Spirit”, “converted” and “born again” in like fashion? No prior baptism by water. No laying on of hands. Who could tell the difference between them? (Now maybe Alma Jr. may have previously received the ordinance as a child, without the power. But certainly not King Lamoni or the 300 Lamanites. Nevertheless, they all received alike and as one.)

      Is there any evidence — anywhere — of anyone ever experiencing such a thing, only later to “walk away”? How about in the early days of this dispensation? Oliver Cowdery, perhaps? (But even he returned.) Can one who “walks away” and abandons the faith entirely still claim his “portion” completed before he lost his faith? Some 30, some 60, and some 100?

      Peter, after all, walked on water…before he didn’t.

      • Log:

        “Is there any evidence — anywhere — of anyone ever experiencing such a thing, only later to “walk away”? How about in the early days of this dispensation? Oliver Cowdery, perhaps? (But even he returned.) Can one who “walks away” and abandons the faith entirely still claim his “portion” completed before he lost his faith? Some 30, some 60, and some 100?”

        There are many warnings to the sanctified of the fearsome consequences of departing altogether from their covenant – one may therefore infer that it does happen. If one is sanctified, departs from the living God, and dies in one’s sins, one is overcome of the world, and is a son of perdition, of whom it has been written it were better for them that they had not been born.

        Here’s how it happens. One who has been born again ceases to be diligent in their prayers, and stops caring so much what God wants in favor of … well, anything else, and the light of the Spirit is extinguished and the person has no more light in them, and they are left as other men, having no more gift. From there, it is possible to sin. The only way back is the way that one took to get there in the first place, which is to turn one’s heart fully towards God again and call upon the name of the Lord until one is received.

        And, if I recall correctly, Joseph’s (extremely temporary) translation problem predated his baptism.

      • Good Will:

        Log,

        You’re a master of this topic. It is always a pleasure learning from you.

  • Log:

    “One may be “born again” and not live for but a season. Those scorched by the heat of day or choked by weeds certainly did “sprout”. They were indeed “born”, even if they “died” before full “delivery”.”

    I personally take those who bring forth fruit, some 30-, some 60-, and some 100-fold, to be the gradations of them who have been born again, the fruit being their good works. I take those who were scorched and so forth to be them who never were born again – the word planted in their hearts died before it could bring forth fruit, being strangled by the cares and concerns of this world.

    Think of the rich young man who had kept the commandments from his youth up – do you think he left the Church after he departed from the Savior, sorrowing? I think not – but I am very sure his heart was divorced from Christ. I think he’d be an example of one of those who were scorched.

  • JR:

    Spek,
    Reading this post brings up a couple of thoughts. One, I deeply appreciate your efforts to bring the doctrines of Christ to the attention of church members since they are NEVER discussed in church. Also, it has come to my attention recently that the Doctrine of Christ is tied very definitely to the Savior’s statement to Joseph Smith in D&C93:1 about how men may come to see the face of Christ. After all, isn’t it the Doctrine of Christ that promises to bring men to see Christ face to face? In reading D&C 93:1, I am struck by the idea that the difficult part of coming to see Christ face to face is the “come unto me” part of that scripture. Sure enough, in pondering that scripture, I was reminded that the Doctrine of Christ, as enumerated by Nephi in 2 Nephi 31-32, is the pathway to Come Unto Christ. Interesting how the scriptures tie together!
    Thank you again for your efforts to raise the level of consciousness in the church regarding what the Gospel of Christ really is all about.
    Your brother in the Lord,
    JR

  • Spektator:

    JR,
    You have cited one of my favorite scriptures – D&C 93. As I read your comment, I was reminded of a statement found in the definition of the gospel provided by Christ in 3 Nephi 27 that Christ was lifted up upon the cross “that I might draw all men unto me.” Such is the central theme of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    We are told in 3 Nephi, chapter 12:1 that it is Jesus Christ, himself, that will baptize us with fire and with the Holy Ghost, but we have to come unto him to make that happen.

  • Log:

    There is more to the quote from Joseph about Cornelius. This is from the Words of Joseph Smith, pp. 92-93. It’s taken from Wilford Woodruff’s journal, and is the original source for the account in the History of the Church. I have omitted the annoying footnotes, and added emphasis.

    “My intention (says the speaker) was to have treated upon the subject of Baptism, But having a case of death before us I thought it proper to refer to that subject. I will now however say a few words upon that subject Baptism as intended God has made certain decreas which are fixed & unalterable for instance God set the sun, the moon, the stars in the heavens, & give them their laws conditions, & bounds which they cannot pass except by his command, they all move in perfect harmony in there sphere & order & are as wonders, lights & signs unto us. The sea also has its bounds which it cannot pass God has set many signs in the earth as well as in heaven for instance the oaks of the forrest the fruit of the tree, the herb of the field all bear a sign that seed hath been planted there, for it is a decree of the Lord that evry tree fruit or herb baring seed should bring forth after its kind & cannot come forth after any other law or principle. upon the same principle do I contend that Baptism is a sign ordained of God for the believer in Christ to take upon himself in order to enter into the Kingdom of God, “for except you are born of the water & the spirit you cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. Saith the Savior as It is a sign of command which God hath set for man to enter into this kingdom of God those who seek to enter in any other way will seek in vain for God will not receive them neither will the angels acknowledge their works as accepted, for they have not taken upon themselves those ordinances & signs which God ordained for man to receive in order to receive a celestial glory, & God has decreed that all that who will not obey his voice shall not escape the damnation of hell, what is the damnation of hell, to go with that society who have not obeyed his commands Baptism is a sign to God, to angels to heaven that we do the will of God & there is no other way beneath the heavens whareby God hath ordained for man to come to God & any other course is in vain. God hath decreed & ordained that man should repent of all his sins & Be Baptized for the remission of his sins then he can come to God in the name of Jesus Christ in faith then we have the promise of the Holy Ghost.

    What is the sign of the healing of the sick? the laying on of hands, is the sign or way marked out by James & the custom of the ancient saints as ordered by the Lord & we should not obtain the blessing by pursuing any other course except the way which God has markd out. What if we should attempt to get the Holy Ghost through any other means except the sign or way which God hath appointed should we obtain it certainly not all other means would fail The Lord says do so & so & I will bless so & so their is certain key words & signs belonging to the priesthood which must be observed in order to obtain the blessings The sign of Peter was to repent & be baptized for the remission of sins, with the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost & in no other way is the gift of the Holy Ghost obtained. Their is a difference between the Holy Ghost & the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was Baptized which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the gospel but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost untill after he was Baptized, & had he not taken this sign ordinances upon him the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God would have left him untill he obeyed those ordinances & received the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands according to the order of God he could not have healed the sick or command an evil spirit to come out of a man & it obey him, for the spirit might say to him as he did to the sons of Scava Peter I know & Christ I know but who are ye

    It matereth not whether we live long or short after we come to a knowlede of these principles & obey them, I know that all men will be damned if they do not come in the way which God has appointed.

    There’s the reason why there is little to no power in the priesthood today, as mentioned by President Packer. The gift of the Holy Ghost is not being received, generally. With that gift, we have power; without it, we have no promise.

  • Good Will:

    It should be evident to all who are familiar with the scriptures that the terms “light of Christ”, “Spirit of God”, “Spirit of Christ”, “Holy Spirit”, “Holy Ghost”, “gift of the Holy Ghost”, and “Holy Spirit of Promise” are not synonymous but used interchangeably — even loosely — by different prophets under sundry circumstances. (Even under the same circumstances!) I will not undertake to cite these instances nor the scriptural references associated with them. (I’m certain there are those here who are much better equipped to do that.)

    I suggest that the “light of Christ,” “Spirit of God”, “Spirit of Christ”, “Holy Spirit”, et al., are the same elementary influence and means by which God projects His mind, will, power and glory in and through all things begotten unto and created by Him. Indeed, these names describe the means by which He organizes all things. His Spirit “broods” upon chaos — “matter unorganized” — and organizes it. That which conforms to His Divine Will (or “Spirit”) without compulsory means is divine. That which does not, but seeks to become a law unto itself, is not of God.

