The Doctrine of Christ

My intent in writing this is that you and I may be enabled to correctly and completely act upon the doctrine of Christ. So that we may be redeemed from the fall and brought back into the presence of Jesus Christ just as the brother of Jared was. I am sure this must be done upon the same principles that it was for him. And I am sure this is Christ’s desire in giving us His doctrine.

The doctrine of Christ is as follows:

repent and believe in me [Christ].

That’s it. A whole universe of salvation just passed by your mind in 4 words. Repent, believe in Christ. Did you miss it? It is just two simple directives found in 3rd Nephi 11:32.
I think we all miss it and get it at the same time. I am sure Jesus intended it that way. We get part of it, the part we are ready for, based upon our present spiritual state. The rest is unknown to us.

I believe our stumbling block is caused by being children of Babylon. All of us have been raised in a society filled from the inside out with the false traditions of Babylon. Our minds and hearts are layered with these false ideas and beliefs. We have been fed upon them since birth. Being born and raised in a really good LDS home doesn’t prevent this from happening.

As Joseph Smith lamented in D&C 123 “that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity.”

The introduction of the restored gospel of Christ cannot free us from these false traditions (ideas and beliefs) when we rely upon Babylon for our information source. Public school is nothing more than years of party propaganda perpetrated by the Satanic forces which now operate all earthly governments. In Alma’s day teachers were ordained of God not the government. And we then pass some of these teaching into our belief system (the philosophies of men,… mingled with scripture).

Don’t beat yourself or your parents up for not teaching you better. But do recognize that from our birth there is a stumbling block placed upon our ability to comprehend and therefore act correctly upon the doctrine of Christ. We are going to have trouble with correctly understanding the meaning behind the words “repent” and “believe”. We should be okay with the word “in” but we are going to be truly handicapped in comprehending that “me” which refers to Jesus Christ. It might help a little to define these terms in a way which is not steeped in false ideas. I know this alone will not enable us to fully implement the doctrine of Christ in our lives. But I believe it is an important step.

So number 1) What does repent mean? It means to change your mind and heart. That is all. But we attach to repentance emotions of, “I am evil and bad. God is mad at me. Jesus doesn’t like me, well at least He doesn’t accept me.” These type of ideas come from Satan’s false religion. They are damaging to our ability to follow Christ’s directive.
Sin simply means that which doesn’t work or is not real.

I have read many near death experiences where the person reports that while in the presence of Christ they felt complete acceptance. That although all of their personal actions we displayed and they felt bad about some of them He never had a negative reaction to any of them. Then they say they could see exactly why they did everything they did. They could see the exact reason for every horrible act and it changed their feelings from one of shame to complete compassion and forgiveness or rather that it was never a sin in the first place since they were only acting according to the knowledge they had at the time.

So let’s repent of thinking “repent” means guilt and badness and accept it as a request to find and eliminate things in our hearts and minds and habits which did not come from Christ. And let us add things which do come from Him because all good comes from Christ.

Now number 2) “Believe in me”. I think to believe should be pretty straight forward. To trust that what Jesus says is true and accurate. Also to trust that He has already paid the price of all your sins and you have no need to fear that He is not willing to forgive you. In this I believe the “saved by gracers” have it right. The phrase “work out your salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord” does not refer to working hard to obtain forgiveness. That is really rude to Jesus to accuse Him of being slow to forgive. But more important than being rude (see there I go again saying ‘bad boy, bad boy!’) it messes up our view of the Father and the Son preventing us from receiving what they are so anxious to freely and instantly give.

The phrase “working out our salvation” should be applied to discovering the truth and eliminating the bad which is a completely guilt free enterprise. If I seem to be trying to avoid anyone feeling guilty it is because guilt is Satan’s tool not God’s. God sent Jesus to remove guilt by the atonement. He did. It is done. To believe in Him is to accept that fact.

I believe our lack of knowledge of the nature of Jesus and His thoughts and feeling towards us individually is our greatest stumbling block in acting upon His doctrine.

But the people in 3rd Nephi 11 seemed to have no problem getting it. Why? Because they had just had revealed to them the very being of Christ. In those near death experiences I read each of them speak of a being from who emanates an incomprehensible love and acceptance. Some of them knew Him as Christ others did not. But they all were overwhelmed with the complete love and acceptance of this being. I believe anyone in the presence of Christ has this knowledge fill their being and they comprehend how ready and willing He is to be their redeemer then and there right on the spot. And armed with this understanding they boldly approach Him and ask for what they need.

The people in the land Bountiful had the advantage of seeing and being in His presence even touching Him. So they knew personally and deeply the meaning of “me”.

