Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mammon: The Zeroeth Comforter

JST Luke 6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation.

That word - consolation - is a translation of παράκλησις, paraklēsis, which means "that which affords comfort or refreshment," or, in other words, "comforter," meaning, according to Thayer's Greek Lexicon: "thus of the Messianic salvation (so the Rabbis call the Messiah the consoler, the comforter)."

We might therefore render that verse: "But wo unto you that are rich! For ye have received your comforter."

The rich are they who have gathered and retain more resources than they need; they have the comforter they desire - their stuff. But what are our needs? That's been answered, too, in 1 Timothy 6:8-11.

"Having adequate nourishment (diatrophas) and decent covering (skepasmata) we shall with these suffice ourselves (arkesthesometha). But those who want to be rich (ploutein) fall into temptation (peirasmon, a test) and a snare (pagida, a trap, noose, decoy), and into hankering for many things (epithumias, a passionate desire to possess) which are silly (anoetous; mindless, senseless) and harmful (blaberas), and which drag (buthizousi, plunge) human beings down to ruin (olethron, deadly danger) and utter destruction (apoleian). For the root (rhiza) of all evil doings (panton ton kakon) is the desire for money (philargyria, cash–loving), being driven by which people have gone astray, got lost (apeplanesthesan, Heb. abad, stray from the path) from the faith and become hopelessly involved (peripeiran, spitted, engangled) in agonizing situations (odunais, rapids, pangs). But thou, O man of God, keep away from these things" (1 Timothy 6:8–11). - Hugh Nibley

We shall - that's a command - be content with adequate nourishment and covering. And it is written that it is not given by God that one man should possess that which is above what another man possesses, which material inequality is the reason the world lies in sin (D&C 49).

And it is also written:
D&C 104
14 I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine.

15 And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.

16 But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.

17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

18 Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.

Let us remember that the relevant commandment in the law of the gospel is "give to every man that asketh of thee" (Luke 6:30), a policy which, if followed, would certainly seem calculated to make the rich low.

Against Jesus's commandment to give to everyone who asks is sometimes set the saying of Paul: "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Timothy 5:8). The implicit position being taken is "if I keep Christ's commandment, then I may not be able to provide for those of my own household, which possible lack of ability to provide would entail my denying the faith of Christ and render me worse than an infidel, therefore I will not keep Christ's commandment."

Yet intentionally failing to keep the commandments of Christ is what it means to "deny the faith." The real concern, which has gone unstated, is that God can't, or won't, provide us with what we need if we serve him faithfully (contra JST Matthew 6:19-39) - that is, God doesn't exist or is worse than an infidel - therefore the objector necessarily doesn't trust - doesn't have faith in - God. But that's what "infidel" means - "unbeliever, faithless." By setting Paul against Jesus in this fashion, the objector demonstrates himself to be an infidel.

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death" (JST Revelation 21:8).

But there is a way out! If one believes that God exists, that Jesus is the Christ, and that Jesus asked of all men who would be his disciples to do certain things - like "give to every man that asketh of thee" - and if one desires to serve God by granting God's requests, then simply do so believing that the results will be in God's hands, showing thereby that you are "willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [you], even as a child doth submit to his father" (Mosiah 3:19).

Try an experiment upon Jesus's commandments, if you believe them to be such (Alma 32). See what happens (JST John 7:17).

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Think Denver Snuffer Is a True Messenger?

In The Second Comforter, chapter 3 is explicitly titled "Keeping the Commandments". We find the very first paragraph, in whole, to be:

"Keeping Christ's commandments is not just incidental to the path back to Him. It is the path back. There is nothing optional about it."

Emphasis added for emphasis.

Chapter 14 in The Second Comforter is explicitly titled "Keeping the Commandments (Reprised)". "Reprised" means repeated - I looked it up. Lo and behold, we see the following - the very first paragraph therein:

If you have read this far, you must be actually interested in this process. You actually want practical help in receiving the Second Comforter. The discussion in this chapter is related to the gate for entry itself. What will most prepare you (or alternatively entitle you) to receive the Second Comforter is...

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

... keeping the commandments. It is not optional in the process. It is required. We have spoken about that already, but we need to return and reexamine the subject here, because anyone seeking this must return and reexamine their life on this same subject. What you have been doing so far has not been enough. What you need is to return to these fundamental, basic principles to relearn them for yourself. Relearn them in the context of actually applying the teachings in your daily, even hourly, life.

Emphasis added for emphasis. What he's saying here is you have to actually do what Jesus commanded and taught, and be found always doing it.

That's two chapters out of 20, or a tenth of the chapters, 10 whole percent of the chapters, or even a tithe of the chapters, if you will, of The Second Comforter explicitly devoted to a single topic. That single topic - keeping the commandments of Jesus - seems to be kinda important with respect to receiving the Second Comforter, according to Denver Snuffer.

It's interesting to see people acclaim one whom they esteem, on whatever grounds, as a true messenger, while entirely bypassing the crux of his message in silence, to say nothing of putting it into practice.

Ezekiel 33:30-32
“As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.’ My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice."

