The Glass Table Analogy III: Restored

Joseph Smith grew up in Palmyra, New York, during the early 19th century. During this time, there was an excitement about religion, at least in the town of Palmyra. Preachers stood outside their meetinghouses and called out to passersby. Joseph’s father was partial to the Methodist faith, while his mother aligned herself with the Presbyterians. They were both devoted followers of Jesus Christ, and raised their children as such, reading and learning from the Bible.

At a point in his childhood, Joseph became concerned for the welfare of his soul. He desired to join one of the churches in his town, but he didn’t know which one. They were all confusing to him, and they all seemed to contradict each other. Unfortunately, an argument on a particular doctrine couldn’t be settled by the Bible, because all the preachers interpreted it differently. The Bible seemed more like a battle ground than common ground.

Young Joseph was reading one night in the epistle of James, first chapter, fifth verse, which reads,

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

He pondered these words, and then he decided to take James up on his promise. You can read my post about Joseph Smith’s First Vision here.

Joseph saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. Together, They appeared to him. He asked them again which church to join, and Jesus Christ answered him and said that he should join none of the churches. For although there is truth in them all (pieces of the glass table), they don’t have the full doctrine of Christ (the original table).

Joseph Smith was later called as a prophet, and through him Jesus Christ would restore His church to the earth by restoring the keys of the kingdom, or the priesthood authority. By doing this, ordinances such as baptism could be done with the proper authority from God. It is the Church of Jesus Christ, and because we are in the latter days, or the last days, it is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him (Ephesians 1:10)

We are living in the fulness of times, and Jesus Christ has restored His church. Joseph Smith was and is a prophet called of God. And how can we know this? Matthew stated that by their fruits we may know if a prophet is truly called of God, or if he is fake. The Book of Mormon is the “fruit” of Joseph Smith. By reading it, pondering it, and praying about it, one can know of its divinity.

I know the Book of Mormon is true. If you have not read it, I challenge you to do so. It’s the only way you can know if Christ’s church has been restored. This is my testimony, and I give it in the name of Jesus Christ, that His church is restored.

 

Advertisements

The Glass Table Analogy II: Broken Pieces

The Apostles and the Seventy are out spreading the teachings of the Master, Jesus Christ. The glass table can still stand with its remaining three legs: apostles/prophets, priesthood authority, and revelation. Unfortunately, things do not go well for the Christians. Just like the prophets of old, the people reject Christ’s disciples. Through persecution and eventually murder, the Apostles and other disciples are eleminated. Jesus Christ knew this would happen, and He warned His disciples,

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations formy name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. (Matthew 24:9-10)

With the disciples gone, however, the priesthood authority eventually diminished. No one was left to transfer the authority by the laying on of hands. The world fell into a Great Apostasy, a time of spiritual darkness. To use a more secular term, the world entered the Dark Ages.

The Apostle Paul could see this time clearly,

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The shattering of the glass table left broken pieces. In their ignorance and wickedness, people took those pieces and began to put their own ideas around them, forming philosophies and theologies that were missing important parts of Christ’s doctrine. Without revelation from prophets and apostles, there was no one to guide them. The Church of Jesus Christ was no longer on the earth. Only fragments of truth existed among the man-made religions.

This time on the earth had actually been prophecied of long ago.

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the wordsof the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. (Amos 8:11-12)

The word of the Lord would not be found because His church and His doctrine in its fullness would not be on the earth. The glass table was broken. No man could hope to repair it. Even if one could somehow find all the pieces and bring them together, the glass would still be shattered. No power on earth could restore Jesus Christ’s church. It would take the Savior Himself to bring His gospel back in its fullness. Only He could restore the glass table to its original form.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:18-19)

By the power of the Holy Ghost, Peter knew Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, AKA Revelation. Hence, upon this rock, meaning revelation, would Christ build His church, giving Peter the keys of the kindgom, AKA priesthood authority. And the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it, for The Church of Jesus Christ has been restored in these latter days. This is where a young farmboy named Joseph Smith comes into play…

The Glass Table Analogy

What many people don’t understand is that Jesus Christ set up a church. No, not just some good ideas practiced by His followers, but a real, established organization. He called the Twelve and gave unto them priesthood authority, or the right to act in God’s name. Being the Son of God, Christ held it by right, and thus, He passed it onto His apostles.

Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. (Luke 9:1)

God’s priesthood authority isn’t something that can just be taken. It must be given under authority.