    If you will receive it, the “Holy Ghost” is that member of the Godhead who is quickened in us as our spirit conforms to the influence and promptings of Christ’s (and the Father’s) Holy Spirit. We “receive the Holy Ghost” — we experience within us the manifestation of that member of the Godhead which has been preserved in us and has been part of us “even from the beginning” — when we become “one” with Them. This Holy Ghost is co-eternal with God and is sometimes called the “light of Christ”, the “Spirit of God” or other such names. It is the “divine” within us. The Holy Ghost is associated with telestial glory (where one “star” differs from another “star” in glory) because — like stones in a river, unamalgamated with solid rock, failing to become “one” — each “stone” of creation, granted agency, demonstrates a different measure of conformity to and reception of the influence of God’s holy influence and will. We, in essence, become (or manifest) the Holy Ghost as we attune ourselves to the divine mind, will, and Spirit of God.

    The “gift of the Holy Ghost” is the abiding presence of that Spirit of Deity “awakened” within us (“brought back to our remembrance”) as a consequence of our obedience to divine law. It is received and retained as a “gift” through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, solemnized by ordinance and made efficacious by abiding faith in Him, which faith is manifest by continuing obedience to God and diligence unto prayer and repentance. This gift may be lost, even forfeited, by disobedience or refusal to repent.

    The “Holy Spirit of Promise” is that reassurance, received by declaration and revelation from heaven, that our sacrifice and service have been found acceptable to Him who knows all things. By virtue of this “promise”, the Holy Ghost — the Record of Heaven, or Comforter — reassures us that we abide in God and He (They) in us.

    The “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost” occurs when one is “born again”. This
    “baptism of the Spirit” may occur before baptism by water, after baptism by water, during baptism by water, and even without baptism by water, with or without the laying on of hands. (Retaining the “gift of the Holy Ghost”, however, is contingent upon receiving baptism by water via the appointed means.) One is “baptized of the Holy Ghost” when one is “possessed” of the Spirit of God. It is an act of mercy and grace, not justice. We are “filled with the Holy Ghost” as the “Holy Ghost” part of us is “quickened” within us, becoming “alive”. Thus our eyes and ears and minds and hearts are opened, and our tongues are loosed, to see, hear, contemplate, feel and speak of divine things. This “baptism” is accompanied by a conditional (and potentially on-going) forgiveness of (any) sins, predicated upon current obedience and continuing repentance (if needed). It is always accompanied by the gifts of the Spirit, especially the gift of prophesy and revelation. The Holy Spirit of God bears witness to our spirit (to the “Holy Ghost” within us) that we are, indeed, children of God. The Holy Ghost thus witnesses to us of both the Father and the Son.

    The order in which these ordinances and manifestations of the power of God are received is not important (to God). All things are before His eyes continually. He does not view our state in linear fashion, as we do. One may thus be redeemed, even exalted, before one is baptized (or even born!) while living in mortality (even committing sin!) in the flesh. This is done by the name, power, mercy and grace of the Son — the “active agent” by which ALL gods have been exalted.

    This is the “mystery” of godliness, as I understand it.

  • JR:

    Good Will:
    You understand a great deal! I am not sure if you or I understand everything you have said, but you have stated many great truths!

    I would add something I was taught today and told to bring to this forum.
    Those who maintain that they do not require a Divine manifestation of the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost in order to have the Gift of the Holy Ghost are in error and are fulfilling Nephi’s prediction of the spiritual darkness among those who consider themselves to be His saints in “the last days”. This scripture does not apply to those outside the church (who will likely never read the Book of Mormon). These words apply to those within the church who choose to remain in darkness after the light has been made manifest to them…
    26. Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    27. Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more.
    28. And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.
    29. Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!
    (2 Nephi 28:26-29)

    “The Word of God” is not what we commonly assume as we glide through these scriptures reading the Book of Mormon like a history book!
    JR

  • Log:

    A sermon of Josephs Heb 7 chap Salem is Shiloam
    Those who limit the designs of God as concerted by the grand council of H cannot obtain the Knowledge of God & I do not know but I may say they will drink in the Damnation of their souls—
    I Prophecy that all the powers of Earth & Hell shall never be able to overthrow this Boy for I have obtained it by promise—
    There are 3 grand principles or orders of Priesthood portrayed in this chapter
    1st Levitical which was never able to administer a Blessing but only to bind heavy burdens which neither they nor their father able to bear
    2 Abrahams Patriarchal power which is the greatest yet experienced in this church
    3d That of Melchisedec who had still greater power even power of an endless life of which was our Lord Jesus Christ which also Abraham obtained by the offering of his son Isaac which was not the power of a Prophet nor apostle nor Patriarch only but of King & Priest to God to open the windows of Heaven and pour out the peace & Law of endless Life to man & No man can attain to the Joint heirship with Jesus Christ with out being administered to by one having the same power & Authority of Melchisedec Joseph also said that the Holy Ghost is now in a state of Probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has. (WoJS, pp 214-215)

    Will – I believe there is a single entity known as the Holy Ghost who is the third member of the Godhead.

    JR – I teach my children that the word of God is revelation. Scripture consists not of the words printed on paper, for they are only ink and paper, but scripture is the words imprinted upon the soul by the power of the Spirit, therefore the word of God includes, but is not limited to, the scriptures. I teach them that they must hearken to each prompting and obey it; anything which speaks to self-sacrifice in well-doing is of God.

  • JR:

    Brother Log:
    I believe this could also be said of those who have received the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost:

    “the Holy Ghost is now in a state of Probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has”

    I understand your feelings about multiple probations but that is not a limitation in my view.

    I concur with what you teach your children regarding revelation and the scriptures.
    JR

  • Log:

    As I keep saying, as soon as someone explains how these two claims are logically consistent:

    A) Resurrected beings may separate their spirits from their bodies.

    B) Alma 11:45
    45 Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.

    -and-

    Doctrine and Covenants 138:17
    17 Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fulness of joy.

    I would not object to it. As it stands, I don’t think A and B are logically consistent.

    Moreover, it is expressly taught that the resurrection is universal.

    Alma 11:42-44
    42 Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.

    43 The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.

    44 Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.

    So it appears both possible routes to multiple probations are blocked on scriptural grounds – the bodies and spirits of resurrected beings cannot be divided, and resurrection is universal. (It may be claimed that this probationary period is the last – that would render this all potentially consistent, since it all references this probationary period, but so far as I know nobody’s saying that.)

    I am aware that it is taught by some that the sons of perdition are not resurrected, based on the following citation.

    D&C 76
    36 These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels—

    37 And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;

    38 Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.

    39 For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made.

    However, again, Amulek states plainly that the resurrection is universal. Moreover, there is this.

    D&C 88:32
    32 And they who remain [those who are not celestial, neither terrestrial, nor telestial beings] shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.

    In this context, “quickened” means “resurrected.” (See verses 27 and 28.)

    I’m willing to grant, arguendo, anything which does not contradict the scriptures (the modern scriptures followed by the Bible), but when something does contradict the scriptures, I have to set it aside for the time being.

    Until the Lord grants me knowledge concerning these things, I feel it best for me to leave them alone. For now, I am willing to acknowledge I am ignorant of these things, save for an abstract understanding of what is written, which does not suffice – because these things cannot be understood apart from direct experience through vision.

    114 But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion;

    115 Which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful for man to utter;

    116 Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him;

    117 To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves;

    118 That through the power and manifestation of the Spirit, while in the flesh, they may be able to bear his presence in the world of glory.

    119 And to God and the Lamb be glory, and honor, and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

    I realized that since I cannot know if particular claims are true sans revelation, I had ought not to ask for claims to knowledge from men, which claims I can do no more than believe or disbelieve, but to wait upon the Lord and receive it from Him.

    • Good Will:

      Dear Log,

      I appreciate your determination to “set aside” those things that are not incontestably explicated by scripture, in the absence of personal revelation. The necessity of receiving knowledge for one’s self, by revelation, is evident, as the scriptures themselves seem powerless to reveal certain subjects — even vital subjects! — adequately.

      I am also pleased to see your determination to order the “reliability” of revelation, placing the modern scriptures ahead of the Bible. There is much wisdom and “testimony” in doing that.

      The “process” you employ is a “testimony” in itself. Thank you for sharing your “witness” with us.

  • Good Will:

    Log:“Will – I believe there is a single entity known as the Holy Ghost who is the third member of the Godhead.”

    That would be the “traditional” consensus, Log.

    The fact that life-long members of the Church can question the identity and nature of the Holy Ghost is a travesty in itself. I am more than a little embarrassed to confess that I do not have a firm understanding of this “basic” doctrine.

