Monday, April 29, 2019

The Father's Own Works

Christ said in 3rd Nephi that if there is a Church calling itself after Jesus Christ's name and which is also built upon His Gospel then the Father will show forth His own works in it. 

I've been pondering on what those works of the Father are for a few weeks.  A few study thoughts below.  Here's the original reference:

NC 3rd Nephi 12:4
Verily, verily I say unto you, why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing? Have they not read the scriptures which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day. And whoso taketh upon him my name and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day. Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name. Therefore, ye shall call the church in my name, and ye shall call upon the Father in my name, that he will bless the church for my sake. 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. 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. And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel, then will the Father shew forth his own works in it. 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, for their works do follow them. For it is because of their works that they are hewn down. Therefore, remember the things that I have told you.
If the Church is called in Christ's name, and if built upon His Gospel, then will the Father show forth His own works in it.  Otherwise.... there will be joy in their works for a season but by and by the end comes and they get hewn down and cast into the fire.  Because of their works it says.  And Christ says to remember that he told us these things.

Joy for a season 

So why do folks not built on Christ's Gospel get to have joy in their man made works (or works of the Devil) for a season?  I thought wickedness never was happiness?  What gives?  Why aren't cause and effect more immediate? A whole "season" of joy in works of men and or the devil gets to be enjoyed.  A season can be a potentially long time.  Like maybe even generations.  Why I wonder?

I would initially think this season of joy in "their" own works is because God's patience is greater than ours, and he allows people to learn by their own experience, and allows opportunity to discern by tolerating both good and bad as they exist simultaneously.  He grants time for repentance.  He causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  The rain waters both flowers and weeds.  Because God is good.  The dichotomy is in place which gives people the chance to choose.  But it only lasts a season. 

The scripture above contrasts the works of the Father with the works of men and or the Devil.  So what are works of men?  Isn't anything done by a mortal considered a work of man?  I see a lot of things done in God's name in 2019 as if God were behind it.  But a lot of them are clearly works of men as it involves things God has never endorsed. How do we know which are God's works and which are works of men?  That seems like an important difference.  From Matthew in the New Testament: And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, and in your name have cast out devils, and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I say, You never knew me. Depart from me, you that work iniquity.

Given all that, I think "works of men" is likely referring to works of men's own accord.  Not authorized by, not asked by, not commissioned by, and not approved by God.  Even if men claim otherwise.  Men's works which men get credit for, and which benefit themselves and not the welfare of Zion, to use a scriptural phrase.  I can think of a few examples of religious or Churchy such works of men, done for their own profit.  Those are not hard to find in our current dark world.  Those seem like works of men.  More on profits below.

What are the devil's works?

NC 2 Nephi 12:4
For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men and stir them up to anger against that which is good. And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say, All is well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth, all is well. And thus the Devil cheateth their souls and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And behold, others he flattereth away and telleth them there is no hell. And he saith unto them, I am no devil, for there is none. And thus he whispereth in their ears until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

NC 2 Nephi 12:1
For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other, Behold, I, I am the Lord’s, — and the other shall say, I, I am the Lord’s, — and thus shall everyone say that hath built up churches and not unto the Lord. And they shall contend one with another, and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the holy ghost which giveth utterance. And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel. And they say unto the people, Hearken unto us and hear ye our precept, for behold, there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men. Behold, hearken ye unto my precept. If they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work. 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. 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. 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, and the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.

Works of darkness.  Works that may look authentic, or look like true ordinances but which aren't effective and which don't cleanse the recipients.  They've become void by being altered. They end up cheating people out of salvation. Abominations, wickedness.  False teachers, false doctrine.  Dig a pit for your neighbor.  Lie a little.  With the LDS Church headquartered in SLC what might we potentially see happening on this?  As I asked myself these questions I just so happened to see a really disturbing article today in the news that confirmed Utah is the Fraud Capital of the US.   A few notable comments from the article: 
"This is a question people have been asking for a long time, 'Is Utah really that bad?'" he said. "This for the first time gives us some quantifiable basis to say yes, we are that bad. Not only are we bad, but we're way worse than anyone else by a long shot."
But after helping people recover losses from investment fraud for 25 years, he said he's learned that Utahns are simply too trusting, particularly when the person soliciting an investment is in their Latter-day Saint ward or shares their religious affiliation. 
Pugsley said Latter-day Saints are taught to trust their feelings, but while that might be a valid basis for religious decisions, it's not for business decisions. He also said he found people who believe if they're using the money for good, God would protect it.
The Wall Street Journal named Salt Lake City the "Fraud Capital of America" in a 2015 story.
Utah is the only state with a dedicated regional U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission office that services no other location.
The state's fraud epidemic has reached such significant proportions that state lawmakers a few years ago created the nation’s first white collar crime offender registry, which includes photos, names and aliases of Utah fraudsters. 

