It is a gospel law that if you ask God for something that is good and right, in the name of Jesus, in faith, believing that you will receive, doubting nothing, you will receive what you ask for.
A new investigation
Lately I have been perplexed by the lack of spiritual best gifts among the church of God. In my interactions with church members, I had come to the conclusion that we do not have the gifts “because [we] ask not, neither do [we] knock” (2 Ne. 32: 4), after all, Jesus said that “every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened” (3 Ne. 14: 8.) Nevertheless, with over 13 million members of record, I found it awfully strange that not even one person sought these gifts. I mean, what are the odds of that?
That got me thinking that in all likelihood the truth was that while the vast majority of the membership no longer sought the gifts, a small minority did. Yet even among them the gifts are absent. I wondered, why haven’t these people received what they are asking for?
Moroni records Jesus as saying, “Whoso shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him I will confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth” (Mormon 9: 25.) He also gives his own prophecy, “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.) God cannot speak a lie and still remain a God of truth. This means that for the entire gospel to be true, all its individual parts must also be true, including this promise, because the principle is that God “never doth vary from that which he hath said” (Mosiah 2: 22; also Alma 7: 20 and D&C 3: 2.)
I decided, then, that I would put Moroni’s promise to the test and follow the prescribed steps so that Jesus would have to confirm His words to me. I believed the word of God to be true and had full confidence that I would receive what I asked for. Specifically, I was going to ask for a spiritual best gift, for the gifts of the Spirit are things that are right and good, which is one of the qualifications necessary for the promise to be fulfilled. (See 3 Ne. 18: 20 and Moroni 7: 26.)
I began my trial sometime between the 19th and 26th of January, 2011, and have continued it to this very day. This post contains what I have so far learned from this ongoing experiment with the word of God.
Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith
And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. (Ether 12: 6)
A trial is a proof. A proof is “any effort, process, or operation designed to establish or discover a fact or truth; an act of testing; test; trial; as to put in proof.” The trial of your faith, then, is the proof of your faith, or an effort, process or operation designed to establish or discover whether or not you have faith.
The “effort, process, or operation” that is used to establish that we have faith is a very specific type of prayer. By praying in a specific way, our faith will be instantly put in proof and we will immediately know whether we have faith.
How to pray, part one
For the purposes of this experiment, we shall attempt to obtain one of the gifts of God. In particular, we will seek a gift that is easily recognizable as having been received. Of the three lists of gifts in the scriptures, the list given to the Lamanites is the only one that contains the gift of the beholding of angels (see Moroni 10: 14 and The role of angels in Nephite preaching.) So, this is the gift we will seek, for once an angel of light appears and is discerned (see D&C 129: 4-9), there is no doubt that the gift has been received.
Ask the Father
Ask in the name of Christ
Believe in Christ
Believe in the name of Christ
Ask for something good and right (the gift of the beholding of angels qualifies)
Ask in faith
Believe you shall receive
The promise is that if the above steps are followed by anyone, it shall be granted/done/given and Jesus’ words will be confirmed.
Let’s write up a sample prayer based upon the above instructions.
My heavenly Father, your name be blessed. Show mercy upon me and hear my words. Baptize me in the Spirit and cause that I speak the words of this prayer by the power of the Holy Ghost. I thank you for the gospel and your Beloved Son: His life, suffering, death and resurrection. Grant me belief in Him and in His holy name. Give me faith in your Son. Bestow upon me the belief that I will receive what I ask you for in this prayer. Take away my doubt so that I pray, doubting nothing. Confirm Jesus’ words to me. Send your angel to me. Let me behold his face. Allow me to converse with him. Have him declare the word of Christ to me. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
On the surface, the above prayer seems to serve its purpose of putting our faith in proof. If you have faith, the angel will appear. If you do not have faith, the angel will not appear. What it lacks, though, is an element of time. When does the angel have to appear? The prayer does not specify. The time frame is left up to the Lord. If the Lord decides to send the angel at the end of your life, 60 years from now, how does this tell you now whether or not you have faith? It doesn’t. What if the Lord decides not to send an angel because you didn’t exercise faith, would you know? Nope.
Prayers that don’t have an element of time in them are insufficient to put your faith in proof. A deadline, such as a day and time, must be included so as to make a discovery of faith (or lack thereof.) If the deadline comes and goes, with no result, you didn’t pray in faith. If the deadline arrives with an angel, you now have passed the trial of your faith and have received your witness.
Here is the same prayer altered slightly so that it serves as a trial of faith:
My heavenly Father, your name be blessed. Show mercy upon me and hear my words. Baptize me in the Spirit and cause that I speak the words of this prayer by the power of the Holy Ghost. I thank you for the gospel and your Beloved Son: His life, suffering, death and resurrection. Grant me belief in Him and in His holy name. Give me faith in your Son. Bestow upon me the belief that I will receive what I ask you for in this prayer. Take away my doubt so that I pray, doubting nothing. Confirm Jesus’ words to me. Send your angel to me right now. Let me behold his face. Allow me to converse with him. Have him declare the word of Christ to me. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
All things can be asked for
Notice in the above prayers that I asked for everything. I didn’t say, “Give me this according to the faith that I have,” I said, “Give me faith in your Son.” I didn’t say, “I believe that I will receive what I ask you for in this prayer,” I said, “Bestow upon me the belief that I will receive what I ask you for in this prayer.” I didn’t say, “I have no doubts whatsoever,” I said, “Take away my doubts.” The Lord has everything I need to make a prayer work. If I lack anything, He can make up for it, if I ask Him for it.
O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. (Mormon 9: 27)
Different amounts of faith
To move mountains, you need faith the size of a mustard seed. Jesus told Peter that he had little faith. The scriptures speak of having the gift of exceedingly great faith. All of this shows that faith comes in different amounts. Depending on what you are asking for, you will need a greater or lesser amount of faith.
The mere act of asking God for something, believing that you are going to receive, is an act of faith. How much faith? No one but God knows. However, if you ask, believing that you will receive, and do not receive what you ask for—and you know for a fact that you have not received what you asked for because you asked in the manner detailed above, using an element of time so that the prayer creates a trial of faith—it causes you to confront your false beliefs. You must then admit to yourself that the belief that you had that you would receive what you asked for was false. Again, you may indeed have asked in faith, because the very act of asking is an act of faith, but it was of an insufficient quantity to receive what you asked for, therefore your belief that you would receive was false.
When a man is faced with a false belief—not determined by someone else, but determined by the man himself—the natural tendency is to discard the belief. You will no longer wish to follow Jesus’ instructions to believe that you will receive, because your mind, shown by direct evidence, will tell you that that belief is false. The evidence will be incontrovertible. In order for you to pray again, again believing that you will receive, you will have to completely ignore the evidence. You will have to call black white and white black. You will have to act totally irrationally. You will have to step into the unknown. You will have to close your eyes and walk blindly in darkness. You will have to face the fear and trembling spoken of in the scriptures and work out your own salvation under these conditions.
