Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Serpent of Brass

Looney commented on his blog about the story of when the children of Israel were in the wilderness, and were bitten by fiery serpents. Moses made a brass serpent and lifted it up on a staff. This serpent was representative of the Savior who was lifted up on the cross, and atoned for mankind. It reminded me of a few Book of Mormon scriptures that refer to the same story. The people of the Book of Mormon came from Jerusalem about 600 b.c. They had been taught the Gospel that was the law of Moses. They knew of the story of Moses, and referred back to it many times in the Book of Mormon. Here are some of the scriptures in the Book of Mormon that refer to the above incident.

1 Nephi 17:41

41 And he did straiten them in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity. He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.

Alma 33:19

19 Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live.

Helaman 8:13-16

13 But, behold, ye not only deny my words, but ye also deny all the words which have been spoken by our fathers, and also the words which were spoken by this man, Moses, who had such great power given unto him, yea, the words which he hath spoken concerning the coming of the Messiah.
14 Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come.
15 And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.
16 And now behold, Moses did not only testify of these things, but also all the holy prophets, from his days even to the days of Abraham.

I love this scripture story because the simple message is that Christ is the source of healing and salvation. I have a friend who is an alcoholic, and attends AA meetings. She taught me that part of the success of their program is admitting that there is a "higher power" and reaching out to that power to help them to overcome their weaknesses. It really is true that just as the people looked to the serpent for healing, we can look to the Savior for healing. We don't have to overcome our hurts and pains alone. He has suffered them for us, and will help us to overcome pain and sin.

I Have a Question: Organization of the Church, July 1986

The following comes from the church magazine, "The Ensign". It is a regular feature in the magazine, wherein people send in their questions, and someone is asked to answer it. Here is the question that was asked:

How do we support the position that Christ organized a church with various officers, particularly in view of Matthew 18:19–20 and 1 Corinthians 12:12–14?
Matthew 18:19-20
19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.

Robert J. Woodford, Institute instructor, LDS Business College. “I Have a Question,” Ensign, July 1986, 29–30

" At first glance, these two passages of scripture might seem to show that an organized church and its ordinances are unnecessary. Many people, interpreting these passages out of context, have concluded that it is necessary only to accept Christ as the Savior, and that all who do so—regardless of their church membership—belong to a “church of believers.” This, they reason, is the one true church spoken of in the scriptures. These people believe that an organized church of Christ, with ordinances and authorized officers, is optional.

But a closer look at the context in which these passages of scripture were given actually confirms the fact that the Savior did organize a church with authorized leaders and essential ordinances.

Consider first Matthew 18:19–20:

“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” [Matt 18:19–20]

The Savior spoke these words to his Apostles—to those he had already called to lead his church. Shortly after the Transfiguration (see Matt. 17:1–13), the Apostles had asked the Savior who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. This passage is part of his response. The Savior had called to their attention that they had the power to seal and loose, both on earth and in heaven. (See Matt. 18:18.) Now he told them that whatever two of them agreed concerning anything, and it was right, that it would be done for them by the Father. (See Matt. 18:19.) He also gave them the promise that he would be with his disciples whenever they met in his name. (See Matt. 18:20.) This last promise seems to be meant for all disciples, not just the twelve Apostles. In either case, it clearly applies to those who have already entered Christ’s church, not to just anyone who might meet in the Savior’s name.

The second scripture, 1 Corinthians 12:12–14, reads as follows:

“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

“For the body is not one member, but many.”

Paul had learned that the Saints at Corinth were contending over points of doctrine—with each faction aligning itself behind the church leader they supposed taught the views they espoused. Paul opened his letter by reproving them:

“Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

“Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1:12–13.)

He then taught them the truth concerning some of the disputed doctrines and urged them to unite with all the leaders God had set in the Church. (See 1 Cor. 12.) Specifically, he mentioned Apostles, prophets, and teachers (see 1 Cor. 12:28), but this obviously is not intended to be a complete listing. Paul used the figure of the human body to illustrate the relationship the Saints have with the Church leaders and the Savior. He says that just as no part of the body can claim that it has no need of another part, so no member of the Church can claim not to need any other part of the Church, whether it be another member, Church leader, or the Savior.

Paul used this same figure in his letter to the Ephesians to teach them the same principle:

“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;

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up unto him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Eph. 4:11–16.)

Paul had already explained this relationship to the Ephesian Saints using a different figure. In language both beautiful and expressive, he likened the Church to the household of God:

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

“In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

“In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:19–22.)

Wherever Paul labored as a missionary he organized branches of the church and ordained elders to preside. (See Acts 14:23.) Thus, we have in the epistles of Paul many scriptures concerning Church leaders and their duties. As examples, Paul instructed Titus to ordain elders in every city in Crete where there were members. (See Titus 1:5.) He taught Timothy about the qualifications of bishops and deacons (see 1 Tim. 3:1–13), and he referred to high priests in the letter to the Hebrews (see Heb. 5:1, 8:3).

