Quick note on the condescension of God

Quick note, the condescension of God referred to in 1 Nephi 11:26 refers to Christ’s condescension in coming to a body of flesh and being slain for the sins of the world.

But the condescension of God referred to in 1 Nephi 11:16 refers to the Father’s condescension in marrying and having a child through Mary.

1 Nephi 11:16 And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?

17 And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.

18 And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.

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His yoke is easy, but we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling

When we get excited about how easy the path to exaltation is in real life, that should tell us that something is wrong. We have a number of members who have been teachings how easy the path to exaltation is for some time, and they have got a lot of  people to go along with them.

But there is a great difference between the meaning of the scriptures that speak of the easiness of the way, and the meaning of these teachers among us.

When the Savior said “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” he certainly spake the truth, for to obey is far easier that to suffer the consequences of sin in mortality and in hell. But his statement “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” should be read in the same spirit as many of his other statements, such as “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” as well as “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake”.

His yoke is easy and his burden is light when all accounts are gathered in and measured properly. His yoke is easy and his burden is light, but we must still work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

The way to exaltation is easy, in the sense that we know the path we must follow. It is laid out in a straight path before us and we need only take it up in earnest. In that sense the way is easy, and we rejoice in the easiness of it. But while the way is laid out easily for us, we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

The way to exaltation is also easy in the sense that we do not have to suffer for our sins if we repent of them.

D&C 19:16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.

20 Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit.

That is the other sense in which the way is easy, for we can be forgiven of our sins if we repent of them without suffering as Christ himself suffered for them.

Our priesthood is called after Melchizedek to remind us of what we ought to become and how we may achieve it. But to suppose Melchizedek obtained exaltation easily is to deny the scriptures for he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears and was heard in that he feared. Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.

Beware those that teach the easy path to exaltation. Yes, salvation really is easy in the sense that we know the way, and it is laid out in a straight path before us. Yes, salvation really is easy in the sense that Christ once has suffered for sins, the just for the unjust.

But those who teach that we will work out our salvation with less than fear and trembling are liars. And those who teach we will be sanctified without stripping ourselves of all uncleanness deceive themselves.

Mormon 9:27 … Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.

28 Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness;…

And those that teach that “his grace is sufficient” without having to deny ourselves of all ungodliness are cheating our souls out of salvation, for “if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ”.

 

Perversion isn’t trustworthy / scouting / parenting

There are some things that are sacred. Our children are one of our most sacred trusts, most particularly in matters of virtue, which is sacred in its own right.

Yesterday a church member told my wife she would trust her children in the restroom with a cross dressing man that she knew.

How have we became such complete morons, such imbeciles, such idiots about our children and perverts?

Now cub scouts and boy scouts are allowed to have gay leaders. Can we really have grown up hearing the the song “YMCA” as recorded by a gay rock group and played at half the church dances we went to and have still not learned that perverse men will infiltrate organizations where they see opportunity to molest young men or to groom young men as sexual partners? The YMCA is the Young Mens Christian Association and the group that sang the song performed it dressed up in costumes associated with sexual fetishes. They are sexual predators of young men, and they like to sing about the fact.

Of course gay men will infiltrate Cub and Boy Scouts for the specific purpose of sexual predation. Of course they will not generally admit to any such thing. Of course they will lie. When people are involved in gross immorality, the smaller sins usually just don’t seem to matter that much to them. When people are predatory, they lie.

How can we not realize that people seeped in dark sexual perversion are willing to lie about their deviant desires?

I just don’t have the words for our stupidity. We think we can mix that which is most profane such as dark perversion with that which is sacred, specifically the trust and virtue of our children, and not pay a horrible price for our folly. Can the Lord give such parents their children in the resurrection? Without deep repentance, I do not see how he could. He needs to be able to trust us with his children, at the least, before we can be out expecting eternal rewards for our parenting.

Zion cannot be built by less than a nation of prophets

Zion cannot be built by less than a nation of prophets. The shortest path to Zion is the shortest path that leads the Saints to become a nation of prophets.

We think Zion is just a place were everybody is super nice to everybody else and the rich take care of the poor.