    Nevertheless, Nephi consorted with “the Spirit of the Lord” (in vision) and described Him to be “in the form of a man”, who speaks “as a man speaketh with another.” (1 Ne 11:11.) This may be a symbolic representation. Later, in that same vision, Nephi beheld the Holy Ghost, but did not conflate the two Personages. He stated that “the Holy Ghost [came] down out of heaven and [abode] upon [Jesus] in the form of a dove” (See 1 Ne 11:27.)

    Who is the “Holy Ghost” and how is He different from the “Spirit of the Lord”? Are They one in the same?

    Are we to infer from Nephi (and others) that the Holy Ghost appeared in bodily form as a dove, flapping wings and all? (See Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; John 1:32.) Luke 3:22 records “the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon” Jesus. (See also John’s record in D&C 93:15.) Perhaps the Holy Ghost entered the body of a dove for the purpose of bearing witness to those who could not otherwise see Him. (Demons likewise were given license to enter into swine. But they did so for selfish reasons. See Matt. 8:29-32.)

    Joseph Smith taught the appearance of a physical dove (I’m reading that “interpretation” into his words) was given as a sign to signify the presence of the Holy Ghost (in spirit form, who was otherwise “invisible” to observers). According to Joseph, this sign was “instituted from the creation of the world” and is something the devil cannot imitate. So we are given to understand that an actual dove descended upon Jesus at His baptism, signifying the Holy Ghost was then present upon Jesus and in Him. Jesus was thus baptized of the Spirit.

    Strangely enough, though the Holy Ghost ministers broadly throughout the scriptures, in no other setting (but at the Savior’s baptism) is He described as being “like a dove”, thus confirming that an actual dove was then present.

    D&C 130:22 states the Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit, and thus able to “dwell in us”.

    But if the Holy Ghost and the Spirit of the Lord are one in the same, why didn’t Nephi make that clear? Why did he use different names to describe the same Personage?

    Is the “Spirit of the Lord” (whom Nephi saw in bodily form as a man) different from the “body” of the “spirit” of the “Lord” whom the brother of Jared saw? (See Ether 3:6-16.) In other words, did Nephi converse with the pre-mortal Savior, or was he ministered to by some other Being (i.e., the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost)?

    Adding to the confusion, Nephi doesn’t conflate either the Son of God or the Holy Ghost with “the Spirit of the Lord”, with whom he conversed.

    What is clear is that Adam was “possessed” of the “Spirit of God”. The Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost entered into Adam’s body and Adam was “born again”, being “baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost”. (See Moses 6:51-68.) Whether the Holy Ghost is a singular entity, with a spiritual body like unto a man, or our spirits become the Holy Ghost, “resonating” and bearing witness when in proximity to and under the influence of the Spirit of God, is something I do not fully understand.

    If a heavenly Being can be described as “in a probationary state”, then don’t we qualify? How can a member of the Godhead be “probationary”?

    Is the “office” of the Holy Ghost distributed? May more than one Personage hold the office (though it be held by only one Personage at a time)? Are we the “Holy Ghost” (inasmuch as we possess “a portion of that Spirit” — See Alma 18:35) while in our own “probationary” state?

    Amazing stuff.

  • Log:

    Will,

    There is one other place in scripture where the sign of the dove comes into play, maybe: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/fac-1?lang=eng

    And there is this analysis dealing with the New Testament, which can be enlightening: http://eldenwatson.net/2HGNT.htm – this data really must be accounted for in any discussion of the topic of the Holy Ghost in LDS theology.

    In the end, I require affirmative evidence to junk the traditional consensus.

    No worries, though. Mormonism is, or used to be, liberal enough to weather open discussions and disagreements on theological matters.

    I never thought it was right to call up a man and try him because he erred in doctrine, it looks too much like methodism and not like Latter day Saintism. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be kicked out of their church. I want the liberty of believing as I please, it feels so good not to be tramelled. It dont prove that a man is not a good man, because he errs in doctrine. – WoJS, p. 153

    And, you ask “How can a member of the Godhead be “probationary”?”

    Have you ever heard a hypothetical argument against the existence of God because God let Hitler kill 6 million Jews? Would it not be a severe test to any rational, merciful, compassionate being to let the wicked carry on down here without interfering with them directly, when one has power to do so? Just a thought.

    The Holy Ghost is not permitted to speak what He will, but only what He is told; there is no “we shall probably visit you again” with Him. Were He to go outside those bounds, I think His probation would be terminated. He has to do exactly what He is told, without variance, at all times. I think in that sense, His probation is the same as ours.

    • Good Will:

      Log: “I think in that sense, His probation is the same as ours.”

      Or, perhaps, it is ours! (This is certainly a matter worthy of seeking personal revelation on the subject.)

      I very much enjoyed the clarification I received (by this discussion) regarding the “baptism of the Holy Ghost” and “the gift of the Holy Ghost”. It is clear to me now that one may receive the ministration of the Spirit, even the “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost” and thus be “converted”, even “born again”, but that the legal administration of the gift of the Holy Ghost must also accompany that ministration. This “gift” must be carefully maintained if one is to continue and advance in the way.

      For priesthood and revelation are forever associated with advancement and progress in the kingdom of God. Indeed, these “twin towers” are the “rock” upon which the Church is established.

      Without them, we are damned.

  • Good Will:

    “This gift must be received and carefully maintained….”

  • Good Will:

    “Log: And, if you will accept it, a perpetual burning in the bosom is the sign that one’s sins are remitted. It is what is given to them who do not qualify at present to be redeemed from the fall. That is what the disciples of Christ felt when Christ walked with them, and they knew Him not (Luke 24:32).

    It stands to reason one’s sins must be remitted to endure the presence of the Holy Ghost for any length of time because He is God, and no unclean thing can dwell in His presence. I believe that each time the Holy Ghost visits a man to bear a message from the Father and the Son, that that man’s sins are remitted at that time, and that he is filled, however temporarily, with the light and love of God, and can bear the presence of God. Some people, having received a visit by the Comforter, believe they have been born again, when they haven’t been.”

    I believe this wholeheartedly. The “burning in the bosom” is a reassurance — the promised “comfort” of the Holy Ghost — imparted to testify of truth and of the remission of sins necessary to maintain hope, exercise faith and have charity. We would be “lost” without it.

    We must ever strive to seek after, receive and maintain that Spirit.

    • Log:

      Those who do qualify to be redeemed from the fall are baptized by fire, filled as if by fire and glorious joy, are born again that all things become new unto them, released from the bands of death and the chains of hell, and they are filled with light and love continually, rather than a burning in the bosom. They are meek, humble, childlike, patient, longsuffering, submissive, thinking no evil, and so forth.

  • JR:

    The Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost indeed makes of one a new man or new woman. From that time on the person so blessed sees life and sees their fellow beings in a new light. The burning in the bosom is a temporary phenomenon which is one manifestation of the Holy Ghost. The long term effect of receiving the Holy Ghost most often includes an abhorrence of sin and a determination to do as King Benjamin taught in Mosiah 4 and to live by every word that issues forth to that individual from the mouth of God. Revelation is a key part of receiving the Holy Ghost and walking in the straight and narrow path.
    JR

  • Log:

    Another scriptural argument – logical exposition of a position, not contention – against multiple mortal probations would be this – even if exalted beings were able to separate their spirits from their bodies (contra Amulek), they are the ones of whom it is explicitly said that they shall “go no more out” from the Father’s kingdom. Moreover, they are precisely the class of characters who would have no need to go out, having passed the test.

    I take “go no more out” to mean the ones under discussion – they who will be exalted – are sometimes visitors to the kingdom of the Father. We came from there, and, inasmuch as we live according to every word which proceeds forth from the mouth of God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, we get to visit from time to time, and, at the end, are received therein to go no more out.

    These things put me in mind of this teaching by Joseph.

    St Paul exhorts us to make our Calling & Election shure. This is that sealing power spoken of by Paul in other places (See Eph. I.13.14. In whom ye also trusted, that after ye heard the work of truth; the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. Which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the priase of his glory.) That we may be sealed up unto the day of redemption, this principle ought. (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed any thing to Joseph, but what he will make known unto the Twelve & even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to—bear them. for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor know ye the Lord for all shall know him (who Remain) from the least to the greatest, How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power & the other comforter spoken of which will manifest by Revelation….