It was the Savior who initiated the formal organization of the Church when he ordained the twelve Apostles. (See Mark 3:14.) He also appointed seventy men to assist the Apostles in their work. (See Luke 10:1.) Shortly after his death, the Apostles perpetuated the number in their quorum by choosing Matthias to replace the fallen Judas. (See Acts 1:23–26.) They also enlarged the organization of the Church when they chose seven men to aid in the temporal affairs of the Church. (See Acts 6:1–7.)

The Bible does not record all of the officers in the Church and their specific duties at the time of the Savior, nor does it provide much detail on how that organization developed as the Church grew and spread. But we see ample evidence from these scriptures that there was a formal organization, with men authorized to perform specific duties within the Church.

As Latter-day Saints, we “believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.” (A of F 1:6.) The duties of these officers in the Church today are given to us through our Latter-day scriptures and the words of our living prophets. We also believe that those who act in an official capacity within that organization “must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands.” (A of F 1:5.) We also believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same church that was organized by the Savior, restored in these latter days. And finally, we believe that after making the commitment to follow the Savior, a person must be baptized by one who has authority in order to obtain a remission of sins and to be admitted into the Lord’s church. (A of F 1:4.) Then he must labor in the church and kingdom of God, serving both God and his fellow-men even as did the Savior. (See 2 Ne. 31:13–21.)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

Free Copy of the Book of Mormon

If you would like to request a free Book of Mormon, you can do so by clicking here and then scrolling to the bottom of the page to the picture of the Book of Mormon. You can also read the Book of Mormon online by clicking the link on my side bar.

Read the Book of Mormon. Think about what it contains. Decide for yourself if it is true. Then ask God if your decision is correct. I believe that as you read the Book of Mormon, you will feel the spirit come in to your life to testify of the things that you read. I suggest that as you read, you highlight any passages that are particularly meaningful to you.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Scripture Mastery: New Testament: Ephesians 4:11-14

Ephesians 4:11-14

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 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:
14 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;

I especially love verse 14 that teaches WHY we need apostles and prophets.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Organization of the Church: Prophets

Ancient Day Prophets: Moses, Noah, Elijah

Modern Day Prophets: Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Thomas S. Monson

Organization of the Church: Apostles

Jesus Christ selected and ordained 12 apostles in ancient times

Modern Day Twelve apostles, who also have been ordained.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Quote of the Day: Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith:

"...the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

Scripture Mastery: New Testament: 2 Timothy 3:1-5

2 Timothy 3:1-5

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

This scripture is proof alone that we are in the last days, isn't it?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What Would I Give Up?

Recently, a blogger friend, Livingsword, commented that he felt our church isn't Christian, and suggested that maybe our church should give up and join the other Christian churches. He suggested we should donate our chapels, and in essence absorb in with the other Christian churches. Of course we would never consider this silly notion, we are one of the fastest growing Christian churches in the world today. But I will lay aside the absurdity of this suggestion and give my reasons for why I personally would never consider such a notion.

First of all, which church should I join? There are many different Christian churches, with very differing beliefs. Should I join those who believe in baptism by immersion, or those who believe in baptism by sprinkling, or those who don't believe baptism is necessary at all? Should I join those who believe in being saved by grace alone, or those Churches that believe that grace is accessed through repentance? Should I believe in those Christian churchess who believe in a literal resurrection, or those who believe in no resurrection at all? Should I believe in the Christian church that only uses the New Testament, or one that also uses the Old Testament? Should I join the Catholic church, from which the others broke off, or should I join a church that was started by a man in this generation. Clearly, we can't lump all Christian churches in together, because they aren't all the same.

Because they are so different in their beliefs, should some of them not be called Christian? They all believe in Jesus Christ, but their teachings vary so much that they clearly can't be considered the same. Yet we allow them the freedom to call themselves Christian because they do believe in Jesus Christ. Why do so-called Christians not allow our church the same freedom?

If I were to give up my religion, there would be more that I would be giving up than just a name. For me, the loss would be great. Asking me to give up my religion and join the other churches in the world is like asking a college graduate to give up his college diploma in exchange for a mere high school diploma. Why would I give up the further knowledge and blessings that I have already received for something lesser?

Here are just a few things that I would have to give up:

--I would have to give up having a living prophet to guide me, who receives current revelation for my day.

--I would have to give up additional ordinances that help me progress spiritually. Included in these ordinances are temple ordinances such as eternal marriage, and the eternal "sealing" of families. I would also have to give up the ability to do baptism for my deceased family members who never had the chance.

--I would have to give up the Book of Mormon which has greatly increased my testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ, and has strengthened me and brought me closer to Him.

--I would have to give up my knowledge of the plan of salvation. Our Sunday School teacher today made an interesting observation. The word "plan" does not appear in the bible. It does, however, appear numerous times in the Book of Mormon. Yet most christian churches today refer to the "plan of salvation" that the LDS church has been teaching about for over 150 years.

