The Only and True Doctrine


core-gospel

In my previous posts, I discussed the definition of the gospel according to the scriptures; a definition that stands at odds with the prevailing opinion expressed from the pulpit. Another area that bears consideration is the ‘doctrine of Christ.’ As with the gospel, there are three specific scriptural references that are of interest in understanding the doctrine expressed by our Lord and Savior in the scriptures.

The title of this post comes from the first of these three found in the Book of Mormon, the second book of Nephi, chapter 31. In verse 2, we read:

“Wherefore, the things which I have written sufficeth me, save it be a few words which I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ; wherefore, I shall speak unto you plainly, according to the plainness of my prophesying.”

 

Beginning with this verse, and continuing through chapter 32, verse 4, Nephi expounds on the doctrine of Christ. Given that the complete reference is fairly brief, I would strongly encourage you to read it for yourself.  I will attempt to summarize the key points of the doctrine as follows:

  • Christ showed us how we are to be obedient to the Father
  • Demonstrate unshaken faith relying on the merits of Christ
  • Follow Christ by keeping the commandments of the Father
  • Repent
  • Be baptized with water
  • Be baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost for the remission of sins
  • Endure to the end
  • The above items represent the commandments given to us to obey
  • Repentance, baptism by water and baptism by fire and by the Holy Ghost represent the gate to the strait and narrow path to eternal life.

There are few places in the scriptures which contain as much beauty, wisdom and knowledge as is found in this chapter. The promise is given to us that if we follow the commandments given us here by the Father and then ‘press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men… feasting upon the words of Christ (personal revelation) and endure to the end, we shall have eternal life.’ There is, in my opinion, no better place in the scriptures that provide a guide to how to conduct ourselves into His kingdom.

“And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.  And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end.  Amen.” (2 Nephi 31:21)

This last verse of chapter 31 carries the message, clearly and distinctly, that there is no other way to be saved in the kingdom of God; these are the commandments which we are to follow; we are, as Christ demonstrated, to be baptized by water, fire and the Holy Ghost. It also defines the previous words as the ‘only and true doctrine’ of God. From this verse I took my title for this post. How important is it that we understand and apply the only doctrine of God? What are the implications of allowing many other items to crowd in on our doctrine? God has given us here clear direction on what should be our focus and objective in our lives. This is the only and true doctrine of God.

“Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh.  And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.” (2 Nephi 32:6)

As Nephi concludes his pronouncement on the doctrine of Christ, he alerts us to the future word of doctrine that will be made available. We find the second treatment of the doctrine of Christ in his first appearance among the Nephites documented in 3 Nephi, chapter 11.

Following His selection of the twelve disciples, Christ instructs them on the baptism of water and warns them that there is to be ‘no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been (3 Nephi 11:28). To end the disputation, Christ then states:

32  And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

33  And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

34  And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

35  Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

36  And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.”

In this passage, Christ again refers to the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The doctrine of Christ, as portrayed here, is simple; repent and be baptized. Christ then calls on us to repent and ‘become as a little child’ (verse 38). What does it mean to become as a little child? I believe it refers to the innocence and faith that children exhibit.

The Savior again presents the importance of holding to His doctrine:

39  Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

40  And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates” (3 Nephi 11:39-40)

We are not to add or take away from the doctrine of Christ. I will have more to say on this.

 

Let’s move on to the third treatment of the doctrine of Christ. This is found in section 10 of the Doctrine and Covenants:

67  Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.

68  Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

69  And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.”

The message here, again, is that the doctrine of Christ connotes: His church is made up of those who repent and come unto Him. No more, no less. I would suggest that we come unto Christ through baptism, ‘…first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior, according to that which he hath commanded us…’ (Mormon 7:10)

Here again, Christ warns us not to put more or less into His doctrine. How easy is it for us to lose focus on the only and true doctrine by supplanting it with our own ‘pet’ doctrines? For some, it may be doctrine of plural marriage, for others, the doctrine of genealogy. Do you have a pet doctrine?

Adding more to the doctrine of Christ is, in my opinion, indicative of the many doctrinal books that we have on our shelves; an example of which is the 800+ page Mormon Doctrine. While this is a masterful work treating the topics of the kingdom of God, should it be touted as the doctrine of the church of Christ? Taking away from the doctrine of Christ is, again in my opinion, the rhetoric that suggests the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost can be accomplished through a Christ-like life, an imperceptible change over time.

The ‘doctrine of Christ’ is, as scripture, clearly defined and concise:

Repent, be baptized with water followed by the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. Seek revelation, humble yourselves as a little child. Endure to the end.

We may build a structure around it, we may even stipulate who may teach and preach. This does not change the core of the message contained in the doctrine of Christ.

The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is not consummate victory. It is the gate after which we must continue to seek personal revelation and endure to the end.  We are warned that this is the ‘only and true doctrine’ of Christ. We are not to add or take away from it. Doing so results in building on an unstable and shifting foundation and puts us at odds with his church as defined in scripture.

What think ye?

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What if…the Lord brought the Prophet Joseph Smith back from the dead to lead the church?


What If…?

