Nephi and the Word of God


 

I have often heard the term ‘word of God’ used to cover everything from scripture to the latest conference talk. Many have the mindset that they must flock to the biannual conferences to hear what the Lord has to say to them. I propose that the ‘word of God’ had a very specific meaning to Nephi and should have a similar meaning to us.

The iron rod in Lehi’s dream symbolized the word of God. So… what is the word of God? I went back through the scriptures to try to better understand the meaning of the word “word.” (Sorry, I had to do that)

 

Let’s start with the triple combination index where you find that the first reference to ‘word of God/word of the Lord’ is to 1 Nephi chapter 2 verse 3:

“And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.”

The information defined here as the ‘word of the Lord’ is a dream received by Lehi warning him to flee into the desert.  In other words, this personal revelation received through a ‘vision of the night.’

 

Why do I bring this up? Well, later in the same chapter, another similar term is used. Verse 13 states:

“Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets.  And they were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem, who sought to take away the life of my father.”

Here the reference is to ‘words of the prophets’ regarding the content of what could be considered the inspired writings of Lehi’s day. So we have ‘word of the Lord’ and ‘words of the prophets.’ It seems to me that this is a somewhat subtle suggestion that these two sources should be considered as different classes of the knowledge we receive from God. The ‘word of God’ being direct and personal while the ‘words of the prophets’ being delivered through another person and are written down for others benefit. Further, in verse 16, Nephi tells us of his own desire to gain a testimony of his father’s words:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.”

Again, Nephi delineates the source of the ‘word.’ We have defined, now, the word of God and the words of prophets. I found that I could fairly consistently apply this idea to the use of the term in the scriptures, especially in 1st and 2nd Nephi. Clearly, though, the primary meaning of the ‘word of God’ as used by Nephi is personal revelation. That communication with God that comes directly to us, not through a third party or the written word.

Alma taught that there are two means that we can receive truth. In Alma 5:45-47 we find:

“And this is not all.  Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself?  Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true.  And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?

Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God.  Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself.  And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

And moreover, I say unto you that it has thus been revealed unto me, that the words which have been spoken by our fathers are true, even so according to the spirit of prophecy which is in me, which is also by the manifestation of the Spirit of God.”

Alma speaks here of the ‘spirit of revelation’ and the ‘spirit of prophecy.’ The former is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit as a personal witness of the truth. The latter is a witness that the scriptures are true. In other words, by the spirit of revelation we gain a personal testimony of the truth of the things of God. By the spirit of prophecy, we gain a testimony of the truth of that which was written by others.

 

So what is my definition of ‘scripture?’ The words of inspired men that requires the spirit of prophecy to gain a testimony of the truthfulness therein. If one seeks for the spirit of prophecy, they are promised to receive a validation of the truth found in the words of those that have gone before us. It is a supplement to the word of God delivered directly to us through the spirit of revelation.

 

Why is this important? Am I simply wresting the scriptures? You can draw your own conclusion regarding the words that bring us salvation. I have come to recognize, in my own life, that the iron rod is the word of God and the word of God is personal revelation.

 

Following their miraculous departure from Egypt, the children of Israel were invited to ‘sanctify’ themselves in preparation for meeting the Lord. Instead of adequately preparing themselves, the people feared (Exodus 20:19):

“…And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

This same fear is prevalent today as we seek to ‘hide’ behind the mantle of the prophet rather than sanctify ourselves to enter the presence of God and hear His words. Gods calls upon all of us to knock. In response, He will open the door. The importance of this sanctification is core to the gospel defined by Christ to the Nephites as we read in 3 Nephi 27: 9-21 that:

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.

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.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel…”

We all must be ‘sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost’ in order to be prepared to enter this kingdom. This sanctification through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is also defined as a path the wisdom and knowledge. In D&C 39:6 we read:

 

“And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom.”

 

The necessity of a personal revelatory relationship with God is the same message as I proposed in my previous post on the mysteries of God. It is not the role of the prophet to stand as an intermediary between us and the Lord, not at the time of Moses and not at the time of Thomas. If we, indeed, strive to receive ‘all things,’ the above scripture should be our roadmap.