What are the The Father's own works?

The Father's "own works" being shown suggests He is the one behind it, regardless of whether men participated.  Showing forth verbiage also seems to suggest something has occurred or been accomplished.  As opposed to ideas or claims or vain claims that have no works to show forth.

From the Book of Ether:
Come unto me, O ye gentiles, and I will shew unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief. Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you because of unbelief. Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you — yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name with a broken heart and a contrite spirit — then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel. And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people. Remember, when ye see these things, ye shall know that the time is at hand that they shall be made manifest in very deed. Therefore, when ye shall receive this record, ye may know that the work of the Father has commenced upon all the face of the land. Therefore, repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and believe in my gospel, and be baptized in my name. For he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned. And signs shall follow them that believe in my name. And blessed is he that is found faithful unto my name at the last day, for he shall be lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world. And behold, it is I that hath spoken it. Amen.
Christ says when ye see "these things" the time is at hand, that "they" shall be made manifest in very deed.  "These" things and "they shall be made manifest" could include the greater things which were manifest to the Brother of Jared as well as the revelations of John.  Things yet future to us but perhaps beginning.  There's definitely more coming at some point. Shall be manifest "in deed".  These things will be visible.  People may not accept them, notice them, or view them as having any importance but to me this all carries a degree of tangibility to the Father's works.

Then it goes on to say "When you shall receive "this" record".  I'm not 100% clear on what "this record" is referring to.  It was singular so it could refer to John's revelations.  Or the full record of the Brother of Jared, or perhaps the Book of Mormon itself which is the primary interpretation the LDS church teaches about this passage.

Works of the Father seems to include but not limited to:
-Sacred records
-Covenants with the Patriarchal Fathers being fulfilled
-Revelations of the Lord's servant John unfolded in the eyes of all the people.  Possibly connected to D&C 93:6 and the fullness of the record of John promised in that section.
-The Father's work involves a gathering.
And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfill and to do the work of the covenants of the Father which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him; and by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the holy ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.
It seems like it should be relatively easy to distinguish between the Father's own works manifest inside a Church vs the works of men and the devil.

Other scriptures teaching about the works of the Father.

3 Nephi 9:11-12

And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place, that I shall gather in from their long dispersion my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion. And behold, this is the thing which I will give unto you for a sign: for verily I say unto you that when these things which I declare unto you — and which I shall declare unto you hereafter of myself and by the power of the holy ghost, which shall be given unto you of the Father — shall be made known unto the gentiles, that they may know concerning this people who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, and concerning this my people who shall be scattered by them, verily, verily I say unto you, when these things shall be made known unto them of the Father and shall come forth of the Father from them unto you — for it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel — therefore, when these works and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter shall come forth from the gentiles unto your seed which shall dwindle in unbelief because of iniquity — for thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the gentiles, that he may shew forth his power unto the gentiles for this cause, that the gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel — and when these things come to pass, that thy seed shall begin to know these things, it shall be a sign unto them that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel. And when that day shall come, it shall come to pass that kings shall shut their mouths, for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
For in that day, for my sake, shall the Father work a work which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them, and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them
Christ says a sign will be given.  The gentiles will bring a message from Christ to the dispersed of Israel.  The Father's work will be disbelieved. A man is going to declare it, but people will not believe.  This is all unto the fulfilling of covenants God made with Patriarchal fathers unto the people who are of the house of Israel.   The Father's works are covenantal.  It leads to Zion.

Continuing with Christ's words to the Nephites: 3 Nephi 10:1
But if they will repent, and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance. And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city which shall be called the New Jerusalem. And then shall they assist my people, that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem. And then shall the Powers of Heaven come down among them, and I also will be in the midst. And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem. Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name. Yea, and then shall the work commence with the Father among all nations, in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance. And they shall go out from all nations, and they shall not go out in haste nor go by flight, for I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward.

The Father's work from scripture stands in stark contrast to the works of men and the devil.  Moroni tells us the way to judge is plain.  So much so we can know between them as clearly as telling the daylight from the dark night. It's through the spirit of Christ.

NC Moroni 7:3
Wherefore, everything which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the Devil. For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil. And the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge as the daylight is from the dark night. For behold, the spirit of Christ is given to every man, that they may know good from evil. Wherefore, I shew unto you the way to judge. For everything which inviteth to do good and to persuade to believe in Christ is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ. Wherefore, ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the Devil, for after this manner doth the Devil work; for he persuadeth no man to do good, no not one, neither doth his angels, neither do they who subject themselves unto him. And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge, ye shall also be judged. Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil. And if ye will lay hold upon every good thing and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

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