Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Conference "...." scriptures Part 4

This is part 4/5 of a series that began in Elder's Quorum last week.  I only expected to just write about that one experience but it has led to places I wasn’t expecting.

Last post was some history of Section 121.  And the context for vs 33 as it appears in the LDS D&C.  Here's the verse again for reference.
How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the Heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.
The Almighty pouring down knowledge.  Keep that in mind with these quotes. 
A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of GodHistory of the Church, 4:588; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Apr. 10, 1842, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff.
Knowledge fixes our incorrect understanding. If we will receive it. That verse above about the Almighty pouring down knowledge inside its context (letter from Joseph Smith), linked various things to do and be in order for God to give knowledge.  Sorry for the length of this quote but it's all pertinent:
Nevertheless, we would suggest the propriety of being aware of an aspiring spirit, which spirit has often times urged men forward to make foul speeches, and influence the church to reject milder counsels, and has eventually been the means of bringing much death and sorrow upon the church. We would say, Beware of pride also, for well and truly has the wise man said that pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. And again, outward appearance is not always a criterion for us to judge our fellow man, but the lips betray the haughty and overbearing imaginations of the heart. By his words and his deeds let him be scanned. Flattery also is a deadly poison. A frank and open rebuke provokes a good man to emulation, and in the hour of trouble he will be your best friend, but on the other hand it will draw out all the corruption of a corrupt heart, and lying and the poison of asps shall be under their tongues, and they do cause the pure in heart to be cast into prison because they want them out of their way. 
A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination be aware of, because the things of God are of deep import, and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Your mind, O man, if you will lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost Heavens, and search into and contemplate the lowest considerations of the darkest abyss, and expand upon the broad considerations of Eternal expanse. You must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God than the vain imagination of the human heart? None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. 
How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations: too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God, according to the purposes of his will from before the foundation of the world, to hold the keys of the mysteries of those things that have been kept hid from the foundation until now, of which some have tasted a little, and which many of them are to be poured down from Heaven upon the heads of babes, yea, the weak, obscure, and despisable ones of this earth.
Therefore, we beseech of you, brethren, that you bear with those who do not feel themselves more worthy than yourselves, while we exhort one another to a reformation with one and all, both old and young, teachers and taught, both high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female. Let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and simplicity, crown our heads in every place, and in fine, become as little children, without malice, guile, or hypocrisy.  
And now brethren, after your tribulations, if you do these things and exercise fervent prayer and faith in the sight of God, always, he shall give unto you Knowledge by his Holy Spirit...
"If you do these things".  What things is that?  It includes a list towards the end:  Honesty, sobriety, candor, solemnity, virtue, pureness, meekness, simplicity.  Become as little children without malice, guile, or hypocrisy.  Exercise fervent prayer, and faith in the sight of God.

Avoiding nicknames and correctly identify the name of an organization (which organization hardly resembles the original) with our lips starts to look shallow by comparison to this letter.  What God is this that will pure down never before seen blessings for behaviors dramatically short of what Joseph mentions?  The letter covers everything ranging from being aware of aspiring spirits (which he says eventually brings much death and sorrow upon the church), to vain and trifling public and private conferences, councils, and meetings.  Fanciful and flowery heated imaginations.  Flattery is poison. I mean look at all this stuff.  I'm blown away at this letter.  This letter alone has impacted me as much as anything from Joseph Smith.  Thankfully no truths were omitted from the LDS canonized version (see last post for what I'm jokingly referencing with this).

To get better understanding we need knowledge. So on that note here is part of Joseph's list that was connected to getting knowledge.  These are just a few personal thoughts and connections on each that I put as part of my own record. 

Honesty:  One of the scriptural warnings is about "lyings and deceivings" (3rd Nephi 30:2).  That verse has a whole list of stuff to avoid but honesty seems to be the counter to lying and deceiving.  So who is it we are lying to?  God?  Ourselves?  Each other?  What according to 3rd Nephi are people lying about?  Taxes?  Or is it religion based (read: Cover up) lying?  Who is doing the deceiving and who are the ones deceived?  Hum... maybe there's more to honesty than being accurate at the grocery store if they make a mistake.

Sobriety.  This is not just lack of being drunk on alcohol. This connects to Mormon 1:2  And about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me, (I being about ten years of age, and I began to be learned somewhat after the manner of the learning of my people) and Ammaron said unto me: I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe;

Mormon was a sober child.  Which I believe refers to a respect and recognition of the truth.  Quick to observe would indicate alacrity, which is to honor God.  Mormon at a young age showed sobriety in the sense of a respect and honor towards God with alacrity.  Joseph Smith's list is profound.

Candor:.  Nephi had candor in warning people about the corrupt Churches "all" have gone astray.  He doesn't mince words or prize social and political correctness when frankness is called for.

Solemnity.  This goes with a previous part of the letter about how time experience and careful, solemn and ponderous thoughts are required to find out the things of God. This to me resonates as a deep sincerity.

