We are all the Rich Young Ruler


I wanted to express my heart as it pertains to something I’ve heard from LDS leaders previously — specifically because I heard it just heard it again from a member of the quorum of the 70 during this most recent General Conference.

It concerns a false interpretation of the story given in Matthew 19:

and behold
one came and said unto Jesus

good master
what good thing shall I do
that I may have eternal life?

and Jesus said unto him

why do you call me “good“?
there is none good
but one
and that is god
but
if you want to experience eternal life
then you must keep the commandments

he said unto him

which ones?

Jesus said

do not take life
do not cheat on your spouse
do not steal
do not speak falsely
honor your parents
love your neighbor as though they were yourself

the young man said

all these things have I done since my youth
what else am I lacking?

Jesus said

if you want to be perfect
go and sell all that you have
and give to the poor
then you will have treasure in heaven instead
and then come and follow me

but he went away sorrowful after hearing that
because he had amassed great wealth

This is a scripture with an obvious interpretation:  namely that if we want to follow Christ, we must first sell all of our material possessions and follow after Jesus.  And because of that, it’s something that has always been interpreted by modern men to have “some other” application that “doesn’t apply” to us today [just so we can get away from addressing what it really means for us as a society today].

Most recently, I heard Larry Lawrence [of the Quorum of the Seventy] teach false doctrine to the saints of Christ as it relates to this topic.  He said:

Let’s consider the New Testament account of the rich young ruler. He was a righteous young man who was already keeping the Ten Commandments, but he wanted to become better. His goal was eternal life.

When he met the Savior, he asked, “What lack I yet?

Jesus answered immediately, giving counsel that was intended specifically for the rich young man.  Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and … come and follow me.”

What Lack I Yet?

Note the part I bolded from Elder Lawrence’s talk he gave to latter-day saints.  The human inclination is to read this story and ass-u-me that the counsel that Jesus gave applies only to that man in question.  The proper position that a man of God would take is to let that scripture prick conscience of the people and convict us of sin, insofar as we withhold our surplus from the needy, impoverished, and destitute.

I want to state, unequivocally, by the power of the Holy Spirit which is in me — that the counsel of Jesus given to the rich, young man in Matthew 19 was not “intended specifically for the rich young man” — this is false doctrine, and what Jesus said is true for all people who want to truly follow Him.

It is true for each-and-every one of us — that if we want to experience eternal life, then we must cease to covet the abundance we have and be free-and-willing to share all that we have with the needy, impoverished, and destitute.  And, if we are not willing, then we will find ourselves with the rest of the “rich men” — in hell lifting up our eyes, being in torment.

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Going From “You Owe Me” to “Money”


The history of money:

Standard economic theory is that once upon a time all transactions were exclusively barter:  e.g., 20 chickens for your cow, a basket of corn for your basket of wheat, 3 animal furs for your spear.  Then inconveniences arose when your neighbor didn’t need that many chickens right now but you still needed his cow – so then money was invented as an arbitrary medium of exchange that you both could agree had value.

However, anthropologists have never found places where everyday transactions look like Adam Smith’s theory of the exclusive barter system – the place where everybody in the community does business via on-the-spot trades.  What anthropologists do observe among primitive communities is an exchange system more like:  “Take the cow and now you owe me one.”  If these communities are tribal [e.g., Native Americans], there is often no exchange at all – rather things are shared commonly or allocated by a tribal council, etc.

In other words – the story doesn’t go:

barter –> money –> debt

rather, it goes the other way:

debt –> money –> barter

There was never a community of on-the-spot traders that sought out a medium of exchange, that then became money.  There was a “Just take it and now you owe me one” system of tribal-sharing that turned into a system of measured obligation [called debt – where money is the unit of measure].  And then on-the-spot trading and bartering systems only appear among people in money-based systems where the currency has collapsed.

The role of the state:

What made the “Just take it and now you own me one” turn into a system of measured obligation and money?  For millions of years humans organized themselves according to their tribe and their tribe’s land – and nothing else.