Now having spent time on the terms I will say that alone is not enough. We children of Babylon still need something to enable us to live the doctrine of Christ. What is it? Let me explain and relate an experience that helped me learn a profound truth which must be applied in order to comprehend and live the doctrine of Christ.

My dad had a temper. He would get mad and yell at us kids and often spank us in anger.
I grew up with that anger and had it in myself also. At age 18 I was aware of it and hated having it. I wanted it to be out of my life. I was aware enough that I spoke plainly about it to my mother at the time. My parents were active LDS members when I was born. We always attended church and believed in the teachings of Christ. I had a strong witness of God and the Book of Mormon when I was 16 to 17. But I still had this anger problem. I tried for the next 22 years to overcome this negative facet of my being. I wasn’t as bad as my dad but my wife and children still suffered as well as myself.

Then after 22 years of suffering and trying without much success I suddenly overcame my anger weakness in a matter of a couple of weeks. My wife and children marveled how I had changed so completely and so rapidly. What happened?

Well since about age 18 I have been a hard worker. I have always had a good mental capacity and can see, very rapidly, how things work. Everyone who knows me says I am very smart and have a great memory. I have been willing to put in a lot of effort to accomplish the things I want.

So is that why I overcame my anger? No on the contrary, I just mentioned those qualities since I believe relying on them is what prevented me from ridding myself of the problem for 22 years.

My anger problem went away because in desperation I admitted that I was powerless to overcome it and that only Jesus could remove it. I said, “I can’t do it. I can’t overcome it.” I never spoke truer words. I begged for Him to do it. And He did.

We cannot of our own power live the doctrine of Christ. We must rely wholly upon the merits of Him who is mighty to save. What we can and must do is desire it and recognize that it can only come as a gift from God. So with this desire and understanding we will beg Him for the gift to know that He is a God of truth and cannot lie.

Don’t stop and say, “Well once I overcome this sin I will be worthy to really ask Him and receive it.” That is Satan’s lie. If you have a sin to overcome (and who doesn’t) that is one of the things you should ask for as a gift to overcome. I realized as a teenager, the very power to repent was itself a gift from God (don’t ask me why I keep forgetting this fact). You don’t have the power and you never will have the power to overcome transgression or sin. Jesus and Jesus alone is our redeemer from sin and death. No one else has that power in the whole of this creation and certainly not ourselves. The power to live the doctrine of Christ as well as all the rest of the gifts of the Spirit can only come as a gift. Thinking we need to condition ourselves first is a red herring that will actually prevent us from receiving the gift.

Now in summary let us look at what happened to the brother of Jared.

Ether 3:11-13
11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?
12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.
13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.

Again, if we want to have faith as the brother of Jared let us ask it as a gift from God recognizing it is not from our merits but from the merits and gift of Christ. And while we are at it I believe we should act upon the words of the post – The seeds of the powers of godliness in this same way. We should with this same attitude ask for and covet earnestly the best gifts of the Spirit. We won’t obtain them any other way. We could spend the rest of our lives trying, or rather we could waste the rest of our lives trying another way.

Now for those of us who still need convincing that Jesus Christ really is that loving, that giving and that ready to bless us with truly great gifts let me relate part of a near death experience which is available here .

Before his near-death experience, Rev. Howard Storm, a Professor of Art at Northern Kentucky University, was not a very pleasant man. He was an avowed atheist and was hostile to every form of religion and those who practiced it. He often would use rage to control everyone around him and he didn’t find joy in anything.

He died in a hospital of stomach ulcers. His wife was sitting in the room when he died. But to his surprise death wasn’t oblivion. His efforts to interact with his wife were fruitless and enraged him. He became aware of dark beings out in a hallway which after further association he described as humans who were stripped of any impulse to do good, inviting him to follow them. He asked where they were going but they would not answer. Since it was the only interaction possible he followed. As they went further and further they began to be rude and cruel to him. Finally he would go no further with them they attacked him and he fought with all his might to prevent them from hurting him. He said there were hundreds and hundreds of them.

“My attempts to fight back only provoked greater merriment. They began to physically humiliate me in the most degrading ways. As I continued to fight on and on, I was aware that they weren’t in any hurry to win. They were playing with me just as a cat plays with a mouse. Every new assault brought howls of cacophony. Then at some point, they began to tear off pieces of my flesh. To my horror I realized I was being taken apart and eaten alive, slowly, so that their entertainment would last as long as possible.”

Finally he was powerless and literally torn in pieces. Lying there, helpless he was told by a voice within pray to God. He didn’t know how. But it repeated to him Pray to God. After the third time the voice told him he began to say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want … God bless America” and anything else that seemed to have a religious connotation. This made the dark beings crazy with anger and they said anything possible to get him to stop. He did not stop and soon they all left.

