Friday, June 26, 2009

Introduction to the Book of Mormon


The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.

The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.

The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.

After Mormon completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a few words of his own and hid up the plates in the hill Cumorah. On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language.

In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God. The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto him and obey the laws and ordinances of his gospel may be saved.

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
In addition to Joseph Smith, the Lord provided for eleven others to see the gold plates for themselves and to be special witnesses of the truth and divinity of the Book of Mormon. Their written testimonies are included herewith as “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” and “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses.”

We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10: 3-5.)

Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Latter-Day Hymns: God Is Love

Photo by Delirious

God is Love

Text: Thomas R. Taylor, 1807–1835, alt. Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835.

1. Earth, with her ten thousand flow’rs,
Air, with all its beams and show’rs,
Heaven’s infinite expanse,
Sea’s resplendent countenance—
All around and all above
Bear this record: God is love.

2. Sounds among the vales and hills,
In the woods and by the rills,
Of the breeze and of the bird,
By the gentle murmur stirred—
Sacred songs, beneath, above,
Have one chorus: God is love.

3. All the hopes that sweetly start
From the fountain of the heart,
All the bliss that ever comes
To our earthly human homes,
All the voices from above
Sweetly whisper: God is love.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Identifying a True Prophet

There have been many times when I was telling someone about my church when, in response to my statement that we had a living prophet leading the church, they gave me a skeptical response. I think most people, when they hear the word "prophet" immediately think of people like David Kuresh. They only know of "prophets" that brainwash or control their followers. Their immediate reaction is that there is no such thing as a true prophet. Then there are some who in theory believe there could be prophets, but don't have faith that we could have one today. Many others don't see the need for a living prophet.

The Bible warns of "false prophets". "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. " Matt. 7:15 But the Bible also teaches us, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." Amos 3:7 The Bible does mention some prophets by name, such as Jeremiah, (Jer. 28:5) Hananiah, (Jer. 28:12) Elijah, (1 Kings 18:22) Nathan (1 Kings 1:8) and Iddo (Zach. 1:1) to name a few. Even Jesus lamented that the prophets who had come had not been accepted. He said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Matt. 23, 37

I think we first need to distinguish between the "spirit of prophecy" and an ordained prophet of God. The "spirit of prophecy" is a gift of the spirit. (1 Cor. 12:10). Revelations 19:10 further teaches us that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." I believe that anyone who is worthy can have this gift of the spirit to direct their own personal life, and also receive guidance for their family. But an ordained prophet is one whom the Lord calls to guide the church. An ordained prophet receives revelation from God, and carries out His will on the Earth.

So how can we tell a true prophet from a false one? Here are a few suggestions:

--Prophets give us messages from God. Pres. Ezra Taft Benson taught: "A revealing characteristic of a true prophet is that he declares a message from God. He makes no apology for the message, nor does he fear for any social repercussions which may lead to derision and persecution." (Ezra Taft Benson, "Joseph Smith: Prophet to Our Generation," Ensign, Mar 1994, )

--The things of which he prophesies, come to pass. Pres. Benson further taught: "The ultimate test of a true prophet is that when he speaks in the name of the Lord his words come to pass. That standard was explained by the Lord to Moses in these words: "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously" (Deut. 18:22). (Ezra Taft Benson, "Joseph Smith: Prophet to Our Generation," Ensign, Mar 1994, )

--His works will show he is a prophet. One of the greatest tests of a true prophet could be found in this counsel: "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7:20). What kind of a person is the prophet? What works does he do? What does he teach? Ephesians 2:11-14 teaches us, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;" So many people are quick to point out that false prophets lead us astray, but fail to remember that true prophets keep us from being tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.

