We have separated law and punishment from actual misbehavior

Our laws have become so vast and complicated that we have mentally separated law and punishment from actual misbehavior.

I remember a story about a woman being arrested quite a few years ago. She had a bunch of kids with her. She was arrested for refusing to wear her seat belt as I recall.

And herein is the problem. Many of us have become so wrapped up in the bureaucracy of it all that we think that is just as it should be. If there was a law, and she broke it, then she should be arrested.

We don’t even think of law and punishment in terms of misbehavior.

We don’t ask the mental question “Was she doing something inherently wrong?”

We are satisfied knowing there was a law, and she broke it. So we wrongly think she deserved to be arrested.

Recall that our country was founded on rights that were inalienable because they were endowed upon men by their creator. How did the founders learn of these laws? They were self evident to good men.

And it is just as self evident that punishment by law should involve crime of some sort. Punishment by law should involve doing something that was wrong.

Interestingly enough, for the government to become tyrants operating outside the bounds prescribed in the constitution is more criminal than many of the things we have learned to accept as deserving of state enforced punishments.

When I was unemployed and our lawn mower broke, someone from the city came around because our grass got too long. It was no wilderness. But we were apparently worthy of correction by the city if we wouldn’t correct our course.

Our cuban immigrant neighbors built a large chicken coop in their back yard. They were “caught” by the city for doing this without a building permit.

And the problem is that we have learned to accept that punishment by force of law is perfectly fine in these circumstances. We have separated the idea of “crime” from the idea of punishment. We are not disturbed seeing the law punish anything that government has mandated against, even when the government has acted outside the mandates of the constitution in making that law.

Punishment by law must be for that which is wrong. Once we reverse this and instead say that whatever violates the law is wrong, and is therefore punishable, we have cast off justice. For justice punishes wrong, and only wrong. Once right and wrong do not define the law, but instead the law defines right and wrong,  then we have discarded justice for the arbitrary will of government and laid the foundations of tyranny.

This is dangerous business. The government has long been making laws that fly in the face of the constitutional amendment that the rights of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. They have used every possible means to oppose that principle that stands as part of our constitution.

And now they are moving on to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They are punishing “crimes” which are not crimes at all. In older days, we knew right and wrong better because we were a better people. We knew that it was self evident that certain things were very wrong, so we would punish such things as gross immorality and indecency. These days, we punish all sorts of things that do not violate any sort of inherit law of right or wrong at all, but merely violate the bureaucratic whims of a government run wild. And we sit back and watch with measured apathy. We have learned to be cogs, rather than to  ask ourselves “is that a punishment for a crime, is it a punishment for something that was actually wrong to do?”.

One fold and one shepherd

We read the verses

3 Nephi 15:16 This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them:

17 That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

18 And now, because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them.

….

21 And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

22 And they understood me not, for they supposed it had been the Gentiles; for they understood not that the Gentiles should be converted through their preaching.

23 And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost.

But we don’t have the faintest idea what they are saying. There is much more here than meets the eye, and I am sure I am only scratching the surface of it. If there was not more here than meets the eye, then Christ would not have said “because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them.” Indeed, as we read these verses and feel confident that they don’t have much to say that isn’t plain on a first reading, we should recall the Savior’s words given later in the same day of teaching: “I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time. Therefore go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand” (3 Nephi 17:2-3).

So what is the issue Christ is speaking of here? We must throw away our traditions to begin to understand it.

To begin, it is worth asking ourselves the question “In what sense are these Nephites now being made one fold, with one shepherd given that they already had a prophet of god leading them?”. Weren’t they already one fold with one shepherd? And, secondly, we need to realize that however we answer this, if our answer would logically imply that the righteous, converted gentiles were also brought into one fold with one shepherd, then our answer is wrong.

Because the point being made in these scriptures is  that these Israelites were being brought into one fold and with one shepherd in a special sense. And it was a sense in which the converted gentiles were not being brought into one fold with one shepherd.