If you are able to get back on your knees and offer another prayer, asking again for something with a deadline, so that the prayer becomes another trial of your faith, and with the (irrational) belief that you will receive, the very act of attempting the experiment again requires more faith than your first attempt.
Each subsequent attempt will again naturally increase your faith. But each time you fail to receive, you will be faced again with a religious crisis that can only be overcome by faith.
The theory in all of this is that eventually, continuing on in this manner, you will finally arrive at the amount of faith required for what you are asking for, and you will then receive the gift you seek, obtaining the witness promised in the scriptures, which comes after the trial of your faith.
The veil of unbelief
The Lord prophesied that the people of our day would have a veil of unbelief, which, unless rent, would keep us in a state of wickedness, blindness of mind and hardness of heart, and He would withhold the greater things from us.
Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel. (Ether 4: 15)
The purpose of the veil of unbelief is to hide “the great and marvelous things” of God from us. As long as it is upon us, we can pray until we are blue in the face to see angels or obtain the powers and gifts of the Spirit and we will forever remain in the dark about such things, never tasting of the goodness of God, nor feasting upon his fatness. Only those who pray to God “with a broken heart and a contrite spirit” are the ones who rend the veil of unbelief and partake of the greater things, such as the ministration of angels. To all others, the heavens are closed.
God has power to cast away the veil of unbelief from our minds
Now, this was what Ammon desired, for he knew that king Lamoni was under the power of God; he knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul, yea, he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was carried away in God— (Alma 19: 6)
Anyone can ask for the same blessing from the Lord.
It is extremely important that the veil of unbelief be removed, because it will prohibit us from exercising faith.
And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust. (Mormon 9: 20)
Using disappointment to rend one’s soul
…when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief… (Ether 4: 15)
The disappointment of not receiving what we ask for, as promised in the scriptures, is a heart-wrenching experience. If repeated over and over again, using back-to-back deadline prayers, it feels like your whole soul is being ripped apart. This might be the reason why the Lord chose the word “rend” when speaking of what to do with the veil of unbelief.
To rend means “to part, tear off, or take away, by force.” It also means “to separate into parts with force or sudden violence; to tear asunder; to split; burst; tear; to affect as if tearing asunder; as, ‘powder rends a rock in blasting; lightning rends an oak; a lion rends its prey; to rend one’s garments; the nation was rent by discord; a heart rent with grief.’” So, there is nothing gradual or subtle about rending the veil of unbelief. It is supposed to be done suddenly and violently, creating rapid change in the individual.
What the veil is
Man cannot perceive the veil of unbelief that covers him. The word veil is used to describe it because it feels very much like a thick piece of cloth that envelops the spirit. We can’t see out through it and, in fact, can’t even feel that it is there. However, once a part of the veil is rent, suddenly we can perceive that something real (an actual thing) is covering us, like a cocoon that gets cracked, letting the airy breeze in. The breeze feels good to us and the contrast between the exposed and covered parts (where the veil is still intact) enables us to finally perceive the veil.
The first perception of the veil is an alarming experience. The initial reaction is, “Get this off of me!” It feels like an uncomfortable, alien, spiritual cloth. And indeed it is. The veil of unbelief is Satan’s spiritual garment that he imperceptibly places upon all mankind when they arrive at the age of accountability and sin. Its purpose is to reduce agency, faith, knowledge, wisdom, etc. It allows him to more easily deceive us and lead us to destruction. It is the counterpart of the garment of the priesthood.
The veil of unbelief appears to be an extension of the spirit of the devil and not an individual thing placed upon each person. The result of being subject to it is damnation (see Damnation.) Once you can perceive that it is on you, you want it off of you immediately, because you can perceive that it is not a part of you and that it has been placed there without you even realizing it and that it is stopping you from spiritually progressing. In other words, you can perceive that an enemy put it there.
Even if one goes through all the ordinances of the gospel and wears the physical priesthood garment, etc., as long as Satan’s spiritual garment (the veil of unbelief) is still being worn, spiritual progress will be stunted and the gifts of the Spirit will remain off-limits. The gospel teaches that the proper order is to first rend the veil of unbelief and take it off, and then we are to put on gospel covenants and clothing. But even if things have been done out of their proper order, it is of utmost importance that Satan’s veil be removed.
The chains of hell
The chains of hell are twin filaments of spirit matter (plasma) that twist and revolve around each other in a pattern that looks like the links of a chain.
One end of the chain leads to, and is held by, Satan (see Moses 7: 26.) The other end of the chain leads to the veil of unbelief. It is attached to the veil at the back and base of the skull. One filament is attached to the half of the veil that goes over a man’s left brain hemisphere (the mind) and the other filament is attached to the half of the veil that goes over a man’s right brain hemisphere (the heart.)
There are three modes of plasma discharge: glow, arc and dark. The chains of hell are twin filaments of plasma discharging in dark mode.
The mind operates in arc mode, while the heart operates in dark mode. The mind is designed to believe what it sees, therefore it is designed to be lit up so that it can see everything and thus believe everything. The mind is also designed to be firm or fixed. When illuminated, it clearly can see where everything is and instantly can fixate upon what it sees without any wavering. When minds are darkened, it cannot clearly see things or where things are and must waver in order to try to find its way in the darkness, just as a blind man moves his cane left and right to figure out where things are.
When a chain of hell is attached to a veil of unbelief, the dark mode discharging filament that goes into the half of the veil of unbelief that encases the mind causes the mind to go into dark mode. The mind becomes darkened, and undergoes a state of blindness. It begins to waver. As it cannot see anything or much at all, it does not believe much either, or it begins to doubt or exhibit unbelief. Wickedness is simply a state which goes against the purpose God designed. It is a perversion. The mind was designed to operate in arc mode, in a digital manner. The veil of unbelief causes it to operate in dark mode, in an analog manner. The mind is now in a state of wickedness.
As stated above, the heart operates in dark mode. It is designed to operate in this mode and is designed by God to be soft and malleable, or easily entreated. When the other filament of the chain of hell goes into the half of the veil of unbelief that covers the heart, it cannot change the discharge mode of the heart, because the chain of hell is also in dark mode. However, it does have an effect upon the organ of the heart: it causes the heart to become hard or fixed. So now, instead of feeling its way around its environment like a blind man, as it was intended to do, the heart functions like a mind, fixating on individual emotions, instead of expanding to encompass the infinite gradations of feelings. In other words, the heart is designed to embrace the infinite, or feel an infinite variety of feelings and emotions. When the veil of unbelief, powered by the chains of hell, covers the heart, it becomes selective in what it feels, acting in a digital manner instead of the analog manner it was designed to operate in. It, too, is now in a state of wickedness.
