Friday, December 28, 2018

Vitamins and Church

During a holiday family get together recently the topic of Church and religion came up. One person quoted President Nelson as saying "Wait till next year, and then the next year," "Eat your vitamin pills. Get some rest. It's going to be exciting." "If you think the Church has been fully restored, you're just seeing the beginning"

That led to a discussion about the many recent changes the LDS church has made. Including but not limited to:
-Cutting ties with the BSA
-2 hour church block
-Reorganized Elder's Quorum
-Switching to an alternating Women's and Priesthood General Conference Sessions every 6 months.  
-Sister Missionaries able to wear pants
-Church policies regarding children of Gay parents. 
-Home/Visiting Teaching replaced by the new "Ministering" program.
-Home Centered, Church Supported Sunday School to take place starting 2019. 

After a few minutes of discussion the topic changed to predictions for what changes may be coming and trying to anticipate what President Nelson may be referring to.

I sat and pondered on that and wondered if there was anything scriptural on this that would help people (who don't have any inside sources or leaked information) do more than just speculate. So what do the scriptures prophesy we should see in our day?  That seems like a respectable way to look ahead.  Specifically what events, trends, or behaviors are foretold? We know there are various signs of the times mentioned in scripture. So, what signs will Church's exhibit? Below are a few thoughts on that.

But first:

What is “the Church” anyway? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an organization you join by baptism and confirmation. It has doctrines, rules of conduct, traditions, and social norms. You can withdraw membership via excommunication or resignation. Church in the Greek is: ekklesia, “an assembly of those who have been called out.” So in reality Church is the people, not the organizational structure, leadership, or facilities. But organizational structure, leadership, facilities, rules, and traditions are extremely common things for people to include with their definition of a Church.  The Church and the Gospel are also not the same thing.

D&C 10:67-68 says Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church. Membership in this Church depends on repentance and coming unto Christ.  This allows for a lot of  diversity on other aspects.  There are many who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are not part of Christ’s Church.

So, in a general sense what actions and behaviors Churches will exhibit (per scripture) depends on which Church we look at.  Nephi says there are save two churches only. 
1 Nephi 1:14 10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. 11 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.
We can't just look at formal organizations identifiable by names recognized in the public sphere or on tax forms. We think of Presbyterians, or Catholics, or Mormons etc. etc. But as we've covered the "Churches" Nephi describes are not defined that way.  The Church of the Devil would include any assembly or association of people bound together by their loyalty to that which is contrary to God. Could include any number of formal Churches or belief systems. So even though it's easier and more convenient to look at organizations, we should instead look for fruits. Perhaps most importantly our own fruits.

I thought a while on what signs or fruits the true Church of the Lamb of God will exhibit and what signs the other Church will exhibit.  

Great and Abominable Church

The Church of the Devil is "that great Church" the mother of abominations/whore of all the earth.

Abominations involve religious justification of wrongdoing. Something becomes "abominable" when it is motivated out of a false form of religious observance, or is justified because of religious error.  This Church does this and is the mother of this kind of thing. 

Jacob comments broadly on who belongs to the Church of the Devil.
2 Nephi 10:16: “He that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God.
Another interesting verse is 1 Nephi 13:26.
26 And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.
So what interests does this Church have?  And what tends, and behaviors might we expect to see from it?  If we only use scripture here's some relevant verses.  

1 Nephi 22:23
23 For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.
Alma 1:3.  There once was a guy named Nehor
3 And he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people.
3 Nephi 27:11
11 But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return.
A season of success and joy built upon the works of men is predicted by scripture.  It needs to look and feel joyous for a season or else it doesn't fit what is foretold by Christ.  The deception doesn't deceive if there's no success for a season.

1 Nephi 13 5-9
5 And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity.  6 And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it.  7 And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots.  8 And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church.  9 And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.
Ok with those scriptures in mind here's a few things this great false and abominable Church will exhibit:

-Fights against Zion
-Built up to get gain.
-Built up to get power over the flesh. 
-Built up to become popular in the eyes of the world.
-Seek after the lusts of the flesh.
-Seek after the things of the world.
-All manner of iniquity.
-Priests (those claiming religious authority) and teachers ought be supported by the people.
-They have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. (1 Nephi 13:26)

A few personal thoughts on some of these items.  These verses are perspectives of a prophet, informed by a vision from God.  Other people may look at the same set of modern events Nephi saw and not see them in the same light at all.  They would have a completely different perspective and interpretation.  What is normal to us in 2018 may look like absolute madness and depravity from heaven's view.  So I want to try and see what Nephi sees from his perspective.  Otherwise we're just reading our own perspective onto the scriptures and that's not going to help anyone. 

Built up to get gain. Gain would include money, property, power, and authority, religious, political and social.  But this agenda is not likely going to be something the Church of the Devil broadcasts to the public.  But it will be visible by the fruits.  Who do you suppose they will take advantage of or utilize to build this up?  In our society money and power go together.  So the more money you have the more power you can wield.  Safe to say the Church of the Devil will likely be dealing in plenty of wealth, since that is what they seek after.  