The point being made in these scriptures is this: the fold being referred to is the fold of those people who Christ comes and teaches in person from time to time. That is why Christ appearing to them constitutes bringing them into this fold.

3 Nephi 16:3 But I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them.

Christ did not show himself unto these Nephites until they had sufficient faith in him. But afterward, he did not cease to appear to them. The scripture says:

3 Nephi 26: 13 Therefore, I would that ye should behold that the Lord truly did teach the people, for the space of three days; and after that he did show himself unto them oft, and did break bread oft, and bless it, and give it unto them.

These Nephites returned to that point which Adam and Even enjoyed before the fall where god would come and visit and teach them from time to time. If a man is enjoying such benefits, then he is redeemed from the fall, as he is enjoying those things Adam and Eve had before the fall. We refer to that state by other names, such as receiving the second comforter. But it is all the same thing. It is redemption from the fall.

Now Christ spent time during the last supper teaching his disciples in Jerusalem about this very doctrine as we learn in D&C 130 as well as in Joseph Smith’s discussions on the matter.

D&C 130:3 John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.

Our usual notion is that they were all one fold with one shepherd anyway, since each had their own prophets who led them under Christ.

But that misses the whole point. The whole point is that the “one fold” Christ refers to is the fold of people that Christ can appear to in person and teach from time to time just as he taught Adam and Eve in Eden. The whole point is that the one fold referred to it is the very fold which has Christ himself as its one shepherd.

Now the Nephites were not ready to have Christ visit them around the time of his death and resurrection. So there was a scourge prepared for them to bring them to repentance. It involved the destruction of many cities and darkness for three days. Those who would allow such a crucible to bring them to repentence where those he visited in 3 Nephi 11. They were, not surprisingly, gathered round the temple a year after all those destructions. They had become worthy, and he came to them and taught them in person.

And he visited the other tribes of scattered Israel in the same way. We presume that  other tribes also had to undergo similar chastisements before they were prepared for him to visit them.

But the one fold he wanted to bring them into was the one fold which is the beginning of Zion in earnest. It is the one fold made up of many people who have so pleased God that he will appear to them from time to time to teach them, just as Christ did with these Nephites. It is the one fold of those who are prepared to have their calling and election made sure.

Note that these Nephites were not given a prophet and twelve apostles. They were given Christ and twelve apostles. Christ still appeared to them oft. The “one fold” is the fold of those he teaches in person from time to time. And he is the one shepherd.

Thus, when his disciples thought he meant the gentiles they were wrong, as he explained:

3 Nephi 16:22 And they understood me not, for they supposed it had been the Gentiles; for they understood not that the Gentiles should be converted through their preaching.

23 And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost.

I do not know where in Abraham’s promises it is distinguished that God would appear only to his seed, and would only manifest himself to the gentiles by the Holy Ghost. But clearly such differences in blessings have to do with premortality. We already know that really, since we already know God promised to send his noble and great spirits to Abraham’s posterity.

But apparently, the promise of the second comforter is not given to the gentiles in mortality. They are apparently in the same position as the ancient Israelites of whom the Lord swore in his wrath that none of them would enter his rest while in the wilderness. Or what else are we to conclude from Christ’s own words in 3 Nephi 16:23, spoken about those very gentiles who had repented and been converted?

These words are interesting in our day too, for Zion will be built of one fold and one shepherd, and also because a scourge may be necessary for us just as it was for the Nephites if the we choose to live beneath their privileges.

 

 

If they do these things in a green tree

As Christ was led to be crucified we read:

Luke 23:27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.

28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.

29 For, behold the days are coming , in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.

….

31 For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?

We like to speak of “all mankind” and spurn at any sort of division, especially any division of different groups as righteous or unrighteous. That such divisions are morally wrong has been hammered into us throughout our childhood.