But no, Zion is built by a community of prophets.

Certainly, we don’t have to start out that way. The people who eventually built Zion were initially wicked as were the people who lived in Salem. But what was remarkable was the completeness of their repentance and the diligence of their striving. It was not a short path from a state of wickedness to being translated even so. Enoch preached for 365 years. That is far longer than the United States has been a nation. Melchizekek was remarkable for he was able to bring his city from wickedness to Zion in far less time, for he lived in a day when men lived much shorter lives. And for that, we call the higher priesthood after his name.

But Zion cannot be built by a people living below their privileges, for the privileges of the saints are specifically designed to bring them to a much higher way of living and this can be accomplished by no other means.

Thus being supernice to each other is not what defines Zion. What defines Zion is that the people are so righteous that they are enjoying the privileges God intends for his saints.

We cannot really acquire those privileges until we learn to care for the poor like we really mean it.

D&C 70:14 Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld.

But unfortunately, that is hardly the primary obstacle that stands in our way now. We have been retreating from the very things the Father declared in the garden of Eden. We have been retreating from virtue and decency. Our great grandparents would be sick at what we watch, read, and listen to thinking to ourselves “God does not mind, it is no great matter”. We have made the father a figurehead, we have made the mother a provider, and we have despised the gift of children. We have retreated so far from Zion that the path is long before us.

In fact, we have retreated so far that we don’t even know what Zion looks like anymore and think that Zion is just everyone being supernice to each other. And so we fret over whether our members are extremely polite, and get doors for each other, and never think anything another one of them says is wrong, even if two of them think opposite things. But we don’t fret over whether our mothers are excited at how sensual some parts of “Twilight” are and excitedly hand it to their children, and we don’t fret that our parents blast songs about perversion and fornication in their homes and we don’t fret that practically all of our youth have been shown movies with women undressed down to underwear or less by their own parents.

We no longer have the faintest idea what Zion looks like and our sense of direction is no better than that found in the apostate world we live in. We think Zion is built by being supernice to each other.

And so I write this note: Zion cannot be built by less than a community of prophets, and the shortest path to turning Saints into prophets is the shortest path to Zion.

Like Caleb and Joshua

At the borders of the promised land Israel sent 12 men sent to spy out the land that the Lord was offering to them.

Ten of those men came back telling Israel that the land was very desirable, but would be impossible for them to conquer. Israel hearkened to them, wished they were back in Egypt, and started picking out a captain to lead them all back to the slavery of Egypt.

But the two other spies, Joshua and Caleb, rent their clothes when they saw this and told Israel “The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us”.

And so it is today.

We stand as members of the true church of Jesus Christ. We have, presumably, left the sinful world of Egypt, and we stand at the gates of the promised land. We have been told as plainly as word can be what lies beyond those gates: the privileges of the saints of all dispensations.

In case we have forgotten, here are some reminders of what lies beyond those gates.

Joseph Smith said “God hath 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”

We have been told that:

D&C 107:18 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—

19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.

We have been told that:

Alma 12:10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

We have been told many times that we live far beneath our privileges.

We have been told that:

“If the world itself was created by the power of the priesthood, surely that same power can move mountains and control the elements. If one-third of the hosts of heaven were cast down to earth by the power of the priesthood, surely that same power can put at defiance the armies of nations or stay the fall of atomic bombs.” (Elder Bruce R McConkie, “The Doctrine of the Priesthood”, April 1982 General Conference)

We have been told that:

D&C 76:114 But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion;

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

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

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

We have been told these and many other things. We are like Israel at the borders of the promised land, wondering whether we can truly go forth and claim all that it has to offer.

And we have many members now who preach like the 10 spys of ancient days. They preach, one way or another, that the last thing in the world we should do is to march into the promised land with the intention of making it our own.

They have different ways of doing this. One that has done the most harm is preaching that we are saved by easy grace and there is no need to deny ourselves of all ungodliness, or to sanctify ourselves, and that no man can keep all the commandments of God. They teach, and we almost all believe it, that we cannot live up to our privileges. Far worse, they also preach that we do not need to, for they insist Christ loves us just as we are. These teachings are some of the most poisonous among us.