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Three Degrees in One Parable

D&C 130:5 [T]here are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it.

JST Matthew 25
32 When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he shall sit upon the throne of his glory;

33 And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth sheep from the goats; the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

34 And he shall sit upon his throne, and the twelve apostles with him.

35 Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

36 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me;

37 I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

38 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

39 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee?

40 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

41 And the king shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

42 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

43 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink;

44 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

45 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

46 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me.

47 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.

The three degrees (D&C 76) are represented in this parable. The telestial are the goats, the terrestrial are the sheep, and the celestial are all the holy angels Christ brings with him. The holy angels are whom Christ refers to as "my brethren," which are they who hear the word of God and do it, and their treatment at the hands of the world is what the nations are judged by. Their mortal conditions are described by the Savior as an hungered, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, or in prison.

JST Mark 8
36 And when he had called the people, with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

37 For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; or whosoever will save his life, shall be willing to lay it down for my sake; and if he is not willing to lay it down for my sake, he shall lose it.

38 But whosoever shall be willing to lose his life for my sake, and the gospel, the same shall save it.

39 For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

40 Therefore deny yourselves of these, and be not ashamed of me.

41 Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

42 And they shall not have part in that resurrection when he cometh.

43 For verily I say unto you, That he shall come; and he that layeth down his life for my sake and the gospel's, shall come with him, and shall be clothed with his glory in the cloud, on the right hand of the Son of Man.

People are ashamed of Jesus's words, and will neither obey nor teach them because his commandments are neither pleasing nor prudent nor wise in the sight of the world; they predictably lead to discomfort in this life, and are therefore accounted as foolishness - after all, they may well lead to being an hungered, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or in prison. And maybe divorced on top of all that.

JST Luke 14
16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper and bade many;

17 And sent his servants at supper time, to say to them who were bidden, Come, for all things are now ready.

18 And they all, with one consent, began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it; I pray thee have me excused.

19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused.

20 And another said, I have married a wife, therefore I cannot come.

21 So that servant came and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servants, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring hither the poor, and the maimed, the halt and the blind.

22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

23 The Lord said unto his servant, Go out into the highways, and hedges, and compel men to come in, that my house may be filled;

24 For I say unto you, That none of those men who were bidden, shall taste of my supper.

The supper appears to refer to an event that shall occur at his coming (D&C 27). The excuses given for failing to accept the invitation by keeping the commandments - such as "I have married a wife, therefore I cannot obey the commandments of Jesus" - give context for this.

25 And when he had finished these sayings, he departed thence, and there went great multitudes with him, and he turned and said unto them,

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, or husband, yea and his own life also; or in other words, is afraid to lay down his life for my sake, cannot be my disciple.

27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

28 Therefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.

29 For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have money to finish his work?

30 Lest, unhappily, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish his work, all who behold, begin to mock him,

31 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. And this he said, signifying there should not any man follow him, unless he was able to continue; saying,

32 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand, to meet him who cometh against him with twenty thousand.

33 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an embassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

34 So likewise, whosoever of you forsaketh not all that he hath he cannot be my disciple.

Yes, he meant it.

JST Matthew 10
28 Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father who is in heaven.

29 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.

30 Think not, that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.

31 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

32 He who loveth father and mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he who loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.

33 And he who taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

34 He who seeketh to save his life shall lose it; and he who loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

The teachings of Jesus are what they are. If we are not reconciling ourselves to his will, then of what value is our seeming religiosity?

JST Matthew 12:25 He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

And if we are not keeping nor teaching his commandments, then are we not scattering abroad?

Friday, April 22, 2016

But What If...

Sometimes, when I teach my children the commandments of God, I ask them hypothetical questions based on theoretical concerns, or observed circumstances.

I asked them: Jesus says to give to everyone that asks, and to take no thought for the morrow, and to not break his commandments even to save your lives. But what if you only have, say, $800 on hand, and your $800 rent is due tomorrow, and you don't get paid for another 5 days, and someone - like, an enemy - asks you for $800 today?

Then to keep Jesus's commandments we'd have to give the person the $800 today, they said.

Why is that an easy question for children to answer?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

All We Were Asked to Do

Let us consider a parable of sorts - or, really, an analogy.

Let us view this life as a field demonstration of, and, potentially, a class on, interpersonal conflict resolution.

The scriptures are the textbook for the class. The commandments of God are the homework problems. The law of God is the theory from which the commandments are derived. The overarching problem the law solves is how to create a perfect, expanding, stable society that endures forever and ever, worlds without end, featuring free persons. The law is the resolution to all interpersonal conflict.

If we have enrolled in the course by covenant to keep God's commandments, and are actually keeping all of them to the best of our understanding, then there will be a test. This test has specific answers which are given in the endowments. If we are not keeping the commandments, then the endowments don't really matter. If we never enroll in the class - if we just audit it or aren't even interested in it - and therefore never work the problems, and therefore never take the test, then what good do those answers do us? We would get no use out of them. Indeed, they would stand as a rebuke to any pretensions to knowledge of the ways of God.

Those who don't enroll in the class are still part of the demonstration.