But that is not the doctrine of the scriptures. There are Israelites, and there are Gentiles. Jacob was given the covenant like to that of his father and grandfather, namely that Heavenly Father’s most righteous spirit children would be born into his posterity. Consequently, less righteous spirit children are born out of his posterity.

When Christ speaks of a green tree and a dry, he is speaking of Isreal, which is a green tree, and of the gentiles, which are dry tree. He is saying “If the Father’s more righteous spirit children have done such cruel things to their God, what sort of things will his less righteous spirit children do to you when they come to destroy you?” He is warning them of cruelty they will experience when the Romans, who were gentiles, would come to destroy Jerusalem about 40 years later.

When the Jews rejected Christ then the gospel was taken to the gentiles as a result. This was the time of the gentiles. The whole of the great apostasy is part of the time of the gentiles, for when the gospel was taken from Israel then the gospel was put into the care of the gentiles. And what did the gentiles do? Did they have prophets rise up among them and call the people to repentance? Israel fell into stages of apostasy many times, but there were always a few righteous ones the Lord could raise up as prophets to the people. Do we read of gentile prophets coming during the dark ages? No.

In the hands of the gentiles, the gospel did very poorly. This is no surprise. Abraham was given a covenant that the most righteous spirit children would be born into his posterity. As Israel was scattered to all nations then some Israelites rose up among the gentile nations and brought about the restoration. We assume that Christoffer Columbus and the founders were among these Israelites, for they were men ordained of God from before the foundation of the world and enjoyed at times the pure inspiration of the Holy Ghost with remarkably little truth for them to go on in their important roles. Certainly Joseph Smith was a pure blooded Israelite. And now the gospel is had in all the earth among the gentiles.

But mostly, the gentiles haven’t really done much with the gospel. As in Christ’s parable, since the nobles would not accept the invitation to the marriage of the king’s son then other guests have been gathered out of the streets, even beggars, that the marriage may be furnished with guests. But those guests, the gentiles, have not done much with the gospel.

As Joseph Smith explained “Thus after this chosen family had rejected Christ and His proposals, the heralds of salvation said to them, “Lo we turn unto the Gentiles;” and the Gentiles received the covenant, and were grafted in from whence the chosen family were broken off: but the Gentiles have not continued in the goodness of God, but have departed from the faith that was once delivered to the Saints, and have broken the covenant in which their fathers were established (see Isaiah 24:5); and have become high-minded, and have not feared; therefore, but few of them will be gathered with the chosen family. Have not the pride, high-mindedness, and unbelief of the Gentiles, provoked the Holy One of Israel to withdraw His Holy Spirit from them, and send forth His judgments to scourge them for their wickedness? This is certainly the case.”

The fullness of the gentiles is now coming to its end. When the gentiles reject the gospel, then it will be taken from them. Then the choice lands of Israel will be returned to Israel and taken out of the hands of the gentiles.

Part of this was stated nicely by the Savior

3 Nephi 16:10 And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischeifs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.

The other part is found in scripture, but put forth with great clarity by Joseph Smith: “And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country.” The prophesied return from the “north country” is not a literal return from the north, but a reference to the fact that the ancient country of Israel we refer to as the 10 tribes was destroyed and taken captive and scattered by countries north from Israel. It simply means “returned from all the places they have been scattered to”.

Incidentally, it should be noted that when the gentiles reject the gospel it will be no pretty picture. Christ’s warning “If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in a dry” apply just as well to the days when the gentiles will reject the gospel. His question is once again worthy of consideration, as the fulness of the gentiles is coming to its close as we see the rejection of the gospel by the gentiles as a swelling tsunami wave gaining momentum, anxious with wrath to destroy those among them who not desist in calling only good good and in calling evil evil.

So after the gentiles reject the gospel, and the gospel is taken from among the gentiles, then the lands of Israel (which includes much, if not all, of North America, and possibly even all of South America), will be cleared of gentiles by the Lord, and Israel will return to her lands. How? Well, as Joseph Smith put it, it will be by “pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake” which will “sweep the wicked of this generation off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel.”

