Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Path

I'm writing this to disclose the path I have chosen. I want to explain in my own words, as simply and clearly as I can, why I am choosing this path:

Ever since I was little I enjoyed stories from the scriptures about the ministering of angels, the great faith of the Brother of Jared, and Moses seeing God's face. I'll admit that I was intrigued. Those people were well acquainted and familiar with the voice of the Lord. I want the same faith.

Prophets play an important role in God's plan. They have been indispensable in showing the human family how to approach God. Prophets teach us that faith must be placed only in God. I've always felt that salvation is between God and myself–nobody else. After all, the source of all power comes from God.

In church I grew up with the ideal of the importance of following the prophet. If you do, you won't be led astray. I'm not going to get into whether prophets can lead you astray or not. My concern is whether this modern teaching(1) will make us reach higher. Will we grow comfortable to their trust and heed to all the words of the prophet? Do we acknowledge our duties and responsibilities in seeking God's voice and take the Spirit as our sole guide (2)?

Now I see the Book of Mormon as a guide that shows me how to truly seek God–face to face. The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, making your calling and election made sure, and the Second Comforter are all important principles to me. The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is the minimum requirement for entrance into the Celestial Kingdom. It's a deeply important occurrence, and one that doesn't just happen by confirmation. I am striving so that all ordinances are ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise; all ordinances must be. It's knowledge that will save us, not the lack of it. I also believe that the end of faith should be a perfect knowledge, achievable in this life.

What is it going to take in these last days to build Zion? I believe it will take all of those said principles. It starts individually. I want to live like Christ is here. Christ will dwell in Zion. I hope to be well-acquainted with His voice to help in building up Zion (3).

How is this going to be? The scriptures also talk about servants in the last days that will come out to prepare His people. I believe these servants will come in a manner like Samuel the Lamanite, Abinadi, and John the Baptist. I have learned hard lessons that it is always about the message and not the messenger. I believe the servants are now here and among us.

I'm going to be baptized again. I have been told by the Lord to do so. I was baptized when I was eight, but this time the wording will be as 3 Nephi 11:25. The church had been commissioned to baptize, but now I believe we live in days like that of Alma the younger. I'm not joining a new church, but will be among a community of believers.

But this is a crazy period of time we live in. We live in days where even the very elect can be deceived and where people seek to walk in their own ways. How can I be sure this is the right path? 

I desire and seek God's will. My journey is taking place with a covenant that I obey His voice. I can't deny the experiences I've had the past few years. I can't deny what I know is right; nor can I deny the fruit of my faith.

What about the blessings of the temple I miss out on? I believe the true purpose of the temple, as purposed for our day, is to see the Lord's face. And my marriage? God told me I would marry my wife long before I believed it to be true. Knowing that it is His will that I am with her is witness to me of the covenant I already have between God and my wife. If God preserves my marriage, it will be because it mirrors that union found in Heaven, sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. I'm concerned for the salvation of my family, and I'm moving forward in efforts to do so. With all my weaknesses and sins, I know that only God has the power to save. I seek His voice for the salvation of my family.

I am grateful for all the church has provided to me and my family, spiritually and temporally; but I can't pretend to believe that all is well, or will be, in the church. All that Isaiah prophecies parallels our day. What he prophecies is sobering and should be alarming. What people claim to be led by a prophet? What people are a temple-going people? What people claim to be a covenant people of the Lord? I have found his words to be very valuable and of great worth to study. God wants us to learn through revelation. It is one of the necessary elements through which we act in faith (4).

I don't claim to understand my path fully at this time. I don't claim to be worthy of any of those blessings, but strive to seek them in humility, acknowledging the source of all blessings. I do know that God wants me to be baptized. I do know that God wants us to obtain those higher blessings. I hope we can seek Him and reclaim these blessings that we might bear His presence when He comes again.

