These are a collection of thoughts and notes to myself on a matter I think is crucial, but poorly understood. I don’t understand it, and so I am trying to write out notes to see whether the matter might be made clear to be as I do.
I have written before about my wife being told consistently by people she knows that she should not quote “older prophets”. Not long ago, to add emphasis, she was told not to quote older prophets because doing so could be divisive.
I am sure the next iteration will likely be to not quote older prophets if it could be divisive.
We are such fools.
We do not realize that truth is purchased at a dear price. We think that we can discard what we have in order to accommodate people. Bizarrely, we think that God smiles upon us as we do.
When the law of Moses was given in place of the fuller gospel, the Lord still revealed to Moses all that is found in Genesis, including those things which were higher than the law of Moses. For when Christ said “from the beginning it was not so” he was citing a revelation published by the very Moses whose dispensation was that of the law of Moses. Christ was citing Moses’ account of creation of the world. The law itself testified of something better to come, and of the destructive spiritual punishments that awaited men for things that the law of Moses itself allowed.
The more truth we discard, the fewer of us will be exalted.
I think that is an eternal truth: The more truth we discard, the few of us will be exalted.
God expects us to be true to the truth we have.
God will not be mocked. When we discard truth that we once had, we are mocking God.
When we won’t quote his prophets, when we are ashamed of them instead of valiant in the testimony of Jesus, we are mocking God.
The Lord blesses us with knowledge as we share it. There is no point in opening our eyes for us to be silent about it. It is only as we are a candle set on a candlestick, or a city on the hill that he gives us light.
We will not be supported by his hand for being echoes, saying only exactly what the brethren have said. He can hardly raise up a generation to listen to the Holy Ghost if that was all they were supposed to do. How could they learn to listen to the Holy Ghost themselves doing only that? They must make assertions they have not heard that are true, and experience learning and speaking more, or they cannot grow into the principle of personal revelation.
The Lord requires us to be more than echoes of general conference. He requires us to learn to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost.
If we minister to someone, but did not speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, we cannot honestly say we taught or spake in the name of Jesus Christ. For that is the means by which we can speak in his name.
It is necessary and crucial that we say things the brethren have not said.
Anyone can quote, and the rest of the Christianity quotes the prophets plenty. With 780,000 words of scripture to quote they still don’t know the gospel. Why not? Without revelation, we cannot understand the revelation we already have. We must speak and teach more revelation that we started with to understand what we already have. If we only say things we know someone else said, then we are not learning or speaking by the Holy Ghost, for the Holy Ghost then no longer serves a purpose.
There is an enormous gap between the idea that we are to be echos of the prophet, and the truth that we accept only the prophet as holding the right to lead the church by revelation, as he holds the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom, and of the revelations which are sealed.
We have the gift of the Holy Ghost, and there is no point in each of us having the gift of the Holy Ghost, for such a gift is an inexcusable waste and a mockery, if we are not learning to be prophets, seers, and revelators over our own domain. We are therefore required to be more than echoes of the leaders.
There is revelation with a small letter “r” and revelation with a capital letter “R”. The revelation with a small letter “r” is common and is the the means by which the church itself is frequently led. Much of what is found in the scripture is of this sort. We will, if we are faithful, one day reach the point where we give sermons as true and pure and perfect as those delivered by Alma to Ammonihah or by king Benjamin to his people. But even in that day, those reveleations that are dictation of the mind and will of the Lord, such as Christ’s words in 3 Nephi, or the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, will stand far ahead of us as guideposts leading us to more light and knowledge. Those are revelation with a capital letter “R”. And such revelation is perfect as God is perfect.
We are to take his revelation with a capital letter “R” so seriously that it is imperative that we not be required to have to decide amid an abundant number of competing revelations from individuals. Hence, he gives keys and only appoints men to receive revelations (with a capital R) for the church by common consent and in proper order.
We don’t understand scripture study and revelation. We think scripture study is something we do to keep us from going astray. We don’t distinguish between revelation that is the dictation of the mind and will of the Lord, and revelation that is the whispering of the Holy Ghost. We don’t sense truth very well, and do not discern between a statement of great insight and one that is a small matter. We do not distinguish between fact, which can be a statement like “it was warm today” and truth, which is eternal in nature.