Back when I was still collecting Marvel Comics (around 1984), there was a series called “What If…”  The What If entry of Wikipedia describes it this way:

What If, sometimes rendered as What If…?, is the title of several comic book series published by Marvel Comics, exploring “the road not traveled” by its various characters. Events in the series are considered separate from mainstream continuity in the Marvel Universe…  Some storylines involved individual characters choosing to take (or not to take) a particular action, when in “reality” they had made precisely the opposite decision. For example, a Captain America storyline published circa 1980 saw the hero being offered the opportunity to run for President of the United States as a third-party candidate. In the end, he declined the invitation. Nevertheless, issue #26 of What If (“What if Captain America became President?“) showed him accepting the nomination, and ultimately winning the 1980 Presidential Election.

This post is in the same vein as that series.

OWIW’s theory

One Who Is Watching (OWIW), one of the contributors of this blog, has written many articles on the possibility and scriptural evidence that Joseph will be returning from the dead to initiate the Third Watch.  (I don’t know if OWIW is the originator of this theory, but we’ll just say he is.)  Anyone can go to his own website to review the scriptural proofs he presents.

As I’ve considered the facts of the matter, and the circumstances we find ourselves in, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a very real possibility that Joseph may indeed be coming back.  And soon.  Real soon.

I present here six reasons why I consider this a possibility.  The first reason is based on the scriptures.  The latter reasons are based upon the revelations I have personally received from the Holy Ghost.

Reason #1: The Unfulfilled Prophecies Concerning Joseph

If you search the scriptures and start to list all of the prophecies of what Joseph was supposed to do, it becomes apparent that not everything was fulfilled.

For example, consider the prophecy of Joseph’s name being “had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people” (JS-H 1: 33.)  This prophecy indicates that there was to be no middle ground.  Either you would love him or you would hate him and this was to be systemic throughout the world, meaning that his fame (or infamy, in the case of those who hate him) would be worldwide.  Everyone would know of Joseph Smith, Jr.

However, the plain fact is that today Joseph’s fame is very limited.  Everyone has heard of Miley Cyrus, but not everyone has heard of Joseph Smith.  And of those who have heard of him, not everyone has  established a good or bad opinion of him.  Some are still out to lunch about him or just don’t care  either way.

However, for Moroni’s words to be fulfilled, Joseph Smith must do something so polarizing that the entire world both knows of him and takes a side either for or against him.  His fame would have to approach that of Moses, or, as the scriptures say, he would be have to be “like unto Moses.”  (See D&C 28: 2; 103: 16; and 107: 91.)  Such is presently not the case.  In fact, President Bush, in the short span of eight years, has beaten Joseph Smith, Jun., in both numbers of people who have heard his name and know of his deeds, as well as in terms of polarization.  This prophecy, therefore, remains unfulfilled.

I am not really okay with unfulfilled prophecies, after all, look at the following statement by the Lord:

Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.  What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.  For behold, and lo, the Lord is God, and the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever. Amen.  (D&C 1: 37-39)

My own experience with prophecies (prophecies that the Spirit has given me to speak) shows that unconditional prophecy is always fulfilled, while conditional prophecy is always fulfilled if the conditions are met.  Nevertheless, my experience also shows that it is always done in the Lord’s time.

Past, Present and Future

As the scriptures indicate that all things are before the Lord, both past, present and future, when He speaks a prophecy concerning a set of circumstances and the present has that exact set of circumstances, the prophecy still may not be referring to the present. It may, in fact, be referring chiefly to a future event in which the same set of circumstances will exist and have only minimal application to the present.

The people, then, in the present—who hear the prophecy first pronounced and look around seeing the circumstances described therein, not being the Lord and not seeing the future—naturally think the Lord is talking about now (the present) and not the future.  They wait to see the fulfillment of the prophecy, but the circumstances leave and the prophecy remains unfulfilled. Or does it?

Of course, we know from scriptural experience that the same set of circumstances, or an even more precise set of circumstances, that perfectly fits the prophecy, eventually presents itself and the prophecy fulfills itself every whit.  But before that, everyone’s faith is tested. Those who never stopped believing get vindicated, while those who doubted get astonished.

Prophecy works this way because the Lord sees everything and can talk about the past, present and future as if it were all one big present.  Everything to the Lord, therefore, is “nigh at hand” and he can (and often does) jump around the time line in a non-linear fashion while speaking.  In this way, prophecy can serve to both try (test) the faith of, as well as to generate faith in, the hearer.  And so, often there is a delay to fulfillment.

Therefore, concerning the “unfulfilled” prophecies about Joseph, it is a safe bet that everything spoken about him will be fulfilled as it was spoken. However, in order for that to happen, Joseph would have to come back from the dead.

Trans-mortal ministries and bringing the dead to life

There is scriptural precedent for trans-mortal ministries, meaning ministries that go beyond mortality.  Moses led the Israelites, but then came back at least a couple of times.  Moroni came back, Elijah came back, John the Baptist came back, and Peter, James and John also came back.  And there may be a great number of other prophets who also continued their ministry “in the flesh” after they died.

Additionally, there is scriptural precedent for bringing back the dead and restoring them to a mortal body.  I am not referring to the Resurrection, which makes us immortal, but to taking a dead man’s spirit and returning it to his body so that he lives a second, mortal life.  Lazarus experienced this.  Timothy (Nephi’s brother) experienced this.  In our own age there have been many reported “near-death” or “out-of-body” experiences that are claimed.  So, we know that bringing back Joseph and restoring him to a mortal frame is within the gospel context.  If brought back, he would then be able to fulfill all those prophecies that were spoken about him.

