Dec 15

Imperfections Exist – What Does This Mean?

In the last few blog posts, I’ve hopefully made sure that everyone is aware that the Church is not perfect, its leaders are not perfect, and our standard works are not perfect. So, what do we do with all of this imperfection? How do we reconcile the changes made throughout the Church’s history? When a Church leader makes a mistake, does that mean the Church is not true? Those are actually the wrong questions.

What we should really be asking is, “Am I able to trust the Giver of the Law, the One who guides the Church?” Do we give Christ room to instruct the prophet to make these changes? Do we allow the Giver of the Law to be greater than the law? Do we gain a personal testimony that Jesus Christ leads His Church by revelation here on the Earth?

Joseph Smith taught, “That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. God said, ‘Thou shalt not kill;’ at another time He said, ‘Thou shalt utterly destroy.’ This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.” (History of the Church, Joseph Smith, 5:134-135)

Perhaps this is one reason that absolute truth is not necessarily attainable. It may change dependent upon our circumstances.

Sometimes, we get in this habit of trying to ascertain what absolute truth is. Believe it or not, this type of thinking comes from the Greek influence during the time of Christ. This is often referred to as the Hellenistic period. The Greeks thought in terms of absolute truth as an abstract idea. Imagine a perfect square. Or take the concept of 2+2. It will always be 4. They thought in terms of truth as immutable ideas such as these. This type of thought, inherited from the Greeks, drives our need to have truth as an absolute, unchangeable thing.

Dr. Jeffery L. Thayne and Dr. Edwin E. Gantt give some good insight:
“Not only do our beliefs hinge on different premises, but the premises of our questions matter as well. Many of the questions above are rooted in a single premise: They assume that truth is a set of abstract ideas or doctrines that never change.

“This may seem like common sense, and if so, that is because most of us accept this view unquestioningly. But this may be one of the ‘philosophies of men’ that can subtly change the way we think about the gospel, and ultimately ensnare us in doubt. This view has its roots in ancient Greek philosophy. The Greeks saw things that do not change as more fundamental than those that do, and this led them to focus on abstract ideas as ‘truth.’

“In the view we articulate in this book, truth is not a set of abstract ideas, but a living, breathing Person who loves us as His children. This view is inspired by Hebrew thought, which did not separate the search for truth from our journey to God. And once we adopt this view—even provisionally—all of our questions change. Not all of our questions will be answered, to be sure. But the way we frame the questions will change so that they no longer tilt us towards doubt. We explain how this is so throughout the rest of this book.

“But perhaps more important, this book may help you to reframe the way you think about your relationship with God. Our hope is that all of our readers will center their faith more on the Savior Jesus Christ and the covenants they have made with God, and less on abstract lists of doctrine or beliefs. We echo the words of Nephi, who write, ‘For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved’ (1 Nephi 6:4)”

Who Is Truth?, Thayne & Gantt, 15-16

We should be evaluating our relationship with the great Giver of the Law rather than focusing on whether a given point of doctrine is dead-on correct, or whether this or that new policy is the right thing to do. We can receive our own testimonies of these changes. The first part of this book goes over that entire process. It talks about how to gain a testimony of a thing about which we have a question, or something that is weighing on our minds.

And why would we even be bothered by changes that occur? We explicitly state in the Ninth Article of Faith that “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Such revelations, in this context mean that things will change! We believe in revelations that correct the Bible, as did Joseph Smith’s Translation. We believe in all the revelations that will yet come. They might be to make changes in existing canon, programs, or policies. The Ninth Article of Faith allows for all of this.

Let’s turn now to 2 Nephi 29:7, which says, “Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?”

The Lord has given a portion of his word “unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth.” So far, the scriptures mentioned in this verse have not been brought forth. Also, we have the sealed part of the plates that Joseph Smith did not translate. There appears to be much that has yet to come forth.

The Lord never gives us more than we can handle. There have been times when He has changed His law as given to the people. Sometimes, these changes come so as to give us something that we can understand and live as a Church.

