by and by; or, How long does it take?
I got to talking to a friend yesterday and shared with him the following:
Alma 32:42 uses the term “by and by.”
and because of your diligence | and your faith | and your patience | with the word | in nourishing it | that it may take root in you |
behold | by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof | which is most precious | which is sweet | above all that is sweet | and which is white | above all that is white | yea | and pure | above all that is pure | and ye shall feast upon this fruit | even until ye are filled | that ye hunger not | neither shall ye thirst |
This term means “immediately; at once” such as in the following example: “When…persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended” (Matt. 13:21.) So, when Alma says, “Behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof,” he is really saying, “Behold, immediately ye shall pluck the fruit thereof.”
Diligence, faith and patience with the word is required to nourish it, and then it takes root in you. In the very instant that it takes root in you, the seed immediately springs up as a tree bearing fruit.
but if ye will nourish the word | yea | nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow | by your faith | with great diligence | and with patience | looking forward to the fruit thereof | it shall take root |
and behold | it shall be a tree | springing up unto everlasting life | (Alma 32:41)
and now | my brethren | i desire | that ye shall plant this word in your hearts | and as it beginneth to swell | even so | nourish it by your faith |
and behold | it will become a tree | springing up in you unto everlasting life | (Alma 33:23)
There is no lag time. In the very moment that the seed takes root, it instantly becomes “a tree springing up unto everlasting life.”
Normal, earthly trees take years to grow into maturity. But the heavenly seed, the word of God, is the seed of a plasma tree of life and light, which operates in an instantaneous manner, in very much the same way in which lightning creates an instantaneous “tree” of light when it strikes, branching out in many directions.
o then | is not this real |
i say unto you |
yea | because it is light | and whatsoever is light | is good | because it is discernible | therefore | ye must know | that it is good |
and now | behold | after ye have tasted this light | is your knowledge perfect | (Alma 32:34)
The seed, then, is made up of light, meaning that it shines in darkness. In other words, it is a plasma tree seed.
This plasma seed is planted into our heart soil by our faith, but first a place must be made in the soil by our belief.
even if ye can no more than desire to believe | let this desire work in you | even until ye believe in a manner | that ye can give place for a portion of my words |
now | we will compare the word unto a seed |
now | if ye give place | that a seed may be planted in your heart |
behold | if it be a true seed | or a good seed | if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief | that ye will resist the spirit of the lord |
behold | it will begin to swell within your breasts | (Alma 32:27-28)
“Giving place” is simply making a depression or digging a hole in our heart soil so that the seed may be planted. We “give place” by our belief in the seed. Nevertheless, it is not our belief that plants the seed, but our faith. Previously on this blog, I taught that our belief plants the word, (which I now believe to be erroneous.) I now believe that our belief only creates a place in the heart soil so that the seed may be planted. Planting the seed appears to require more than just belief.
The Zoramites understood Alma’s words better than we do today. Alma explained to them what happens when the seed is planted, but he didn’t fully explain how to plant the seed. For example, Alma explained how to “give place” for the seed (by belief) and then went on to explain what happens to the seed when they plant it by their faith (it swells) and what happens when they nourish it by their faith, diligence and patience (it takes root and becomes a tree bearing fruit.) He also explained to the Zoramites how to nourish the seed by their faith (by taking thought, looking forward with an eye of faith, etc.) But he never got around to explaining the part about how to plant the seed, nor the specifics of what to look forward to, etc. This is why we find the Zoramites asking him the following:
now | after alma had spoken these words | they sent forth unto him | desiring to know | whether they should believe in one god | that they might obtain this fruit | of which he had spoken | or how they should plant the seed | or the word | of which he had spoken | which | he said | must be planted in their hearts | or in what manner they should begin to exercise their faith | (Alma 33:1)
So, they wanted to know “how they should plant the seed,” which Alma had not fully explained to them (in Alma 32.) They understood that they needed to “begin to exercise their faith” in order to plant the seed, but they didn’t know how to do that, nor whether they should put their faith in one or multiple deities (for they were idolaters.)
