14 Fundamentals of a Living Prophet: A response

Sharper Than A Sword recently posted on this subject and listed Hugh B. Brown’s  comments on identifying a true prophet. I wrote this piece some years ago after hearing a conference talk and thought that I would post it again.

14 Points concerning a living prophet.
[I will list all of my comments in italics.]
OCTOBER 2010 OBEDIENCE TO THE PROPHETS
CLAUDIO R. M. COSTA
Of the Presidency of the Seventy
What a great blessing it is to have prophets in our day!
I am a convert to the Church. I am so grateful that God answered my prayer and gave me a knowledge and a strong testimony that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. {Very true}
Before I made the decision to be baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I studied extracts from the history of Joseph Smith. I prayed after carefully reading each paragraph. If you would like to do this yourself, it may take you 14 hours.
After I read, pondered, and prayed, the Lord gave me the assurance that Joseph Smith was His prophet. I testify to you that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and because I have received this answer from the Lord, I know that all of his successors are prophets too. [This is not sound logic.] What a great blessing it is to have prophets in our day!
Why is it important to have living prophets to guide the true Church of Jesus Christ and its members?
In the Guide to the Scriptures, we find the definition of the word prophet: “A person who has been called by and speaks for God. As a messenger of God, a prophet receives commandments, prophecies, and revelations from God” (“Prophet,” scriptures.lds.org; see also Bible Dictionary, “Prophet”). [See JST of Genesis 14; it is by God’s voice (literal) that prophets are called; during the 1844 succession question it was decided by a vote and common consent, not by a revelation, who would preside. Today it is the senior member of the Quorum that is sustained as the next president of the church. Other than Joseph, who gave us his record, I am not aware of any president who has experienced what is found in Genesis. Even when Brigham was voted to be president, he nor the church called him the prophet. {Those present testify to a spiritual experience, but Brigham does not relate any personal content that reflect what occurs in JST Gen. 14} That (calling the president prophet) did not happen until David O McKay. Numbers 12:6 “If there be a prophet among you. I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision.” {We find these confirmations written in the scriptures by most of the major prophets we are familiar with.} So, today the Quorum sustains and then the membership sustains the next president of the church. I agree that it is by that office that he has been sustained in, that he has the right to direct the affairs of this church and has the right and responsibility to receive inspiration and revelation relating to the ministry and functioning of the church and it’s members. We should sustain and pray for him in that position.]
Following his talk at BYU, Ezra Taft Benson was summoned by president Spencer W. Kimball to a meeting with the general authorities to explain himself, and to “apologize” for what he said. The twelve were “dissatisfied” with his response. Edward Kimball said his father (who was then president of the Church) “was concerned about Elder Benson’s February 1980 talk at BYU.” He continued by saying that president Kimball wanted “to protect the Church against being misunderstood as espousing…an unthinking ‘follow the leader’ mentality” (Quinn, Extensions of Power).
It is a great blessing to receive the word, commandments, and guidance of the Lord in these difficult days of the earth. The prophet can be inspired to see the future in benefit of mankind.
We are told that “surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). We learn from this scripture that the Lord will reveal to His prophets absolutely anything that He feels is necessary to communicate to us. He will reveal His will to us, and He will instruct us through His prophets.
The Lord promised us that if we believe in the holy prophets, we should have eternal life (see D&C 20:26). In the sixth article of faith, we declare that we believe in prophets. To believe means to have faith and confidence in them and to follow and do what the prophets ask us to do.
In 1980, when President Ezra Taft Benson was serving as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he gave a powerful message about obedience to the prophets at a BYU devotional in the Marriott Center. His great talk, titled “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” touched my heart. It made me feel good that I had made the decision to follow the prophets for the rest of my life when I accepted baptism in the Lord’s true Church.
I would like to share with you some of the principles that President Benson taught:
“First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything” (1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year [1981], 26). [Not a General Conference talk, see paragraph above.]
In our day the prophet of God has told us to keep the commandments, to love our fellowman, to serve, to take care of the rising generation, to rescue the inactive or less active—to do many things that we call prophetic priorities. We need to understand that these priorities are God’s priorities and the prophet is His voice in communicating them to all of the Church and the world.
We are counseled to “give heed unto all his words and commandments” (D&C 21:4). We also learn:
“For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
“For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:5–6).
[President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel–said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church–that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls–applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall–that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy. Section Five 1842-43, p.237]
[D&C 28: 2-3, “But behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses. And thou shalt be obedient unto the things which I shall give unto him, even as Aaron, to declare faithfully the commandments and the revelations, with power and authority unto the church.” This scripture and those noted above reference Joseph Smith and I think it is a stretch to say that the Lord means all subsequent prophets or He would have said so. Also see D&C 5:10, “But this generation shall have my word through you;”]
Second fundamental: “The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works” (“Fourteen Fundamentals,” 26).
The living prophet is receiving specific revelations for us. I can remember many times when I have been present to hear one of the servants of the Lord speak about a specific thing for a city or country. I remember at least three of the living prophets, seers, and revelators who have spoken about my country, Brazil. One of these servants said that Brazil would become a great economy in the world and be free of inflation. At the time, we had two-digit inflation every month. It was difficult for many people to believe what the prophet said, but I believed. Brazil has had about 5 percent inflation each year for many consecutive years now. Brazil has become eighth in the world economy, and the country is doing great!
[I disagree with the conclusion for the following reasons.
1) The scriptures are the standard to which all things are compared and contain the words of Christ. 2 Nephi 32:4 says, “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for they will tell you all things what ye should do.”
2) D & C 35:23 “And inasmuch as ye (Sidney Rigdon) do not write, behold it shall be given unto him (Joseph Smith) to prophesy; and thou shalt preach my gospel and call on the holy prophets (scriptures) to prove his words, as they shall be given him.”]
3) DC 20:45 “The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God (scriptures).”
4) I came across this statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, Pg.203. This contradicts the statement above.
STANDARD WORKS JUDGE TEACHINGS OF ALL MEN [Joseph Fielding Smith;
“It makes no difference what is written, or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teaching of any other member of the Church high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need-not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine.]
You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord, with the revealed word in the standard works.
Every man who writes is responsible, not the Church, for what he writes. If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it. If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted.”
5) Joseph Smith also said that the Book of Mormon (The Standard Work) is the most correct book and a man can get closer to God by studying it than any other book.
6) Read DC 1:37; 3 Ne 20:11; 23:1,5; Mormon 8:23; also 2 Ne 4:34; 28:31; DC 1:19.
Third fundamental: “The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet” (“Fourteen Fundamentals,” 27).
We learn a great lesson about this from the scriptures. In the times of Noah it was easier for the people to believe in the dead prophets, but it was difficult for them to believe in Noah. We know that because of their incredulity they did not survive the Flood (see Genesis 6–7).
[One difficulty here is that we conflate prophet with the President of the Church. Until David O McKay the term prophet always meant Joseph Smith. They can be the same and again might not be. He becomes president by default by being the next member of the quorum who has been there the longest, he is then sustained by the unanimous vote of the twelve and finally the church. This is how the order of transferal is done by the institution. This is not the pattern found in JST Genesis 14. Oliver Cowdery gave the following to those who had received the office of apostle. {There is no office called prophet found in the D&C}“DHC 2: 195-196; …Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith, cast off your sins, and all your unbelief, and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid His hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid His hands upon His disciples, why not in latter days.”]