Reason # 2: The Joseph Smith Daguerreotype

Back in 2001, when I first discovered the Joseph Smith Daguerreotype, the Spirit indicated to me that I was working at that job specifically to find that dag.  There were only two significant things that occurred during my three months working there: the Twin Towers fell and I saw what I thought (and still continue to think) was a daguerreotype of Joseph Smith in a museum exhibition book.  Despite the impact of 911, due to the revelation the Spirit had given me concerning my purpose at that location, I thought the discovery of the daguerreotype was the more significant occurrence.

After no one paid attention to my find back then, I wondered why the Lord thought it so important to lead me to that discovery.  My understanding was that I was shown that image because I would recognize it as the Prophet and then would get the word out, showing it to others.  But I wondered, why was it important that people have a good image of the Prophet (if indeed it was the Prophet), after all, he’s dead and gone and who cares what he looked like?  The only conclusion I could come to back then was that we needed to know what he looked like so that we could recognize him when he came back.

However, it wasn’t until nearly seven years later, on this blog, that I was able to finally show the image to the world.  Again, I thought, why it is important that the image be shown now?  A possible answer in all this is that now is, or soon will be, the time that Joseph is coming back.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the daguerreotype is a real image of the Prophet.  The Holy Ghost has never revealed its origins to me.  (I suppose that I could ask God and get an answer for myself, but I haven’t done that, yet.)  What is important is that the Holy Ghost did direct me to find it, which brings up the questions as to why it is important to be able to recognize the image of Joseph and specifically, why we LDS ought to be able to recognize him now, leading to the aforementioned possible reason (Joseph’s return from the dead.)

Reason #3: The Break-up of the Government

From time to time on this blog I have told some of the revelations I have received from the Holy Ghost.  For example, back in April of this year, I published some whisperings I had received concerning the economic problems we currently find ourselves in.  (See the second comment of that post, too.)  I believe I have also published on this blog before (perhaps several times) that the U.S. government would be broken up and we would be brought into tribal anarchy.  I might have expressed myself about this subject as just issuing an opinion.  Since then, however, the Spirit has confirmed the fact.

However, this begs the questions, “What is the established pattern of the Lord for destruction upon a people and nation?  Does not He first warn them by sending prophets to them?”

So, the imminent break-up of the government could signal the imminent return of Joseph, in which he fulfills his prophetic duty of warning the wicked of our corrupt government one last time before its destruction, leaving them without excuse.

Reason #4: The Break-up of the Church

I have written before on this blog that I believe the church will be broken up and cleansed.  (See The Root Cause of the Current Financial (Monetary) Crisis and Its Solution and The dissolution of the corporate LDS Church via “gay marriage”, for example.)  This belief is based upon revelation given me of the Spirit.  (See, for example, this comment.)  I had always assumed that the Lord would clean His church in one of three scenarios, but the unannounced return of Joseph Smith would also be sufficient to break-up the church.

Reason #5: A “New Variable” from the Lord

The Spirit has indicated to me that there will be a “new variable” from the Lord that will present itself.  (See my comments on this other blog.)  All I know about this new variable is that it will initiate the church cleansing and start the process of the redemption of Zion.

There is no better way to cleanse the church from top to bottom, both member and priest, than to have Joseph return unannounced to set in order the church.  And we all know that if anyone can redeem Zion, he can.

Reason #6: Joseph Fits the Bill

Prior to the election, I met with what4anarchy and told him of these prophecies.  I explained to him that I didn’t understand how this was all going to fit because my understanding was that the church must be broken up first, before the government gets broken up.  I didn’t understand how this was to happen, as the Spirit hadn’t revealed it to me, He had only told me that it would happen. We discussed Prop 8 and my other scenarios for the cleansing and break-up of the church, but none of these seemed to fit this particular time, as the Spirit was indicating that the break-up was imminent.

However, the return of Joseph Smith does fit.

I realize that OWIW’s time line is from April 2008 to April 2009.  That is the time frame he gives for the Third Watch to begin and Joseph (and others) to return.  Personally, for the prophecies of the scriptures to be fulfilled at this time (and also the prophecies I’ve received), I’d put it more between now and the swearing in of Barack Obama as the President of the United States, i.e., from today (this post was written on December 19-21, 2008 ) to January 20, 2009.  And if I had to pick a day for Joseph to return, I’d say he’d return to life on December 23rd, his birthday.  (Btw, Happy 203rd Birthday, Joseph!)

The Proclamation

The reason for this time frame?  D&C 124: 1-14.  The proclamation that Joseph was supposed to write to the “honorable president-elect” (which never was written) must be written and delivered while there is actually a president-elect.  (Contrary to the section’s verse summary, which reads, “Joseph Smith is commanded to make a solemn proclamation of the gospel to the president of the United States, the governors, and the rulers of all nations“, the revelation itself never says that the proclamation was to go to the president, but to the “honorable president-elect”.)  The words of the revelation show that the Lord was looking at a future time, in which would be similar circumstances.  Notice this:

For it shall be given you by the Holy Ghost to know my will concerning those kings and authorities, even what shall befall them in a time to come. (D&C 124: 5)

Either the proclamation was written back then and will be sent forth this or next month, or it will be written this or next month and sent forth prior to President-Elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.  Either way, for these instructions to be complied with and this prophecy to be fulfilled at this time, there are about 30 days left for Joseph to return and issue the proclamation to the honorable president-elect Barack Obama, to the high-mined governors of the states (including the high-minded governor of Illinois, Governor Rod Blagojevich), to the kings of the nations and to the nations of the earth, i.e., to the executive branches of all the nations of the earth.