And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. (Hebrews 5:4)

Christ also called others to preach His gospel.

After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. (Luke 10:1)

And why did He, Christ, establish this organization?

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12)

So Jesus Christ called and ordained apostles, prophets, teachers, seventies, and so forth. He gave them His priesthood authority, or the right to act in God’s name. The right to heal and perform miracles. The right to administer in ordinances such as baptism by immersion and receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.

We can think of The Church of Jesus Christ as a round, glass table with four legs. One leg is Jesus Christ, another is priesthood authority, another is prophets and apostles, and the last is revelation received through those prophets and apostles. These four things hold up the table, the Church. Let’s say that Christ is the center leg, and the others form a triangle around Him. As we know, Jesus Christ was crucified. This removes the center leg. The table still stands just fine, but the center support is now gone. Of course, Christ was resurrected and appeared to His apostles, and others, but He is no longer physically present with them all the time.

With the Savior’s given authority, the apostles, and others Christ ordained, set out to spread the Word of God. Unfortunately, they were not received well by most. The world was soon about to fall into spiritual darkness, the Great Apostasy. The glass table would soon fall and shatter.

Death Cannot Conquer The Hero Again

Speaking of Himself and His crucifixion, Jesus said,

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24)

By allowing Himself to die for us, Christ can bring us unto Him, therefore bringing forth fruit. The metaphor can be applied to ourselves and others though, when He added in the next verse,

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

And so, I will apply this to the prophet Joseph Smith. The mobs that continually persecuted the Mormons in the early days of the Church thought they could do away with them, the Mormons. They figured, if they killed Joseph Smith, that would be the end of it all. Unfortunately, for them, they were mistaken.

The martyrdom of Joseph Smith only added more fire and zeal to the testimonies of the early Saints, and they pressed onward, eventually settling in the west. Joseph Smith lost his life, but in doing so he sealed his work with his blood. In the words of a hymn, written by William W. Phelps,

Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again.

The Prophet still lives on. The mobs may have killed his body, but they could never touch his spirit. I bear witness to you, whoever you may be, that Joseph Smith was and still is a prophet of God, and called by Him. Through Joseph Smith, God and Jesus Christ restored The Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth. And by the power and gift of God, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, which contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. To sum it up, in the words of John Taylor,

Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.

Other Sheep

Jesus taught,

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16)

Naturally, there were more people in the world than just those at Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. To these people, Christ’s gospel, and His doctrine, would need to be taught. And it would be taught, not just by the mouth of Christ’s servants, but by His own voice.

After His resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to the ancient people of the Americas. He taught them,

And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (3 Nephi 15:21)

The people of the Book of Mormon saw Christ, and He ministered unto them. They heard His voice and learned His doctrine. God loves all His children, so why would He not send His Son to minister unto others? This is proof that He has done so. I know that Jesus Christ appeared in the Americas, as well as other places, to gather together His fold.

I know that God is a living God. His works and His love never cease, and He will always show this to us. The Book of Mormon is one major way in which He has done so. Of this I bear witness, in the name of Jesus Christ.

The Power and the Gift

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. You can read more about Him and His role here, in one of my previous posts. In the Church of Jesus Christ, when one is baptized, he or she receives the gift of the Holy Ghost. There is a difference, however, between the gift of the Holy Ghost and the power of the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost can descend upon anyone, guiding him or her in whatever way God wants. There’s a simple anology that can be made. The power of the Holy Ghost is like a bolt of lightning. You can imagine life as a journey through a dark forest. Everything is black; nothing can be seen. Just as lightning may strike, illuminating the path for a second, the Holy Ghost may dwell for a moment and give needed guidance to continue onward.

Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is like receiving a flashlight. It’s constantly with us, lighting the trail every second of the way, so long as we are worthy of it.

We can see instances of this in the scriptures.

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the wordof God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:14-17)

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. (Acts 19:5-6)

I know that only through the complete authority, found only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, can one be endowed with the gift of the Holy Ghost, and that said gift is needed to enter into the kingdom of God.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)

The Search for Happiness: Mists and Mocking

As we make our way on our search for happiness, Satan tries to halt our progress. He is not happy… at all. In fact, Satan is downright miserable, and his only goal in life is to make sure we end up just like him. Lehi sees in his vision a mist of darkness, as well as a great and spacious building.

And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost. (1 Nephi 8:23)

And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.

And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.

