Well after a week long hiatus, Week in Faith is back. In sacrament meeting we had a good talk about gratitude. We were also treated to a performance by the Ward choir. We had another talk to end the meeting.
One statement the last speaker made caught my attention. He talked about being thankful for the words of the prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and the inspired apostles. Now I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but it almost seemed as if he was hesitant to call the twelve apostles prophets, so it just came out as “inspired apostles.”
But something did occur to me. Now that I think about it, it seems like something that should be plainly obvious. But the thought hit me that the Word of God can only come through prophecy, revelations, or visions. A person cannot simply speak and have it be the Word of God. It must actually be the word of God and must be identified as such. Now I’m not speaking about inspired messages or truth, I’m speaking about the Word of God. Inspired messages or truth can come from any variety of sources.
Now we could probably debate all day whether or not the leaders of the LDS church are prophets, seers, and revelators, we cannot examine their relationships with God. But there is something we can examine. We can look at the words they speak. Are the words they speak prophecies, revelations, or visions? Now I’m sure I discussed this a bit before but we must identify what prophecies, revelations, and visions are.
Prophecies reveal events and promises about the future. For example Isaiah wrote many things which describe future events. They do not reveal commandments, but rather describe events which will happen. When fulfilled, prophecies serve as an indicator of the truth of God’s word. When God promises something will happen, we can look to other prophecies that have been fulfilled, and have assurance that God will fulfill His promises.
Visions can come in many forms. They can reveal the present, past, or future. They can also reveal symbolic or metaphorical messages.
Revelations are messages from God for us. Revelations usually take the form of commandment or instruction on a topic. Just taking a quick look through the Doctrine and Covenants it seems that at least ninety percent of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants are given in the First Person. This means that it is actually the Word of the Lord.
So that thought that hit me was that if a leader of the church is not speaking in prophecies, visions, or revelations, they are speaking in personal opinion. And personal opinion, no matter how inspired, is not revelation. While that person’s opinion may be binding upon that person it is not binding upon others. So unless a leader is speaking the Word of the Lord then their words cannot be used to judge our actions.
For example if a leader of the Church tells us that tithing is ten percent of any income, yet the Word of the Lord(section 119) says that tithing is ten percent of a persons interest after an initial consecration of one’s surplus property; we are still bound to obey the Word of the Lord not the word of the leader.
Another example is the official policies of the Church. These policies are decided upon by councils and committees. If the decision of a council, which becomes official policy of the church, contradicts the Word of the Lord; then we are bound to obey the Word of the Lord NOT the word of the council.
The official policy of the church classifies Plural Marriage as a sin on par with incest, sexual abuse of a child, predatory conduct, and embezzlement. Yet this contradicts the Word of the Lord(Section 132) which states that Plural Marriage is part of a New and an Everlasting Covenant. It contradicts another revelation(John Taylor 1886) which states that Plural marriage will never be done away with. Therefor we are bound only to obey the Word of the Lord, NOT the words of men or councils.
In Sunday School we had a lesson on writing the Law of God on our hearts. The teacher started by asking if we were to witness an event of the Old Testament what would it be? One member of the class replied that he would have liked to been there for the parting of the Red Sea.
The teacher then asked what modern events in the church could be considered on par with the parting of the Red Sea. Another class member then said that the building of temples around the world. Our teacher tied this into the modern gathering of Israel.
Now before I continue I want to contrast the modern gathering of Israel as instructed by the Word of the Lord, and as directed by modern teachings. Our modern understanding of the gathering of Israel is to send missionaries out to all the world. Those missionaries then teach the people and gather them spiritually to the local branch of the Church in their area. This is quite different from God’s method of gathering Israel.
Doctrine and Covenants 132:8-14
8 Send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations, first upon the Gentiles, and then upon the Jews.
9 And behold, and lo, this shall be their cry, and the voice of the Lord unto all people: Go ye forth unto the land of Zion, that the borders of my people may be enlarged, and that her stakes may be strengthened, and that Zion may go forth unto the regions round about.
10 Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord.
11 Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour.
12 Let them, therefore, who are among the Gentiles flee unto Zion.
13 And let them who be of Judah flee unto Jerusalem, unto the mountains of the Lord’s house.
14 Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon.
This scripture alone shows that our modern policy of the gathering is not correct. If we examine this in the modern thought then Zion means the church. So when verse twelve tells those from the gentiles to gather to Zion, it is telling them to gather to the church. So when verse thirteen tells those gathered from Judah to gather to Jerusalem does that mean they are supposed to gather to Judaism? If Zion equals the church then there should be nobody of Jewish descent in the Church. Our missionaries should instruct people of Jewish descent to join Judaism.
