Saturday, November 27, 2010

LDS Temples SlideShow

Thanks to Inklings for this link

Click here to see a slideshow of LDS temples.

Book of Mormon Sampler: Alma 37:34-37

Alma 37:34-37

35 O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.
36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mormon Messages: Return to Virtue

How often do you hear this taught to youth in the world today?

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I thought about titling this post, "What is Hell?", but was afraid of some of the answers I might get in the comment section. ;) But after reading about this subject on Looney's post on this subject, I thought I would write a post about it too. I think our view of "hell" is very different from the view of many Christians.

I thought that the Bible Dictionary in our scriptures gave a great definition of hell. I considered writing my own version, but kept rambling too much, so decided to just share this one. :)

An English translation of the Hebrew word Shoel, hell signifies an abode of departed spirits and corresponds to the Greek Hades. In common speech it generally denotes the place of torment for the wicked, although it has been often held, both in the Jewish and the Christian churches, that Hades (meaning broadly the place of all departed spirits) consists of two parts, paradise and Gehenna, one the abode of the righteous and the other of the disobedient. “Gehenna,” or “Gehenna of fire,” is the Greek equivalent of the “valley of Hinnom,” a deep glen of Jerusalem where the idolatrous Jews offered their children to Moloch (2 Chr. 28: 3; 2 Chr. 33: 6; Jer. 7: 31; Jer. 19: 2-6). It was afterwards used as a place for burning the refuse of the city (2 Kgs. 23: 10), and in that way became symbolical of the place of torment (Matt. 5: 22, 29-30; Matt. 10: 28; Matt. 18: 9; Matt. 23: 15, 33; Mark 9: 43, 45, 47; Luke 12: 5; James 3: 6). Expressions about “hell-fire” are probably due to the impression produced on men’s minds by the sight of this ceaseless burning, and are figurative of the torment of those who willfully disobey God.
In latter-day revelation hell is spoken of in at least two senses. One is the temporary abode in the spirit world of those who were disobedient in this mortal life. It is between death and the resurrection, and persons who receive the telestial glory will abide there until the last resurrection (D&C 76: 84-85, 106), at which time they will go to the telestial glory. In this sense the Book of Mormon speaks of spiritual death as hell (2 Ne. 9: 10-12).
"10 O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.
11 And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave.
12 And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel."
Hell, as thus defined, will have an end, when all the captive spirits have paid the price of their
sins and enter into a degree of glory after their resurrection. Statements about an everlasting hell (Hel. 6: 28; Moro. 8: 13) must be interpreted in their proper context in the light of D&C 19: 4-12, which defines eternal and endless punishment. "4 And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless.
5 Wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand.
6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.
10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—
11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment."
On the other hand, the devil and his angels, including the sons of perdition, are assigned to a place spoken of as a lake of fire - a figure of eternal anguish. This condition is sometimes called hell in the scriptures (2 Pet. 2: 4; D&C 29: 38; D&C 88: 113). This kind of hell, which is after the resurrection and judgment, is exclusively for the devil and his angels, and is not the same as that consisting only of the period between death and resurrection. The one group are redeemed from hell and inherit some degree of glory. The other receive no glory. They continue in spiritual darkness. For them the conditions of hell remain." (Bible Dictionary: Hell)

I have written before about what happens to us after we die. The other day I had the opportunity to sit in on a discussion that an investigator of our church had with the full time missionaries. One of the Elders described what happens to us after death in this way. He said that basically there are two waiting rooms. One is Paradise, that the Savior spoke of on the cross, and the other is Spirit Prison, which the Savior visited during the three days before His resurrection. Paradise is for those who have lived a good life. Spirit Prison is for those who have been disobedient. We wait in these places for the resurrection day. This Spirit Prison is a kind of hell for those who will dwell there. This hell is alluded to in the book of Matthew 5: "25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."
Those who are in spirit prison must suffer for the sins they have committed. This is a type of hell. So while we don't have the view of a place of fire and brimstone, we do believe that "hell" is the place where a person must suffer for the sins they have committed. And knowing for eternity that we could have chosen God's path and been reunited with Him, when we chose the world's instead, which separates us from God, must be some of the greatest suffering of all.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Seeking Truth

One of the universal doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, is that God is the source of all truth. God is omniscient, and knows the beginning from the end. As a young 14 year old boy, Joseph Smith questioned which church he should join. As he was reading in the Bible, he came across this important scripture in James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." What a great promise! God will liberally give us truth!

