Sunday, July 15, 2018 0 comments

KJV versus JST: Luke 12 and the Coming of the Lord

KJV – Luke 12:36-48
JST Luke 12:41–57 (Appendix)
35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.

(This is included to give us some additional context to this parable.)

41 For, behold, he cometh in the first watch of the night, and he shall also come in the second watch,
and again he shall come in the third watch.
42 And verily I say unto you, He hath already come, as it is written of him;
and again when he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch,
Here we get the interesting information that there are three different visits when Christ would come. He reveals that His mortal ministry is during the first watch, and that there are two other visits still in the future.
I personally think that the second watch is Christ’s second coming, and the third watch is His coming at the end of the Millennium.
Also, notice the end of JST v42 corresponds to KJV v38, but there is a difference in that in the KJV the visits are ‘iffy’, and in the JST, the visits are certain.
37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord
when he cometh
shall find watching:
verily I say unto you, that he

shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
blessed are those servants
when he cometh, that he
shall find so doing;
43 [] For the Lord of those servants
shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
1 The change of “watching” into “so doing” emphasizes that good servants will be found engaged in activity, and not idle. It is possible that watching was meant to evoke the idea of prophetic gifts and warning. However, the Lord wanted Joseph Smith to emphasize that service is also required of servants who want to be commended when the Lord comes.
2 We also get a change that emphasizes that the Lord Himself will serve His people when he comes. He will make them sit down to meat, meaning He will provide meaty doctrine for all, similar to how He taught the Nephites when He came to the Americas.
38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

44 And now, verily I say these things unto you, that ye may know this, that the coming of the Lord is as a thief in the night.
45 And it is like unto a man who is an householder, who, if he watcheth not his goods, the thief cometh in an hour of which he is not aware,
 and taketh his goods,
 and divideth them among his fellows.
Here Joseph Smith sent the parable in a different direction, changing it from “like servants waiting for their lord to return from a wedding” to “like servants guarding their lord’s goods from thieves.”
The emphasis changes from watching with joyful anticipation to defensive guarding from unexpected, stealthy attacks.
What are the householder’s goods that are being defended? The goods may represent the property of the church that is used to build the kingdom. (And certainly there have been times when outsiders have endeavored to dispossess the church of its property.)  The householder’s goods may also represent rank-and-file members of the church. (And certainly the adversary is always trying to steal members from the church by various means.) While it is true that the members have agency, seeing members as goods that can be stolen is meant to emphasize that leaders must do all they can to guard and warn the members.
39 And this know, that

if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
46 []And they said among themselves,
If the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through
and the loss of his goods.
1 Here the change in v 46-47 in the JST shows us that what looked like instruction only from Christ is actually part of a conversational exchange as the disciples think about the parable.
The disciples seem to want to use their effort in the most efficient way. They speculate that if the householder just knew when the thief was coming, he would be ready.
2 The JST adds that the thief is not just interested in breaking into the household, but also stealing goods. (That’s why he’s called a ‘thief’ after all.)


Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
47 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you,
be ye therefore ready also;
for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
Here the JST shows us the Savior responding to the disciples’ wish to know when the thief was coming by turning it back into a metaphor for His own coming.
41 Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?
48 Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or [] unto all?

42 And the Lord said,

Who then is that faithful and wise steward,
whom his lord shall make ruler over his household,
to give them their
portion of meat in due season?
49 And the Lord said,
I speak unto those whom the Lord shall make rulers over his household, to give his children their portion of meat in due season.
50 And they said,
Who then is that faithful and wise servant?
51 And the Lord said unto them, It is that servant who watcheth, to impart his portion of meat in due season.
Here the JST reveals Christ is directing this warning to church leaders (present and future) who have the responsibility to give portions of meat in due season (meaning, teaching the appropriate principles at the time they are needed.)
Of course, then the disciples want to know what would constitute faithful and wise behavior of a servant. So Christ repeats the necessity of watching and imparting meat in due season.
The JST makes this interchange obvious, while the KJV makes it seem like Jesus is just asking rhetorical questions and never quite answering.
43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
52 Blessed be that servant whom his Lord shall find, when he cometh, so doing.