Satan is able to deceive mankind through his chains of hell and the veils of unbelief that are attached to all sinners. Through sin, the veil of unbelief and its chain becomes attached to man around the age of eight. Through continual sin, it becomes increasingly more difficult to be removed.
The chains of hell not only look like chains, but also function as chains. If a man does not, while in mortality, repent and shake off the chains of hell and rend the veil of unbelief that is attached to his mind and heart, when he dies he becomes exposed to the full captivating power of Satan. Satan has power to pull on his chains, dragging the souls down to hell, but he has no power to pull the spirits into hell while they are still in their physical, mortal bodies. Only when the spirit leaves its body can the devil pull the helpless souls into hell. The body serves as a temporary protection from the devil in this manner. Once in hell, the devil can fully subject the spirits to him, through his spirit (the chains of hell and veils of darkness). (See Alma 34: 33-35.)
Having an understanding of these things is extremely important, in order that we can work out our salvation with fear and trembling before God. (See Alma 34: 37.)
A tare sown
The chains of hell and the veil of unbelief, if turned upside down, look like a plant stalk with roots going into the heart and mind of man. This is, in actuality, the tare that is sown by the enemy. The tare seed is planted in the heart of man first (see Moses 6: 55) and then takes root in both heart and mind. In other words, the first plasma filament of a chain of hell first begins its connection to man in the heart, then the second filament connects to the mind, creating the veil of unbelief which encompasses the mind and heart of man.
(Note: the veil of unbelief only covers the heart and mind of man, not any other part of his spirit body.)
Secret works of darkness
Man cannot discover the chains of hell, nor the veil of unbelief that is upon him. If it were not for the word of God, which reveals the secret works of darkness of the evil one, no man would ever know that actual chains of hell exist, nor that veils of unbelief are secretly placed upon all mankind. These invisible plasma filaments (chains of hell) and plasma coverings (veils of unbelief) can only be detected by a manifestation of the gift of the discerning of spirits, for these are extensions of the spirit of the devil.
Satan operates in secret. As long as we have no knowledge of what he is doing to us, or what he has done or plans to do, he can work his destruction upon us with impunity. The word of God ruins his plans, because it fully exposes the danger the devil poses to us. Once a man knows that he is in chains of hell and covered in a veil of unbelief, secretly put there by the devil upon reaching the age of accountability and sinning, man can use his agency to fight it and attempt to get it off of him by calling on the power of Christ to help him. This puts a clog in the works of the devil, so he has always attempted to destroy the scriptures, or corrupt them, or get people to disbelieve them or misinterpret them. For those of us that have uncorrupted scriptures (the Book of Mormon), the devil’s strategy to stop us from liberating ourselves with the power of Christ is to deceive men into believing that all is figurative in the scriptures, or at least the parts that pertain to him. So, the expression “chains of hell” is not considered a real thing that binds man. And the “veil of unbelief” is not considered a real thing that covers the heart and mind of man. They are thought to be just figurative expressions of states of mind, not actual things that must be actively sought to be removed from one’s spirit body.
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord
O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him. (Mormon 9: 27)
Most LDS interpret this scriptural expression as referring to respect. In other words, when we fear God, we don’t actually exhibit fear of Him, meaning that we are frightened by Him, but accord Him the respect that He deserves. However, this expression does not refer to respect. Such an interpretation is a deception of the devil, a snare meant to blind the minds and harden the hearts of the church of God.
What fear in the expression actually means
The word fear in the expression “fear and trembling” signifies actual fear, as in fright or horror. It is the fear of being cast off forever.
And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them, for they were the very vilest of sinners. And the Lord saw fit in his infinite mercy to spare them; nevertheless they suffered much anguish of soul because of their iniquities, suffering much and fearing that they should be cast off forever. (Mosiah 28: 4)
Such fear is instilled in a person when the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached in its fulness and purity (see Alma 16: 21), meaning that those parts of the gospel which reveal the power and captivity of the devil―the reality of death and hell, the chains of hell, the darkness and blindness of minds, the hardness of hearts, the state of wickedness, the fallen, evil nature and nothingness of man, the bands of death, the doctrine of damnation and endless torment, the spirit of the devil, the mists of darkness and temptations of the devil, the veil of unbelief, the wavering state of the mind, the lake of fire and brimstone, the flaming sword of justice, the rivers of filthy water, etc.―such parts of the gospel sink home into the heart and mind of a man, and this new awareness causes him to fear to die because of the knowledge that the instant he leaves his mortal body he will be “taken home to that God who gave him life” (Alma 40: 11) and, being found unclean and possessed by the spirit of the devil (for the chains of hell are still attached), will then be cast off into hell (Alma 40: 13), to be kept in captivity by the devil, because of his sins.
Again, this is according to the power and captivity of the devil, which the Lord respects:
And again, doth a man take an ass which belongeth to his neighbor, and keep him? I say unto you, Nay; he will not even suffer that he shall feed among his flocks, but will drive him away, and cast him out. I say unto you, that even so shall it be among you if ye know not the name by which ye are called. (Mosiah 5: 14)
Satan possesses all who have his chains of hell upon them. We are his property and the Lord respects that and will respect that so long as we have a chain upon us sealing us as the devil’s. This is why we are cast off when we return to that God who gave us life and cannot enter paradise or the gates of righteousness. The chains of hell are still attached to us, the veil of unbelief remains intact and our minds are still in a state of blindness or darkness, or “filthiness” and “uncleanness.” No unclean thing can enter the gates of righteousness, otherwise paradise would also be unclean. So, we are cast off and dragged down to hell.
What trembling in the expression actually means
The trembling is both physical and spiritual, or the trembling of the entire soul when a man is confronted with his deepest, darkest and most horrifying fear, that of being cast off forever. Trembling happens when a man is conscious of his own guilt before God, having transgressed His laws and commandments.
Now Alma, seeing that the words of Amulek had silenced Zeezrom, for he beheld that Amulek had caught him in his lying and deceiving to destroy him, and seeing that he began to tremble under a consciousness of his guilt, he opened his mouth and began to speak unto him, and to establish the words of Amulek, and to explain things beyond, or to unfold the scriptures beyond that which Amulek had done. (Alma 12: 1)
Shaking loose the chains and rending the veil
Fear and trembling before the Lord causes man to be confronted with the realization that he does not have faith unto salvation, unto repentance, unto redemption. It is faith that saves a man from the hell that is prepared for him. The realization that he does not have faith plunges his soul into its own personal hell, where darkness envelops him and hell fires scorch and burn him up, in a process that, if the man learns to trust the Lord, repent of all his sins and continue on through the darkness and fires, will sanctify him, for these are the refiner’s fires, which are meant to consume the impurities found within his heart and mind, his very soul.