Speaking generally, we enroll in the course by uncritically believing God and repenting. We turn from all our sins, meaning all the ways we abuse our fellow man by doing to them what we'd not want them to do to us, through confessing and making restitution if possible, and cry mightily to God to be forgiven and to receive the Holy Spirit, while walking according to the sayings of Jesus to the best of our understanding in every circumstance, praying always. That becomes our new lifestyle. And if we are sincere, the Father answers us with fire from heaven at the intercession of Jesus, who will pray with us and on our behalf to the Father, and we will be put under covenant to obey his commandments - howsoever that may be phrased to each individual. Baptism is supposed to be a public witness before heaven and earth that we have repented of all our sins and entered into this covenant of obedience, but the covenant can come afterward if we repent and cry mightily. From thence, we keep the commandments, both as written and as taught us directly by the Spirit, until the end. The test will arise as a matter of course.

All we were asked to do is keep his commandments - everything you wish others would do to you, do to others; resolve all conflicts in favor of the other; esteem every man as yourself; send out good even if you receive evil.

Give to everyone that asks. Lend to all comers without hoping to receive again. If anyone takes your stuff, don't ask for it back. Give alms, and don't report them on your taxes. Take the homeless into your home. Pick up the hitchhikers. Pay off debt-slaves' debts. Forgive all debts owed you. Pay your own debts. If anyone sues you for your stuff, let them win. Agree with your enemies when you are in conflict with them. Condemn none. Deal your own food to the hungry, and your own clothing to the underclad, with your own hands. Don't hoard money nor stuff, but exchange your treasures on earth for treasure in heaven by selling them and distributing the proceeds to the poor. Do good to your enemies, have mercy on them by letting them go even when you have power to destroy them after they have come upon you, and pray for them.

And so on. The interested, diligent, and self-motivated student will find all of these homework problems, and more, in the scriptures. Additional problems will be given directly by God. If we are sincere, the means will be given to us to do the homework problems, and we'll pass the test, gaining knowledge of the law - and see the problem it solves.

And we will see what we are being made into.

What Manner of King Is Jesus?

The head God organized the heavens and the earth. I defy all the world to refute me. In the beginning the heads of the Gods organized the heavens and the earth. Now the learned priests and the people rage, and the heathen imagine a vain thing. If we pursue the Hebrew text further, it reads, "The head one of the Gods said, Let us make a man in our own image," I once asked a learned Jew, "If the Hebrew language compels us to render all words ending in heim [-him, -hiym] in the plural, why not render the first Eloheim [Elohim, Elohiym] plural?" He replied, "That is the rule with few exceptions; but in this case it would ruin the Bible." He acknowledged I was right. I came here to investigate these things precisely as I believe them. Hear and judge for yourselves; and if you go away satisfied, well and good.

In the very beginning the Bible shows there is a plurality of Gods beyond the power of refutation. It is a great subject I am dwelling on. The word Eloheim ought to be in the plural all the way through--Gods. The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take [that] view of the subject, its sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods. All I want is to get the simple, naked truth, and the whole truth. - Joseph Smith

God Most High in Hebrew is El-Elyon, not Elohim, which means "Gods," signifying the divine council.

While the text of the endowments has a provenance that originates with Brigham Young and not Joseph Smith, it is reasonable on historical grounds to infer Brigham's endowments were based on an original from Joseph. Therefore, let us ponder the following quotes a little more deeply.

Elohim: Jehovah, Michael, see--yonder is matter unorganized. Go ye down and organize it into a world like unto the worlds that we have heretofore formed. Call your labors the first day, and bring me [us?] word.

Jehovah: It shall be done, Elohim. Come, Michael, let us go down.

John 5:43 I am come in my Father’s name....

John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

Luke 6:46 ¶And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

JST Mark 10
42 But Jesus called them, and said unto them, Ye know that they who are appointed to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.

43 But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, shall be servant of all.

44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

45 For even the Son of Man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

JST Luke 22
24 There was also a strife among them, who of them should be accounted the greatest.

25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they who exercise authority upon them, are called benefactors.

26 But it ought not to be so with you; but he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he who is chief, as he who doth serve.

27 For whether is he greater, who sitteth at meat, or he who serveth? I am not as he who sitteth at meat, but I am among you as he who serveth.

JST Matthew 23
1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.

2 All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, they will make you observe and do; for they are ministers of the law, and they make themselves your judges. But do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not.

3 For they bind heavy burdens and lay on men's shoulders, and they are grievous to be borne; but they will not move them with one of their fingers.

4 And all their works they do to be seen of men. They make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi, (which is master.) [today, "president," "elder," etc]

5 But be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your master, which is Christ; and all ye are brethren.

6 And call no one your creator upon the earth, or your heavenly Father; for one is your creator and heavenly Father, even he who is in heaven.

7 Neither be ye called masters; for one is your master, even he whom your heavenly Father sent, which is Christ; for he hath sent him among you that ye might have life.

8 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

9 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased of him; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted of him.

What manner of King therefore is the Christ?

Whose requests is Christ fulfilling in heaven?