Fourth fundamental: “The prophet will never lead the Church astray” (“Fourteen Fundamentals,” 27).
Again we learn from the living prophets. President Wilford Woodruff said: “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty” (Official Declaration 1). (This is not scripture, but we seem to take it as such.)
[If you study the history around this statement you will find that it was a statement to beat the devil at his own game, as President Woodruff called it and deceive the government about the stoppage of polygamy, about 1890. This was because the government was going to confiscate all the church land and property. He was saying don’t worry I will not lead you astray, we will still teach and live this principle. There were two newspapers in town. One said it was the revelation. The other newspaper that was overseen by an apostle confirmed that it was never a revelation but only a way to appease the government. Also note that this is just a statement and no part of the official declaration. I cannot find where Joseph taught such a doctrine. The closet he came was a statement where he said that if a couple had their calling and election made sure and that they still have the risk of falling, if they prayed in sincerity to the Lord that He would take them before that could happen, that He would honor that request. The practice of polygamy continued on until 1905 and ended after Joseph F. Smith testified before Congress. In 1911 two apostles were excommunicated for not abiding by this last statement. During the 1890’s there was a serious discussion about concubinage (having concubines) instead as this would bypass the issue of having more than one wife. Also in D & C 107:82 there is a provision of how to address a situation if the President of the High Priesthood should transgress. This scripture says that it is possible for the president to be in error. There is some danger in saying that all we have to do is follow the prophet or sing “Follow the Prophet” (see D & C 76:98-100). We need to know what is being said is from the Lord and that is done by knowing the scriptures (the Word of God and Christ) and having the Holy Ghost with us. Brigham Young made a similar statement in “The Discourses of Brigham Young” {which discourses he also said were the word of God as we like to say in our day that the talks of the General Authorities in conference and in the Ensign are the word of God. And which Discourses and Ensign messages contradict each other in many areas as to current beliefs}.]
[Wendy Ullrich said something to the effect: ‘The Catholics teach that the Pope is infallible, but nobody believes it. The Mormons believe the ‘Prophet’ is fallible, but nobody believes it.’]
{Heber J. Grant once said to Marion G. Romney, “My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it. Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.’’ (Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78). Plus we have in DC 107: 82-84 the whole process of how to deal with a church president who is in error.
However, Joseph Smith said, “We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them even if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves” (Millennial Star, Volume 14, No. 38, Pages 593-595).
It should sit as a curiosity to you that we continually return to the sentiment expressed so long ago by President Woodruff that the President of the Church would never “lead you astray” (See Official Declaration-1).
“We think it is unreasonable that the Catholic church considers its pope to be infallible. We scoff the idea of infallibility, but then fervently believe that the President of the Church will never lead us astray. zion.com [Infallibility]”}
Fifth fundamental: “The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time” (“Fourteen Fundamentals,” 27).
The Lord called a young man, Joseph Smith, to restore His Church. Do you think that the young Joseph Smith was a doctor in theology or science? We know that he was a humble and not academically educated young man. But, he was chosen by the Lord, and he received from the Lord all that was necessary to honor and magnify the calling of a prophet of the Restoration.
[It is worth while pondering the JST of Genesis 14 where a prophet is called by the voice of God and not by a vote. If we review all the scriptures we will find that the prophets often stated their actual experience with the Lord or discussion with angels. This is especially true in the Book of Mormon. We rarely hear such statements now. The scriptures and the writings of Joseph Smith testify that it is not too sacred to relate such experiences, but inherent in their sharing is a testimony of what they are saying is true. Just start reading 1 Nephi and see how often he relates that he was visited by an angel, or the Lord. This continues with Jacob, Benjamin, Alma etc. You will find the OT prophets have the same visits and those visits are documented in the record and in their writings.]
President Benson continued:
“Sixth: The prophet does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture. [Agree, but see above.]
“Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know” (“Fourteen Fundamentals,” 27, 28). [As it should be.]
And then President Benson quoted from 1 Nephi 16:1, 3:
“And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear. …
“And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.”
Eighth fundamental: “The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning. [Certainly true. Neither is anybody that is filled with the Holy Ghost in his or her stewardship. Plus it is our responsibility not to be influenced by the arm of the flesh. If we have not placed too many stakes in our belief system then we would be open to whatever the spirit teaches and as to whether what is being taught is by the Holy Ghost and that you have the Holy Ghost with you so you can receive it]…
“… Does it seem reasonable to cure leprosy by telling a man to wash seven times in a particular river? Yet this is precisely what the prophet Elisha told a leper to do, and he was healed. (See 2 Kings 5.)” (“Fourteen Fundamentals,” 28).
And President Benson continued giving other principles about obedience to the prophet. I will read the last six and invite you in your next family home evening to find these principles in the words and teachings of our living prophets, seers, and revelators during this general conference.
“Ninth: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter—temporal or spiritual. …
[This is also available to anybody as they function in their stewardship.]
“Tenth: The prophet may be involved in civic matters. …
“Eleventh: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich. [Very true]
Twelfth: The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly. …[In fact it usually results in anger. Just refer to the House of Israel’s responses to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel etc. on an institutional level, along with the likes of Laman and Lemuel on a personal level.]
“Thirteenth: The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency—the highest quorum in the Church. …[Just note that there is no “office” in the church called prophet. Early in the church the term ‘prophet’ whenever spoken meant Joseph Smith. It was not until David O McKay that we started calling the President of the Church the Prophet.]
“Fourteenth: The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the first presidency—follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer” (“Fourteen Fundamentals,” 29).
We are privileged to have the words of our living prophets, seers, and revelators during this wonderful general conference. They will speak the will of the Lord for us, His people. They will transmit the word of God and His counsel to us. Pay attention and follow their instruction and suggestions, and I testify to you that your life will be completely blessed.
Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet of God, and the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are prophets, seers, and revelators. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
[We are to follow only one person and that person is Christ. This statement is not scriptural based. The closest scripture is in the NT, but that is more related to following their example. If the leaders speak by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost this is true, and we are to receive it by the Spirit also. One basis for this statement might be from the following scripture, “Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith. For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.”Again, this is a revelation that is specific to Joseph Smith, who did receive his call as outlined in JST Genesis 14, and later his calling and election made sure in D&C 132.]
———————-
“This is an old question. It was asked of the Prophet Joseph Smith and answered by him. He writes in his journal, “This morning . . . I visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet’; but I told them that a prophet is a prophet only when he was acting as such” (Joseph Smith, _History of the Church_, 5:265).
Brother Brigham, he also said some mighty profound things on this particular topic:
“I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation…Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.” Discourses of Brigham Young, 135
“..if He (God) should suffer him (Joseph Smith) to lead the people astray, it would be because they ought to be led astray…it would be because they deserved it…” JD 4:297-298
Let’s conclude with a quote from Joseph F. Smith (someone who is also responsible for perpetuating the “Lord will never allow…” myth). However, in this case I think he is spot on.
“It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:203)