The Lord will give us milk before meat. Let’s take a look at some scriptures that illustrate this principle:

D&C 19:22 – “For they cannot bear meat now, but milk they must receive; wherefore, they must not know these things, lest they perish.”

1 Corinthians 3:2 – “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.”

Hebrews 5:12–14:
“12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

1 Peter 2:2 – “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”

The Lord gives us just the right amount of His law and commandments for us to live at that moment. We could not handle the full and perfect truth all at once even if we wanted to. We learn “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.” (2 Nephi 28:30)

We grow and progress in the principles of truth. We do our best with the little that we get at a time. Gradually, we get more and more. Over time, we are able to handle the “meat.”
What if God did give us the full law all at once? We would be responsible to live it. Not being able to, we would stand completely condemned. The Lord gives us laws that we can live, laws that we can aspire to live, rather than the law in its full perfection. This would be utterly impossible. We would end up in a very hopeless state. Perhaps the scriptures can clarify:

“3 For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.
4 Ye call upon my name for revelations, and I give them unto you; and inasmuch as ye keep not my sayings, which I give unto you, ye become transgressors; and justice and judgment are the penalty which is affixed unto my law.” (D&C 82:3–4)

We have to live whatever law we have been given. If we do, we will get marvelous blessings. If not, we are in danger of missing out on blessings we otherwise might have had.

Even though our priesthood leaders are not infallible, they are the men that the Lord has chosen. They are doing their best to do the will of the Lord. If we take the law as given to us by priesthood leaders as God’s will, we will be blessed:

“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38)

“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10)

If we live the law that has been given to us through his servants, we will be blessed. If not, we may find ourselves in an undesirable condition.

We should remember that even though our leaders are not perfect, we have sustained them. This means that we uphold and support them. We do whatever we can to help them be successful in their calling.

We should do our very best to live by every word that comes out of the mouths of both our local leaders and the leaders of the Church.

Marion G. Romney said, “I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Heber J. Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home… Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.'” (Marion G. Romney (quoting Heber J. Grant), Conference Report, October 1960, 78)

Commit yourself to obey what the prophet says. If we so live, we will always be safe.

Speaking of the Apostles in the same manner, Elder James E. Faust said, “The keys I speak of never rust. These are the keys of life and salvation in the kingdom of God. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I will give you a key that will never rust, if you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles, and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray.'” (Sunday Afternoon Session, 2 October 1994, The Keys That Never Rust, Elder James E. Faust Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles)

Even though our leaders are not perfect, we still sustain and support them. We are blessed for following their counsel. We should do as they direct, because their word is as though it came from the Lord himself.

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Dec 13

Why So Many Changes In the Church?

My last two posts have attempted to explain a couple of concepts: don’t expect the leaders of the Church to be infallible, and the scriptures themselves are not even perfect. We should not hold either to an exacting standard of perfection. There are imperfect people involved with both of them.

The Church is often held to a standard of perfection, as well. Some might say, “Why would God allow imperfections in His Church? Surely, if the Church were true, there would be no imperfections in it or any need to make changes to its practices, policies, or structure.”

Here, we must go back to the nature of humankind. We all have weaknesses and challenges. The leaders of the church are no exception. As the Church is led by imperfect men, there are going to be things in it that need to be changed from time to time. That’s not the only reason, either. The Church is led by Christ through revelation. It’s something that changes and grows as the Lord deems necessary. Now, core doctrines do not change, but sometimes policies change.

As a matter of fact, let’s take a look at some of the things that have changed in the Church since it was restored:

  • Beginning in the 1840s, the Church began practicing polygamy, but in 1890, the practice was discontinued when the Manifesto was issued.
  • After the Church was first organized the Prophet Joseph Smith was called to be an Apostle and the First Elder of the Church. Oliver Cowdery was called to be an Apostle and the Second Elder of the Church. This was constituted as the leadership of the Church at that time. This was later changed such that there is now a Prophet and his two Counselors that make up the First Presidency which lead the Church. Accompanying them is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  • Primary, Priesthood, and Sunday School used to be on different days of the week. It was then changed such that they all met on Sunday for what was then known as the 3-hour block.
  • There have been numerous changes to the temple ceremony throughout the Church’s history.
  • There have been many changes to the Church’s General Handbook of Instructions over the decades.