What is a God but an omnicompetent servant who loves everyone even as himself?

What does it mean to serve someone except to grant their requests?

How does one serve one's fellow man if it isn't by granting their requests even as Jesus did?

How does one serve God if it isn't by keeping his commandments even as Jesus did?

What manner of men therefore had ye ought to be?

Additional considerations:

He Shall Gird Himself

Psalm 82 - Directions to Ponder Upon

3 Nephi 13:10 Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Even in heaven, as he was upon the earth, Jesus is the servant of all.

JST Matthew 10:21 Remember, the disciple is not above his master; nor the servant above his lord. It is enough that the disciple be as his master, and the servant as his lord.

D&C 130
1 When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.

2 And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Pleasing unto the Carnal Mind

Alma 30
52 And Korihor put forth his hand and wrote, saying: I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.

53 But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.

That phrase - "carnal mind" - is interesting. How could Korihor know anything about the carnal mind, unless he had known the spiritual mind?

And the instruction he received of the devil, who appeared to him in the form of an angel, is also interesting. According to the account in Alma, Korihor spent his time following the directive of this false messenger in contention against what he deemed to be the false beliefs of the people.

This ought to give reason to ponder - how do you know which spirit is answering you, teaching you your "truthy" doctrines or your "resonating" insights, and giving you your directions? Can you tell the difference between a false messenger and a true one? Are you keeping all the commandments of Jesus to be able to discern the spirits which influence you? Or are you speaking things pleasing to the carnally minded, like the idea that one should contend against what one deems false beliefs? The carnal like to win, after all. Or maybe like keeping all the commandments of Jesus is either unnecessary, or impossible, or constitutes religious extremism? The carnal don't like the commandments, after all. Or maybe like "truthiness," "resonating," or "ringing true" are valid measures of truth? The carnal like effortless certitude and having their biases confirmed, after all.

The two general keys:

  1. He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, saith the Lord, 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.
  2. 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, April 16, 2016

Musings on Liars and Hierarchy

Truth is not arrived at by consensus, neither does it change based on (un)popularity.  No number of people you can get to agree with you makes you right.  Neither does nearly universal disagreement with your position make you wrong.  The argumentum ad populum, or the appeal to consensus, is part of the liar's art, being a tool of manipulation.  The point is to apply social pressure to get someone to change their position by threat of devaluation of the individual's position within the social hierarchy, sometimes through the threat of force.

The truth is very rarely popular, since it doesn't permit anyone to beat the market of reality.

Similarly, truth is independent of the credentialing, or lack thereof, of the one who purports to claim it.  Having a credential in some subject or other does not make a person's claims correct, neither does lacking a relevant credential in some subject or other make a person's claims incorrect.  The argumentum ad verecundiam, or appeal to authority, is part of the liar's art, being a tool of manipulation.  The point is to position the credentialed as higher in the social hierarchy than the non-credentialed and gain conformity to the credentialed's opinion by the non-credentialed through threat of devaluation of the non-credentialed's position within the social hierarchy, sometimes through the threat of force.

Its use in courtrooms is because courts value time and money over truth.  But, then, most people do.

Needless to say, those who value their hierarchical position, or, in other words, interpersonal relationships or security in the world, above truth are compromised and manipulable.  It might be in part why Jesus said: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, or husband, yea and his own life also; or in other words, is afraid to lay down his life for my sake, cannot be my disciple....  So likewise, whosoever of you forsaketh not all that he hath he cannot be my disciple."

Would you willingly trust in a God who was compromised and manipulable?  All that would have to be done would be to threaten something such a God cared about and he'd yield.

As an aside, while the external markings of hierarchy may vary from society to society, the constant that I can see across all of them is access control.  The higher in a hierarchy one is, the fewer people have access to one.  Just as points of contrast, consider the degree of difficulty in accessing, say, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - even merely by letter - contrasted with the degree of difficulty in accessing Jesus Christ himself during his mortal ministry.  We might extend this comparison by examining the relative degree of difficulty in accessing the modern Apostles in the LDS Church versus the degree of difficulty in accessing the Lord's apostles during their mortal ministries after the Crucifixion.  Clearly, the General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints occupy a higher hierarchical position than the Lord and his disciples did during their mortal ministries, based on the complete lack of access control to the Lord and his disciples and the near-impossibility of accessing the General Authorities.

But, then, the Lord and his disciples were truly servants.

Which brings me to a further aside - the point of keeping the commandments is not to make the world a better place.  It's not to change others' minds nor behavior.  While giving to charities is commendable, it is not a substitute for dealing your own substance to the poor directly.  The purpose of giving to the poor directly is to humble yourself - to condescend from your hierarchical position in society and bring yourself down to be equal with them.  Sit with them.  Talk to them.  Feed them.  Bring them into your home.  Bathe them.  Clothe them.  Visit them.  Grant their requests.  If you desire to be a disciple of God, or, in other words, a disciple of Love, then why not practice the art of Love?  That's the point of keeping the commandments of Jesus - through practice they teach you the discipline of Love, which vaunteth not itself.