JTH

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Sacred Learning and Belief Systems Part 3

Sacred Learning Part 3
I will start with a review of some items that limit our ability to learn. Then I will discuss the concepts of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias. These are natural to us and frequently will operate below our consciousness, but they can be detrimental, if not dealt with to our advantage.
Setting up Stakes: in light of this three part series I will discuss stakes or limitations that we put on our ability to learn. The stakes we set up, which will dam our progress are directly related to what we have put on our belief window (Part 1), or to put it another way, it is related to our traditions, our world view or the box (belief system) that we try to put new information into. If that information does not fit into it, then we tend to reject it. For example if we believe in the philosophies of men in relation to evolution and how old the earth is we will have a hard time believing that Adam was only placed on this earth 6000 years ago. One problem in the world of science is that there are a lot of unproven theories that we assume to be fact and therefore we cannot see outside that box.
Here are some quotes from Joseph Smith discussed in Part 2 on the topic of limiting what we will accept from God (setting up stakes):
“To all those who are disposed to say to set up stakes for the almighty— will come short of the glory of god. To become a joint heir of the heirship of the son he must put away all his traditions.
Men will set up stakes and say thus far will we go and no farther, did Abraham when called upon to offer his son, did the Saviour, no…”
“The mystery power and glory of the priesthood is so great and glorious that the angels desired to understand it and cannot: why, because of the tradition of them and their fathers in setting up stakes and not coming up to the mark in their probationary state.”
“I cannot believe in any of the creeds of the different denominations, because they all have some things in them I cannot subscribe to though all of them have some truth. but I want to come up into the presence of God & learn all things but the creeds set up stakes, & say hitherto shalt thou come, & no further.—which I cannot subscribe to.” “To all those who are disposed to say to set up stakes for the almighty— will come short of the glory of god. To become a joint heir of the heirship of the son he must put away all his traditions. Men will set up stakes and say thus far will we go and no farther; did Abraham when called upon to offer his son, did the Saviour, no…” (Joseph Smith)
“There are a great many wise men and women too in our midst who are too wise to be taught; therefore they must die in their ignorance, and in the resurrection they will find their mistake. Many seal up the door of heaven by saying, So far God may reveal and I will believe.” (Joseph Smith)
“The mystery power and glory of the priesthood is so great and glorious that the angels desired to understand it and cannot: why, because of the tradition of them and their fathers in setting up stakes and not coming up to the mark in their probationary state.” (Joseph Smith)

Therefore, traditions (that are false) can be a major problem for the Lord to get any new thing into a person’s head (brow of brass). Even for the person who has lengthened their stakes they can run into limiting what God has to offer by the new stakes they have just established. The key is to not set up any, but to be as a child, ever seeking new information to understand the world they live in.

Let’s look at two more limiting behaviors; cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias.

Cognitive dissonance: “In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, performs an action that is contradictory to one or more beliefs, ideas or values, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.” “The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feelings of discomfort that result when your beliefs run counter to your behaviors and/or new information that is presented to you. People tend to seek consistency in their attitudes and perceptions, so when what you hold true is challenged or what you do doesn’t jibe with what you think, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance (lack of agreement). A classic example of this is “explaining something away.” “Cognitive dissonance is the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in people is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: they reject, explain away, or avoid the new information; persuade themselves that no conflict really exists; reconcile the differences; or resort to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in their conceptions of the world and of themselves.” The result is that something has got to go.
Confirmation Bias: “Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning.” “People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for desired outcomes, emotionally charged issues, and for deeply entrenched-beliefs.” “It occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true.”
The Natural Man: We are ‘fallen man’ or our natures are fallen so to speak, from a more exalted position. We are veiled from what came before and the veil is a barrier, until we are able to part it and even pass through it. Our response to things that challenge our belief window or world view seems to be part of our natural programing as humans and therefore we have a built in resistance to anything that challenges what is on our belief window. We dig in our heels and do all that we can to defend it; therefore our progress is stopped and we are damned. We are horrified to be wrong, even though what is true for God might not be true to us.
Mosiah 3: 18 “…men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
20 And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
21 And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent.

The Doctrine of Christ will allow us to change our program. Let us look at three scriptures before we get to the ‘Doctrine of Christ’. The process revealed will begin with repentance, which has much more to do with changing your mind than just feeling bad and trying not to do whatever it is you are repenting of. True repentance in relation to our topic would involve repenting of our belief in traditions that are not true and abandoning them for the further light and knowledge the Lord would like you to receive. It can be a painful experience and ongoing, as you will need to be cautious not to create new self-limiting traditions, even if they are true, but you are unwilling to receive the ‘more’ He has yet to give. Remember His thoughts are not the same as our thoughts and His ways are higher than ours. We should yield to Him and seek not to counsel our Lord who has invited us to’ come unto Him’. In Alma below you should pick up the idea that repentance is associated with a change of our mind and that the scriptures contain His word and they will lead us to ask questions, and both will invite the Holy Ghost to be available to not only teach us but lead us along.
Alma 37: 6-12 (Alma 17:8 NC)-{the importance of having and reading His word)
6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
7 And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.
8 And now, it has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls.
9 Yea, I say unto you, were it not for these things that these records do contain, which are on these plates, Ammon and his brethren could not have convinced so many thousands of the Lamanites of the incorrect tradition of their fathers; yea, these records and their words brought them unto repentance; that is, they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer.
10 And who knoweth but what they will be the means of bringing many thousands of them, yea, and also many thousands of our stiffnecked brethren, the Nephites, who are now hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities, to the knowledge of their Redeemer?
11 Now these mysteries are not yet fully made known unto me; therefore I shall forbear.
12 And it may suffice if I only say they are preserved for a wise purpose, which purpose is known unto God; for he doth counsel in wisdom over all his works, and his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.

2 Nephi 31: 5-13 (2 Nephi 13: 2 NC)
5 And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!
6 And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?
7 Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.
8 Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove.
9 And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.
10 And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?
11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.
13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.

This is really great stuff.

Alma 5: 30-36 (NC Alma 3:6)

30 And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?
31 Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!
32 Yea, even wo unto all ye workers of iniquity; repent, repent, for the Lord God hath spoken it!
33 Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.
34 Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely;
35 Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire—
36 For behold, the time is at hand that whosoever bringeth forth not good fruit, or whosoever doeth not the works of righteousness, the same have cause to wail and mourn.

The Doctrine of Christ (If you do not receive this, your attempt to sacred learning will fail.)

3 Nephi 11: 30-41 (3Nephi 5: 9 NC)

30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.
31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.
37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
41 Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.

I just want to mention two things. First note that He tells us twice to become as a little child. Little children are inquisitive and soak up new things like a sponge. When we get older we think we know it or enough and shun any new thing that might result in cognitive dissonance. We have set up stakes and are likely to participate in confirmation bias. We are comfortable and we will seek behaviors that will secure that comfort, while failing to hear His knocking at the door that only you can open. The second is not adding to or taking away from His doctrine. When any of the churches of Christendom require more than these things to join them, they are adding to.

I have enjoyed reviewing these topics with you. Ponder these and other scriptures as they are they which speak of Him and in them ye think ye shall have eternal life; for the Lord God keeps His promises and the covenants He has made with man. You will find those items in the scriptures. So begin your feasting today. Ask, seek and knock with a sincere heart and He will hear and come to you. May your heartfelt cry be heard!

May God’s blessings ever abound in your life. I testify of His love. The Book of Mormon is His new covenant that we are to receive and any people of any denomination will be drawn closer to the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father than any other path, for the Holy Ghost accompanies that book as His witness. May we all allow His words to be written on the tables of our heart and mind, that our souls might in the end be claimed by Him through His great Atonement.