Alma then proceeded to give them examples of prayer or worship, showing that Zenos prayed (worshiped) everywhere and was heard because of his sincerity, because he prayed to be heard by God and not by men, and also because of God’s Son. He also cited Zenock, showing that the word was in the Son of God. Finally, he gave Moses as an example, pointing their minds to the brazen serpent incident. All of this showed to them that they needed to look to Christ on the cross, pray to (or worship) God in all places and at all times (for when are we not to worship God?) and carry with them always a belief in the atonement, resurrection and judgment of Christ.
In other words, there is a continuous, three-fold action that is required in the exercise of faith: 1) We must cry to God the Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, always, without ceasing. 2) We must look to Christ on the cross continually, always remembering His body and His blood. 3) We must yield to the enticings of the Holy Ghost, which is what “hearkening to the voice of the Lord” consists of. This last step includes both listening to and believing the word of God, as well as obeying it.
So, we are to constantly look to Christ with our left prefrontal lobes, and we are to constantly hearken unto the voice of the Lord with our right prefrontal lobes, feeling His words, which hearkening causes us to repent of our sins and obtain a broken heart and contrite spirit, becoming meek and lowly in heart, etc.
and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice | but ye were past feeling | that ye could not feel his words | (1 Ne. 17:45)
And finally, we are to constantly cry to God the Father in the name of His Son, either using our audible voice or the voice in our minds, making sure that the words we speak audibly, or in our minds, match the feelings in our hearts, so that we do not become as the hypocrites.
This is what faith is and this is how you exercise it, as I currently understand it.
These three things, which invoke the entire Godhead, are to be done constantly, without ceasing or fainting (losing spirit or courage.)
ye must pray always | and not faint | (2 Ne. 32:9)
Doing these things causes the seed to be planted in the depression we have made in our heart soil by our belief. And once the seed is planted by this triple action of faith, the seed begins to swell, grow and sprout tender blades. In other words, it begins to shine or give off light, “enlightening the understanding,” so that we will know that it is a good, or a true, seed, for “truth shineth in darkness.”
jesus christ | his son | he that ascended up on high | as also he descended below all things | in that he comprehended all things | that he might be in all and through all things | the light of truth | which truth shineth | … |
the light shineth in darkness | (D&C 88:5-7,49)
Nevertheless, despite the tender blades which it has sprouted, it still has got no root, which it must have in order to obtain the fruit of the tree. Alma is emphatic about the need for the seed to take root:
and behold | as the tree beginneth to grow | ye will say |
let us nourish it with great care | that it may get root | that it may grow up | and bring forth fruit unto us |
and now | behold | if ye nourish it with much care | it will get root | and grow up | and bring forth fruit | but if ye neglect the tree | and take no thought for its nourishment |
behold | it will not get any root | and when the heat of the sun cometh | and scorcheth it | because it hath no root | it withers away | and ye pluck it up | and cast it out |
now | this is not | because the seed was not good | neither is it | because the fruit thereof would not be desirable | but it is | because your ground is barren | and ye will not nourish the tree | therefore | ye cannot have the fruit thereof |
and thus | if ye will not nourish the word | looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof | ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life | but if ye will nourish the word | yea | nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow | by your faith | with great diligence | and with patience | looking forward to the fruit thereof | it shall take root |
and behold | it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life | (Alma 32:37-41)
So, the process remains the same. The word is planted by diligent and patient faith (the triple action described above) and it is also nourished by the same.
Now, the seed only takes root when the tares are uprooted, for “the tares choke the wheat” (D&C 86:3), which tares are the chains of hell (another plasma plant), and which are only removed by exercising faith unto repentance. The Lamanite king asked Aaron:
what shall I do | that I may be born of god | having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast | and receive his spirit | (Alma 22:15)
To which Aaron answered:
if thou desirest this thing | if thou wilt bow down before god | yea | if thou wilt repent of all thy sins | and will bow down before god | and call on his name | in faith | believing that ye shall receive | then shalt thou receive the hope | which thou desirest | (Alma 22:16)
Thus, it is the very instant in which a man finally exercises faith unto repentance and receives a remission of his sins, that the tares are removed from his heart and the wheat seed that is planted there finally puts forth its plasma roots, springing up into a tree of everlasting life, bearing fruit.