And, by the way, it won't necessarily be pleasant - it killed Jesus - but it will be educational.  

"And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple."

Monday, April 11, 2016

Defeating Jesus's Commandments

Can you reconcile the following two claims?

  1. It is impossible to keep all of the commandments.
  2. All we need to do is keep the so-called "Two Great Commandments."

The combination of these two claims is the most common objection raised to keeping the commandments.

Here's the problem.

  1. Jesus's commandments are God's commandments (John 7:16).
  2. You love Jesus if, and only if, you keep his commandments (John 14:15-24).
  3. Jesus's Father is God (John 8:54)
  4. Jesus and his Father are one (John 10:30)[1].

Therefore, you love God if, and only if, you keep all of Jesus's commandments.

If it is impossible to keep all of the commandments, then it is impossible to love Jesus and it is impossible to love God, therefore it is impossible to keep the so-called "Two Great Commandments."

The "Two Great Commandments" objection is intended to be a way of defeating the commandments of Jesus, which are the specific, actionable things people don't want to do - the exact ways in which we demonstrate our love for others.  People don't want to keep the commandments of Jesus because they don't have love for others, and also therefore do not love God (1 John 4:20).  But if they had love for God, then they wouldn't be offering up excuses for why they aren't doing what Jesus asked; they'd be doing it instead.

After all, when we in reality do love someone, we do what they ask.
1 John 3
17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

1 John 5
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
[1] JST Luke 10:23 All things are delivered to me of my Father; and no man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Why Was This Not Sold?

JST John 12
1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served; but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.
4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein,
7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone; for she hath preserved this ointment until now, that she might anoint me in token of my burial.
8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.

Why did Judas ask: "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?"  

He was upbraiding Mary for not having sold it and distributing the proceeds to the poor, being bitter about the lost opportunity for graft.  The interesting thing to note is that he had an expectation that it should have been sold.  But where did he get the expectation that costly stuff should be sold and the proceeds given to the poor?

Might it be because it was Jesus's consistent teaching, and the standard operating practice of his disciples, to sell every unnecessary thing that they owned that could fetch a price, and to distribute the proceeds to the poor, thus exchanging their treasures on earth for treasure in heaven?

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Point

A friend writes:

It is very simple: if you want to be a disciple of Christ, do what He asks. If you don't, enjoy whatever life you choose for yourself while you can.  Believe the words of God as they are written, or do not.

That's exactly the point, and it is exactly that simple.

Remember: to become as a little child means to become uncritically believing of God's words at face value, just as a little child uncritically believes his father's words at face value.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

They Seem Relatively Important

Let's see if we can get an idea how important the commandments are, in quantitative terms.  I ran the following search strings through the LDS.ORG scripture search function and got these results.

"The commandments": 195 verses, 118 of those verses in the Book of Mormon (61%).
"My commandments": 111 verses, 26 of those verses in the Book of Mormon (23%).
"His commandments": 79 verses, 30 of those verses in the Book of Mormon (38%).

That's over 385 verses which refer to the commandments in the Bible (KJV), Book of Mormon, D&C, and PoGP (a very few of those references will turn out to not be talking about God's commandments).  About 45% of the verses referring to the commandments are found in the Book of Mormon.  To get some further perspective, let's look for some other interesting strings.

"Jesus": 1386 verses, BoM: 166 (12%).
"Baptism": 83 verses, BoM: 21 (25%).
"Baptize" (apparently included "baptized"): 209 verses, BoM: 94 (45%).
"Holy Ghost": 240 verses, BoM: 87 (36%).
"Born again": 7 verses, BoM: 3 (42%).
"Born of God": 14 verses, BoM: 9 (64%).
"Authority": 129 verses, BoM: 44 (34%).
"Keys": 97 verses, BoM: 1 (1%) - Laban's treasury keys.
"Priesthood": 151 verses, BoM: 7 (5%)
"Probations" (as in "multiple mortal probations"): 0 verses.
"Resonate": 0 verses, but 1 General Conference hit.

You get the drift.  The commandments of God seem, on the numbers, to outweigh in reference count any other topic that I can think of right this second.

So why not perform an experiment upon the word of God?  Why not decide today to start keeping all his commandments, literally construed, praying always to receive the Holy Ghost?  Why not decide to start searching the scriptures to find out what his commandments are?

JST John 7
16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Whole House of Israel

The faith of Christ, seen for what it truly is, puts a rather fine point on "who's on the Lord's side, who?", doesn't it?

Maybe it is "quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrow, soul and spirit; and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (D&C 33:1)

For it puts one's apparent religiosity aside and asks: if you say you take Jesus for your Lord, and if you say you love him, are you doing what he said to do?

D&C 29:12-13
12 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, and it hath gone forth in a firm decree, by the will of the Father, that mine apostles, the Twelve which were with me in my ministry at Jerusalem, shall stand at my right hand at the day of my coming in a pillar of fire, being clothed with robes of righteousness, with crowns upon their heads, in glory even as I am, to judge the whole house of Israel, even as many as have loved me and kept my commandments, and none else.