The wording of D&C 124 actually sounds to my prophetic ears as the revealed word of the Lord to Joseph upon his being raised from the dead.  In other words, if you could imagine Joseph just standing up in his restored physical, mortal body, having just been brought back from the dead, and the first words of his Lord that he hears are these:

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, I am well pleased with your offering and acknowledgments, which you have made; for unto this end have I raised you up, that I might show forth my wisdom through the weak things of the earth.  Your prayers are acceptable before me; and in answer to them I say unto you, that you are now called immediately to make a solemn proclamation of my gospel, and of this stake which I have planted to be a cornerstone of Zion, which shall be polished with the refinement which is after the similitude of a palace.  (D&C 124: 1-2)

His first mission, as recorded in this revelation, is to make this proclamation, but, as we learn later on in the revelation, he needs help from others:

And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant Robert B. Thompson help you to write this proclamation, for I am well pleased with him, and that he should be with you; let him, therefore, hearken to your counsel, and I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings; let him be faithful and true in all things from henceforth, and he shall be great in mine eyes; but let him remember that his stewardship will I require at his hands.  (D&C 124: 12-14)

The rest of the revelation includes a shopping list of elders that the Lord (perhaps) is indicating need to be returned from the dead to continue their missions in helping the Prophet fulfill his own.  Also, interestingly enough, section 124 directs the Prophet to completely organize the priesthood quorums of the church, with officers filling every part of her, from the First Presidency on down to the last quorum.

So, what if…Joseph returned?

Joseph’s return would initiate the break-up of the church.  A man suddenly showing up, saying, “Hi, I’m Joseph Smith, Jun., founder of the Mormon church” might not have an effect on people if he looked like just about anyone, but if he looked like the death mask and, perhaps, if he looked like the daguerreotype found on this blog, there would definitely be commotion among the members.

Proofs of Authenticity

There will always be people who doubt that a man could come back from the dead (even within our church), but for those who considered the possibility, they would demand some proof that he was who he said he was.

Visually, even if the man did look like both the death mask, the dag, and the paintings based on the death mask, etc., in other words, even if his appearance did have a semblance of what the majority of LDS consider Joseph to look like, there would still be doubts.  With modern plastic surgery technology, a man could disguise himself.  Or, perhaps the man is an unknown descendant of Joseph or Hyrum?  Such thoughts would be in many heads.

Hand-writing experts who came forth to compare the man’s hand-writing with Joseph’s known hand-writing, even if they said it was the same, many people would still think it could be an imposter who had practiced and practiced until he got the hand-writing of Joseph down pat.  We’ve already had experiences with forgeries, so doubts would remain.

A fingerprint would probably be the perfect way to identify the man as Joseph, but it is unlikely that fingerprints of Joseph exist.

If the man said, “I am Joseph.  Open my grave and look.  You will find no body there,” he would be ignored.  The church would not desecrate the grave of the Prophet just because some crazy man came forth with insane claims.  And even if some members had to know and in the dead of night unearthed the grave and found no body, the general membership would still doubt that it proved that the man was Joseph.

Despite any and all evidences that could be presented to show that the man was, in fact, Joseph Smith raised from the dead, the one test that LDS would use to discover the fact would be the reaction of their leaders.  If the leaders rejected the man, the LDS would reject him.  If they accepted him, they would do likewise.

“Follow the Brethren”: Not a Sufficient Mantra

The unannounced (and real) return of Joseph would break the church because there would be some, both members and leaders, who would pray to God and receive confirmation that he was who he said he was.  But there would also be others who would deny him (of both members and leaders.)  A schism would be created in the membership and among the leadership and the unanimity that we currently have would cease. (Remember, a majority decision does not have the same blessing as a unanimous decision, in the governing quorums of the church.)

Would the Brethren simply concede authority to Joseph (and to any other returned-from-the-dead elders)?  I don’t believe they would.  Some might think they were genuine, some might not.  But generally, they would probably as a majority label them impostors.  They would not be able to arrive at a unanimous consensus concerning Joseph and the others returned.  (This is an important point.)  This division would divide the members, too.  Some would claim to receive revelation that these men were who they said they were.  Excommunications of both members and priesthood leaders would be rampant.  The established order of the church would be shaken and broken up.  I’m talking of a house cleaning from top to bottom that nobody saw coming.  The mantra to “follow the brethren” would be followed by the question, “Follow which brethren? those that say Joseph is an impostor or those that say he holds the keys?”  Each member would have to rely upon the Spirit alone to figure it all out.

The Government Targets the Mormons

To make matters worse (or better?), when Joseph got around to issuing the proclamation to Barack and the nation’s governors, calling them to repentance and prophesying the destruction and break-up of this nation if they didn’t immediately make way for Zion, suddenly the government of the United States would target…the Mormons.  Think we’ve had enough bad press this year with Romney running, the FLDS raid and Prop 8?  Wait until next month when the proclamation is issued and the persecutions and round-up of Mormons begin…

Joseph would begin the process of restoring Zion and restoring Israel, but once the President and governors (the government) now targeted the saints, the cleansing and judgments upon the house of God would initiate.  The proclamation would be issued in the name of and for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by someone claiming to be its founder.  Even if the LDS leadership tried to distance itself from both the man and the proclamation, if enough members and leadership acknowledged him as Joseph, the annoyance would not be overlooked by the government.