--I would have to give up my understanding of the pre-existence, and my knowledge that I am a literal spirit child of God.

--I would have to give up a church that has the same organization that existed in the early church, which today has living apostles and prophets, just like the church the Savior set up.

--I would have to give up being a member of a church that has the Priesthood authority of God. This Priesthood authority was lost from the earth after the death of the apostles. It is bestowed on a person by the laying on of hands. After the apostles died, there was no one left to pass on that authority. In modern days, John the Baptist, and Peter, James, and John restored that authority by the laying on of hands, to Joseph Smith, who in turn ordained others.

I could write much more, but suffice it to say that if I left this church for another, I would be leaving much, and gaining no ground. This church has all of the puzzle pieces. This church has the same organization as Christ's early church. I think we could be considered among the truest of fundamentalist Christians because we follow the gospel as it was preached and set up in the early church. We believe that an apostasy occurred, causing the original church to be lost, and we believe it was prophesied by many, including Paul, and Amos. We believe this is truly Christ's church restored to the earth in fulfillment of prophecies about a "restitution of all things".

I have prayed and received an answer from God that these things are true. I invite all to not rely on my words, but to study it out in their own minds, and pray to God to receive their own testimony.

I can remember once seeing a very small child with a $5 bill. An adult, in a teasing manner, offered to trade the child for a $1 bill. The child was very young, but knew that what they had was worth more than what the adult was offering. I too would never trade my religion for one that offers less. I would never sell my birthright for a mess of pottage, even if it did win me acceptance by other Christians.