Most recently, we have had extensive changes:

  • Meetings used to take up 3 hours on Sunday. Now, Sunday meetings consist of two hours.
  • Home Teaching was dissolved and Ministering instituted.
  • At the ward level, the High Priests now meet with the Elders’ Quorum.
  • Young men used to be ordained to the Priesthood when they turned 12 years old. Now, they are ordained to the Priesthood in January of the year they turn 12. In nearly all cases, this means that they are 11 years old at the time of their ordination.
  • Any member holding a current temple recommend, including a limited-use recommend, may serve as a witness to a proxy baptism.
  • Any endowed member with a current temple recommend may serve as a witness to a living or proxy sealing.
  • Any baptized member of the Church, including children and youth, may serve as a witness to the baptism of a living person.

Additionally, organizational changes have been made in the office of the Seventy, Area Authority, and Area Authority Seventy. In October 1986, President Ezra Taft Benson made the following announcement:

“In harmony with the needs of the growth of the Church across the world, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles have given prayerful consideration to the role of the stake seventies quorums in the Church and have determined to take the following action relative thereto:

“… The seventies quorums in the stakes of the Church are to be discontinued, and the brethren now serving as seventies in these quorums will be asked to return to membership in the elders quorums of their wards. Stake presidents, in an orderly fashion, may then determine who among such brethren should be ordained to the office of high priest.

“The work continued to expand, and six years later, in preparation for further fulfillment of the role of the Seventies, President Gordon B. Hinckley said in the April 1995 general conference:

“Now in the ongoing of this work, administrative changes sometimes occur. The doctrine remains constant. But from time to time there are organizational and administrative changes made under provisions set forth in the revelations.

“For instance, twenty-eight years ago the First Presidency was inspired to call men to serve as regional representatives of the Twelve … to train our stake and ward leaders in the programs of the Church that they in turn might train the membership in their responsibilities before the Lord.

“More recently the Presidency were inspired to call men from the Seventy to serve in Area Presidencies. As the work grows across the world, it has become necessary to decentralize administrative authority to keep General Authorities closer to the people. We now have such Area Presidencies well established and effectively functioning.

“It is now felt desirable to tighten up the organization administered by the Area Presidencies. Accordingly, we announce the release—the honorable release—of all regional representatives effective August 15 of this year.

“Now we announce the call of a new local officer to be known as an area authority. These will be high priests chosen from among past and present experienced Church leaders. They will continue with their current employment, reside in their own homes, and serve on a Church-service basis. The term of their call will be flexible, generally for a period of approximately six years. They will be closely tied to the Area Presidencies. They will be fewer in number than have been the regional representatives. We are guided in setting up this new corps of area officers, as were our Brethren before us in the calling of regional representatives, by the provision contained in the revelation on priesthood, section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants.”

A History of the Latter-day Seventy, Elder L. Aldin Porter

There have been many more changes above and beyond this list. This is just to give the reader an idea of the types of changes that have occurred within the Church during its history.

Now again, the idea here is not to find fault. It’s ok that some things change in the Church. That evidence that the Church is led by revelation. Though fundamental, core doctrines of exaltation do not change, some Church policies or organizational structure may change. This is totally as it should be. We are led by revelation.

See also: Doctrine: Models to Evaluate Types and Sources of Latter-day Saint Teachings

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Dec 07

Upon This Rock

The Rock of RevelationIn the scriptures, there are a handful of passages that people of different faiths interpret in a wide variety of ways. One of those seems to be Matthew 16:15–18. Let’s see what we can learn from it. The text is thus:

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

In verse 15, Christ is asking Peter who the Apostles say that Christ is. Verse 16 states that Peter said that he was Christ, the Son of the living God.

Verse 17 says that Peter’s testimony did not come from any earthly source. It came from God himself. This is, of course, through the witness of the Holy Ghost. In other words, it was a revelation. In verse 18, Christ continues talking about revelation. He says “upon this rock I will build my church.”