Which brings me to my next topic.
The manifestation of a remission of sins
There is a manifestation appointed to the people of God by which they will know that they have received a remission of sins. In D&C section 20, Joseph Smith is called to be the first elder of the church. The revelation then says:
after it was truly manifested unto this first elder | that he had received a remission of his sins | he was entangled again in the vanities of the world | but after repenting | and humbling himself sincerely | through faith | god ministered unto him by an holy angel | (D&C 20:5-6)
The manifestation that Joseph Smith received, that showed him that he had received a remission of his sins, was the First Vision. If you look at all of the accounts of the First Vision, you will notice that one of them speaks of it in terms of a quest for forgiveness:
Joseph Smith was not satisfied with the programs of redemption taught by the religious leaders in the community where he lived. After investigating the basic beliefs of various denominations, he stated that he “cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom” he could go. While calling upon the Lord, the young man testified, “I was filld with the spirit of God and the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy way walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life.” (Joseph Smith’s Recitals of the First Vision, by Milton V. Backman, Jr., Ensign, Jan. 1995.)
The manifestation of the remission of sins, then, is the ministration of angels, just as the Angel of the Lord’s presence, even Jesus Christ, ministered to Joseph. Later, Joseph stated:
During the space of time which intervened between the time I had the vision and the year eighteen hundred and twenty-three—having been forbidden to join any of the religious sects of the day, and being of very tender years, and persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me—I was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament.
In consequence of these things, I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when, on the evening of the above-mentioned twenty-first of September, after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one.
So, after “he was entangled again in the vanities of the world,” Joseph again approached God in prayer, seeking a remission of sins, and once again received the ministration of angels, this time the ministering angel being Moroni. This, then, is our pattern and the key to know if we have exercised faith unto repentance.
The ministration of angels is the first fruit of the tree that the tree bears when the seed has taken root, which causes the seed to instantaneously spring up into a tree. The first fruit of such repentance is a plasma display, for this is a plasma tree, and thus the newly repented and forgiven man, who has finally begun to exercise faith, finds himself in the midst of fire (discharging plasma) and ministered to by an angel of light, whose countenance will be like lightning (discharging plasma.) And thus the remission of sins only comes by fire and by the Holy Ghost, even the ministration of angels, according to the pattern given in Helaman chapter 5, which is the pattern given to the Gentiles.
Which brings me to my next topic.
Angels gather all the elect
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the Lord said
that in the time of harvest | i will say to the reapers |
gather ye together first the wheat into my barn | and the tares are bound in bundles to be burned | (Matt. 13:29, Inspired Version)
Later, Jesus explained the parable to the apostles, saying:
the reapers are the angels | or the messengers sent of heaven | (Matt. 13:40, Inspired Version)
When the wheat is ripe, meaning that when the seed has taken root, producing fruit and the remission of sins, that person becomes one of the elect (or chosen) of God. They are then gathered by the ministration of angels. Mormon, speaking of angels, said:
for behold | they are subject unto him | to minister | according to the word of his command | showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness | and the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance | and to fulfil | and to do | the work of the covenants of the father | which he hath made unto the children of men | to prepare the way among the children of men | by declaring the word of christ unto the chosen vessels of the lord | that they may bear testimony of him | and by so doing | the lord god prepareth the way | that the residue of men may have faith in christ | that the holy ghost may have place in their hearts | according to the power thereof | and after this manner bringeth to pass | the father | the covenants | which he hath made unto the children of men | (Moro. 7:30-32)
The “chosen vessels of the Lord” are the elect of God. This is anyone who repents of his sins and comes to Christ, meaning anyone who exercised faith unto repentance. This saying does not refer to church leadership or to people with lofty titles. The elect are merely all those who hearken unto the voice of the Lord, for all those who hearken unto the voice of the Lord will repent of all their sins and cry continually unto the Lord for forgiveness and a remission of their sins, in faith, believing that they will receive, until they receive it by the appointed manifestation, which is the ministering of angels. And this principle applies to both men, women and children:
and now | he imparteth his word by angels unto men | yea | not only men | but women also |
now | this is not all | little children do have words given unto them many times | which confound the wise and the learned | (Alma 32:23)
And thus, they, the elect, become ripe to be reaped by the reapers, even the angels, and gathered. The ministering of angels, then, is the sign that one has become one of the elect of God, through the exercise of faith on the name of Christ.