44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
53 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

45 But

and if that servant

say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens,

and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
54 But the evil servant is he who is not found watching.
And if that servant is not found watching,
he will
say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming;
and shall begin to beat the menservants, and the maidens,
and to eat, and drink, and to be drunken.
Here the JST draws a stronger distinction between a faithful servant and an evil servant.
Evil servants are those who don’t watch. Not watching will lead them to the notion that the Lord delays his coming, which will in turn lead to abusing the other servants of God and falling into to decadence, excess, and drunken behaviors.
(It should be noted that there are more ways of getting drunk than with alcohol. Anger and lust also cause changes in brain chemistry that prevent people from thinking straight.)
46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him,
and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
55 The Lord of that servant will come in a day [] he looketh not for [],
and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him down, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
Here the JST clarifies the language about the punishment visited upon the evil servant.
The KJV language makes it sound like the evil servant will be hewn in half with a sword, but if so, then why afterward appoint him his portion with the unbelievers if he no longer lives?
The JST language about cutting down the evil servant evokes the idea that their position of authority will be taken away. Then, if they are afterward appointed their portion with the unbelievers, this evokes the additional prospect of excommunication.
47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself,

neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
56 And that servant who knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not for his Lord’s coming,
neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
The JST clarifies that the servants’ preparation is to be for the Lord’s coming.
48 But he that knew not,

and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.
For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:
and to whom men have committed much,
of him they will ask the more.
57 But he that knew not his Lord’s will,
and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few.
For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required;
and to whom the Lord has committed much,
of him will men ask the more.
1 The JST clarifies that the ignorance here is about knowing the Lord’s will.
2 The JST also clarifies that it is the Lord who commits much privilege and responsibility to his servants, not men. It also shows that men require more from those who have those spiritual privileges and responsibilities. This is a reminder that places of authority in the church are not to be considered cushy places to loll.

To sum up, I think the JST clarifies the danger of not watching, how it leads to abuse and decadence, and what the real penalties are of yielding to those temptations. It is neat to see this interchange between Christ and his disciples clarified and how He answered their questions.

This is another example of how blessed we are to have the Joseph Smith Translation.

Note: I used [] in the JST sections to show where material from the KJV hadn’t been included in the JST.

Friday, July 13, 2018 0 comments

Gaining Hearts by Fraud

And the army which pursued after them returned, having pursued after them in vain; and thus Amalickiah, by his fraud, gained the hearts of the people. (Alma 47:30)

And it came to pass that Amalickiah sought the favor of the queen, and took her unto him to wife; and thus by his fraud, and by the assistance of his cunning servants, he obtained the kingdom; yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, among all the people of the Lamanites, who were composed of the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, and all the dissenters of the Nephites, from the reign of Nephi down to the present time. (Alma 47:35)

Mormon points out that Amalickiah gained the hearts of the people and the Lamanite kingdom by fraud.

What is fraud? The dictionary has two definitions. One is about wrongful deception for personal or financial gain. The other is about deceiving others by unjustifiably claiming accomplishments or characteristics, or in other words, by claiming to be what you are not or claiming you can do what you can not.

In what ways did Amalickiah gain the hearts of the people by fraud? Lots of ways, but in just the verses above, he arranged for the Lamanite king to be assassinated, blamed the king’s innocent servants for it, and then, in a show of patriotic outrage, instigated a manhunt for those servants. He pretended loyalty to the king when his true actions were anything but.

How did Amalickiah gain the kingdom by fraud? He sought the favor of the queen and married her, and thereby became her consort. He made himself appear to be a fit husband for a queen to help keep the kingdom together. He may have pretended affection for her or served her enough that she thought he’d be faithful. But it is notable that once he marries her, we hear nothing about the queen ever again, and it is always Amalickiah who is in charge. As for keeping the kingdom together, he starts a propaganda campaign of lies against the Nephites and plunges his people into an unsuccessful war. That’s not the actions of a good king.

