God’s blessings are conditional upon his church keeping itself pure.

God’s blessings are conditional upon his church keeping itself pure, by both refusing to offer things except to those who are worthy, and by cutting off those who are unworthy.

If we lay hands to give the Holy Ghost to those who should not be given the gift of the Holy Ghost, or if we refuse to disfellowship those who are not living worthy of the Holy Ghost, then as a membership we will enjoy less of the manifestations of the Holy Ghost. The gifts of the spirit which follow them that believe will be harder for us to claim.

If we give the Aaronic priesthood or confer its offices to those who are not prepared to receive the Aaronic priesthood or qualified to receive those offices than the spiritual blessings of the Aaronic priesthood will become distant to us.

The same is true of the Melchizedek priesthood.

If we will withhold the blessings of the temple from those who are not worthy, then God will grant us the blessings of the temple when we enter worthily. The seriousness of this can hardly be overestimated:

D&C 97:15 And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;
16 Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.
17 But if it be defiled I will not come into it, and my glory shall not be there; for I will not come into unholy temples.

God himself revealed that if we do not strictly hold the line on this matter, then he will cease to come into his house. I’m not sure what greater warning we could have obtained on the matter.

The wording of this verse should catch our attention:

4 Nephi 1:27 And it came to pass that when two hundred and ten years had passed away there were many churches in the land; yea, there were many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel, insomuch that they did receive all manner of wickedness, and did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness.

Now how can we remain the true church of Christ if we receive all manner of wickedness? Did this verse not say that “they did deny the more parts of his gospel, insomuch that they did receive all manner of wickedness”? Note that connecting word “insomuch”. This verse says these people denied so much of Christ’s gospel that they received all manner of wickedness. It is saying that to receive all manner of wickedness and to administer sacred things to those who are unworthy is a fundamental rejection of Christ’s gospel.

Are we not also denying the more parts of his gospel if we also receive all manner of wickedness? Who can we receive our blessings from if we “administer that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness”?

Christ’s gospel is a gospel of blessings only on condition of repentance and obedience.

God requires us to restrict the outward forms of his blessings to those who are righteous or he will not grant the inward spiritual blessings that go with them. If we pollute our inheritance, we will no longer be able to partake of it. If our use of the priesthood does not match his willingness to grant the accompanying blessings, then we are misbehaving priests and he will cease to honor those priesthood ordinances we offer with spiritual rewards.

It is the great and grand principle of the gospel that the Lord grants his spiritual blessings on condition that his people have strictly restricted those blessings to those who were truly worthy. This is the great tying point between heaven and earth. When earth breaks its part, and administers his blessings on different terms than he gave, then the bond is broken, and the accompanying spiritual blessings will be granted only as exceptional cases. They will be far harder to actually obtain.

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Families that are trying to cling to both light and dark with their children

When a family or organization tries to cling to both darkness and light it is trying to serve to masters and will hold to the one and despise the other, or will hate the one and love the other.

That is what is happening in the families in the church, and in the communities in the church, and in the country and world at large.

Families think they can hold to their children who are serving the devil almost with their whole soul by drinking in dark perversion or immorality, and can at the same time hold to their faithful children.

They think they can cling to both, and it is impossible. God did not do so, we cannot successfully manage it. There are blessings God grants to both the wicked and the righteous, but the greater measure of his blessings are reserved for the righteous.

We find, increasingly in the church, families who are trying to cling to both darkness and light by trying to place children who are wicked and rebellion and involved in dark perversion on the same footing with children who are righteous and faithful.

Lehi did not simply treat Laman and Lemuel’s wickedness and their arguments for wickedness on the same par with Nephi’s righteousness and his arguments for righteousness. I am afraid rare is the family in the church today which has both misbehaving children and righteous children and that has the good sense of Lehi. At times Nephi reproves Laman and Lemuel sharply. Lehi states:

2 Nephi 1:26 And ye have murmured because he hath been plain unto you. Ye say that he hath used sharpness; ye say that he hath been angry with you; but behold, his sharpness was the sharpness of the power of the word of God, which was in him; and that which ye call anger was the truth, according to that which is in God, which he could not restrain, manifesting boldly concerning your iniquities.