Others preach to us that we already have a prophet, what need is there for us to learn to prophesy? They claim that the book of revelation is closed and stamped with a seal that reads “OFFICIAL CHURCH DOCTRINE” and we have no need for the Holy Ghost or revelation ourselves as individuals.  They teach that doctrine is cataloged and pinned like a collection of beautiful butterflies. But their butterflies are all dead, stabbed with their own pins, because they do not understand that the only way to understand existing revelation is by obtaining additional revelation. They fail to understand that God desires that every saint would follow the prophet and the scriptures to the point where we would all become prophets, seers, and revelators over our own domains and stewardships. They fail to understand that James 1:5 is not a verse for Joseph Smith, but a verse for each of us.

Others actually endorse false prophets publishing books of false revelations among us. These members reject the scriptures which teach that revelation from God to his whole church comes through those he has appointed in proper order and by common consent. The effect of these people is quite destructive, as it dissuades the more righteous part of the people from having any interest in the real gifts of dreams, visions, and prophesy the Lord has designed for his people. It makes them seem embarrassing, by parading counterfeits which truly are embarrassing among the Saints.

And there are hosts of others striving one way or another to keep us from changing our lives in earnest and striving to live up to our privileges.

But our cry needs to be like that of Joshua and Caleb. It needs to be a cry for us to live, as a people, so that our young men will dream dreams and our old men will see visions, for we are to be ushering in Zion and preparing for the second coming.

And it needs to be a cry for the Saints to live up to their privileges as a people. And to live up to them we must change. We must drop our rationalizations, particularly with our media of all sorts, and press forward as a people toward far greater righteousness, receiving the Holy Ghost in greater measure and truly feasting on the word of Christ, until the Lord determines we have traveled the necessary distance and sees fit to bestow them. As we live far beneath our privileges, we must change so much that we leave our current rationalizations and compromises in the distance far behind us. As we live far beneath our privileges now, we do not expect to gain them quickly. It will likely take many years of pressing forward and feasting on the word of Christ. Conquering the promised land took many years, and our task will take many years as well. We must make dramatic changes if we are going to find the God of heaven so delighted with us as a people that he begins to impart to us as a people the gifts he desires for his saints in earnest.

There are many who, one way or another, preach that we cannot, or should not, or do not need to live up to our privileges and claim the promised land God has always offered his saints.

We can listen to them, or we can join with Joshua and Calab who, in great distress at such folly cried out to their our brethren: “it is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us”.

 

Virtue, divorce, marriage, and those things we have never considered.

There are two places where an old idea is presented that is extremely foreign to us. It is the extreme weight that is rightly placed on virtue and fidelity for them to be as God desires them.

One of these places is relatively recent. It is Spencer W Kimball’s “Miracle of Forgiveness” in which he says that if someone attempts to rape a girl she is responsible to resist and even give up her life rather than to give up her virtue. He says that any of us would rather have our children lose their life than lose their virtue, and he is speaking in the context of rape.

The idea he is putting forth, which is so foreign to us, is that a woman that prefers to preserve her life than to prevent a man from committing adultery with her, even forcibly, is a woman that does not have the full measure of virtue. The idea he, and many of his day, understand is that virtue is only properly weighted and kept when it is more valuable to a woman than life itself.

Wow. That is really foreign to us.

It is probably really good doctrine, but we are so used to rationalizing on moral issues that we find it shocking.

The other place a similar idea appears is in the teachings of the savior when he gives his teachings on adultery. The idea here seems to be similar. The woman may have been divorced from her husband, but for her to remarry is for her to commit adultery. And a man who marries a woman who was divorced commits adultery himself.

Both of these place such a high prize on perfect fidelity to the one person that one commits to in marriage, and respecting that same commitment made by another even when their partner has abandoned it, that they kind of leave us reeling.

But one comes from the mouth of the Son of God.

And the other comes from Spencer W Kimball, and from an day of much greater righteousness than what we live in now.