The trembling and shaking is not a mental process alone, but also a physical one. When it is discovered that the devil has actual chains upon his spirit, with an actual veil of unbelief upon his mind and heart, the spirit of man reacts violently against the foreign spirit of the devil, of which the chains of hell and veil of unbelief are a part, and attempts to shake it off itself. As the spirit of man is connected to his physical body, when the spirit suffers in anguish because of the awareness of the presence and attachment of the spirit of the devil,―and such suffering is known as “the pains of hell”―and then attempts to shake the chains of hell loose, the physical body likewise begins to shake uncontrollably. (See 2 Ne. 1: 13, 23; 9: 45 and Alma 5: 9-10; 26: 14.)
Faith unto repentance brings relief and liberation
If a man is able to obtain faith unto repentance, by offering to the Lord a broken heart and contrite spirit, the fear of being cast off forever and his trembling under a consciousness of guilt is turned into the joy of the saints, knowing that the Lord has redeemed his soul from hell and forgiven his sins. This happens when the chains of hell have finally been shaken off and the veil of unbelief has been rent by all the fearing, trembling and crying to the Lord with a broken heart and contrite spirit. The man is now free from the power and captivity of the devil and can worship the Lord free from the guilt of his sins, with the understanding that Jesus has taken them away and that should he die this instant, he will go to paradise and not hell.
“O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell!” (Alma 19: 29. These were the first words king Lamoni’s wife said, when she arose and stood upon her feet, after having been under the power of God.) The relief of liberation from the devil and deliverance from hell is the first thing on everyone’s mind.
In this state, the man is now justified (guiltless), purified (having no more desire to sin and, in fact, looking upon sin with abhorrence), and sanctified (having desires to do only good continually). He can now ask the Lord for a gift or power of the Spirit, with faith in Christ, believing he will receive, doubting nothing, and the Lord will grant his request.
Fear and trembling, part two
“O blessed God, have mercy on this people!” (Alma 19: 29; which were the second words that king Lamoni’s wife said after arising and standing upon her feet.)
Once free from sin, the liberated man turns his attention to those around him and his now acute knowledge of the power and captivity of the devil, and how narrowly he was able to escape his grasp and hell, causes him to fear and tremble for others. He begins to fear that those around him will be cast off forever and he begins to tremble and quake at the thought that if his fellowmen do not go through the same process that he just did, liberating themselves by faith on the word of Christ, that they will perish.
Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble. (Mosiah 28: 3)
The man of God, having been born as a new creature, even born of God, now desires that all should have the same privilege. Instead of fearing and trembling before the Lord because of his own sins, he now fears and trembles for the sins of others. If the man’s heart remains broken and his spirit contrite, he will continue in this purified, sanctified and justified state, working tirelessly to save as many souls from hell as he can, by exercising his faith to obtain and use the powers and gifts of God to benefit others and to help them also liberate themselves from Satan’s grasp.
This principle applies even to those who overcome the world and are translated, becoming sanctified in the flesh. Such persons still “suffer…sorrow…for the sins of the world.” (See 3 Ne. 28: 38.)
Fear and trembling, part three
The unrepentant man, whose soul is cast into hell, quickly finds himself in torment, with no apparent means of escape, bound to the devil by the chains of hell, which he can now plainly see are attached to his spirit, along with the veil of unbelief, in an environment of darkness, filthy rivers, magma, mists of darkness, surrounded by souls who are weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth, in continuous anguish and misery.
He sees his situation as hopeless. Although he walks in every imaginable direction, hell appears to be endless and its gates are all one way. Souls continually enter but none have power to leave. There is no relief to his torment. Not even death can get him out of this prison, for he cannot die. Finding himself literally in hell, which appears to him to be a never-ending prison, he begins to fear and tremble uncontrollably and without cease, which causes him to enter a state of misery and indescribable suffering. The fearing and trembling, however, that the damned soul in hell goes through, is insufficient to shake loose the chains of hell that bind him, because he still has no faith, hope or charity. Unless he is able to obtain the word of Christ and plant it in his heart, and go through the process of repentance, by which he exercises faith unto repentance, he must remain chained as a possession of the devil and be subjected to the devil’s power to make him miserable.
All must fear and tremble
All men who arrive at the age of accountability and have chains of hell placed upon them because of their transgressions must eventually fear and tremble. A man can either do it voluntarily before the Lord during mortality and allow the hellish process to work out his own salvation, purify his heart and shake off the devil’s chains, through faith on the Son of God, thereby causing the gates of hell to be shut before him, or he can be compelled by the devil to fear and tremble while he resides within the confines of hell.
Fearing and trembling before the Lord in mortality is the same process as that in hell, except that you have a physical body. The body makes it much easier and quicker to shake off the chains of hell and rend the veil of unbelief. The fearing and trembling occurs before the Lord, in prayer, as you wrestle with the understanding that there is a satanic veil covering your mind and heart, with a chain attached to it that leads directly to the devil himself. And this veil and chain is causing you to remain in a state of wickedness, blindness of mind and hardness of heart. It is deceiving you and not allowing you to exercise faith. And unless you exercise faith, you aren’t, can’t and won’t be saved. And if you were to die this instant, with this satanic spirit attached to you, this same spirit would possess you and drag you down to hell and cause you to be in subjection to it and all would be lost. (See Alma 34: 34-35.)
These are scary thoughts, the thought that you are unsaved and doomed to hell unless you can rend the veil of unbelief. This fear, when it works its way into a frenzy, causes your spirit and physical body to start shaking uncontrollably.
Again, it is the trembling of the spirit that leads to the veil of unbelief being rent and cast away and the chain of hell being loosened and shaken off. This is how all the ancients worked out their own salvation. It is a personal trip to hell done in the presence of the Lord, where the fires of hell sanctify the person by causing him to fear and tremble, which eventually frees the man from the bonds of hell that held him tight. Mind you, these aren’t the literal fires of hell (magma), but the spirit fires of hell (the twin plasma filaments discharging into our human spirits in dark mode, known as the chains of hell.) Hell, in a very literal way, is already attached to all of sinning mankind, by way of the spirit of the devil (the veil) that is rooted in us. The spiritual fires of hell is the spiritual torment a man feels knowing that he is not saved. It is a reaction by the spirit host (the man) to the alien, devilish symbiote (the veil and chain).
No one, except it be little children, will escape the fear and trembling of hell. When little children die, they go straight to paradise, avoiding hell altogether, and while little children are alive, they are sinless and have no chains of hell placed upon them, therefore they need not go through any fear and trembling. The repentant saints of God, though, must go through hell on earth, by which they work out their own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord. This allows them to enter paradise when they die, thus avoiding the gates of hell. The unrepentant wicked, on the other hand, do not go through this process on earth, therefore they must go to literal hell when they die, where they do not work out their own salvation, yet still fear and tremble under Satan’s power.
