Wednesday, October 5, 2016

By the Mouth of the Lamb

1 Nephi 13:40-41, Earliest Text

40 And the angel spake unto me, saying:
These last records which thou hast seen among the Gentiles
shall establish the truth of the first,
which is of the twelve apostles of the Lamb,
and shall make known the plain and precious things
which have been taken away from them
and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people
that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world
and that all men must come unto him or they cannot be saved.

41 And they must come according to the words
which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb.
And the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed
as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Wherefore they both shall be established in one,
for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.

All men must come unto the Lamb or they cannot be saved, and they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament.

So what are the words established by the mouth of the Lamb - that is, spoken by Christ himself in person - in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament? Whatever those words are, all men must come unto Christ according to them - that is, all men must come to him by doing whatever those words say. Therefore, it seems to be of vital importance - if we desire to come unto Christ and be saved - that we identify the words Christ spoke in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament, and do what he instructs us to do in those words.

Fortunately for us, Christ made it plain which words he spoke in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament, by which all men must come unto him or they cannot be saved. The words he spoke in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament are the words he spoke in person to the Nephites in 3 Nephi, chapters 12-14, the content of which closely follows the words he spoke to the Jews in person in Matthew, chapters 5-7. This is confirmed by what he said afterward.

3 Nephi 15:1, Earliest Text

And now it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings,
he cast his eyes round about on the multitude and saith unto them:
Behold, ye have heard the things
which I have taught before I ascended to my Father.
Therefore whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them,
him will I raise up at the last day.

The words he spoke in person in both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament were the Sermon on the Mount. We may therefore see clearly that Christ's sayings in the Sermon on the Mount are not idealistic platitudes, but literal instructions to be performed by all men who want to come unto Christ and to be saved. They are to be remembered and actually done.

If we trust in Christ and desire to come unto him and be saved, we will actually do the things he said to do. If there is a conflict between Christ's instructions and any religious leader's teachings, or those of an official, philosopher, teacher, or scientist, we will choose to be faithful to Christ's words.

As an aside, the word "willing" as used in the sacramental prayers means "desiring with determination" or "determined to do" or "resolved." The word "witness" therein means "testify." The word "keep" therein means "perform," "do," "practice," "obey," or "fulfill." Each time you eat the bread, you testify to God, the Eternal Father, that you are resolved to actually obey Jesus's commandments.

After all...

3 Nephi 14:24-27, Earliest Text

24 Therefore whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them,
I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock.

25 And the rain descended and the floods came,
and the winds blew and beat upon that house.
And it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not
shall be likened unto a foolish man which built his house upon the sand.

27 And the rain descended and the floods came,
and the winds blew and beat upon that house.
And it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fellowship Meeting October 15th, 2016

Assuming there are no snow impediments, there will be a gathering at the Mt. Pinos picnic area (at the top of the road up the mountain; by the big parking lot and ski lodge; can't miss it) in California on Saturday, October 15th, 2016, at about 3pm.  There is no set format, and there are no set speakers.  If you feel inspired to bring anything, please do.  Sacrament will be served.

If you come early, you might join Tim Malone in a hike to the peak area.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Not Much Else to Say

I'm going to pretend this is my last blog post.

Wish to have peace of conscience?

D&C 1:32 Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven[.]

Wish to have confidence before God, and your prayers answered?

1 John 3
 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

Seek out the commandments in the scriptures, and for understanding through mighty prayer and, above all, acting on the Lord's requests rather than simply reading them.  Rather than substituting your own judgement for the Lord's commandments by appealing to "what works," instead obey the commandments of the Lord with exactness.  Remember - he doesn't receive what he hasn't appointed.  His ways are not our ways, neither are his thoughts our thoughts.  What we think "works" doesn't serve the same purpose as what the Lord has commanded.  Substituting their own judgements for the Lord's commandments is how men go, and lead, astray.

The Lord said that if any man loves him he will keep the Lord's commandments, and that if he doesn't keep the Lord's commandments, he doesn't love the Lord.  Through diligence and exactness in keeping the Lord's commandments we can become Zion, the pure in heart, of one heart and one mind.  And if we are to be one, there can be nothing withheld between us.  Loving our neighbor as ourselves means that if we would do a thing for ourselves, we had ought to do it also for our neighbor.

If you lack love, and desire it, call upon God with all the energy of heart to be filled with his love.  Pursue this prayer whilst keeping the commandments until he answers you.

And, lastly, who's worth listening to?  I look for three things: are they teaching the commandments?  Are they keeping them?  Are they contentious / combative?

Alma 13:1, 6
1 And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people [-] And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest[...]

Mosiah 23:14 And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.

3 Nephi 11:29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

Always err on the side of mercy.  The same standards we judge others by shall be applied to us.

We have the commandments before us in the Bible (most importantly, the Sermon on the Mount / Plain) and in the Book of Mormon (Sermon at Bountiful).  It is through keeping these commandments exactly as they were delivered by the Lord to his people that we may become priests unto God, having association with angels.  Isaiah 58 is also of note, containing more commandments and promised blessings.  The Lord, after all, changes not, and his law has always been the same.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 ¶Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

That's all there ever was to it.  And his commandments may be summed up: all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them, for this is the law and the prophets.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Lay Not Up Treasures Upon Earth

3 Nephi 12:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away.

This does not mean "give to the poor." This means "give to him that asketh thee," or, as rendered in Luke 6:30, "give to every man that asketh of thee." It does not mean to give only the deserving, it does not mean to give to just some, it does not mean to give to most, but instead it means to give to all who ask.