    …After a person hath faith in Christ, repents of his sins & is Baptized for the remission of his sins & received the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands) which is the first Comforter then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering & thirsting after Righteousness. & living by every word of God & the Lord will soon say unto him Son thou shalt be exalted. &c When the Lord has thoroughly proved him & finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazard. then the man will find his calling & Election made sure then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter…

    …we were eye witnesses of his Majesty we have also a more sure word of Prophecy. Now brethren who can explain this no man be [but] he that has obtained these things in the same way that Peter did. Yet it is so plain & so simple & easy to be understood that when I have shown you the interpretation thereof you will think you have always Known it yourselves—These are but hints of those things that were revealed to Peter, and verily brethren there are things in the bosom of the Father, that have been hid from the foundation of the world, that are not Known neither can be except by direct Revelation The Apostle says, unto them who have obtained like precious faith with us the apostles through the righteousness of God & our Savior Jesus Christ, through the [207] knowledge of him that has called us to glory & virtue add faith virtue &c. &c. to godliness brotherly kindness—Charity—ye shall neither be barren or unfruitful in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. He that lacketh these things is blind—wherefore the rather brethren after all this give diligence to make your calling & Election Sure Knowledge is necessary to life and Godliness.
    …Oh Peter if they who were of like precious faith with thee were injoined to make their Calling & Election sure, how much [208] more all we There are two Keys, one key knowledge. the other make you Calling & election sure, for if you do these things you shall never fall for so an entrance shall be administered unto you abundently into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. We made known unto you the power & coming of our Lord & S. J. Christ were Eye witnesses of his Majesty when he received from God the Father honor & glory when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. this voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with him in the holy Mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy whereunto give heed until the day Star arise in your hearts this is It is one thing to receive knowledge by the voice of God, (this is my beloved Son &c.) & another to Know that you yourself will be saved, to have a positive promise of your own Salvation is making your Calling and Election sure. viz the voice of Jesus saying my beloved thou shalt have eternal life. Brethren never cease struggling until you get this evidence. T Take heed both before and after obtaining this more sure word of Prophecy.

  • JR:

    Log,
    Appreciate your position on this issue. Let me just say this: “To go out no more”, if taken literally, would preclude Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, Moroni, Elijah, Gabriel or anyone else from ever going out of the Celestial Kingdom to the Terrestrial Kingdom or the Telestial Kingdom. Perhaps it should be read to mean that once a being is exalted that Being cannot become “un-exalted”. I know of no way to definitively determine whether this is a valid doctrine from where we now live except by the Spirit. There seems to be ample circumstantial evidence both in the scriptures and in the comments of past prophets and apostles to wonder about this issue. Is it important to our salvation at this point? Further discussion on this topic perhaps should be continued in private, rather than in a public forum.
    Much love dear Brother!
    JR

  • Another EXCELLENT piece, my friend. I’m ashamed to admit that just five or six years ago I would have been absolutely stymied by those five questions. I’ll bet dollars to donuts our own general authorities would have trouble with them.

    • Spektator:

      Rock,
      Thanks for stopping by. Both of us have come a long way in the last five or six years. As far as a clear definition of the term ‘gospel,’ It doesn’t help to have statements like this from Joseph F. Smith’s book Gospel Doctrine:

      Every natural law or scientific principle that man has truly discovered, but which was always known to God, is a part of the gospel truth. (page 87)

      By providing such a broad definition of the term ‘gospel,’ I believe the general members, and possibly those who lead the church, are led to minimize the true implications of what is defined in the scriptures as ‘the gospel.’ It then allows one to speak of a broad array of topics instead of following the direction found in D&C, section 19:

      31 And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.

      Ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth…

  • Log:

    Rock,

    Is it not the case that a person can come unto Christ without knowing any of the answers to any of the questions on that list? And, is it not the case that one can come unto Christ and still not know any of the answers to any of the questions on that list?

  • Spektator:

    Log,
    I would grant that a person could ‘come unto Christ’ without knowing the answers to the questions I posed. I would also suggest that the experience should drive that person to seek knowledge and expend considerable energy to find the answers to these questions and to seek the mysteries of God as directed by the scriptures. Alma give us that example.

    Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me. (Alma 5:46)

    If we do not follow this course, we will be given the ‘lesser part of the word’ as Alma describes in Alma, chapter 12. I would posit that one who comes unto Christ and does not thirst after the knowledge of God will not maintain that position.

    • Log:

      “I would also suggest that the experience should drive that person to seek knowledge and expend considerable energy to find the answers to these questions and to seek the mysteries of God as directed by the scriptures.”

      I know several who, having come unto Christ and have been baptized by fire, have not departed from Him from that day to this. Most of them are not very curious about these things at all, believe it or not. They are content to attend their classes, fulfill their callings, sustain their families, and otherwise execute their duties. They are confident the Lord has all things in hand. They don’t have concerns about the Church, nor the doctrines.

      Of course I don’t have access to their innermost hearts. I believe these to be saints because they bear the proper signs and tokens.

      I asked one why he did not seek to enter the presence of the Lord, and he said it would feel arrogant and presumptive to him to even ask, and that if the Lord felt it was time for him, then the Lord would initiate things.

      I would like you to consider that it’s not so much that they will not maintain their position as the holy ones of God should they not strive for the mysteries, for their hearts are not hardened, but rather that if they do not hunger and thirst after righteousness they are not brought into the presence of the Lord, and do not transition from sainthood to prophethood. But that’s not our business, unless we have commandment from the Lord. Ours is to teach repentance and faith, that men may become saints through the atonement of Christ.

      Sometimes, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. The Lord gives us dry spells and times of famine that we may hunger and thirst and properly appreciate the proffered gifts, and ask for them.

  • Good Will:

    On a related note, Denver Snuffer’s stake president is moving to disfellowship or excommunicate him for apostasy.

    http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2013/08/dont-call-me-yes-that-means-you-too_23.html

    Ironically, just a few days ago I was urging Spektator to “come back”. If Snuffer is disciplined, I (and my family) will be regretfully — but unflinchingly — joining Spektator and Snuffer among the ranks of those outside the “full fellowship” of the Church.

    So be it.

  • Spektator:

    GW,
    I posted the same link a few hours ago on another post. I am deeply saddened that the Church hierarchy is taking this action. As for you and your family, I would make it a matter between you and the Lord. I am convinced that He is placing people both inside and outside the fellowship of the church to accomplish His purposes. Where does He want you to labor?

    Spek

  • Spektator:

    LDS Anarchist posted on the Denver Snuffer affair. I added a rather lengthy comment that you might want to read. Here it is: http://ldsanarchy.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/denver-snuffers-passing-the-heavenly-gift-does-its-publication-constitute-an-act-of-apostasy/

    I believe the actions of the church will further discourage members from seeking the entry to the strait and narrow path to eternal life.

    • Good Will:

      I also posted on that site. Then I read Log’s post below. What a voice of crystal clarity! Thank you, Log. You have divided the issues well and have chosen the better part.

  • Log:

    I’m going to advance an argument which I do not anticipate will be popular. That’s what I do.

    I have read Passing the Heavenly Gift twice.

    I actually don’t figure Snuffer’s excommunication will affect whether any specific individual believes in Christ, chooses to repent according to Christ’s commandments, pray with all their might, mind, and strength to be forgiven and to receive the Spirit of God and thereby enter into a covenant with Him to obey Him and keep His commandments, be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the first act in fulfillment of that covenant, and to receive the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost by the laying of hands.

    Those who come unto Christ are drawn by the Father to so do.

    John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    What should be said about a man who chooses to reject the promptings of the Spirit to believe in Christ and obey Him because another man has been excommunicated from the Church?

    Most of the members of the Church – indeed, it might be appropriate to say “virtually all” of them, do not know and never have heard of Denver Snuffer. The interwebz present a skewed view of the interrelatedness and significance of some things.

    If a man were to depart from the Church over Snuffer’s excommunication, it would simply mean that they were not listening to Snuffer very carefully.

    No one needs to defend me. I am concerned that expressions of support will do no good, and may result in the church taking notice of those who step forward. I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. No matter your own sentiments, it would be best to just let this run its course without involving anyone other than me.

    From this, if it isn’t clear, he is saying not to do anything which would harm your relationship to the Church – one of his subthemes has always been for people to stay in the Church, or to return if they’d left; that was his stated purpose in writing Passing the Heavenly Gift (has the irony escaped anyone?).