"Ye May Know" : Keith B. McMullin

Ye May Know
Keith B. McMullin, “‘Ye May Know’,” Ensign, May 1996, 8

Humbly, gratefully, I stand before you to testify of God’s words and works. I come in the spirit of one going before to prepare the way. The commission to do so comes from the Lord. My desire is to help us prepare for His Second Coming and to dwell in His presence, to enjoy the gifts and graces He alone can bestow.
During the course of this general conference, much will be said concerning the Lord’s work and what Heavenly Father desires of His children. These are sacred things. May it be known that the speakers do not stand alone in their declarations. Accompanying their testimonies, I raise my voice as yet another witness. This process is referred to as the law of witnesses.
This law was established to introduce, affirm, and seal the truth upon the hearts of God’s children. One never stands alone in carrying the word of God to the world. Moses was called as a prophet to lead Israel, but he was not left alone. The Lord sent to him his brother, Aaron, not only as a voice, but as a witness with Moses that the God of Abraham had spoken.
This law of witnesses ushered in the birth, life, and mission of Christ Jesus. Holy angels, John the Baptist, prophets, apostles, the Holy Ghost, the Savior himself, and God our Father all declared His divinity.
This same pattern prevailed at each step in the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days. Multiple witnesses, reliable beyond refute, have written and spoken of what their ears heard, their eyes beheld, their hearts understood. In every dispensation, two or more witnesses have joined their voices in such proclamations. It is the pattern of heaven. Said the Apostle Paul, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor. 13:1).
The essential nature of witnesses was brought forcibly to my mind some years ago while seeking permission from a man for his wife and children to be baptized. Our missionaries had taught the family of the divinity of Christ, the sacred appearance of God the Father and His Beloved Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1820, and the Restoration of the true Church upon the earth. To each point, the missionaries bore fervent testimony, and the Holy Ghost confirmed to the mother and children that it was all true. They wished to be baptized.
The father, however, was skeptical. He felt no such spiritual confirmation. Long-held beliefs and traditions filled his mind with doubt. I met with him to discuss his misgivings and the desire of his wife and children to be baptized. Though he did not wish to keep them from making their own choices, he was deeply troubled by the conflict he felt between his beliefs and family traditions, and this message of the Restoration. As our conversation drew to a close, I bore my witness to him. It included my testimony of what the missionaries had taught. When explaining the divine nature of this Church, the Lord’s words from the Doctrine and Covenants came into my mind, and I testified that this is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30).
My friend was startled. This declaration troubled him, and in disbelief he said: “How can you possibly claim such a thing? My church has many more members than yours; my church is much larger and more influential than yours; and furthermore, the history and traditions of my church go back much further than Joseph Smith. How can you possibly claim that yours is the only true church?”
His reaction is similar to that of many when first hearing such a testimony—one that could be experienced by some listening to this conference. During these proceedings, those who participate through prayer, the spoken word, and music will be testifying of what they know to be true. Their witnesses will include:
• The reality of God, the divinity of His Beloved Son, and the doctrines of Christ.
• The divine calling of prophets, seers, and revelators, with special emphasis given to the first prophet of this dispensation, Joseph Smith, and the Lord’s prophet today, President Gordon B. Hinckley.
These witnesses will point us to:
• Revealed truths about the purposes of life, our origin and destiny, and
• The holy scriptures, often referencing the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ.
To some, these testimonies will be troubling, at variance with what they think or believe. They may ask: “How can you possibly claim such a thing? How can you know?”
To you with such questions, I say—Before reacting, before closing your mind, before finding fault because of a word—please listen and consider this inspired insight. I quote: “ ‘Words do not convey meanings; they call them forth.’ I speak out of the context of my experience, and you listen out of the context of yours, and that is why communication is difficult” (David O. McKay, as quoted by Lowell L. Bennion, in Conference Report, Apr. 1968, 94; or Improvement Era, June 1968, 90).
This is a phenomenon of mortality and lies at the heart of one’s skepticism. But amidst differing views on spiritual matters, there comes to us from scripture the wonderful and comforting promise “Ye may know.” Though our backgrounds are different, we are all children of the same Heavenly Father. He has provided a way to bridge our differences, a way each of us may know. This way is through the power and sure witness of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead, sent forth by God to reveal all needful things. He teaches and testifies with divine power and clarity. His witness may go unheard or unheeded, forsaken or denied, but it is never misunderstood. “The Holy Ghost is a revelator” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 328). That which is received of him has a more powerful effect upon the soul than anything else received in any other way. A millennium of experience through sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and all the powers of the universe combined cannot approach the sublime and complete experience of one brief moment under the influence of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost is a spirit personage. He has power to speak to the spirit of every man and woman, boy and girl. His message is conveyed with absolute certainty. This revealed knowledge constitutes a personal testimony and witness of the truth. (See Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:756.)
Said the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
“Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation” (D&C 8:2–3; emphasis added).
How perfect and complete! How extraordinary! How wonderful!
Different though our lives may be, there can come to each of us the same sure anchor—the truth from God. It is absolute, infinite, and available. As Jesus said:
“The word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
“And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit” (D&C 84:45–46).
He further explained: “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come. … The Spirit of truth is of God” (D&C 93:24, 26).
And finally the Lord urges, “Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you” (JST, Matt. 7:12).
Now, for the rest of the story. You recall that my friend asked: “How can you possibly claim such a thing? How can you possibly claim that yours is the only true church?”
The answer came, not from me but through me: “I am not claiming it,” I said. “I am quoting it. Jesus Christ said it. Don’t argue with me. If you wish to take issue, pray and talk with Heavenly Father about it.”
The conversation came to a close, he gave permission for his family members to be baptized, and we parted.
Some weeks later, as I was leaving a stake conference, I saw two men coming toward me, shouldering their way through the crowd. One of them was the same man of whom I have spoken. The first thought that crossed my mind was, “Oh no, here comes an argument!”
As he approached, he extended his hand and asked, “Do you remember me?”
“I certainly do,” I said, “and I want you to know that this is still the only true and living Church.”
Before more could be said, his handshake tightened and he replied: “I know! I have prayed about it as you said. The Lord has told me by the power of His Spirit that it is all true. I was baptized last weekend and ordained a priest. Today, I am baptizing my friend here, for he also knows it is true.”
Such is the purpose of witnesses, such is the power of the Holy Ghost, such is the anchor of truth. To the things which have been and will yet be testified of, I now add my witness that “ye may know.” God lives! We are His children, and He loves us. Jesus Christ is His Beloved Son, our Redeemer, and the Savior of the world. The Father and Son appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith, answered his prayers, and gave him instructions. Other heavenly ministrants came to him thereafter, restoring what had been lost. They included Moroni bringing forth the Book of Mormon; John the Baptist restoring the priesthood of Aaron; Peter, James, and John conferring upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the higher priesthood and holy apostleship; Moses with the keys of the gathering of Israel; Elias with the gospel of Abraham; and Elijah with the power to seal mothers, fathers, and children together as eternal families. The Lord’s gospel has been restored and His earthly kingdom reestablished, which He has named The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see D&C 115:3–4; 3 Ne. 27:7–8).
If you find this or any other declaration of this conference unsettling, take up the matter with your Heavenly Father in prayer. “Ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6). For “if ye … ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth … unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moro. 10:4–5; emphasis added).
This is my witness—all of this is true! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Book of Mormon Sampler: 2 Nephi 28:7-9

2 Nephi 28:7-9

7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.

8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark

Scripture Mastery: 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Every morning in seminary we take turns sharing a scripture mastery scripture with the class. Each and every time this scripture is read, I am shocked as I realize this scripture has been fulfilled.

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Modern Day Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 121:36-37,39

This is a GREAT scripture that talks about the role of someone who is in authority, and gives some caution for how they should use that authority.

Doctrine and Covenants 121:36-37,39

36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Mormon Radio

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has just started its first online radio station. It's interesting that it is called "Mormon Radio" seeing that the church has tried to get away from that nickname in the past. I guess they decided it was a losing battle, so are giving in to the public given nickname, just trying to educate people that we are in fact Christian.