 

When Joshua complained about Eldad and Medad prophesying in the camp of Israel, Moses responded (Numbers 11:29):

“…would God that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!”

All of the Lord’s people are to take His spirit upon them. It was not until after the sanctifying baptism of fire, both at the time of Peter and at the time of Nephi and Lehi, that we read of the marvelous things that were spoken by those who had been baptized by fire. The same gospel calls upon us to come unto Christ, be baptised by water and then fire and the Holy Ghost and receive of His wisdom and knowledge.

 

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16 Comments

  1. Great points. I hadn’t ever thought of the “word of God” in this way.

  2. Great points Spek…

    I think the Moses analogy is quite pertinent. In fact I think that latter day Israel is struggling with the exact same problem that ancient Israel struggled with.

    We are afraid to go up the mount and speak face to face with God, we would prefer that a Prophet be our intercessor.

    I think that is the point Brigham Young was making in the following statement, if we are totally obedient to the commandments and follow the brethren without ever learning how to receive personal revelation, that very act of blind obedience, even if we are righteously following a righteous leader would thwart the purposes of God in our own salvation… we still cannot enter into the highest kingdom:

    “What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, TRUSTING THEIR ETERNAL DESTINY IN THE HANDS OF THEIR LEADERS WITH A RECKLESS CONFIDENCE THAT IN ITSELF WOULD THWART THE PURPOSES OF GOD IN OUR SALVATION, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way.”

    Regarding your following observation:

    “Clearly, though, the primary meaning of the ‘word of God’ as used by Nephi is personal revelation. That communication with God that comes directly to us, not through a third party or the written word.”

    I would submit that even though the “primary” meaning of the term “word of God” does have reference to personal revelation in the scriptures, particularly when the fulness of the Gospel and associated spiritual gifts are being manifest in the Church, God can and does communicate directly with us sometimes via the written word of God. And perhaps that is why in some parts of the scriptures, the term “word of God” does actually have reference to the “written” word of God:

    W of M 1: 11, 17
      11 And they were handed down from king Benjamin, from generation to generation until they have fallen into my hands. And I, Mormon, pray to God that they may be preserved from this time henceforth. And I know that they will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them, out of which my people and their brethren shall be judged at the great and last day, according to the word of God which is written.

    Alma 17: 2, 4, 8, 12, 14, 18
      2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.

    Joseph Smith reiterated the what Alma and Mormon had to say, that the written word in the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the “Word of God”:

    A of F 1: 8
      8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon of Mormon to be the word of God.

  3. OWIW,
    I agreem that the use of the term broadens as you work through the scriptures. For that reason, I made the comment about it’s specific use in 1st and 2nd Nephi. In my research, I was most interested in how to characterize the iron rod vision given to Lehi and Nephi. What is the purpose and definition of the iron rod in the context of leading us to the love of God? I still submit that it is having a revelatory relationship with our God should be the primary focus.

  4. Amen Brother, I agree with your proposition.

    I was just making note of the broader definition because virtually everything I write is done from the perspective of the written word of God and it is not necessarily wrong to refer to God’s Holy Word that has been written, as the Word of God also.

    I suspect that one point of difference that we have is that I feel that we live during a time when blindness in part is over all Israel. The term for it in our generation is “hidden darkness”, where we think we are walking in light when in fact we are walking in darkness.

    This is, in my view, why the gifts of the Spirit are not as prevalent today as they were during past dispensations. I personally do not believe that people are currently parting the heavens and getting their calling and election.. and this is why I believe that deliverance needs to come to the Church as a whole and to each of us as individuals to bring God’s people back into the light…. you, I suspect have a more hopeful viewpoint on the current state of the Church… which is great.

    Hopefully I am wrong and you are correct. Either way, we certainly should be striving to receive the word of God in the sense the Nephi used the phrase as you have pointed out and to come up to the top of the Mountain to speak with directly with God.

