Two Books, One Witness

I’m going to cover my accuser’s second argument mentioned in my previous blog post. In his mind, the doctrine of the Bible and the doctrine of the Book of Mormonobviously were not in accordance with one another, even to the point that he admitted he would never prayerfully consider the divinity of the Book of Mormon.

Those that claim the Book of Mormon teaches doctrine in direct contradiction to the Bible are simply choosing to interpret the Bible only one way. They are the ones that blind themselves from other possibilities. Think about this: how many lines can you draw through a single point? The answer would be… infinity. You can interpret the Bible an infinite amount of ways. One says this, another says that. But engender another point into this scenario, and now how many lines can be drawn through those points? Only one. Only one straight line may be drawn, therefore there can only be one interpretation. Any other line drawn will be curved and littered with logical fallacies.

Let’s look at one example: Romans 3, verses 27 and 28,

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

The born-again might say, “Aha! Faith alone is what saves us. Our deeds in this life mean nothing.”

The devout Catholic might respond, “Oh, but sir, Paul is speaking of the Mosaic law. Paul was speaking to those still practicing that law, explaining that the rituals have no effect, but faith in the Savior is the key element.”

They could turn to James and read how our faith must be shown by our works, or to the words of the Savior Himself saying, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

You could then go to Ephesians 2:8 and 9, which reads,

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

So what do we make of all this? It’s clear that these verses can create quite a difference in such a simplistic doctrine as faith and works. Let’s turn to the Book of Mormon. The prophet Nephi wrote,

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

Ah! So it is by grace that we are saved, but after we have put forth our honest effort. So we see that we cannot have one without the other. You can be the most righteous person in the world, yet still be damned without the grace of Christ. But the atoning power of the Savior will not be in effect unless we take the effort to apply it in our lives. We will inevitably fall short of what God expects of us, but we still have agency to make good choices out of our own power.

This is one simple analogy, but one to show that the Book of Mormon serves to supportthe Bible, not tear it down. I know for myself that, like the Bible, the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I have considered it, pondered it, and prayed to God about it. The Spirit has told me it’s true. I invite you to do the same.

The Poetic Corner: Give the Burden to Me

I haven’t posted any of my poems recently. I think I’ll start trying to do that more. Here’s one I wrote recently.

Give the Burden to Me

I know you are crying
though no one sees your tears
I know you are trying
though no one thinks you care
let My love set you free
give the burden to Me
give the burden to Me

I know you are hurting
though no one sees your pain
I know you are searching
though no one sees you pray
let My strength help you breathe
give the burden to Me

’cause I love you
I died to let you live
and I know you
I live to lift you up

so quit dragging your feet
have faith for tomorrow
there’s no need
to waste life in sorrow
you can see
i’ve lifted the weight from your back
so you could stand up straight

’cause I love you
I died to let you live
and I know you
I live to lift you up

because I know your shame
they spit in My face
and though your hands may ache
Mine are engraved
so don’t you think that I don’t know your pain
I bled every pore for your sake

’cause I descended below you and all things
so I could lift you and place your pains on Me
so give the burden to Me
give the burden to Me

 

Though the world does not see and usually doesn’t care about our problems, the Savior does. Though our family and friends may not notice our problems, our Savior does. Jesus Christ understands us. From the everyday struggles to the seemingly impossible trials, He knows them all. He suffered for it all, and He wants us to give Him those burdens so we can stand up and face the world.

He didn’t die so we could sit in a dark corner and feel sorry for ourselves. He did die for us, but then He rose from the dead with a perfected and glorified body. He lives so we can do the same. He lifts and gives us strength to conquer our trials.

Christ invites us to take His yoke upon us. We must do our part and pull what weight we can, but whatever we cannot pull, He will. He will carry the rest for us. So allow Christ to strengthen you. Give the burdens to Him.

 

Walk the Walk

So my compañero and I were knocking doors the other day. After about the sixth door, someone finally answered and he let us right in. I’m always a little bit suspicious when that happens, but  he was a very nice man and started the conversation by asking us some questions about the LDS church and how LDS missions work. We answered all of his inquires, but then he shifted the discussion a little by asking us how we viewed the whole “receiving Jesus into your heart” thing.