Remember, there can be no delivery from bondage without first being in bondage!

The Prohesied Church Cleansing of Prophets and Apostles

A deliverer (Joseph), one like unto Moses, would deliver the faithful who followed him and the prophesies concerning the false prophets and apostles and bishoprics in the church would fulfill itself:

Behold, I, the Lord, have made my church in these last days like unto a judge sitting on a hill, or in a high place, to judge the nations.  For it shall come to pass that the inhabitants of Zion shall judge all things pertaining to Zion. And liars and hypocrites shall be proved by them, and they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known. And even the bishop, who is a judge, and his counselors, if they are not faithful in their stewardships shall be condemned, and others shall be planted in their stead.  (D&C 64: 37-40)

Conclusion

Now, I’m not saying that Joseph will return at this time.  All I’m saying is that if Joseph were to return at this time it would fulfill both the scriptures and the whisperings of the Spirit to me, personally.

Jesus always sends an Elias to prepare the way before Him.  However, the pattern of Elias (John the Baptist) was that he was on the scene when the Lord came the first time.  This pattern may hold out for the second Elias (Joseph).

It may be wise to keep our eyes and ears open during the next 30 days, because if someone starts claiming to be Joseph Smith, Jun., if he suddenly appears at the inauguration of Obama, blowing a trump, raising an ensign and reading from a written proclamation, even with loud proclamation, in the eyes of all the world’s television cameras, there to witness and record the historic inauguration, instead of just quickly dismissing the man as a crackpot, it may be to our benefit to take prophetic inventory and determine whether the man is a prophet, because if he is, and we don’t recognize it, we may end up on the wrong hand.

Previous Joseph Smith article: Breaking News: Joseph Smith’s Daguerrotype is scanned and uploaded

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

A Gospel Outline—Without Explanations


Note: The following is a flip-chart outline that I prepared some years ago as a visual aid to teach my children certain principles of the gospel. I do not know if it is self-explanatory to adults.  I hope to expound certain parts of it in greater detail in follow-up posts.

Page 1

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of miraculous power whereby a man or a woman may become a “possessor of all things” (D&C 50: 27-35; 46: 28-33) and have his or her calling and election made sure by overcoming the world

“Wherefore, he is possessor of all things; for all things are subject unto him, both in heaven and on the earth, the life and the light, the Spirit and the power, sent forth by the will of the Father through Jesus Christ, his Son.  But no man is possessor of all things except he be purified and cleansed from all sin.  And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.  But know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask; and as ye are appointed to the head, the spirits shall be subject unto you.  Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand, and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God.  And it shall be given unto you, power over that spirit; and you shall proclaim against that spirit with a loud voice that it is not of God—not with railing accusation, that ye be not overcome, neither with boasting nor rejoicing, lest you be seized therewith.  He that receiveth of God, let him account it of God; and let him rejoice that he is accounted of God worthy to receive.  And by giving heed and doing these things which ye have received, and which ye shall hereafter receive—and the kingdom is given you of the Father, and power to overcome all things which are not ordained of him—”  (D&C 50: 27-35)

“And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit; that unto some it may be given to have all those gifts, that there may be a head, in order that every member may be profited thereby. He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh. And again, I say unto you, all things must be done in the name of Christ, whatsoever you do in the Spirit; and ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with. And ye must practise virtue and holiness before me continually. Even so. Amen.”  (D&C 46: 28-33)

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Upon Condition of Repentance

Faith in Jesus leads to repentance and repentance activates justification (D&C 88: 38-39; 138: 19.)

Justification activates everything else.

Steps of repentance: recognition of sin, godly sorrow, confession, ask forgiveness, restitution, forsake sin, receive forgiveness.

“And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.  All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified.”  (D&C 88: 38-39)

“And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance.”  (D&C 138: 19)

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Powers of the Holy Ghost

1)      Justification – guiltless state, forgiveness of sin

a)      Justification without the covenant of baptism – will fall from grace (D&C 20: 37; 130: 23)

b)      Justification with the covenant of baptism – possible to fall from grace (D&C 20: 32-34)

c)      Permanent Justification – cannot fall from grace (3 Nephi 28: 39; 2 Peter 1: 10)

2)      Purification – abhorrence of sin, no more attraction to sin, no more desire to sin

a)      Purification without the covenant of baptism – will fall from grace (D&C 20: 37; 130: 23)

b)      Purification with the covenant of baptism – possible to fall from grace (D&C 20: 32-34)

c)      Permanent Purification – cannot fall from grace (3 Nephi 28: 39; 2 Peter 1: 10)

3.      Sanctification – desire to do good continually (Mosiah 5: 2), meaning to do the works of Christ, meaning to work by the power of the Holy Ghost (Moroni 10: 25)

a)      Sanctification without the covenant of baptism – will fall from grace (D&C 20: 37; 130: 23)

b)      Sanctification with the covenant of baptism – possible to fall from grace (D&C 20: 32-34)

c)      Permanent Sanctification – cannot fall from grace (3 Nephi 28: 39; 2 Peter 1: 10)

And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.”  (D&C 20: 37)

“A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him.”  (D&C 130: 23)

“But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God; therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also.”  (D&C 20: 32-34)

“Now this change was not equal to that which shall take place at the last day; but there was a change wrought upon them, insomuch that Satan could have no power over them, that he could not tempt them; and they were sanctified in the flesh, that they were holy, and that the powers of the earth could not hold them.”  (3 Nephi 28: 39)

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”  (2 Peter 1: 10)

“And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”  (Mosiah 5: 2)

“And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.”  (Moroni 10: 25)

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Gifts of the Spirit

1) The gift to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

2) The gift to believe on the words of those who know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.