This, on the other hand, means give to the poor.

3 Nephi 13
1 Verily, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.

2 Therefore, when ye shall do your alms do not sound a trumpet before you, as will hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

3 But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth;

4 That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.

So both are commanded: giving to all who ask, as well as giving to beggars, who may not ask you directly, let's say, but might be holding up a sign or something.

The reason why people do not keep the first commandment, to give to every man that asks, is because they have their security, their trust, in their substance, and not in God. These have received their comforter.

The reason why people do not keep the second commandment, to do alms unto the poor, is the same, and also coupled with a judgement against the beggar in his petition, which judgement is performed that they may withhold their substance and appear justified (for example, "He has made poor life choices to bring him to his current state, such as indulging in drink or drugs or other investments I disapprove of, or shall sin with my substance by so indulging, so I should withhold lest I injure him through giving him what he asks for. It's for his own good!"). As Benjamin says, those who perform this judgement have no interest in the kingdom of God, and if they do not repent shall perish forever with their substance.

But to those who hear his words, Christ says this.

3 Nephi 13
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal;

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Treasures upon earth are precisely those things that can be corrupted or stolen. Anything made out of the substance of this world qualifies. Even digits in a bank account.

Why does laying up treasures for oneself upon earth break the law of God?

By definition when you lay up treasures for yourself upon earth, you are withholding your treasures from others, therefore you do not love, and are not loving, others as yourself.

No retirement funds, no savings bonds, no Roth IRAs, no 401Ks, no nothing. Our confidence, trust, and faith must be in God, and not in the perishable substance of this world, neither in men, or we shall perish with them.

I have written a short explanatory essay on the concept of private property on my secondary blog, where I treat things that I find interesting. Be warned: as those who know me in real life may attest, I deploy vulgar language to make my points, and I am not a fan of modern political ideologies. If you can tolerate four-letter words and vulgar references to bodily functions, then read on: Private Property.

I love that man better who swears [curses, uses vulgarity] a stream as long as my arm yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the long, smooth-faced hypocrite. - Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 303

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Musings on the Law

The law: whatever you wish others would do to you, do to others.

Alternatively: if you would do a thing for yourself, you ought to do it for others. If you would not do a thing to yourself, you ought not do it to others.

In other words, treat others exactly as if they were you.

The meaning of the law: they are you.

Maybe younger, maybe older. Maybe lighter, maybe darker. Maybe smarter, maybe stupider. Maybe wiser, maybe more foolish. Maybe consecrated, maybe desecrated. Maybe male, maybe female. Maybe secure, maybe insecure. Maybe confident, maybe fearful. Maybe rich, maybe poor. They are all you. Just at different developmental stages.

Passing through experiences in abuse and power and fear, just as you are. Learning who and what they are, just as you are. Learning what they like and dislike and inflicting or absorbing the same, providing the same lessons to others, just as you are. Enabled for themselves by experience to discern between good and evil, having the gift of choosing according to their own wills to associate with you or to depart from you.

Not everyone wants to be you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Rule of Interpretation

What is the rule of interpretation? Just no interpretation at all. Understand it precisely as it reads. - Joseph Smith, TPJS 276

In the last post, I noted that current science, if correct, vindicates the literal text of D&C 89 - "hot drinks are not for the body or belly," with the operational word being "hot," which is a word denoting having a high temperature - just exactly that simple.

But even if the science turns out to be incorrect, the interpretive issue remains, for me, settled, leading to the following question: why did I ever listen to anyone tell me what the scriptures mean? Well, once upon a time, I did not have experience and trusted people I thought were trustworthy on topics I knew nothing about. A natural, developmental mistake.

Now, I recognize that the difficulty in understanding scripture comes from lack of experience in the things the scriptures speak of. When we attach meaning to words without understanding, we may well not be speaking of what the scriptures are speaking of when we use the words - indeed, it seems to me this is almost inevitably the case. For example, to those who have not been baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, the phrase "baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost" communicates no real meaning. It becomes an abstract symbol, relating in unknown ways to other concepts. When we assert meanings, and then interpret other things by those asserted meanings, well, our readings are only as true to God's word and intended meanings as our assumptions are.

Better to not pretend to knowledge - direct experience - one doesn't have. The path to experience is calling upon the name of the Lord in mighty prayer, even until one has faith in Christ, and from thence keeping his commandments, praying always. The promise is if we do this, we will always have his spirit to be with us, and will therefore be able to comprehend the things of God.

A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity--thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. - Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 137

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hot Drinks Seems to Mean Hot Drinks; Who'da Thunk It?

An interesting article which, if true, vindicates the literal text of D&C 89, commonly called "The Word of Wisdom," on the subject of "hot drinks," but does not vindicate the interpretation that is taught in its stead in the Church, nor the sources of that interpretation.

Very Hot Drinks Are 'Probably Carcinogenic'