I think this fraud is an important thing to notice because we may see people trying to gain favor and win our hearts with fraud. How do we keep from being taken in? I think it is important to be observant, to notice the little things people do, to notice how they act when they think nobody is watching, to see what they say when they aren’t “on” in public, to see if they will sincerely help those who can’t do anything for them, to see if they keep confidences or keep small promises or tell the truth kindly even if it is a painful truth. Big public frauds are built on small private frauds.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 0 comments

Scriptures on Ministering

We had some talks on ministering last week in church, and it hit me that there were probably lots of interesting scriptures about ministering and why not look for them?  I know there are more wards than just ours out there that are asking members to give talks on ministering, and there is something about using scriptures that brings the Spirit so quickly.

I have an app that allows me to do an exhaustive search for words and phrases in the scriptures, so I looked up “minister” and “ministering” and “ministered.” I found some interesting things. In the Old Testament, the predominant use of those words was about the priests and Levites ministering to the Lord in the tabernacle and temple. In the New Testament, there were more scriptures with instruction about personal ministry of the saints to one another. In the Book of Mormon about 2/3rds of the scriptures containing those words were about Christ and angels ministering to men. And in the Doctrine and Covenants, about 3/4ths of the scriptures were about ministering angels.

I felt like those different emphases carried some implicit principles about ministering. 1) Temple worship and service is part of ministering, both for patrons and staff. 2) We must minister personally to each other, becoming as ministering angels. 3) Christ and the angels from heaven minister to men still.

The scriptures that follow are concentrated on the second principle—learning to minister to each other—but it would be instructive to anyone to survey all the scriptures on ministering.

I’m also going to let these scriptures speak for themselves without commentary and trust my readers to see what makes each of them valuable.

And so, without further ado…

25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matt. 20:25-28)
And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, (now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am. (3 Nephi 12:1)

Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them? (Numbers 16:9)

The manner of their elders and priests administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church; and they administered it according to the commandments of Christ; wherefore we know the manner to be true; and the elder or priest did minister it— (Moroni 4:1)

[Concerning a bishop] Nevertheless, a high priest, that is, after the order of Melchizedek, may be set apart unto the ministering of temporal things, having a knowledge of them by the Spirit of truth; (D&C 107:71)
6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables… (1 Tim. 4:6-7)

2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. (1 Thes. 3:2-3)
Now this was done in the presence of the queen and many of the servants. And when they saw it they greatly marveled, and began to fear. And the king stood forth, and began to minister unto them. And he did minister unto them, insomuch that his whole household were converted unto the Lord. (Alma 22:23)
49 And there were about three hundred souls who saw and heard these things; and they were bidden to go forth and marvel not, neither should they doubt.
50 And it came to pass that they did go forth, and did minister unto the people, declaring throughout all the regions round about all the things which they had heard and seen, insomuch that the more part of the Lamanites were convinced of them, because of the greatness of the evidences which they had received.
51 And as many as were convinced did lay down their weapons of war, and also their hatred and the tradition of their fathers. (Helaman 5:49-51)

28 And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it;
29 For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.
30 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood.
31 But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.
32 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them. (3 Nephi 18:28-32)

16 Therefore, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds—went forth among them in that same year, and began to testify, boldly, repentance and remission of sins through faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
17 And he did minister many things unto them; and all of them cannot be written, and a part of them would not suffice, therefore they are not written in this book. And Nephi did minister with power and with great authority.
18 And it came to pass that they were angry with him, even because he had greater power than they, for it were not possible that they could disbelieve his words, for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily.
19 And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits; and even his brother did he raise from the dead, after he had been stoned and suffered death by the people.
20 And the people saw it, and did witness of it, and were angry with him because of his power; and he did also do many more miracles, in the sight of the people, in the name of Jesus. (3 Nephi 7:16-20)

10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11)

14 And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.
15 Thus did Alma teach his people, that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them. (Mosiah 23:14-15)

18 And many of them saw and heard unspeakable things, which are not lawful to be written.
19 And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another. (3 Nephi 26:18-19)

Friday, June 29, 2018 0 comments

Israelites attempt to recapture land back from Philistines in 1 Sam. 4:1-5

1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Eben-ezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.
2 And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.
3 And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
4 So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. (1 Sam. 4:1-5)

Just some background on this—In the chapter before this, Samuel has his first encounter with God, and is told that the Lord will punish Eli the priest because he didn’t restrain his sons and the Lord will do something in Israel that makes everyone’s ears tingle.