Advancements such as monoculture and city-states created large groups of largely unrelated persons living together – humans began “bonding” through commerce or business or information.  While civilization has undoubtedly caused great benefits for the human species, having larger communities bound by principles other than kinship created a greater potential for war [leading to plunder and slaves to be divided up] and a greater interest in taxation.

We observe complex financial systems of measured credit and debt at the beginning of recorded history.  Meaning, by the time historical records began to be written, humans had already come to a point past the tribal-sharing model, and were full-swing into a monetary-based system such as:  “just compensation shall be 20 heifers of the finest quality, if not he shall be put to death.”

In Egypt, a strong centralized state excised taxes from everyone else.  In Mesopotamia, the state emerged rather unevenly – beginning first with large temple-districts [e.g., Gobekli Tepe], and then later palace-complexes.  In any event, the state is where money begins as a unit of measure – used to allocate resources within these new systems of human organization.

Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

There three ways to understand this scripture:

  • Nothing belongs to Caesar because all things are God’s.  So render nothing.
  • Some things do belong to Caesar, but the United States is not under a “Caesar”, but is a representative democracy.  “We the People” are “Caesar”.  So you don’t have to render, but you can/should.
  • Money belongs entirely to Caesar and God has nothing to do with it.  Render it all.

Now show me some tribute money — and what is the image and superscription you find?  All money pertains to Caesar.  There aren’t legitimate parts of the state that have claim on some of our money and illegitimate parts that do not.  Legal tender belongs to the state alone and those who want to be free of its control can’t be half in Caesar’s game and half out.

Meaning you can’t charge money for your labor, spend money to buy the fruits of another’s labor, and lay-up your money for a rainy day, etc. — and not expect to fall under the jurisdiction of Caesar who wants his due rendered to him.  Caesar’s is a money-based community.  God’s is a money-free community.

Once you convert something of real value [e.g., your time or your labor] into something of no value [like dollars] – it is lost forever.  The only way to retain the value is to stay in Caesar’s game.  Find someone else who plays and trade with them.

Dollars are like inches. They are only a unit of measure [dollars = value, inches = length].  We know we don’t carry around inches in our pocket – yet many actually believe dollars to be something.  And money falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the state.  As such, once you work for dollars, the thing of value disappears and is replaced by the thing of no-value.  The only way to get back value is to find someone who plays the same game and do a value-for-no-value trade with them – perpetuating the whole thing.

The role of the gospel:

Jesus’ ministry cost very little – a couple taxes paid via miraculous means.  God finances His operation in His own way.  However, the Gentile LDS church has not been able to recreate this.  We instead maintain a significant financial operation – making it obvious to any outside observers that it’s the power of money [not of the priesthood] that carries the work forward in these latter-days.  We have sufficient for our needs and invest the difference.

To be poor and join the church — one will be immediately confronted with the image of a wealthy group with certain expectations.  It is a wealthy church with a self-perpetuating financial arm that is able to use interest profited off of tithing contributions to fund for-profit ventures that “fund the work of the Lord”.

While it could be argued that, practically-speaking, currency is just simply required to “spread the gospel” and that leaders are just being “good stewards” — I don’t think anything about the gospel reads as being “practically-minded”.

The corporation that carries the trademarked name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, like any other business, dependent on money.  It must play Caesar’s game.  No operation playing that game can sustain itself without engaging in at least a bit of for-profit venturing, shrewd investing, and fund-raising here-and-there.  And I would not expect them too.  I do not fault that corporation for it’s handling of and dealings with money – I find fault for the claim that it is the same organization that existed in the primitive church, but not doing it.

One can never be free while still playing Caesar’s game:

Jesus and the kingdom have no use for money.  Jesus taught His disciples to live contrary to the principles of surplus economics and instead rely alone on God to provide [not self-reliance and provident living].

There is a reason Jesus sent missionaries out without purse or scrip – commanding them to take no thought for food, drink, or clothing – to freely give miraculous works to any who receive them – to rely on the mercies of the world to provide for their needs.  It is because only the poor are intended to teach and preach the gospel.