Jack Hinkle, June 14, 2019

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Tests and Test

Tests and Test
It can be a bit concerning to us as to what the Lord might require on our journey here. In Abraham 3: 25 (LDS) the Lord said that He created this earth that “we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” Then in the Lectures on Faith Joseph talks about any religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things does not have power to save a man. And lastly we are to follow our Savior, and He sacrificed all things for us. Will we be true to Him or be like the rich man who did all ‘these things’ but couldn’t give up his riches?
I wrote on the subject of afflictions back in the fall of 2018 and you might find that beneficial for a review. This post is in response to an email I received from a friend.
p. 43: “Before you are ready to receive
the Second Comforter, you will encounter substantial tests of
your faith. Of course, you should expect that. Hearts must
be broken. That is the only way to get the required broken
heart and a contrite spirit the Lord demands.” —David

Discussion: As noted above our life is a test and thus our challenges will involve many tests of our character throughout our life and especially after we have received knowledge of His truth or the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1: 39) Our work (D&C 11: 20) is to keep his commandments and the only way commandments become necessary is if there is an opposition in all things (2 Nephi 2: 11, 15) or the path of righteousness or wickedness, Heaven or Hell. Since God does all things with a purpose in mind, then our lives are caught up in that purpose. So, we should expect the tests and if we are on a covenant path with the Lord, then we should expect that the nature of our tests will reflect His test; or said another way, if we want to be saved, then we need to do what the saved Man did (Lectures on Faith).As noted above our journey will require a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Ether 4: 15 Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.

Here we can see that part of the process of the heart being broken is by doing away with unbelief, by receiving the great and marvelous things He wants to give to us. So a broken heart lacks pride and a ‘know it all’ attitude; it needs to become open to what one doesn’t know. The next part is turning from wickedness and turning (from sin though repentance) to righteousness (HIM). For me, when we begin to see our true and fallen nature there should a sense of proper fear for the salvation of our soul or as Moroni said ‘awakening to our awful situation’, for our soul is truly in peril. This should bring upon us the contrite spirit as we realize the great gulf between our Father in Heaven and how far we have fallen, but at the same time realize His great Mercy and Grace that He is willing to provide to us if we would just turn to Him in humility and cry unto Him for forgiveness, that His great Atonement would be received in our broken heart. Such a status reminds us, as King Benjamin said, that we are all beggars before the Lord and are less than the dust of the earth (see Mosiah 4). In that state, we know that we are dependent on Him for All things; for the air, our next heartbeat, our next breath. Oh, how great and merciful is our God. We most assuredly need to give thanks for all things every day of our lives, and that includes our tests.(Alma 7: 23; 37: 37; Mormon 9: 31; DC 46: 32; 59: 7).

p. 44: “How, when, where, and to what extent you will be
tested is an individual matter. But a test which will break
your heart will certainly come. You must pass through the
very valley of the shadow of death, while relying upon the
Lord to guide you and provide you the comfort to endure.”—David

Discussion: I tend to view this statement in a spiritual sense in light of the above statements of King Benjamin and even Paul (who said, why “stand we in jeopardy every hour”). This earth life and the spiritual war for the souls of men, is the valley of death we walk through. Of course we walk in this valley every day and don’t pay much attention to it, but there will arise moments that we will need to confront our fears, faith, belief, grief, loss, Him, His Gospel etc.; that will be our great moment. The most important soul for us to save is our own, but to do that we desperately need Him. Even though we have many tests in this life there will probably be one test that will challenge our faithfulness to Him (like Abraham) and if we have courage at such a moment, He will accept what we have to place upon the altar (our altar). And as Neal A. Maxwell said, we have nothing really to place upon that alter but our will; and in this case it needs to be our submissive will, like Christ’s in the Garden of Gethsemane. Our test will apply to our progression here and not necessarily one like Abraham’s, as he fell in the category of souls who were among the noble and great ones. We will be so challenged in some future cycle of creation if we prove faithful. So what is required? Joseph tells us:

“After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of sins and receives the Holy Ghost, which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and by living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son (or daughter) thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which is the Lord hath promised the Saints.” TPJS p. 150.
May we have courage. We must choose our world: this one or the next. “Blessed are they that wait for Him.” Isaiah 30: 18. And why not end with Psalm 27:
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.
5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
11 Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.
13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
May we all have the courage necessary to receive His Grace and Mercy that we so desperately need.
Jack T. Hinkle on June 7, 2019.

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Sacred Learning and Belief Systems 2

Sacred Learning and Belief Systems Part 2
In part one I discussed the topic of how our belief system or what is on our belief window can drive our actions and results in relation to our response to the principles and rules we follow in our daily activities. Many years ago Judy and I were at a conference in Florida and were asked to connect some dots with only three lines. The only way to accomplish the task was to think outside the box that contained the problem. We can do the same with our belief systems and the material that is part of our belief window. If everything new we are exposed to needs to run through an established belief window that happens to contain incorrect principles, then we might not be able to learn something new, for we will discard it.
President Nelson has asked us to read the Book of Mormon (study the scriptures), stay on the covenant path and have oil in our lamps, by having a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a key element in the process of sacred learning.
The main purpose of this article is to discuss true principles that are involved in sacred learning. I will first just make a list, as I will not discuss all the principles involved on this topic.
1) First, it helps if we just assume we don’t know much. If we think we are already in the know and what is new has to fit within the box of what we think we know, then chances are we are going to reject a lot of information.
2) As pertaining to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we will need to read, study and ponder over His word, by being diligently engaged in the activity (and not just as a passive reader). It involves faith and an expectation that there is important information contained in the scriptures He has provided to us. It also requires that we have questions that we desire and truly need to ask Him and then talking to Him in prayer and listening and waiting for a response, and lastly acting on it.
3) We all have seen the picture of the Savior knocking on a door. That is the door to our heart. There is no knob on the outside as we have shut Him out by the things we pollute our minds with; the stuff of Babylon. The scriptures often speak of a brow of brass and a hard heart. The brow of brass does not let anything new in for the hard rock of a heart to consider.
4) Our false traditions also have the same effect, for all new information that does not fit within its framework is kept outside. Much of what the Savior has to offer just might be on the other side of the door that can only be opened from our side. We need to throw it wide open with a desire to be filled with what He has and wants to give us. Our own lack of belief and faith limit His ability to work with us.
5) The Savior said that except we become as a little child, we in no wise can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Children know they lack knowledge and understanding and are therefore attentive and willing to take in the new. Starting out, they do not have much of a filter that limits what is received. They are in a much better position to be taught, especially if it involves true principles as can be found in the Gospel and Doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ.
6) So, again our traditions can hedge up our way; especially if they are false, but we take them to be true. Said a different way, this is receiving for doctrine the traditions of men.

The need for the Holy Ghost in our sacred learning experiences is great and essential. There are many items in the scriptures that just don’t make sense if we try to plug them into our belief models, and most people just pass over them as the scriptural message isn’t entirely clear. If they cannot attach or connect it to what is in their head in relation to their current beliefs; or it just conflicts with what they currently believe and think they know to be true; they will just set it aside and never return to it. Examples of cognitive dismissal and oversight is manifested in a failure to understand what is being said, as it doesn’t make sense for many of us, so we just read on, failing to consider a much deeper message for personal study. (Examples that will cause some cognitive dissonance (see Part 3)include: DC 124: 28-48, 3 Nephi 16: 7-15, 3 Nephi 21: 11-21, JST Matthew 21: 47-56, 2 Nephi 26: 19-22, DC 45: 28-32, Mormon 8: 35–41, Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 34).

