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'

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Narrative Doesn't Matter

Please notice the primary complaint Jesus had against the Scribes, Pharisees, Priests, and Levites, was not that they lacked "priesthood" or "keys" or "authority." We don't see him bringing up the subject in the scriptures, neither does it seem he instructed his disciples to challenge their authority. This is what he did say.

JST Matthew 5
21 Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven.

22 For I say unto you, except your righteousness shall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Joseph taught that to be righteous meant to be just and merciful. To be just means doing what has been asked of one, or what one has agreed to do. To be merciful means to have no malice even towards one's enemies, but to be of a mind to let them go even when they are in your power after their having come upon you, and perhaps blessing them in the bargain. Joseph also taught that becoming righteous comes about by obedience to God's commandments. The Scribes and Pharisees were not keeping the law and commndments, and lacked mercy.

JST Matthew 7
1 Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people.

2 Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.

3 For with what judgment ye shall judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

4 And again, ye shall say unto them, Why is it that thou beholdest the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

5 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and canst not behold a beam in thine own eye?

6 And Jesus said unto his disciples, Beholdest thou the Scribes, and the Pharisees, and the Priests, and the Levites? They teach in their synagogues, but do not observe the law, nor the commandments; and all have gone out of the way, and are under sin.

7 Go thou and say unto them, Why teach ye men the law and the commandments, when ye yourselves are the children of corruption?

8 Say unto them, Ye hypocrites, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

A hypocrite is an actor, one who pretends to be what he is not.

Notice Jesus did not instruct the disciples to challenge the authority of the Scribes, Pharisees, Priests, and Levites. The subjects of "priesthood" and "keys" and "authority" seem not to have been a consideration - even though by this time John, the Baptist, had "wrested the keys" and "overthrown the kingdom of the Jews." Jesus's complaint was that the teachers were not observing to keep the law nor the commandments. We know already they had long perverted the ways of the Lord, as John had come to make straight his paths, therefore whatever they were teaching was contrary to the law and the commandments. In other words, the situation of the teachers of the Jews was similar in most respects to that of the priests of King Noah to whom Abinadi was sent.

Remember also that Jesus never did get formally excommunicated - put out of the synagogue. Anyone can get themselves tossed - and several have gotten themselves tossed - by asserting the leadership lacks priesthood, authority, keys, or whatever, and that the historical narrative which buttresses their claims is false. Here's what Jesus said to do instead.

9 Go ye into the world, saying unto all, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come nigh unto you.

10 And the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet.

The dogs, in this context, are those who do not recognize the Lord's voice in the words of his servants, who start barking where the law and commandments contradict the teachings of the leadership, preferring the leadership's teachings. The swine are the contentious who argue every little point and accuse.

11 For the world cannot receive that which ye yourselves, are not able to bear; wherefore ye shall not give your pearls unto them, lest they turn again and rend you.

The pearls, or mysteries, being revelations of the operations of God's kingdom, apparently - those things Jesus taught in parables to hide them from the unbelievers.

12 Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

13 For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.

Teach them that God answers prayers. Sometimes, we must weary him (Luke 18:1-6).

14 And then said his disciples unto him, they will say unto us, We ourselves are righteous, and need not that any man should teach us. God, we know, heard Moses and some of the prophets; but us he will not hear.

15 And they will say, We have the law for our salvation, and that is sufficient for us.

16 Then Jesus answered, and said unto his disciples, thus shall ye say unto them,

17 What man among you, having a son, and he shall be standing out, and shall say, Father, open thy house that I may come in and sup with thee, will not say, Come in, my son; for mine is thine, and thine is mine?

18 Or what man is there among you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone?

19 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

20 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

God will answer the sincere seeker.

21 Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

Every last thing you wish people would do to you, do to others. This is the meaning of the law, and of the teachings of the prophets. This short, simple explanation of the entirety of the law of God cuts through all the accretions of men, the claptrap and clutter surrounding the law and the commandments.

As an aside, you can't escape the requirements of this, the Golden Rule, by appealing to the so-called "Greatest Commandments." If you love your neighbor as yourself, then if you would do a thing for yourself, you had ought to do it for your neighbor. Let that thought sink in.

22 Repent, therefore, and enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat.

23 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

The strait gate is repentance and baptism by water, after which cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. The narrow way that leadeth unto life is this, the Sermon on the Mount / Plain / Bountiful. Few find it because they fear the obvious consequences in this world of obedience to Jesus's sayings and commandments, therefore they disbelieve him and do not obey, and they teach others to disobey, saying things like "you're a simplistic fool if you give to everyone who asks you to!"

Hence this: "Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven."

The purpose of a priest is to teach the law and the commandments, remembering they are not his, but his who sent him.

24 And, again, beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

25 Ye shall know them by their fruits; for do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

26 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

27 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

28 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

29 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Very simply: do they keep the commandments and teach them, building up others, or do they instead break them and contend, seeking to aggrandize themselves?