It is worth noting that the “lost tribes” are lost in the sense that they are lost to our knowledge. After all, the southern kingdom of 2 tribes was called Judah, but the most prominent tribe of northern kingdom of 10 tribes was Ephraim. So if you know any members of the tribe of Ephraim you have found some of the lost 10 tribes.

The covenants of the Israelites and the disparity between the promises made to the Israelites and to the gentiles goes deeper than we know, as Christ explained. For Christ said:

3 Nephi 15:22 And they understood me not, for they supposed it had been the Gentiles; for they understood not that the Gentiles should be converted through their preaching.

23 And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost.

What does this mean? It means that just as Christ swore in his wrath that the ancient Isrealites would not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, so also none of the the gentiles will enter into his rest. For how can they enter into his rest if they cannot hear his voice? How can their calling and election be made sure and they receive the second comforter if “the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice”. In fact, it is of the faithful member gentiles that Christ is speaking when he says the words “the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice – that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost”. He is saying those faithful member gentiles cannot be his other sheep that will hear his voice, for the gentiles shall not at any time hear his voice.

So Christ differentiates very clearly between the gentiles and the Israelites.

But those who were most righteous spiritually were born into Jacob’s posterity. They do so by covenant. God will not say to them “you were a very righteous spirit but I will not give you your covenants”, they must be born as children of the covenant.

As a side note, you may object that earlier I said the gospel is in all the earth. You may say it isn’t in “all the earth” because every country doesn’t have it. But the dominions of the saints were ever small, and the Lord doesn’t always measure by our political lines. On a map of the earth, there are large holes with no church presence, but the gospel has gone forth around the globe as never before since the beginning. It will not actually “fill the earth” in either the sense of Joseph Smith’s famous quotation or in the sense of Daniel’s vision until some time into the millenium, for we read from Joseph Smith:

“Christ and the resurrected Saints will reign over the earth during the thousand years. They will not probably dwell upon the earth, but will visit it when they please, or when it is necessary to govern it. There will be wicked men on the earth during the thousand years. The heathen nations who will not come up to worship will be visited with the judgments of God, and must eventually be destroyed from the earth.”

Thus there will be heathen nations in the early parts of the millennium. But they will eventually be destroyed unless they repent and come up to worship the one true God. That is part of what it means that Christ will claim his place as king.

Our mental picture of the second coming and millennium is mostly deeply wrong. It would be much more correct, and fit the scriptures quite a bit better, if we followed President Ezra Taft Benson’s advice and looked at the events of 3rd Nephi as a miniature narrative similar to the second coming. Christ destroyed many of the Nephite and Lamanite cities for their wickedness. Yes, Christ appeared to his saints, but only after they were scourged and truly became faithful enough for him to appear to them, for the scriptures say:

Ehter 12:7 For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him; wherefore, it must needs be that some had faith in him, for he showed himself not unto the world.

When Christ did appear to the Nephites, there were still many Nephites who were wicked, and who sought to kill the three Nephites in diverse ways. Yes, he slew many of the wicked before his coming, but there were many who were left. And he appeared first to the righteous, but even that was only after they had sufficient faith for him to appear to them. And that can happen only when they, as individuals, had prepared sufficient for him to appear to them.

It seems likely, when they were all converted, that he may have appeared to all of them at once. But that is not what he did at first.

Short note – Thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth

I find it interesting how this reminds me of a “stupor of thought” spoken of in the doctrine and covenants.

Ezekiel 3:26 And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house.

27 But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.

Why do we need keys, signs, and tokens to pass Gods and angels.

In D&C 129 Joseph Smith gives us three grand keys whereby we can know whether any ministration is from God.

D&C 129:4 When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.

5 If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.

6 If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear –

7 Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.

