Sunday, May 31, 2009

Our Eternal and Divine Nature

We are all doing what we can to help others come to our Savior Jesus Christ. There is a new and very powerful 17 minute video produced by the Church that teaches of our divine nature along with the apostasy and the restoration. This video would be wonderful for Family Home Evenings, home schooling, the youth, those who are not members, etc. For the first six minutes, the video teaches of the eternal and divine nature of man, it then explains the apostasy and restoration, and concludes by focusing on our Savior and his atonement. Click Here For Video

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Earth Reacts To Man

As Latter-day Saints we understand that mother earth is a living entity. We know that she lives and will die and resurrect and that she obeys a Celestial Law,

D&C 88:25-26
25 And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law--
26 Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.

We also know from Enoch's experience that mother earth is pained with the wickedness of men,

Moses 7:48
48 And it came to pass that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?

Paul seems to be referencing this same idea when he said,

Rom 8:22
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

A reference in Leviticus and two our our latter-day general authorities had important commentary about the earth and her reaction to wickedness,

(click on image to enlarge)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Plan of Salvation (part 2)

One of the first doctrines that Satan tries to hide in an apostasy is the doctrine of pre-earth life. By so doing he can "rearrange the furniture" and separate the type of being man is from the type of being God is. He is also able to hide the great effort of many in their pre-earth preparations to accomplish their missions in mortality. In an earlier post, February 9, I used this quote from President Kimball about pre-earth life,

"A passage of scripture familiar to all of you . . . reads as follows: '. . . intelligences that were organized before the world was and among all these were many of the noble and great ones . . . and he said: These I will make my rulers;' These leaders whom Abraham referred to were noble, good and they had been proven, thus God could entrust them with great responsibilities in his Kingdom on this earth. Were you among those who were noble, good, and tested? The Prophet Joseph Smith said, ' Every man who has a call was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of Heaven.' Yes, you were among those rulers . . ." quoted from a Church filmstrip entitled, "These I Will Make My Rulers." (1978)

Long after the Prophet had received D&C 76 on the three degrees of glory, he quoted from a revelation that he had received, which makes further comment on the apparent state of all those who are not married and in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom,

D&C 132:15-17 15 Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world. 16 Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory. 17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.

Here we see that those who are exalted in the married state receive a "far more" and "exceeding" and "eternal weight of glory" than any others. Others are depicted as:

1. cannot be enlarged (no posterity)
2. remain separate and single (why the two different terms?)
3. without exaltation
4. in a saved condition
5. to all eternity
6. not gods
7. angels of God forever and ever.

The Lord may still give further clarification on these statements, but they do give us pause to reflect on the great plan of happiness and our position in it. Do our own personal lives reflect our devotion to our God and the building up of his Kingdom.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our Christian Nation

The Book of Mormon declared the God of this land to be Jesus Christ,

Ether 2:8-12
8 And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.
9 And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.
10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.
11 And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God--that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.
12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written. (emphasis added)

Also, Lehi had this to add,

2 Ne 1:7
7 Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.

It is also important to note that the Lord declared that he raised up our founding fathers that established our constitution,

D&C 101:80
80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I have up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.

Below is an excellent response by a minister to President Obama's statement that we have never been a Christian Nation. I realize that this is a little late but it was just brought to my attention by a very good friend.

Hi, my name is Dutch Sheets, and I have a short but very important message to share with you.
President Obama has said twice now—in his inaugural address and on a recent trip to Europe
—that America is no longer a Christian nation. In fact he implied in his inaugural address that we never have been a Christian nation, that it was many faiths that shaped and defined who we are as America.

In a recent Newsweek magazine they basically agreed with our president. The headline read, “The End of Christian America.”
What are they and others really saying about America when they say we are not a Christian nation? In essence, they are saying we lost the culture war for America. They’re either saying that we never were a Christian nation, that we’ve always been a mix, or they’re saying maybe were at one point, but are no longer—this culture war is over and we are announcing Christianity has lost.

What is the truth about our roots as a nation? The following are a few quotes that demonstrate clearly what we were in the founding of this nation, and what our founding fathers and early leaders really wanted us to be.