  5. I really enjoyed this post. It did give a fresh perspective on the verse discussed. In response to Onewhoiswatching’s comments, I certainly understand your concerns. I have prayed about these things, and it has been shown me that the Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency do hold the keys to performing correct and true ordinances, and those ordinances (baptism, the temple) have been kept correct and are being performed on a much larger scale than has happened at any other time I am aware of. In this respect, the gifts of the spirit are remarkably widespread and the LDS Church is moving in a good direction. I also recognize, however, that our failure to live the law of consecration has reduced our access to revelation and the gifts of the spirit. Many like to quote Tolstoy and his statements regarding Mormonism and it’s inevitable success. They forget to recognize Tolstoy put a condition on his prediction: that the Mormons stay true to their principles. Tolstoy was an anarchist, and he was clearly complementing Joseph Smith’s economic principles rather than his theology. Evidence of this can be found at http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2002/01/21/020121fa_FACT1?currentPage=13 (I actually have to admit a distaste for the New Yorker, but this is one of the few places I’ve seen the Tolstoy comment put into context). Of course, the Law of Consecration is not the only revelation we have rejected, and this has further darkened our minds.

    So, I guess I agree more with Spektator – the LDS Church is on the correct path, but we are just not as far along it as we should be. I also like the idea of the iron rod being personal revelation. Joseph Smith, when commenting on a particular translation of the Bible he had claimed: “I have got the oldest book in the world; but I have got the oldest book in my heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost.” I think this further supports Spektator’s post!

  6. I have been following this blog for a month or so and have enjoyed it very much. I would like to point out a few things I have observed.
    It’s interesting to see the varying levels of descent everyone is comfortable with.

    Spektor talks of how many in the church think they can follow the prophet and be saved. He points out that everyone will have to have there own testimony and personal revelation to ultimately be saved. When you see this quote by Wilford Woodruff what are your thoughts? “I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the church to lead you astray….” (Discoursed of Wilford Woodruff PP 212-113)
    “My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anythings, an it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it …But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray” (Conf Report Oct 1960 p 78.)
    This quote may be a pretty good reason for the bulk of LDS people to feel comfortable doing as they are told and not worrying about studying for themselves. Now when a “Prophet of God” is telling everyone to grab onto his arm made of flesh you still will not question if he is inline or not?

    And then theres Joseph Owens who said that the “Prophet of God” (Brigham Young) was “Exploring” the concept of the Adam God doctrine. Now let me see if I get this right. The only man with the keys to receive revelation for the whole church and the one who should be talking face to face with God if he is a prophet like Joseph Smith can’t even get the nature of God right?? If he is an inspired leader of the church then he wouldn’t be “forcing” this concept on you, he would be entitled to teach it to you as Gods mouth piece. If Prophets of God “Explore” doctrine rather than ask God for the answer then why would you want one in the first place? Yet you will not question whether the leadership of the church is inline…

    When section 124 speaks of the possibility of the church being rejected with there dead, it is still not a possibility that the church could go astray…? It was a possibility then but not now..?

    As I have monitored this blog and the comments I have seen open minds to a certain sacred point. Then it shuts down. I have seen people tell other people they are out of line for having the audacity to hint that the pride cycle could affect us like it did the people of the Book of Mormon.
    I have a challenge for anyone that would like it. Find a time when the lord commanded the people to live consecration. Then show me a time when the people did not live it and did not go into apostasy..?

    I may seem flippant but I ask these questions in all sincerity. Thank you for letting me observe your thoughts and please let me know what you think of mine. Always remember defensiveness is simply an aggressive form of fear.

  7. interested,
    Very good questions. I agree with your comments. My position is that the moment ‘follow the prophet’ replaces ‘come unto Christ;’ the body of believers is in jeopardy.

    Let me make a couple of things clear. I do not think that church is on the right path. If you have seen my website (www.fulness.com) you will find that I believe that there is strong scriptural evidence that the church has rejected the fulness of the gospel and is in apostasy; exactly as God prophesied.

    The church has been under condemnation since section 84 of the D&C was given. President Benson reaffrimed this on several occasions. Has this been revoked? Not to my knowledge.

    I also believe that the ability to live the law of consecration is predicated on our ability to receive the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost just as it was given in the period after Christ’s mortal ministry and after his visit to the Nephites. Until we purify and sanctify ourselves, we do not have the mindshare to live as one.