3) The gift to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.

4) The gift to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.

5) The gift of the word of wisdom, that all may be taught to be wise.

6) The gift of the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to have knowledge.

7) The gift to have faith to be healed.

8 ) The gift to have faith to heal.

9) The gift of the working of miracles.

10) The gift to prophesy.

11) The gift of the discerning of spirits.

12) The gift to speak with tongues.

13) The gift of the interpretation of tongues.

14) The gift to discern all the gifts given to the church lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.  (D&C 46: 13-27.  See also Moroni 10: 8-16; 1 Corinthians 12: 4-10.)

“To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.  To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.  And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.  And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.  And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom.  To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge.  And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed; and to others it is given to have faith to heal.  And again, to some is given the working of miracles; and to others it is given to prophesy; and to others the discerning of spirits.  And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues; and to another is given the interpretation of tongues.  And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.  And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.”  (D&C 46: 13-27)

“And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.  For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom; and to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; and to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; and again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles; and again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things; and again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits; and again, to another, all kinds of tongues; and again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues.”  (Moro. 10: 8-16)

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:” (1 Cor. 12: 4-10)

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Signs of the Spirit

1) And these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name they shall do many wonderful works; in my name they shall cast out devils; in my name they shall heal the sick; in my name they shall open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf; and the tongue of the dumb shall speak; and if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them; and the poison of a serpent shall not have power to harm them.  (D&C 84: 65-72.)

2) And whoso shall ask it in my name in faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk.  (D&C 35: 9.)

3) And these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover; and whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth.  (Mormon 9: 24-25.)

4) And these signs shall follow him—he shall heal the sick, he shall cast out devils, and shall be delivered from those who would administer unto him deadly poison; and he shall be led in paths where the poisonous serpent cannot lay hold upon his heel, and he shall mount up in the imagination of his thoughts as upon eagles’ wings.  And what if I will that he should raise the dead, let him not withhold his voice.  (D&C 124: 98-100.)

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Fruit of the Spirit

1) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  (Galatians 5: 22-23.)

2) And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; and then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.  (D&C 11: 12-14.)

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First Principles

Faith in Jesus Christ

Repentance

Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins

The laying of of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost

Receiving the Holy Ghost (baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost)

Enduring (in sanctified state) to the end (of the probation)

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Working Principles

Be of good cheer (cheerful heart and countenance)

Give thanks to God for all blessings (D&C 59: 15)

Acknowledge (or confess) the hand of God in all things (D&C 59: 21)

Acknowledge (or confess) your unworthiness before God at all times (Alma 38: 14)

“And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—”  (D&C 59: 15)

“And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.”  (D&C 59: 21)

“Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy—yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.”  (Alma 38: 14)

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Prayer

Three times a day: morning, mid-day and evening (Alma 34: 21)

Continual prayer in heart (3 Nephi 20: 1)

Before performing anything unto the Lord (2 Nephi 32: 9)

In families (3 Nephi 18: 21)

Thanksgiving for blessings

Praise of greatness of God

Confession of sins and unworthiness

Acknowledgment of hand of God in all things

Petitions

In Spirit (D&C 46: 28, 30)

Of faith, believing that you will receive, doubting nothing (3 Nephi 18: 20; Mormon 9: 21)

“Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.”  (Alma 34: 21)

And it came to pass that he commanded the multitude that they should cease to pray, and also his disciples. And he commanded them that they should not cease to pray in their hearts.”  (3 Nephi 20: 1)

“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 Nephi 32: 9)

“Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.”  (3 Nephi 18: 21)

“And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit; •  •  • He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh.”  (D&C 46: 28, 30)

“And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.”  (3 Nephi 18: 20)

“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)

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Scriptures

1) daily: day and night (Joshua 1: 8 )

2) purpose: to gain more faith (Romans 10: 17)

3) personal goal: __ pages a day

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”  (Joshua 1: 8)

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  (Romans 10: 17)

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Faith

1) exercised as a principle of natural action – 1st, believe it is possible and that it will happen, 2nd, make the attempt

2) exercised as a principle of supernatural action (miraculous power) – 1st, obtain justification, 2nd, obtain faith through scripture study, through asking God in prayer, or through hearing the word of God preached in power, 3rd, ask for gift needed, believing you will receive, 4th, pray in faith that action will be for the welfare of your soul, 5th, open your mouth and command in the name of Jesus.  If process fails, it will be because of lack of sufficient faith.  (Ether 12: 29-31.)  Repeat steps until sufficient faith is gained for miracle to be performed.