Now, in the situation of these verses, it is possible the Israelites were attempting to reconquer the land or finish the job Joshua started. Some of the things they do echo Joshua’s campaign against Jericho—calling for the ark of the covenant to go with the army. Later verses say they also shout, which reminds me of the shout that had once leveled the walls of Jericho.

However, if this was the case, these Israelites did not go spiritually purified and prepared like Joshua’s army had. Joshua’s army purified themselves, circumcised those not yet circumcised (which was a sign of entering the covenant), and celebrated Passover. Further, they got their battle plan from the prophet, who got it from God.

These Israelites all knew Samuel was to be a prophet, but they didn’t consult him. Maybe they got Eli’s blessing and thought that was enough. I get the impressing that with Eli and the corruption of his sons, there was not much chance they would have been prepared in the first place.

This campaign ultimately fails, and they lose the ark for a time. The failed campaign underlines to them the uselessness of trusting in religious objects to save them, so in 1 Samuel 7, once they are suitably chastened, we see Samuel persuading the people to put away their idols and to prepare to serve God only. The people fast and confess their sins, they ask Samuel to pray for them continuously, and Samuel offers sacrifice…and then the Lord helps the Israelites win against the Philistines.

This becomes another religious tradition of battle to have the prophet offer sacrifice and pray for the people, and sadly this becomes misunderstood by King Saul, who becomes so anxious for the pre-battle sacrifice that he offers it himself, usurping authority because Samuel is not present “in time.”

Hopefully we can learn from this that it isn’t just the religious ritual that is efficacious, but the practice paired with sincere repentance and purity. Without the broken heart and contrite spirit, without the consistent obedience to the commandments, religious ritual is empty, even if done the right way with proper authority.

If we rouse ourselves to fight any kind of obstacle, make sure to repent and seek sanctification first and be anxious to keep the commandments.
Tuesday, June 26, 2018 0 comments

What kind of man is Boaz?

While the Book of Ruth is named after Ruth, a careful study reveals it is just as much about Boaz, and by highlighting everything he says and does, we can get a good idea of his character.

--He’s a mighty man of wealth (2:1)
--He visits his workers (2:4)
--He’s curious about people and asks about them (2:5,11)
--He’s very generous to the poor, especially to those who have converted and made great sacrifices to help others, like Ruth has
            A)He lets Ruth glean with his maidens, offering companionship and protection (v8)
            B)He protects her from men who might molest her (2:9)
            C)He offers her refreshment with drink and food (2:9,14)
            D)He has his servants leave more grain for her (2:16)
            E)He invites Ruth to glean his fields for the whole harvest (2:21)
--He works along with his servants (3:2)
--He takes preventative measures to guard his harvest from thieves and doesn’t mind sleeping elsewhere besides his bed (3:7)
--He does not take advantage of women, even if they sleep nearby (3:8-14)
--He sees it as a kindness that someone wants him to marry her, to be her kinsman redeemer (3:10)
--He takes care of business immediately (3:18)
--He is aware of who is the closer kinsman-redeemer and he goes by the rules, yet he is willing to take responsibility himself (3:12-13)
--Even if he is not clear who will marry Ruth, he still gives her a very generous gift of grain to increase her and her mother-in-law’s food security (3:15)

(I have to say here that Boaz’s generosity and kindness reminds me a lot of my husband and his kindness to me even before we were dating. I feel like I know Boaz because I know my husband.)

The way Boaz does so many kind things for someone he hardly knows is puzzling to Ruth, the recipient of his attention, and she asks the obvious question, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes?” (v10) I love his reason—he knows how good she has been to her mother-in-law and how brave she has been to come live among people of a different culture and religion and to join that religion. He sympathizes with the difficulty of her situation and wants to make it easier for her. Pure charity.