And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost. (1 Nephi 8:26-28)

Some people were lost because they let go of the iron rod and could not see the path through the mists of darkness. Others actually made it to the tree, but couldn’t take the mocking of the people in the great and spacious building, and therefore wandered off and were lost. So what are these mists? And what exactly is this great and spacious building?

When Nephi sees the vision, the Spirit explains to him what these things mean.

And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.

And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof

And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great.

If we desire to obtain true happiness, eternal life that comes from the love of God, we must never let go of the iron rod, and we must never let ourselves be bothered by the mocking of the world. The mists of darkness are all around us, but even if we manage to get to the tree of life, we can still fall away from the path if we let others lead us away.

The search for happiness is a journey outside of this world. We can be in the world, but not of it. Hold to the rod, the word of God and Jesus Christ, that the mists of darkness won’t blind our eyes. And when we make it to the tree, we must still stand firm in our desire to live the gospel of Christ.

The Search for Happiness: The Iron Rod

When Lehi told his family of his vision, Nephi desired to see it for himself. Because of his great desire and unwavering faith, the Spirit visited him and showed him the dream. When Nephi is witnessing the vision, the thing that Lehi talked about are explained. The symbolism is made clear.

The iron rod is one of these symbols. In the vision, Nephi sees the iron rod along the straight and narrow path, extending to the tree of life. The multitudes of people in the dream are following the path to the tree by holding on to the rod of iron. Mists of darkness envelope the people. Many of them let go of the rod and become lost. But those who hold tight to the rod eventually make it to the tree of life and eat of its fruit.

Nephi understood this symbolism.

And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God. (1 Nephi 11:25)

So what is the word of God? The scriptures, naturally. But what exactly are the scriptures? The Bible, the Book of Mormon, and modern-day revelation. Essentially, the words of God and Jesus Christ and the prophets.

Nephi, the same that saw his father’s vision, said,

Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. (2 Nephi 32:3)

The words of Christ and the words of His prophets (which are the same) will tell us all things that we should do. And if we should heed the words of the prophets now passed, then surely all the more reason to heed the words of the living prophets.

I testify that holding strongly to the word of God in His holy scriptures will keep us on the straight and narrow path to eternal life. I know that we also have living prophets today, found only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We must listen to their counsel just as thoughtfully as we study the words of their ancient predecessors. The iron rod leading to the tree of life is indeed the word of God. It will safely guide us through.

The Search for Happiness

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi has a vision in which he sees the tree of life. I made a previous blog post about it that can be found here. The tree of life is a representation of the love of God and eternal life. Eating of the fruit is the privilege one can have if they journey along the straight and narrow path, holding fast to the word of God and enduring to the end by having faith in Jesus Christ and living the principles and ordinances of His gospel.

And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.

And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.

And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit. (1 Nephi 8:10-12)

When Lehi eats the fruit, he realizes that it is the sweetest fruit, above all that he had ever before tasted. In other words, the love of God, eternal life, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is above and beyond anything else that we can experience, and it can make us happy.

Lehi was filled with so much joy that the first thing he wanted to do was share it with the ones he loved most, his family. This the love and happiness that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the only true source of happiness we can find in this life.

I know that the message of the Restoration of Jesus Christ’s church is the most important message anyone can receive. It is a message of peace and joy, comfort and security, and it is a message of truth. It is a fruit that is “desirable above all other fruit.”

The Chuch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s church. His gospel and His doctrine has been restored. There is hope to be found. There is true happiness to be felt, for eternity. If you are in the search for happiness, this is where your search ends, and of this I testify in the name of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

More Worth Than Gold

Many people believe the Book of Mormon does not hold any worth or value. That it is unnecessary or a waste of time to even consider. Nephi, the second prophet in the Book of Mormon, said, concerning the contents of the Book of Mormon,

Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.

Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men. (1 Nephi 6:5-6)

The prophets and other writers of the Book of Mormon did not write things that are pleasing to the world. They wrote the things of God. I testify that everything in the Book of Mormon is of worth unto us, the children of men. I testify that the Book of Mormon is overflowing with the doctrine of Jesus Christ. And I testify that the Book of Mormon is the most important book on the earth today, not just for the things it contains, but because it is the only way we can know that God and Jesus Christ restored Christ’s church through the prophet Joseph Smith.

Read the Book of Mormon, and find out for yourself  just how much worth it has.