8 If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.

9 These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.

This counsel is only realized in part in this scripture. Those who are endowed have a more complete rendering of this counsel.

Why does Joseph Smith refer to this instruction as three grand keys? Keys unlock things. What does this unlock?

To understand what these keys unlock, we need to recognize what Joseph Smith observed “If the Church knew all the commandments, one-half they would condemn through prejudice and ignorance.” Ministers from the celestial realm are not sent to teach man that which he already knows.

Here is the point of the whole matter. If we ever find ourselves learning from such a messenger, his message will run very counter to our traditions and expectations. So much so, that we would never accept his message if we didn’t have a key, that would prove to ourselves that we were indeed hearing a messenger sent from Heaven, rather than a deception of the adversary.

That is why it is called a key, and that is what it unlocks.

Joseph Smith said “I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of 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.” (TPJS 331)

We hear of angels (cherubim) that stand to guard the way of the tree of life. We learn that we need to pass angels and Gods that are set to guard the way to exaltation.

But we need a key to pass them. What does that mean?

It means that we cannot come up to their standard of living without having a way to verify that they are genuine, because without that, the things portrayed by them will be so foreign and unexpected to us that we will reject it, and thereby cut ourselves off, being unable to move forward past the point they were sent to lead us around.

Without a key, we cannot get past them.

 

 

If gentiles reject gospel, it will be taken from among them

We are increasingly seeing a movement in our country to silence Christian doctrine as “hateful”, and this movement is gaining momentum. So this verse is interesting.

3 Nephi 16:10 And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.

On the phrase “trying to write scripture”

This morning I ran into an article which was of no worth at all except for a turn of phrase that I am not sure the author himself understood. The author was writing about how much he hated Bruce R McConkie until he realized that when Elder McConkie wrote, he was “trying to write scripture”.

What I don’t think the author realized is that “trying to write scripture” is what the Lord requires any member of the church to do whenever they teach or write about the gospel.

What is our “official” doctrine?

D&C 68:4 And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.

Our official doctrine (as officially declared by the Lord in this verse, officially) is that whatsoever is spoken when moved upon by the Holy Ghost is scripture.

And that teaching should be paired with another verse:

D&C 42:14 And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.

What we speak (or write) when moved by the Holy Ghost is scripture. On the other hand, when we do not have the Holy Ghost, we are commanded not to teach.

Joseph Fielding McConkie relates this story about his father, Bruce R McConkie: “I asked my father once how he could be so confident in teaching a particular matter when others to whom we look for clear instruction were reluctant to say much. I noted that some with whom I taught would jump on me for saying the same thing, suggesting that I was going beyond the period that ended the sentence. His response was, ‘If you cannot go beyond the period that ends the sentence, you do not have the Spirit, and if you do not have the Spirit, you have no business teaching in the first place.'”

And that sentence is perfectly good scripture all on its own: “If you cannot go beyond the period that ends the sentence, you do not have the Spirit, and if you do not have the Spirit, you have no business teaching in the first place.”

The standard works are the writings and words of men moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Yes, they were particularly good men through whom the Holy Ghost could convey a message with peculiar purity. But what makes scripture scripture is that the writer was moved upon by the Holy Ghost as he wrote.

And that is what we are to strive for in all our teaching: to write and speak by the power of the Holy Ghost. If we fail in that, we are commanded not to teach.

True it is that the Holy Ghost comes upon men and women in varying degrees.

But if what we are writing is not scripture, if what we speaking is not scripture, that means we are not teaching by the power of the Holy Ghost according to D&C 68:4. And if we are not teaching by the Holy Ghost, we have no business teaching in the first place.

The commandments in the scriptures are plain enough and are given to all members of the true church. If our teaching is not scripture, we are commanded not to teach. If our writing is not scripture, we are commanded not to write.

 

Joseph Smith – warnings / if Zion purify not herself, god will seek another people

Joseph Smith manages to convey volumes in his sentences. Here are notes on some excerpts from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pages 18-19.