Such an idea is completely absurd. Therefore when verse twelve says Zion it means the land of Zion. When verse thirteen says Jerusalem it means the land of Jerusalem. While the Lord’s version of the gathering does include sending missionaries to the world, it also includes gathering people to the literal land of Zion. It involves building up that stakes of Zion which are cities. We must gather out of Babylon. Verse fourteen defines spiritual Babylon as wickedness. But it is not enough to flee spiritual Babylon. We must also flee literal Babylon. Verse fourteen tells us that literal Babylon is “the nations.” “The nations” are anywhere that is not a stake of Zion.
Having missionaries gather people to branches of the church in their various nations IS NOT the plan of the Lord.
In fact in class I thought of an example which illustrates how idiotic(Yes, I just called the modern version of gathering Israel idiotic!) our modern ideas of the gathering are.
Imagine the Twelve Tribes of Israel, they have been enslaved by the Egyptians. The prayers of the Israelites have ascended to God. God has protected a baby boy and allowed him to fall into the hands of an Egyptian woman. The Egyptian woman raises the boy as her own son. Eventually the boy grows and realizes his heritage. After fleeing Egypt the man, Moses, is called by God to gather the Israelites to their promised land. Moses then organizes a religious movement in Midian. He then sends young men out of Midian into Egypt. The young men teach the Israelites that God has heard their prayers. They teach then teach the Israelites to form congregations where they live in Egypt. They are taught that they should obey the laws of the land they live in, even if they outlaw part of their religious beliefs. Even though they remain slaves in Egypt they are still gathering to their promised land. This is because their promised land is the congregations wherever they live not a literal land. The Israelites then believe that they have been saved from Egyptian bondage, because, even though they are still in Egyptian bondage they belong to the true church the Moses established. Moses may even come and visit them occasionally.
While my literary skills may not be up to par, this alternate version of history shows us what may have been, had Moses and the Israelites espoused our modern teachings of gathering Israel. The Israelites would have forever remained captive in Egypt. They would never have redeemed their promised land. There never would have been a temple. There never would have been a Jerusalem. The Savior would never had been born. The purposes of god would never have been accomplished.
These same attitudes today prevent us from forwarding the Lords work. Yes, we are building many temples around the world. Yes, we are gathering people from all nations to congregations in their local area. Yes, we have record tithing income and are able to help people around the world. But guess what, it’s NOT THE WAY THE LORD WANTS IT TO BE!!!
The Lord wants us to gather OUT of the nations. The Lord wants us to gather to, and build temples in, the Cities of Zion. The Lord wants us to consecrate ALL of our property, time, talents, blessings, etc. so that they may be shared freely among our brothers and sisters, and there will be no poor among us.
We are like the tool in the Master’s hands that refuses to work as the Lord has commanded. We think we know better than what the Lord has commanded. We are a hammer that works to build a dog house rather than the Master’s house. We think our leaders know better than what the Lord has commanded. We are like a saw that wants to cut small twigs rather than great timbers.
It is because of our focus being on our leaders rather than the Word of the Lord that we are failing at our task. As a result the Lord will take the Gospel from us and give it unto another righteous people. It has been prophesied to happen. It will happen. The only thing we can do is to repent of our arrogance and pride. Repent! Repent, and learn the Word of the Lord in the revelations. Repent, and gather OUT of Babylon and INTO Zion. Repent, so that we can be counted among the righteous, and included in Israel when they are given the Gospel, because we failed to obey God’s Word.
What the Lord has spoken, He have spoken, and He excuses not himself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, His word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by His voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. We can stick our heads in the sand, listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and pretend that the literal gathering to Zion only applied to the early Saints. We can pretend that correlation committees are guided by the Spirit. We can pretend that the Lord changes His word relative to the culture of men. We can pretend that Plural Marriage is no longer commanded by God. But when the day of judgement comes we WILL be held accountable for rejecting the word of God! We WILL be found guilty of murdering the prophets! We WILL NOT be numbered among the righteous, because we have rejected greater light an knowledge when it was given to us. This greater light and knowledge is contained in every member’s copy of the Doctrine and Covenants. Until we can reject the creeds and policies instituted by committees of men, and live by what is contained in the Doctrine and Covenant the Lord has no reason to give us further instruction through our leaders. Therefor we have no reason to believe that what is being taught over the pulpits by our leaders God’s Word, especially when they tell us to act contrary to the instructions in the Lord’s revelations.
Have you read the Doctrine and Covenants? Do you strive to seek the council of the Lord in understanding what is contained therein? Or do you seek the council of the lesson manuals to understand what the Correlation Department would have you understand?
I ask everyone, including myself, to study the Book of Mormon, also study the Doctrine and Covenants. Once you read the revelations of the Lord in the Doctrine and Covenants, pray about it. Then follow the instructions you receive. Do not fear the condemnation of the Church. If the leaders and members of the Church condemn you for obeying the voice of the Lord, they will receive God’s condemnation at the day of reckoning. If they condemn you for paying ten percent of your interest as tithing; if they condemn you for using wine for the sacrament as contained in the Word of Wisdom(Section 89); if they condemn you for striving to live the Law of Consecration, do not falter. God will justify your righteousness.