30 Verily I say unto you, it is not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter unto the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

31 For the day soon cometh, that men shall come before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works.

32 And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works?

33 And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity.

Those who actually keep the commandments will know him; those who say and do not will not.

34 Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock, and the rains 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.

35 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand; and the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.

If you hear these sayings of his - the Sermon on the Mount / Plain / Bountiful - and do them, you will be founded upon a rock. If you hear these sayings of his and don't do them, you will fall.

36 And it came to pass when Jesus had ended these sayings with his disciples, the people were astonished at his doctrine;

37 For he taught them as one having authority from God, and not as having authority from the Scribes.

Jesus seems not to care so much what we believe so long as we believe on - have full faith and trust in - him and keep his commandments. The rest is taught directly from heaven.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Servants of All

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.)

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.

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 9
46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, who of them should be greatest.

47 And Jesus perceiving the thoughts of their hearts, took a child and set him in the midst;

48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name, receiveth me; and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him who sent me; for he who is least among you all, the same shall be great.

JST Luke 22
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.

Mosiah 2:17
17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

You are not their servant if you deny their requests.[1]

[1]In case of conflict between others' requests and God's, choose to obey whoever you want your reward from.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Does God Answer Prayers?

An objection has been leveled against Jesus's explicit, thrice repeated commandment to give to everyone that asks us.

The objection runs as follows:

1. If God issues a commandment and means it literally then God himself must keep that commandment.

2. God does not answer every prayer.

3. Therefore, since God himself does not give to everyone that asks him then he didn't mean the commandment literally.

4. Therefore, men are justified before God in literally breaking God's commandment to give to everyone that asks them to.

Point 1 - the principal claim upon which the rest of the argument depends - is exactly contradicted by D&C 64:10: "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." Here, God issues a commandment and makes it quite clear he means it literally, while explicitly stating that he himself will do according to his will. There are other examples which illustrate this point (say, "thou shalt not kill" while he destroys cities; or "judge not" while he standeth to judge the world, &c.), but this suffices to directly refute the principal claim of the objection on scriptural grounds.

The objection is false in principle.

But more interesting is the "fact" that the false principle was intended to weaponize against God's commandments - the claim that God does not answer every prayer. To the disciples whom he had commissioned to go forth into the world teaching the people, Jesus said: "Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened" (JST Matthew 7:12-13).

Was Jesus lying? If they asked of God, would they receive? Yes, if they believed. Those to whom the disciples said these words, if they believed the disciples, could ask and be answered.

Belief is always the necessary precondition. When Jesus went forth performing miracles, he would commonly ask - do you believe I can do this? Where belief was lacking, he could not grant their requests.

"Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth" (Mormon 9:21).

I cannot say that I have ever believed God would grant my request and God did not grant it. When I have asked this question of others - have you ever truly believed God would grant your prayer, and God not grant it? - the answer has been uniformly "no."

What would your answer be?

The next interesting aspect is to inquire - how can I believe? How can I believe God will answer my prayer?

"Now we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth" (JST John 9:31).

And, cutting straight to the punchline...

JST 1 John 3
14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

16 Hereby perceive we the love of Christ, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

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 only; but in deed and in truth.

19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then we have 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.

23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

Loving one another entails "giving to every man that asketh," as Christ commanded. Why not simply believe that he means it, just as a little child believes his father? And if you serve him as a faithful son serves his father, will he not grant you according to his word?

To quote Joseph - "I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief."

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Blinded by the Subtle Craftiness of Men

Once upon a time, someone pointed out to me that Christ didn't visit Bountiful until almost a year had passed since the Crucifixion. I was surprised, so I looked it up, and lo and behold, that's what the book says. But why was I surprised? Why did I think Christ came to the Nephites immediately after the Crucifixion?

It's because that's what I was taught at Church. And when I read the Book of Mormon, the details that contradicted what I was taught at Church simply slid past my eyes unseen - they didn't register - with the narrative I was taught at Church substituted for them in my mind. Until someone pointed the discrepancy out.

What we are taught at Church - and it seems nigh unto universal, independent of sect - is that Jesus didn't mean what he said; Jesus was something of a huckster, you see, who was giving us sentimental ideals, not literal instructions. When he said "give to every man who asketh thee," what he meant was merely "be generous." When he said "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them," what he meant was merely "be kind." And when Jesus said that unless a man hates his life and everything in it, he can't be Jesus's disciple, what he meant was... well, literally anything but that.

Thus even when they cite the teachings of Jesus, purporting to teach them, they pervert his ways, dishonor his commandments, substitute other commandments in their place supplemented with additional precepts not from God, and lead us astray while they blind us to the truth.

So, when the veil of ignorance is drawn aside from your minds, and you see clearly what Christ actually said to do - which is the primary purpose of this blog - then you have a choice: do you do it?

Friday, June 3, 2016

The First Test

Alma 32:22 And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word.

The first test is simply to believe.

Helaman 14:13 And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits.

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

If you believe, you act.

