Thursday, December 30, 2010
The Book of Mormon is also one of the tool to do what Moroni counsels us at the end of the chapter, to come unto Christ. Verses 32 and 33 should be our guidelines for life and the way to keep those guidelines is explained no better than in the Book of Mormon. This is a lifelong process that will continue after this life. There is no more important book or writing to come forward in the last 2,000 years, perhaps for all time. Countless lives were sacrificed for it to be written, preserved and brought to us. I truly hope that each of you will read it often. If you haven't read it all the way through, start it now. If the Isaiah chapters are too confusing, skip them. You can always come back to them. When you do, you will eventually see why they were included and why they are so important to the Book of Mormon's message and how they establish the truthfulness of the book. I love the Book of Mormon and each time I read it, I'm am more amazed with it. It is one of two bedrocks of my testimony. I always have questions, and sometimes doubts, but I always come back to the bedrocks of my testimony because they are undeniable. How fortunate we are to have this marvelous writing. I hope that what I have written about it has helped your testimony in some small way.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
To me, the key verse in this is thirteen, "That which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, everything which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God." All goodness comes from him, and all goodness leads to him. But he warns us to "take heed... that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that who is good and of God to be of the devil." Nowadays, so much of what is not good is rationalized into being good or masked as being good. Not always, but often there is a difference between what is pleasurable and what is good. Because it's pleasurable doesn't necessarily mean it's good and we need to be careful and wise in the judgments we make. Mormon's simple rule is, if it invites us to do good and helps persuade us to believe in Christ, it's good. If it takes us away from Christ, it's not.
Then Mormon teaches us that all of this relates to faith, for all good things are meant to increase our faith in God and in the gospel. He says God knows all things from beginning to end, and he sent angels to minister to people, to teach them all things, but especially the coming of Christ which is the greatest good to happen. Along with the angels, he has sent prophets to also teach us these things. Mormon especially emphasizes the role of angels. He says they haven't ceased to appear to men, that they show themselves to everyone who is "of strong faith, and a firm mind in every form of godliness." He explains that the purpose of their ministry is to call men to repentance, to help fulfill God's covenants with his people, and to declare the words of Christ to the prophets. All of this is given to us so that we can have faith in Christ. I think another thing we'll be surprised to find out is how often angels have appeared to, or influenced people. Mormon asks, "have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men?" Only when there wasn't sufficient faith.
All of this is given to us to increase our faith and hope. Faith and hope are cyclical, one doesn't precede the other. As our faith increases so does our hope, and as our hope increases, so does our faith. The more this cycle is operative in our lives, then Mormon says the more charity we will have and experience. And that to me is the crux of it all. The gospel, faith, hope, goodness, everything is calculated to increase love. If we have those things in our life, our ability to love and to be loved is increased. To me, it is the best measuring stick of the gospel and the best way to measure spirituality in ourselves and others.
Monday, December 20, 2010
The other important reason for church discipline is to help someone who has been involved in spiritual misconduct to repent. Since unrighteousness affects both the person and the church, people must be accountable for serious sin, and there must be consequences for it. Disciplinary councils are only held in cases of extreme transgression. Most people can take care of their own repentance where the church or other people have not been affected by the sin. Sometimes, the help of a good bishop is necessary. But in serious cases, if the church did not act, it would be very difficult for victims of misconduct. And, it also harms the person who has transgressed, because it can perpetuate the same misconduct in the person's life. The higher standards of the Lord are also the way to true happiness and peace because they are the standards that are based on divine laws. These are not arbitrary standards decided by a committee, but actually natural principles and laws that have been proven over time again and again to be true. If a person lives them, they will be happier, stronger, and more at peace. When a person lives in conflict of them, they are more in conflict with themselves and find life to have less direction and purpose. These laws are the same to me as other laws such as gravity. You can jump off of a roof and the result will always be the same. When we live with the parameters of the laws, it's then that we can utilize and harness them for our own advancement and good.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
In Chapter 1, he tells us that anyone who doesn't deny Christ is put to death by the Lamanites and then adds, "And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ." Now it may seem easy not to deny the Christ, but how firm would I be with my testimony if under a threat of death? Then he amazingly adds that sometime in the future, what he writes will be of worth to the Lamanites, the very people who threaten his life. That is someone who has vision, who has spiritual maturity, who can look beyond the tremendous emotional conflicts of the moment, and see value in a people who are wicked, evil, and without conscience.