The conversation got a little more interesting, and we started telling him about some more specific doctrines pertaining to The Church of Jesus Christ. It eventually turned to the doctrine of salvation, and what constitutes being “saved.”

He made sure we understood that many “Mormon” doctrines don’t quite fall under the “umbrella of classic Christianity.” This is something that my companion and I are very well aware of. Many things that The Church of Jesus Christ teaches don’t agree completely with the traditions of what the world now likes to call “mainstream” Christianity.

Naturally, talking about salvation, we delved into faith and works. He was all for faith, which of course is a necessary thing. We must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But he told us, “Don’t hang your hat on works.” Well, duh, I know I can’t earn my way to Heaven. I don’t know if people just think we’re stupid or something, but we know very well that only through the Atonement of Christ can anyone have any hope of salvation. Without Him, and without having faith in Him, our good works are in vain, and profit us nothing… because we’d all be damned to Hell. Simple.

I quoted James and told him that “faith without works is dead.” He tried to explain that good works come as a result of our faith and… as far as I understood it, ultimately don’t even matter anyway. They’re just… good things to do. We asked him about the Ten Commandments, if it was needful to obey them in order to gain salvation. His answer was no.

A bit puzzled, I said, “You don’t have to obey the Ten Commandments? So basically you can just be a bad person?” He said yes. Well, now that was interesting, ’cause last time I checked, they were still called the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions, or the Ten Creative Ideas.

I’m sorry (no, I’m really not), but “receiving Jesus into your heart” is more than just proclaiming a belief in Him and His atoning sacrifice. If you’re going to receive Him into your heart, then you better darn well get out there and do something about it.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (1 Peter 2:21)

There are the words of Cephas himself. Christ suffered for us, not so we could sit on our butts and not obey His commandments, but that so we could see His example and follow it. “Work out your own salvation”, as Paul states to the Philippians, but still maintain an understanding that salvation comes “not of works, lest any man should boast,” as he counsels the Ephesians.

Find your faith in Christ and show it, otherwise your “faith without works is dead”, as James so boldly proclaimed. You may tell your neighbor, who is in need of food and clothing, to be fed and clothed, but what’s it going to do if you don’t do anything about it? If you proclaim your faith in Christ, that’s great, but if you seriously think that’s all there is to being worthy to receive the glory of God, you’ve got something to reconsider.

God didn’t go through the trouble of creating this entire world and placing us here for eighty something years just so we could say “Lord Jesus I receive you into my heart” and automatically become “saved.” You know what? Salvation isn’t cheap. It doesn’t come from saying a few lines that some random pastor guy made up off the top of his head. Christ didn’t suffer for that.

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)

You believe in Christ? That’s great, so do the evil spirits that flood this earth. Does their belief in the Son of God do anything for them? No, because it’s not just about believing, it’s also about living a life that’s in harmony with what Jesus Christ taught.

So if believing that our salvation is also dependent on being a good person somehow makes me a non-Christian, then I suppose by today’s standards I’m not a Christian. But I do know that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that He lives again. And I know that only through His grace can we hope to be saved. Christ’s atonement is the bridge that has been built over the gulf of misery. Without it, our destination, no matter how good of person we were in this life, would be Hell. But with it, we can escape the captivity of the devil and enter into salvation. We must walk across that bridge, however. Standing there and saying, “That bridge has saved me!” is not going to get you over that bridge.

I know that through obedience to God’s laws and ordinances, all mankind may be saved, and that the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ is the only thing that has made that possible for us. His sacrifice has opened the door into eternal life, but He has left it up to us… to walk through it.

2012: Dun-dun-dunnnn

Oh my goodness, it’s gonna be 2012! Oh no! Everyone run for your lives! It’s attacking! Some people that lived a long time ago said it would end! There’s no possible way they were incorrect or that we’ve all just misinterpreted what they thought!