13 For a trump shall sound both long and loud, even as upon Mount Sinai, and all the earth shall quake, and they shall come forth--yea, even the dead which died in me, to receive a crown of righteousness, and to be clothed upon, even as I am, to be with me, that we may be one.

There's the House of Israel - those who love Jesus and keep his commandments, and nobody else. Apparently, tribal assignments in patriarchal blessings may not be worth the paper they're printed on, if we do not keep all Jesus's commandments.

D&C 42:29 If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments.

D&C 43:35 Be sober. Keep all my commandments. Even so. Amen.

D&C 136:42 Be diligent in keeping all my commandments, lest judgments come upon you, and your faith fail you, and your enemies triumph over you. So no more at present. Amen and Amen.

All of his commandments.

Those who are interested in being one of those who come forth to be even as Jesus is might ought to examine their scriptures to discern what Jesus actually commanded us to do - and go and do it.

What else matters?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

He Shall Gird Himself

JST Luke 11
38 And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him; and he went in, and sat down to meat.
39 And when the Pharisee saw him, he marveled that he had not first washed before dinner.
40 And the Lord said unto him; Now do you Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
41 O fools, did not he who made that which is without, make that which is within also?
42 But if ye would rather give alms of such things as ye have; and observe to do all things which I have commanded you, then would your inward parts be clean also.
43 But I say unto you, Woe be unto you, Pharisees! For ye tithe mint, and rue, and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment, and the love of God; These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
44 Woe unto you, Pharisees! for you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.
45 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are as graves which appear not, and the men who walk over are not aware of them.
46 Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying, thou reproachest us also.
47 And he said, Woe unto you, lawyers, also! For ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.
48 Woe unto you! For you build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.
49 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchers.
50 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets, and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute;
51 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, who perished between the altar and the temple.
52 Verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.
53 Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge, the fullness of the scriptures; ye enter not in yourselves into the kingdom; and those who were entering in, ye hindered.
54 And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and Pharisees began to be angry, and to urge vehemently, endeavoring to provoke him to speak of many things;
55 Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.

Remember what Joseph said?

TPJS, p. 9
Brother Joseph Smith, Jr. said: That he intended to do his duty before the Lord and hoped that the brethren would be patient as they had a considerable distance (to go). Also said that the promise of God was that the greatest blessings which God had to bestow should be given to those who contributed to the support of his family while he was translating the fulness of the scriptures. Until we have perfect love we are liable to fall and when we have a testimony that our names are sealed in the Lamb's book of life we have perfect love and then it is impossible for false Christs to deceive us; also said, that the Lord held the Church bound to provide for families of the absent Elders while proclaiming the gospel; further, that God had often sealed up the heavens because of covetousness in the Church. The Lord would cut short his work in righteousness and except the Church receive the fulness of the scriptures that they would yet fail.5 --FWR, p. 16. (Oct. 25, 1831.)

As we know, we have the RLDS to thank for the JST, for the LDS Church never received the fulness of the scriptures, therefore either the LDS Church shall fail (JST Matthew 21) or Joseph wasn't a prophet.

Covetousness and fear of poverty is why hypocrites and failed disciples deny the commandments of the Lord and persecute those who keep and teach them.  And covetousness is a major part of JST Luke 12, the next chapter.

But what might we expect if we keep all the commandments of Christ and receive him?

JST Luke 12
36 This he spake unto his disciples, saying, Sell that ye have and give alms; provide not for yourselves bags which wax old, but rather provide a treasure in the heavens, that faileth not; where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
37 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Note the similarity with what he told the Pharisees; that's what he meant when he said to give alms of what you have.

38 Let your loins be girded about and have your lights burning;
39 That ye yourselves may be like unto men who wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
40 Verily I say unto you, Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching; for he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
41 For, behold, he cometh in the first watch of the night, and he shall also come in the second watch, and again he shall come in the third watch.
42 And verily I say unto you, He hath already come, as it is written of him; and again when he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, blessed are those servants when he cometh, that he shall find so doing;
43 For the Lord of those servants shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

We might first expect a ceremony of recognition and identification at the veil when the Lord knocks and we open to him, possibly like this.

3 Nephi 11
13 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:
14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.
16 And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:
17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.

JST Luke 12:43 suggests an answer to the question: what might it look like when the Lord girds himself, makes his servant sit down to meat, and comes forth and serves him?

JST Matthew 26
22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and brake it, and blessed it, and gave to his disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is in remembrance of my body which I give a ransom for you.
23 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.
24 For this is in remembrance of my blood of the new testament, which is shed for as many as shall believe on my name, for the remission of their sins.
25 And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall observe to do the things which ye have seen me do, and bear record of me even unto the end.
26 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall come and drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

3 Nephi 18
1 And it came to pass that Jesus commanded his disciples that they should bring forth some bread and wine unto him.
2 And while they were gone for bread and wine, he commanded the multitude that they should sit themselves down upon the earth.
3 And when the disciples had come with bread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed it; and he gave unto the disciples and commanded that they should eat.
4 And when they had eaten and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude.
5 And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name.
6 And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done, even as I have broken bread and blessed it and given it unto you.
7 And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.
8 And it came to pass that when he said these words, he commanded his disciples that they should take of the wine of the cup and drink of it, and that they should also give unto the multitude that they might drink of it.
9 And it came to pass that they did so, and did drink of it and were filled; and they gave unto the multitude, and they did drink, and they were filled.
10 And when the disciples had done this, Jesus said unto them: Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you.
11 And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.
12 And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock.
13 But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them.
14 Therefore blessed are ye if ye shall keep my commandments, which the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you.