I am afraid that in many homes today, Nephi would have been silenced because he wasn’t “keeping the peace”. Such is disastrous folly, for we cannot cling to both light and dark. Such homes try to serve two masters, and they will hold to the one and despise the other, or hate the one and love the other. We cannot be witnesses of God in all times and in all things and in all places while silencing our children from standing by God’s plain truths when it will offend another family member.

Those families, or organizations, or churches, that are zealous to cling to darkness and make it feel welcome will soon cast off those who are light. They choose to love darkness rather than light.

The wicked remain as if no atonement had ever been made

Having been recently subjected to someone talking about how the atonement works in the life of wicked men and women, I thought I would put up this note.

Mosiah 16:5 But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God, and also is the devil and enemy to God.

And as a second witness of the same thing:

Moroni 7:38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.

Thus the wicked remain “as though there had been no redemption made”, according to both of these scriptures.

Alma and Amulek, the resurrection, and Joseph Smith

There is a great deal that was revealed through Joseph Smith that we know and that we take for granted, and don’t realize that it was not known, or at least not openly revealed, in the days of much of the Book of Mormon text.

And on the other hand, there was much that was known by those after the 200 years of peace in the Book of Mormon that we know nothing about.

We take for granted the prophet Joseph Smith. When we read of Alma and Amulek explaining the resurrection and the suffering of the damned in Alma 11-12 we take for granted all that was revealed through Joseph Smith which either Alma did not know, or which Alma felt was part of the mysteries of the kingdom which he was not allowed to reveal to the wicked people of Ammonihah. It is probably no coincidence that Alma makes reference to the fact that there are many mysteries which he is not allowed to teach during this discussion.

One of those mysteries, which has been revealed today, is that hell has an end. We also have revelations on the relationship between the suffering of the damned and the resurrection. When Alma and Amulek speak of the resurrection they do not speak of a hell that has an end. If hell has no end, then it makes sense that a resurrected person must suffer in hell, just as Alma describes. Consequently, Alma and Amulek describe a resurrection that precedes the sufferings of the wicked in hell.

To say Joseph Smith knew things and revealed things that Alma did not know, or at least that Alma felt he should not reveal, should be obvious to us. Joseph Smith was a seer among seers. He was a prophet among prophets. He was familiar with Adam, with Paul, with the ancients. The birth of Joseph Smith was foreseen by Moses, Isaiah, Lehi, and Joseph of Egypt. Through Joseph Smith the new covenant of this dispensation was established no differently than the covenant of Moses’s dispensation was established through Moses.

So when we read the scriptures, sometimes we take for granted the revelations we received through Joseph Smith, and we don’t realize that we have learned things through him that others did not know.

Such is the case in Alma and Amulek’s description of the resurrection and the judgment in Alma 11-12. They state that the resurrection will precede the judgment and the torment of the wicked in hell. We know more by modern revelation, and that is OK.

We will find that many of our own descriptions of things to come in eternity are also corrected in time. It is not given to us to have a perfect knowledge of things to come until we live up to it. Yes, everything God has revealed will come to pass as he has revealed. No, we do not have anything like the full story yet, and consequently many of our interpolations will need correction.

It is important to carefully measure in our mind the differences between the revelations and our practices so that we may know where we must one day return

Where do our notions about the plan of salvation come from?

We tend to think we have the complete picture, all set in stone. It is true that the revelations will all be fulfilled. Absolutely. But it is also true that there has been variation in the way they have been interpreted over the dispensation.

And the general principle is that everything that is not the word of the Lord speaking by revelation, or delivered by vision, or by angels, or by his own presence, is open to at least some error and debate.

Everything else, even inspiration by the holy Ghost, is less complete and perfect. At least for mortal men.

John 3:35 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God; for God giveth him not the Spirit by measure, for he dwelleth in him, even the fullness.

God gave Christ the Holy Ghost without measure. But not so for the rest of us. We receive, if we are worthy, the Holy Ghost in one measure or another at times. But not without measure the way that the Savior received it. Each of us must learn line upon line.

Alma points out that it is as easy for God to send his angels at this time to deliver his message as at any other. And we should recognize that a message like the one King Benjamin delivered, in which he dictated a message given to him by an angel for his people, is on a completely different plane of understanding than mortal men can normally deliver. It is completely different in the scope and perfection because of the being that delivered the message.