The first one is from, of all places, the United States Supreme Court in 1892. “From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation…that this is a Christian nation.” I guess the Supreme Court of that point in time did not agree with our current President. John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, said, “Unto Him who is the author and giver of all good, I render sincere and humble thanks for His manifold and unmerited blessings, and especially for our redemption and salvation by His beloved Son.”
Is that a Christian statement? I believe it is.

Fisher Ames is the author of the first Amendment. (By the way, remember that the first Amendment is what the revisionists try to use saying our forefathers didn’t want Christianity influencing our government or anything in the public square.) Here is what the author of that first Amendment said: “Should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book?” I don’t think he agreed with today’s version of separation.

John Adams, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and our 2nd President, said this: “The general principles of which the fathers achieved independence were…the general principles of Christianity.” Our second president and signer of the Declaration of Independence certainly thought we were a Christian nation, founded upon Christian principles.

Here’s something that will really surprise many of you. This is a statement in the Handbook of Harvard University in 1642 called “The Rules and Precepts:” “Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3)…and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.” Our educators today do not agree with it, but that
was in the handbook of Harvard University.

Here is one final quote and I want to read a portion of it to you: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, power, as no other nation has ever grown. But, we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied, enriched, and strengthened us. And we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” Who made that powerful statement--some great preacher? A spiritual leader in our
nation, perhaps? A statement made even recently? No, that statement was made in 1863 by none other than President Abraham Lincoln. It was made during the Civil War when he called our nation to prayer and fasting, asking God for His help in that troubled time.

What our founding fathers and early leaders believed about God and this nation, and the connection there, is indisputable.

Why does our history matter? Why do our roots in this nation really matter? Why is it important to revisionists and secular humanists that they re-write and distort our history? You know, if it really didn’t matter what our history was, they wouldn’t bother to re-write it and distort it. I’m here to say to you that it matters much whether or not we were a Christian nation in our roots. Why--first of all, because God honors covenant. The Bible says he keeps covenant and mercy to a thousand generations. You’ll find leaders all throughout scripture, when calling upon God for his help and His mercy, basing it on covenant – promises made in the past between God and people. And when we call upon God, we have to call upon Him, at times (of course always based on scripture), based on the fact that we are honoring the covenant that we made with Him as a nation. Our history is also important because it demonstrates that God had a purpose in the founding of this nation. God was involved. Our forefathers knew that God was involved, and it demonstrates our Godly heritage that
our founding fathers believed in—that purpose and destiny--and dedicated this nation to it.

The liberals, humanists, and those who want to re-write our history, they don’t want you to know that God had a purpose in the founding of this nation and that our forefathers intended to honor that purpose. Our history also demonstrates that our founding fathers were influenced by God’s word and His ways when writing the Constitution and forming our government. Those who don’t like this and want to twist the meaning of our founding fathers and founding documents try to negate God’s influence by rewriting our history.

Is it important to know that in our roots we are a Christian nation and do have a God-given purpose and destiny? You better believe it is! We know that we were a Christian nation in our early days. We know what our founding fathers and early leaders wanted, but have the humanists, secularists, atheists, and revisionists really won this culture war? Are we, as Newsweek said, at the end of Christian America? No, they have not won the war! It is true that they have made great gains and, in many areas of our culture, they do currently rule: education, media, government, and so on.
And many in government—the President, Congress, Judges—are pulling out all the stops to remove anything and everything that would make us a Christian and godly nation. They are attacking biblical values and life.

President Obama, who voted for the right to finish taking the life of a baby born alive after a botched abortion and many in Congress, are trying to reverse every restriction ever placed on abortion through the Freedom of Choice Act. They are trying to pass legislation making it illegal, even
for churches, to refuse to hire an individual who violates their moral beliefs. They are trying to make doctors violate their consciences by forcing them to perform abortions. They want to remove tax deductions for you if you donate money to your church. They want to make it illegal for ministers to preach and quote scriptures calling various behaviors a sin. They are requiring you and me to fund abortions. Whether you know it or not, or like it or not, they are requiring you and me to fund abortions, even in other nations. The current administration and Congress have the most radical anti-Christian, anti-Bible agenda in the history of our nation. They are serious and they have pulled out all the stops. In essence they are saying, “We have won the culture war—now we are going to shove it down your throats.”