Built up to get power over the flesh.  This seems like dominion.  Meaning you can control or heavily influence lots of people, their beliefs and actions.  Political, social, religious.   Also not something this Church is likely to advertise or view in the same light Nephi would.  If you seek power over the flesh you'd need to claim or behave as if you had all power on heaven and earth.  Maybe even a portion of God's power.  Then you'd need to exercise that power over people.   

Seeking popularity and praise of the world.  Again, this is Nephi's perspective.  The Church of the Devil is not going to share his perspective of their motive.  Count on this Church having and promoting a very different interpretation of their actions.  Praise and popularity are mentioned various times.  Seems to merit some thought.  If you wanted to be popular in the eyes of the world what would you do?  Maybe you'd find out what's popular through surveys, taking the results of those surveys and then implementing them in a way that appeals to popular opinion.  The changing opinion of the public would be a higher priority than the truth.

The Church of the Devil is said by Nephi to sit upon many waters.  An interesting symbol.  What sits on water?  A boat or ship.  Constantly rocking back and forth. Ebbing and flowing, ever changing.  An interesting foundation to sit on.  As opposed to God who does not change.  Christ is the Rock.  We are to build on the rock, not build upon water.  Food for thought. 

If you wanted to be popular you'd do what popular people do, right?  What do famous stars and celebrities do?  They travel the world, put on tours, play music, and draw crowds of tens of thousands. They meet with high profile people, go to expensive dinners, and get awards.  If you seek popularity, you'd need to get massive stadiums to enforce the perception of just how popular you are.  Very large crowds are part of popularity.

If you want power and popularity you'll need to be noticed.  You'll need professional advisers to make sure you are bold at just the right time and in just the right way so as to not loose your popularity in the eyes of older generations while still capturing and appealing to the younger generation. If you want popularity you'll need to be in the news a lot.  You'll prob want a PR team to make sure the public image is positive.  Popular people have a big following so that would be expected. You'll probably need to promote and show off big numbers as if that was evidence for authenticity.

More about the Church of the Devil:

-Yokes with iron
-Holds captive

Desires of the Church of the Devil:
-Gold, silver, silk and scarlets and fine clothing, precious clothing. 
-Praise of the world

You have to wonder what Nephi witnessed.  People do hideous things to each other but these are things specifically done to The Saints of God.  Not sure if Nephi is giving them that label or if the people themselves identify as such.  It’s likely indirect persecution but possibly some direct too. In any event, this is a pretty good scriptural list.  Seems like this Church and it's behaviors should be easy to spot.  And yet you don't hear much about this.  Why is that?  If it is ever brought up, the Church of the devil is always some other formally known organization, other than your own of course.  But if the Church of the devil comprises all false beliefs and philosophies then we should look for the behaviors and actions and less of the particular organizations behind them.

Nephi talks about torture, binding and yoking.  How do you torture someone in a religious sense? I don't think Nephi is referring to military type torture although that isn't excluded. Torturing is an action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain. Needn't only be physical.

You know what comes to mind when I think of torture in a religious sense? Plural marriage as taught by Brigham Young and some of those after him. I think you needn't look much further than the history of the the LDS church to see examples of torturing people in this manner.  Others may also be involved in this but this is one example.  Teaching that type of plural marriage doctrine is required to live with God forces and binds people into situations they may find abhorrent.  That sounds like torture.

Yoking with Iron.  Yokes go around the neck.  Like someone having you by the throat.  They can do as they please with you because it only requires a little squeezing around your neck for you to pass out.  Making you feel like your life is their hands.  Someone (besides you) is also of course controlling the yoke.   

Holds captive.  To accomplish this you'd need to do things like teach damming doctrine that keeps people captive in a hellish world of unbelief and prevents them from learning and knowing what they need to learn and know to rise up and dwell with God.  That type of thing would keep people captive and is one of the things the Church of the Devil does.  They remove true doctrine (or never bother to learn or preserve it) and replace it with cheap shallow sentiment that keeps people distracted. People likely won't notice this unless they are watching.  The Church of the devil would on doubt portray this behavior as something attractive and praiseworthy.  They destroy peoples chance at learning saving truths because they have exchanged it for popularity.  Or they intentionally remove it from scripture for reasons which they explain as totally understandable and reasonable.

Clothing.  Why on earth are these ancient prophets often warning the latter-day readers so much about clothing and fine apparel?  Who cares what people wear?  Is it a matter of where clothing is made?  Do the poor produce the clothing of the rich?  You bet they do.  Clothing seems to be one of the first cultural ways of separating people out into classes.  If you were the Church of the Devil you'd need to spend considerable time making sure your outwards dress was of highest standards.  They of course don't share Nephi's view of fine clothing.  Sheep clothing is key to deceiving.  Everyone who could possibly portray your organization would need to dress in a way so as to uphold the image and popularity that is sought for.  

Then there's talk of whores and harlots and lusts of the flesh. Sexual abominations of course.  But not just that, it would include lusts for power or wealth or influence or popularity. This Church of the Devil is a mother.  So religious offspring has been produced by this Church.  The idea of harlots also seems to denote unfaithfulness to God.  Idolatry.  Or faithfullness to someone or something else which gave off false allure but ends up only taking your money and offering emptiness, sin and disease in return.  