Suffering and sorrow is what it is all about
Suffering and sorrow are the sanctifying, purifying and justifying principles of the gospel. Fearing, trembling and having a broken heart and contrite spirit are the three principles that bring us to the Lord. The fear of being cast off forever, or, in the case of the righteous, the fear of other people being cast off forever, is a form of suffering. Trembling under a consciousness of one’s own guilt, or, in the case of the righteous, trembling under a consciousness of other people’s guilt (because of the knowledge that they will perish unless they repent), is also a form of suffering. And a broken heart and a contrite spirit is sorrow for one’s own sin (demonstrated by uncontrollable weeping), or, in the case of the righteous, sorrow for other people’s sins.
All of this suffering and sorrow is over, or about the consequences of, sin. It is sin-centric suffering and sorrow. If we go through suffering and sorrow about anything else that is not sin-centric, such as an illness, or failure at a relationship, or poverty, etc., none of such things does us any good whatsoever in the process of working out our own salvation. Only suffering and sorrow for sin sanctifies, purifies and justifies.
Deceptions of the devil
It is the intent of the devil to have all mankind fear and tremble in literal hell, under his satanic power, and not in mortality under the power of the Holy Ghost. The doctrine of working out one’s salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord destroys the devil’s captivating power, therefore, he inspires mortal men who are under his evil spirit to preach against this doctrine. One such individual was Nehor.
And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life. (Alma 1: 4)
Nehor’s preaching had devastating effect among the church of God, leading many members into sin and many were excommunicated. Since the time of Nehor, however, the devil has changed strategies, but the result is the same. Now, instead of getting the church of God to believe that the doctrine of fearing and trembling before the Lord is false or unnecessary, the devil has caused the church to re-interpret it as something other than what it is. Now the church believes it is merely showing respect towards the Lord by striving to keep His commandments, with no spiritual and physical suffering needed. This new strategy of the devil is more effective, at least for our time, because the church actually believes that they are working out their own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord, without going through any of the steps of the real doctrine.
Again, although the strategy has changed, the end result is the same. No one goes through the process of fearing that they will be cast off forever. No one goes through the spiritual and physical shaking and trembling under a consciousness of his guilt. And no one manifests the uncontrollable weeping associated with profound sorrow for one’s sins, known as a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
The doctrine of working out one’s own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord requires that a knowledge of the chains of hell, of death, hell and the devil, of the captivity and power of the devil, and of all things associated with Satan and hell and sin and death be explained to a person. Unless a person understands that he is in the devil’s grasp and is going to hell if he does not repent, he can never fear and tremble before the Lord in mortality, and if he never fears and trembles before the Lord in mortality, he must fear and tremble before the devil in hell.
Owing to the necessity of teaching the doctrine of hell and the captivating powers of the devil as part of the plan of salvation, the devil has enacted a plan whereby he now gets the church of God to avoid all mention of hell, death, the devil, fear, sin, trembling and any other “negative” emotional state. We focus on heaven and salvation and avoid all mention of damnation and hell. Fear is never, ever mentioned, at all, and when it is mentioned, it is immediately struck down as a barbaric relic of old-time religion. (For example, see this comment.)
Nephi saw our day (as well as the days to come) and saw the strategies that would be employed by the devil to emasculate the doctrine of fearing and trembling before God:
For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish; for behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.
Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment. (2 Nephi 28: 19-23)
Nephi said that “the kingdom of the devil must shake.” He understood completely the doctrine of fearing and trembling before the Lord. Also, he foresaw that hell would no longer be considered an actual place (see Teachings on hell and the spirit world), but a state of mind, as if people could release themselves from the misery of hell merely by thinking a different thought. Such deceptions are already upon us, and even greater deceptions are to come.
The gospel has already been compromised
The Book of Mormon preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ in purity. If you look at every preacher found within that book’s pages, you will notice that when they preached Christ, they also preached the devil and hell. When they preached salvation through Christ, they also preached damnation through the devil. When they preached liberation through the Son of God, they also preached captivity through the devil. When they preached of the Holy Ghost, they also preached of the evil spirit of the devil. They preached the gospel in its fulness and purity.
Now compare that to how the Gentile church of God preaches. We leave out fully one-half of the gospel when we preach it. We never talk of damnation, or captivity or hell, etc. When we talk of the atonement, we briefly mention sin and death and how the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ liberates us from that and then move on. There is no mention of fear, trembling, or any other thing that people might consider “too negative.” We focus on the positive and largely discard anything negative from our minds and conversations. As a result, we have stopped preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, for, like a scale, balanced coverage must be given to both sides in order for a man or woman to repent of their sins.
Truth be told, even the half that we do preach isn’t preached all that much. The vast majority of our conversation is centered on prophets and apostles, obedience to leaders and commandments, blessings of paying tithing, attending church and temple, and every other conceivable topic that has nothing, whatsoever, to do with Jesus Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection and judgment upon all mankind.
Now, I normally put the blame of all things wrong with the church of God on the member’s backs, but this time I point the finger at the church leadership. They are not teaching the gospel and instead of getting the people to repent, they are causing the hearts of the people to become more and more hardened.
The plan of salvation has also been compromised
The Gentile church has likewise modified the scriptural plan of salvation. The plan is, in a word, Christ. It is not a flip-chart with circles representing kingdoms of glory, earth and the Spirit World. Christ is the plan. He was sent to deliver us from death, hell and the devil. Through faith on the power of His deliverance He can blot out our transgressions, all our afflictions, all our pain, take away our temptations and even blot out death, in other words, everything that causes a tear of sadness to fall from the eyes of man. He took all this upon Himself so that He could blot it all out.
Without Christ we are subject to the devil. We are not subject to sin, but to the devil. This is an important distinction to make. Sin and death are but tools of the devil. The real danger is the devil. The plan of salvation is a plan to save us from the devil. For example, death is a problem because
“…if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself…” (2 Ne. 9: 8-9.)
And sin likewise causes us to become subject to him, so that, were there no plan of salvation, “our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils,” even angels to a devil. So, Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection is designed to save us from the devil for he is the one holding all the chains of hell.
When we focus on sin and death and leave out the devil, we destroy the plan of salvation and faith. If sin were just a nebulous concept, without an actual being of power behind it, we could all be Buddhists or of any other religion and not need Christ. But this is not the case. No one can break Satan’s chains of hell. No Buddhist, no Muslim, no religion or philosophy of men. Only faith in Christ can. He, and He alone is the plan of salvation and we need saving from Satan and Satan alone. Christ and Satan must go hand in hand when presenting the plan of salvation, otherwise, it is no longer the plan of salvation and is of none effect to save men.
