It is always possible to stand firmly for all that is right, to stand firmly against all that is wrong, and to not be accusers of the brethren.
You are worse off to make a covenant and not to keep it than you are to not make a covenant and yet obey it.
The Savior taught this principle
JST Matt 21:26 But what think ye? A man had two sons; and he came to the first, saying, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
27 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
28 And he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, I will serve, and went not.
29 Whether of these twain did the will of their father?
30 Jesus said unto them, Verily, I say unto you that the publicans and harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you.
So we have pretty much an entire generation that have all been sealed in the temple, and who has absolutely no intention of keeping the commandment they recieved to multiply and replenish the earth. They are willing to have children after the manner of the world, when it suits their whims and designs. And, ridiculously, they rationalize that in doing so they have kept the sacred obligation God layed out for them to obtain eternal life.
But it is a lie. You can see it when you run into non-members who are willing to multiply and replenish the earth. Such people have said no to the covenant, but have obeyed the principle given there.
And you see that these nonmembers in many ways live better lives and live better by the light of Christ than our members who are serving as Relief Society presidents and Elders quorum presidents and Bishops and who think in their hearts that they are the life and soul of the church.
Sure, none of the parties involved have the Holy Ghost. We get by a great deal on the light of Christ and genererally mistake that light for the Holy Ghost. It is no different than in the new testament day. If Peter and the twelve can cast out devils and go about healing the sick in the name of Jesus (which is far more than we do), and witness the transfiguration of Christ and witness the appearance of Moses and Elijah and yet the scripture say they had not yet been given the Holy Ghost, then there is no reason that we should assume we have received the Holy Ghost in earnest more than they had in the days of Christ’s mortality.
You are worse off for making a covenant that you do not keep than you are for refusing to make the covenant but actually obeying it.
We have been so excited to get everyone endowed without worrying about whether they were prepared to keep the covenants of the endowment. We have been so excited to get everyone sealed, without worrying about whether they will keep the covenant of the sealing.
We have sealed them to their doom if they do not repent. For those who would have received the gospel with their whole hearts will enter the celestial kingdom. But what of those who made covenants that they never intended to keep in the first place? How can they possibly obtain reward for their disobedience?
The counsel “follow the prophet” is saving counsel. But we have corrupted what it means to follow the prophet in our practice. And our corrupted version has no power to save anybody.
Brigham Young spoke about this. His point was that if the members themselves were just blindly following the prophet, without growing into greater spiritual light themselves, then the whole system of salvation was subverted.
I attended a CES fireside in December 1994. Many students were in attendence there in the BYU Marriot center. The closing song was Praise to the Man, and the student body spontaneously stood as they sang this rousing hymn. After the hymn, the man who had conducted the meeting got up to the microphone and chided the audience. He stated that when they stood during the hymn, he looked at the apostle who had spoken. When that apostle did not stand, then he said he knew it was not appropriate to stand during the hymn. He said the audience should have looked to the brethren to know whether it was appropriate to stand during the hymn.
We have lost our spiritual independence. We have lost our spiritual freedom. We have amplified the statement “follow the brethren” so loudly and so ridiculously that we cannot hear those other critical spiritual guides that following the prophet is supposed to connect us with.
For God gave some prophets and apostles. But he also gave each of us, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the companionship of a god, telling us that “the Holy Ghost will tell you all things what ye should do”, and “by the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things”. He gave us the light of Christ, by which we may discern good from evil as plainly as day from night, telling us to search diligently in the light of Christ that we may rightly judge good from evil. He gave us commandments as part of our covenants. He gave us the scriptures, and taught us that no man will partake of the fruit of the tree of life found in our lost garden of Eden unless they cling to the iron rod. The angel explained to Nephi that the iron rod is the word of God, and indeed no man will be saved without clinging to the scriptures.
If salvation consisted of being echoes of more righteous men, if that was the means by which God intended for us to find exaltation, then “follow the prophet” would be sufficient.
But the way we practice “following the prophet” these days is woefully insufficient and won’t exalt anybody. Any church member whose only spiritual guide is the brethren is failing spiritually, and cannot be exalted unless he repents.
For the point of the plan of salvation is not for us to echoe the attitudes of other men, but for us to be independently righteous enough that God can command us through the HOly Ghost, and we will obey. The plan of salvation is that we will search the scriptures, and the spirit will reveal the doctrines of the kingdom to us, and show us all things what we must do, and show us the truth of all things.