Avraham Gileadi  appropriately asks: “What does that verse say?” Sometimes we believe a verse says something it doesn’t, just because somebody told us that it meant something else, but in reality it actually says something quite different, especially when taken in context with other scriptures linked to it. If our belief window is contaminated by Babylon and the things of this world, the doctrines and teachings of men or what the Lord calls the arm of the flesh and the traditions of men, then our ability to receive more will be hampered. Even though we have eyes and ears we just might not see or hear Him. The noise in our head may just be too loud. Personally, I use the scriptures and the words of Joseph Smith for my sounding board against which I judge anyone’s words, as I seek prayerfully His Spirit. There are many spirits that need to be tried this way. I use Moroni 7: 16 too: “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.”
(All I know is limited, but I have received confirmation that He has accepted my efforts, as I seek to do His will, love and care for my family, be compassionate to my fellowman [needs much more work]; face Him always, show courage and not entertain fear, while seeking His Grace and Mercy. I am nothing; less than the dust, but I desire to be where He is. May I be able to wait on the Lord, and always remember Him. If I can remember all the testimonies He has given me over the years, I am strengthened in my resolve to live each day in prayer, for it is so easy to stumble. I thank God, for His Atonement and Mercy and Charity. JTH-)

The Holy Ghost
We frequently associate the Holy Ghost with our emotions. We often will hear a touching story or talk etc. and our mood is elevated and we say that we feel the spirit or that the spirit was in our meeting. We can get similar feelings when watching a movie or reading moving words or things that make us weep. This is probably not the Holy Ghost. Let’s review some statements concerning the Holy Ghost and how the Spirit works.

Joseph Smith said: “The Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence.” As occurring on multiple occasions over many years, during times of intense study and pondering and laboring over the scriptures, I can bear witness of these effects underlined above.-JTH
The LDS scripture index: because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost Moro. 8:26; the Lord speaks in mind and heart by Holy Ghost DC 8:2; H.G. shall dwell in your heart DC 8:2; H.G. gives utterance 14: 8; manifests all things that are expedient 18: 18; bears record of Father and Son 20:26-27; H.G. knows all things 35:19; Teaches peaceable things of kingdom 39: 6; bearing record of all things 100:8. In the TPJS: brings past events to remembrance; shows things to come; cannot be received without revelation; is a revelator; constant companion of the righteous; should be sought after. It should be noted that the voice of the Spirit will often use your language and sound like your own voice in your head, but is an ongoing conversation. It truly is a small still voice.
Joseph:” We believe that holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and that holy men in these days speak by the same principle; we believe in its being a comforter and a witness bearer, that it brings things past to our remembrance, leads us into all truth, and shows us of things to come; we believe that “no man can know Jesus is the Christ, but by the Holy Ghost.” We believe in it [this gift of the Holy Ghost] in all its fullness, and power, and greatness, and glory and scripturally, and not according to the wild vagaries, foolish notions and traditions of men.”
Moses: 6: 61 “Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.” I have felt this at a level low on the scale, but enough that I cannot deny it. Therefore, I will continue to seek it.-JTH

Knowledge: Seek it (it’s not just for those in the chief seats or the guy down the street; it is for all who will come unto Him.) Joseph said: “God has not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them.” TPJS p. 149. So, let’s all get to work. Knowledge is associated with the Divine Man, Heavenly Father and Wisdom with the Divine Female, Heavenly Mother. Between the two is found understanding.

Joseph taught that it is knowledge that saves a man…”a man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil spirits in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.” TPJS p. 217. Note: This is knowledge we need now, while we are living, for we are at war even with the enemy of our souls.
How hard are we supposed to work at it? “The things of God are of deep import, and time and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, Oh Man! If thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—Thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men.” DHC 3: 295. In regard to this statement, the first soul you need to be concerned with is your own.

The Scriptures:

Sacred learning involves a desire on our part to seek Him out. It requires our diligence and persistence in coming unto Him and it will require that we come to know His word for us. Therefore the need to study the scriptures and hear those messengers He sends for our benefit; messengers that actually have His words given to them from Him. Men like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Nephi, Moroni, Joseph Smith.

Joseph Smith said: I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get closer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book.” Nov. 28, 1841; DHC 4: 461.

John 5: 39 “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

DC 84: (Now this should be personally sobering to you.)
43 And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.
44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.
45 For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
46 And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
47 And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.
48 And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world.
49 And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.
50 And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me.
51 For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin.
52 And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.
53 And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.
54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—
58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.

Did you catch that the Book of Mormon is by itself the new covenant for them and you to receive? This was not accomplished by any group historically and in fact in the LDS church, two church presidents (Benson and Hinckley) both said that we as a people were still under this condemnation. In fact, the LDS church as a whole did not take the Book of Mormon seriously until the 1950’s, when Hugh Nibley defended it in a debate. In the 1836 General Conference of the Church the Book of Commandments were accepted by the vote of the church as scripture (This included the Lectures on Faith), but this did not include the Book of Mormon. The ‘Lectures on Faith’ would later be taken out of the Doctrine and Covenants by a committee of men (without a vote of the church) in the 1920’s, as the church was no longer teaching some of the doctrine contained in it, even though Joseph Smith vouched for it as scripture. As a people it was first received as a covenant by a small group of believers in September of 2017.

So far we have discussed several critical items necessary for sacred learning and these include the Holy Spirit; the Holy Ghost; the desire for greater knowledge; seeking for and studying His word, with the scriptures being our standard. The following paragraph will return to the concept of how you limit this process.

Mysteries

I insert this here as many teach not to study or seek them. I get this often. Joseph Smith said: “I advise all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of godliness.” TPJS 364. Also see” Alma 12: 9-10; DC 6: 7; 42: 61; 84: 19; 2 Nephi 29: 28-29. I have been accused of being a learned man-sarcastically and mockingly. It matters not. I am weak and know nothing. But I do know in whom I have trusted and do trust and it is Him. I seek Him through study and prayer. I have been blessed by Him and I seek to heed His counsel and His word and to do His will. I pray for His Mercy and Grace. I love my Lord. My weakness is great and inadequate is an understatement.

Limiting what we will receive by what is on our belief window has been with us since the Restoration of the Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Here are three quotes from Joseph Smith on the topic of limiting what we will accept from God (setting up stakes):
“To all those who are disposed to say to set up stakes for the almighty— will come short of the glory of god. To become a joint heir of the heirship of the son he must put away all his traditions.
Men will set up stakes and say thus far will we go and no farther; did Abraham when called upon to offer his son, did the Savior, no…”
“The mystery power and glory of the priesthood is so great and glorious that the angels desired to understand it and cannot: why, because of the tradition of them and their fathers in setting up stakes and not coming up to the mark in their probationary state.”
This is our probation NOW! It is a critical time. Are we sure we don’t have limiting factors on our belief window that will not only limit what we receive now but also in the eternities. We should reflect on this critically. Will we cling to others and in the end be judged concerning a dereliction of our duty to make sure our own salvation. And this is our duty:
“After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of sins and receives the Holy Ghost, which is the first Comforter, then let him continue after righteousness, and by living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints.” TPJS p. 150. This is our job and ours alone.