And only the poor [who are meek] will inherit the abundance of spiritual manifestations and the Earth.  Zion is to be a money-free community where all members live together and have all things common – where all mine are thine and we are glorified together.

When humans lived in the Edenic state of multihusband-multiwife tribes – money did not exist.  The idea of “having any money” was foreign to Adam, who only kept the tokens associated with his priesthood.  Any return to such a paradisaical lifestyle will only be associated with complimentary return to the manner of connectedness and cooperation humans shared before statism, monogamous family-units, and monetary-based systems of exchange.

Want to start a real revolution this new year?  It takes a revelation…give it a try

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To serve Him is to follow Him; that where He is, the servant may be found


In 3 Nephi 13, Jesus outlines five disciplines that characterize His disciples.  The “disciple” is “one who follows another for the purpose of learning from him,” and the “discipline” is “the instruction imparted to disciples“, and is thus antithetical to doctrine”, which pertains to the doctor.  The latter being more concerned with abstract theory, while the former with practice or exercise.

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.  If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be

Where I am, there shall also my servant be…” — well where was Jesus to be found?  He was found doing alms, praying, forgiving, fasting, and denying Himself to seek after the kingdom of God.

Doing alms

Jesus said:

Verily, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.

Therefore, when ye shall do your alms do not sound a trumpet before you, as will hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.

In Matthew 6, the Greek for the word “alms” is eleēmosynē, which signifies mercy or pity.  Thus, to “do alms unto the poor” means to do acts of mercy or acts that show mercy towards the poor.  It is often equated with giving money, though it is more than that.  King Benjamin defined “substance” as:

for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind

and thus, doing alms is something more than the giving of money:

I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

Doing alms is about getting in there, getting your hands dirty, going through the dirt with someone – to feed, clothe, visit, and administer to them.  Legal tender doesn’t do these things.  Only people can.  This is doing alms.

Doing these acts openly is itself the reward, and nothing else will follow.  When alms are done anonymously, secretly, or without regard for being seen by others to be doing them – then heavenly Father will render reward for them.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me…

…Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

The quickest way for an LDS to practice this discipline would be to stop filling out a donation form when they turn in their tithes/offerings in the envelope to the bishopric.  Those alms are not done in secret because a record is kept and is filed with the State.  It can also be done by connecting with other Christian ministry groups who do alms in the community [food shelters, prison ministry, protesting abortion clinics, etc.], as well as moving on some personal issue that moves your heart.

Prayer

Jesus said:

And when thou prayest thou shalt not do as the hypocrites, for they love to pray, standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.

After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

There is a common element between doing alms and praying – that of secrecy.  In both cases, that which is done openly to be seen of others carries with it its own reward, while that which is done in secret and seen by no one will be rewarded by our Father in heaven.

A hypokritēs is a stage-actor.  In the ancient Greek dramas, the hypocrite wore his mask [a “person“] and acted out his role, saying the right lines to portray the part.  Hypocrites are playing the part of a pray-er, aren’t saying a prayer at all.

A vain repetition is something that is said so often that it loses any meaning.  However, not all repetition is vain:

And [Jesus] spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying,

There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

A repetition is vain when the right-brain-heart is not broken/softened and the asker is unrighteous.  The prayer is vain because it will profit the pray-er nothing:

For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.

Unless one’s heart has been broken by the guilt of their own guilt before God, all prayer is a vain repetition.  Meaning, if this event has not taken place, the only prayer that is not vain is a prayer for a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  This is because a person with a hard heart:

doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.

Forgiveness

Jesus said:

For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

The principle by which the atonement forgives sin is:

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Meaning that sin is not forgiven/punishment withheld because God effectively beat it out of Jesus on the cross or in Gethsemane.  Justice is not satisfied by punishing innocents.

will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother?  I say unto you, Nay.