You can check out the new radio station by clicking this link. It actually looks pretty interesting, although I haven't spent much time with it yet. Check it out and tell me what you think.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quote of the Day: Thomas S. Monson: "Choose You This Day"

This is an excerpt from a talk by Pres. Thomas S. Monson “Choose You This Day,” Ensign, Nov 2004, 67

"Joshua of old declared, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 1
All of us commenced an awesome and vital journey when we left the spirit world and entered this often challenging stage called mortality. We brought with us that great gift from God—our agency. Said the prophet Wilford Woodruff: “God has given unto all of His children … individual agency. … [We] possessed it in the heaven of heavens before the world was, and the Lord maintained and defended it there against the aggression of Lucifer. … By virtue of this agency you and I and all mankind are made responsible beings, responsible for the course we pursue, the lives we live, the deeds we do.” 2
Brigham Young said, “All must use [this agency] in order to gain exaltation in [God’s] kingdom; inasmuch as [we] have the power of choice [we] must exercise that power.” 3
The scriptures tell us that we are free to act for ourselves, “to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.” 4

Carrying the Truth to the Hearts of the Children of Men

I have been thinking a lot lately about this blog, and my purpose for it. I want to tell you that when I write, I write from the feelings in my heart. I write about those things about which I feel most strongly. I write of my testimony and deepest faith. But my fear is that the spirit that I feel when I write, might not come across as strongly when these things are read. I guess I just need to have faith in the spirit. But I feel like Nephi of old who wrote in the Book of Mormon. He said,
"And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men." 2 Nephi 33:1

I do believe that truth is conveyed by the Holy Ghost. But I also have experienced feeling the spirit when I have read the Bible and the Book of Mormon and other scripture. I do believe that reading can carry the message to our hearts, through the power of the spirit. But I wish that I could speak instead of write so that I could truly convey the testimony that I feel within me.

Many years ago when I was attending a church "Institute" class, the teacher encouraged us to pray each and every time we read the scriptures. He told us that we needed the spirit to guide us in our studies. I have followed that practice ever since, and have felt the spirit distilling and blessing me in my studies. I hope that you too will pray for the spirit to help guide you in to all truth. I hope that you will feel the spirit of what I write.

Book of Mormon Sampler: 2 Nephi 33:6

2 Nephi 33:6

I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.

Our Father’s Plan—Big Enough for All His Children

by Elder Quentin L. Cook
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 2009 General Conference

This mortal life can constitute a difficult journey, but the destination is truly glorious. Christ expressed this to His disciples: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”1

My objective, this afternoon, is twofold: first, to address some stumbling blocks to faith; and second, to describe how our Father’s plan is big enough for all His children.

During the past two years in the United States and across the world, there has been a dramatic increase in the discussion of our faith and beliefs. This is not new; it has happened periodically throughout the history of the Church.

In 1863 Charles Dickens, the English novelist, went on board the passenger ship Amazon, which was bound for New York. His purpose was to report on the Latter-day Saint converts who were emigrating to build up the Church in the American West. There had been thousands of converts who had already emigrated, and much had been written, particularly in the British media, about them and their beliefs. Most of what was written was unfavorable.

“I went on board their ship,” wrote Dickens, “to bear testimony against them if they deserved it, as I fully believed they would; to my great astonishment they did not deserve it.”2

After observing and mingling with the converts, Dickens was impressed with them and described these English converts, most of whom were laborers, as being “in their degree, the pick and flower of England.”3

There have been two contrasting reports with respect to the Church. On one hand, righteous members and the way they live their lives have generally been reported on favorably. Those who know Latter-day Saints personally or have the opportunity to observe them up close have the same view that Charles Dickens reported almost 150 years ago.

Because of the uplifting doctrine of the Restoration, members rejoice in the gospel and find joy and satisfaction in the Church. We are viewed favorably when we live the teachings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. When members don’t live the teachings, it can be a stumbling block to those who do not belong to the Church.4

Unlike the favorable reports on righteous members, descriptions of the Church and its doctrine have often been untrue, unfair, and harsh. It should be acknowledged that some descriptions of Christianity in general have also been very harsh.5

This attitude toward our doctrine does not come as a surprise. In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord indicated that there would be some who “lift up their voices and curse God,”6 and some “turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men.”7

Recent bus ads in London demonstrate the polarization that exists concerning religion in general. Some atheists, agnostics, and nonbelievers paid to display large posters on red double-decker buses in London that said, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.“ Opposing ads by Christians asserted, “There definitely is a God,” followed by uplifting messages.8

Nonbelievers find it hard to accept the miracles of the Old and New Testaments and the Savior’s virgin birth and Resurrection. They view these events with the same skepticism as the appearance of God the Father and Jesus Christ to the Prophet Joseph Smith. They are not open to the possibility of a heavenly plan presided over by a supreme being. They do not have faith.9

My principal concern is for the honorable people on the earth who are open to religious faith but have been discouraged or confused by incorrect doctrine. For instance, with respect to the doctrine that revelation still exists, some very good people have been confident that the Church could not be true because they have been taught, and therefore believe, that the heavens are closed and there will be no additional revelation, no scripture, and no pronouncements from heaven. Let me emphasize that this widely held belief is not scriptural, but it is a stumbling block to some.10