Virtue.  If there is anything "virtuous" lovely or of good report, or praiseworthy we seek after these things.  Well.... that is after we're fully done enjoying latest Hollywood hits displaying the opposite.  Don't get me wrong, I like movies. I guess "we" seek after these things only includes those who actually seek after those things.  That being said, on a funny side note I have to include this haha:
In fact to be approved of God, in many cases, conforming to His will make you offensive to man. But the opinions, vagaries, and the fashions of men, the opinion polling and the drifts of what is and what is not popular at one point or another, are damnable. They ought not even be considered. Righteousness does not give any regard to such things. And yet it may be virtuous to do so. It may be virtuous to be a limp wristed, weepy, happy-go-lucky, “have a nice day” kind of effeminate chap. But righteousness will kick his ass everyday. 
Be of Good Cheer, Be of Good Courage Denver Snuffer 9-10-13 Lecture 1 Boise, Idaho
Pureness.  The pure in heart shall see God according to the Sermon at Bountiful. Pureness denotes the absence of contaminants.  Everything in this world is contaminated though so what do we do?  For starters we stop inhaling that filth and breath something more pure.
So ask yourself, what can remain pure? Even here, in this awful world, what can remain pure? There are three things that can remain absolutely unmolested and uncorrupted: the truth, which is fixed and cannot be touched by us. God's love, which is free and available to all. Neither the truth nor God's love requires effort on our part. The third thing that can remain pure here is our desires. That, however, requires effort. Nevertheless, it is possible that perfection can touch each of us, if we have the right desires.
Preserving The Restoration Denver Snuffer 9-9-14 Lecture 10 Mesa, AZ

Meekness.  See here on Meekness.

Simplicity.  This has a sister word "plain".  Plain and simple.  Nephi even says he glories in plainness (2 Nephi 33:4-6).  In another place he says he delights in plainness.  This is how God works with us (2 Ne. 31: 2-3). It's the plain and precious truths removed from the Gospel that cause exceeding stumbling (1 Nephi 13:34).  We should probably be plain and simple too.  Speaking in simple terms.  The Gospel is supposed to be simple, so a child can understand.  Not embellished with crap and commandments of men that twists things and removes the simplicity.  A coworker and I put together a little activity to help the Gospel return to simplicity, see here

Become as little children.  Well yeah, little children are willing to take in new knowledge.  This is part of the Doctrine of Christ. We must become as little children or we "shall not be able to" enter the kingdom of heaven.

Without malice.  There's a lot of malice in our world.  Often perceived, but sometimes legit.  Our hearts are often angry, imputing bad motives when perhaps there weren't any.  Kids tend to not have malice.  So this definitely does go well with "become as little children".

[Without] Guile. Guile is defined (1828 dictionary) as: Craft; cunning; artifice; duplicity; deceit.  Can you imagine God pouring down knowledge if you were up to that shady stuff?  You'd make a wreck of the knowledge God gave you.  It would end up with abusing people and hindering them.

[Without] Hypocrisy. This has direct connection to Nephi's explanation of the Doctrine of Christ.  Christ talks about becoming as a little child as part of His doctrine. Nephi mentions "acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God" while also discussing Christ's doctrine. 2 Nephi 31:13.  Below is the whole thing.  Notice how well these line up with what Joseph has said above.
13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall  follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real  intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the  name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
Fervent Prayer.  Reminds me of the scripture to pray always.  Also the scripture from Moroni about praying for Charity. "Pray to the Father with all the energy of heart".  All the energy of heart. That sounds like fervent prayer.  Speaking of Charity, I recently learned that Charity too is less of a feeling than a fixed determination to do good. I really liked that. The Gospel becomes a bit less feeling oriented and a bit more expansive in terms of intelligence and understanding.

Faith in the sight of God.  So you mean not faith in the sight of my bishop?  Or faith in the sight of my fellow man?  It says faith in the sight of God.  Which of course implies God is watching you and we need to have faith according to his view.  Which is faith in Christ.  Because we're supposed to fear God, not man.

I see why Joseph connects these to God giving knowledge by the Holy Spirit. This has depth. I mean look at this stuff:

That part about flattery.  Any flattery going on inside the LDS church? Apparently there was some in the early days.  Who today is perhaps the most flattered living human being in all of Mormondom?  For whom else do thousands upon thousands of people stand in quiet reverence when they enter the room?  Flattery is a deadly poison Joseph says.  So we shouldn't consume it, but also shouldn't ritualize our dispensing of it.  What effects does flattery have on a person?  What sorts of things does flattery cause or lead to? 

On a side note, I recently came across this from LDS.org.  Video here. Link.

Interesting.  A photograph of himself, and his two counselors delivered to a single mom in Africa.  What does that communicate? I showed this video to my wife and her first reaction was “It didn’t even have a frame?” Haha. She makes me laugh.   

Anyway, there's much less risk of flattery when everyone is equal and recognizes their dependence on God.

A few more things that stand out from the letter.

-Frank rebukes will reveal who your friends are.  But for those who are not, it's going to land you in prison.  Or in a disciplinary council as the case may be in our day.  Moment of silence for Bill Reel's recent loss of Church membership.  Link. Link2.

-Ever seen or sat through a vain and trifling spirit, Church meeting, council, conference, or conversation?  Good grief if Joseph's meetings were dealing with that stuff back then I hate to think how poorly our meetings would be assessed.  Yet we frequently seem to sit in awe and thank God for the "marvelous spirit" that attends our worship service/conference.  Remember that First Presidency letter years ago asking the members NOT to open scriptures with the speaker during sacrament meeting because it would disrupt the spirit of our worship services?  Which spirit is that? 

-And this part of the letter:
Your mind, O man, if you will lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost Heavens,and search into and contemplate the lowest considerations of the darkest abyss, and expand upon the broad considerations of Eternal expanse. You must commune with God.
Today that kind of message is reduced and replaced with sometimes mindless cliche platitudes. Here's a sampling of some meme worthy quotes (the best ones apparently) from conference. Link

This letter from Joseph is a whole different level from anything I've ever heard at LDS General Conference.

Or we can get God's blessings and power "never before seen" poured down by simply calling a Church organization (which is a corporation sole operating under conflicting name which appears the Leaders are not going to change) by the correct name and stop using nicknames.  That seems a lot easier honestly.  I guess we really do need to choose this day whom we will serve.  Our hearts need to make the correct decision.  More on the "heart" next post.   

1 comment:

  1. Amen! Thank you for putting this all together in a clear and cohesive manner. :) Makes this a great resource to share with my family and friends.