--He won't be seeking for personal gain. I couldn't think of a Bible scripture to support this next idea, but I believe that a true prophet of God will not be seeking to accumulate wealth for personal gain through his ministry. Someone who has their eyes set on becoming rich through their ministry is too easily tempted by the devil. Our church has a lay ministry. Our church leaders serve out of duty to God, and love of fellow men, not for money. The Book of Mormon teaches, "He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion." 2 Nephi 26:29

--God will give confirmation that the prophet is His. The ultimate test for me of whether or not someone is a prophet, is to take this counsel. "8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. 9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong..." (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8,9) We can pray to God to know if someone is a prophet. You will note that this scripture gives us some council for how to pray. It suggests that we must first study the thing out in our minds before asking if it is true. For example, if a person were to pray to know if the Book of Mormon were true, without having first read it, how could they be mentally prepared to accept any answer they might get? So too, we should educate ourselves, then ask God if the decision at which we have arrived is right.

My testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith has come in many ways. My original testimony came in a powerful way, but every time I study about him, my testimony is strengthened in new ways. One way it was strengthened was when I went to visit the home that he lived in, in upstate New York. As I walked to the sacred grove of trees where he had his first vision, the thought came strongly to me that I knew it was possible for Joseph to get miraculous answers to his prayers, because I had gotten miraculous answers to my own. I am thankful to have a living prophet on the earth today. Thomas S. Monson is the ordained prophet of God that leads our church today. All of the apostles are set apart as "prophets, seers, and revelators", but Pres. Monson holds all of the Priesthood keys necessary to carry out God's work on the earth. I encourage all to strive to follow God's prophet, and pray to know that he is a true prophet of God.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The War Between Good and Evil

I have been thinking of this scripture often lately.

Isaiah 5: 20
20 ¶ Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

I shouldn't be surprised when I see this scripture fulfilled, but I am always shocked at the depth of the fulfillment. We now live in a society that lauds immorality and accuses religion of causing all of the world's ills. And when religion challenges immorality, religion is branded as being hateful and discriminatory. But despite the attacks and opposition that we receive, those of us who believe in Jesus Christ continue to fight for what is right. The great war that was started in the pre-existence is still in effect today.

The LDS Bible dictionary gives this information about the war in heaven:
"The war was primarily over how and in what manner the plan of salvation would be administered to the forthcoming human family upon the earth. The issues involved such things as agency, how to gain salvation, and who should be the Redeemer. The war broke out because one-third of the spirits refused to accept the appointment of Jesus Christ as the Savior. Such a refusal was a rebellion against the Father’s plan of redemption. It was evident that if given agency, some persons would fall short of complete salvation; Lucifer and his followers wanted salvation to come automatically to all who passed through mortality, without regard to individual preference, agency, or voluntary dedication."
Isaiah 14:12-20
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.
19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned.

Revelation 12:19
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Some teachings about the war between good and evil:

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "In relation to the kingdom of God, the devil always sets up his kingdom at the very same time in opposition to God" ( Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 365).

Elder Carlos Asay taught: "Can a man be too righteous? Too Christlike? Impossible! Can the so-called 'balanced man' walk successfully the beam between good and evil? No. Each step is shaky, and eventually he will teeter and fall and break himself against the commandments of God" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 59; or Ensign, May 1992, 41 ).

Pres. Wilford Woodruff taught: “There are two powers on the earth and in the midst of the inhabitants of the earth—the power of God and the power of the devil. In our history we have had some very peculiar experiences. When God has had a people on the earth, it matters not in what age, Lucifer, the son of the morning, and the millions of fallen spirits that were cast out of heaven, have warred against God, against Christ, against the work of God, and against the people of God. And they are not backward in doing it in our day and generation. Whenever the Lord set His hand to perform any work, those powers labored to overthrow it.”2

Elder Durrel A. Woolsey taught:
" In the book of Revelation we are told of a war in heaven (see Rev. 12:7). What kind of battle? What kind of war? The war is for the souls of men. The battle lines have been drawn since Adam: evil versus righteousness. In this the final dispensation and in preparation for the Millennium, the forces of evil have intensified and united under the powerful influences of Satan. On the opposite side of the line, the kingdom of God is clearly sounding the trumpet of righteousness, as perhaps never before. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on the offensive in the declaration of good to be good and evil to be evil."