“And I, Moroni, having heard these words, was comforted, and said: O Lord, thy righteous will be done, for I know that thou workest unto the children of men according to their faith; for the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith.  For thus didst thou manifest thyself unto thy disciples; for after they had faith, and did speak in thy name, thou didst show thyself unto them in great power.”  (Ether 12: 29-31)

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How to Always Retain Remission of Sins (Justification)

And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingsness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.  And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.  (Mosiah 4: 11-12.)

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Definitions

Testimony is knowing the truth of something by the power of the Holy Ghost (divine revelation.)

Conversion is divine revelation that one’s sins have been forgiven and one’s nature has been changed (in other words, that justification, purification and sanctification has occurred.)

The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood.  (D&C 131: 5.)

Calling and election made sure is permanent justification, purification and sanctification.

Holy Spirit of promise is the Holy Ghost.

Sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise means that the Holy Ghost sanctifies the thing, so that the pronounced promises come to pass as long as the conditions are met.

Baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost refers to the reception of the Spirit whereby a person becomes justified and purified as by fire and sanctified by the Spirit.

Receiving the Holy Ghost comes by the prayer of faith and is what sanctifies a person (3 Nephi 27: 20.)

The gift of the Holy Ghost is the ordinance that allows the Spirit to tarry continually with a person so that the individual can eventually become permanently sanctified (D&C 130: 23.)

“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.”  (3 Nephi 27: 20)

“A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him.”  (D&C 130: 23)

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Principles of Petitions

We must call upon the Lord, that from Him we may receive according to our desires.  (Ether 3: 2.)

And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit.  He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh.  (D&C 46: 28, 30.)

And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith.  (D&C 42: 14.)

You must only ask for things in which it is possible to have faith to obtain.  The scriptures call this asking for things which are right.  (Mosiah 4: 21; 3 Nephi 18: 20.)

You must ask, believing that you will receive, doubting nothing.  (Enos 1: 15.)

Now, what do you desire to receive?  Make a list of your righteous desires.

“O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.”  (Ether 3: 2)

“And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.”  (D&C 42: 14)

“And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.”  (Mosiah 4: 21)

“Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.”  (Enos 1: 15)

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Baptism with Fire and the Rejection of the Gospel


In my last post, I presented the idea that the definition of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost as prescribed by the LDS Church differs from the scriptures. Rather than being a slow imperceptible change over time proffered by church leadership as the normal occurrence, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost can be best characterized, according to the scriptures, as a significant point event.

In response, OWIW expressed that such a change ‘would be a very serious thing.’  PallasAthena added that “The implications of this type of doctrine could be very far reaching and catastrophic.” I agree with these assessments and would propose that this is, indeed, a very serious matter. 

In addition to the perspective added by OWIW in his comments to my last post, I would suggest that the definition of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is at the very heart of the acceptability of the church in the eyes of God. Let me explain.

In 3 Nephi, chapter 27, verse 8, the Lord declares that a church called in His name must also be ‘built upon my gospel.’ While this seems to be a rather simple statement, it does beg the question: How does the Lord define His gospel?

From my investigation which is documented on my website, the latter-day scriptures contain at least three points of reference for defining the gospel.  These are found in 3 Nephi 27: 20 (13-21), D&C 33:11-12, and D&C 39:6. What is gratifying to me is that the Lord was particularly consistent as these three references are concerned. Each contains clear reference to repentance and baptism, both by water and by fire and the Holy Ghost. I would suggest, through the consideration of these scriptures, that the gospel contains specifically the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.

What would be the implications relative to the church changing the definition of this core component of the gospel, even the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost?

Paul warned the Galatians, as found in Galatians 1:8-9:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

Paul was explicit in his warning regarding any changes to the gospel. I posit that the substitution of a ‘quiet life of service’ for the baptism of fire represents such a change and can be labeled as ‘another gospel.’ A curse and a condemnation awaits those who preach another gospel.

The Book of Mormon also provides guidance regarding the importance  of the true meaning of the gospel. First, let’s consider who are the recipients of the gospel. The Book of Mormon clearly defines the Gentiles as the group blessed with the restoration of the fulness of the gospel:

“And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed” (1 Nephi 15:13).

In 3 Nephi, chapter 16, this idea is reinforced as the Lord commends the Gentiles for their belief:

“And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them.” (3 Nephi 16:6-7)

Not all Gentiles are deserving of this commendation as the Lord points to the ‘unbelieving of the Gentiles’ as those who ‘scatter [His] people (3 Nephi 10:8)

These are the same Gentiles, both believing and unbelieving, who, in 3 Nephi, chapter 16, verse 10 reject the fulness of the gospel.

“At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.”

I suggest that the rejection of the true meaning of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is a rejection of the fulness of the gospel. Because we reject the gospel, the Lord will take the gospel to the house of Israel, thus concluding the times of the Gentiles.

In summary, rejection of the true meaning of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, indeed, the gospel as defined by our Lord and Savior in the scriptures, will result in the rejection of the church by its Head.

But… all is not lost. The Lord still extends this offer to us, as found in 3 Nephi, chapter 30, verse 2:

“Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel.”

I find it interesting that the list of things for which we need repentence is found also in the previous quote from 3 Nephi 16:10.