In Chapters 2 and 3, Moroni emphasizes Christ having given priesthood authority to the 12 disciples, especially to give the gift of the Holy Ghost. Why would he include that? I think it's because he knows that in our day, the Holy Ghost will be misunderstood. First, it won't be understood that the Holy Ghost is a separate personage. The difference between the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost will not be known. And he knows of the prevailing belief will be that the Holy Ghost does come upon people at various times. All of this falls far short of the truth that is given in D&C 130, "... the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him, and not tarry with him." The gift of the Holy Ghost which is the promise of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, is an important distinction because while a temporary experience of the Holy Ghost can occur with anyone (how else could an investigator of the church receive a witness of Christ, or of the Book of Mormon, or any scripture?), the gift of the Holy Ghost can only be given by those who have priesthood authority that originates with Christ. This, as well as chapters 4 and 5, are also a testimony that the church must have a formal organization with divine authority to conduct all ordinances.
Chapters 4 and 5 provide us with the sacrament prayers. Among other things, this tells me two things. One, the Lord is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The ordinances have never changed. The way they are administered has never changed, and the manner in which the Lord deals with his people through prophets, revelation, and priesthood authority has always been the same. The second thing it tells me, without taking time to go into each prayer (which I want to do in the Doctrine and Covenants), is that Christ is the center of everyone. Without him, there is no church, there is no true doctrine, and there are no saving or exalting ordinances. Without him, there is no hope for overcoming death, no resurrection (so no hope for hair), and nothing that will seal relationships beyond this life. No other representation of the gospel can offer these things.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
There are some who think with the Jews gathering to Israel now, this is the gathering of Israel. But what is happening there now is only preliminary. The actual gathering will be not only by the Jews, but the other tribes of Israel as well. And while there will be a certain amount of physical gathering by descendants of the tribes of Israel, the actual gathering is the coming to a true understanding and knowledge of the Savior.
From this point on, the land is enveloped in war and bloodshed. Ether finally comes back and goes to Coriantumr, who is king, and tells him that everyone will be destroyed if they do not change from their wickedness. Ether promises him that the Lord will spare them and bless them if they will return to righteousness. Then Ether prophecies a very interesting prophecy. He tells Coriantumr that if he and his people do not change, Coriantumr will live to see the complete destruction of his people, that he will be the lone survivor and see all of the prophecies concerning his people fulfilled, and he will live long enough to see the prophecies fulfilled concerning other Israelites inhabiting the land (Nephites) and he will actually be buried by them.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
With all things sacred, there must first be an effort on our part. The Lord has said "Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." President Lee once told President Packer, when he was a new general authority, "Do you know what's wrong with you-you always want to see the end from the beginning... You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and perhaps a few steps into the darkness, and you will find that the light will appear and move ahead of you." This is a true principle for all kinds of decisions in life. I think this is especially true when we make major decisions such as when we make a decision to be married, to serve a mission, to move, to change jobs. Smaller decisions we often can make on our own and I think the Lord expects us to, although I think inspiration is just as possible with them. But with major life changing decisions, we have the right and the promise that if we are living righteously, the Spirit will provide us confirmation AFTER we have carefully thought it through, made a decision and then moved forward in faith. If it is wrong, the Lord will let us know. If it is right, we'll eventually see the light and receive a confirmation.