The gospel [good news] is that Jesus can satisfy just accusers [those judging and condemning sin] and put an end to their demands.  He removes all accusers:

where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

The visual imagery of Jesus being:

filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice;

is that for an accuser to obtain [or “get to”] justice, they’ll first have to get through Jesus – who is standing there to present His suffering as evidence on a sinner’s behalf so justice will stop making its demands long enough for an appeal for compassion to be made by Christ.  His suffering was so great — not because that’s how much it takes for God to be happy with the sinners — but because the evidence had to be sufficiently moving to the entire created universe so accusers would stop making their just demands and drop all charges.  And where there is no condemnation [no demands of justice], there is no punishment.

Hell will be full of judgers, condemners, and withholders of forgiveness.  The kingdom of God will be full of those willing to forgo judgment, to withhold condemnation, and to forgive others.

Fasting

Jesus said:

Moreover, when ye fast be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face;That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father, who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

Jesus said, “when ye fast,” not “if ye fast,” or “ye should fast.”  It was assumed that His audience was a people who fast.   Again, as was the case with doing alms and praying, fasting is a discipline to be done in secret.  When done openly, fasting carries with it its own reward, but when done so that only the Father in heaven knows it is happening, He will be the one to reward.

Fasting is a part of the teaching of Jesus that:

Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Denying the “self” or the “ego” includes going without the food and water the body needs.  It’s saying to the self, “I know there is food within reach, but we’re not doing that right now.  We’re focusing on something more important.  You’ll get your food soon enough.”

Though fasting, in this context, refers to not consuming food or drink for some extended period of time [as a part of the denial of self] it can include Lenten fasts of a certain vice or favorite activity, Ramadan-esque fasts that are only during sunlight hours, or a myriad of others ways the “self” can be denied.

Simplicity

Jesus said:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal; But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.

And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Remember the words which I have spoken. For behold, ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people. Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.

Jesus lists three things we ought to “take no thought for”:

  • Your life [what ye shall eat and what ye shall drink]
  • You body [what ye shall put on]
  • The morrow

As an example of what He means, Jesus teaches that:

  • Fowls of the air do not sow, reap, or gather into barns – yet are feed by Father in heaven.
  • Lilies of the field do not toil or spin – yet are clothed beautifully as they are.
  • Today has enough to devote ourselves to without being anxious for the next day.

The time and energy that taking no thought for food, clothing, and the morrow frees up should then be devoted to the building up of the kingdom of God.  Many reverse the order of “seek ye first…and all these things shall be added…” – thinking that they will work to amass a nice nest-egg/surplus and then really be able to get to work serving in the kingdom of God.  Thinking that they shall obtain riches if they seek them with the intent to do good, but still forgetting that seeking the kingdom of God always comes before there are any riches:

Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.

But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good — to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

Anyone can rationalize all they want about how they pay tithing and a generous fast offering and are thus giving enough – so they will save the rest for themselves in the future, but the principle given in the scriptures is one of surplus [meaning anything that is above and beyond what you need to survive].  If you pay a full tithing and a generous fast offering, but still retain one penny of surplus, then you are coveting the drop and will be damned.

Under gospel law, riches [surplus] are never intended to be used by the wealthy [those with the surplus].  It is the intention that riches [surplus] be used by the needy [those who are less than poor, lacking sufficient for their needs] – so that both parties [the rich and the needy] become poor [have sufficient for their needs]. Any attempt to utilize surplus for the benefit of the rich or poor is wickedness.

When Jesus said:

ye have the poor always with you

this was to be the case in Zion, where all are continuously giving of their surplus [thus are scripturally “poor”] and it is only this type of poor [the givers of surplus and those who desire to give of surplus] that are the meek who will inherit the earth.

If the Lord does “prosper the righteous” [by placing wealth into their possession by some miraculous means], it is only because He entrusts that person to distribute the wealth as He would see fit [meaning he/she gives it to the needy, thereby becoming poor again].  If an entire community practices this [and thus there are no needy among them], then a different law for handling a surplus would be required.