Let’s see what Howard W. Hunter says about this passage. He declares:

“This is a very significant statement. The Lord in effect said to Peter that this knowledge that Jesus was the Christ did not come to him from mortal men or from the reasoning or learning of men, but by revelation from on high, that is, direct, divine revelation of the divinity of the Master. In answer to the statement ‘Thou art the Christ’ Matt. 16:16 Jesus replied, ‘. . . thou art Peter’ Matt. 16:18 in friendly acknowledgment of his disciple. The Lord then added, ‘. . . and upon this rock I will build my church’ Matt. 16:18 Upon what rock? Peter? Upon a man? No, not upon a man, upon the rock of revelation, the thing which they were talking about. He had just said, ‘. . . flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven’ Matt. 16:17 This revelation that Jesus is the Christ is the foundation upon which he would build his Church.”

Conference Report, October 1965, Howard W. Hunter, Organization of the Church of Christ

Let’s take a look at some scripture passages:

Proverbs 29:18 says:

18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Where there is no vision, or revelation, the people perish. Things don’t go so well for them.

Also, Amos 3:7 tells us:

7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

I’m not sure what your definition of “nothing” is, but to me, this scripture says that the Lord doesn’t do a single thing without first revealing it to his servants, specifically the prophets.

Taken together, these two scriptures plus the opening passage from Matthew seem to indicate that revelation is part of how the Church must work. If a church exists, but is not run by revelation, it cannot be Christ’s church.

What does this imply?

For one thing, if we have continued revelation, that must mean that the canon is open. The Prophet continues to receive revelation for us in our day. We know this, because we hear his counsel at least twice a year at General Conference. We would do well to heed and follow what he says.

Also, it means that the prophet is more important to us than the scriptures. For a full article on this, take a look at “Do We Need Scriptures?” A living prophet should be much more valuable to us than a dead one.

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Dec 03

Do We Need Scriptures?

The Book of Mormon

Much of the Christian world today believes in a closed canon, and rejects the idea of continuing revelation in these, the latter days. This is perhaps because of scriptures like Revelation 22:18–19, which says:

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

The first issue here is that there’s way too much ambiguity associated with what’s written in this verse. Explain in unmistakable detail exactly what is meant by “this book.” Of course we assume it to be the Bible. Is that exactly what we’re talking about here? What does “add unto these things” mean? Precisely define “take away” exactly as it is meant, here. What exactly is “the book of this prophecy”? The second problem is that, even though the book of Revelation appears last in the Bible, it may not have been written last. So anything after it would be adding unto it if we were to take that concept at face value.

Speaking of which…

There is a nearly-identical verse in Deuteronomy 4:2, which reads:

“2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”

What does “add” mean exactly? And “diminish”? And here we have “the word which I command you.” If we are to interpret this the same way most people interpret the passage from Revelations, then that would invalidate everything in the Bible after Deuteronomy 4:2. But of course this is ludicrous, and we know there is another interpretation for it.

What these verses are saying is simply that we not distort or misconstrue what is revealed to prophets, whether past, present, or future. The Lord is not talking to the prophets themselves, but to everyone else. It is not their place to change anything.

For example, there are thousands of extant scrolls and codices that date from many centuries ago. Some date even to the 2nd century A.D. What scholars have found is that there are differences in nearly all of them. Why? Because of careless or malicious copyists who changed things they were not authorized to change. The types of warnings in Revelation and Deuteronomy that we have looked at is for these types of folks, not the prophet.