    There is good reason for staying in the Church.

    D&C 50:7-9
    7 Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power; but behold such shall be reclaimed;

    8 But the hypocrites shall be detected and shall be cut off, either in life or in death, even as I will; and wo unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world.

    9 Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me.

    Yes, the church of Christ is they who repent and come unto Christ, and that, as I have pointed out elsewhere, is a subset of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All who are of Christ’s church are members of the Church, with only one possible theoretical type of relevant exception, addressed below. I believe God carries out His own excommunications in advance of, or even in the place of, Church disciplinary action (some sins are on paper not sufficient to warrant action, when in the sight of God they are abhorrent indeed). I believe God honors the Church’s excommunications, just as He honors the Church’s baptisms – and any who claim to have been baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost ought to know that their baptism was authoritative, for it was accepted. Some among us may know that God honors the Church’s excommunications by withdrawing His spirit. If the Church’s baptisms are authoritative, so also should be the excommunications, for it is the same authority.

    Now, here’s the fun part, and why in the final analysis my counsel, were any to ask it of me, would be this: “Sit down, shut up, and watch the show, seeing the hand of God in all things with an eye of faith, and mind your own business.”

    If Denver Snuffer is indeed a prophet, and has had his calling and election made sure, and is indeed doing the Lord’s will, then it follows that the Church cannot cut him off from God, for he would be sealed to God – and since the bulk of his writings are given to persuade men to come unto Christ and to stay in the Church, it would be really, really interesting for someone to follow him out of the Church. If Denver Snuffer is not a prophet, then he would be one of the hypocrites spoken of in D&C 50 and it would be really, really interesting for someone to follow him out of the Church. Either way, it’s not our business what the Church does to Snuffer – our concern must be the salvation of our own souls, even responding fully to the Father’s having drawn us to believe and obey Christ.

    Unless we ourselves have stood in the divine council and have the promise of eternal life made to us, it is presumption to follow any man out of the Church, and in no case is it acceptable to depart from the Lord because of the persecution of the prophets, if they so be – for wo be unto him who is cut off from the Lord’s church. Unless you have that promise from the Lord of eternal life no matter what, one’s membership in the Church is a matter of eternal life or death, because without that promise from Him, you are subject to the Church’s authority, which He honors.

    Which, by the way, would be a really good argument for seeking that promise directly from the Lord, don’t you think? And there is no other way than repenting with all your heart, and calling upon the name of the Lord to receive the Holy Ghost, and seeking the face of the Lord until you obtain it.

    So be wise, brethren. Don’t let pride stiffen your necks and cause you to rail against authority. Don’t be a cheerleader, a follower of the prophets – even Denver Snuffer, if such he is – but rather receive their teachings and obey them and come unto Christ.

    Nothing else matters.

  • Spektator:

    As I consider this event, the disciplinary council of Denver Snuffer, I can only feel sorrow. Sorrow for those who are directly affected by this potential discipline for something they believe to be a result of God’s direction. Sorrow for the stake leadership who is put in a no-win situation between the dictates of Salt Lake and the compassion for the members of his flock. Sorrow for those who look at this situation and are dissuaded from seeking similar gifts.

    In response to my query, I was led to two scriptures that are pertinent to the situation. The first is from Alma, chapter 14, where Alma and Amulek are forced to watch the believers be cast into the fire.

    8 And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire; and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire.
    9 And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire.
    10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
    11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.

    Amulek said similar words to what I would want to utter relative to this event – “let us stretch forth our hands and exercise the power of God.” Alma and Amulek were constrained from helping those who were being destroyed, just as we are to stand by and watch the situation transpire.

    The second scripture that came to my mind was from the Joseph Smith translation of Matthew, chapter 21:

    53 And the kingdom of God shall be taken from them, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof; (meaning the Gentiles.)
    54 Wherefore, on whomsoever this stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.
    55 And when the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, he will destroy those miserable, wicked men, and will let again his vineyard unto other husbandmen, even in the last days, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
    56 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.

    Who are the wicked husbandmen, these men who were supposed to protect and tend his vineyard? Who are these wicked men that will be destroyed when the Lord comes because they did not render the fruits unto the Lord of the vineyard?

    By and by, they shall be revealed.

  • Log:

    “[I feel s]orrow for those who look at this situation and are dissuaded from seeking similar gifts.”

    Well – I dunno. Are the kind who are likely to turn back because of something like this worthy of the prize?

    I suggest not.

    Revelation 21:8
    8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

  • Spektator:

    Log,
    I would hope that there are many out there who would seek it if they were make aware of the possibilities. There are many who are programmed to automatically reject anything that is not correlated. I was like that ten years ago. Today, I wish I had someone who could have helped me see the path back when I first experienced BOF. Unfortunately, I had to wade through many years on misinformation. Was I fearful, yes, I probably was. I was fearful of not measuring up to the list prescribed to the members of the church. Too busy being religious to understand how to gain the spirit.

    Spek

    • Good Will:

      Exactly! I was turned away from the Holy Ghost almost as soon as I received Him.

      When I taught in Sunday School (at BYU), shortly after being baptized, I taught with power and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. I constantly emphasized the need for repentance and seeking revelation (as the scriptures invite). I was assigned a “team teacher”, a young lady, who didn’t have a clue about the gospel and constantly spouted false doctrine and misinformation. I found myself compelled to continually correct her (or “unteach” what she said). It was very stressful.

      I was shocked when I was released from that calling, not she. (I was told she needed the experience and that I could “handle” the embarrassment of being released after only a few weeks.)

      That was 30 years ago. I have never been called to teach Sunday School since. (Ironically, I teach high school chemistry and physics.) But my teachings about Christ and His gospel have NEVER been well received by the Church. “Repentance” is just too harsh and “judgmental”.

      “We’re the Lord’s chosen, after all. We come from pioneer stock. Who are you?”

    • Good Will:

      And, Spek, the list! Isn’t that the truth! I was so busy “following the precepts of men” that I got distracted from the core of the gospel and my relationship with Christ.

      One afternoon, in the DT cafeteria, my EQP (an inspired guy) said, “Don’t you just love Christ?” I had to reflect for a minute. “I don’t even know Him anymore” I admitted. That was the sad truth. Despite everything I was doing — wearing myself out, as it were, to be “good” and to serve Him as the Church directed — I didn’t have the relationship I once had with Christ before I joined the Church. My EQP said, “I’m surprised! You of all people! I thought you had the best relationship with Jesus!”

      I went away from that conversation sorrowful.

      That night (or the next) I wept in sadness at my bedside, overwhelmed at how far I had “gotten away” from Him. I don’t remember what I said. (There were no “magic words”.) I simply poured out my whole soul to Him in anguish. I felt so ALONE, such a FAILURE.

      Then I went to bed, sobbing. As I slept, I dreamed of Him. I saw Him. I heard His voice and He bathed me in His redeeming love! I melted in His presence. I awoke infused with joy! Not for having seen Him, but because I was awakened again in the inner man. I was “comforted”. I knew He loved me! I knew He cared! (I also knew I was nothing in comparison to Him.)

      That experience was one of many — but none of them made me “perfect”, by any means. If anything, my road only became harder, more covered with pitfalls and snares. The adversary hunted me with a vengeance and overcame me, by and by, once I relinquished my standards and virtue to “go along to get along”. I couldn’t bear the loneliness.

      I wandered for many years (though still “active” in the Church). What brought me back — what “drew” me to Him was that love, my love for Christ and His for me. I knew it was real. I knew He was real. And that made the trek and difficulties worth it. I couldn’t abandon or deny Him.

      Because I stumbled (repeatedly) I lost MUCH light, including any conviction I once had that “strictness” in keeping every word of God was necessary, even possible. (Log has inspired me to renew that conviction.) I became weak as to the strength of men.

      I now see — thanks to Log and others — that absolute resolution of purpose, like a mighty Old Testament prophet, is required of ANYONE who dares to ascend to join the divine council and the heavenly chorus. I cannot excuse myself of sin in the least degree. Understanding this now gives me courage and hope (ironically), because at least I KNOW what is expected of me. The false gospel taught by the LDS Church today — one of cheerful “fulfilling your calling” and “doing good” keeps us busy, but it doesn’t drive us to our knees in prayer for mercy. It does not awaken us to the awful realization of our own sins. It does not motivate us to raise our pleas to heaven for the purging fire of the Holy Ghost.