There is a reason why Jesus sent out traveling priesthood missionaries without purse [money] or scrip [food], instead relying on the mercies of the world to provide for their needs.  It’s because only the poor are intended to teach and preach the gospel, in order to prove [test or try] the world.  Instead, we have turned things upside-down by calling wealthy men to the positions of leadership.  The priesthood becoming an honor of men, as can only be expected.

Thus there are five disciplines that characterize disciples of Christ:

  • Doing alms in such a way as to not be seen/recognized as doing them
  • Praying in secret, real prayer — not babbling to the sky
  • Judging not, condemning not, and forgiving
  • Fasting in such a way as to not be seen/recognized as denying the self
  • Living simplistically — taking no thought for storing up a surplus, or for getting food, drink, or clothing, or being anxious about the morrow

Next Article by Justin: The Garment, with additions

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The practice of hiding up treasures unto the Lord


Samuel the Lamanite Prophesies of a Curse

and behold | a curse shall come upon the land |

saith the lord of hosts |

because of the peoples’ sake | who are upon the land | yea | because of their wickedness and their abominations |

and it shall come to pass |

saith the lord of hosts | yea | our great and true god |

that whoso shall hide up treasures in the earth shall find them again no more | because of the great curse of the land |

save he be a righteous man | and shall hide it up unto the lord |

for i will |

saith the lord |

that they shall hide up their treasures unto me |

and cursed be they | who hide not up their treasures unto me |

for none hideth up their treasures unto me | save it be the righteous |

and he that hideth not up his treasures unto me | cursed is he |

and also the treasure | and none shall redeem it | because of the curse of the land |

and the day shall come | that they shall hide up their treasures | because they have set their hearts upon riches |

and because they have set their hearts upon their riches | and will hide up their treasures | when they shall flee before their enemies | because they will not hide them up unto me | cursed be they and also their treasures | and in that day shall they be smitten |

saith the lord |

behold ye | the people of this great city | and hearken unto my words | yea | hearken unto the words | which the lord saith |

for behold | he saith | that ye are cursed | because of your riches | and also are your riches cursed | because ye have set your hearts upon them | and have not hearkened unto the words of him | who gave them unto you |

ye do not remember the lord | your god | in the things with which he hath blessed you | but ye do always remember your riches | not to thank the lord | your god | for them | yea | your hearts are not drawn out unto the lord | but they do swell with great pride| unto boasting | and unto great swelling | envyings | strifes | malice | persecutions | and murders | and all manner of iniquities |

for this cause hath the lord god caused | that a curse should come upon the land | and also upon your riches | and this because of your iniquities |  (Helaman 13: 17-23)

Surplus and the Law of Consecration

Under the law of consecration, after the first consecration of properties to the church, any surplus afterward obtained (called residue in the scriptures) was also to be consecrated.  In this way, the poor would be taken care of on a continual basis.

Poor and Rich Defined

The scriptural definition of “poor” is “having sufficient for one’s needs without any surplus,” whereas the scriptural definition of “rich” is “having more than is necessary for one’s needs.”  Keep this in mind.  (There is also a third class of individuals who do not even have sufficient for their needs.  These are known as the “needy”.)

Surplus, Rich and Riches

A surplus, then, makes one rich, according to the scriptures.  Riches, then, as described in the scriptures, is anything in surplus.

Result of Obedience to the Law of Consecration

When a people begin to live the law of consecration and continue to live it, they become blessed of the Lord in all things.  Initially, as the poor and needy are provided for by the consecrations of the rich, there is an evening out of the properties.  However, as time goes by, the former needy (who now have sufficient for their needs) start to generate a surplus, too, like the former rich (who are continually consecrating their riches, which are surpluses, to the poor and needy.)  All, then, start to generate surpluses.

As an entire society is converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and lives the law of consecration (such as what occurred with the Nephites when Jesus visited them), very quickly the poor and needy disappear to be replaced only by people having surpluses.  The question then must be asked, “What is to be done with these surplus properties?”  They cannot be given to the poor, as there is no more poor.