The scene of Boaz redeeming shows that he is willing to take a responsibility upon himself that will inevitably hurt his own interest, but he is eager to do it anyway. He is, after all, a mighty man of wealth. I think that in this story he is meant to teach us of Christ’s enthusiasm and eagerness to redeem us, even when it will be incredibly costly to Him. He has a wealth of goodness and grace to bestow on us, and He takes it as a joy if we allow Him to redeem us.
Sunday, June 24, 2018 0 comments

How long are ye slack?

I was surveying the Book of Joshua recently, and these verses stuck out to me:

1 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.
2 And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance.
3 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you? (Joshua 18:1-3)

At this time, the Israelites had conquered a portion of the land, but not all, and 7 out of the tribes hadn’t yet received their inheritances. It seems there was a bit of delay in finishing the job. It is not clear from the text what the reason was—maybe provisioning became difficult for an extended campaign. Maybe the tribes who had received inheritances had lost their motivation to help others receive theirs. Maybe they were tired. Or maybe so much success made them take victory for granted, and they thought they could win anytime. (All that is speculation, of course.)

I think it is interesting that Joshua doesn’t ask about WHY they are slack. Instead, he asks, “How long are ye slack?” Asking that question helps pin down whether the intent to accomplish the task is really there or not. Because if procrastination is a cover for an intent to avoid it permanently, the answer is something like, “Uh…I don’t know.” But if the answer is a definite time frame, there are often valid reasons for delay.

Joshua’s question is a healthy goad to use on ourselves when we’re slacking off. We all delay something sometime when we know we should be up and doing, and sometimes we just need a good kick in the pants from on high.

Is there anything you’ve been delaying? I know a few things I need to work on. Can you tell how long you’re going to delay? Why not get on it now?

I also think Joshua really internalized the counsel from God to be strong and of good courage. There’s an expectation in his question that the Israelites are strong enough to succeed with the Lord’s help if they will just get going and act. He seems like he’s the kind of guy used to doing five impossible things before breakfast.

Friday, June 22, 2018 0 comments

God gives light

For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding. (2 Nephi 31:3)

This verse has helped me a lot in life. So often it helped me in my studies as I worked to understand things. It helped me whenever I’d run into things I couldn’t understand, helping me trust that either there would be a way to understand it if I learned more, or it was something worthless trying to cover that up with a pretense of obscurity. It has helped me value teachers for their ability to make difficult subjects clear, beautiful, and harmonious.

It also shows me just how involved revelation is in learning. Every insight, every realization, every epiphany is a gift from God and brings us closer to Him.

I think the scripture also teaches what a brilliant linguist God is. If He speaks to all of us according to our understanding, He must know all our languages. Not only does God condescend to speak, but to adapt His message to our level of understanding, meaning He knows the level we’re at. (I suspect He sometimes pitches His messages at a slightly higher level to motivate us to stretch a little bit so we can also grow spiritually.) He understands us perfectly, and how He must yearn for us to understand Him. And yet, here we are, with our limited mortal perspective hopefully widened a little with our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. How much we must trust Him!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018 1 comments

Those who died in the faith

I ran across some interesting verses that observe two different kinds of death of believers.

And it came to pass that there were many who died, firmly believing that their souls were redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ; thus they went out of the world rejoicing. (Alma 46:39)

But there were many who died with old age; and those who died in the faith of Christ are happy in him, as we must needs suppose. (Alma 46:41)

So there were those who firmly believed they were redeemed by Christ, and they left life rejoicing, while there were others who died in the faith of Christ, but no emotion was attributed to their death, except that Mormon supposed they were happy.

The question that comes to me is—if I had to choose between these different types of death, which would I want?

On one hand, I think it is good to die in the faith of Christ because that suggests I’d endured to the end, but to only have people suppose I achieve happiness doesn’t seem good enough. I’d like to leave the world rejoicing. I’d like to die in a state of firmly believing I’d been redeemed by Christ.

But I’m also a little leery of that phrase “firmly believing” because there is a chance of believing something that isn’t really true, and that would be a tragedy to believe I was redeemed if I wasn’t. There’d be a shock of unmet expectations on the other side. I’d like to have more assurance.