behold | verily i say unto you |
the angels are crying unto the lord day and night | who are ready | and waiting | to be sent forth | to reap down the fields |
but the lord saith unto them
pluck not up the tares | while the blade is yet tender |
for verily | your faith is weak |
lest you destroy the wheat also | (D&C 86:5-6)
A blade that is yet tender is a faith that is still weak, even a seed which has sprouted, swelled and grown, but has not yet taken root. Unto such, no angels are sent, for angels are only sent to them of strong faith, even to those who have done more than just planted the seed, by their faith, but who have also continued to nourish the word, by their faith, with constant prayer, looking and hearkening, until it takes root.
And the reason why angels could destroy unripe wheat is because unless such wheat has exercised faith unto repentance, upon seeing an angel they would then have a perfect knowledge in that thing and would have no cause to believe and exercise faith (see Alma 32:18), thus frustrating the plan for their salvation, for all men are saved by faith. Nevertheless, angels are also sent to call men to repentance and sometimes that works (Alma and the sons of Mosiah) and sometimes it doesn’t work (Laman and Lemuel.) But as far as those who are striving to exercise faith and repent of their sins, angels are only sent to such people when their seeds have taken root.
How to convert charitable works of men into scriptural good works
One more little insight, which may or may not be true (you decide), and then I will end this post.
I was recently asked about the meaning of the latter part of the following scripture:
but behold | i say unto you |
that ye must pray always | and not faint |
that ye must not perform any thing unto the lord | save | in the first place | ye shall pray unto the father in the name of christ | that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee | that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul | (2 Ne. 32:9)
I explained that there were three types of works on this planet: the miraculous works of the Father, the non-miraculous works of men, and the works of the devil. Whenever a man does anything non-miraculous to benefit his fellow man, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sick and afflicted, visiting the prisoners, taking in the homeless, it is accounted as a work of man, done in the name of a man, and he has his reward, even whatsoever reward he receives in mortality, whether that be a pleasant, warm feeling, or reciprocity, or a good reputation, or whatever.
All such works are not accounted as works of righteousness, for they are not done in the name of the Lord, but in the name of a man, nor are they done in faith. Thus, they are accounted as the works of men, who shall have joy in their works for a season, and then the axe which is laid at the root of their tree will cut it down and cast it into the fire.
What Nephi is explaining in this scripture, is how we can make all our non-miraculous, but charitable works of men be accounted unto us for righteousness, or as works of the Father, by invoking the name of the Supreme Being in faith. Before we perform any such work, we must pray to God the Father in the name of the Son, that the work will be set apart, or sanctified unto us, meaning that it is accounted unto us as a work of righteousness, done in the name of God, we being a proxy, and He Himself doing the work, through us, thus ascribing all glory and honor to God. For all things must done in His name and to give glory to Him. And in this way, by praying first in this manner, asking in faith that the performance will be consecrated, or set apart, as a work of God, the performance will be for the welfare of our souls, meaning that in the day of judgment, it will be accounted as righteousness, and will be listed in our favor, as a work of faith, through our prayers of faith.
This scripture plainly shows, then, that all those who think that they are doing good works as they go about doing non-miraculous, charitable works of men, without praying in faith and invoking the name of the Lord, nor ascribing the work to God’s glory, will be quite surprised in the day of judgment to learn that none such works are listed as works of righteousness.
This is also according to the principle found in D&C 132:13-14.
and everything that is in the world | whether it be ordained of men | by thrones | or principalities | or powers | or things of name | whatsoever they may be | that are not by me | or by my word |
saith the lord |
shall be thrown down | and shall not remain after men are dead | neither in | nor after | the resurrection |
saith the lord | your god |
for whatsoever things remain are by me | and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed |
That’s all for now.