The Gentile church of God has pretty much divorced sin from the power and captivity of Satan. For example, if you look at the Mormon.org page on “Jesus Christ,” sin is mentioned 24 times with no mention of the devil. (A little better is that site’s page, “God’s Plan of Happiness,” which mentions sin 7 times, with Satan mentioned twice.) As a result, no one can properly exercise faith as a principle of power. Instead, we get hit and miss manifestations and no gifts.
Also, the focus of the plan of salvation is no longer Christ. Now when we think of the plan of salvation, instead of viewing the sufferings, death and resurrection of Christ, we think of three degrees of glory and of exaltation in the celestial kingdom. And we most certainly do not think of the devil and hell. In fact, we don’t even use the word hell anymore, having replaced it with the more politically correct term, “spirit prison.” Yet, even with that term, we do not see it as an actual prison, with real shackles upon a person. All has become figurative states of mind.
“All fear is negative and bad and inspired by me,” says the devil
All of this is according to the deceptions, plans and power of the evil one, for it is his intent to remove both Christ and himself from our conversations. As long as he remains out of sight and out of mind, he is free to go about destroying souls.
In this way, the people are deceived and never realize the danger they are in, nor do they learn the process by which to go about removing themselves from that danger. They are deceived into thinking that fear, meaning actual fear, as in fright, is contrary to the gospel, and that fear can only be inspired by the devil. So, they never enter the process by which all the ancient saints went through to shake off the chains of hell and rend the veil of unbelief and save themselves, which is the process of fearing and trembling and crying before the Lord.
Again, what is it that we are to fear in this process? We are to fear being cast off forever. (See Mosiah 28: 4.) It is this fear that causes the body and spirit to tremble. And, why should we fear this? Because as long as the chains and veil are attached to us, we cannot exercise faith, cannot be saved and will be dragged down to hell once we leave our physical bodies, to become subject to, and possessed by, the devil’s spirit. Once people learn of these things, they begin to fear death, while the righteous, who have been liberated from this captivity, have no fear of death.
To be clearer in writing, no one can be saved without faith in Christ and no one can exercise faith in Christ unless they go through the process of fearing, trembling and crying before the Lord. So, to ascribe all fear as inspired of the devil is to commit spiritual suicide, for you will then never be able to exercise faith unto salvation.
The scriptures explain these things in plainness, so that people can understand that they ought to go through this process right now, this very moment, while they are still alive. Such plainness necessitates Satan’s strategy to get us to misinterpret these real things as mere symbols.
The one mighty and strong is a deception
There are many who are waiting for “one mighty and strong” to show up and save the day, performing miracles and wonders and signs. Such a doctrine is inspired of the devil. I’m not saying that there will not be one or more persons arriving who will be mighty and strong and manifest miracles and perform great works. Of course there will be. However, the waiting for such a man or men to arrive is inspired by the evil one, that he might keep all those who believe such a doctrine in the status quo and ever relying upon the arm of flesh and looking for someone to lead them.
The true doctrine of Christ is that every man and woman is to repent of their sins and harden not their hearts, receiving a remission of their sins, and then asking God in faith to obtain the gifts and powers of the Spirit, so as to work miracles themselves, and not to wait for miracle workers to show up. Those who wait for miracle workers to show up, without learning how to work miracles themselves, will end up being deceived, for Satan will send miracle workers with the intent to deceive such people.
We are to obtain the gifts ourselves so that we are not deceived (see D&C 46: 8.) If you do not obtain the gifts, but merely wait for a savior to arrive, you will get a savior, but he will be sent from the evil one.
Pray against the power of the devil
The scriptures indicate that we must pray always and not faint, that we be not led into temptation. In other words, we are to pray against the power of the devil, against his power to tempt and deceive us and others.
Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness. (Alma 34: 21.)
The Lord will grant us what we ask for in faith, but if we do not ask for something, He will not grant it. The ancients always prayed against the devil’s power and taught all men to do so. The Gentile church typically neglects this duty.
The ordinance of prayer
Prayer is an ordinance (see New thoughts on prayer) by which we offer a sacrifice to the Lord. He only accepts one type of sacrifice: that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. A broken heart and contrite spirit is a heart that is inundated with sorrow for sin. Initially, it is sorrow for one’s own sins. Later, when forgiveness through faith on Christ has come, it is sorrow for the sins of the world.
Prayer only works if this sacrifice is offered up. If any man or woman prays to God without presenting before Him the required sacrifice, which is the only sacrifice He will accept, the prayer is counted as evil and profits the man nothing. (See Moroni 7: 6-9.) Just as Cain brought the wrong sacrifice to the Lord and was rejected by Him, while Abel brought the right sacrifice and was accepted, so if we pray to God without a broken heart and contrite spirit, our prayers will not be answered, or will be of no profit to us.
The Son of God is “quick to hear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers” (Alma 9: 26), but only if they offer the required sacrifice. If they go to the prayer altar and offer up nothing, or some substitute sacrifice, they have no such promise.
If you are not weeping, you are not broken-hearted
The Lord has given us a key whereby we might know if we have a broken heart and contrite spirit: the crying of tears of sorrow. When we are crying tears of sorrow for our own sins, or for others’ sins, then we are broken-hearted. If we have not, as yet, reached that point, our hearts are still hard.
Yea, his weeping for Zion I have seen (D&C 21: 8 – The Lord, speaking of Joseph Smith, Jun.)
For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry. (2 Ne. 33: 3 – Nephi)
There is a reason why the scriptures tell us to “cry unto the Lord.” The word cry can mean “to make a loud call or cry, as in an effort to be heard, in prayer or supplication, in pain or anger, etc.; to call out or exclaim vehemently or earnestly; to shout; to vociferate.” But it can also mean “to utter lamentations; to lament audibly; to express pain, grief, or distress, by weeping and sobbing; to wail; to shed tears with or without making a sound; to weep.” It is the latter type of crying that demonstrates a broken heart and contrite spirit.
When we cry to the Lord, with uncontrollable weeping for our sins, the Lord is “quick to hear the cries.” Only those who have a broken heart and contrite spirit―who are they that are truly penitent and sorry for their sins―have access to the atonement of Jesus Christ, “and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered” (2 Ne. 2: 7.) This means that unless you are brought to tears for your own sins, or for the sins of the world, you are currently in a state of damnation, because your heart is still hard, the veil of unbelief is still intact, the chains of hell are still attached to you and you are still in subjection to the devil, being an enemy to God.
The condition of the heart
It all comes down to our hearts. Our hearts are hard, like a stone. This is the reason, the only reason, why those of us who ask God for a gift of the Spirit, do so in vain. This is the reason why we do not receive.