As I pondered that scripture again yesterday, the phrase "and upbraideth not" stuck out to me. I decided to look up the word "upbraid" in the dictionary. This is the definition that I found: "to find fault with or reproach severely; censure". This scripture suddenly took on new meaning for me. I know people of different religions who believe that it is offensive to God for them to ask if the Book of Mormon is true. They fear that He will be angry with them. But clearly, this scripture tells us that God wants to give us truth LIBERALLY! He wants us to ask! He will not punish us for seeking to know what is true, and what isn't. He loves us and wants us to seek out truth.

When God gives us an answer, how will we be able to discern if the thing we have prayed about is true? In latter-day scripture we get this guidance: "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." (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2) What I like about this description is that it gives us two different ways to recognize the Spirit when he speaks to us. First we will feel "sure" about the thing, and it will make sense to us in our mind. Secondly, we will have a feeling in our heart. Sometimes this feeling can be what is described as a "burning in the bosom". These two feelings together create a surety that the thing we have asked about is true. It is important to note that God expects us to do our homework first. How can we ask about something we do not understand? We have this further instruction in the Doctrine and Covenants: "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. 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)

What a great blessing we have that God has blessed us with the ability to gain and recognize truth! He will not "upbraid" those who seek truth, but delights to bless them with knowledge. I am thankful for this gift in my life!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Importance of an Open Canon

I've been thinking about this topic for weeks now, but only today finally decided to write about it. This is such an important and pivotal topic when studying the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope that I can open your eyes to the necessity of having an open canon.

Whenever I have talked with people from other religions about this subject in the past, they have quoted to me the same scripture from the Bible, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:" (Rev. 22:18) What they fail to understand is that the books of the New Testament weren't written in the order in which they appear in the Bible. Most Bible scholars today agree that this scripture pertains to the book of Revelation, not the entire Bible. In fact, the Bible, as we know it, wasn't even compiled at the time this scripture was written.

So what is scripture? In 2 Timothy 3:16,17 we read, " 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." In latter-day revelation we get further instruction about how scripture is written, "And whatsoever they (the prophets and apostles) shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation." (Doctrine and Covenants 68:4) This was the way scripture was given in times of old. Apostles and prophets wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, as in the case of Isaiah, they wrote after having visions. Much of the Bible is also a historical record that was kept. But in Bible times, scripture was given to guide the people and to teach them the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Have we any less need for guidance today? Are the scriptures given in times of old sufficient for us today? We believe that we are in need of guidance from God today, just as were people in Bible times. While we can gain great knowledge and guidance from the Bible, we in these latter days face challenges that weren't in existence in Bible times.

So let's look at some guidance that we in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have received in modern days. One of the revelations that was needed for our day is the revelation called "The Word of Wisdom". This revelation explains that it was given "In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days" (Doctrine and Covenants 89:4). It goes on to warn us that certain substances are not healthy for the body. The list includes coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco. In recent years the Prophet has added harmful drugs to that list. Today we live in a world where men capitalize on the addictive nature of these substances. The revelation goes on to teach us that if we abstain from these substances, we will be healthy, and will find hidden treasures of knowledge, and that the destroying angel will pass us by, as it did the children of Israel in the time of Moses.

Other revelations in modern day have to do with how to organize the church. Some give additional doctrine that was lost during the translation of the Bible. These additional revelations do not detract from the teachings of the Bible. We believe the Bible, and we follow it's teachings. But in these modern times, we are just as in need of the direction of God as were the people in Old Testament times.