“I cannot believe in any of the creeds of the different denominations, because they all have some things in them I cannot subscribe to though all of them have some truth. but I want to come up into the presence of God & learn all things but the creeds set up stakes, & say hitherto shalt thou come, & no further.—which I cannot subscribe to.”
“I have tried for a number of years to get the saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen.” DHC 6: 184-185.
“There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn dodger for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle. Even the saints are slow to understand.” Joseph smith
“I could explain a hundredfold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision were I permitted and were the people ready to receive them…” DHC Vol. 5, p. 402.

The point of it all:
If there is anything God could command you to do that you would not do, you are in unbelief and can only progress so far. Turn to God, trust in God, and rid your heart of anything that would prevent you from doing whatever he asks of you.

“Have not the least idea but if Christ should come and preach such rough things as he preached to the Jews, but this Generation would reject him for being so rough.” (Words of Joseph Smith, 11 Jun 1843)
“It always has been when a man was sent of God with the priesthood and he began to preach the fullness of the gospel, that he was thrust out by his friends, who are already to butcher him if he teach things which they imagine to be wrong; and Jesus was crucified upon this principle.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 310)

“There are a great many wise men and women too in our midst who are too wise to be taught; therefore they must die in their ignorance, and in the resurrection they will find their mistake. Many seal up the door of heaven by saying, so far God may reveal and I will believe.”(Joseph Smith)

Many men will say, “I will never forsake you, but will stand by you at all times.” But the moment you teach them some of the mysteries of the kingdom of God that are retained in the heavens and are to be revealed to the children of men when they are prepared for them they will be the first to stone you and put you to death. It was this same principle that crucified the Lord Jesus Christ, and will cause the people to kill the prophets in this generation.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 309)

There is a whopping amount of good stuff in the two parts concerning obtaining sacred knowledge. It is all worth your careful consideration. We need to be about our Heavenly Father’s business; being in the world, but not of the world. What a challenging task for us and our families.
May God’s blessings be upon you during this perilless journey. For as Paul said; we stand in jeopardy every hour.

Jack T. Hinkle; May 26, 2019

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Sacred Learning and Belief Systems 1

Sacred Learning and Belief Systems Part 1
Several years ago I served in our stake young men’s presidency and one of my responsibilities was to teach a set of missionary prep classes. I counseled with a former mission president on some of the material I was considering and our conversation included the following on personal beliefs systems. It is important to consider what is on your belief window and how that window not only influences your own perceptions of the Gospel and the scriptures, but also the many varied patterns of the people you interact with or teach. If we make decisions based on false assumptions then our results will not be what we expect. You are responsible for your life’s outcome and only you, so act like this life is your probation; for it is!
Part 1-Definitions & Discussion
A. Principle: A basic truth, law; or an assumption (a true or a false one).
B. Rules: Are associated with a usual, customary, or generalized course of action, behavior or conduct. Rules are standards for activities and can be moral and ethical in nature.
C. Principles ennoble, but rules preoccupy (don’t get preoccupied with them).
D. Belief is the beginning of conviction. The difference between believing and knowing is: believing comes before the experience and knowing comes after.
E. Human needs fall into four main areas that include living (food, clothing, shelter); variety; self-esteem; and to love and be loved. If you have unresolved needs your energy goes into behavior to resolve needs.
1) Self-Worth or Image: A good one can come from knowing that you are a son or daughter of God. A good self-image imputes the concept that I can accomplish anything I want, if I want it bad enough. High self-esteem often leads to high productivity. Reasons for a poor self-image are that you live with putdowns or are always living up to somebody’s expectations (sometimes that includes your expectations of yourself). Believing you are less capable does not make you less capable, but you will live as though you are less capable. If your self-worth is related to anything other than your relationship with Christ, you are in big trouble. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings you true principles. President Monson taught: “The only emotion Satan can’t duplicate is peace. When your behavior meets your needs before God you will have peace.” If you can control what happens in life, you can elevate yourself or ascend. The true order though is to awake (to your awful situation), arise (to the occasion) and ascend (towards God and up Jacob’s ladder).
F. Sin is an archery term that means missing the mark. It involves transgressing the laws of God and Nature. It is often the result of deep and unmet needs. If you have unresolved needs your energy goes into behavior to solve needs. Drugs are a temporary ‘OK’ feeling. Also note that if your results do not meet your needs, there is an incorrect principle on your belief window. As we go forward remember, if ones basic needs are not being fulfilled it will drive their behavior.
G. Repentance is the process of changing principles on your belief window. It gives you another chance for missing the mark. Joseph Smith said that he taught people correct principles and then let them govern themselves. If correct principles are taught, then the person can determine how the rules apply to them. Correct principles are found in the scriptures by careful, diligent, ponderous, study and prayer.
H. Obedience (to God and His Son as manifested in the Gospel), is the first law of Heaven and the two great commandments are to love God with all our might, mind, heart and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we do this then Mark’s admonition comes into play: “all things are possible to them that believe.” (Mark 9: 23)

A person lives by principles and the rules needed for engaging them. The rules for the principle are automatic and will be based on ‘if’ I do this ‘then’ I expect this to happen. This leads to the behavior that is manifested and the results that follow. If the results of your behavior are seriously measured they will give your feedback concerning the principle on your belief window. It takes time to measure the results and hopefully the person grows from their results, but it takes time to measure them. Growth is a process of changing principles on your belief window. You must discover the principles that will drive you to the result you want.

Your mind is driven by what you believe. Believing does not make something true. When missionaries go out they are asking people to take off their belief window and examine it. Your belief window will be influenced by your family, culture, corporate, institutional or religious environment. Your traditions are developed therein. Like principles, traditions can be true or false.

I want to note an important concept here about the importance of discovering true principles; for acting on them will lead to results that will be productive. In D&C 130:20 we find “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundation of the world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

Summary:
1) The rules for a principle are automatic.
2) Results are measured over the long term.
3) There is a difference between understanding a principle and believing a principle.
4) Believing does not make something true, but it makes it true to you.
5) If the results don’t meet your needs, you have an incorrect principle on your belief window.
6) You must ask, what result do I want? You must discover the principles that will drive you to that result. A key here is not to attack the behavior or play the blame game. You must find the true principle.
7) Growth is a process of changing principles on your belief window.
8) Before we say anything we should pass it through three doors. Is it necessary; is it true, is it kind?
9) Obedience to correct principles will illuminate the path outlining the rules that will guide the action and behavior necessary to achieve the result desired in your soul, while at the same time generating the spiritual energy emanating from the Spirit of God to accomplish that which He has sent you to do while you are here on this world in your probationary state.

The point:
Truth is the knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come. Truth is self- existent. God’s word is truth and the scriptures and the Holy Ghost teach truth and true principles for us to live by. The issue concerning sacred learning is that there are items that pollute our belief window, leading to behaviors that do not provide the results we desire. This world provides us with plenty of debris and clutter in our head, making clarity and insight into God’s word difficult; onward to Part 2.

Therefore, when you study, become as a little child, having no pre-conceptions. Don’t read His word as if you are trying to vindicate your current beliefs. Read them as if you were a child, ignorant of God’s will; then you might see new things; things He wants you to see. The scriptures of the Restoration and the words of the dispensation’s prophet are the place to start. It’s the critical place to start. May you be blessed on your journey.