Hiding up treasures unto the Lord, a gospel law

When a people reaches this point, where they can no longer give surpluses to the poor because there are no more poor people (and this is Zion), they begin to live the law of hiding up treasures unto the Lord.  The ancient saints, then, took of their surplus wealth (precious metals, jewels, etc.) and buried them in the earth, consecrating them unto the Lord, to be used as He sees fit for a future day, a future need, a future generation, in which there would again be poor people in the earth in need of these treasures.

This was a standard practice, a law of the Lord.  Hoarding riches was contrary to the gospel.  Riches were always to go to the poor and needy.  Yet, as riches could not be given to the poor (as there were none), riches had to be donated to future people.  A hill was selected, a hole was dug, treasures were laid and a rock was placed.  The treasure was dedicated or consecrated to the Lord and then it was blotted from the mind.  It was no more thought of, whatsoever, nor any record of its location recorded.

If the Lord, in a future day, had a righteous servant or servants in need, even if it turned out to be the very servant who hid up the treasure, He could utilize that consecration for that servant, his family, household, tribe, etc.  As the Lord alone knew where it was—it could only be located through revelation and righteousness on the part of the receiver—the Lord alone would decide of its need and whether someone would be given it.  In other words, the Lord alone would serve as the bishop in charge of its dispersal.  We see by this that in time, under the law of consecration, the role of (mortal) bishops in receiving consecrations was to be phased out, to be replaced by the Immortal Bishop receiving consecrations.

For I will, saith the Lord, that they shall hide up their treasures unto me; (Helaman 13: 19)

Hiding up treasures unto the Lord was not optional; it was an actual commandment, a law of God, that when all needs were taken care of, surpluses were to be hidden up unto the Lord and forgotten about.  This was, in essence, the Lord’s banking provision. The earth itself was to serve as a bank, the Lord would be the banker, and there would be no further withdrawals on the account from the depositor.  It was a consecration, a gift, not a place to hoard one’s wealth.

For none hideth up their treasures unto me save it be the righteous; (Helaman 13: 19)

The wicked can only view this practice as absurd.  Why create wealth, riches and treasures (surpluses), only to bury them in the earth and forget about them?  In their eyes this is the absolute height of folly and no wicked person would ever participate in such a practice.  Only the righteous live this law.  It follows then, that as this was a practice that distinguished between the righteous and the wicked, under the more excellent law of Christ, righteous saints in the future will again perform this rite.

Consequences of Disobedience

Those ancients living under the law of consecration who did not hide up their treasures unto the Lord were accursed:

Cursed be they who hide not up their treasures unto me; (Helaman 13: 19)

There were two ways that this commandment could be broken.  1) A man could keep the surplus to himself (hoarding) and attempt to use it in excessive or riotous living.  2) A man could hide the treasure in the earth and make note of where it was, so that he could come back later and obtain it (using the earth as a safekeeping, a bank.)  Men who hid their treasures in this way would still be accounted as righteous by those who viewed them (as they appeared to be fulfilling the commandment of hiding treasures unto the Lord), but as their intent was selfish, they were accounted hypocrites and sinners by the Lord.

A Modern Parallel

The modern banking practice does not in the least resemble what these ancient saints did.  We open a bank account, deposit some money (often our surplus money) and expect to both receive interest and to be able to withdraw our money at any moment.  We know exactly were our money is and our chief concern is that our money grows and/or is protected from thieves and robbers.

So, as we face the prospect of losing every last penny we have by Summer of 2009, should we consider Samuel’s a double-fulfilling prophecy, first fulfilled upon the ancient inhabitants of this land and secondly to be fulfilled upon the modern inhabitants?

And he that hideth not up his treasures unto me, cursed is he, and also the treasure, and none shall redeem it because of the curse of the land. (Helaman 13: 19)

Our money is no longer redeemable in gold or silver, but at least we can still purchase goods with it.  Soon, however, we won’t be able to do even that.  Is this the reappearance of the ancient curse because we’ve been given the law of consecration and a sneak peek into the law of hiding treasures unto the Lord but have failed to do either?