In addition, Elder Woolsey gave some warning signs to help us to avoid evil during this war:
"There are symptoms or warnings of the descending path. Ten symptoms to be aware of might be:

• An increasing shortness of vision or an inability to see clearly things of a spiritual nature

• An ever-increasing callousness to things of God

• A hardening of the spiritual arteries—attention to spiritual needs moves from daily or weekly to monthly, then occasionally, then not at all

• An increasing dependence upon a growing army of psychiatric specialists instead of priesthood, God, and self

• An increasing independence from spiritual things

• An increasing number of friends with lower moral standards

• Quotes from talk shows instead of scriptures

• Raised voices in place of subdued tones

• Verbal, even physical, abuse replacing a circle of love

• Gradual acceptance of evil, not all at once, but a little bit at a time

We must be involved in a good and a righteous cause. We must see through the glass clearly, with an objective look at ourselves and families so as not to be caught in the second great calamitous worldwide flood that is even now all around us. It has been prophesied that the faithful will win this great war, that they will triumphantly rise up to meet the Lord Jesus Christ at the time of His second coming. The prescription for this victory includes daily individual and family prayers with a family home evening at least weekly. You may say, “I don’t have time.” Brothers and sisters, you simply cannot afford not to take the time. It is amazing how much time suddenly becomes available with the television off. This prescription continues the same as it has always been—keep the commandments; follow the prophets; read, understand, and even ponder the scriptures."

Book of Mormon Sampler: Alma 29:1-9

Looney's post of a quote from the Confessions of St. Patrick made me think of this Book of Mormon scripture by Alma

Alma 29:1-9
1 O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!
2 Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.
3 But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.
4 I ought not to harrow up in my desires, the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.
5 Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.
6 Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?
7 Why should I desire that I were an angel, that I could speak unto all the ends of the earth?
8 For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.
9 I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Word of Wisdom: The LDS Code of Health

One of the LDS teachings that most people know about is our code of health. This commandment was given by revelation in 1833 at Kirtland, Ohio to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Today we refer to this as "The Word of Wisdom". This name comes from the first verse of the revelation which says, "A Word OF Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion." This revelation is included in section 89 our book of scripture: "The Doctrine and Covenants".

It is interesting that in this revelation we are told the word of wisdom was given "In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days."

There are several things mentioned in this revelation:
--If wine is used for the sacrament, it should be new, of our own making. That would be understood to be grape juice.

--"And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your "bodies

--"...tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill."

--"And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly." The Prophets have told us this refers to coffee and tea.

--"...all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man."

--"Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly. And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine."

--"All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life"

Included in this revelation is a promise of blessings that will come to those who obey this law:

"And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments:

--"shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones"

--"...shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures."

--"...shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint."

--"And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen."

Having grown up in this church, and having lived the Word of Wisdom all of my life, I can testify that those who live it will receive the blessings mentioned. I have seen how living this commandment has brought health, and strength, and hidden treasures of knowledge. I think it's a common sense law, because most of us know these things aren't good for the body. I have heard many say that wine is good for the body, and it may be in some respects, but we have to remember why this law was given. It was given in consequence of the evil designs of men. Men make alcohol and tobacco to make money, regardless of the ill effects it may have on the body.

This from the LDS Newsroom:

"Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are known for their healthy lifestyles. A health plan for the Church was first written down in 1833 by Joseph Smith, and he presented it to early members specifically as a revelation from God.Today, Latter-day Saints usually refer to these health guidelines as "the Word of Wisdom."

Among the provisions of the health code: no alcoholic drinks, no smoking or chewing of tobacco, and no "hot drinks" — believed to refer specifically to tea and coffee. "Wholesome herbs," along with fruits and grains, are specifically recommended. Meat is to be used "sparingly." The Church also interprets the misuse of drugs — illegal, legal, prescription or controlled — as a violation of the health code
"The health code ... of over a hundred years ago exactly mirrors the recommendations that are now being made in the scientific world in terms of improving health and maintaining quality of health," says Ted Adams, Ph.D., program director at the LDS Hospital Fitness Institute in Salt Lake City.
A 14-year UCLA study, completed in 1997, tracked mortality rates and health practices of 10,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California. Specific findings: Church members who adhered to the health code had one of the lowest death rates from cancer and cardiovascular disease in the United States — roughly half that of the general population. The study also indicated that Church members who followed the code had a life expectancy eight to 11 years longer than the general white population of the United States."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Cross

Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley: “We recently held an open house in the Arizona Temple. Following a complete renovation of that building, nearly a quarter of a million people saw its beautiful interior. On the first day of the opening, clergymen of other religions were invited as special guests, and hundreds responded. It was my privilege to speak to them and to answer their questions at the conclusion of their tours. I told them that we would be pleased to answer any queries they might have. Many were asked. Among these was one which came from a Protestant minister.