JTH May 25, 2019

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LGBT Policy-Revelation?

LGBT Policy-Revelation?
Posted: May 22, 2019 (Updated June 25-26)
It might be beneficial if you review my previous post(s) on this subject and the following will be more meaningful.
The LDS Church has been fighting gay marriage for years. One example involves a legal case in Hawaii, out of which The Proclamation on The Family (1995) was created in order to give the church a basis to support their standing on this issue in the political arena. The other prominent case was Proposition 8 in CA, which won, but was overturned by a Federal Judge as being unconstitutional. Ultimately gay marriage was legalized in all 50 states on June 26, 2015 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Four months later the Church came forth with a policy, which was placed in the LDS leadership manual. The policy stated that those who were involved in such a marriage were considered to be in a state of apostasy and judgement in relation to this issue was taken away from the local leaders and transferred to the main leaders of the church. Children of such gay couples were also significantly affected, with limitations on baby blessings, baptism, ordinations, missions etc., until they were age 18, and only then if they renounced their parents relationship and obtained special permission from the First Presidency. On November 5, 2015 this policy was leaked and immediately drew controversy. On November 6, 2015 there was a special interview with D. Todd Christofferson were he identifies that in part it was in response to the Supreme Court’s decision; to clarify the difference between the Law of the Land versus the Law of the Church or the Law of the Lord. At that point it was not called a revelation in the manual or in a subsequent First Presidency Letter on November 13, 2015 affirming that this was the policy of the church. This letter of clarification was needed due to the policy being too broad, thus requiring clarifications. If they had just left it as a policy (poorly conceived without inspiration form the Lord), they would have been better off. President Nelson made it much worse as he says that it was a revelation (of exclusion); whereas the Lord usually gives revelations of inclusion). Since it was now a revelation from the Lord (that was sneaked into Handbook 1; and without announcement to the membership as they are supposed to, it ends up suggesting that the Lord contradicts His own doctrine; or doesn’t know He will need to change it 3 ½ years later.
As President of the Quorum of Twelve, Russel M. Nelson, at a conference at BYU Hawaii in January 2016 said that this policy was the result of revelation. He said: ‘We sustain 15 men who are ordained as prophets, seers and revelators. When a thorny problem arises, and they only seem to get thornier each day; these 15 men wrestle with the issue trying to see all the ramifications of various courses of action. And they diligently seek to hear the voice of the Lord. After fasting, praying, studying, pondering, and counseling with my brethren about weighty matters it is not unusual for me to be awakened during the night with further impressions about issues which we are concerned. And my brethren have these same experiences. The First Presidency and the quorum of Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to feel individually and collectively. Then we watch the Lord move upon the President of the Church, to proclaim the Lord’s will. This prophetic process was followed in 2012 with the change with minimum age for missionaries and again with the recent changes to the Church’s handbook consequent to the legalization of same sex marriages in some countries. Filled with compassion for all and especially for the children we wrestled at length to understand the Lord’s will in this matter. Ever mindful of God’s plan of salvation and His hope for eternal life for each of His children we considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise. We met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer and sought further direction and inspiration. And then when the Lord inspired his prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to declare the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord, each of us during that sacred moment, felt a spiritual confirmation. It was our privilege as Apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson. Revelation from the Lord to His servants is a sacred process.”
It is interesting that none of the Apostles who were allegedly at this meeting have ever confirmed it. If it had been received as President Nelson suggested then I would have expected that others would have confirmed it in the upcoming conference. In the First Presidency letter, which was signed by President Monson, it was never claimed to be a result of revelation; nor did President Monson ever claim it to be such. It is also well known at this time that President Monson was suffering from the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Now God could work around that, but if such an event occurred, they would all be talking about it, as it would have been an amazing event to be part of. You should read President Nelson’s comments above again and then compare it to information below.
On April 4, 2019 we see a reversal of this policy (revelation) by another revelation. This is two days before the next General Conference was to begin. Elder Oaks revealed the policy change at a leadership conference (see news release material already discussed in another blog). During this time President Nelson also reflected that “the Lord has blessed us with revelation upon revelation and knowledge upon knowledge, that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal. We are all eye witnesses of the Lord as He guides the affairs of His church.”
Greg Prince (a widely respected meticulous scholar and author) has revealed some pertinent information on a Salt Lake podcast called Mormon-land, concerning the mental state of President Monson during the coming forth of the first revelation (Nov. 2015). Prince stated that he was deeply into the stages of dementia. Prince does confirm that the policy was in direct response to the Supreme Court decision, as did Nelson and Christofferson. He also stated that whoever did it amongst the Twelve (presenting it to President Monson), took it into President Monson and as he understands, it was presented as a package, saying that this is what we need to do. People in the medical field he (Prince) had talked to said that he (Monson)was not capable at that time to have formulated that decision, so his response, whatever it was, was something of a reflex response and that was the go ahead. The big problem for us is now the elephant in the room. Which is it? Is the original ‘policy’ a ‘revelation’ from the Lord as described by President Nelson in 2016 and as noted above , will later be contradicted by a second ‘revelation’ form the Lord in 2019. I don’t really think the Lord would have been so confused on this topic or so vague.
The problem is that President Nelson declared, in 2016, that Thomas S. Monson declared the mind and will of the Lord in a meeting that they were all present in. President Nelson also suggested that the Frist Presidency and the Twelve had met in the temple where they wrestled over these issues. Plus if the Twelve were all present, then why did D. Todd Christofferson reveal that he had only heard about the policy on November 3, 2015 (Tuesday morning), two days before it was leaked to the media? The source for this information is D. Todd Christofferson’s brother Tom, who is gay. Prince also revealed that it had been presented to the Twelve as an up or down vote without debate. This information also directly contradicts President Nelson’s story given at BYU Hawaii.
It would appear that what President Nelson stated in Hawaii is a story that is contradicted by other available information. What can one make of a prophet that presents false information? Are there other motives that are involved? Since I have a testimony of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I do not believe the content of either a coming from Him. One contradicts His doctrine and the other contradicts what was revealed in the first. I see God’s revealed word as being clear, concise, and usually blunt and not likely to be altered. None of these characteristics are present.
Should I be confused? Should I find my old set of blinders or an Ostrich’s hole in the sand that seems to be ever shifting? Maybe blind faith in the arm of the flesh is in order, for isn’t it true doctrine that our leaders can’t lead us astray? I find that there is a disconnect between what is said, what is seen and what is revealed in His word in the scriptures. I am not among those who claim that ‘all is well in Zion’ (2 Nephi 28). I am not among the three monkeys and feel the need to put my hands over my eyes, ears or mouth; but I ask the Lord that I might have eyes to see, ears to hear and a mouth to speak His word.
JTH

Addendum-June 25, 2019: Elder Paul Dunn in the past was a rather charismatic speaker. Later in life that tapered off when someone did some research on the stories and some of the people in them and found that the stories were embellished quite a bit (but presented as true). In March-April of this year there was an article in LDS Living Magazine that discussed some material from Sherry Dew’s soon to be released book on President Russel M. Nelson’s life and teachings. It happened to contain a missionary story of an event where President Nelson attended a conference in Tennesee. The story ended up being retracted, and new books printed, as the it did not reflect what really happened, but had quite a bit of embellishment in it. Family members of the woman involved in his missionary experience contacted Deseret Book and pointed out that many points presented in the story were just fabrications and they did not want their mother/grandmother to be confronted with responding to things that didn’t really happen. Details of The Miracle Making of President Nelson’ can be found on radiofreemormon.org. This bothers me a bit. Should it? Does it bother you?