(1) Elder Nelson, Oct 2014 General Conference:
Our sustaining of prophets is a personal commitment that we will do our utmost to uphold their prophetic priorities. Our sustaining is an oath-like indication that we recognize their calling as a prophet to be legitimate and binding upon us.
Trust me! These 15 men—prophets, seers, and revelators—know what the will of the Lord is when unanimity is reached!
Wilford Woodruff:
I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. ( The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [1946], 212–13.)
I say to the Latter day Saints, the keys of the kingdom of God are here, and they are going to stay here, too, until the coming of the Son of Man. Let all Israel understand that… . No man who has ever breathed the breath of life can hold these keys of the kingdom of God and lead the people astray. ( The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [1946], 73–74.)
(2) Joseph Smith:

...if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall—that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves.

(3) Joseph Smith:

As a Church and a people it behooves us to be wise, and to seek to know the will of God, and then be willing to do it; for “blessed is he that heareth the word of the Lord, and keepeth it,” say the Scriptures. “Watch and pray always,” says our Savior, “that ye may be accounted worthy to escape the things that are to come on the earth, and to stand before the Son of Man.” If Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and the children of Israel, and all God’s people were saved by keeping the commandments of God, we, if saved at all, shall be saved upon the same principle. As God governed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as families, and the children of Israel as a nation; so we, as a Church, must be under His guidance if we are prospered, preserved and sustained. Our only confidence can be in God; our only wisdom obtained from Him; and He alone must be our protector and safeguard, spiritually and temporally, or we fall.

We have been chastened by the hand of God heretofore for not obeying His commands, although we never violated any human law, or transgressed any human precept; yet we have treated lightly His commands, and departed from His ordinances, and the Lord has chastened us sore, and we have felt His arm and kissed the rod; let us be wise in time to come and ever remember that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

(4) Lectures on Faith:

[Three] things are necessary for us to understand, respecting the Deity and our relation to him, in order that we may exercise faith in him for life and salvation…What are they? First, that God does actually exist; secondly, correct ideas of his character, his perfections and attributes; and thirdly, that the course which we pursue is according to his mind and will. (Lecture 3:3-5.)

…How are we to be made acquainted with the before-mentioned things respecting the Deity, and respecting ourselves? By revelation. (Lecture 3:6.) Could these things be found out by any other means than by revelation? They could not.


29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!
30 And Moses gat him into the camp, he and the elders of Israel. (Numbers 11)

Ezra Taft Benson, (General Conference Oct 1967):

Yes, it is the precepts of men versus the principles of God. The more we follow the word of God, the less we are deceived, while those who follow the wisdom of men are deceived the most. Increasingly the Latter-day Saints must choose between the reasoning of men and the revelations of God. This is a crucial choice, for we have those within the Church today who, with their worldly wisdom, are leading some of our members astray. 

19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—
20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
21 That faith also might increase in the earth;
22 That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
23 That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers. (D&C 1)

Following Man vs Following God

The following is a very simple and clear analysis of the difference between following a prophet and following God:
1 Kings 13:8-24 & 1 Kings 17:8-24
The Man of God and the Prophet
8 And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:
9 For so was it charged me by the word of the Lord, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest. 
He knew from the start what God commanded him.
10 So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Beth-el.
11 ¶Now there dwelt an old prophet in Beth-el; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Beth-el: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.
12 And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah.
13 And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon,
14 And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am.
15 Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.
16 And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place:
17 For it was said to me by the word of the Lord, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.
18 He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.
19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water. 
He took no thought to what was asked. He trusted the prophet, yet knew what God initially asked of him.
20 ¶And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back:
21 And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee,
22 But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers. 
For going against what God asked of him, he became cursed.
23 ¶And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back.
24 And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase. (Old Testament, 1 Kings, 1 Kings 13)
That is the fruit of following man.
Elijah and the Widow
8 ¶And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. 
The widow also was initially commanded by the Lord.
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. 
She did what the Lord initially asked of her; she knew of the great sacrifice it would cost.
13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah. 
Her faith brought much fruit; but even after her faith, she endured a hard trial:
17 ¶And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?
19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
20 And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.
22 And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. 
The fruit of a true prophet:
23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.
24 ¶And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth. (Old Testament, 1 Kings, 1 Kings 17)