If you didn’t realize, that was sarcasm. Unfortunately, there really isn’t any good way to express that type of irony in writing. But anyway, the year 2012 is just around the corner. It’s a year that has approached society with an infamous stench, though honestly, there is no odor attached to this next year. It’s another year… that’s it. I’m excited for it to be here. It’s another chapter in our lives, another chance to improve our characters, eliminate bad habits and create good ones. It’s an opportunity to learn something new, turn enemies into friends, and add more bricks to make our life’s foundation more stable.

This year, I’d like to better myself by thinking and acting more upon Christ’s example. It sounds vague, but I do have some specifics that go along with that goal. I want to be a better disciple of Him, and a better representative of His teachings.

A Book of Mormon prophet named Amulek spoke of our time on this earth as such,

For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. (Alma 34:32)

As the new year approaches, let’s do more to prepare ourselves to meet God. Whether that’s when we’re ninety-nine years old, sixty-five, forty, or twenty. We don’t know, so all the more reason to get prepared. Sounds logical? I thought so too. I know that as we put our faith in Christ and our trust in God, we can accomplish the goals we have for this next year. Our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ want us to succeed! Our efforts will not go unnoticed, nor unaided. Whether nor not your goal(s) may be spiritually related, so long as it is a goal of righteous improvement, I know that putting the Savior first will make that goal possible.

A Better Land

Many instances in my life have proven, to me, that the Lord rather enjoys pulling a fast one on me. Take, for example, the fact that I am no longer in Columbia Falls, but Frenchtown, MT. I thought for sure I was going to stay in Columbia Falls for another transfer. But alas, I was bamboozled… and am now sitting here typing this in the Frenchtown High School library.

I’ll admit, I’m not one to readily accept change. When I feel like I need to be in a certain situation, I don’t take kindly to being brought out of that situation. This happens a lot with all of us. We’re traveling along on our life’s journey, comfortable with our speed, the conditions of our metaphorical road, and then all of sudden we hit a road block, or something causes us to swerve off the road, or the road ends up curving in a direction we didn’t intend to go. It happens a lot. There are definitely some things in our lives we have little or no control over.

In my case, I couldn’t decide where I wanted to serve next on my mission. My mission president told me I was going to Frenchtown, so it was either that or go home. So what do we control? And how can this be used advantageously?

Let’s look to the scriptures here for a second. I’ll take a verse out of the Book of Mormon. This is Jacob talking, he was a brother to the prophet Nephi.

And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea.(2 Nephi 10:20)

The Lord brought their family out of the land of Jerusalem. They struggled and endured tons of contention and other troubles, but, as Jacob says, they were led to a better land, the Americas. This better land can be many different things in our lives. It could very well be a better location, or a better situation, better friends, better job, etc. It could be almost anything.

So going back to the question… what do we control? We control our attitude and our perspective. We can have the attitude of thinking God is picking on us or ignoring us, that when change or trials arise, our lives have become screwed up. Or we can be like Jacob, as see the changes as being led to a better situation, one in which we can learn, grow, and have better opportunities.

I hated Columbia Falls when I first arrived there, and I wondered why in the world the Lord had sent me there. Over time, however, I saw the reasons, and when the time came to depart I absolutely did not want to leave. I don’t know if the same thing will come with me in Frenchtown, but I know the Lord guides us to where we need to be. He’s always aware of where we are, and wherever He leads us, it will always be to a better land.

Waiting

What, then, does it mean to wait upon the Lord? In the scriptures, the word wait means to hope, to anticipate, and to trust. To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end. ~ Elder Robert D. Hales

Life can sometimes be a struggle between wanting to do what we think is best and trusting that the Lord knows best. In regards to the latter, sometimes it takes patience and sometimes it takes initiative. But in all cases, it takes humility and an acknowledgment of the fact that any decision made solely upon our own intellect is going to be a fair idea at best.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

If we expect to get anywhere in life, we can’t allow ourselves to make our decisions only on what we see with our eyes. We can only see the present and learn from the past, but the Lord knows what lies ahead in our life’s path. He loves us and wants our success. We can and must trust that He will only lead us in the right directions. Any good solution I’ve come up with has most definitely been inspired by the Lord’s infinite knowledge. My own intellect only takes me so far… which is not very far at all.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (verse 6)

In every decision we make, in every action we take, we must always ask for the Lord’s guidance. This means we need to have patience and faith in Him, and be willing to submit ourselves to time and, if necessary, trials. Things won’t always seem like they’re going work out. I’m sure that Moses, at least for maybe a second or two, thought, “Oh… crap.” when he saw the Red Sea. But the Lord didn’t lead him to the ocean only to let the Egyptians come and slaughter them.