Said he: “I’ve been all through this building, this temple which carries on its face the name of Jesus Christ, but nowhere have I seen any representation of the cross, the symbol of Christianity. I have noted your buildings elsewhere and likewise find an absence of the cross. Why is this when you say you believe in Jesus Christ?”

I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian colleagues who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the Living Christ. He then asked: “If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?”

I replied that the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Symbol of Our Faith,” Ensign, Apr 2005, 2–6)

President Hinckley further explained, “On Calvary he was the dying Jesus. From the tomb he emerged the living Christ. … Because our Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of his death as the symbol of our faith. But what shall we use? No sign, no work of art, no representation of form is adequate to express the glory and the wonder of the Living Christ. He told us what that symbol should be when he said, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’ (John 14:15)” (pp. 6, 7).

Even though we do not believe in using the cross as a symbol in our Church, we do not criticize others for wearing or using the cross in their religions. We should understand that the cross is significant and sacred to them. In fact, the 11th article of faith says, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

We focus on the great atonement of our Savior, his sacrifice for us that makes eternal life possible. We think of his life and sacrifice every Sunday during the sacrament. Our testimonies become the precious things that we bear, along with our obedience, to show we are true followers of Christ." (Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Sep 1996, 17)

Elder Marvin J. Ashton:
"Many nonmembers who visit our chapels wonder why we don’t have crosses on our buildings of worship. They ask, “Why aren’t your chapels built in the shape of a cross?” and “Why don’t you encourage your people to wear and display crosses?” Even some members wonder about the Church’s policy toward crosses.

We may find part of the answer to these questions in Matthew 16:24–25, where we read, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” [Matt. 16:24–25]

Over the centuries, in the minds of millions of people, the cross has been recognized as a symbol of Christianity. But rather than displaying the cross, we prefer to try carrying our crosses.

The Lord’s message to us is “Take up your cross.” Take yourself the way you are, and lift yourself in the direction of the better. Regardless of where you have been, what you have done, or what you haven’t done, trust God. Believe in him. Worship him as you carry your cross with dignity and determination.

As we read in Matthew, we save our lives by losing them for the Lord’s sake. As we lose ourselves, we will find God. That is his promise, and I declare that it is true." (Marvin J. Ashton, “Carry Your Cross,” Ensign, Feb 1988, 69)

My Own View

As I was thinking about this subject, I also thought about how the Savior suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. His pain was so great that he bled from every pore. What He did for us in that garden is essential to our salvation. I wondered to my self why so much of the world focuses on the cross, and not the garden. For me, taking the sacrament is the time when I can focus on both of these great events. The eating of the bread helps remind me of His body that He sacrificed for us, and the drinking of the water helps remind me of the blood that He shed when He sacrificed for our sins.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Quote of the Day: Elder L. Tom Perry

Elder L. Tom Perry

“Do not underestimate the Lord’s power and his willingness to bless your lives. . . . He has instructional designs and learning theories that the world’s educational psychologists haven’t even imagined yet” (Enter to Learn—Go Forth to Serve [CES fireside for young adults, Mar. 5, 1995], 3).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mormon Messages: Hope Ya Know We Had a Hard Time

Check Your Sources

I'm still thinking about this topic of sources of truth. Who do we believe? What sources should we read when studying to know truth? A blogger friend of mine who is a professor recently told that many of his students plagiarize. What is the most common source they use in their plagiarism? Believe it or not, most often they quote Wikipedia. For those who don't know how Wikipedia works, anyone can write on Wiki, and leave their own knowledge. So even with Wikipedia, you may or may not be getting accurate information. This leaves us with the question, "Which sources can I trust?"