There are great verses in this chapter on dealing with weaknesses, verses in which Moroni tells the Lord of his worries about his father's and his own weaknesses in writing. Nephi made similar statements. Moroni explains that his writing just doesn't carry the same weight and power that words spoken under the influence of the Spirit do. He states that the Brother of Jared could write words so powerful that they were overwhelming to the reader. Perhaps that's one reason why those plates were sealed. Words that powerful would not require us to develop our own faith. Moroni understands the purposes of the Book of Mormon, the main one being to persuade people to come to Christ. He states that he has seen the Savior, that the Savior has taught him face to face just as people converse with each other. Then he urgently pleas for people in our day to come to Christ. Of Moroni, Elder McConkie said this, "After the true saints receive and enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost; after they know how to attune themselves to the voice of the Spirit; after they mature spiritually so that they see visions, work miracles, and entertain angels; after they make their calling and election made sure and prove themselves worthy of every trust - after all this and more - it becomes their right and privilege to see the Lord and commune with him face to face. Revelations, visions, angelic visitations, the rending of the heavens, and appearances among men of the Lord himself - all these things are for all of the faithful. They are not reserved for apostles and prophets only." I believe this is true; this is the path to follow, although I have to admit, my progress along that path is woefully slow.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
There is mention of things which create what appear to be an anachronisms. And anachronism is saying something like George Washington spent the afternoon watching television. Something doesn't fit the time or place. One anachronism in the Book of Mormon seems to be the mentioning of elephants in the land. While there is no evidence that wasn't elephants in the land, and there are places in the world where elephants historically had been mentioned but thought to be an anachronism but later evidence was found of their existence, I personally think that it is a misnaming, much like Indians referred to buffalo as cattle and cows.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
When you study the scriptures, you come to know that certain covenants were made with the House of Israel that are to be fulfilled in the latter days. Certain things are to happen prior to the Lord's coming. Because of the apostasy of the church, the oppression of governments and of the Catholic Church against religious thought and practice, and the proliferation of protestant churches, there had to come a time when the Lord's true church had to be restored. For a restoration to happen, several things would have to take place. There would have to be prophets and revelation or the confusion concerning the Lord would continue. There had to be a return of the Lord's authority or priesthood so that the people were invested with that ability to do the Lord's work in his name and under his direction. Just as it was with the advent of new prophets in the past, new scripture would accompany the revelations received and this new scripture would be a sign and a testimony of the truthfulness of this being the Lord's work. All of these things have happened with each dispensation of the gospel in the past and they have happened in our day as well. And the Lord tells us in Ether 4, the Book of Mormon is a sign that the Lord's work has commenced in our day. The most important thing that we learn in the restoration is the true nature of God.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
When the brother of Jared sees the finger of the Lord, because of his faith, the Lord is compelled to show himself completely. I think there are two interesting things about this. First, we learn that our spirits look exactly like a physical body. The brother of Jared thought he was seeing a physical Christ and the Lord had to explain that the two were identical in appearance and he was seeing the Savior as he will look in the flesh. The second thing is, the Lord was compelled to show himself to Moriancumr, he had to, because of Moriancumr's faith. Think what possibilities that opens up for us. If we have sufficient faith, the Lord isn't just rewarding us, he is compelled to bless us. This makes sense if every blessing is predicated upon a commandment, then it is in accordance with divine laws that blessings are given when a commandment is kept. Simply said, for every action, there is a reaction or consequence.
The Lord touches the stones Moriancumr has prepared so they will give light in the boats. There is an old rabbinical teaching that says Noah had stones from the Lord that gave him light in the ark.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
wilderness, the Lord appears in cloud, first to the brother of Jared, and
then it says he appeared "to them." So I'm supposing these later visits
were to more than just the brother of Jared. I believe that if we knew the
number of times the Lord has appeared to someone in our time we would be
amazed. Joseph McConkie, a friend who I greatly admire and the son of Elder
Bruce R. McConkie said this: "Our testimony of Christ reaches beyond
accounts given of his ministry in scripture. We testify that he lives, that
he speaks, and that he manifests himself to his people today as literally as
he ever did in any ancient day."
Our Savior isn't just a name in a book, someone who lived a long time ago.
Our Savior is someone who lives now, who is actively involved in his work
which is saving his people. He will speak to the mind and the heart, he
will speak audibly, he will appear, he will manifest himself in a variety of
ways to those who have same faith, have the same knowledge, and the same
gifts and signs that existed when he was on the earth.
Joseph Smith said, "When faith comes, it brings its train of attendants with
it - apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, gifts, wisdom,
knowledge, miracles, healings, tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc. All
these appear when faith appears on the earth, and disappear when it
disappears from the earth; for these are the effects of faith, and always
have and always will attend it. For where faith is there will the knowledge
of God be also, with all things which pertain thereto-revelations, visions,
dreams, as well as every necessary thing, in order that the possessors of
faith may be perfected and gain salvation." It's no wonder that this
dispensation started with an appearance of the Father and the Son.
To me, there are two keys for knowing that Savior close by. One is faith
that he does speak or appear. The other is to recognize his voice. I
believe he wants us to recognize his voice for than anything else, because
his voice is always accompanied by a witness of the Holy Ghost. We will
know and we will feel and odd as it may seem, this is a more sure and
lasting witness. Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon both saw the Savior, but
eventually fell away. Their faith and spirituality did not equal what they
knew and so it couldn't sustain them.
Shortly after his father died, Joseph McConkie told me that he had just
finished reading his father's journals in the apostle's office in Salt Lake.