In a recent best-selling book, the author uses as his principal analogy the interesting fact that for centuries all Europeans believed that all swans were white. It wasn’t until the discovery of Australia that swans of a different color were discovered. The author uses this analogy to help explain events which have actually occurred but were not expected.11 As I thought about this analogy, I realized that many people have refused to seriously investigate the Church because they believe there can be no revelation in this dispensation. One convert, who is now serving as a mission president, describes how difficult this was for him when he was investigating the Church. He said, “I had been taught all my life that there would never again be prophets and apostles here upon the earth. So to accept Joseph Smith as a prophet created a large stumbling block.” However, when he prayed, he states, “I received a witness that in fact the gospel had been restored to the earth and that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God.”12

For many of these people who are open to religious faith, one issue has been particularly troubling. They have had a difficult time reconciling the correct doctrine that we have a loving Father in Heaven and the incorrect doctrine that most of mankind would be doomed to eternal hell.

This was an issue with my great-great-grandfather Phineas Wolcott Cook. He was born in 1820 in Connecticut. In his diary he notes that he had made a covenant with the Lord to serve Him if he could find the right way. He attended many churches and at one was asked to “testify [and] join the church [and] be a Christian.” His response was he “could not tell which one to join, there were so many.” He continued to investigate several churches. One doctrine was of particular significance to him. He explained: “Sometimes they found fault with me because I wanted a more liberal salvation for the family of man. I could not believe the Lord had made a part to be saved and a great part to be damned to all eternity.”13 Because of this doctrine, he allowed his name to be taken off the records of one Protestant religion. When the LDS missionaries taught him the true doctrine of the plan of salvation in 1844, he was baptized.

Phineas’s faith in the loving mercy of the Lord and His plan of happiness has been shared by many honorable men and women, even when the teachings of their own churches were very bleak.

The Anglican church leader and classical scholar Frederic Farrar, the author of The Life of Christ, lamented in lectures in Westminster Abbey that the common teachings of the Protestant churches with respect to hell were incorrect. He asserted that a definition of hell which included endless torment and everlasting damnation was the result of translation errors from Hebrew and Greek to English in the King James Version of the Bible. Farrar also noted the overwhelming demonstration of a loving Father in Heaven throughout the Bible as additional evidence that the definitions of hell and damnation used in the English translation were incorrect.14

Lord Tennyson in his poem “In Memoriam” expressed his heartfelt sentiment after noting that “we trust that somehow good will be the final goal of ill.” He continued:

That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroy’d,
Or cast as rubbish to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete.15

At the time Joseph Smith received revelations and organized the Church, the vast majority of churches taught that the Savior’s Atonement would not bring about the salvation of most of mankind. The common precept was that a few would be saved and the overwhelming majority would be doomed to endless tortures of the most awful and unspeakable intensity.16 The marvelous doctrine revealed to the Prophet Joseph unveiled to us a plan of salvation that is applicable to all mankind, including those who do not hear of Christ in this life, children who die before the age of accountability, and those who have no understanding.17

At death, righteous spirits live in a temporary state called paradise. Alma the Younger teaches us “paradise [is] a state of rest, a state of peace, where [the righteous] shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.”18 The unrighteous spirits dwell in spirit prison, sometimes referred to as hell.19 It is described as an awful place, a dark place where those fearful of the “indignation of the wrath of God” shall remain until the resurrection.20 However, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all spirits blessed by birth will ultimately be resurrected, spirit and body reunited, and inherit kingdoms of glory that are superior to our existence here on earth.21 The exceptions are confined to those who, like Satan and his angels, willfully rebel against God.22 At the resurrection, the spirit prison or hell will deliver up its captive spirits. Jesus came into the world “to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness.”23

The Savior said, “Let not your heart be troubled. . . . In my Father’s house are many mansions. . . . I go to prepare a place for you.”24 A succinct summary is provided in the book of Moses: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”25

After all the Savior has suffered for mankind, it is not surprising that in speaking of existing churches in the First Vision, He would instruct Joseph to “join none of them, for they were all wrong.”26 The Savior subsequently ushered in the Restoration of His true doctrine with respect to the plan of salvation and other saving principles such as the doctrine of Christ.27

But notwithstanding the significance of our doctrinal differences with other faiths, our attitude toward other churches has been to refrain from criticism. They do much good. They bless mankind. Many help their members learn of the Savior and His teachings.

A reporter for the Washington Post visited one of our Church meetings in Nigeria. The reporter interviewed one new member and told of his conversion. The reporter states:

“[He] said . . . he jumped off a city bus and walked into the [LDS Church building]. . . . He immediately liked what he heard inside [the chapel], especially that no one preached that people of other faiths were going to hell.”28 This echoes the feeling of numerous converts to the Church since its organization.