      Doing thus, if we do not repent, will only condemn us. We will die in our sins. We will join the milling throng in torment after this life, seeking respite — a drop of water, as it were, from Abraham’s bosom — but finding ourselves only trapped by our own procrastination and indifference, deceived by the devil into thinking that “all is well in Zion”. Meanwhile, he cheated our souls. For we missed the mark.

      I find more revelation in nearly any “page” of DS’s blog than I do in any entire GC issue of the Ensign. In fact, I stopped reading it years ago. (I listen to Conference, but what is that? The most “exciting” things are changes in policy or temple building announcements. They do really “matter”.)

      I am inspired, rather, by DS’s “sacrifice”. That is the gospel in action. His “works” speak for themselves. Others here are reserved, if not skeptical, regarding his state or testimony. (Perhaps I condemn myself as being a “follower of the prophets” by lauding him so. So be it.) I judge a man by his works. And I have tasted of DS’s “fruit”. It is good. He has been an excellent example (to me) of what it means to serve the Lord. He has strengthened and informed me.

      He has given me hope. If Log thinks those who are lead astray are “unworthy” of being rescued (“It’s their own fault after all. They didn’t have what it “takes” to be saved!”), so be it. There’s some truth to that. But we shouldn’t discount the fact that NONE of us are lights unto ourselves. We “resonate” to the truth when we are exposed, to it. “Truth embraces truth”. We are commissioned to share the truth, with the hope that some will receive.

      • Log:

        If Log thinks those who are lead astray are “unworthy” of being rescued (“It’s their own fault after all. They didn’t have what it “takes” to be saved!”), so be it.

        “If they do not walk up to every covenant they make at these altars in this temple this day, they will be in my power!”

  • Log:

    Three thoughts, brethren.

    Before I was baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost, I understood very little in the scriptures except for the commandments of the Lord delivered in the Sermon on the Mount, and other super-basic facts such as Jesus Christ was the Son of God; the rest was dark unto me. If someone had come to me and, without the convincing power of God, talked of how the Church was apostate, or any other such things, I would most likely have rejected him out of hand, no matter what other things he had to say.

    The second thought is this – when one separates oneself from the companionship of the Holy Ghost, whose fault, exactly, is that? Doesn’t that separation mean, solely, that one’s eye is no longer single to the glory of God?

    D&C 3:6-8
    6 And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men.

    7 For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—

    8 Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.

    I rather think that unless and until we accept personal responsibility for our own departure from God, we cannot fully return to Him, and must remain in the dark, because we’re still making excuses for our sins, rather than confessing them and yielding our hearts to Him. We ought to freely forgive them who have offended us and persuaded us to depart from God, and not mention their sins. They never could force us to do what we have chosen of our own free will.

    Thirdly, pride sucks. Pride is what motivates that “making excuses” bit (self-pity, self-justification, self-righteousness) which hinders repentance.

    Pride resents suffering; pride is unkind; pride is envious; pride is puffed up by possessing that which is above another, be it knowledge, property, popularity, or power; pride is easily provoked; pride attributes evil motives to others; pride rejoices in divisions and contentions, and forgives not debts; pride rejoices in the truth only if it serves to justify itself; pride bears as little as it can get away with, believes that which appears to set itself above others, hopes nobody notices its hypocrisy, and endures only what is forcibly inflicted upon it.

    Beware of these things. Nobody who evinces these things walks in newness of life. Even if we walk not in newness of life, we had ought to emulate one who does, such as Jesus Christ, even with our whole hearts, until we can muster the faith to lay down our lives upon the altar of prayer, to be answered with fire from heaven.

    • Good Will:

      Dear Log,

      I often laugh when I read your comments because of just how truthful they are. Reading them is like riding a rollercoaster or drinking a very delicious drink. Even when you are condemning me, I rejoice, because it means I have received the truth. I love receiving your words of wisdom. Please continue sharing them.

      I’m going to post your comments above in my journal and quote them to myself from time to time (maybe even share them with one particular daughter, who takes after her father). To join with Paul’s and Moroni’s soliloquies on “charity”, I now have Log’s words on “pride”.

    • Good Will:

      Log,

      Your first thought above, about not being able to apprehend truth, is a very keen observation.

      Your second point, identifying the true source of our stumblings — failing to make one’s “eye” single to the glory of God — is exactly what caused me to stumble (and still does). The Spirit “taught” me that lesson even while I was at BYU. I had forgotten it (and have been walking, mostly “blind”, ever since).

      I have been crushed, more than once, with the recognition that the scripture you quoted above is true (and applies to me). Your counsel to avoid the unnecessary (and, essentially) untruthful condemnation of others for one’s own mistakes rings “true” to me too.

      God, after all, does not “lead us into temptation” nor can anyone force us to sin. We are incentivized by our own lusts! If we did not have them, we would not be tempted! The sin be upon us! And in us if we give in to them! If the “evil” were not in us to begin with (in our hearts and natures, as a “weakness” and if we did not willfully embrace it) we would not succumb to it.

      Not mentioning the sins of others, even as they have adversely affected us, is a very “Christian” thing to do. Thank you for teaching that, Log. (I needed that lesson.) Such is charity! Such is magnanimity! Such is virtue and lowliness of heart! Sweet forgiveness shown! (And, undoubtedly, necessary to be received.)

      And, of course, pride. Thank you for that lesson as well. I am humbled by the awareness of my own “incompleteness”, thanks to your words.

  • Log:

    PS – my reservation about Snuffer stems from the fact that the Lord has not told me that he is a prophet. I can only say that Snuffer is exactly consistent with what I would expect from examining the examples of the prophets in the past who have been raised up from outside of the hierarchy. That is not sufficient for me to say he is a prophet.

    The Lord has told me “Joseph was a true prophet.” Therefore I can bear witness that Joseph was a prophet.

    A prophet is one who has stood in the divine council, and has his assignment from the mouth of God Himself.

    • Good Will:

      Well, then, here is a test for me.

      Your “analysis” seems so very correct. Yet you claim you haven’t received a “witness” from God that DS is a prophet.

      To be honest, I have not stood before God in His council, nor have I been told, face-to-face, by God that Joseph Smith is His prophet. I ascertained that knowledge by the “whisperings” of the Holy Ghost. I have received the same “whisperings” regarding the truthfulness of the teachigns of DS. Whether DS remains “true and faithful” is a different matter. I have no such assurances, only tremendous hope (as all Israel no doubt had for David).

      I simply have no other explanation for the power and insight inherent in DS’s teachings — just as I cannot otherwise explain your insights, Log. I can only attribute them to the power and inspiration of the Almighty (received in consequence of your prayers, diligence and faithful obedience). Only a righteous man could say and do as you do, Log. The same goes for DS (in my opinion).

      I like your interpretation of a “prophet” better than mine. (It’s “tighter”.) It has “accountability” woven into it. I guess I should say I do not doubt DS’s testimony. It “rings true” to me, in a very forceful way. He may not be right in every particular (I don’t know), but he is undoubtedly right in so many things that matter.

  • Spektator:

    As I read these last comments, my thoughts were led back to Lehi’s dream. He was shown a tree whose fruit ‘filled [his] soul with exceedingly great joy.’ The first desire that Lehi expressed after tasting of the fruit was to look for his family that they could partake of the fruit also. When he saw them, they were described as confused, not knowing which way to go. Lehi beckoned them to come to him. They did as Lehi instructed and joined him in partaking of the fruit.

    Once we have tasted the fruit that gives us exceedingly great joy, should we not turn our thoughts to others who may be confused or distracted? Should we not beckon them to join us? Just because Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi were unsure of the path doesn’t make them worthless. We should not assume that because shows indecision or weakness, that they are not meant for the kingdom. We are all equal in the sight of God and all are welcome to enjoy the happiness that comes from receiving Christ. We are not to judge another’s worthiness to hear and respond to the call to join at the tree.

    • Good Will:

      I really didn’t mean to imply that Log thought some weren’t “worthy” because they failed this or that “test”. We all fail to some degree. (Even Log!) Thank God we are here for each other, to lend a hand and an inspired word when needed.

      Log’s premise (I believe) is that the Father calls whom He will; nothing can change that. Those whom He saves He draws. The end — and those who are saved, even exalted — is already known to Him. (Some “Gods” walk among us — even if They don’t know it yet!) The sorting, sifting process is underway. Those who do not love the Father and the Son above all other things will self-select and opt for other worlds.