But he was alone. And in his own words:

I had no strength; it was all gone. It seemed as if I were sort of fading out, that any effort on my part would expend the last energy I had. My conscious sense was that I was perishing, or just sinking into the darkness. I knew then that this was the absolute end of my existence, and it was more horrible than anything I could possibly have imagined.
Then a most unusual thing happened. I heard very clearly, once again in my own voice, something that I had learned in nursery Sunday School. It was the little song, “Jesus loves me, yes I know …” and it kept repeating. I don’t know why, but all of a sudden I wanted to believe that. Not having anything left, I wanted to cling to that thought. And I, inside, screamed, “Jesus, please save me.”
That thought was screamed with every ounce of strength and feeling left in me.
When I did that, I saw, off in the darkness somewhere, the tiniest little star. Not knowing what it was, I presumed it must be a comet or a meteor, because it was moving rapidly. Then I realized it was coming toward me. It was getting very bright, rapidly.
When the light came near, its radiance spilled over me, and I just rose up – not with my effort – I just lifted up. Then I saw – and I saw this very plainly – I saw all my wounds, all my tears, all my brokenness, melt away. And I became whole in this radiance.
What I did was to cry uncontrollably. I was crying, not out of sadness, but because I was feeling things that I had never felt before in my life.

We could add to this example that of Alma the younger, the 300 Lamanites in Helaman chapter 5 who were ready to kill two prophets of God and in the next hour were saved of God. None of these men did anything of merit other than to cry out in the depths of their souls, “Jesus save me” and they were saved. None of them had any thought that they could do anything of themselves. It was true for them and it is true for us.

They changed their way of thinking and believed in Christ.
And this is my doctrine,…repent and believe in me.

Let us repent of not believing and in believing ask.

The faith of God, part eleven: Why knowledge doesn’t save

Continued from part ten.

A new visitor (RWW) to this blog recently made the following comment:

I must take issue with your statement that “A man is not saved by knowledge. A man is saved by faith.” I am fairly new to your blog, so I may be misunderstanding your meaning, but taken at face value, I can’t agree with that. Faith is only a step toward the sure knowledge that truly saves. A man cannot be saved in ignorance, which is the lack of knowledge (not faith).

As I was planning for this installment on faith to address knowledge, it seems the best time and place to explain why knowledge doesn’t save us.

Joseph’s words

RWW was paraphrasing the Prophet’s words, found in D&C 131: 6. These are instructions by the Prophet, not revelations, nevertheless, they are true. Here is the direct quote: “It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.”

This quote, though, is taken out of context. The full item of instruction is the following:

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. It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance. (D&C 131: 5-6)

In other words, the Prophet is saying that it is impossible to be permanently saved without knowing you are saved, as that knowledge is communicated by the Holy Ghost, which is what the more sure word of prophecy is, namely, a revelation from the Holy Ghost that you have overcome the world and thus are permanently saved. Therefore, in regards to permanent salvation (overcoming the world), if you don’t know if you are permanently saved, meaning you are ignorant of whether you have received the more sure word of prophecy, it means that you still haven’t overcome the world, or you still haven’t been permanently saved. (I may have to dedicate an entire post to the more sure word of prophecy, but hopefully I have sufficiently explained the principle.)

The important thing to understand is that both of these verses are speaking of the more sure word of prophecy and not of being saved by knowledge. Joseph wasn’t saying that it is knowledge that saves, but that knowledge of salvation comes with salvation, therefore it is impossible to be saved in ignorance.

Knowledge has no power to save

Returning to that exceptional sermon on faith, we find Alma also explaining the futility of knowledge to save.

Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe. Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. (Alma 32: 16-18 )

If it was knowledge that saved, a sign from heaven would be enough. The Lord could send angels to all of his children, giving them knowledge of him and his kingdom and we would all be saved. Yet, Alma stresses the importance of belief and faith, even in the face of knowledge. Why? Because it is faith that saves.

If knowledge saved, who cares whether you believe or not, whether you have faith or not? Armed with knowledge, sufficient and of the right type, you’d be saved, right? Yet, Alma explains that “if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” Alma is explaining that knowledge gained by means other than faith ruins, or does not generate, faith in the individual and that faith is really, really important. What is so important about faith that God doesn’t just reveal himself to all the world once and for all, giving them the knowledge of him that “supposedly” saves? It is namely that faith alone saves us and if he were to do that, we would possess knowledge, having no means to obtain faith unto salvation.

