Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Word of Thanks

(for the Bible)

One year ago, I reviewed* a “newish” reason to discount the Bible. The reason was promulgated by a writer named Daymon. His contention was that the present Bible did not meet the criteria of the “Book of the Lamb of God,” but here are more reasons to rethink his criticism—to consider the witness, attitude, and advice of a prior Smith, named Joseph.
After telling me [Joseph] these things, [Moroni] commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament. He first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus: For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. He also quoted the next verse differently: And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. In addition to these, he quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled. He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty-third verses, precisely as they stand in our New Testament. … He also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. … He quoted many other passages of scripture, and offered many explanations which cannot be mentioned here. (Pearl of Great Price | JS-History 1:36-41, bold emphasis added.)

[T]he first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same; we feel ourselves bound by the laws of God, to observe and do strictly, with all our hearts, all things whatsoever is manifest unto us by the highest degree of testimony that God has committed us, as written in the old and new Testament, or any where else, by any manifestation, whereof we know that it has come from God: and has application to us, being adapted to our situation and circumstances; age, and generation of life; and that we have a perfect, and indefeasible right, to embrace all such commandments, and do them; knowing, that God will not command any thing, but what is peculiarly adapted in itself, to ameliorate the condition of every man under whatever circumstances it may find him, it matters not what kingdom or country he may be in. (Copy of a Letter from J[oseph] Smith Jr. To Mr. Galland., Times and Seasons, vol. 1 (November 1839-October 1840), Vol. 1 No. 4 February, 1840 54, bold emphasis added.)

This book [of Mormon] also tells us that our Saviour made his appearance upon this continent after his resurrection, that he planted the gospel here in all its fulness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessing, as was enjoyed on the eastern continent, that the people were cut off in consequence of their transgressions, that the last of their prophets who existed among them was commanded to write an abridgement of their prophesies, history &c., and to hide it up in the earth, and that it should come forth and be united with the bible for the accomplishment of the purposes of God in the last days. (Extract of a letter by Joseph Smith to Mr. John Wentworth, Editor, and Proprietor of the "Chicago Democrat," Times and Seasons, vol. 3 (November 1841-October 1842), Vol. 3 No. 9 March 1, 1842 708, bold emphasis added.)

In doctrine Mr. [Joseph] Smith is eminently scriptural. I have never known him to deny or depreciate a single truth of the Old and New Testaments; but I have always known him to explain and defend them in a masterly manner.—Being anointed of God, for the purpose of teaching and perfecting the church, it is needful that he should know how to set in order the things that are wanting to bring forth things new and old, as a scribe well instructed. This office and apostleship he appears to magnify; at his touch the ancient prophets spring into life, and the beauty and power of their revelations are made to commend themselves with thrilling interest to all that hear. (Letter of Orson Spencer., Times and Seasons, vol. 4 (November 1842-November 1843), Vol. 4 No. 4 January 2, 1843 57, bold emphasis added.)

I have witnessed the Mormons in their assemblies on a Sunday, and I know not where a similar scene could be effected or produced. With respect to the teachings of the prophet, I must say that there are some things hard to be understood, but he invariably supports himself from our good old Bible. (Excerpt from a letter signed “Yours, An Englishman” published in Times and Seasons, vol. 4 (November 1842-November 1843), Vol. 4 No. 23 October 15, 1843 356-357, bold emphasis added.)

The numerous Bible references cited in Lectures on Faith (the doctrine portion of the Doctrine and Covenants, 1835) which Joseph carefully reviewed in preparation for its publication.
So, considering all the above, if we neglect the Bible could it end up constituting a form of ingratitude similar to what God lamented in:
And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles? (Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 29:3-4)
The final word in praise of the Bible we give to another Smith, the elder brother of Joseph:
[Pres't. Hyrum Smith] stated "that there were many of the commands of God that seemed to be overlooked by this generation, and he was fearful that many of the Latter Day Saints in this respect were following their old traditions, and former practices of spiritualizing the word of God, and through a vain philosophy departing from the pure principles of eternal truth which God had given by revelation for the salvation of the human family; but, that every word of God is an importance, whether it be the word contained in the Bible, in the Book of Mormon, or in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, for 'man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.' The principles that are taught in the Bible are pure, and ought to be adhered too; and if people adhere to that teaching it will prove their salvation. The principles that are taught in the Book of Mormon are also pure, and holy and righteous, and will if followed lead men to God. And the principles that are taught in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, are from God, they are principles of righteousness;—they are given for a blessing to the human family, and the salvation, temporal and spiritual, of his saints; and that man who wantonly departs from any of the revelations of Jehovah, and treats lightly the word of God, whether contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Mormon, or the Bible, is void of understanding: he is not wise concerning the doings of the Lord, the plan of salvation, the past dealings, present designs, or future purposes of the Almighty. (Extract of a discourse by Hyrum Smith, elder brother of Joseph Smith, Jr.; The Word of Wisdom, Times and Seasons, vol. 3 (November 1841-October 1842), Vol. 3 No. 14 May 16, 1842 799.)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Choice

