Sunday, May 28, 2017

Treasure in Heaven

D&C 6:7 Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.
To the Nephites at Bountiful and to the Jews at Jerusalem, the Lord commanded thus.
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.
Matthew 6
19 ¶ Lay not up for yourselves treasures 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.
These words apply to all mankind, and are a condition of salvation.
1 Nephi 13
40 And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.
41 And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.
The words established by the mouth of the Lamb and made known in the records of the seed of Nephi as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, by which all mankind must come unto the Lamb, are the Sermon on the Mount, wherein this commandment is found.

The Lord has commanded that we not lay up for ourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust do corrupt and where thieves break through and steal.  Treasures are precisely those things which moth or rust can corrupt or thieves can steal.  Food can be corrupted or stolen.  Money can be corrupted or stolen.  Goods of any kind can be corrupted or stolen.  Food, money, or goods, and anything else which can be corrupted or stolen, are what we are not to lay up for ourselves upon earth: in other words, we are not to build up for ourselves storages in this world of anything that can be corrupted or stolen.

The commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ to not lay up for ourselves treasures upon earth includes not laying up for ourselves storages of funds or goods or food for retirement, because that is a specific instance of laying up for ourselves treasures upon earth.
Luke 12
15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Covetousness means the desire to possess stuff for one's own benefit.  Notice that the rich man did not give to others, but that he stored up all his stuff for himself in preparation for his retirement; therefore he had no treasure in heaven.

So how does one lay up for himself treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts, neither do thieves break through and steal?  The Lord answers:
Luke 12
33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Sell what you have, and distribute the proceeds of the sale to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven.  By doing this, you exchange your earthly treasures for heavenly treasure.  The poor, then, are the exchangers.

This commandment, to sell what one has and to distribute the proceeds of the sale to the poor, was not only given to those who followed him.
Matthew 19
16 ¶ And, behold, one came and said unto him, 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 do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour 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 and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
Remember: we are commanded to be perfect; it is a requirement of salvation.  Therefore, this is of supreme importance, for the LORD God is not a respecter of men.  Notice again, this is how we lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven: the poor are the exchangers.
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 into the kingdom of God.
Hearken again unto the Lord:
Luke 11
37 ¶ And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.
38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.
39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?
41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.
If the Pharisees would give to the poor whatsoever they had as alms, then the Pharisees would be inwardly clean, and be no longer full of ravening and wickedness.  The JST helps clarify this.
JST Luke 11:42 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.
"All things which I have commanded you" would be the Sermon on the Mount.  Of interest is the accusation of the Lord against the Pharisees, that they were inwardly full of ravening and wickedness, the solution to which inward ravening and wickedness was to sell what they had and give the proceeds of the sale to the poor.  We have seen that before.
3 Nephi 14
15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.
We know that "good fruit" is "the works of righteousness" (Alma 5:36), that is, doing all things whatsoever the Lord has commanded. The Pharisees were full of ravening and wickedness because they would not give what they had to the poor as alms, nor would they keep the commandments of the Lord.  It sure looks to me like the Pharisees, who were the leaders and teachers of the Church, are examples of false prophets who come in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravening wolves.

What were the Pharisees doing, if they weren't keeping the commandments of the Lord?
Luke 11:42 But woe 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.
Ah.  They were paying their tithing while passing up the poor, thus they had no love of God.  "Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye did it not unto me."

Remember, "with the same measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you again."  The same standard by which we measure out what we will give to others when they ask will be the same standard by which God measures out what we will receive of him when we ask.  If you give all, you receive all.  If you give little, you receive little.  If you give not, you receive not.

If men - any men - come to us and say, pertaining to the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ which all of us have before us in the word of God, "believe it not; do it not," then we know from whence they come (Moroni 7).  Of course, there are many ways to phrase "believe it not; do it not."  The most common ways to phrase "believe it not; do it not" are "that's not what that means; that's not to be taken literally; he didn't mean that that way."

For those who may have been innocently led astray by men who have taught you to break the commandments of Jesus Christ as found in the word of God, you have a choice: follow the men, or obey the Lord.  You cannot do both, for such men oppose the Lord.

And if anyone disputes or contends against these things, fighting against the word of God in defense of their treasures, that is because their hearts are upon their treasures, wherefore their treasure is their God, and their treasure shall perish with them, as it is written.
2 Nephi 9:30 But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.
For you have sold Jesus Christ for silver and for gold and for that which moth or rust corrupts or thieves break through and steal: you have broken the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ for money.

However, you can repent and be saved: cry mightily unto God for forgiveness of your sins, and from thence do all things whatsoever the Lord has commanded.
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.
3 Nephi 14
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24 Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
Luke 14
25 ¶ 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, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 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 that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
34 ¶ Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Five Actionable and Specific Commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ

How many of us want to feel more spiritually fulfilled and nourished? In the sacramental prayer for the bread, we are promised that if we will keep the Lord's commandments, we may have his spirit to be with us always.
  1. If anyone hits you on one cheek, turn the other cheek to him (Luke 6:29; Matt 5:39; 3 Nephi 12:39).
  2. If anyone takes your cloak, allow him to have your coat too (Luke 6:29; Matt 5:40; 3 Nephi 12:40).
  3. Give to every person who asks you to (Luke 6:30; Matt 5:42; 3 Nephi 12:42).
  4. Do not ask for your stuff back from anyone who takes it (Luke 6:30).
  5. Lend to everyone who asks, do not ask for it back (#4), and hope that you do not get paid back (Luke 6:34-35; Matt 5:42; 3 Nephi 12:42).
Can you be more spiritually nourished and fulfilled than to have the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ with you always?

Is having his spirit to be with us always worth doing these specific and actionable things?