Lucifer, the light-bearer, the champion of borrowed knowledge

Any study of the occult will bring up that Lucifer, the bearer of light, is all about knowledge. Lucifer (Satan) gives occult (hidden) knowledge (science) without faith. As he has no faith, he has no faith to give. Yet, Satan has knowledge, lots of it and those who worship him on earth are seekers of knowledge, not of faith. They look for signs and wonders and cold hard facts that they can see with their own two eyes.

All of the Luciferian knowledge, though, is borrowed. It doesn’t come from the heart of man, as there is no planted faith to produce it. As such, those who seek knowledge to the exclusion of faith are doomed to hell, as Satan always abandons all his servants, leaving them in darkness and despair.

Faith alone saves

One of the Mormon blogs had a post a couple of years back about Atonement Theories and proposed a list of questions that needed to be answered by any new theory that was drawn up. One of those questions was: “How was the atonement efficacious before it was performed?” The question presupposed that it was the Atonement that saved us. But the author did not understand that it is not the Atonement that saves us, it is faith that saves us.

And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins. Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart. And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens. And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed. And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away. And I said: Lord, how is it done? And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole. (Enos 1: 2-8 )

It is the Atonement that allows us to have faith unto salvation and it is faith unto salvation that saves us. The Lord’s words in this scripture are crystal clear. However, as we are conditioned to interpret Joseph’s words to mean that we are saved by knowledge, when LDS read the above words in the Book of Mormon, they look beyond the mark and invent theories to explain away the doctrine of salvation by faith. The reason why many LDS choke on this doctrine is that they don’t understand what faith is.

Additionally, if one does not understand what faith is, he cannot understand what knowledge is. The end result is a guessing game, each one inventing a theory or fantasizing about how it all works, instead of just taking the scriptures as they are written and believing them to say what they mean and mean what they say.

Knowledge and faith are two parts of the same thing

Alma explains in chapter 32 that the seed of faith is the word of God and that when planted by belief in the heart of man it begins to grow due to the action of the Holy Spirit. As it grows, we can know that the seed is good and by not laying aside our faith and belief, it will continue to grow. Alma then explains that the seed of faith eventually grows into a fruit tree, called the tree of life, which twice he states is a “a tree springing up [in you] unto everlasting life” (Alma 32: 41; 33: 23.) Therefore, it is the entire, mature tree of faith grown in you—seed, roots, trunk, branches, leaves and fruit—that grants eternal life, and not just one part of it.

Now, Jesus, on the other side of the world and at another time, explained in his intercessory prayer to the Father that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17: 3.) Notice that Jesus did not say, “this is life eternal, knowing (or to know) thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.” Instead, he used the words “that they might know.” This indicates that Jesus is not referring to the fruit of the tree of faith, which is knowledge, even the knowledge that one is like God, possessing all of his attributes in perfection, for the only way to know God is to be like him, but is referring to the entire tree of faith, including the fruit (knowledge.)

Again, knowledge alone does not grant salvation. The fruit (knowledge) cannot come from another tree, it must come from a tree of life planted in your heart. It must be your tree, planted by the good sower (Christ), who plants individual trees in every heart of man that allows him to. It is these trees of faith that produce the fruit (knowledge) that you have obtained (eternal) life.

There is an expression in the church (though not in the scriptures) that “no one can endure on borrowed light.” The expression is a truism. Everything borrowed must eventually be returned. This is why if you cannot produce knowledge (fruit) yourself through a tree of faith planted in your heart, you will fall.

Once a person understands that faith and knowledge are part of the same organism (the tree of life), it becomes easy to see why the scriptures stress faith and faith alone to obtain all other things, including knowledge.

There are different trees

Just as there is a tree of life (faith) that can be planted and grown in one’s heart, there are other plants that can also grow there: the tares. Only the tree of faith, planted in one’s heart, sustains life in the kingdom of God. All other trees or plants will eventually be cut down and cast into the fire (the lake of fire and brimstone.) It is not, though, that you are cast out forcibly, as these scriptures are also written more express, to work upon our hearts, but that you possess no power (agency) to remain in the kingdom. Only the tree of faith grants agency.

Knowledge alone cannot keep you in the created universe. You need a tree of faith, planted in your heart. This is why Satan and his angels (and all the sons of perdition), despite their immense knowledge of the created universe, having never gone through a veil of forgetfulness, will not be able to keep themselves within the confines of the created universe and will go into outer darkness. They have no faith and thus have no agency and thus they cannot save themselves.

God is saved

As all who believe in God will concede that God is saved, and as the scriptures indicate that salvation comes only through faith, this is a further evidence that God possesses faith.

Next Faith of God article: The faith of God, part twelve: Truth

Previous Faith of God article: The faith of God, part ten: the relationship of faith to agency (power)

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