 

Christ’s counsel on divorce

Orson Hyde spelled out the obvious when he taught that Christ was not only married, but that he was living eternal marriage as it was practiced before “the Lord showed [Wilford Woodruff] by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice”. The Savior was married, at the least, to both Mary and Martha, which is precisely the reason those two women would know of the resurrection before even the twelve who had given all to follow him.

And the reason I am noting that plain, but unpopular truth right now is that I finally realized why the sermon on the mount verses on divorce read the way that they do.

Matthew 5:36 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery.

This is going to be horribly unpopular, but it is the plain reading of the verse given the context. Christ was not condemning multiple wives, for he had multiple wives himself, and that was not adultery. But what he does condemn is divorcing one’s wife except in the case of fornication. He says that to do so is to cause her to commit adultery (if she marries another man), and that for a man to marry a woman who has been thus put away is to commit adultery. The verse focuses on the woman taking another husband, rather than on the husband taking another wife, because it is given in the context of polygamous marriage.

To our ears this sounds unkind to women, but given the practices of the Pharisees it is doctrine that protects women, because it is doctrine that protects marriage. The Pharisees wanted to “divorce a woman for every cause”, meaning they could divorce a woman for violating the least thing they thought was right. This allowed them to essentially marry a woman temporarily, and provided a loophole to pass wives around, because they could marry them until they didn’t want them, then divorce them over some trivial matter, then another one of them could take that woman up and do the same thing.

The Pharisees seem to be well off financially, and so the inducement to marry them, especially for a single woman who had no way to provide for herself may have been strong. But some of the Pharisees would cast her off “for any cause” as soon as he saw fit, making the relationship nothing more a real marriage than having a weekend affair solemnized as marriage in Las Vegas on Friday and annulled in the same place on Monday.

But that being said, Christ meant what he said, and he said what he meant and millions upon millions now suffer an immense weight of remorse and guilt over violations of his command: “whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery.”

Looking beyond the mark in the atonement of Christ

The doctrine and covenants contains about as perfect as scripture describing Christ’s atoning sacrifice in Gethsemane and what he won by that as you could ask for:

D&C 19:16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.

20 Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit.

There it is. We have, somehow or other, made a great mystery of the atonement. But there the Lord lays it out for us so plainly that we cannot misunderstand.

“I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might no suffer if they would repent, but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I”.

We read of the Jews:

Jacob 4: 14 But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.

And sadly, this seems to be becoming true of us. Remission of our sins no longer makes us feel overwhelming gratitude. Remission of sins only on condition of repentance definitely doesn’t. We need something new and better and bigger and grander. We were grateful for remission of sins yesterday, and we are so spoiled that we need something new to be grateful for today. That is compounded by the fact that we are actually quite fond of some of our sins, and would like to put aside some of the words of plainness. Most of all, most particularly, we want to watch and read things that are indecent and play indecent music and indecent computer games in our home. We also want to lie when we need to in order to advertise or sell something. We want to put aside proclaiming the truth and warning our neighbor to fit in better with the world. We want to proclaim that we are cool with every immorality the world has to offer, even if we don’t do it ourselves, and we want to never be caught saying that any of it is wrong where men of the world can see or hear what we said. We want to ignore the standard of modesty set by temple garments. Our women want to wear clothing that is ridiculously snug at all times and in all places, even while taking the Sacrament. We want to go out to eat and go shopping on Sundays. We want to be embarrassed of God and moral decency in our public politics, ignoring the fact that a free country could only be founded by appealing to God and standing firmly by self evident truths.

As we grow firmer in our despising the words of plainness, so also we begin to look beyond the mark. I have heard far, far more in church Sacrament meetings in praise of the atonement for solving emotional, mental, and physical woes over the last five years than I have heard in praise of the atonement for offering remission of sins. We are infatuated with all the other things we want the atonement to be able to do. You hear people speculate and express a desire to understand all the ways the atonement can help them.

They want that because they don’t want any more of the way the atonement really does help them. They don’t want to change more. They don’t want to “strip themselves of all uncleanness”. They don’t want to “deny themselves of all ungodliness”. They want something different than that from the atonement, and thus they despise the words of plainness and look beyond the mark, seeking for things they cannot understand.