The Lord we not lead us to an impossible obstacle. If we must cross a sea, He will divide it. If we wait upon the Lord, and have faith in His knowledge and time, He will direct us.

Applying the Blood

Faith and works is a big topic of debate among many Christians. I’ve discussed it with many people in and out of the LDS church and I’ve thought about it a lot within my own mind. As missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, people will sometimes seek us out and single out a particular point of Mormon doctrine to hammer on. Faith and works is a favorite among some.

“You guys think you can earn your way to Heaven,” many have told me. I emphatically respond with, “No, that’s not true.” But the point never comes off very clearly as they explain to me and my companion that grace is a gift from Christ, and therefore faith is the only thing required to enter into God’s kingdom. This Biblical analogy of the Atonement as a gift has made me think a lot about how to properly explain the Latter-day Saint viewpoint of faith, works, and the grace of Jesus Christ. Here’s where I’ll start…

A gift must be received. No one gives a gift forcefully, otherwise it is no longer a gift. Likewise, Jesus Christ suffered and died for us, giving us the gift of the Atonement. With outstretched hands, His grace is within our grasp. He will not force it upon us, but we must reach out to Him and take the gift. It is not enough to see the gift in His hands and say, “Hey thanks, Jesus! I can see that that gift can bring me salvation.” Such is faith, dead without works, recognizing that only through Christ can we be saved but doing nothing about it. Here is the reaching out…

We read in Exodus 12:23-24, And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

This is known as the Passover. The Lord sent the destroying angel to kill all the firstborn in the land of Egypt. The children of Israel, however, were instructed to take the blood of a lamb and strike it on the posts of their doors. This would cause the destroying angel to pass by them and spare the firstborn.

In the most recent General Conference, W. Christopher Waddell, of the Seventy, said,

“The blood used by the Israelites, symbolic of the Savior’s future Atonement, was a product of the sacrifice they had offered. Nevertheless, the sacrifice and the blood alone would not have been sufficient to obtain the promised blessing. Without the application of the blood to the door posts, the sacrifice would have been in vain.

As he states, it was the application of the blood that saved them. The blood itself, without applying it in the way instructed by the Lord, would have left the firstborn dead. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, by itself, cannot save us. We must apply His atonement in our lives, which requires both faith and works.

So… no, we can’t work our way to Heaven, and a belief in Christ without applying His atoning sacrifice in our lives will not save us either. We must believe and do.

Articles of Faith IV: Gospel of Christ

Here we go, number four:

We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

You could say that these are the steps to becoming a disciple of Christ. To be His follower, one must of course obey His gospel. We believe that the first step is to exercise faith in Jesus Christ. We must believe He is our Savior, otherwise there isn’t any point to anything else we do. Our faith in Christ is the foundation of our testimony in Him and His gospel.

The second step is repentance. Faith and repentance go together. We can’t repent of our sins if we don’t believe Christ is the Savior and that He suffered and died for our sins. We must apply His atonement and ask Heavenly Father’s forgiveness of our sins, made possible through Christ.

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:11)

Faith and repentance are daily things, however. We must exercise faith each day and daily repent of our sins. In this way we can always keep Christ in remembrance, which will deliver us from the power of Satan.

Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. (Alma 37:33)

Faith and repentance are the first principles. The first ordinances are baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Baptism is essential. Christ taught that without it, one cannot enter into the kingdom of God. And it must be done by the correct authority. The same goes for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

In the Acts we find an example of this ordinance being performed by 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 18:15-17)

This is the basic doctrine of Jesus Christ that Latter-day Saints believe in. I know they are true. Stay tuned for more Articles of Faith! HOW EXCITING!