This Easter season is an opportune time to ponder the fundamental choice facing every soul as it relates to The Plan.*

On one hand, we have ONE Who
▪   “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”;1
▪  is “the way, the truth, and the life”;2
▪  is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abundant in goodness, and full of loving-kindness;3
▪  is just, equitable, changes not, and is no respecter of persons;4
▪  is a God of truth and cannot lie;5
▪  is a God of justice and judgment;6
▪  is “more intelligent than they all”;7
▪  seeks to guide sons and daughters to their best potential;
▪  will share His power and glory with those who ascend to attain His attributes.8
On the other hand, we have another who
◦  is NOT at all as the First IS;
◦  seeks power, gain, and glory without integrity or being honorable;9
◦  rants and raves when he does not get his way;10
◦  wishes to enslave and captivate;11
◦  seeks to destroy the souls of men and women;12
◦  (has been profiled in several prior Déjà Vu~Times II posts herein.)13
So what has been the déjà vu disposition of man in his exercise of agency?—in this choice between life and death?14
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (New Testament | John 3:19-21)

They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 1:16)
So whose path are we choosing?15

* The Plan:
1. New Testament | John 3:16
2. New Testament | John 14:6
3. See Lectures on Faith, Lectures 3 & 4 ~ Doctrine & Covenants, 1835 and supporting scriptures therein;!/paperSummary/doctrine-and-covenants-1835&p=13  [use the side arrows to navigate].
4. See Lectures on Faith, Lectures 3 & 4 ~ Doctrine & Covenants, 1835 and supporting scriptures therein;!/paperSummary/doctrine-and-covenants-1835&p=13  [use the side arrows to navigate].
5. See Lectures on Faith, Lectures 3 & 4 ~ Doctrine & Covenants, 1835 and supporting scriptures therein;!/paperSummary/doctrine-and-covenants-1835&p=13  [use the side arrows to navigate]
6. For scripture references see
7. And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.” (Pearl of Great Price | Abraham 3:19)
8. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (New Testament | 1 John 3:2-3)
9. … for he [the devil] rebelled against me [God], saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 29:36)
10. And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook; and Moses received strength, and called upon God, saying: In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan. And it came to pass that Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence, even from the presence of Moses, that he beheld him not. (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 1:21-22)
11. And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my [God’s] voice”. (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 4:4) [In modern lingo, Satan could be called a psychopath.]
12. And thus he [Satan] goeth up and down, to and fro in the earth, seeking to destroy the souls of men. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 10:27)
13. See OR
14. Old Testament | Deuteronomy 30:15-19 ~ See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Old Testament | Proverbs 11:19 ~ As righteousness tendeth to life: so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.
Old Testament | Jeremiah 21:8 ~ And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.
New Testament | Romans 6:23 ~ For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
New Testament | Romans 8:2-6 ~ For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
New Testament | 2 Timothy 1:10 ~ But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 2:27-29 ~ Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.
Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 9:39 ~ O, my beloved brethren, remember the awfulness in transgressing against that Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one. Remember, to be carnally–minded is death, and to be spiritually–minded is life eternal.
Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 10:23 ~ Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.
Book of Mormon | Alma 29:4-5 ~ … I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.
Book of Mormon | Helaman 14:31 ~ He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you.
15. Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 27:33 ~ And it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings he said unto his disciples: Enter ye in at the strait gate; for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it; but wide is the gate, and broad the way which leads to death, and many there be that travel therein, until the night cometh, wherein no man can work.