We think that if we just follow our Bishop, our Stake president, and follow the counsel of the brethren in general conference we will gain exaltation. We think that this rather bureaucratic sounding method will suffice to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord”.
Yes, follow the prophet. Follow the twelve.
But if they are your only guides, you cannot recieve exaltation and eternal life. It is impossible.
You are commanded to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Let me illustrate with a plain example. We have a host of members who go into the temple and practically mock at the idea of multiplying and replenishing the earth. They have no intention of having children right away. They fully intende to limit the number of their children, to wait to begin having children, and to space their children according to their whims. Every one of these members has, at one time, entered the temple stating that they sustained the prophet.
During thier sealing ordinance they were commanded to multiply and replenish the earth precisely as plainly as they were commanded to receive the Holy Ghost when they were confirmed.
The instruction and commandment they receive during that ordinance is God’s agreement with them personally about what they must do if they wish to obtain exaltation and eternal life.
Then they walk out of the temple and discard the commandment they were given without a second thought because there isn’t a clear statement from the prophet recently telling them that they are supposed to actually do precisely what the Lord commanded them to do as part of the very ordinance in which God laid out the terms on which he will grant them exaltation and eternal life.
Are you kidding me?!?
What if there had been no recent counsel regarding sacrifice, chastity, consecration, or living worthy to receive the Holy Ghost, it would not change that you have made covenants regarding sacrifice, chastity, consecration, and living worthy to receive the Holy Ghost. Your covenants are your personal agreements between yourself and God laying out on what terms he will grant you the promised blessings of exaltation.
Yes, follow the prophet and the twelve. They are leading the church precisely the way the Lord wants it led. This does not mean every act of an individual apostle is the mind and will of the Lord, for Joseph Smith explained that an individual member of the twelve cannot so much as go into an organized stake and exercise authority over it, but rather, their authority is when they act together, or as a quorum.
“President Joseph Smith stated that the Twelve will have no right to go into Zion, or any of the stakes, and there undertake to regulate the affairs thereof, where there is a standing high council; but it is their duty to go abroad and regulate all matters relative to the different branches of the Church. When the Twelve are together, or a quorum of them, in any church, they will have authority to act independently, and make decisions, and those decisions will be valid. But where there is not a quorum, they will have to do business by the voice of the Church.” (TPJS 74)
However, you must also search the scriptures. You cannot succeed on the path without clinging to the scriptures. God never intended following the brethren as a substitute for clinging to the iron rod, and it will not suffice as one. You must cling to the scriptures.
You must also search diligently in the light of Christ that you may judge good from evil as perfectly as you know day from night.
You must also live to receive the Holy Ghost. This commandment must be your quest. Without this quest, following the prophet is a meaningless gesture that is failing to fulfill its intended purpose. The quest to learn to live so that you can receive the Holy Ghost in earnest is precisely the quest to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. They are the same thing.
You must strictly obey your covenants. The idea that you can take lightly your personal agreements with God in which he set out the terms of your salvation just because you think the prophet’s talks lead you to believe you can get away with it is simply mocking God, and will be met with the most serious disappointment in the end.
In response to the idea that the church leaders are supposed to be our watchmen on the towers, they are our eyes in the sky.
No. You are supposed live well enough to open your own eyes. You are supposed desperately pray to the Father, to find out what you need to do to have the Holy Ghost as a prominent force in your life. There is no point in giving individual members the gift of the Holy Ghost, the personal guidance of a God, if they are supposed to live their lives as echoes of other men.
But instead, we live far beneath what we ought to have the Holy Ghost in our lives, and think we can just copy the actions of other men God has sent to preside over us. A bunch of photocopies is what God wants apparently, not individuals who, as Elder Scott stated, believe in what the Holy Ghost has told them more than they believe their own eyes and their own ears.
From Elder Nelson:
“When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do.”
What does it mean to truly follow our leaders? To echo what they say like drones who think that by doing so their thoughts become our thoughts and we are saved? Or does it mean to follow them to the place where we can see as they see? What do you think the Lord wants from his children? What would you want if they were your children instead?
Concerning the quote:
“You are not given a good day you are not given a bad day, you are given a day. It is your choice to make it good or bad.”
That is just part of the positivity gospel in which attitude becomes a substitute for faith, hope, and charity. Don’t believe it. It’s not true. Attitude is not a word that is ever used in the scriptural admonitions, or in the Lord’s revelations to Joseph Smith. A positive attitude is completely different than a broken spirit and a contrite heart. The two have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Alma was not defined by his positive attitude, nor was Captain Moroni, nor was Nephi, nor was Elijah, nor was Elisha, nor was Christ.