We should recognize that when God delivers words to Joseph Smith through the Urim and Thummim, those words will be on a completely different plane than the words Joseph Smith speaks of his own accord by the light of inspiration. That is because the words of Jesus Christ are more perfect than the words that any mortal man can speak under the light of inspiration by the Holy Ghost. When we obtain the words of Jesus Christ himself speaking to us, as Joseph Smith obtained through the Urim and Thummim, then our message comes from a being who is on a completely different plane of understanding than any of the rest of us. It is far more perfect than the words any mortal man can assemble.

It is sad that we do not realize this. We look back with a bit of humor when we study these verses and the circumstances that surrounded them.

D&C 67:5 Your eyes have been upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and his language you have known, and his imperfections you have known; and you have sought in your hearts knowledge that you might express beyond his language; this you also know.
6 Now, seek ye out of the Book of Commandments, even the least that is among them, and appoint him that is the most wise among you;
7 Or, if there by any among you that shall make one like unto it, then ye are justified in saying that ye do not know that they are true;
8 But if ye cannot make one like unto it, ye are under condemnation if ye do not bear record that they are true.

Consequently we read in the history of the church:

“After the foregoing was received, William E. M’Lellin, as the wisest man, in his own estimation, having more learning than sense, endeavored to write a commandment like unto one of the least of the Lord’s, but failed; it was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord. The Elders and all present that witnessed this vain attempt of a man to imitate the language of Jesus Christ, renewed their faith in the fulness of the Gospel” (History of the Church vol 1)

But while we chuckle to ourselves at the folly of William E M’Lellin for trying to write a revelation that was like unto one of the least of the Lords, we at the same time take the revelations and, more or less, disregard what is written in them in favor of our current practices glibly saying “Well, its just continuing revelation”.

And we really ought to revere the revelations of Jesus Christ better than that.

I invite you to carefully read D&C 107 and D&C 20 verse by verse, and try and write down what the Lord revealed there, completely forgetting all you ever read anywhere else, or learned growing up. Read them for exactly what they are: they are the revelations of Jesus Christ to man.

You will find, if you do that honestly, that we have more or less done our own thing. There is some sense in which that is allowed, for the Lord does frequently give inspiration on a local level, or in an instance, or for a time, that makes exceptions to his revelations. For example, in D&C 20 members are to be baptized, and then to have sufficient time to learn the doctrine of the church and to prove by their behavior that they will walk in obedience to the commandments, that there may be works matching with their faith, before those members are to be confirmed and given the gift of the Holy Ghost, or allowed to take the sacrament. Nevertheless, there are a number of times in which Joseph Smith baptized and confirmed people on the same day. There is even a case where Joseph Smith baptized a man, and then ordained him to be an Elder only a few hours later. The spirit directed him to handle those cases differently than was stated in the revelations.

Now my intention is certainly not to try and stir up criticism of the leaders. That’s not the point at all. In fact, if we become accusers of the brethren, God will cut us off.

Rather, I think we need to be reading the revelations honestly. It is one thing to vary a bit from the revelations knowing that we have done so, with an eye to finding our way back there in time, and it is another thing altogether to ignore the revelations or to blindly declare that all that is found in the handbook is precisely in agreement with the revelations.

We should measure carefully where we are not in agreement with the revelations. What I see instead of this is a determination to appear loyal to the church that is made up of pretending either that what is in the handbook is precisely what the revelations lay out, or else by instead glibly passing all the differences as being “continuing revelation”.

Lesser revelation can, for a time, change the course to handle specific periods or circumstances. But that difference should be one we consider with trepidation, and caution, and always with an eye for when we are to return to the revelations as they were originally spoken.

There are other obvious differences between our existing practice and the revelations. Once again, it is not my intention to stir up criticism, but rather to simply remind us of the importance of the revelations because it should rest in the back of our minds as a guide to where we must one day return. We cannot write a revelation like the revelations of Jesus Christ. So let us always be aware of where we have felt that he wanted us to deviate from them for a time, that we may know where to come back to.

Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that the leaders are leading the church precisely the way the Lord wants it led. It is not a matter of criticism, but of knowing where our home is, so that we can return at the appointed day.