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Plan of Salvation (part 1)

(click on image to enlarge)

One of the most enlightening revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith was D&C 76, sometimes called "The Vision." As most revelations given to the prophet, it came as an answer to a question regarding John 5:29. The Spirit opened their eyes to better understand the two resurrections, the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the unjust? The revelation that followed unfolded the marvelous plan of salvation and revealed the love that our Father in Heaven has for his children and that is made possible through the atonement of his Son, Jesus Christ. All are saved except sons of perdition who make this choice of damnation for themselves. The plan is loving, generous, and all inclusive.

I love the way the Prophet Joseph Smith expressed himself on the topic of this vision,

Nothing could be more pleasing to the Saints upon the order of the Kingdom of the Lord, than the light which burst upon the world through the foregoing vision. Every law, every commandment, every promise, every truth, and every point touching the destiny of man, from Genesis to Revelation, where the purity of the Scriptures remain unsullied by the folly of men, go to show the perfection of the theory (of different degrees of glory in the future life) and witness the fact that the document is a transcript from the records of the eternal world. The sublimity of the ideas; the purity of the language; the scope for action; the continued duration for completion, in order that the heirs of salvation may confess the Lord and bow the knee; the rewards for faithfulness, and the punishments for sins, are so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men, that every man is constrained to exclaim: "It came from God." (Feb., 1832.)
(Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith, p.11)

As wonderful as the plan is, we must still remember that it is a partial revelation of an even bigger picture. Several years after the revelation the Prophet made this statement,

Paul ascended into the third heavens, and he could understand the three principal rounds of Jacob's ladder-the telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms, where Paul saw and heard things which were not lawful for him to utter. I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them. (emphasis added)
(Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith, p.304)

The descriptions of the degrees of glory are not totally definitive. There is more information needed to define some of the terms used in the revelation. Several years after receiving the revelation, the Prophet was shown, in another vision, his brother, Alvin, in the Celestial Kingdom (January 21, 1836). He said that he marveled at how Alvin was in the Celestial Kingdom not having been baptized before his death. From this context it appears that the Prophet had the understanding that Alvin would have inherited the Terrestrial Kingdom. Several months after this revelation showing Alvin in the Celestial Kingdom, the prophet had the experience recorded in D&C 110 where he meets with the Savior, Moses, Elias, and Elijah and learns about the sealing power and work for the dead. Through this experience we can see that even the Prophet Joseph Smith was taught line upon line and precept upon precept.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Male and Female Equal (part 4)

We are taught in the Doctrine and Covenants that the power of Godliness in contained in the ordinances,

D&C 84:19-21 19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. 20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. 21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; (emphasis added)

From the beginning of time trough the Lord's instruction to Adam, we have learned how much power was in the ordinance of receiving the Holy Ghost,

Moses 6:61 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.

In early Church History the Lord referred to the endowment as being endowed with power from on high (see D&C 38:32, 38; D&C 105:11). The Prophet Joseph Smith further elaborated on the power that the endowment would bring,

Remember, you are not to go to their nations till you receive your endowments. Tarry at Kirtland until you are endowed with power from on high. You need a fountain of wisdom, knowledge and intelligence such as you never had. Relative to the endowment, I make a remark or two, that there may be no mistake. The world cannot receive the things of God. He can endow you without worldly pomp or great parade. He can give you that wisdom, that intelligence, and that power, which characterized the ancient saints, and now characterizes the inhabitants of the upper world. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts, 2:, p.197)

Our Father in Heaven has made both male and female equal under the priesthood so that if either wants a blessings or an ordinance they must go to one who holds the priesthood to receive it. Even if the man holds the priesthood he is not allowed to bless himself or perform an ordinance on himself, he too must go to another to receive the blessing or ordinance.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Male and Female Equal (part 1)

I feel that Heavenly Father intended his sons and daughters to be equal in their separate roles in life. The next several posts will confirm their equality.

