The only safety

I was pleased that after explaining this to my family, I realized that Harold B Lee is making the same point in a famous quotation of his.

We are all familiar with Joseph Smith’s teaching: “I … visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet;’ but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.”

But when is a prophet “speaking as a prophet”? The scriptures provide the answer plain as day.

D&C 68:3 And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.

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.

5 Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants.

So a prophet is speaking as a prophet when he is speaking as moved upon by the Holy Ghost.

This is the living principle. We have replaced it with a dead principle. The dead principle is that we know when someone is speaking as a prophet by how official the setting is. The most common example is that we believe every time church leader speaks in general conference he is “speaking as a prophet” instead of believing what the scriptures plainly lay out: that he is speaking as a prophet when moved upon by the Holy Ghost.

Now the dead principle seems safer to us, because it makes it easier to force deluded members into accepting everything said in general conference as being scripture. Giving us an easy cliche’ way of accomplishing that, we think it protects the church. But the living principle is better. What we are doing to protect the church endangers it. Safety is only found in the living principle, not in the dead one. Safety is only found in members living so well that they know by the Holy Ghost what is prophetic, for if the members are not living up to that, then the church is no longer accomplishing its purpose anyway – it is no longer connecting members to the Holy Ghost.

If we stand by the scriptural principle, then we win in the long term. The scriptural principle is that a prophet (including our twelve apostles) is speaking as a prophet when he is moved upon by the Holy Ghost. It is the fact that this principle makes requirements of us that makes it powerful. It requires us to face the fact when we cannot determine what is the Holy Ghost. It requires us to live so we have the Holy Ghost with us, or to admit that we are living below what is necessary. This is a living principle and the principle taught in the scriptures.

We switch over to the dead principle when we determine what is prophetic by whether it was said in general conference, rather than in an Ensign article, or written in a book. When we say “everything in general conference is scripture” we are using bureacracy to determine truth. That tells us something important about ourselves. It tells us we are living both beneath our privileges as well as beneath our responsibilities. If we are living up to our privileges then we know when a man is speaking by the Holy Ghost:

D&C 50:21 Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?

22 Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.

21 Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?

22 Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.

When we are living so we have the Holy Ghost properly then we can tell when a man is speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost. We are edified and rejoice together as we hear and learn. Many people experience this during general conference. General conference is like a river of light and truth. When we find ourselves learning by the spirit, or gaining insights from the Holy Ghost as we listen, then we can know that the person speaking is speaking by the spirit. That is a living principle instead of a dead one.

Joseph Smith said in a famous sermon: “…if I am so fortunate as to be the man to comprehend God, and explain or convey the principles to your hearts, so that the Spirit seals them upon you, then let every man and woman henceforth sit in silence, put their hands on their mouths, and never lift their hands or voices, or say anything against the man of God or the servants of God again.”

THAT is what we are after. We want to have the Holy Ghost so that when a man is moved to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost then the Spirit seals the principles he conveyed upon us. When we replace a living principle like discerning through the Holy Ghost whether a man is moved upon by the Holy Ghost with a dead principle like “everything said in general conference is scripture” then we miss that crucial matter: we do not have the princples that were taught sealed upon us by the Holy Ghost.

Principles taught by the Holy Ghost are sealed upon us when “he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth”. Put differently, when the person teaching is moved upon by the Holy Ghost  as he teaches, and the person receives it by the Holy Ghost then a unique thing happens. The principles taught are sealed upon them. This is the only real and meaningful gospel teaching. Anything else is darkness.

But we cut off men from even striving for that unique sealing of doctrine in their hearts when we set a standard less than, or different than, the scriptural one. Is truth known by the spirit of truth or by some other way?

We like to think we know better than God. We like to steady the ark and tell him the right way to do things. We should listen to his scriptures instead. We must not convince other members they can discern truth rightly as a saint by some principle of bureaucracy. They must live to have the Holy Ghost. They must quest for that sort of a life, pleading with the Lord to help them discern what to change, and making every change necessary to bring that about. It is the requirement made of all men. It is what it means to put off the natural man. It is the only safety.

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