It does not mean that the canon is forever closed. There is much scripture that we know about, and probably a lot that we don’t know about that will yet be revealed. For example, let’s take a look at what James E. Talmage said on the topic:

“Missing Scripture. — Matthew’s commentary on the abode of Joseph, Mary and Jesus at Nazareth, “and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, he shall be called a Nazarene” (2:23), with the fact that no such saying of the prophets is found in any of the books contained in the Bible, suggests the certainty of lost scripture. Those who oppose the doctrine of continual revelation between God and His Church, on the ground that the Bible is complete as a collection of sacred scriptures, and that alleged revelation not found therein must therefore be spurious, may profitably take note of the many books not included in the Bible, yet mentioned therein, generally in such a way as to leave no doubt that they were once regarded as authentic. Among these extra-Biblical scriptures, the following may be named; some of them are in existence to-day, and are classed with the Apocrypha; but the greater number are unknown. We read of the Book of the Covenant (Exo. 24:7); Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numb. 21:14); Book of Jasher (Josh. 10:13); Book of the Statutes (1 Sam. 10:25); Book of Enoch (Jude 14); Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41); Book of Nathan the Prophet, and that of Gad the Seer (1 Chron. 29:29); Book of Ahijah the Shilonite, and visions of Iddo the Seer (2 Chron. 9:29); Book of Shemaiah (2 Chron. 12:15); Story of the Prophet Iddo (2 Chron. 13:22); Book of Jehu (2 Chron. 20:34); the Acts of Uzziah, by Isaiah, the son of Amoz (2 Chron. 26:22); Sayings of the Seers (2 Chron. 33:19); a missing epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 5:9); a missing epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 3:3); missing epistle to the Colossians, written from Laodicea (Col. 4:16); a missing epistle of Jude (Jude 3).”

Jesus the Christ, James E Talmage, p. 113

And then the sealed portion of the plates from Ether 4:4–6, we read:

4 Behold, I have written upon these plates the very things which the brother of Jared saw; and there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared.

5 Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them; and I have written them. And he commanded me that I should seal them up; and he also hath commanded that I should seal up the interpretation thereof; wherefore I have sealed up the interpreters, according to the commandment of the Lord.

6 For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.

7 And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.

The next point is that you can only understand spiritual things by the power of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14 helps illustrate this concept:

“14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The very ability to interpret spiritual things depends on the power of the Holy Ghost to reveal their meaning to you. In other words, it’s not what is written that carries the meaning and authority nearly as much as the Holy Ghost does.

I did not say that the written word holds no meaning.

Let me illustrate with a story from Wilford Woodruff:

“I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: ‘You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.’ When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, ‘Brother Brigham I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the written oracles and the written word of God.’ Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: ‘There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day.’ ‘And now,’ said he, ‘when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the [p.23]writing in the books.’ That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: ‘Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.'” (Conference Report, October 1897, p.22)

It is the living Prophet who leads the Church by the power of revelation that carries the ultimate authority to us.

The one problem is that the Prophet cannot be with all people at all times. The scriptures are there to bring the Spirit into our lives. They are there to help us understand the Gospel. They are available to anyone and everyone who wants them. They certainly fill these needs in ways that nothing else can. For a further discussion on what scriptures can do for us, see “What Are the Scriptures?”

Do we need the scriptures? Yes, we need them. We need them because the Lord saw fit that we should have them. We need them for the reasons listed above and many others. However, they are not as authoritative as the living Prophet and Apostles. Stick to what the Brethren say and you’ll never go wrong.

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Oct 31

What Are the Scriptures?

Scriptures are a great reference to the standards of the Gospel. They teach us wonderful principles about how to live. However, they do not contain all the wisdom and knowledge there is to know for each person. They are to open the mind. They are to make us ask questions. They are a gateway to all the wisdom and knowledge that lies beyond the veil.

The pattern for revelation is: first, you are doing something that causes you to have a question in your mind. Next, you ponder over that question, and seek information and resources that may help you answer it. While this is happening, you do things to bring the Spirit. At the right moment, you will receive the answer to your question.

So, you see, you need an instrument to catalyze thought and questioning. That’s what the scriptures do. So this is why scriptures to me are absolutely positively without a doubt unquestionably essential.