JST Matthew 26:26 puts me in mind of this occurrence.  Notice the differences with 3 Nephi 18.  3 Nephi 18 was a reminder.  This is the real thing.

3 Nephi 20
3 And it came to pass that he brake bread again and blessed it, and gave to the disciples to eat.
4 And when they had eaten he commanded them that they should break bread, and give unto the multitude.
5 And when they had given unto the multitude he also gave them wine to drink, and commanded them that they should give unto the multitude.
6 Now, there had been no bread, neither wine, brought by the disciples, neither by the multitude;
7 But he truly gave unto them bread to eat, and also wine to drink.
8 And he said unto them: He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled.
9 Now, when the multitude had all eaten and drunk, behold, they were filled with the Spirit; and they did cry out with one voice, and gave glory to Jesus, whom they both saw and heard.

Remember, not only will the Lord make the servant sit down to meat, he shall gird himself and serve him.

JST John 13
1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a basin, and he began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter; and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou needest not to wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
10 Jesus saith to him, He that has washed his hands and his head, needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit; and ye are clean, but not all. Now this was the custom of the Jews under their law; wherefore, Jesus did this that the law might be fulfilled.
11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
18 I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.
19 Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am the Christ.
20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

Might the washing of the feet have been what happened here?

3 Nephi 18:15 And it came to pass that while the angels were ministering unto the disciples, behold, Jesus came and stood in the midst and ministered unto them.

As for me, I am speaking as a scribe.  These are just what the scriptures say when I read them.  How readest thou?

Ether 3
17 And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites.
18 And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him.

JST John 6
53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up in the resurrection of the just at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58 This is that bread which came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Repeated Three Times.

JST Matthew 6
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where 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.

JST Luke 12
36 This he spake unto his disciples, saying, Sell that ye have and give alms; provide not for yourselves bags which wax old, but rather provide a treasure in the heavens, that faileth not; where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
37 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

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.

Repeated three times.

Treasures upon earth, or bags which wax old, means the stuff of this world: houses, savings accounts, 401Ks, toys, vacation supplies, year's supply of food, year's supply of money, investment portfolios, retirement funds, and the like - mammon, in a word - temporal things which give us confidence, which make us feel independent.

Look again at JST Luke 12 above; how do we exchange our treasures upon earth for treasure in heaven?

JST Mark 10
15 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
16 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good but one, that is God.
17 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery; Do not kill; Do not steal; Do not bear false witness; Defraud not; Honor thy father and mother.
18 And the man answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
19 Then Jesus beholding him, loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest;
20 Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
21 And the man was sad at that saying, and went away grieved; for he had great possessions.
22 And Jesus looked round about, and said unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of my Father!
23 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus spake again and said unto them, Children, how hard is it for them who trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
24 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
25 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
26 And Jesus, looking upon them, said, With men that trust in riches, it is impossible; but not impossible with men who trust in God and leave all for my sake, for with such all these things are possible.
27 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
28 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the gospel's,
29 But he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come, eternal life.
30 But there are many who make themselves first, that shall be last, and the last first.
31 This he said, rebuking Peter; and they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before, and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid.

The key was verse 20: by selling what we have and distributing the proceeds to the poor, we exchange our treasures upon earth for treasure in heaven; the poor are the exchangers.

Verse 26 recalls this to mind.

JST Luke 14
25 And when he had finished these sayings, he departed thence, and there went great multitudes with him, and he turned and said unto them,
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, or husband, yea and his own life also; or in other words, is afraid to lay down his life for my sake, cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 Therefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.
29 For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have money to finish his work?
30 Lest, unhappily, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish his work, all who behold, begin to mock him,
31 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. And this he said, signifying there should not any man follow him, unless he was able to continue; saying,
32 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand, to meet him who cometh against him with twenty thousand.
33 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an embassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
34 So likewise, whosoever of you forsaketh not all that he hath he cannot be my disciple.

Back to the account of the rich ruler.

JST Luke 18
18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God.
20 Thou knowest the commandments; Do not commit adultery. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Honor thy father, and thy mother.
21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.
22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet thou lackest one thing; sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.
23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful; for he was very rich.
24 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they who have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
26 And they who heard, said unto him, Who then can be saved?
27 And he said unto them, It is impossible for them who trust in riches, to enter into the kingdom of God; but he who forsaketh the things which are of this world, it is possible with God, that he should enter in.
28 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.
29 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you. There is no man who has left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake,
30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time; and in the world to come, life everlasting.

Again with forsaking the things which are of this world - which includes, apparently, our families.