A few obvious differences between the revelations and our current practices off my head are:

The priests are only supposed to administer the sacrament when the Elders are not present, for the duties of the priest when an Elder is present do not include administering the sacrament. Going through the history of the church we see the practice stands by this revelation again and again. The Elders administer the sacrament if there is an Elder present.

The congregation is directed to kneel together to pray for the sacrament. I think we still did this when I was quite young. If I am correct, I recall my family being quite relieved when it was changed.

Priests and Elders have the responsibility to travel and preach the gospel. Consequently priests are not normally sixteen or seventeen years old.

Teachers and Deacons do not travel. Instead they are to watch over the church. Teachers are exactly what they sound like – they teach. None of these would normally be teenagers or youth.

Again, my point is not to accuse the brethren by any means. My point is just what I said. The revelations and the Book of Mormon are the covenant of this dispensation just as the law of Moses was the covenant of his dispensation. We should not take lightly the revelations of Jesus Christ, and we should know in our hearts and minds what he laid out for us, so that we can carefully measure the differences between our practices and his revelations to us. By this means we can testify to him that we kept the covenant of the dispensation, even if there were matters that the Leaders felt inspired needed to be altered from time to time. The revelations are where we will always end up returning to as we learn to come unto Christ as a people, because they are the revelations of Jesus Christ.

Each family must be brought up by revelation or Zion cannot be redeemed

We must come up by revelation or else we are going down. Thus every father is to be a prophet to his family if he wishes to lead them to heaven. Every father and mother is to be a prophet or prophetess to their posterity

Put differently, the family must be led up by individual revelation.

In short, if the church is being brought up by revelation in the way that it needs to be to build Zion, then of necessity the individual homes in the church will be being brought up by revelation by the individual fathers of those homes, quite independently of the church.

If our fathers are not being brought up to be prophets, then the church is not being brought up by revelation as it needs to be for Zion to be redeemed. For the redemption of Zion requires the men and women to be brought up by revelation.

If the fathers of the church are not bringing up their homes toward heaven by revelation independently in their own right, then the church must halt in its progress. For the place God leads his people is to become a people of prophets. That is the meaning of the great command “receive the Holy Ghost” given to every member by the laying on of hands.

Any man or woman commanded to receive the Holy Ghost has been commanded to become a prophet. For the Holy Ghost is the spirit of prophesy.

We do not toy with the consequences of defiling sacred things, instead we offer repentance.

There is a matter that we truly don’t understand, and that we sometimes do in perfect opposition to what God expects of us because it is such a foreign idea to us.

It is that in matters of serious sin, where someone has defiled something sacred, God often appoints serious consequences. The thing that we do not understand is that in such cases our job is not to lessen the consequences. Instead our job is to offer repentance.

I am under the impression that there used to be some sense of this among the people generally. They used to have some idea that there are some consequences God appoints, and that they should be afraid to touch those.

From the History of the Church, during Zion’s camp, we read:

June 24.— This night the cholera burst forth among us, and about
midnight it was manifested in its most virulent form. Our ears were
saluted with cries and moanings and lamentations on every hand; even those
on guard fell to the earth with their guns in their hands, so sudden and
powerful was the attack of this terrible disease. At the commencement, I
attempted to lay on hands for their recovery, but I quickly learned by
painful experience, that when the great Jehovah decrees destruction upon
any people, and makes known His determination, man must not attempt to
stay His hand. The moment I attempted to rebuke the disease I was
attacked, and had I not desisted in my attempt to save the life of a
brother, I would have sacrificed my own. The disease seized upon me like
the talons of a hawk, and I said to the brethren: “If my work were done,
you would have to put me in the ground without a coffin.”

When the cholera made its appearance, Elder John S. Carter was the
first man who stepped forward to rebuke it, and upon this, was instantly
seized, and became the first victim in the camp.

The men of Zion’s camp had not been true to the prophet, and had murmured against him. They were called to redeem Zion, but they defiled their sacred responsibility, and God would not even let Joseph Smith intervene on their behalf.

There are consequences that God appoints that we should be afraid to toy with. These consequences may extend long into the life of people when they have defiled sacred things. Our job in such circumstances is to offer repentance. But we are not to spend our efforts lessening the consequences of serious sin, only to offer repentance. We cannot pursue another course without consequence.