He said, "There are apostles and then there are apostles. My father was an
apostle." Meaning there are some apostles who do not have the personal
visitation of the Savior and some that do. His father had. But if you read
Elder McConkie's last testimony in conference, which the last time he ever
spoke, it was the witness of the Holy Ghost that gave him the most sure
testimony and knowledge that the Savior existed.
One of the most sure ways of hearing his voice is through the scriptures
through the power of the Spirit. In a statement made to the twelve about
the Book of Mormon, the Savior said: "These words are not of men nor of man,
but of me; wherefore, you shall testify they are of me and not of man; for
it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit
unto you, and by my power you can read them... Wherefore, you can testify
that you have heard my voice, and know my words.
Monday, December 6, 2010
The 24 plates of the brother of Jared that were sealed and give the history of the world from beginning to end will be translated at some point. We are promised that we will have more and more scripture, but it will only come when we have, as Elder Maxwell said, feasted worthily on what we have.
The brother of Jared is obviously a strong spiritual leader and the Lord tells him that he will answer his prayers because "this long time ye have cried unto me." One of the hard lessons I am continuously having to learn is praying involves more than just asking. It involves faith, pondering, living righteously. President Kimball offered these words about getting answers to prayers and it shows to me that, too often, I do not put enough sincere effort into mine:
"The Lord has provided a way for these answers... Too often, like Oliver Cowdery, we want our answers without effort."
"The Lord does answer our prayers, but sometimes we are not responsive enough to know when and how they are answered. We want the 'writing on the wall' or an angel to speak or a heavenly voice."
"Do you get answers to prayers? If not, perhaps you did not pay the price. Do you offer a few trite words and worn-out phrases, or do you talk intimately to the Lord?" Do you pray occasionally when you should be praying regularly, often, constantly?"
"Your Savior said, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him... " The Lord stands knocking. He never retreats. But he will never force himself upon us. If we ever move apart, it is we who move and not the Lord. And should we ever fail to get an answer to our prayers, we must look into our lives for a reason."
Of course, the Lord answers prayers on his own timetable. If we are consistently and sincerely praying, the answer will come and we need to have faith that it will come. I lived long enough to know that the Lord has answered every one of my prayers, sometimes immediately, sometimes the next day, sometimes the next year or more. I'm sure he has answered many of my prayers and I did not hear. But this I'm sure of, he will always answer a prayer. He never will not answer a prayer.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Verses 1-13 are tragic and poignant. Moroni has seen his father slain. I would imagine his first instinct would have been to protect him or die trying. But he would have been commanded to flee by his father because Moroni has responsibility for the plates. He says that he is alone, that he has witness the death of all the Nephites, all of his family, and all of his friends and he is now alone. He doesn't know how long he will live, but he will wander for at least 21 more years. For now, all he sees is the Lamanites warring among themselves.
Moroni is a prophet. And like Moses and other prophets, the Lord grants him a vision of all things from the beginning to the end. He tells us that the Lord has shown him when and how the Book of Mormon will come forth; he has shown him our day and what our civilization is like. The plates themselves are worthless he says. But what is on them is priceless. I think if we really comprehended the worth of this book and the sacrifice given to bring it forward, we would revere it and keep it in sacred trust.
Moroni prophecies that it will come forward out of the ground and even though there will be those who will try denigrate it and stop it's coming, it is the Lord who has brought it forth and no one can hinder the Lord in his work. In describing our day, Moroni says people no longer believe in miracles, that both our religious and political leaders are only interested in power and money. He says we are a people who focus on substance, appearance, fine clothes, that we love our possessions more than people and because of this we are a prideful people. He says we live in a day when religions will deny Christ rather than testify of him. I remember a survey that came out a number of years ago where it was found that a large percentage of protestant ministers did not believe that Christ was actually the Son of God, that the miracles he performed are not true, that he was a great teacher, and was not likely resurrected. Moroni says that churches in our day will be set up to get gain and we can see this in television evangelists and other ministers who are extremely wealthy, live in great mansions, and run their churches as a business. When the people leave the large stadiums where these ministers preach, the people must pass by gift shops and coffee and refreshment stands that also feed into the church's coffers.
