Friday, April 27, 2018

Fruits and Words

Christ says in Mattthew 6:14 (RE)

Either make the tree good and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and his fruit corrupt, for the tree is known by the fruit. And Jesus said, O you children of vipers, How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, brings forth good things; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, brings forth evil things. And again I say unto you that every idle word men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment: for by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.

Christ connects fruit with words spoken.   Prophets provoke all sorts of anger and violence in scripture with their words.  So did Christ, but that doesn't mean their fruits were bad.

Our words will condemn is is a sobering thought.  For good reason we should measure our words before giving voice to them.  I don't think Christ's teaching above is referring to just the letter string of words pieced together.  I think the verse quoted above has reference to "words" as in the "message" you communicate.  With your words.  Jesus said "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks".  What comes out of your mouth is a reflection of the heart.  You could fumble over your words or be weak in writing like one BOM prophets and yet the message or fruit communicated could still be good.  Or on the other hand be like Sherem the Antichrist in the Book of Mormon. Sherem was “learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil” (Jacob 7:4).

As I was thinking about words it dawned on me you could take scripture and get out a dictionary and use the dictionary for every single word, and yet you wouldn't uncover the extent of what God was really saying in the passage.  Because the dictionary isn't the way to unlock scriptures full meaning.  I believe the Holy Spirit is.

Word meanings vary from culture to culture and time and place.  They evolve.  But one consistent trend is that words rarely acquire higher meaning.  Their meaning trends decidedly downwards.  Revelation can restore meaning, but for now consider this:

E. W. Bullinger was a biblical scholar and fluent in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, and other languages. His study of language led him to this interesting conclusion: “It is a strange commentary on fallen human nature to see words thus changing their usage; for this change is uniformly in one direction; it is always a change for the worse. We never find a word acquiring a higher meaning! It is always down, down, down, like fallen and falling man himself, who thus drags down with him the meanings of the words he uses."

How, for example, did the change in the usage of this word “prevent” come about? [Bullinger had been writing of the word “prevent” and how in earlier English usage it used to mean “precede, go in front of, go before”]. It was because whenever one man got before another, it was generally for his own advantage, and to the hindrance, hurt, and loss of the other; hence the word came to have this new and lower meaning.

The same may be seen in apology, which was used of a defense, as in Jewel’s Apology (i.e., Defense) of the Reformation. But, because man’s defenses of himself are usually so poor, the word has come to mean a mere excuse. Our word censure was used simply of judgment, which might be favorable or otherwise; but, inasmuch as such judgments have generally proved to be unfavorable, the word is used today only of blame. Our word story was originally short for history, but because so many histories and stories are what they are [i.e., made up or embellished], the word has come to mean that which is not true. Cunning meant merely knowing; but because knowing people generally know too much, or use their knowledge to a bad purpose, it has come to have its present usage. Villain meant a servant of a villa, or of a country or farm-house. The house has kept its good meaning, but the man has lost it.
” E. W. Bullinger, How to Enjoy the Bible (Samuel Bagster and Sons, Ltd., London, reprinted 1970), p. 230.

The meaning of words deteriorates!  Easy to notice if you pay attention in 2018.  And it's almost always downward in meaning.  Which reflects the heart, as Jesus said above. 

Take "hope" for example.  It used to mean something that was likely to occur, but the modern English usage of “hope” actually implies a wish, or something desired which is very likely not to occur. For instance, one might say “I hope to go to the store today” when there is substantial doubt that they actually may do so.  "Hope" in some modern usage even gives room for an excuse for not doing a thing because it was only a hope after all, not a certainty committed to.

Hope as defined in the Book of Mormon, assisted by revelation, is the time period between when God gives a promise and the realization of the promise.  During that time the person has hope. But the promise is sure because God's word does not return void and God cannot lie.  So the hope is an anchor bringing the possessor of it joy and assurance.

I believe it takes revelation from God for the words to re-aquire higher meaning.  Often takes going back to the original meaning as understood before numerous generations of deterioration.  This is why I generally think were someone to read a document like the Answer and Covenant, and get out the dictionary and define each word they would not necessarily acquire The Spirit behind the words and thus not acquire the full intended meaning.  Or the fruits.  Our minds are often polluted, our hearts broken, and our interpretations are all personal and private to our own biases.  When scriptures teach that no prophecy of scripture is for private interpretation, (KJV 2 Peter 1:20) I have to pause and really consider what that means.  

The Holy Spirit can shed light on subtleties of words that a dictionary cannot.  Foreign languages do a good job of identifying that there are sometimes numerous differences between closely related ideas or concepts because that language may have 3, 4 or more words for one English word.  Because there are differences in meaning based on time, place, context, and intent that some languages explore more than others.  Dictionaries often do not and cannot account for a persons intent.  The intent behind words matters, not just the actual words used.  For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Having seen many a disagreement over the meaning of a word I'm looking towards seeking God's intent behind words when He speaks.  Would not God's intent play a major part in how to interpret or define his words or fruits?  Would applying only mans dictionary not often result in misunderstanding?   

I am reminded again and again that we must read the scriptures as much with our minds as hearts, and that too under the influence of the Holy Ghost.  The dictionary cannot unlock certain things.  Only the heart can.  The intent and meaning of some words may even go contrary to what might initially show up in the dictionary or the synonym section.  It may contain a message so elevated, and communicate intent so pure and express love to a degree that we don't even comprehend what the message even was. We can't even take it in.  Instead it all descends to bickering with the dictionary as the lowest common denominator to win a battle. When the heart and the intent were what mattered more.       

I've heard it said that it takes revelation to understand revelation.  I believe that to be true.  I also believe God's words are revelation and that God offers fruit that is desirable above all other fruit.

Psalm 119:105 (KJV) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

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