No one can exercise faith while in a state of damnation. No one can be saved in his sins. He must be saved from his sins. A hard heart is a wicked heart. As long as his heart is hard, a man is still in his sins. The heart must be broken before salvation goes forth. Before Christ can forgive anyone of any sins, there must be the all-important sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Simply saying you are sorry for your sins does not cut it. You must feel sorrow for your sins. And this must be the sorrow unto repentance spoken of in the scriptures. This is sorrow that is accompanied by tears, by uncontrollable weeping. It is this sorrow that causes you to turn from (repent of) your sins.
And for those of us who have turned from our sins without the accompanying sorrow for sin (the weeping of a broken heart), such “repentance” is but a change of lifestyle and profits us nothing in the afterlife. The Lord looks upon the heart. Regardless of how one has stopped using drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and breaking the law of chastity and other laws of God, if the heart is still hard, that man is still in a state of wickedness, with veil of unbelief firmly attached, and has no faith unto salvation, which is why he cannot perform any miracle and will find himself in hell upon his death if he continues in the iniquity of his heart. So, it is sorrow for sin (the broken heart and contrite spirit) that is the first and chief gift of God that one needs to be saved.
But before you can attain to that state of sorrow, you must understand the consequences of sin. You must have a proper understanding of death, hell, and the devil and the captivity of the devil. And this understanding must work in you until you fear being cast off and tremble under a consciousness of your guilt before God. Only then can you come close to obtaining a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
All of this brings us to the role of the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is the solution
The word of God, found in the Book of Mormon, contains everything necessary to bring people to repentance, to the broken heart and contrite spirit required before miracles can go forth. This volume of scripture is designed to “pull down all the pride” (see Alma 4: 19) of the church of God. The opposite of pride is humility, meekness, lowliness of heart. These words refer to the broken heart and contrite spirit, not to mere “teachableness” as many LDS would interpret them to mean.
The church of God is currently in a rising pride cycle, which means that it does not desire to repent, nor feels the need to. It enjoys the status quo just fine. It resembles the Nehor perversion in certain aspects.
(The order of Nehors created exceedingly hard-hearted people. It was the Nehors of Ammonihah who murdered the women and children believers by fire. See Alma 14. It was also mostly the Nehors who slew the Anti-Nephi-Lehies who were prostrate and praying to God. See Alma 24.)
So, many members no longer care about obtaining the gifts. But even the members that are concerned about the lack of gifts, and that attempt to receive them, are incapable of doing so because they “are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.” In short, the devil has the entire world under darkness, both within and without the church.
The Book of Mormon is the Lord’s solution to this problem. It is intended to give us the word of God in purity so that we can learn everything we need to know about Christ’s atonement and His power of deliverance, as well as the devil’s power of captivity. It continually calls us to repentance and shows us exactly what to do to escape the grasp of the devil and avoid entering hell, how to obtain a glorious resurrection, how to repent and receive forgiveness of sin, and how to obtain any gift or power that God has ever given to any saint of any age. In short, it gives us exactly what we need to gain the victory over the devil and overcome the world by faith.
Enos and Amulek as our models
Enos knelt before his Maker and “cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication” for his own soul, “all the day long.” And when the night came, he did still raise his voice in prayer. And then the Lord spoke to him and told him his sins were forgiven.
It took Enos less than 24 hours of “crying to the Lord,” or less than the waking hours of a day, before the Lord finally spoke to him and he obtained a remission of his sins. It was accomplished in a single day.
Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you. (Alma 34: 31)
Again, the implication is that it takes but one day to obtain forgiveness.
How to pray, part two
Remember the list of steps? Pray to the Father, in the name of Christ, with faith in Christ, believing that we will receive, doubting nothing, for something good and right? Well, if you pray that way without a broken heart and a contrite spirit, you won’t receive a damn thing.
Before approaching the Lord in prayer to obtain the gifts of the Spirit, you must first obtain a remission of your sins, and before that you must first obtain a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And to do that you need to be harrowed up with guilt, you need to tremble and fear before the Lord, and nothing does that like the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, even the word of God as written in the Book of Mormon. The broken heart is the first thing to ask for. With prayer and the word of God, as found in the Book of Mormon, pride will eventually be pulled down and your heart will be softened and the tears will flow for your sins.
At that point, you must pray to God for forgiveness, while in your state of tears, or broken-heartedness, for as long as it takes. As demonstrated by Enos, it won’t take longer than a day, for the Lord is quick to hear the cries of His people. When you finally receive forgiveness of sin and have had your sorrow wiped away and replaced by joy, being full of the Holy Spirit and being baptized with fire, with the ability to speak the tongue of angels, etc., then, and only then, will you be able to ask and receive whatever you want.
Right after Enos received a forgiveness of sins, he got back onto his knees and poured out his whole soul to God for his brethren the Nephites. His broken-heartedness was in their behalf. Again, the Lord spoke to him. Later, he again prayed in this same manner, this time asking for something specific regarding the preservation of their records. He received what He asked for, because once again, he prayed with a broken heart and contrite spirit.
This is the grand key to the doctrine of ask and receive. If you have a hard heart, you receive the lesser portion until you know nothing and are taken captive by the devil. If you do not harden your heart, but keep it broken, you receive the greater portion of the word until you know the mysteries in full. (See Alma 12: 10-11.) Again, the key to know if you have a hard or soft heart is whether you weep over sin.
The Atonement has power to melt hearts
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me. (Alma 7: 11-13)
The suffering that Jesus went through is designed to move the Universe to tears, compassion and forgiveness. All mankind would unavoidably perish were it not for the redemption of Christ, and He came down to save us, not to save Himself, because He loves us and does not want the workmanship of His hands to perish. So, this was a completely selfless sacrifice. Both the reasons for the sacrifice and the intensity of it work on all who plant this word in their hearts.
This means that when we plant this word in our hearts and believe it, viewing the cross of Christ and all the suffering that He underwent, we, too, can be moved to tears, compassion and forgiveness. In other words, the atonement has power to take away our stony hearts and give us a heart of flesh. For this reason, studying the word of God tends to pull down pride and humble us to the dust, making it easier for us to obtain a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
For those of us who find that we cannot cry to the Lord, meaning that we cannot feel the sorrow for sin necessary to obtain blessings from the Lord, because the tears do not come, the Lord, in His infinite foreknowledge and mercy, knowing that the preaching of the word in purity has power to break hearts and that the Gentile church would not preach the word in purity, began the foundation of the church with the Book of Mormon, for the Book of Mormon prophets preached it in purity. In this way, anyone who desired to obtain a broken heart and a contrite spirit, could do so by reading the Book of Mormon with a believing heart. This would be as effective as hearing the pure word preached in power.