“for the Lord will have a place whence His word will go forth, in these last days, in purity; for if Zion will not purify herself, so as to be approved of in all things, in His sight, He will seek another people; for His work will go on until Israel is gathered”

I had wondered whether this was true, and here is Joseph Smith saying so. He says “if Zion will not purify herself, so as to be approved of all things, in His sight, He will seek another people”. Now don’t get me wrong. I think the twelve lead the church just as the Lord desires. But I think the church is following very poorly, and that we have many members who want to let basic doctrine and commandments go so we can be more appealing to the world. Zion is built on doctrine and we are retreating away from her, rather than striving toward her.

In the same paragraph we also read

“they who will not hear His voice, must expect to feel His wrath. Let me say unto you, seek to purify yourselves, and also the inhabitants of Zion, lest the Lord’s anger be kindled to fierceness.”

We simply don’t believe that. But it is true. “They who will not hear His voice, must expect to feel his wrath.”

Then Joseph Smith says:

“Repent, repent, is the voice of God to Zion; and strange as it may appear, yet it is true, mankind will persist in self-justification until all their iniquity is exposed, and their character past being redeemed, and that which is treasured up in their hearts be exposed to the gaze of mankind. I say to you (and what I say to you I say to all), hear the warning voice of God, lest Zion fall, and the Lord swear in His wrath the inhabitants of Zion shall not enter into His rest.”

The statement “Repent, repent, is the voice of God to Zion” is profound in its own right. Also “Hear the voice of God, lest Zion fall, and the Lord swear in His wrath the inhabitants of Zion shall not enter into His rest.”

We kind of think that this could not happen. If the Lord swore in his wrath the inhabitants of Zion shall not enter into his rest, we think that would mess up his plan, so he won’t do that. Interestingly, we do know that if Joseph Smith had not lived up to being the prophet, the Lord would have chosen another in his stead. But we think that we do not need to purify ourselves and live up to becoming Zion. Apparently, we think it is only ourselves that are  irreplaceable.

We then read

“The brethren in Kirtland pray for you unceasingly, for, knowing the terrors of the Lord, they greatly fear for you.”

I think it is interesting when one man has spoken with the Lord in person and seen his face, but we, who know only the whisperings of the Holy Ghost at the most basic level then want to correct him. But Joseph Smith is correct and agrees with the scriptures when he says “The brethren in Kirtland pray for you unceasingly, for, knowing the terrors of the Lord, they greatly fear for you.”

He then continues

“You will see that the Lord commanded us, in Kirtland, to build a house of God, and establish a school for the Prophets, this is the word of the Lord to us, and we must, yea, the Lord helping us, we will obey: as on conditions of our obedience He has promised us great things; yea, even a visit from the heavens to honor us with His own presence. We greatly fear before the Lord lest we should fail of this great honor, which our Master proposes to confer on us; we are seeking for humility and great faith lest we be ashamed in His presence.”

If the Lord offers to bring his people into his presence, and they fail to live up to it, that will have drastic consequences.

Spiritual socialism

There is an enormous difference between believing that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us the means by which each person can work out his own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord, and believing that the church is responsible to save us. The first is the plan of salvation, the second is spiritual socialism.

The church cannot save its members by force of bureaucracy, and when it tries to it only gets in the way. When Bishops believe that church callings they give are the primary vehicle to salvation then they make a great effort to keep everybody very busy, fretting that if the people are not kept busy enough with church duties they will not be saved. The ideology is best realized in the words a Relief Society President once offered in Ward Council stating that she needed to keep the sisters in the church busy during the week so that they didn’t have time to get into trouble doing other things. This is spiritual socialism. It is like regular socialism. It wants to maintain a great deal of control over its membership.

It will force them to heaven. Using means that are completely inadequate to the task.