2 Nephi 28:30 explains a bit more about the Lord’s thoughts concerning the matter:

“For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”

“The idea that scripture reading can lead to inspiration and revelation opens the door to the truth that a scripture is not limited to what it meant when it was written but may also include what that scripture means to a reader today.  Even more, scripture reading may also lead to current revelation on whatever else the Lord wishes to communicate to the reader at that time.  We do not overstate the point when we say that the scriptures can be a Urim and Thummim to assist each of us to receive personal revelation” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, p.8)

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Apr 25

How to Discover and Determine Objective Truth

This is a topic that has been on my mind quite a bit in the past few years. I’ve even started writing a book about it to make the process as simple as possible to understand. In my research, I have found many valuable resources that will be of great help to those folks who really want to understand absolute truth, where it comes from, and what it is.

In the book that I’m working on, the premise is that you cannot arrive at perfect truth through the reasoning of man, even scientific results. The only true source of absolute truth is always the Holy Ghost. If you’re interested in reading the working copy of my book, let me know. I’ll share it with you.

However, the book that you should absolutely study is called “Hearing the Voice of the Lord,” by Gerald N. Lund. If you’d like a panoptic view of what truth is, how to discover it, and how to know it’s the pure truth, this is the book that I’d recommend to everyone. Brother Lund goes through all parts of revelation: what it is, how to recognize it, the myriad ways it can manifest, how to pursue it, what to do once you’ve received it, how to recognize false revelation, and many other aspects of the topic.

Another book that I will be reading soon is called “Who is Truth?” by Jeffrey L. Thayne and Edwin E. Gantt. For some good info on what this is, take a look at the reddit post that originally made me aware of the book’s existence. It can be purchased on amazon, as well (I have no affiliation with these gentlemen, I’m just sharing the info).

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Oct 18

Inviting the Spirit

Something for which I strive daily is to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. For different activities in which you may be engaged throughout your day, there may be an assortment of ways appropriate for doing this.  My hope is that it will be of benefit to discuss some ways to invite the Holy Ghost to be with you as you are in different situations.

A few weeks ago, our family sat down to think of ways that we could bring the Spirit into our lives.  The following are some of the things that we thought of:

  • Listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir – I do this every moment that I am working on this website.
  • Praying – Plead with the Lord to bless you with the power and influence of the Holy Ghost.
  • Singing Hymns – I cannot tell you how many times “I Am a Child of God” has calmed our children.
  • Studying the Scriptures – Written through revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost, scripture study is one of the best ways to invite the Spirit.
  • Performing Service – How can you serve someone and not feel the warm confirming influence of the Spirit inside you?
  • Being nice to everyone we come into contact with – Wishing someone a good day may have more impact in their life than you can ever know.  It can also bring the Spirit into your day.
  • Clean and tidy up our home – The Holy Ghost will not dwell in unclean places, as we have been told.  How much better do you feel when your room or home has been straightened up and is clean?
  • Visit the temple grounds – Taking children to the temple grounds is great occasion to help them recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost because of how strong it is there.
  • Talk about the Gospel – Gospel discussions, if done with a spirit of love, can be prime occasions for feeling the influence of the Holy Spirit.

This is a mere handful of the great many ways that you can invite the Spirit into your life.  I leave the challenge with you to sit down with your own family, or even by yourself.  List out as many ways as you can that will invite the Holy Ghost into your life, especially as you are doing other activities.

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Oct 03

The Prophet Speaks – Our Semi-Annual Privilege

first-presidencyTwice each year, we have a unique opportunity to study the Gospel through listening to our Prophet, Apostles, and General Authorities speak to us.  The highest hope of their hearts will be that they speak by the power of the Holy Ghost — that they will convey to us that which the Lord would have us know.  The other half of this principle is that we must have the power and influence of the same Spirit to inspire us with the true meaning of the words that we will hear.

This weekend, as we listen to the talks, perhaps we could keep a notebook handy.  Is this to attempt to write down everything each speaker says?  My suggestion is that it is not.  What if we pondered on each discourse, writing down the inspiration given us by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost about what is being said?  Could this be personal revelation?  Could this perhaps be the Lord’s will concerning us with regards to what is being said?

Should the Lord tell you something directly, wouldn’t you greatly desire to record it for future reference?

This, to me, is a marvelous way to study the Gospel: listen to the revealed word of the Lord through his representatives here on the Earth, receiving revelation of your own at the very same time.  What could be better?

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