Of necessity, when we despise the words of plainness, we begin looking beyond the mark. For remission of sins, and particularly, remission of sins on condition of repentance no longer stirs up feelings of worship because it wasn’t what we really wanted anyway, at least not what we wanted except for the sins that are either real doozies, or that violate our overdeveloped sense of politeness and weren’t really even sins at all.

The verses I recalled from D&C 19 lay out the meaning of the atonement in all possible plainness. They are as plain as word can be.

But I have even heard people express great joy that they were physically healed by God for some ailment “through the atonement”. And at that point we are simply denying that God the Father is, actually, God. God, being as he is God, has power over the elements independent of the atonement. He can heal a man or woman physically because he is the God who created the earth. And it is easier to heal a sick person than it is to create the earth. The atonement is the crux of eternity, but it is not the source of God’s power.

Our fascination with all the other things we think the atonement can do, but which seem somehow a bit hard to understand and nail down is simply the same thing described in Jacob 4. As we despise the words of plainness because we are not so very interested in repentance, then we are looking beyond the mark and putting aside the atonement, seeking for things we cannot understand. All the while we are making an enormous noise about the atonement, and how it grants us new and better things than plain old delivering us from unspeakable suffering through remission of sins on condition of repentance.

Zion waits in anticipation with her joys, but horror hopes to catch us

There is the Lord’s plan for Zion. It makes strict requirements of us. It requires a great deal from us. But it will bring us joy that we cannot comprehend. If we will follow it, we will look back at the way we are living now with shock at how foolishly we were choosing to live so miserably. We will see ourselves the same way we now see ancient Israel. We will look back and wonder at our own folly, unsteadiness, lack of knowledge, and lack of principle.

And we will wonder at that because we will understand the supreme joy that we have come to. We will feel peace that passes all understanding. We will enjoy the joy that the Lord reserves for his saints. And we will be astonished that we used to reject that, and be horrified at the idea of returning to our current ways.

To obtain this will require that we cast off the philosophies of men, and feast on the scriptures accepting them as the mind and will of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. It will require, most particularly, that we deny ourselves of all ungodliness, and return to requiring strict decency in what we watch, listen to, read, and view on the internet. It will require that we return to honesty, and no longer rationalize being dishonest in the name of business, marketing, or salesmanship.

It will require transformative changes in our lives.

Because we are not in the habit of pressing forward. We are in the habit of speaking about it, but that is a different thing. If anything, we are currently regressing. We are in rapid retreat. That which used to be normal goodness among us is now being questioned. That which used to be recognize as perversion is now being defended by more and more among us as being irrelevant to morality.

We are moving forward in numbers, but with regard to Zion, we are in rapid retreat.

The path we move down if we do not press forward toward Zion in our wicked world is degenerative. It is the path that leads to the same transformation in many of our wards that we have seen in our country. It is the path that leads to members being hauled in before the Bishop for calling homosexuality and its variants immoral, on the basis that we are being “contentious” by saying such unloving things.

We do not want to hear that such a transformation could take place. But such things are found plainly in the scriptures. Who was it that destroyed the government of the Nephites? It was the Jacobites and the Lord destroyed them by fire for it. And who were they? They were the high priests of the true church and the lawyers.

We can press forward as a church and enjoy the grand rewards God lays out before us. Or we can continue our rapid retreat until our wards are deeply troubled places where it will be those who are determined to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus who are sometimes most in danger of church discipline by local leaders.

Let us repent now, and press forward. As Joseph Smith asked, shall we not go forward in so great a cause? Forward and not back?

We can only stop our retreat by plainly and frequently teaching precisely the doctrines that we are most afraid will offend. Otherwise our members will continue their retreat as their fear to offend gradually turns to acceptance and in time becomes endorsement.

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien

That to be hated needs but to be seen

But seen too oft, familiar with her face

We first pity, then endure, then embrace.

Zion stands before us waiting with her joys, but it is the turmoil of hell that we are marching towards when we cease to stand for truth even in the middle of the very chapels in which we eat Christ’s flesh and drink his blood and have sworn that we will always remember him.