(click on image to enlarge)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Truths are woven into the very fabric of our beings

I have always felt that the truths that I studied and loved, and to which the Spirit bore record, became a literal part of me. I was thrilled to find this quote by President Joseph Fielding Smith which confirmed this concept,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Building Up Of Zion

This short video beautifully portrays the feelings and concepts that go together to build Zion:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Walk Humbly

Before the Church was organized, the Lord wanted the early members to understand the voice of the Spirit. In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith to his brother Hyrum, the Lord said,

D&C 11:12-14 12 And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good--yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit. 13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; 14 And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.

This Spirit is in all men and is working continually. However, many do not "trust in that Spirit" and so go off the track which leads them to life eternal. Note that the Spirit teaches four things,

1. to do good
2. to do justly
3. to walk humbly
4. to judge righteously

This Spirit will never help us to win worldly praises or to vaunt ourselves up in pride or materialism. When we are trying to achieve these things we are telling that Spirit that we do not want to be bothered while we are trying to aggrandize ourselves and the Spirit is grieved. This Spirit only helps us to be humble followers of Christ. It will reinforce provident living, modest dress and grooming, and deportment that reflects humility, meekness, and lowliness of heart.

Just as the Lord requires two witnesses for the truth, there are two parts of the body which witness that the Spirit is there - you will know in your mind and your soul will be filled with joy, or as D&C 8:2 puts it, you will know in your mind and heart.

Through trusting "that Spirit" one can learn all things pertaining to righteousness.

Each of us must take a close look at ourselves and our personal motives and our deep desires to make sure we are in harmony with "that Spirit."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Carnal vs. Spiritual Mind

As the previous post points out, the Lord is coming to destroy the worldliness and materialism of this world. The image below will show the difference between the carnal/materialistic mind and the spiritual mind led by the Spirit.

(click on image to enlarge)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Worldliness Destroyed At Second Coming

In one of his portrayals of the second coming of Christ, Isaiah describes a powerful warrior coming from the city of Bozrah in the land of Edom,

Isa 63:1-4 1 WHO [is] this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this [that is] glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. 2 Wherefore [art thou] red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? 3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people [there was] none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. 4 For the day of vengeance [is] in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.

Bozrah was considered an impenetrable fortress in the land of Edom. Edom (Idumea in Greek) was the land where Esau and his descendants settled. Because he sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, Esau, his people, and his land, became the scriptural poster-child for worldliness and materialism. The Lord reinforced this concept of the wordliness of Edom in his preface to the Doctrine and Covenants,

D&C 1:36 36 And also the Lord shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst, and shall come down in judgment upon Idumea, or the world.

From this we learn that the Lord is coming to judge worldliness and materialism. Those who have overcome the world will be the Lord's at his coming. The following image helps to portray the scene created by Isaiah 63:1-4, (click on image to enlarge)
In the appendix to the Doctrine and Covenants 133:46-51, the Lord continues this image from his preface and explains that his garments are red because he has sprinkled the blood of the wicked on his garments during their destruction,

D&C 133:51
51 And I have trampled them in my fury, and I did tread upon them in mine anger, and their blood have I sprinkled upon my garments, and stained all my raiment; for this was the day of vengeance which was in my heart.

Monday, May 4, 2009

This Exalted Earth

From Enoch, we learn that the Lord has created millions of earths like this one and that he has created a Zion on each. They are then brought back into the bosom of the Lord.

Moses 7:29-36 29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity? 30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever; 31 And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep? 32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; 33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood; 34 And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them. 35 Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also. 36 Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also, and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren. (emphasis added)

President Brigham Young taught that the eternal inheritances that are received through the law of consecration are received after the earth is Celestialized and placed in a cluster of Celestial Kingdoms, (click image to enlarge)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Difficulties Of Living On This Earth

From the vision of Enoch we learn that there are millions of earths like this one. In that context, Enoch was taught that there are those on this earth that are committing the most wickedness of all the workmanship of the Lord's hands (Moses 7: 29-35). The Lord has certainly counterbalanced that wickedness by sending some of the most righteous here, including the Savior, the heads of each dispensations, and many others of his righteous spirit children. Nevertheless, their are great challenges for those committed to turning this earth into a Celestial Kingdom. Apparently more challenges than any other earth of the Lord's creations.

President Brigham Young had a view on this subject, (click image to enlarge)