Alma 7
14 Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.

15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.

16 And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.

Are you willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with God to keep his commandments? Have you witnessed to him your willingness to repent and enter this covenant with him by being baptized?

Note that baptism is a witness to God either that you have repented of your sins and entered into a covenant with him to keep his commandments (Mosiah 18:10), or that you are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments.

2 Nephi 30
1 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed.

2 For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.

Alma 32:16 Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.

Belief is a choice.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Was Jesus a Hypocrite?

In math, at lower levels, we're taught that you can't divide by zero. If you are taught that division is repeated subtraction, then it can be explained that the reason you can't divide by zero is because there is no defined, fixed number of zeros you can subtract out of any given number (you can always subtract one more zero out of any given number, you see). Therefore, the result of division by zero is undefined. Then, if you pursue math into calculus, you find out you can divide by zero... sorta... through the limit process, by using numbers that are as close to zero as you care to get without being exactly zero.

And, again, we learn in school algebra something called "the order of operations." It's the order in which we perform competing tasks given in a problem. There's a nifty mnemonic called PEMDAS which stands for Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction, reminding us that when we have multiple operations to perform, then we must do them in that order.

And, if we pursue math further, we find out "the order of operations" is no such thing; the deeper explanation is that, for logical coherence and uniformity of results, certain operators have precedence over others, and with this understanding we can work problems in whatever fashion we like so long as we honor the order of operator precedence.

So it is with the law of God. We might think of the "arithmetic" level of the commandments is the "thou shalt nots." The "algebra" level is the "thou shalts," and the "calculus" level of the law is this: every last thing you wish people would do to you, do to others. That is the Golden Rule, and it is the entirety of the law; all the other commandments are merely implications of this law.

All of this is a setup to say that just as calculus may seem, to the grade schooler, to contradict what he understands of math, so also might Jesus's conduct seem to contradict the commandments he gave, and for the same reason. Jesus comprehended the totality of the law, and, analogously, was teaching arithmetic to those who did not understand the law, algebra to those who did understand, while he himself was practicing calculus. Calculus gets taught to the diligent and self-motivated student who loves the subject for its own sake.

The requests Jesus did not fulfill were those which break the Golden Rule, or those in which God had a contrary commandment in place. "Lord, take my side and impose my will upon another!" No. "Lord, give me that which I cannot understand will destroy me!" No. "Make God jump through hoops for you!" No. "Save yourself!" No.

The most interesting one was where he granted the legion of demons their request, but declined to grant the newly-freed man his wish to follow him. Christ had a mission to minister to all Israel, and the knee-jerk reaction of the people of that city to this deed was fear - of him! They were so afraid they begged him to leave. To fulfill his mission to them, which God had given, Jesus asked the man to stay as a witness to his power and glory among them, that after their initial fear had left them, they might, if they wished, find Jesus. And the man did so.

If, therefore, you meant it when you witnessed to God that you were willing to keep Jesus's commandments, then go and give to everyone that asks - and perform every other commandment Jesus gave - that you also may understand the law, and comprehend the problems that it solves.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Other Side of the Coin

Christ commanded his followers that they give to everyone who asks. This is not an interpretation of what he said; it is what he said at literal face value, repeated three times. There is wisdom to this, and it is not the wisdom of men, but of God. We have been asked to suspend our own judgement in favor of executing God's expressed will.

By granting others' requests, they experience the consequences of their chosen principles and can change if they see a need. But there is another side to that coin: by granting God's requests, we choose and experience the consequences of God's principles, as expressed in the commandments.

In doing what God does, we experience what he experiences, and we come by these means to understand him and his purposes. As we pursue the course of keeping the commandments of Christ with full purpose of heart, he works changes in our nature and we become more like him.

There is an interesting implication of Benjamin's sermon - that God is continually and actively upholding our existence so that we may live and move and execute our wills. God even actively supported and sustained Hitler's life so that Hitler could move and act according to his will and bring about the death of six million Jews, whose lives God was likewise supporting and sustaining so that they could move and act according to their wills. We have to be made of such stern stuff as well if we are going to be what he is - in God's place, we, too, would have to actively sustain and support Hitler so that he could do his deeds. If God had the will to cut off a third part of his children from the outset, we likewise have to have this mettle. Compared to that, it seems a paltry task to give to everyone who asks.

Keeping the commandments can be seen as a mutual test of integrity. In keeping his commandments, we test God to see if he keeps his word, and likewise through his commandments God tests us to see if we keep ours. When we are each convinced of the others' integrity, then we have faith and are proven faithful in all things; then we are like him.

If we don't keep his commandments, then we won't be like him; we won't have fulfilled the conditions upon which his grace is sufficient for us - which is the keeping of his commandments. One of the things people find intolerable about each other is ideological differences. Would you willingly live with someone you vehemently disagree with, who says things you don't believe and wouldn't say, who does things you wouldn't do, and whose motives you cannot understand, forever and ever, worlds without end? Would that be heaven to you?