"All manner of iniquity" Iniquity has a lot of meanings. The one I like that fits here is when when people become increasingly determined or committed to the wrong course. Working in a contrary way to God.  That's iniquity.  The Church of the Devil is at cross purposes with God.  Iniquity seems to resemble inequality.

Priestcraft.  The Church of the Devil has priests involved in a craft.  They get paid for priestly religious service.  Setting yourself up as a light to be followed.  Seeking adoration.  Payments in the corporate world also can carry the name "stipends" or reimbursements.

Geeze what a nasty list.  So taking this list what might we expect to see in 2018? 

I can't say for sure, but below are a few musings based on the above scriptures. What would you expect to see?  If you feel so inclined, leave a comment.

The verses above reference removing plain and precious parts from the Gospel and many covenants of the Lord.  This is often only talked about as if it has already happened. Which a lot of it obviously has.  However, do you suppose they get tired of the removals? I doubt it.  So what if these prophesies have had fulfillment in the past but ALSO have fulfillment in present day or the near future? 

To remove plain and precious parts of the Gospel and covenants of the Lord you could:
-Delete it.  Straight up remove it from the scriptures or ceremonies.  This of course would be done in the name of "focusing on the most important parts, to enrich our worship"  Or some other sugar coated nonsense.
-Alter it so it gets distorted or is no longer saying the same thing
-Changing the official meaning and interpretation so people can't understand
-Removing covenants can be done by the same things. Changing a covenant breaks it.  So to remove a covenant you can just change it or bar people from it by adding requirements that render the thing broken.

If the Church of the devil does this stuff I bet they will continue to do so.  I heard the other day that some officials in the LDS church have a plan to distance the Church from the Book of Mormon as a literal history.  There's a multi year plan to alter the BOM narrative into more of a figurative "revelation" rather than a historical "translation" from gold plates.  Would this count?  If it's transformed into a figurative story is anything plain lost by doing that?

Based on the above scriptures, I wonder if we may also see: (As of 12/28/18)

-Poor get poorer and rich get richer?
-False teachings taught with more emphasis, and uncensored, more bold?
-Appearance of success by touting numbers, projects, growth, expansion?
-Appeals to popularity?  Maybe making everything shorter, easier, faster, more convenient, but no longer salivific?  Whatever public is putting pressure on, will it change?
-Relaxing standards on issues or substances (like tea and coffee).  Maybe even removing tea or coffee from official interpretations?  And instead supporting overall health?  This is needed since no one can really define exactly which teas and coffee's are ok and which aren't.
Look for this section of handbook 2 to change:


Word of Wisdom

The only official interpretation of “hot drinks” (D&C 89:9) in the Word of Wisdom is the statement made by early Church leaders that the term “hot drinks” means tea and coffee.
-Softer and softer and more supportive view of same sex marriage?
-Shorter Temple ceremonies?  Maybe condensed and allow people to finish sooner?
-Maybe more equality for women in terms of authority and priesthood?  Women doing more under the "keys" of the priesthood?
-Removing gender inequality in temple ceremonies?  (as a response to public pressure from things like the Ordain Women movement)
-Programs not making money get discarded or revamped?  New face but no new underlying content?
-More "missionary volunteers" replacing paid employees?
-Lots of big events with big press? 
-Maybe Canonize existing documents that are not revelatory but which are popular with membership? (proclamation on the family, or that Living Christ document)
-Cast people out who threaten the established order of things?
-More and more legalities and legal presence to handle and accommodate social pressure and changing legal temperature of the country? 
-More secret works done behind closed doors and off the record?  (think scandals)
-More political presence and power?

What do you think?  What behaviors, beliefs, attitudes or ideologies would you expect to see (before the prophesied fall of this Church) based on what scriptures tell us?

Church of The Lamb
1 Nephi 22:12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.
3 Nephi 27:
8 And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel. 9 Verily I say unto you, that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you; 10 And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it.
1 Nephi 14:14
14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.

Church of the Lamb traits:

-Numbers are few because of the abominable Church. The Church of the Devil has uniquely situated itself to prevent, impede, and hinder people from becoming part of the Church of the Lamb.
-Err in many instances because they are taught by the Precepts of men.  They are taught by teachers and leaders who do not teach the truth.
-Seek Zion
-Persecuted by the other Church
-Build upon Christ's Gospel (found in scripture)
-Carries his Name AND build upon his Gospel.  "If it so be that they are built upon my gospel"
-Shows forth the Father's own works
-Make known plain and precious things which had been removed. 
-Armed with righteousness and the power of God in great glory.  (glory of God = intelligence) 
-Baptized with power and authority.  (3 Nephi 26: 21) And they who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ.
-Receive and wrought upon by the Holy Ghost  (4 Nephi 1:1)
-Rely alone upon the merits of Christ (Moroni 6:4)
-Names recorded  (Moroni 6:4)
-Covenants kept, remain unchanged, and have the actual power of Godliness.
-Christ manifesting Himself in power word and deed 

This Church may go unrecognized unless someone is looking.  You might need to do more than just take some pills to find it.  You may need to be born again. 

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