The idea of “positive attitude” came into the church out of the popularized ideas of psychology. It is no more a saving virtue than having nice ankles
The sealing ordinance includes the commandment to “multiply and replenish the earth” no less than the confirmation ordinance includes the commandment “receive the Holy Ghost”. Mercifully, the sealing ordinance for the dead does not include a commandment they could not possibly keep, for that would be unjust.
But we are not dead, we are living.
So which is worse? To be sealed in the temple, but to then not keep the commandment to “multiply and replenish the earth”, or to not be sealed in the temple at all?
It is far worse to make a covenant you don’t keep than to not make the covenant at all.
And which is worse? To be sealed in the temple, and tell other people that are married in the temple that they do not need to keep this commandment they received there, or to not be sealed in the temple at all?
I don’t think God will count a covenant as obedience on our part that we are preaching to others not to obey. It demonstrates that even if we obeyed in the past, our hearts have turned and we would not obey now if we had the opportunity. Will God be mocked?
Many of our members are now getting sealed in the temple with no intention of keeping the commandment they receive as part of the sealing. This is WORSE for them spiritually than simply not being sealed in the temple. Their chances of obtaining exaltation are WORSE for their temple sealing, than they would be without it, for they made a covenant which they have no intention of keeping, and the point of the temple ordinance was obtaining the covenant, not the location of the wedding.
They get married with the woman already taking birth control in advance. They want to wait to have children. They want to start having children at a later time, or they want to make sure their children are spread out sufficiently, or they want their children to be limited to a certain number.
If someone tells you, I don’t care who it is, or what their position in the church is, or what the source, that you don’t really need to receive the Holy Ghost, then you know they are wrong. You know that the commandment of God was that you must receive the Holy Ghost to see the kingdom of God.
If someone tells you that the commandment of God the Father in Eden, which was also part of his commandment to you when you were sealed, is not a matter of crucial spiritual import if you want to obtain exaltation and eternal life, then again, I don’t care who it is, I don’t care what their position in the church is, or what the source is. No man can void the voice of the Father himself speaking in Eden or the weight of the penalties for disobedience to such a declaration. It is outside their power. Even Christ, himself, said “My father is greater than I am”.
We have this ridiculous rationalization of evolution in which we think, effectively, that the Lord lied to Moses about the creation. We think of Moses like he is a cave man, who is incapable of understanding things our middle school children are taught. We think the Lord couldn’t have said “Over years like the sands of the sea the fish became greater fish who, over such years repeated, became crawling lizards. Over many years they became the small furry creatures and then over many years those became the cat, the dog, the horse, and from among them eventually came man.”
We think that the Lord couldn’t have said that to Moses, who the Lord was speaking face to face with. We think the Lord lied to Moses about it all, thinking that Moses couldn’t understand.
We think this of Moses, that he was too much a simpleton for the Lord to tell the truth to. Moses who the Lord transfigured, who beheld every living soul in the same miraculous way God does, who perceived every particle of the earth. We look down on such a man for his simplemindedness, smugly wrapped in our scientific theories, and we look at what he wrote with disdain, feeling so smart.
What pathetic fools we are when we believe in the wisdom of man over the wisdom of God. In the end, science itself will testify that the prophets were right. But that will be in the millennium, when everything we know about science now will be so ridiculously simplistic, so foolish, so backwards and addled.
Heber C Kimball taught:
“I will tell you what will be good for us, and it will bestow upon us all the luxuries of this life, of heaven and earth. You are talking about heaven and about earth, and about hell, &c.; but let me tell you, you are in hell now, and you have got to qualify yourselves here in hell to become subjects for heaven; and even when you have got into heaven, you will find it right here where you are on this earth. When we escape from this earth, we suppose we are going to heaven? ……… I tell you I am at home now, and I am in heaven; but the heaven I have to enjoy is the heaven I make myself. Do you know it?” (JD, Vol.1, Pg.356 – Pg.357, Heber C. Kimball, November 14, 1852)
Perfectly true statement. Not that there is not worse suffering to be had than what is had here. The full suffering of hell is, as Christ described it, like a lake of fire and brimstone. This world is hell, but not in its full measure yet. More like a warning-shot-over-the-bow sort of hell.