We are to become the Sons of God. That is a stronger statement than that we are to become prophets, seers, and revelators in our own domain. It means more to become a son of God than any of that.
There is not a different strait and narrow path for the prophets than there is for us. There is not one path for the big people, and a different path for the little people.
We will lose more souls as we discard truths we once had. It is in the nature of discarding truth. A less righteous people, one who abides less truth, will have less insight, and less of the spirit, and will save fewer of their generation, no matter how much more appealing they think that they are. They discard the power of the Holy Ghost, failing to live better, in exchange for the philosophies of men, and that can never result in saving more of God’s children. Those who carried the Holy Ghost with the greatest power had power to save the most of God’s children. Enoch saved a wicked people, and created Zion. Melchizedek saved his wicked city, and Salem was taken up to join Zion.
I, nor anyone I know, has the faith to convert one wicked man really. One of us might be able to convert someone who is pretty much ready to hear it. But a rebellious one?
A very righteous man has the potential to save a wicked city. He has converting power. They may reject him, as Christ was rejected, but we should remember that Tyre and Sidon would have repented in sackcloth and ashes if Christ had gone among them. That is the goal of the priesthood, for us to become as melchizedek, and to exercise faith sufficient to save people in large numbers because of the converting power of God that our faith brings about. The conversions in large numbers in the early church were not merely that “the people were ready”, but a testimony to the faith of those that did the work.
But that faith, and teaching in that power, will not be by being accommodating in truth. There is a difference between accommodating a lack of knowledge, and then filling it in, as Ammon did when he said the great spirit was God, and compromising on fundamental principles and foundational commandments.
A vast change in faith in a man has greater power to save more people. If more men become the Sons of God, and have power like that in JST Gen 14, then more people are saved. The vast differences are by the few individuals, and it is by creating the circumstances that convert men into becoming those individuals that the real saving work of God takes place. We cannot, as a church, or as individuals, simply stand on the shoulders of a large number of dwarves, for gospel power is not cumulative, their heights do not add.
Can we believe we are building on the rock, while not being willing to quote older prophets, and preaching it as a principle to not quote them where they disagree with modern sentiments? What then of the Old Testament? Do we not quote it? Do we not believe it?
What does it mean to believe in the old testament as scripture, but to not teach it? Wherefore are we not thrilled to receive more of his word? What does it mean to have older prophets in this dispensation, but to not teach them? Can we then also cease to quote the Book of Mormon and just use the bible so we can join the rest of Christianity and save even more people who already accept the bible as true? We would join them here, and in eternity as well, and be damned with them and lower than them too, for we would have rejected that truth which we already had in order to please men.
We have taken up a gospel of accommodation and statistics. We notice that more accommodation brings better statistics, and that sounds louder in our ears than his revelations.
There is a difference between discarding truth we had and not yet being prepared for truth we have not yet received. Rejecting truth we had leaves us hardened because it offends the spirit. “The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.”
What we are supposed to be about is making our calling and election sure. As Joseph Smith taught
“Compare this principle once with Christendom at the present day, and where are they, with all their boasted religion, piety and sacredness while at the same time they are crying out against prophets, apostles, angels, revelations, prophesying and visions, etc. Why, they are just ripening for the damnation of hell. They will be damned, for they reject the most glorious principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and treat with disdain and trample under foot the key that unlocks the heavens and puts in our possession the glories of the celestial world. Yes, I say, such will be damned, with all their professed godliness. Then I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election surer for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it, etc.”
From teachings page 307
President Joseph Smith remarked–“I am a rough stone. The sound of the hammer and chisel was never heard on me until the Lord took me in hand. I desire the learning and wisdom of heaven alone. I have not the least idea, if Christ should come to the earth and preach such rough things as He preached to the Jews, but that this generation would reject Him for being so rough.”