Many people give their own testimony, but often those testimonies contradict. I have had bloggers comment on my blog that they have read the Book of Mormon and said they found it to be "full of evil". Should you trust their conclusion? I often give my testimony on this blog that I have prayed and have received an answer that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Should you trust my conclusion? Both I, and the other blogger claim to have read the Book of Mormon, so which one should you listen to?

By and large, I would not trust any source that has a flavor of bias. I happened upon a blog today that made outrageous claims about my church, and supported those claims with emotional statements. That would be one source I wouldn't accept in seeking for truth. I believe a true source should be unbiased. If you are studying any subject and hear a tone of bias, you can know that the speaker may not be looking at the subject objectively.

The next question is one about accuracy. I don't think I have ever read anything printed about my church by outside sources that was entirely correct. There is always a slight misunderstanding (and sometimes large misunderstanding) about our beliefs, and we are presented in a way that is not accurate. I don't necessarily blame the originators of the information, because they are doing the best they can. I mean, if I asked you to write an article about nuclear fusion, you would do the best research you could, but ultimately, you aren't an expert, so could hardly be expected to write a perfect article. The best course of action for someone wanting to know about nuclear fusion would be to ask a nuclear physicist.

I always find it interesting that some churches spend so much time and energy combatting mine. Our church spends no money fighting other churches. We don't print informational tracts about them. We don't preach against them. We don't have classes to "warn" our members about them. We don't make films about them. We are secure in our own beliefs, and spend our time teaching what we believe. What we are taught as members, is to take the Holy Spirit as our guide in making decisions about what is truth.

I would suggest the same course of action to you. Your friends, or Wikipedia may tell you that the Book of Mormon is not true. I suggest that there is only one source that you should look to for accuracy. I suggest you study the subject out in your mind, then ask God, the Father, if it is true. God cannot lie, and will not lie. The Holy Spirit will confirm the truth of any thing to us if we ask with a sincere heart, with faith.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Christ in America

When Christ was on the Earth He told His disciples,
"14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
John 10:14-16

Who were these other sheep spoken of? We believe they were the people of the Americas. We believe that after His resurrection, the Savior visited these "other sheep" and they became a second witness of His resurrection so that "in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." Matt. 18:16.

Archaelologists have found remnants of a civilization that existed in the Americas, but little is known about them. We believe these people had the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that their prophets kept records. We believe the Book of Mormon is the record they kept. It isn't a secular record, which would include mostly political and governmental records, but it is a spiritual record that includes the Lord's dealing with that people. These records were handed down from father to son, and the one receiving them was commanded to write about what happened in their day. Many records were accumulated during this time. It was the practice of that people to write on plates of metal; brass, gold, etc. Mormon is a prophet who went through all of the records and abridged them. He compiled a new collection of the records that included some of the most important happenings and teachings. He titled his collection, "The Book of Mormon" to distinguish it from the other records that had been made by other prophets. He then hid this record up to be brought forth in the latter days.
Mormon abridging the plates

One of the most touching of all passages in the Book of Mormon is an account of Christ visiting the Americas after his resurrection. One of the American prophets by the name of Samuel, had prophesied to the people of Christ's birth, and of His death. He prophesied that when the Savior died, there would be three days of darkness in the Americas. You can read the full account of the fullfillment of that prophesy and about Christ's visit to the Americas by clicking here. You will need to read through several chapters to read the entire account. The page turn for each chapter will be an arrow at the bottom of the page.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Millenial Peace

While studying in the book of Revelation, our class read about how during the millenium, Satan will be bound.

Revelation 20:1-3
1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

We talked about how Satan might be bound. We all agreed that the power of God would be able to bind him. But as we studied further, we found some other ways that Satan could be bound.

1 Nephi 22:26
26 And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth.

Satan only has power over us if we permit him. If we do not give in to his temptations, he will be powerless.

Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve said:
"When Satan is bound in a single home—when Satan is bound in a single life—the Millennium has already begun in that home, in that life" ( The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 172).