JST Matthew 19
16 And, behold, one came and said, Good master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God; but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness.
19 Honor thy father and mother. And, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily, I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
25 When his disciples heard this, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
26 But Jesus beheld their thoughts, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but if they will forsake all things for my sake, with God whatsoever things I speak are possible.
27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed me, shall, in the resurrection, when the Son of Man shall come sitting on the throne of his glory, ye shall also sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 And every one that has forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
30 But many of the first shall be last, and the last first.

Again with that forsaking all things thing, including families.

Notice how the requirements don't change - there is one standard for all.

JST Matthew 12
40 And while he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.
41 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
42 But he answered and said unto the man that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
43 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
44 And he gave them charge concerning her, saying, I go my way, for my Father hath sent me. And whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

JST Mark 3
26 While he was yet with them, and while he was yet speaking, there came then some of his brethren, and his mother; and standing without, sent unto him, calling unto him.
27 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.
28 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or who are my brethren?
29 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
30 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

JST Luke 8
19 Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not speak to him for the multitude.
20 And some who stood by, said unto him, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.
21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God, and do it.

Here's a cute dilemma.  There are some who say that they will not keep the commandments of God because their families would be harmed by their so doing.  Since they will not be the family of God because of disobedience - remember, the Lord is bound when you do what he says, and if you don't then you have no promise (D&C 82:10), and therefore can't be saved (LoF 6) - they will eternally lose their families by their disobedience that they claimed to hope to protect through their disobedience.  If you rebel to save your family in this world you lose your family; if you obey and lose your family in this world by so doing, you will be saved with as many of your family as will likewise obey.

JST Matthew 16
25 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.
26 And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments.
27 Break not my commandments for to save your lives; for whosoever will save his life in this world, shall lose it in the world to come.
28 And whosoever will lose his life in this world, for my sake, shall find it in the world to come.
29 Therefore, forsake the world, and save your souls; for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

JST Mark 8
36 And when he had called the people, with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
37 For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; or whosoever will save his life, shall be willing to lay it down for my sake; and if he is not willing to lay it down for my sake, he shall lose it.
38 But whosoever shall be willing to lose his life for my sake, and the gospel, the same shall save it.
39 For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
40 Therefore deny yourselves of these, and be not ashamed of me.
41 Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
42 And they shall not have part in that resurrection when he cometh.
43 For verily I say unto you, That he shall come; and he that layeth down his life for my sake and the gospel's, shall come with him, and shall be clothed with his glory in the cloud, on the right hand of the Son of Man.

JST Luke 9
23 And he said unto them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24 For whosoever will save his life, must be willing to lose it for my sake; and whosoever will be willing to lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
25 For what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and yet he receive him not whom God hath ordained, and he lose his own soul, and he himself be a castaway?
26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own kingdom, clothed in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.

Repeated three times.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Denying the More Parts

3 Nephi 27:13-22 
13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you--that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil--
15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
17 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.
18 And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.
19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.
21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;
22 Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
Consider this passage:
4 Nephi 1:27 And it came to pass that when two hundred and ten years had passed away there were many churches in the land; yea, there were many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel, insomuch that they did receive all manner of wickedness, and did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness.
What were the more parts of Christ's gospel that they were denying?  And why (3 Nephi 27:32)?  And is there a difference between the gospel and the doctrine of Christ (Jacob 7:6)?

Is there something in verse 19, for example, which is denied by virtually every Christian and church - like, say, that it is both possible, and required, to repent of all one's sins (cf. Helaman 14:13, Moroni 6:2, D&C 20:37)?

Is it denying parts of Christ's gospel to explain that Christ didn't mean what he said, or that his commandments aren't to be taken literally, or don't apply?

Is it denying parts of Christ's gospel to say that even if one dies in one's sins, one may still enter the kingdom of God (v. 17 above, cf. Mosiah 15:26, 2 Nephi 9:38, 2 Nephi 28:8, Moroni 10:26)?

Is it denying parts of Christ's gospel to baptize those who have not repented of all their sins (IE, receiving wickedness), or to administer the sacrament to those who have not been (re)baptized for the remission of sins (3 Nephi 18:28-30) (for it appears baptism for the remission of sins was not a one-time event for the church of God among the Nephites [Moroni 6:1-3, Moroni 8:25], as well as the early Saints)?

Is it denying parts of Christ's gospel, or doctrine, to fail to teach commandments, to pervert commandments when they are mentioned, or to supplant the commandments of the Lord - such as "lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth" - with worldly wisdom such as the prudent and wise practice of laying up for oneself treasures upon the earth (such as a year's supply of food and money, retirement funds, investment portfolios, and the like [remember 3 Nephi 27:32])?

How many of these kinds of things does a church have to do to be justly said to be denying the more parts of Christ's gospel?

Once a church, or perhaps all of them together, hits that point, what should one do?

What did Joseph do?

In the endowment, what did Adam think about the teaching of his instructors of religion?  And how was his attitude regarded by the heavenly messengers?
2 Nephi 28:32 Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.
D&C 1:32 Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven[.]