  8. Spektator,
    Thank you for clarifying. I have read your fullness article and forwarded it to friends. I must admit I had forgotten that you were the author. When Mr Owen said “he agrees with you that the LDS church is on the right path” I assumed that was your opinion. My apologies.
    I wonder where the Anarchist stands on such matters..? The definition of anarchy that I think of does not fit the structure of the church that Joseph Smith restored I don’t think… I will need to study the concept of anarchy more fully. OR is the concept of anarchy only for matters of Government?

  9. No problem, Interested. I am a newbie in these parts.

    It is the lot of humans to deal with conflict. Joseph Owens prays and gets an answer that the church is on the right path. I pray and receive an opposite answer. I fast, pray, and study some more, and get the same answer again. More prayer and fasting results in a strong confirmation of the answer I received.

    Is it that we weren’t asking the same question? Is it that Joseph;s path and mine require different answers? I have moved away from the idea that anyone who gets an answer different from mine is obviously receiving infromation from the adversary. I now consider the possibility that God directs each of us through a path that gives us the experience we need to progress.

    Many are happy and secure in the church. They are not interested in the implications of topics discussed on blogs like this. If they pray and receive a peaceful confirmation from the spirit, does that mean I will get the same answer? No, we are each on a journey to acquire knowledge and wisdom and prepare for the next domain we will more into. Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good.

    What is anarchy?
    Here is the definition from dictionary.com:

    1. a state of society without government or law.
    2. political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control: The death of the king was followed by a year of anarchy.
    3. a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society.
    4. confusion; chaos; disorder: Intellectual and moral anarchy followed his loss of faith.

    I prefer the third item. Know of any voluntary and cooperative associations in the context of Mormon doctrine? LDSA invited me to post here and promiised he would allow me to express my opinion which, of course, may or may not be in line with his.

  10. Just to clarify for interested33:

    This blog is obviously pretty open and the rules laid out at https://ldsanarchy.wordpress.com/about/ do not define any “sacred point.” The views I have expressed are completely my own and have been entirely unsolicited (in fact, I’m waiting for someone to tell me to shut up, which I will for awhile). I stand by my views but anyone is welcome to disagree. I do have my own “sacred points,” but I have never imposed them onto anyone else.

    I apologize to Spektator for misrepresenting views I obviously misunderstood. My misunderstanding came in part from Onewhoiswatching’s previous comment, but I should have done my own research before assuming anything.

    I am perfectly willing to defend the idea of being a political anarchist while at the same time being loyal to an organized religion (you just have to recognize the importance of not imposing your religion on others) but there are many who would argue with me.

    I’ll shut up now.

    Joseph

  11. Joseph

    I am the one to blame for the misunderstanding. I made some assumptions about Spektators views that were obviously not totally accurate.

    Perhaps I would do well to let people speak for themselves.

  12. MR Joseph Owen I enjoy a lively debate and don’t mean to offend.
    I did see that OWIW started the assumptions which is fine I should have paid better attention as well. I am fine with you believing in organized religion and anything else for that matter. Because we all come hear to stimulate thought and debate issues I was wondering what your thoughts were on the words of the “Prophets”.
    When you said that the “Prophet of God” (Brigham Young) was “Exploring” the concept of the Adam God doctrine. What did you mean by exploring?If the Prophet is the only man with the keys to receive revelation for the whole church and the one who should be talking face to face with God if he is a prophet like Joseph Smith then should the Adam God doctrine be considered exploration or revelation? If it is exploration and he chose not or wasn’t able to speak with God on the nature of God then wouldn’t that beg the question why do we need a Prophet? If he is an inspired leader of the church then he wouldn’t be “forcing” this concept on you, he would be entitled if not required to teach it to you as Gods mouth piece wouldn’t he?

  13. No apologies necessary.

    I do beleive that the gifts of the spirit are a requirement of the true church of Jesus Christ. If one reads the criteria found in 3rd Nephi chapter 27, one finds that the church must exhibit the works of God. Just as Moroni states, we should expect the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the children prophesying, etc. Do we really have thonse things prevalent in the chruch today?