The prophet Moroni in the Book of Mormon explains succinctly why we believe in modern scripture, and modern revelation: "And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues;
Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them." (Moroni 9:7,8)

In Bible times there was a proliferation of written scripture. Why did that stop? Why would there not be written scripture today? We believe that after the death of Jesus Christ, a great apostasy occurred, and that for a time, that we now refer to as the "dark ages", there was no communication from God. The gospel of Jesus Christ was changed and the Priesthood power was lost from the Earth. The scriptures speak of a need for a restoration, and that restoration occurred through the Prophet Joseph Smith in modern times. After that restoration, revelation began to flow again to the earth through modern prophets. Today we have on going revelation, and modern day scripture.

Elder Jeffery Holland taught, "The fact of the matter is that virtually every prophet of the Old and New Testament has added scripture to that received by his predecessors. If the Old Testament words of Moses were sufficient, as some could have mistakenly thought them to be,3 then why, for example, the subsequent prophecies of Isaiah or of Jeremiah, who follows him? To say nothing of Ezekiel and Daniel, of Joel, Amos, and all the rest. If one revelation to one prophet in one moment of time is sufficient for all time, what justifies these many others? What justifies them was made clear by Jehovah Himself when He said to Moses, “My works are without end, and … my words … never cease.” (Moses 1:4) One Protestant scholar has inquired tellingly into the erroneous doctrine of a closed canon. He writes: “On what biblical or historical grounds has the inspiration of God been limited to the written documents that the church now calls its Bible? … If the Spirit inspired only the written documents of the first century, does that mean that the same Spirit does not speak today in the church about matters that are of significant concern?”5 We humbly ask those same questions...

One other point needs to be made. Since it is clear that there were Christians long before there was a New Testament or even an accumulation of the sayings of Jesus, it cannot therefore be maintained that the Bible is what makes one a Christian. In the words of esteemed New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, “The risen Jesus, at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, does not say, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to the books you are all going to write,’ but [rather] ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me.’ ”10 In other words, “Scripture itself points … away from itself and to the fact that final and true authority belongs to God himself.”11 So the scriptures are not the ultimate source of knowledge for Latter-day Saints. They are manifestations of the ultimate source. The ultimate source of knowledge and authority for a Latter-day Saint is the living God. The communication of those gifts comes from God as living, vibrant, divine revelation.12"

I testify that not only do we receive modern revelation today, but that it is essential to the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth. We need God's guidance today. We need His scripture today. We need His voice today.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mormon Messages: Lifting Burdens: The Atonement of Jesus Christ

What powerful testimonies by the apostles about the Savior's role in our lives!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our Life Before Mortality

An important doctrine in LDS theology is that we existed before we were born to mortality. We believe that God the Father is the actual father of our spirits. When we were born, our spirits joined with our bodies to form the soul that we now have. There are many scriptures in the Bible that give us information about our life as spirits. We also have additional scripture, but I will focus here on the scriptures found in the Bible.

--1 The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him. (Zechariah 12:1)

--We are the spirit children of God:

--28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. (Acts 17:28)
--9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Hebrews 12:9)
--16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Romans 8:16)

-- We shouted for joy at the creation of the world, and the plan that was presented to us.
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

(Job 38:4-7)

Some were ordained to perform certain duties in this life:
The Lord told this to the prophet Jeremiah about his fore-ordination in the spirit world:
-- 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

--9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (Timothy 1:9)

This one speaks of the Savior's foreordination:
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
(1 Peter 1:19,20)

--Some spirits chose not to follow God's plan, and kept not their "first estate". They chose Satan's plan
-- 6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 1:6)
-- 7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, (Revelations 12:7)

We have additional scripture in the Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, and Book of Mormon that give more information about our pre-existent life. But I am thankful for what the bible teaches us about our spirit life, and the plan of salvation.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Quote of the Day: Pres. Spencer W. Kimball: Suffering

President Spencer W. Kimball, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled. . . . No man would have to live by faith. . . . “. . . There would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life. . . . “Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery” ( Faith Precedes the Miracle [1972], 97–98).

Conference Messages: Elder Claudio R. M. Costa- Obedience to the Prophets