I went to the website truthandtransparency.org to look up the article by Ryan McKnight. Part of the article is quoted below.

“A book exploring the life and teachings of Russell M. Nelson, current President of the Mormon Church, underwent a last minute edit before its public release on April 8, 2019. The publisher, Deseret Book, became aware that the book contained a faith promoting story with material inaccuracies.The story was subsequently removed and the book reprinted in time for its scheduled release.
Excerpts from the book, titled Insights from a Prophet’s Life: President Russell M. Nelson, authored by Sheri Dew, were published in an article found in the March/April 2019 issue of LDS Living magazine.
One excerpt, titled, “You Didn’t Read it, Did You?”, tells the story of a young Nelson who was serving as a surgeon in Korea during the Korean War. While serving, he discussed the Book of Mormon with a nurse on staff, Beverly Ashcraft. He gave her copy of the book only for it to be returned a few days later by her husband, Derwin, a fellow surgeon at the base. Derwin did not express much interest in learning more about the book.
According to the story, Nelson pressed and convinced the Ashcrafts to read the entire book. The couple was eventually baptized by Nelson. Derwin died a few years later and Beverley remarried.
Apparently, sometime shortly after Nelson became an Apostle in 1984, he spoke at a Stake Conference in Tennessee. While at this Stake Conference, Nelson was drawn to a woman he saw in the crowd wearing a hat. While he was giving his talk from the pulpit he called her out in the crowd and asked how long she had been a member and who baptized her. She responded that he baptized her in 1951. The woman was Beverly.
The story goes on to describe how Nelson asked Beverly, ”How many people connected with you have come into the Church since I baptized you?” Astonished, she revealed a dream she had the night before in which someone at the conference asked her that very question. Because of the dream she came prepared with a piece of paper in her purse with the answer to the question.
According to Leslie and Katie McKenzie, daughter and granddaughter of Derwin and Beverley (whose name is spelled wrong in the LDS Living article), that is not what happened.
In a phone interview with the Truth & Transparency Foundation (TTF), Leslie and Katie, told the real story behind their mother and grandmother’s conversion, a conversion story that has been a source of pride in their family for nearly seven decades.
Leslie and Katie say that their family have always been proud that their first exposure to Mormonism was through Nelson, the man who would later become President of the Church. They saw him as a spiritual giant, great leader, and the man that changed the legacy of their family forever.
They were aware that Nelson occasionally used the story of Derwin and Beverley as a faith promoting example of missionary work. The story even appeared in a 1984 Ensign article and in Nelson’s biography on lds.org. However, in these versions, there is no mention of Korea, Beverley being a nurse, or a serendipitous encounter at a stake conference in Tennessee.
According to Leslie and Katie, Beverley was never a nurse, she never lived in Korea, and she didn’t know Nelson until her husband introduced her to him.
Derwin met Nelson when the two were working at Walter Reed Army Military Medical Center in Washington D.C.. They were both doctors performing research, Derwin a veterinarian and Nelson a medical doctor. They became friends and Nelson later met Beverley who worked in the same hospital as a transcriptionist. Nelson introduced them to the Mormon Church and baptized them.
There was an encounter in the 1980s at a stake conference. Shortly after Nelson was called to be an Apostle, he traveled to Knoxville to speak at the conference. Leslie and Katie were both living with Beverley in Knoxville at the time. When they heard Nelson was coming to town they made sure to attend.
They remember that Nelson was aware of who Beverley was and knew she was in attendance. He did call her up to the podium during his talk and told everyone about her baptism story and about how there are many members of the church today as a result of her conversion.
There was no dream the night before, there was not a prepared note in her purse, and there was no confusion on the part of Nelson as to who she was. Katie adds that her grandmother ”has never worn a hat to church and did not have a hat on that day.”
Katie was first made aware of this new version of the story in early Ma”rch when a family member sent her a screenshot of the article. She showed it to her mother and, when she realized that it was part of an upcoming book, immediately reached out to Deseret Book and LDS Living. She sent both companies a document with annotations pointing out the incorrect information.”

Is there a need for the  creation of an alternate reality when truth is needed? Do delusions have a place when many are seeking for truth? It reminds me of Led Zeppelin’s song “Stairway to Heaven” where the lady stops at a sign and ponders it a bit, because words can have two meanings. This can be a scary journey and there is truly a place for the proper fear of the Lord, as the salvation of our soul is on the line. We all truly need the gift of discernment from the Holy Ghost and a one-on-one relationship with the Lord, for it is apparent that anyone else might be able to led us astray. So beware of the arm of the flesh. It is each person’s responsibility to approach the Lord at the veil and seek to enter into His presence. Study His word in prayer, seek His Spirit, ask for forgiveness, ask what you need to do to be enabled, through Him, to walk His straight and narrow path. May God help us to do so. JTH

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My Sons, I would that ye would remember.

“My sons, I would that ye would remember”
Father Lehi had great concern for his rebellious sons Laman and Lemuel for good reason; they made a lot of poor choices, plus they never seemed to learn from them. It is hard to overcome our basic natures without the help of the Lord. There are three scriptures that came together tonight while reading the Book of Mormon. I wrote to you in previous years about Awake and Arise and you can review that if you desire, but today I made some new connections. I will first list the four scriptures and then discuss some points.
2 Nephi 1:
13 O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.
14 Awake! and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent,
2 Nephi 28:
21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.
Ether 3:
2 O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.
Ether 12:
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness.
Besides the call to Awake and Arise we find two key words; chains and dust. Man was created from the dust of the earth. The third scripture discusses the fall of our natures, which is really part of our weakness described in Ether. The fall of our nature includes a fall from our previous spiritual habitation with our Father in Heaven to a Telestial plane several degrees of glory lower. In this state our nature is to become evil continually unless we turn to Him and submit our will to his. King Benjamin also reminded us of our own nothingness and that we are even less than the dust of the earth, because we were made from it; besides even the dust obeys His voice, but we do not.(Mosiah 2)
In the first scripture we note the words relating to a sleep of sorts. Here I associate this with 2 Nephi 28 were men are lulled into a state of carnal security. All is well, but in this state they are pacified and lulled into a state of carnal security, while he leads them to hell. This verse links us in with the chains again, for that is what the lowly one binds you with. Chains are hard to break, thus this takes us back to the dire cry and warning of father Lehi to Awake and Arise! The word Zion tells us who this verse is directed to (that would be us).
The last verse directs us to where our Hope is, and that is Christ. I might add, our only hope, in this world and all future worlds. Our weakness is not supposed to lead us to pride and arrogance, but to humility before Him. If we turn to Him and exercise Faith, then we will have enough hope to seek and do His will; and then in so doing, through Grace and Mercy (which we should seek and ask for), we can receive Charity as we go about doing His righteous works.
Remember the scriptures are rather fun; so search them; feast upon them; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which speak of Him (John 5: 39).
God Bless us all on our journey here.
Love, Dad; Grandpa etc.; May 15, 2019
An unrelated scripture I bumped into before closing, that has meaning to me.
36 And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved—37 I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples. Mosiah 2: 36-37. JTH

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