What would stop us from always doing these things?

Can we follow Jesus Christ if we refuse to do these things he said to do?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Why Procrastinate the Day of Your Release?

To follow up an important implicit point in the post on the relationship between grace and works: the point at which we break God's commandments as we know them - whether given in the Sermon on the Mount or directly to us - is the point at which we have yielded to, or agreed with, another power.  You believed that power over God, you wanted what it offered over what God is offering, so that power persuaded you to choose to turn aside from the path of Godliness.

God cannot save you from what you want and have chosen; that violates your agency, thus you cannot be saved in your sins.  You knowingly chose to yield to that power over God, thus it takes possession of you and you obey it.  As it is written, whatever spirit possesses you when you exit this life shall have power to possess you in the next world - whether that spirit is the spirit of the devil, or the holy spirit.

God can, however, save you when, or if, you change your mind and decide to yield to him instead, and strive in your might to obey him in the thing you have sinned in, rebelling against the evil spirit you have yielded to and allowed to possess you.  Thus God can save you from your sins when you strive against the evil spirit with all your might and do cast your sins away from you and ask God to forgive you and rescue you from them.

Therefore, why not do it now?  Why not repent of all your sins now, and call upon God in your might that he might forgive you and rescue you from the evil you have yielded to, while you walk with all diligence according to God's commandments in the Sermon on the Mount?  Why procrastinate the day of your release?

The Relationship Between Grace and Works

The works commanded in the Sermon on the Mount are merely training exercises, helping us to recognize, agree to, and realize the principles of love.  Doing them teaches us what manner of being we are, and what manner of being God is.  Knowing what manner of being God is is important because salvation consists of being assimilated into his likeness and being.  In plain terms, salvation consists of becoming God.  That's the point of being one in him, having the same spirit, the same mind, the same heart, mutually indwelling, knowing all things.

If you are saved, you cease to be you as you have always known you and you become him.  You will know all that he knows, and you will feel as he feels, and you will freely do what he would freely do.  Therefore you have to be persuaded, fully, competently, that to be what God is is better, or more desirable, than to be what you are, otherwise you will not freely choose to be what he is; you do not want it, and thus he cannot make you what he is without denying your agency - erasing against your will those things which separate you from him, those things you aren't persuaded he is right about, those things you have yielded to another power.

So what he is looking for are people who will always freely do that which is good, of their own free will and choice, for there is no external government among the Gods.  You either govern yourself wholly according to the good or you aren't a God - you aren't ready, not yet being persuaded, not yet agreeing.  You remain you, because you don't want to be what God is.  You do not wish to love as he loves.

And we show that this is what we want - we show that we agree to his terms and conditions - when we lay down our all - everything we have and are - in sacrifice in the exercise of keeping all his commandments as contained in the Sermon and delivered to us directly, thus showing that we are, in fact, fully persuaded that he is trustworthy, and that to be him is better than to be us.  Then is his grace - ability to give a good gift - sufficient for us, for we have shown before all that we agree to be saved, even unto ourselves; we know by our own experience through keeping his commandments what it is we are asking for, and are therefore competent, or able, to receive it.

Otherwise, we aren't worthy of the gift he would give, which gift is his own being, all that he is and has, including his love.

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One of the interesting things about the name-title יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (Yehovah Elohiym; KJV: LORD God) is that it can be translated "He who causes the Gods to be," or, more succinctly, "The Godmaker."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

So What Is the Higher Law?

"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."

The Golden Rule is the highest law; it is the definition of the behavior of Love.  The rest of the Sermon on the Mount are pedagogical examples of how to apply this law because by our fallen and carnal nature we do not possess Love.  The Sermon is not an exhaustive list of all the ways to do good and to love all, and by the nature of this law it cannot be made exhaustive.

How do you refuse the higher law?

You do not believe it when it is set before you and you do not do it of your own free will and choice because you do not believe in Christ nor love him, but you do believe in and love the power of money, the power of debts, the power of ostracization and threats thereto, the power of spin or judicious deception, the power of the myriad ways to be unpleasant to someone to get them to bend to your will.

Or maybe you simply think it's too extreme to be true.  Surely God doesn't intend for us to do things that simply don't work, one may think.  But that's just another way of saying what was said in the preceding paragraph.

So God may offer something else so that those who will be saved may be.  A teacher, a schoolmaster to bring those few who actually do believe unto Christ.

The law of the Church in the D&C, given to a people who had the Sermon before them, looks an awful lot like the 10 commandments, doesn't it?

There's a reason for that.

On the other hand, King Benjamin's sermon, given to those who were under the Law of Moses, bears a strong resemblance to the Sermon on the Mount.

There's a reason for that, too.

Of the two groups, the Church and the people of King Benjamin, which one was on the way up?  And which one was on the way down?

Which one do you wish to emulate?

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Nightmare

I had a horrible nightmare.  I dreamed I was teaching the Sermon on the Mount to a group that was corporately symbolized by a particular poster of some repute on the "LDS Remnant (Awakening)" Facebook forum who, with utter disbelief in the Lord's commands and promises, informed me that the Sermon is crazy, that the Sermon doesn't work, that we can't support idlers and freeloaders, especially those who are walking according to the Sermon, and don't I understand that everyone must work at a job for their daily bread and that there is no other virtuous and workable system for everyone's needs and desires to be fulfilled?  I tried to explain that this is not true, that God gives to his faithful servants what they need, that he can turn stones into bread, and that when there is a community of faithful servants, they work together to till the land for their needs, but I was mocked by scornful laughter as he / they turned his / their back and spoke of other matters.

As I awoke, I understood that mockery will be the reaction to the Sermon; that they will not do it, but some few might hear.

(Matthew 13:1-23)