But maybe Mormon uses that phrase “firmly believing” to express how an external observer doesn’t really know how assured a believer really is of their redemption except through how firm they are. Going out of the world rejoicing seems to indicate there is real joy there, given by God as part of some extra assurance.

So, this leads to a question—“How can I achieve firmness in my salvation?” I suppose by repenting every day, and the assurance will come by the presence of the Spirit in my life, since the Holy Ghost is the earnest (or down payment) of our salvation.

A little later after I wrote about this, I stumbled across another verse elsewhere that expounded on it further:

Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God. (Helaman 3:35)

So, this verse also suggests fasting and praying often, and promises greater humility will come, greater faith in Christ will come, greater joy and consolation will come, greater purity will come, and greater submission to God will come. We can have that in this life, instead of waiting to have it just at the point of death.

Thursday, June 7, 2018 0 comments

A Preview of One of the Lord’s Servants

In 3 Nephi 20, Jesus gives a lot of prophecy of things to come—of the establishment of the New Jerusalem, of the Lord’s people being given the land of Jerusalem.

Then there is something else about the Lord’s servant in these days.

43 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently; he shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.
44 As many were astonished at thee—his visage was so marred, more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men—
45 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him, for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
46 Verily, verily, I say unto you, all these things shall surely come, even as the Father hath commanded me. Then shall this covenant which the Father hath covenanted with his people be fulfilled; and then shall Jerusalem be inhabited again with my people, and it shall be the land of their inheritance. (3 Nephi 20:43-46)

I had always thought the marred servant was Jesus Christ, because of the crucifixion and all that. After all, this comes from a quotation of Isaiah 52:13-15, and we are used to being told to read these things with our testimony of Christ. But was Jesus’s face and body really marred more than any man? Yes, He suffered, but we don’t think of him as being disfigured like “marred” seems to imply.     Or, I had thought it represented Joseph Smith because of how our church extolls him to such an extent that his name is like a gem to the sanctified. But was Joseph Smith marred or disfigured? No.

It is my personal opinion (non-official, not doctrine) that these verses foretell a particular prophet to come.*  We are told his visage is so marred, more than any man, and that indicates this is no handsome figure of masculinity. He is going to have an ugly mug. His form is marred too—so he may be badly handicapped, perhaps missing limbs, perhaps suffering from some disfiguring syndrome. But he will be the Lord’s servant!

This man is the Lord’s servant, and he leads with the Spirit, dealing prudently and wisely, and he will be highly extolled for that. And when he meets with kings and presidents, they will be absolutely shocked. I speculate this shock arises from seeing that this servant has come to such prominence with his physical disadvantages. They will realize the Lord can work through even the weak. They will say to themselves, There is no way this man has gotten anywhere on his looks because he doesn’t have any. And charm isn’t enough, with his condition. And he doesn’t have the physical power either.
In short, this servant of God will be able sprinkle (or gather) many nations because of how the Lord works through him to touch others, in part through his physical deficits. In a world of “survival of the fittest,” the Lord can take his servants from among the weakest to demonstrate His power. While men tend to choose leaders among the handsome and strong, disfigurement makes this servant of the Lord all the more distinctive. The Lord’s choice demands that people look deeper than the surface. Even if this servant’s authority is questioned, his condition will call forth compassion in others’ hearts, softening them, allowing them to feel the Holy Ghost.

Why does the Lord share this information? Perhaps it prepares us to receive this servant. Perhaps it is to encourage the servant in moments of discouragement. Perhaps it is a sign we can look forward to that will tell us how close the Lord’s covenants are to fulfillment.

At any rate, if we can’t receive and obey the Lord’s servants now, we won’t be ready for the Lord’s future servants.

So, if we keep a look-out for a man who is more handicapped or ugly or disfigured than you’d ever expect a man to be, be sure to sustain the prophets and apostles of today.

*Prophets who are prophesied of are extra special. Remember Jesus said John the Baptist was “much more than a prophet” because John was the one Isaiah spoke of as the voice of one crying in the wilderness.