    • Log:

      Once we have tasted the fruit that gives us exceedingly great joy, should we not turn our thoughts to others who may be confused or distracted? Should we not beckon them to join us? Just because Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi were unsure of the path doesn’t make them worthless. We should not assume that because shows indecision or weakness, that they are not meant for the kingdom. We are all equal in the sight of God and all are welcome to enjoy the happiness that comes from receiving Christ. We are not to judge another’s worthiness to hear and respond to the call to join at the tree.

      Short response – I agree. There is always repentance – and, in the end, it is in crying repentance that we beckon others to join us at the tree of life (presuming, of course, we’re there, partaking of the fruit!). But, in the end, we cannot be the wavering type, neither can we be fearful.

      Luke 9: 57 ¶And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

      58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

      59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

      60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

      61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

      62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

      Luke 14: 25 ¶And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,

      26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

      27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

      28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

      29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,

      30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

      31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

      32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

      33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

      34 ¶Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?

      35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

      Matthew 21: 28 ¶But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.

      29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

      30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

      31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

      James 1: 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

      6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

      7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

      8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

      Mormon 9: 27 O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.

      28 Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God.

      29 See that ye are not baptized unworthily; see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily; but see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God; and if ye do this, and endure to the end, ye will in nowise be cast out.

      1 Nephi 8: 24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.

      25 And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.

      26 And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.

      27 And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.

      28 And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.

      33 And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.

      34 These are the words of my father: For as many as heeded them, had fallen away.

      There is a theme in all of that.

  • JR:

    Brothers!
    I have just read more of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the past 2-3 days of comments than I have heard in my entire time (49 years) as a member of the church in all the Sacrament meetings and all the GC addresses I have heard and all the SS & PH classes I have attended! BRAVO!! You get it!
    Good Will, for what it’s worth, I have traveled much of the same path you mention. BFHG, then losing my way for a long, long time. Then being drawn back to the Savior by His love. Then praying with a truly broken heart and truly contrite spirit only to be OVERWHELMED by an event from Him that I do not feel free to speak of on a public forum. HE LIVES!! Joseph Smith is HIS Prophet opening this dispensation of the Fullness of Times. I completely agree with GW, every time, EVERY TIME, I read DS…be it book, talk, blog he lifts me spiritually. I KNOW what the Spirit feels like and DS has the Spirit in his works. Will I leave the church if he is X’d? That will depend on what THE SPIRIT impresses me to do. I do know that the church has a role to play in the gathering of fish into the net, and bringing them to The Gate (2 Nephi 9:41) where the Savior can sort them (it is HE who is the KEEPER OF THE GATE, and He employs no servant there). HE is the one who decides who, among all the fish presented at The Gate is ready and worthy enough to receive the BFHG. So, yes, the church still has a role to play in these last days. However, I will await the decision of the church court and I will await the promptings of the Spirit to determine how I will proceed. Is this the foretold split in the church, which is to come when the One Mighty and Strong appears? Time (and the Spirit) will tell!
    Much love my beautiful brothers!
    JR

  • JR:

    Wow! Sorry my spontaneous outpouring stifled the discussion.
    This was one of the most enlightening and inspiring blogs I have read in a long time.
    My sincere apologies.
    JR

  • Log:

    There’s just not much more to say, JR. Gird up our loins, etc.

  • Good Will:

    You didn’t kill the conversation, JR. We’re all busy trying to live the gospel, repenting of ALL our sins, one at a time; trying to keep the commandments, every one; remembering to call upon God in vocal, fervent prayer each day, morning and night (and even midday), asking with faith and continuing until we receive; striving to remain humble, remembering our former darkness and captivity; seeking the welfare of others by serving and being a servant, not a master. I’ve also got my eye on a certain brother whose reflected light and influence some are trying to “snuff” out this Sunday.

    It’s actually quite liberating to no longer have “faith in the Church”. (I can’t believe I’m actually saying that, but it’s true!) How foolish of me to ever believe that faith in ANY institution or in any merely physical ordinance could ever “save” me. God commands them that worship Him to do so “in spirit and in truth”. Also, that they be born, not just of water, but also of the Spirit. A religion that functions purely at the physical level — that elevates form over spiritual substance — denies the faith and practices idolatry. We practice a false gospel when we fail to preach that one must be baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost, when we fail to insist that all who come unto Christ, regardless of their age, bring forth fruits meet for repentance and demonstrate that they have true faith in Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we are just baptizing bodies and are no different from Catholics.

    I lament the present effort to extinguish the light of those who advocate for more. I cringe to know that my own faith is challenged and persecuted by the very Church to which I faithfully belong. (How ironic is that!) I am gratified, however, to know, that, beyond providing the basic ordinances and tools to get me to “the gate”, the Church, as an institution, is powerless to “save” me and can carry me no farther than the door. I must walk through that door. The institution cannot carry me. I must knock. The Lord must hear and open up to me. No one else can lead the way to heaven. The Church is not equipped to teach the higher order of things. That work falls to Christ and His angels.

    The Church is the maternity ward for believers in Christ. Apparently it is up to us, once we’re “born again”, to grow up and get out.

    • Log:

      “Apparently it is up to us, once we’re ‘born again’, to grow up and get out.”

      I believe once you are received this time around, Will, you will find that the instruction is not “to get out,” anymore than it was during the times of the dispensation of the Jews.

      Rather than repenting of one’s sins one at a time, why not just indiscriminately cast them all aside at once?

      • Good Will:

        I have no desire to “get out” of the Church in the sense of resigning my membership, etc. The Church plays a vital role and it would pain me very much to lose the Church’s (good) influence in my life. One needn’t repudiate one’s high school or “reject” one’s diploma in order to “graduate”. The service one experiences in the Church — both serving and being served — will ALWAYS be necessary. There is no end to the good one can do in the Church.

        By “get out” I mean get all that is needful and then move on — and move up — spiritually speaking. One can endure only so many lessons on “hometeaching” before one has sucked every last speck of marrow from that bone, until there’s nothing left and nothing more either to say or to learn.

        The really great lesson of 2 Nephi 31 & 32 is that there is no “glass ceiling” for anyone! One needn’t wait until one is recognized or “called” or empowered with “authority” in the Church, as one supposes, to approach God and pierce the veil. Realizing this casts “Church service” in an entirely new light. In fact, holding a calling in the Church can be an impediment to spiritual growth and progress (just as money, fame and power can be), if we regard it as anything other than what it is: an opportunity to serve. When we undertake to “exercise authority in any degree of unrighteousness” or take glory and pride unto ourselves, we fall. Amen to our priesthood, and all that.

        Until recently, I had forgotten how, many years ago, I received from heaven and verbalized those thoughts, as Nephi did. As Log does. (I’m reading Denver Snuffer’s book The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil for the first time right now.) And I wrote those words down as I received them. (Just as they did and do). But I stopped somewhere along the way. It was “weird”, “uncommon”, “unheard of”, almost “forbidden” in the Church to get “revelation” and write it down. After all, isn’t that the domain of the prophet and “The Brethren”? (Or so we’re taught now.) So I stopped. Fearing men.

        When I should have stopped fearing men.

        Because, when I stopped writing down the revelations of the Lord to me, I stopped exercising faith in the Lord and in His communications to me. I began to be “turned around”, this way and that, wondering “What would the Lord have me do?” And I didn’t know. Because I stopped heeding Him, inadvertently. And when I didn’t know for certain — or, rather, when I stopped having faith that my course was right before God, because I was no longer following His word to me — I became as a leaf in the wind, blown this way and that. I became an “unprofitable” servant.

        I have children of my own now. I tell them what I want them to do. The truly magnificent ones come back to me and say “Is there anything else you would have me do, dad?” It’s truly humbling and gratifying to have such children. We can learn a lot from them with respect to how we ought to approach our Father in heaven.

        As for repenting of sin all at once, of everything, that is the proper attitude to have. One who is filled with the Spirit has no inclination to commit sin of any kind. But for those NOT filled with the Spirit, who are trying to bring forth fruits meet for repentance, who struggle with this and that, like many debts hanging over ones head, one must begin somewhere.

        Even after one is “saved”, one finds, by and by, that nagging weaknesses and sins persist. For example, I discovered after many, many years of “living the gospel” that I was still sinfully angry all the time! What was the cause of my anger?