Our leaders have consistently counseled us “to live with respect and appreciation for those not of our faith. There is so great a need for civility and mutual respect among those of differing beliefs and philosophies.”29

It is equally important that we be loving and kind to members of our own faith, regardless of their level of commitment or activity. The Savior has made it clear that we are not to judge each other.30 This is especially true of members of our own families. Our obligation is to love and teach and never give up. The Lord has made salvation “free for all men” but has “commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.”31

The desire of our hearts, of course, is not only to acquire salvation and immortality but also to attain eternal life with a loving Father in Heaven and our Savior in the celestial kingdom with our families. We can obtain eternal life only through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.32 The Savior said, “For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me.”33

Those early European converts that Dickens met on board the ship Amazon had overcome many stumbling blocks. They had a testimony that revelation comes from heaven and that prophets and apostles are again on the earth. They had faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

They had come to understand the sublime destination that was in store for them. They were not fearful of the arduous journey they were undertaking, and their ultimate destination was not really the Salt Lake Valley. Their true destination was paradise followed by exaltation in the celestial kingdom.

That is why Latter-day Saints then and now sing the last verse of “Come, Come, Ye Saints” with faith and expectation.

And should we die before our journey’s through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell! 34

A loving Father has provided a comprehensive and compassionate plan for His children “that saves the living, redeems the dead, rescues the damned, and glorifies all who repent.”35 Even though our journey may be fraught with tribulation, the destination is truly glorious.

I rejoice in the great plan of salvation that is big enough for all of our Father in Heaven’s children. I express gratitude beyond my ability to articulate for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I bear my witness of Him in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Mormon Messages: Blessings of the Priesthood

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mormonads: Gossip

Gossip: Don't pass it on

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

LDS Church Welfare System

This gives a good overview of the church welfare system. This program truly is inspired of God.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mormonads: Repentance

When you've painted yourself in to a corner, repentance is the only way out

Monday, May 11, 2009

Aaronic Priesthood Restoration Commemoration

This Friday, May 15th is the anniversary of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. On this day in 1829, in answer to their fervent prayers, John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood. He layed his hands upon them and said,

"Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness. " Joseph Smith History 1:69

Born of the Water, and of the Spirit

Elder David E. Bednar said,

"Following our baptism, each of us had hands placed upon our head by those with priesthood authority and was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Holy Ghost was conferred upon us (see D&C 49:14). The statement “receive the Holy Ghost” in our confirmation was a directive to strive for the baptism of the Spirit.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost” (History of the Church, 5:499). We were baptized by immersion in water for the remission of sins. We must also be baptized by and immersed in the Spirit of the Lord, “and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Ne. 31:17)."

David A. Bednar, “That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign, May 2006, 28–31

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quote of the Day: Spencer W. Kimball

President Spencer W. Kimball

“If we spend our mortal days in accumulating secular knowledge to the exclusion of the spiritual then we are in a dead-end street, for this is the time for man to prepare to meet God” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 390).

Saturday, May 9, 2009

No Man Taketh This Honour

In commenting on Looney's blog, I posted the following scripture:

"And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. " Hebrews 5:4

I wanted to write a little further about what this scripture means. I think it is helpful to back up and read more of the chapter.

1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:

4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Hebrews 5:1,4

In this chapter, Paul is talking about how men are called to serve, and ordained to the Priesthood. He taught that men must be called of God as was Aaron, but how was Aaron called? For an answer to this question, we can go back to the Old Testament. In Exodus 28:1 we read what the Lord said to Moses,

"And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons."

Moses was the mouthpiece of the Lord at that time. Through Moses, the children of Israel were led out of Egypt. Another word for a "mouthpiece of the Lord is "prophet". Moses had received the Priesthood under the hands of his father in law Jethro. He had the authority to give the Priesthood to whomever God chose. And in this case, God chose Aaron and his sons, and his posterity after him.

From these scriptures we learn that there are some necessary things in order for a man to receive the Priesthood, and serve as a Priesthood leader. First, he must be called of God by someone who has the Priesthood authority to pass on to him. Second, Aaron did not decide for himself that he should have this position. There is no jockeying for position in the church of God. God calls whom he will. Elder N. Eldon Tanner said,

"The authority of the priesthood cannot be assumed or arrogated to oneself, but must be delegated by God through one having authority. One of the reasons for confusion in the churches today is that man has assumed this authority without proper delegation from the Lord. A man would have no more right to arrogate this priesthood authority unto himself than would one citizen or another decide to be a representative of the king or the parliament or the president of the United States. In fact, if one began to sign papers as their representative, without having been properly appointed, he would be accused of forgery and handled by the law. ...Only by the authority of the priesthood can the ordinances of the gospel be received or administered. Without it one cannot baptize, confirm, ordain, officiate, or hold any presiding office in the Church" N. Eldon Tanner, “The Priesthood of God,” Ensign, Jun 1973, 3

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Baptism for the Dead

My neighbor's daughter brought this news story to my attention. It was reported here.