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to encourage everyone to go out and seek buried Nephite treasure.  Nevertheless, that IS an option for the righteous poor who can obtain revelation from the Lord to that end.  One of the purposes of those consecrated treasures, is, after all, for the needy. Also, in case questions come up regarding the Relief Mine, although I make no claim of its authenticity, there is at least scriptural precedent in the burying of treasure for future, holy purposes.  So, the existence of such a mine is not outside of the gospel framework.

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Charitable gifts: investments of earthly or heavenly benefit?


Jesus taught to give alms to the poor anonymously:

Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven. Therefore, when ye shall do your alms do not sound a trumpet before you, as will hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; that thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.” (3 Nephi 13:1-4)

Let’s compare the two paths of giving that Jesus outlined above:

Non-anonymous giver

The gift is given “before men to be seen of them.” In other words, the giver is known. Men both know what the gift is and who gave the gift. The expected benefit is to “have glory of men.” The reward for giving comes from men (the “glory of men.”) Heavenly Father does not reward such a giver (“ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.”)

Anonymous giver

The gift is given “in secret,” thus no one knows who gave the gift. Only Heavenly Father sees who the giver actually was. The expected reward is from Heavenly Father, not from men. Heavenly Father himself rewards the secret giver “openly.”

Current practice in the LDS church

Click this link to see a picture of a tithing slip. You’ll notice that it has a place to put the Date, the Ward or Branch, the Name of the donor, the Full Address of the donor, as well as places to indicate what amounts of money are going to what funds: Tithing Fund, Fast Offering Fund, Ward Missionary Fund, General Missionary Fund, Book of Mormon Fund, Humanitarian Aid Fund, Temple Construction Fund, Perpetual Education Fund, or Other (specify) Fund. There is also a place to write the total amount donated and the totals for checks, currency and coin.

An LDS will fill this form out completely and indicate what Funds will receive of the donated money. At the end of the year he or she will then meet with the bishop and declare whether she or he is a full tithe payer, a partial tithe payer or exempt of tithe paying. Although a meeting with the bishop is not necessary, as every member can merely write a letter to the bishop making such a declaration, most people do make such an appointment with the bishop, who then goes over the record the church has of the member’s donations with the member and gives them a copy of said donations which the member can then use for tax deduction purposes.

How I give charity to the church funds

I use the same tithing slip, but do not fill out my name or address. If the funds are going to local funds, I will fill out the Ward or Branch. If the funds are only going to general church funds, such as tithing, I will not fill out the Ward or Branch. I never pay by check, only by cash or anonymous money order. I never hand the donation directly, but will either mail it or get it into the hands of a member of the bishopric via some other secret way. When it comes time to declare my tithing status, I always write a letter making such a declaration, but never declaring the amount I have donated. Sometimes I will give my donations to bishops of other wards or branches, so that no one knows who gave that amount of money, nor how much I have given (or not given.) The only person who sees me give a gift is Heavenly Father. No man, in or out of the church knows what I give. Come tax time, I do not list my gifts as donations, as I have no evidence of it, and thus I receive no earthly benefit (from the state.)

So, of the two paths of giving that Jesus has spoken of, which path do I fall into, and which does the LDS customary practice fall into? Or, are we both on the same path?

Next Tithes and Offerings article: The law of tithing (part one)

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Scriptural Discussion #10: Faith—Living By, Better Than Living By Knowledge


FAITH—LIVING BY, BETTER THAN LIVING BY KNOWLEDGE

Alma said, “And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved. And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word? Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty. 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.” (Alma 32: 13-16)

Jesus said, “And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, (now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am. And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.” (3 Nephi 12:1-2)

Discuss.

Next Scriptural Discussion: #11 GIFTS AND POWERS OF THE SPIRIT—DEFINED AS GOOD WORKS

Previous Scriptural Discussion: #9 EQUALITY

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