In all this, I think you can sense Moroni's disappontment for how people, at best, will ignore the Book of Mormon and at worst, cast it aside as something of no worth. His disappointment is understandable because he has studied the thousand year history of his people and has seen first hand the sacrifices made to bring the book to us. It would be insulting to him to see how it is treated with such little regard. And I think it's important to realize that Moroni is not expressing condemnation, because condemnation will come from the Lord, but he is sorrowing for the state of unbelief in his people which has brought about their destruction, and the unbelief of those in our day.
1. [I] know that you are of the House of Israel, that you are people of the first covenant.
To me this means, he wants the Lamanites to know they have a sacred ancestry. The first covenant is the covenant that God made with Adam in the Garden of Eden and then later with Abraham. The elect are those, who because of their righteousness, are heirs to all that God has and are joint-heirs with Christ.
2. [I] know that you have to repent, be baptized with water and with fire or the Holy Ghost.
There is no other way but to conform your life to true principles and receive the ordinances of the Lord from those who have the authority of the Lord to perform those ordinances.
3. [I] know that you must lay down your weapons of war.
People who accept the gospel are peace loving, never aggressive. They enrich societies, not destroy them or impose their society upon them.
4. [I] know that you must come to a knowledge of your fathers.
I believe this no only means the prophets of the Old Testament, but Lehi and the prophets that descended from him.
5. [I] know that Jesus is the Christ, that he is the Son of God.
6. [I know you must] lay hold upon the gospel that will come to you through the Bible and the Book of Mormon. If you believe the Bible and understand it, you will believe the Book of Mormon and the other scripture that will come from the Gentiles. If you believe the Book of Mormon, then you will know the marvelous works that done by the power of God among your ancestors.
All scripture is truth and each volume testifies of the other. All scripture is in harmony and does not contradict itself. When read sincerely, all scripture will be accompanied by the witness of the Holy Ghost. This witness will not come, however, if the effort to learn is half-hearted or insincere. To approach scripture insincerly is to make light of the sacrifice made by the prophets, like Mormon, to write and bring the scripture forth. In the end, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophets, Mormon was killed for his testimony and his testimony deserves a serious consideration on our part. I think there will be a very special bond between Joseph Smith, Mormon and Moroni, who all died as a result of their efforts to bring forth the Book of Mormon in our day.
Friday, December 3, 2010
battle. Because they are always on the defensive, Mormon agrees to lead
their armies. But he says he does it with hope. He knows what the outcome
is going to be. The outcome could be different if the Nephites would turn
to the Lord, but they refuse. Mormon says it was "an awful scene of blood
and carnage." Only those who can flee the Lamanites fast enough survive for
the time being. The rest are destroyed in huge numbers.
Knowing he will only be writing a little more, Mormon uses the time and
space on the plates he has left to again tell us the purpose of why he is
writing. Basically, here is what he says:
1. He knows that what he has written will come forward at a future time
determined by the Lord, a time when wickedness will not prevent it from
2. What Mormon has written will go to remnants of the House of Israel, to
the unbelieving Jews and to the Gentiles, which is the rest of the world.
3. It will have the purpose of convincing people that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God, meaning, he is the Redeemer.
4. It will go to the posterity of the Lamanites and Nephites and will come
to them through the Gentiles. The land was blessed for the Nephites and
Lamanites sake, but because of their wickedness, it was given to the
Then Mormon speaks directly to us, who he considers to be Gentiles. He
points out how the Nephites were once a wonderful people, but now during his
life, they are led by Satan. He then asks us is if we are going to be
righteous or follow in the same path as the Nephites. Just as the Nephites
were in the hands of God, he asks us to realize that we are too.
When you put yourself in his perspective where he has seen in vision and
through his writing the entire history of the Nephite people through to this
time of their destruction, and when you think he has seen our day in vision,
you can sense the deep sincerity of his pleadings. How foolish we would be
to ignore them.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
This is a war chapter and we have reached the point to where the Nephites begin their final downward spiral to defeat and annihilation. They will continually be defeated and on the run from the Lamanites who now sacrifice Nephite women and children to idols and false gods. C. S Lewis said this, “ The possibility of pain is inherent in the very existence of a world where souls can meet. When souls become wicked they will certainly use this possibility to hurt one another; and this, perhaps, accounts for four-fifths of the suffering of men. It is men, not God, who have produced racks, whips, prisons, slavery, guns, bayonets, and bombs; it is by human avarice or human stupidity, not by the churlishness of nature, that we have poverty and overwork.”
Mormon’s top priority now is the records and he removes all of them from the hill Shim and in order to be sure they remain protected. Moroni will eventually assume that role when his father his killed.