“This is life eternal, that they might know thee…”

When Joseph Smith was a young boy, he was confused about the different Christian sects that existed. He wanted to join a church, but did not trust his adolescent judgment enough to make such an important decision. He was reading one night in the Bible, in the epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse which says that “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” Joseph reflected upon this verse again and again, and finally decided to do as James directs.

He walked a short distance from his house into a grove of trees and offered up a prayer to God. He wanted to know which church he should join. In the prophet Joseph’s own words, this is his account,

“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

Something significant was learned in just this one encounter. From this experience we find out that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate beings, and that Jesus Christ is indeed God’s Son. We also discover that God and Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh and bone and that we are literally made in the image of God.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

Christ Himself states that life eternal is to know Him and Heavenly Father. I testify that God is not an unknowable being. Nor is He one in three persons or personalities. For how can one think to know God if He is someone else, but at the same time… not? Or how can they think to know their Savior if He is also two other persons… but not?

 I testify that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are literally three separate, distinct beings. God the Father is literally our Father. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and literally our Eldest Brother. And the Holy Ghost is Their messenger, testifying of Them to us. In this way is the Godhead known and understood. Three separate Beings with one purpose, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Moms = Awesome

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, naturally I need to make a shout out to my awesome mother, and thank her for putting up with me for 19 years (which she will continue to do after my mission… probably until the day she dies). I honestly cannot say enough about my mother, and words cannot express the gratitude I have for her (my father included. I won’t forget you, Dad!) and all the things she has done for me.

I remember one time years ago when my family still lived in Wisconsin. My mother flew out to… well, let’s see… she flew out to see one of her sisters I believe. I was rather young… not even ten years old I think… so I don’t remember all the little details. But I remember seeing her board the plane and feeling a strange emptiness. My father was with me, and as we made our way out the airport he could easily see my distress. He asked me what was wrong (no doubt, he already knew the answer) and I simply shrugged.

“You miss Mom, huh?” he asked. I nodded, trying not to tear up. “You still have me,” he replied. I’m not sure if I smiled. I hope I did, for the sake of being nice. “There’s just something about a mom though, huh?” he then asked me. I simply nodded. He bought me a giant pretzel (I love those), but even an enormous, twisted up piece of bread couldn’t fill the hole in my child’s heart (it did fill my stomach though).

It’s so true. It’s difficult to describe. The relationship between a father and child is of course something special and sanctified. But the relationship between a mother and child is… something more. Perhaps you could say it’s sacred. I suppose such a relationship would naturally develop between you and the one that brought you into this life, right?

Well anyway, maybe I should just get to the point, instead of trying to sound all philosphical and stuff. I love my mom. She is the greatest. I miss her tremendously and I’ve grown to appreciate the relationship that we have, the relationship I fear I’ve taken for granted far too many times in the past. My mom has helped me through so much and has been an awesome example of patience, endurance, and faith.

I’m eternally grateful to have a mother that raised me in Jesus Christ’s gospel. I’m grateful for a mother that has a testimony of said gospel and has been an “example of the believers” to me. I’m grateful for a mother that has exercised infinite patience with me. I’m grateful for a mother that listened to me and understood my trials. I’m grateful for a mother that has loved me and will always love me, and I am grateful to my Father in Heaven for blessing me with such a mother.

In a nutshell, Mom, you’re the best. I love you.

Desperate Times

In these desperate times
This I plead
When all else fails
Remember me

Desperate Times ~ Killswitch Engage

Desperate times are all around us. Though they’ve existed since the dawn of time itself, sometimes it seems they are raging more fiercely in this day and age. Whether across the world or in our own homes, calamities are always near. So what can we do? How can we pull through these desperate times? The Savior taught us not to rely on the world, for “the world passeth away.” We cannot put our trust in the world, because the world will fail us.

But everything is in the world, right? If the world fails, what’s left? What won’t fail? In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni teaches,

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail. (Moroni 7:46)

Charity never fails. Charity is what we can rely on. But what is it? Moroni continues in verse 47,

But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

Charity is the pure love of Christ. It is His love for us. It is the perfect love that we are all trying to achieve. It is the love that brings peace to war. It is the love that turns enemies into friends. It is the love that made a perfect Man suffer and die for the sins of mankind. So how can we obtain this love?

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. (verse 48)

We must pray to our Father in Heaven, with all the energy of heart. We must sincerely seek after this love if we hope to be filled with it. Only through charity are we able to endure the trials of life. When desperate times come, turn to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

I testify that charity never faileth. It endures all things. And when all else fails, remember Jesus Christ and pray for charity.