Then there is the gospel. In the gospel Christ offers, to his members, everything that they need to gain exaltation and eternal life. Chief among these gifts are the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is given to them to show them the truth of all things, and to show them all things what they must do. Their chief responsibilities are the salvation and exaltation of their own families, of their dead, and of those they know. They also recognize a need to care for and watch over the poor.

In the true gospel the church preaches the truth, but the home is the source of spiritual strength to the church, not the other way round. The church revolves around bolstering individuals to use the means of salvation Christ has provided in their own lives and in their own homes to work out their own salvation.

Spiritual socialism generally stands in direct opposition to the gospel. It encourages leaders to take mothers of many children, or mothers of young children, or old members caring for a spouse, and give them large “spiritual” responsibilities so they can be saved.  It preaches to such mothers that those callings are the things for which they will be held accountable at the judgement. But that is utterly false. There is nothing a mother can do that will be a greater matter at the judgement than their efforts in their own home and family.

Spiritual socialism is spiritually destructive. You see believers in it every day though. They think their calling in the church is going to save them. They often are not too concerned about personal scripture study. After all, what’s the point? They are not too concerned about saving their dead. After all, that’s just extra credit. They are not too concerned about converting their neighbors. They don’t have any deep and abiding sense of the importance of family in the gospel, the importance of bearing children, the importance of mother’s staying home, or any of the things that make the gospel work properly in the home. They have their calling, and in their mind, that is what saves them.

The true gospel is different than spiritual socialism because the in the true gospel each member recognizes that it is his responsibility to gain his exaltation. He recognizes the intimate relationship between home, family, and gospel. They are braided together. The bishop has no power to save him and he knows it, because for him to gain salvation requites a great deal of work on his self, in his marriage and in his home, and work amidst his fellow man that the Bishop has not the least power over.

In the true gospel, the member knows that each man must work out his own salvation with fear and trembling before God. He knows that neither life, nor death, nor pain, nor suffering, nor wealth, nor poverty, nor any other mortal concern matters but the one great question: will he gain eternal life? And he sees the answer to that question as his own quest and his own task which he, himself, will be held wholly accountable for.

D&C 45:17 finally understood, the disciples knew their resurrection was a long ways off.

Sometimes understanding even basic aspects of a scriptures can be a matter of many years. Consider these verses, and ask yourself the simple question “when and where is Christ speaking this to his apostles?”

D&C 45:16 And I will show it plainly as I showed it unto my disciples as I stood before them in the flesh, and spake unto them, saying: As ye have asked of me concerning the signs of my coming, in the day when I shall come in my glory in the clouds of heaven, to fulfil the promises that I have made unto your fathers,

17 For as ye have looked upon the long absence of your spirits from your bodies to be a bondage, I will show unto you how the day of redemption shall come, and also the restoration of the scattered Israel.

18 And now ye behold this temple which is in Jerusalem, which ye call the house of God, and your enemies say that this house shall never fall.

20 And this temple which ye now see shall be thrown down that there shall not be left one stone upon another.

When we read verse 17 it sounds like it is being spoken to the apostles in the spirit world long after they had died, for it says that they have looked on the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a  bondage. But verse 20 makes it clear that this is being said before the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. and the whole text makes you feel like you are listening to an account of Christ’s sermon in Matthew 24.

This all seems to contradict itself at first.

Until we realize that Christ is speaking to his disciples during their mortality, that it is an account of the sermon in Matthew 24, but that the disciples knew things we don’t give them credit for. We think, and teach, that they thought the second coming would be very imminent. But in reality, they knew at the very least that the resurrection was a long way off, and they looked on the long time they would live in the spirit world without their physical bodies as a bondage.

And THAT is what Christ is saying in verse 17. His disciples knew that the resurrection was a long ways off (not the resurrection of those who had lived before Christ, but the resurrection of those who lived after). And they saw the time without their bodies as a bondage.

And why did they look at the separation of their spirit from their body as a bondage? Because they could not partake of the joy of marriage and children without a body.