A doctrine of two atonements
The process of working out your own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord, and of calling upon the name of the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit is an atonement. To be saved, two atonements are required. The infinite atonement of Christ in which He feared that we would all be cast off, trembled with a perfect consciousness of all our guilt, and sorrowed under the enormous weight of our sins, was the first one, without which no one would be saved. But a second one, a finite one, in which each person must also go through this process of fearing, trembling and sorrowing, is necessary to activate the first one.
A sense of our own nothingness
Ammon said, “Yea, I know that I am nothing” (Alma 26: 12.) Mormon said, “O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth” (Helaman 12: 7.) And king Benjamin said, “The knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state” (Mosiah 4: 5.)
The broken heart and contrite spirit is attendant with a sense of our own nothingness. Lehi preached the nothingness of man to his children (see Deep Waters: Lehi’s model of the universe) who then kept up the teaching throughout their generations to the end of their civilization. We are, quite literally, nothing, having come from the nothingness. All that we are and possess has been given to us, or leased to us, by the generosity and charity of God. If we do not turn the lease into a permanent ownership, by filling our hearts with charity, which is the love of God, our lease will end and we will return to the nothingness from whence we came. Just as from dust we are taken and to dust we shall return, so from nothing we come and to nothing we shall return, unless we take advantage of the atonement of Christ.
Even before obtaining a broken heart and a contrite spirit, getting a sense of one’s own nothingness assists in softening the heart, for the contrast between God’s absolute greatness, being a possessor of all things, and our nothingness, causes us to quake and tremble. Shaking, quaking and trembling are helpful in softening the heart. And after the broken heart is received, always remembering one’s nothingness and the greatness of God keeps everything in a proper perspective, so that it becomes that much easier to retain a remission of sin.
Retaining a remission of sins
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 nothingness, 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)
The key to retaining a remission of sins, given by king Benjamin, is to continually perform the ordinance of prayer, offering a sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, which is the required sacrifice or atonement that is acceptable to the Lord. Doing so will fill us with the love of God (charity) so that it will be well with us at the last day, for whoever does not possess charity is counted as nothing and must return to the nothingness from whence they came, while those who do possess charity remain in the kingdom and receive an inheritance.
It is imperative, then, that we pray always and do not faint, after the prescribed manner.
There is no going back
To those who wish to use the information in this post, know going into it that once you start the fearing and the trembling, there is no going back. The pure gospel awakens you from the sleep of hell into a state of torment, even the pains of hell. The realization that you do not have faith will torment you as if your soul has been set on fire, for without faith no man can be saved.
One option (temporary at best) is to reject the gospel altogether and to believe that the promises of the Lord are false and thus the plan of salvation is a sham. But that will only work until you die and then you will find yourself in hell, in your unsaved condition. So death does not bring relief from this misery.
If you make an agency choice to continue to believe that what the Lord has promised in the scriptures is true, and that all who ask in faith, believing they will receive, nothing doubting, will indeed receive, then you must remain in your miserable, faithless state until you obtain the promised witness.
The very misery you find yourself in, then, knowing that you have no faith sufficient to save yourself, will either impel you forward to ask again and strive to obtain the witness, or drive you backward to reject the entire gospel. In this way, all who arrive at the trial of faith must make a choice. There is no middle ground. It is all or nothing.
Closing summary: A gospel prescription
Just as one goes to a doctor who then prescribes a medication or procedure to cure the ailment, so we can write a prescription based upon the above information to “cure” the world of a deficiency of gifts and miracles.
There are three steps to receiving what you ask God for. The first is the fear of being cast off forever. The second is a trembling under a consciousness of your own guilt before God. The third is a broken heart and a contrite spirit, which is extreme sorrow for your sins, manifested by uncontrollable weeping.
Once a man has the fear we are speaking of, this automatically leads him to trembling. The fear and trembling, if they are continued through prayer and studying the word of God, will eventually lead to a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
It is the broken heart and contrite spirit that rends the veil of unbelief, shakes off the chains of hell and casts away every doubt. Once a person has a broken heart and a contrite spirit, he can pray to God for forgiveness of his sins and within a single day of prayer become justified, sanctified and purified. This is because God is quick to hear the cries of those that have a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
After his sins are remitted, the man must continue in prayer and fasting, praying against the power of the devil, acknowledging the greatness, goodness and long-suffering of God and His hand in all things, and always remembering his own nothingness, and by so doing, he will always retain a remission of his sins.
Such a man, whose sins are now remitted due to his broken heart and contrite spirit, can ask the Lord for any gift or power of the Spirit and it will be granted him. So long as he remains broken-hearted and with a contrite spirit, he will grow in the knowledge of the glory of God, and partake of as many gifts, marvels, signs, wonders and powers as he asks for.
Now, backing up a bit: the first step is fear. To obtain this fear, a man must have the gospel preached to him in its purity, so that he has a good understanding of the power and captivity of the devil, of hell and of death, and also of the power and deliverance of the Son of God, of heaven and of the resurrection and judgment. The volume of scripture that God has given to us to preach the gospel in purity is the Book of Mormon. Therefore, to all who are serious about obtaining and exercising faith and receiving the gifts and miracles of God into their lives, may I make a suggestion?
Put every other book you are currently reading and studying aside and just read the Book of Mormon, preferably out loud, so that you actually hear it preached. Every available moment that you have, read from its pages, with the above understanding in mind, and allow it to soften and affect your heart, afflict your soul, harrow you up with your sins, instill fear in you and cause you to tremble under a consciousness of your own guilt. This can only be accomplished if you believe everything that you read and apply all the sermons of repentance to you, as if they were spoken directly to you and with you in mind. Do this until your pride has been pulled down by the word of God and you have obtained the broken heart and contrite spirit that you seek.
Also, pray to God in the above prescribed manner, using a deadline so that each prayer becomes a trial of your faith. In this way, you will be able to plainly see that you do not have faith, which will cause you to fear and tremble exceedingly.
Continue on with these prayers and scripture readings, and petition the Lord for the broken heart and contrite spirit and to rend the veil of unbelief and shake loose the chains of hell. Use every available moment to do these things and submit yourself fully to the fearful and trembling pains of hell. Eventually, the Lord will take away your stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh and you will finally feel the relief that comes from uncontrollably sobbing because of your sins. You will finally be able to feel sorrow for your sins, instead of just saying you are sorry and not really feeling it.
When those tears come, continue crying (with tears) to God, in your broken heart and contrite spirit, asking for forgiveness of your sins until you obtain forgiveness.
Once you obtain forgiveness, you can now ask God to see an angel or a vision or whatever, and it will be given to you. Then go and bear testimony to others of what you have seen so that they can exercise faith to see the same things. This is how it works.