Obama's Mother Baptized Into LDS Church, Grandmother Going On Hajj

Thursday, May 7, 2009 @09:46am CST

(Salt Lake City, UT) -- "President Obama's mother, who died in 1995, has been posthumously baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

According to a "Salt Lake Tribune" report, the church's ritual of "baptism for the dead" was performed on Stanley Ann Dunham, Obama's mother.

The practice of baptizing the dead without family consent has drawn sharp criticism from many religious groups.

Meanwhile, there's word that President Obama's paternal grandmother, Sarah Obama, will be performing the ritual of Hajj this year.

All able-bodied Muslims are required to undertake the annual pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia at least once in their lifetime."

My neighbor's daughter was outraged at this. But I think part of her outrage comes from not understanding what baptism means, nor baptism for the dead.
Baptism is an ordinance that symbolizes new birth. It symbolizes putting off the old person, and becoming a follower of Christ. It symbolizes spiritual washing, or repentance. This ordinance is part of a covenant that the person makes with God. When a person is baptized, they are covenanting with God that they will keep His commandments. A covenant is a two way promise. We promise to keep the commandments, and God promises in return that when we repent, He will forgive us.

Baptism for the dead is just the same as baptism for the living, except that the dead person cannot do this ordinance for themself. It requires someone else to act as proxy for them. Spiritually, the covenant is still being made between that person and God, but the living person acts on their behalf to receive the ordinance.

In our religion, we do geneology to research our ancestors so that we can do temple ordinances for them. We submit names of family members. It is against church policy to submit the name of someone who is not a family member. And in fact, if there are still living family members, we are required to get their permission in many cases before doing the ordinance.

But here is the part that many people don't understand. Even though the work is done here on Earth, the deceased person still has the right to refuse it. If they don't want to make that covenant with God, they can reject that ordinance. If they reject it, it is null and void. The covenant is between them and God. If they reject it, the promises are void.

Baptism for the dead was an ordinance that was practiced in ancient times. Paul, in teaching some who didn't believe in a resurrection taught, "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" 1 Corinthians 15:29 His point being that the people were doing baptisms for the dead BECAUSE they would some day be resurrected.

Some might not understand the importance of baptism, but the Savior was very clear on this point. In John 3:5 he said, "...Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Baptism is requisite to inherit the kingdom of God. Why would it be requisite? Because God only allows those who have made the covenant with Him to inherit the kingdom of God. Baptism is being "born of the water". It is a spiritual rebirth. After a person is baptized, they recieve the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. This is the baptism of the Spirit that is spoken of.

Should President Obama be offended that his grandmother was baptized? I believe no, because if she doesn't want that baptism, she has the free will to reject it.

I have posted this link before, but here is a great article that discusses the practice of baptism for the dead, and whether or not it is ethical. Click HERE to read it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Day of Faith, Personal Quest for Purpose

This is a really wonderful interview with an LDS student at Harvard. She was part of a panel for a special, "Day of faith, personal quest for Purpose" presentation. The Mormon girl interviewed is a typical (although well spoken) LDS girl. She answers some great questions that I think many people have wanted to ask. It's about a 15 minute video, but I think it is well worth watching. Click here to watch the video.

In the Mouth of Two or Three Witnesses

In 2 Corinthians 13, 1 we read,"This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." The idea that there should be more than one witness to establish the truth of something is a principle that was in practice ever since Old Testament times. We believe that the Book of Mormon stands as a second witness, with the Bible, that Jesus is the Christ. My thanks goes to Ross for sharing these references with me that he used in a talk in church recently.

From the Bible we read:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:" John 11:25

From the Book of Mormon we read:
"And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent." Mosiah 3:17

"7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary." Mosiah 3:7-8

"10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
11 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.
12 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." Alma 7:10-12

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, "Love for the Book of Mormon expands one's love for the Bible, and vice versa... We are indebted to martyrs who gave their lives so that we could have the Bible. It establishes the everlasting nature of the gospel and of the plan of happiness. The Book of Mormon restores and underscores biblical doctrines such as tithing, the temple, the Sabbath day, and the priesthood."

Nephi, one of the prophets in the Book of Mormon recorded:
7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever. 2 Nephi 29:7-9

In Ezekiel 37:19 we read, "Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand." In this verse, the word, "stick" refers to scriptures. The scriptures or "stick" of Joseph would be the scriptures brought forth by the tribe of Joseph. The scriptures or "stick" of Judah would be the scriptures brought forth by the tribe of Judah. The people of the Book of Mormon were descended from the tribe of Joseph. The Book of Mormon is the set of scriptures brought forth by them. The Jews, of course were of the tribe of Judah, and the Holy Bible was the set of scriptures brought forth by them. These two sets of scriptures work together to testify of Jesus Christ. Today they are truly, "one" in our hands to testify of the gospel. They stand as co-witnesses that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I invite you to study them together, and pray for guidance as you do so.