We have to trust the Holy Ghost. Of course the brethren make mistakes. That is OK. It happens. There is nothing wrong with that. It is normal life. Harold B Lee knew this and plainly taught it. Brigham Young knew this too. Joseph Smith knew this in abundance – how can we know of the number of leaders that apostatized from the early church and not know that the brethren make mistakes? The disturbing thing is that we mostly have two kinds of people now, and neither fruit is the one we are after: we have those who look at the brethren’s words without the light of Christ, and discard good as being evil. Then we have those who have enough of the light of Christ to at least tell that the brethren are good, that they are God’s, that he holds them in the palm of his hand, that they are called to lead the church, and that they are leading it the way God wants it led. That is good. But it is the right foundation, not the intended construction. Then we also have those that take that think they are experienced members, and in that experience take pride in themselves and reject good teachings of the brethren for the philosophies of men. We have Bishops and Stake Presidents that do as much. What we don’t have much of is people who seek diligently in the light of Christ to judge good from evil. If we had more of that, then we would know that the brethren make mistakes, and it would be OK, because we wouldn’t then be grabbing up the philosophies of men and waving it around as truth and tossing out precisely those things we should be holding tightest too. We suffer from exactly what is described in D&C 84, where we are spiritually vain, we think we are so spiritually pretty, that we take lightly the things that we have received, even the Book of Mormon and former commandments. This pride and vanity costs us tremendously, and is why, without a scourge of correction, we would find ourselves to be pollutions in a glorified earth enjoying its paradisiacal glory.
It is to become the Son’s of God that we are after. I can’t imagine that isn’t what the thing in D&C 84 is about becoming the sons of Aaron and of Moses, because they then receive Christ.
We are missing some crucial parts of the picture.
Yes, we do our duty as Brigham Young said, but in time we are supposed to start to wake up. He wanted members to grow into gift of the Holy Ghost as well. We are supposed to wake up and be able to see. Instead, we think “experience” (measured by time in leadership callings and the “importance” of the calling) and gospel pride count and substitute the precepts of men in for the brethren’s good counsel.
When we ask someone to be a member of the true church we ask if they accept the bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly, and whether they accept the other standard works as the word of God. We have no qualms about asking that. We don’t feel unfair in asking it, like we are putting a burden on them that is too great, or too unfair. We don’t feel like we are putting them out of the church by asking that. We also want them to accept that the prophets of this dispensation were actually prophets. But discarding modern prophets teachings we consider to be fair game. We think that it is asking too much to want them to accept what modern prophets have taught. What does it mean to accept a man as a prophet, but not to accept his teachings as being the teachings of a prophet? That whole idea is just a lie. And what part does lying have in living the gospel? If we ask people to accept men as prophets, and consider that fair and right, then we can ask them in all fairness and rightness to accept the teachings of those men as teachings given by prophets. Is every word spoken by an apostle in conference spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost? No, and that is taught quite plainly by Harold B Lee. But are the the prophet and the twelve leading the church right, are they leading it precisely the way the Lord wants them too? Yes.
I think once again part of the problem traces back to simply not reading our scriptures. We know we should require both new and existing members to accept the standard works as the word of God. We know that now, but we don’t realize what that means any more because we didn’t grow up reading them ourselves, except maybe the Book of Mormon. Thus we have this totally wrong idea that the teachings of prophets in this dispensation have been more challenging for people, and more difficult to accept as inspired truth, than the prophets in past dispensations were. We know we can ask people to accept the scriptures, but not being familiar with those scriptures ourselves, we don’t realize that there is nothing modern prophets have taught that is more difficult or more adverse to the notions of man than what has already been taught by prophets in the scriptures.
Accepting the scriptures as being the word of God as far as they are translated correctly is a baseline requirement – it is part of what it means to be a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We cannot belong to the church of Jesus Christ in any real sense while rejecting his word. For if we reject the scriptures as being the word of God we are no longer following Christ, we no longer accept him as our king, and our membership is membership in name only as we cannot claim the benefits of the covenant.
It isn’t that we just no longer read the scriptures, it is also that we openly reject some of their teachings when they don’t fit with our modern ideas. So it was with ancient Israel, who Moses suffered to write writs of divorcement because of the hardness of their hearts in cases other than that of adultery.
I think maybe we misunderstand the nature of truth and conversion, and thus will abandon truth in order to bring about what we think is conversion.