In the JST of John 5 we find two great truths. Both are stated by the Savior as truths about himself. However, both are examples that we are all meant to walk in.
JST John 5:30 And shall all be judged of the Son of Man. For as I hear, I judge, and my judgement is just;
31 For I can of mine own self do nothing; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father who hath sent me.
32 Therefore if I bear witness of myself, yet my witness is true.
33 For I am not alone, there is another who beareth witness of me, and I know that the testimony which he giveth of me is true.
For as I hear, I judge
In the JST of Matt 7 we get insight into Christ’s meaning when he says “Judge not, that ye be not judged”. The phrase is expanded to:
JST Matt 7:2 Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.
This gives us a much clearer sense of Christ’s intention. His is intention isn’t to command us not to judge good and evil. He doesn’t even discuss it as an option. Instead he commands us to judge righteous judgement, and warns us against unrighteous judgement. We learn about righteous and unrighteous judgment in Moroni 7. Righteous judgement is to judge good and evil by diligently seeking in the light of Christ and the revelations of God – thus righteous judgement is to yield up our own notions about good and evil in favor of God’s. Unrighteous judgement is to judge good and evil by any other method.
Here in John 5, Christ gives a perfect example of what righteous judgement means. “For as I hear, I judge, and my judgement is just; … because I seek not mine own will but the will of the Father who hath sent me.”
Note that the Savior doesn’t refuse to judge. Instead, he will judge, but, as Christ puts it, “as I hear, I judge”. Just as we are to leave judgement in God’s hands, so also the Savior leaves judgement in his Father’s hands. He leaves judgement in his Father’s hand not by refusing to judge, but rather by judging as his Father dictates. What his Father dictates as wrong, he will call wrong. What his Father dictates as right, he will call right. Similarly when we leave judgement in Christ’s hands that doesn’t mean we refuse to call good good, or that we refuse to call evil evil. Instead it means that we judge as Christ dictates. The principles is that “as we hear, we judge, for we of our own selves can do nothing”. We can only hear clearly to judge good from evil as we learn to “seek not our own wills, but the will of the Father”.
There is another who beareth witness of me
Christ says of himself “For I am not alone, there is another who beareth witness of me”. Christ points out his miracles and his Father. His Father bears reference on very rare occasion by his own voice, but mostly through the Holy Ghost.
3 Nephi 11:35 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.
We see that witness in the lives of Christ’s disciples.
Matt 16:17 Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my father which is in Heaven.
Nephi teaches that the Holy Ghost is God’s gift to “all those who diligently seek him” even in the days that Christ “should manifest himself unto the children of men”.
1 Nephi 10:17 …I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.
Now back to our discussion of John 5. Christ says of himself: “For I am not alone, there is another who beareth witness of me, and I know that the testimony which he giveth of me is true.” The scriptures teach the same must be true of our own teaching.
D&C 50: 17 Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
18 And if it be by some other way it is not of God.
If we preach, and not by the Holy Ghost, God simply doesn’t acknowledge it as teaching his gospel. In fact, he He says it is not of him. In his mind it apparently simply isn’t the same thing.
Put differently, If we can’t say the same thing as Jesus did:”For I am not alone, there is another who beareth witness of me” then, as far as God is concerned, we aren’t teaching the gospel.
A common thread
There is a common thread to these. Judgement is called righteous judgement if it has its source in the light of Christ and the revelations. We can judge some teaching or practice or entertainment as good or evil. For illustration, let us say it is an idea, and we decide it is good. From God’s perspective, whether we “judged righteous judgement” is not just a matter of whether we judged correctly. It is a matter of how we came to our conclusion. If we truly did so by the light of Christ and his revelations, then we “judged righteous judgement”. We would have sought “not our own will but the will of the Father” and consequently, as we heard, we judged.
But the main point is that if we judged the teaching by some other method, maybe by how charismatic or how learned the source of the teaching was, then even if we made the right decision, we didn’t judge righteous judgement. Righteous judgement will always lead to the correct conclusion. But whether or not we used righteous judgement is determined by HOW we made our judgement. In the Lord’s eyes, if we came to the right conclusion the wrong way, we simply aren’t using his method of judgement. It is unrighteous judgement. It simply isn’t the same thing.
And similarly, those Elders who were being reproved in D&C 50 weren’t being reproved for failing to read the scriptures or to discuss the gospel. At issue was the spirit they were listening to. Apparently, as Joseph Fielding McConkie pointed out, you can read a scripture by the light of some other spirit, and as far as God is concerned, it simply isn’t the same thing as reading that same scripture by the light of the Holy Ghost. It is a completely different activity. One is preaching and learning the gospel. The other is not of him.
In both cases, the “how” of what is being done is critical. If the how involves going to God by preaching by the Holy Ghost, or judging by the light of Christ, then we are preaching the gospel and judging righteously. But if we preach in some other way, then as far as God is concerned, we are not preaching his gospel. What we are doing is not of him. It just isn’t the same activity.