    Joseph, when you say that these gifts are ‘remarkably widespread,’ what do you mean? Can you give some examples? Could you also help me understand what you mean by the ‘church moving in a good direction’? I would like to make sure we are working on the same definition.

  14. interested33:

    I was not offended, just clarifying. It takes a lot to offend me. I also enjoy seeing the lively discussions going on here. I’m glad my comments inspired some thought and weren’t just a waste of space. I’ve tried to refrain from commenting too much this week because I like reading what others have to say and I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to dominate any conversations.

    Your question about “Prophet” with a capital “P” is an interesting one and I could end up taking too much space yet again. I’m not sure I believe in “Prophet” with a capital “P”. I believe in Joseph Smith’s explanation of a prophet: anyone who has a testimony of Christ through the Holy Ghost (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 160). Hugh Nibley used to quote Brigham Young as saying “prophecy is not an office” (sorry I don’t have a citation on this, and I know there are a lot of varied opinions about Nibley). I think this reflects my feelings pretty well. This, I think, is the challenge prophets often run into. If Isaiah and Jeremiah (or Book of Mormon prophets like Lehi and Abinidi) held any positions of authority, I don’t think the Israelites would have had any trouble accepting what they said. In fact, when Jesus Christ was on the earth, there was a recognized High Priest, and that priest (Caiaphas) was recognized has having legitimate priesthood authority, and I personally think he did. The Gospel of John seems to acknowledge this (John 11:51). Of course, this is part of the trouble Christ ran into, since He was making pretty amazing claims, but he doesn’t seem to have been part of any hierarchy. I do not believe, however, that the LDS Church is in a state of apostasy as great as was in Christ’s time. I am merely stating that the Priesthood and Priesthood offices could very well have been held up to that time.

    So those are my thoughts on Prophet with a capital P. Where you say Prophet, I would say President. While prophecy is not an office, administering in God’s Kingdom is. I see the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as administrators, and their roles as “prophets, seers, and revelators” primarily relate to that function. I think that, in theory, an ancient text could be brought to them to be translated, but that obviously hasn’t happened. I don’t know that any in the Quorum of the Twelve or First Presidency have seer stones. They wouldn’t necessarily need them for what they have been called to do.

    It is for this reason that I feel that Brigham Young could have been “exploring” ideas about God even while being President of the Church. His role was to keep the Church organized as Joseph has set forth, and to keep the ordinances going. There seem to be varying opinions on this blog as to how well he did, but I feel he did as well as could be expected. I don’t have issues with succession (and I don’t want to get to far into that issue, as that would take up way too much space). Brigham Young would not have had to see God to perform those roles. As has been pointed out, only the President can receive revelation that is binding to the whole Church, but that doesn’t happen very often, since we are not to be “commanded in all things” (D&C 58:26).

    As far as the privilege of seeing God, anyone is entitled to that, but it doesn’t happen often. I subscribe to the common idea in the LDS Church that this is because that’s part of our test. I don’t know of any President of the Church since Joseph Smith who had that happen. None have claimed to have. “Faith promoting rumors” and LDS folklore have claimed that they have, but they have never been verified by any reliable source.

    I, like spektator and Onewhoiswatching, think that there is danger in the idea of a Prophet capital “P” who receives revelation for everyone on everything. However, I do not feel that we are in as bad a shape in the LDS Church as spektator and Onewhoiswatching have indicated that they feel we are in (though they do have good points, and I do respect their views on this subject).

    So to sum up, I feel that the purpose of the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, and all leaders in the Church, is to administer (and minister). The purpose of the Church is to help with the “perfecting of the Saints” and I feel that things are on track for that. “Perfecting” doesn’t mean “instant perfection” for anyone at any level of the Church.

    Joseph Smith had a different role, and for many of his visions, he was not a President of any organization. Once he became an administrator he seemed to have less visions and had to rely more on the Holy Ghost.

    I respect the views of others who have posted and commented on this blog, but I simply do not feel that any President of the Church has varied in a significant way from what Joseph Smith taught about God and the Godhead. If a Church leader were to start promoting the idea of a Trinity as One, I would admit that we are in a state of apostasy. That hasn’t happened to my knowledge.