I also find it interesting that the Lord seemed to put two conditional statements in His plea to us Gentiles. The first is that we need to be baptized in order to receive a remission of our sins. The second is that we need to be filled with the Holy Ghost (baptized of fire and the Holy Ghost) in order to be numbered with His people.

What think ye?

Baptized with fire and they knew it not?


For some, the Book of Mormon contains a wealth of information on the topic of being ‘born again.’ I am one of them. The narratives regarding Nephi, King Benjamin, Enos, Alma, and the 300 Lamanites give soul-satisfying detail into the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. Contained within the exposition on the doctrine of Christ found in second Nephi, chapter 31, a clear picture can be developed of the necessity of this second birth and the incumbent sanctification it offers through the remission of sins. 

In speaking to the Lamanites of this day, Mormon tells them of the necessity of baptism (Mormon 7:10):

“…if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior…”

The baptism required of the Lord has two components, water and spirit. When Nicodemus came to Christ, he was told that “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” I find it interesting that the original Greek meaning of the word ‘see’ connotes ‘to consider’ or ‘have knowledge of.’ The first baptism of water, as suggested here, is necessary to consider the kingdom of God. As Christ told Nicodemus, the second or baptism of the Spirit is required to enter his kingdom (John 3:5):

“…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God…”

This suggests that we become aware of the kingdom of God through the baptism of water and gain entrance to the kingdom of God through the baptism of the Spirit. This idea is consistent with the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 3:17-18 and Moroni 6:1-4).

Joseph Smith amplified on this idea in the following (TPJS, p. 314)

“”You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost”

Given the critical nature of this sanctifying ordinance, it would seem that we should understand how this second baptism is applied to the seeker. Through church literature and the scriptures, two perspectives can be drawn on the ‘baptism of fire’ and its application in our lives.

For some time, beginning perhaps with President Ezra Taft Benson, this baptism has been viewed as an imperceptible change over a long period of time.  In the October,1989 Ensign, President Benson stated:

For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every King Lamoni, there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment. They are like the Lamanites, who the Lord said “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.” (3 Ne. 9:20)”

This idea has been amplified in recent conference talks by Elders Packer, Bednar and Christofferson giving us a view that we can achieve this second baptism through long life of following Christ as characterized in this segment from “True to the Faith” on conversion:

“Because conversion is a quiet, constant process, you may be converted now and not realize it. You could be like the Lamanites who, “because of their faith in [Christ] at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Nephi 9:20). Your continuing efforts to exercise faith and follow the Savior will lead to greater conversion.”

Before we pack up and go home, let’s look a little more closely at the scripture used as the cornerstone of the idea that the second baptism is a gradual process.

Even before Christ had descended to stand among the Nephites at the time of His appearance on the American continent, His voice was heard detailing the destruction exacted on the land and cities. He then offered this promise to those who survived (3 Nephi 9:20):

“…whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.”

Without any collaborating scripture, this seems to say that the Lamanites were baptized by fire and were unaware of this process.  When reading this scripture, I was somewhat troubled by the reference to their conversion. Usually, when I hear the phrase ‘at the time of‘ an event, I don’t think that it if referring to a long time covering months or years. This begs the question:

 

What Lamanites are being discussed here and what happened to them?

In the current version of the scriptures published in 1981, there is no footnote associated with the conversion phrase in verse 20. However, this has not always been the case. In the previous version of the footnotes before the correlated footnotes and going back at least as far as the 1920 edition of the Book of Mormon, there was a footnote ascribed to the conversion found in this verse. Here is a scan of the referenced verse:

20
3rd Nephi 9:20

 

 

 

 

 

While it may not cleanly appear in the scan, the ‘z’ footnote occurs in association with ‘their conversion.’ And what does the “z” footnote contain?

20
Footnote from 3rd Nephi 9:20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are two references associated with the phrase “their conversion” in this verse, the first is to Helaman 5:45. The event described associated with this scripture reference is the freeing of Lehi and Nephi from the Lamanite prison. At that time, Lehi and Nephi were miraculously freed from prison and, while under the influence of the Holy Ghost, were surrounded, as it were, by fire. Aminadab took the opportunity to educate that 300 Lamanites as to what was happening and encouraged them to pray. They, also, were surrounded by fire and were blessed, as we learn from Ether 12:14, to be baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost. It is also interesting to note that, while the backward reference from 3 Nephi was removed in the footnotes of the current edition, there is still a reference in Helaman 5:45 pointing forward to the comment in 3 Nephi.

‘And they knew it not?’ Given the scripture reading, this statement could either be construed to mean that they didn’t know that it was happening to them, or they didn’t understand what was happening. I strongly suggest that it was the latter. The Lamanites definitely knew something incredible was taking place but didn’t understand what was transpiring, once they were educated and began to exercise faith and pray to God, they were enveloped in the ‘fire’ and were baptized by the Holy Ghost. It, of course, did not happen over many years. It was a point event that carried significance with them through out their subsequent ministry among their people.

The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is a marvelous and life-changing experience. It is, as Nephi states, the gate to the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life.” It leaves one without any fear. It cleanses the soul and purges sin. In my opinion, it is, by far, the most sacred experience one can enjoy.

My fear is that most people will not understand that it is available and will, therefore, not seek after it. Enos prayed well into the night to receive his remission of sins. What are we willing to do to receive this gating item for entry into the kingdom of God?

What think ye?