        Truthfully, it was an amazing thing. Somewhere along the line I stopped serving my wife by doing what she asked. (I knew better, after all. She wasn’t going to tell me what to do!) The less I did at her beck and call, the more she required of me. And the more irritable I became. Veritable hate replaced the ardent love I once felt for her. Resentment bubbled up in my soul. This translated into discord and arguments. My children saw it and wondered if we would get divorced. I saw the gaping jaws of hell open wide before us. I knew that I had opened those doors…and that I needed to shut them. Fast.

        So I resolved to submit. I pledged secretly, in my closet, to do ANYTHING my wife asked. (I knew she wouldn’t ask me to murder or embezzle, so I was “safe” that way.) I would do anything she required of me — as a servant, as a slave.

        And I did.

        I learned some remarkable things.

        It was really quite liberating actually. I no more needed to calculate if this was “right” or that was “fair”. I just did it. As a service. As a slave. I stopped being the “master” and all that came with it. (I didn’t want that job anyway, even if I thought I did.)

        And my wife, remarkably, stopped asking me to do things. Once she realized (it didn’t take her 24 hours to figure it out) that I would do ANYTHING she asked, cheerfully, immediately and without hesitation, she stopped asking me (for the most part). She didn’t want that responsibility. She became sensitive to the impact her requests were having upon me. She didn’t want to be a burden on me. She began to feel secure that I was her husband and her helpmeet again, not some “lord” she was obligated to serve as “his” wife.

        The fighting stopped. The anger stopped. The resentment stopped.

        I discovered that if I could not fulfill my wife’s requests — she being someone who is utterly and unarguably imperfect — how could I expect God to answer my requests, given that I, too, am utterly and unarguably imperfect? Weren’t the answers to my own prayers restricted by the same “measure” I meted out to her and others? Yes they were.

        Until I stopped “measuring” — and just resolved myself to serve, without complaint, without second-guessing, without giving thought as to whether I had “crossed the line” into that second (or third) “mile”. I just became a servant. To my wife. To my children. To my God.

        I also stopped listening to talk radio. Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, even Mark Levin (to some extent) held no more interest for me. I realized they — and I — weren’t going to “save the world” after all. I didn’t want to “save the world”! I wanted to save myself — and my marriage — spiritually, more than anything. I wanted to “get right” with God.

        I began to realize I had stumbled, years ago, into many errors and misapprehensions. (Perhaps you have some of those, too?) These are the things I speak of when I say “Repent of ALL your sins, one at a time.” It would be, indeed, overwhelming if the Lord revealed to us ALL of our sins and weaknesses by which we offend Him. We wouldn’t know where to start.

        Now I do.

      • Log:

        I said something about that to someone once. I asked an authority figure whether or not he agreed that one ought to do whatsoever one’s wife asks, in righteousness. He could not bring himself to say “yes.” But that is how one naturally behaves when one is filled with light and love.

        It is summed up thus.

        “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

      • Good Will:

        I’d like to make clear, this whole “submit to my wife” thing is relatively new. I’ve been doing it for almost two weeks now.

        We haven’t had so much as a “tiff” in all that time. Not one word of discord. We’ve naturally presented a “united front” to our children, who seem to be more secure now. They aren’t asking anymore “Are you getting divorced”. (Man! I’m sorry I ever did anything to elicit that line of questioning!)

        It didn’t “cost” me much to gain “oneness” with my wife. I only had to “forget” myself…and put my needs beneath hers. Jesus descended below all things, did He not?

        I’m sure He did it with love.

      • Good Will:

        Someone with authority once observed that no man in the Celestial Kingdom ever sat upon a throne that wasn’t placed there by his wife.

        That alone should give us pause to consider how we treat our wives. If they aren’t happy, we certainly won’t be!

  • Log:

    On another topic, I believe insecurity is why the denizens of the great and spacious building are pointing and mocking those who are partaking of the fruit of the tree of life. Indeed, that imagery has application far beyond the Gospel.

    Lacking a foundation of knowledge, they never feel secure in their positions and claims. They are comforted by the superiority of their numbers. Their arguments are rhetorical at their foundation, intended to sway emotions rather than establish truth.

    A man who is founded upon the truth will stand alone, if need be, for integrity’s sake.

    Contention is of the devil, we are taught – and blessed are we if there are no disputations among us. It only hit me the other day that contention simply means to be engaged in a contest, or competition. Arguing to win, rather than come to the truth, is contention. It is clear that in order to avoid contention, one should be in possession of the truth, and know it. If one is not in possession of the truth, knowingly, it is consistent with integrity to speak of one’s beliefs and opinions – but it is inconsistent with integrity to begin to mock, or wax sarcastic towards, those whose opinions differ from one’s own. After all, if one does not know one is in possession of the truth, the real possibility exists that one is NOT in possession of the truth.

    True saints – those who have received of the spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, and who are holy, without spot – are scrupulously honest, ensuring at all times their words comport with truth and integrity. This includes specifying at all times when they are stating their opinions, or beliefs, or their knowledge. They do not mock, nor wax sarcastic towards, them with whom they are conversing. Contention is contrary to their nature, and if they engage in contests, like church basketball, it is in an attempt to surpass themselves, and not put down their competitors. With them, it is truly in good-natured fun. Cooperation and conciliation are their preferred modes of operation. That is why Zion is made up solely of these individuals, filled with the spirit of God, who haven’t a competitive bone in their soul, and of such is the kingdom of God, even the Father.

    Or so I believe, and with excellent reason. :)

  • JR:

    GoodWill,
    I know where Spek and Log live, unfortunately out of state.
    Are you in the Wasatch front area?
    I would like to meet you and chat.
    If you are close by and interested, would you let Spek know and we
    can swap email addresses.
    Thank you brother.
    JR

  • Log:

    Another thought.

    Matt 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

    Moses 1:39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

    To be a God is to be the servant of all. To be a God is to love one’s enemies, blessing them that curse you, doing good to them that hate you, and praying for them that despitefully use you and persecute you. To be a God means to forgo vengeance and retribution.

    To be a God is to have charity, or perfect love, for charity defines God, and whoever has it is a child of God.

    1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us [have charity towards] one another: for [charity] is of God; and every one that [has charity] is born of God, and knoweth God.

    8 He that [has not charity] knoweth not God; for God is [charity].

    16 And we have known and believed the [charity] that God hath to us. God is [charity]; and he that dwelleth in [charity] dwelleth in God, and God in him.

    17 Herein is our [charity] made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

    18 There is no fear in [charity]; but perfect [charity] casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in [charity].

    1 Timothy 1:5 [T]he end (meaning, purpose) of (all) the commandment(s) is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.

    Ether 12:34
    34 And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father.

    Moroni 7:48
    48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

  • JR:

    I have loved this discussion. Trying not to stifle it with my comments. Log, I too have come to the conclusion long ago that competition is incompatible with being a vessel of the Holy Ghost. There is just no desire to “best” one’s fellow man in any way, but the desire of the soul is to lift and comfort others and see them prosper. Perhaps this is one measure of the sincerity of a person’s conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is so much that has been said in this blog that is of the Spirit! Thank you brethren.
    JR

  • Log:

    JR,

    It’s not that you commented that stifles the discussion – it’s just that there’s no direction to take the discussion from your comment!

  • Log:

    I just saw a movie. It is a word-for-word remake of an older one. This new one has vastly upgraded graphical effects, and a somewhat intrusive musical score. I disagreed with the acting direction given, as some interactions which were previously straightforward now took on completely mystifying aspects, and some characterizations were, to my mind, grossly overstated in both emotionalism and mannerisms, which had the effect of divorcing them from relevance to real-world contexts.

    On the plus side, the CGI effects were excellent, the increased screen time of the actors makes it easier to stay alert and attentive, and I particularly appreciated the artists’ interpretation of certain things. Honestly, I sat there for the first hour or so smiling because of all the artistic effort that was on display. I felt it was probably all to the better for the next generation, they having been raised on SpongeBob Squarepants.

    In all, it seems the trend is towards heightened dramatics, which in my mind detracts from the earlier, understated presentations. Visualizations, and word emphasis, also convey interpretations of the material which I am not sure I can agree with. Corbin Allred, of Saints and Soldiers fame, has been cast in the role of the villain, and I feel the direction he was given was definitely not an improvement over the former castmembers’ performances.

  • MarkinPNW:

    Forgot to add; “lol” to the end of my comment.

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