    I realize I haven’t covered every base here, and my arguments are not bulletproof, but I hope this clarifies where I am coming from a little.

    Spektator, I hope to try and answer your questions some other time. I didn’t just ignore them!

    Joseph

  15. Okay, I will attempt to answer spektator’s questions. They are important questions. I suppose when I mentioned gifts of the Spirit, I didn’t really have any specific ones in mind. I remember my father speaking of a number of pretty amazing things that he saw happen on his mission in South America (I am not going to relate them, due both to my imperfect memory, and also due to the personal nature of what my father shared with his family). Here in the United States it does seem that we are more concerned about earning money and looking respectable than really seeking after the gifts of the Spirit. But even here I see the Holy Ghost working not only in my life, but in the lives of many members of the Church. This occurs often as miraculous healings I have seen as a result of priesthood blessings, as well as spiritual guidance on a day to day basis. I see people become better. I realize this doesn’t give a lot of specifics, which leaves your question unanswered in a way, but nothing specific is coming to mind right now (a “stupor of thought” I guess). But I do feel it is important that we should be careful about what we demand of the Spirit. Again, the Spirit “bloweth where it listeth” (John 3:8). There are many times mentioned in the scriptures where the people are righteous, but they aren’t necessarily running out and grabbing poisonous snakes. I realize that talking about the “still small voice” has become cliche, but I also believe that if we would listen to that voice as often as we talk about it, we would be in a lot better shape. Regardless of what I might have seen in my life, that still my voice has always been the most powerful of my spiritual experiences.

    I would love to hear children prophesy more. I have heard my oldest daughter say amazing things. But it’s not just what they say. My wife and I had a child born to us that was not to stay in mortality very long. She never said anything, but just being in her presence was more powerful than anything I have ever experienced. I knew she was an incredible Being who existed long before she came into our lives, and was someone we had a great deal to learn from, and I hope we will be able to someday. I don’t often share this experience, but your question about children prophesying brought it to mind.

    I feel discouraged that I have not answered the questions better, but I hope this gives a better idea of what I meant. In terms of how the Church is on the right track, I stand by my belief in the ordinances of the Gospel. The keys for performing those ordinances are still among us, and they are being performed correctly for both the living and the dead on a much larger scale than any other time I am aware of. The Lord is working through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints for the salvation of His children. And it is important to realize that members of the LDS Church in the United States are in a minority now. I do feel that here in the U.S. the members of the LDS Church are headed for severe trials due to our rejection of so much of the Gospel revealed through Joseph Smith. We should be more earnestly seeking spiritual gifts as Moroni advised us in Moroni Chapter 10, and perhaps be less concerned about pleasing our Protestant neighbors (we should love and respect them, yes, but we don’t have to worry so much about what they think of us), or having a Mormon President of the U.S., or trying to demonstrate how wealthy Latter-Day-Saints are, or even how healthy we living the Word of Wisdom. Health was originally supposed to be a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

    Anyway, does this help at all?

  16. Joseph,
    Thanks for your followup to my questions. I could see myself making the same statement a few years ago.

    Here are some of the aspects of this question that I think are important.

    1. The gifts of the spirit are predicated faith (Moroni 7:37)
    2. The church must show forth the works of God (Third Nephi 27:10)
    3. The role of the church is to bring people to Christ (D&C 10:67-68)

    I don’t see these gifts displayed in the church; I see them displayed in the lives of individuals who exercise faith. We are not going to be saved as a church, we are going to be saved as individuals through the sanctifying blood of Jesus Christ. The role of the church is not to intercede in this process but to enable it. I have said many times that ‘come unto Christ’ has been replaced with ‘follow the prophet.’ This redirection is at the peril of us individually and collectively as a church.

    President Hinckley spoke several times on the condition of the LDS church, stating that it was in wonderful condition. He based this statement on the payment of tithing, building of temples and the renovation of downtown Salt Lake City. These are not the works of God but the works of men. As such, ‘they will have joy in their works for a season” (Third Nephi 27:11). After that it is not pretty.

    The whole purpose of the church is to make us aware of our possibility to ‘come unto Christ.’ If it is not doing that, it is not His church


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