The Lord showed Enoch that he, God, could see all the planets he created. The Lord stated not a single one of the millions of worlds he had created was as bad as this one has been. In fact, the Lord stated that not a single one of them HAD EVER BEEN as bad as this one has. So the statement that no other people would have crucified their God is just the beginning of how very unique the inhabitants of this world are.
It is good news for us really. I think many of us wonder at how much sorrow God must have to lose so many of his children. It is good news that we are not a very representative group of the millions and millions of worlds that God has created.
On this world, broad is the way to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat. But that is part of what makes this such a very unique place.
Good men come here as well. But this place isn’t a very fitting place for them. They confess that they are strangers and pilgrims on this earth. This isn’t really the right place for them. You can tell they don’t really fit in. Many of them have been killed by the general populace. Some have had to live in caves or in the wilderness.
There is another side to this Heber C Kimball quote which is the question of why Abraham was promised land by the Lord. Why Jacob and Joseph were promised land. Why do the righteous Nephites have a land promised to them by the Savior in 3rd Nephi? Abraham never even got to live in the land that was promised him.
The point is that the celestial kingdom we all want to inherit is here on this earth. Hence Abraham was, quite literally, being offered “a place” in the celestial kingdom. And I suppose if we can manage to live up to the blessings of Abraham in earnest (which are a long way off) then the Lord will promise us the same.
Someone posted this excellent statement by Bruce R McConkie.
“Now I say that we are entitled to revelation. I say, that every member of the Church, independent and irrespective of any position that he may hold, is entitled to get revelation from the Holy Ghost; he is entitled to entertain angels; he is entitled to view the visions of eternity; and if we would like to go the full measure, he is entitled to see God the same way that any prohpet in literal and actual reality has seen the face of Diety.” (Bruce R McConkie, “How to Get Personal Revelation”, New Era, June 1980)
And, yah, Bruce R McConkie’s statement is perfectly true. But we would have to be living worthy of the Holy Ghost before we’re going to have any of that happen. We would have to be searching our scriptures. And come on, you talk to people in the church, and do they know the first thing about the scriptures? Are they searching them and pondering them?
No. Not particularly. It is astonishing how little they have considered them. They know their television shows and their movies and their upcoming music albums and all the indecency that Satan is willing to pour into their lives with great diligence. But you talk to them about the scriptures and they just haven’t really spent any time searching them.
So sure, Elder McConkie is perfectly correct. But it doesn’t have any relevance to us until we can at least say we are actually searching the text like we mean it, and trying to cast out things that are indecent out of our lives, instead of anxiously waiting for the next episode of a show that would fill our nonmember great grandparents with shame at the indecency of it all.
No man will ever receive the revelations of heaven who takes lightly the words of God. Light cleaves to light, and intelligence cleaves to intelligence, and that is what that particular scripture is all about.
I saw a well meaning article saying that God is bound by law, and citing various scriptures.
The scriptures cited are certainly all true, but the idea that God cannot do whatever he wants is bologna.
Joseph Smith taught “God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself.”
Note that phrase “saw proper to institute laws whereby …”
We use our ideas that God is restricted by law, rather than that God instituted law, to make a lot of really ridiculous conclusions. Most of them are rationalizations about ourselves, saying that God doesn’t do one thing or another that we would think he would naturally want to do. We excuse him, thinking that our ideas about him are really correct and that he just isn’t doing what we thought he wanted to because he is bound by some law. Instead, we should realize our assumptions about what he wants to do are simply wrong.
For example, I believe I have heard claims made that God would save us all, but that eternal laws keep him from doing so.
Certainly, there seems to be a prevailing idea that God would like to just come give each of us a great big hug, but that something other that his own desires is holding him back.
No. God does do what he wants to do. Speaking about God’s laws is a fine way to salve our weak faith when we find out that what he wants to do isn’t what we would have thought.
Do the scriptures speak of laws that are irrevocably decreed before the foundation of the world?
Certainly they do.
But who decreed them? Did he accidentally create unforeseen restrictions for himself that would keep him from doing whatever he wanted to?
No, of course not. He created laws after the thoughts of his own mind, and according to his own desires and in accordance with his own perfect foresight. He knew his own desires not only at the time, but for all times, and created laws with such perfect insight as we really cannot conceive of.
Are we unwilling to believe Joseph Smith that “God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself”?
God is not restricted by the laws he made. They are made in his image. They are merely reflections of who he is and what he desires. God said “let there be light, and there was light”. He speaks and the universe subjects itself to his words. The laws of the universe do not restrain him, they are reflections of him. They are the laws that he “saw proper to institute”.