 

Articles of Faith III: Atonement and the Gospel

Now that we got a couple of basic things out of the way, let’s get into something deeper. The third statement of belief is as follows,

We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

This reaffirms the fact that we are indeed a Christian religion. We firmly believe that it is only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that salvation is made possible. The word may is important. We do not believe everyone is automatically saved. Rather, we believe the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 2:12 when he says to “work out your own salvation.”

Faith and works are both necessary. As James said, faith without works is dead. And of course, works without faith is empty, shallow, and unfulfillable. Hence the last part of the statement, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

Salvation is not cheap. It requires effort and diligence. Christ said Himself that “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) Obviously, there are some requirements in this life that need to be accomplished. Baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost (“and of the Spirit”) are just a couple.

So what if someone lives and dies without receiving the necessary ordinances such as baptism? Are they damned to Hell? Definitely not. How fair would that be? It wouldn’t be fair at all! These ordinances are still required though, and everyone, whether in this life or the next, will have the opportunity to receive them by their own free will.

Now don’t misunderstand. In no way do Mormons believe they can work their way into Heaven. I can knock doors all day long, but it won’t do anything if I’m not doing it for the right reasons. Faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation for our works. If we work without faith, we work in vain, but our faith is only shown through our works. We do as much as we can, and Jesus makes up the difference. This is what grace is.

 

The Giant and the Underdog

Everyone loves a good underdog story, and of the best anyone could ever read or hear comes from the Bible. It’s the story of David and Goliath. If you aren’t familiar with this story, just crack open your nearest Bible to the first book of Samuel, chapter seventeen. Or, if you just want to read it right now, click on this link.

To be brief, the Philistines were at war with Israel. One Philistine in particular was creating quite a stir. His name was Goliath. He was huge, perhaps about nine feet tall, and he would present himself to the Israelite army and tell them to bring him a champion to fight. But No one in the Israelite army was brave enough.

David heard about Goliath, he said to everyone, “Who’s this guy think he is? Why doesn’t someone beat him?”

Well, Saul, the Israelite king,  heard about the things David was saying and sent for him. David came to him and said, “I’ll go and fight this battle.”

“You can’t fight him,” Saul told him. “You’re just a child, and Goliath has been raised in the ways of war since he was a child.”

“I killed a lion and a bear once!” David exclaimed. “And I’ll do the same to this Philistine, ’cause he’s defying God! If God can deliver me from the attacks of a lion and a bear, He’ll do the same for me when I face up to this Philistine”

“Alright,” Saul gave in. “Go, fight him, and God be with you…”

So David went and grabbed his sling and five smooth stones to face Goliath. When he approached Goliath, the Philistine laughed because he was just a scruffy little boy. “Once I kill you,” Goliath yelled, “I’ll feed your dead body to the birds and the beasts!”

“You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a shield,” David then said, “But I come to you in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, who you’ve mocked. Today God will deliver you into my hands. I’ll kill you and cut off your head, and I’ll feed your dead body to the birds and the beasts! And everyone will know that our God is real!”

Furious, Goliath charged. David did the same, taking out a stone from his bag. He put it into his sling and slung the stone right into Goliath’s forehead, killing him. Needless to say, the Philistines ran, scared out of their minds.

Just like David, we all have Goliaths we face in life. They’re giant, they’re intimidating, they’re in our face. It can be spiritual or temporal. A sin, an honest mistake, bills, debt, school and tests, a job, an attack on our faith, etc. These things may seem enormous, and at times we may feel like David standing in front of Goliath. But like David, we can turn to the Lord and rely on Him! David wasn’t afraid, because he knew that it didn’t matter how big Goliath was. He could’ve been one hundred feet tall and David would’ve acted the same way.

Like David, we also need to do our own part and prepare ourselves to face our Goliaths. David was prepared with five stones and a sling. He had a plan in mind and he trusted that God would support him with his plan. We too need to prepare and plan to face life’s challenges, all the while seeking the Lord’s help and inspiration.

If we do so, we too will find ourselves conquering our Goliaths.

Make It Happen

We know that by small and simple things God performs miracles. These small and simple things are often us. By using the free will that God has given us, we can be instruments in His hands to carry out His plans for us. This, of course, requires action. It means we need to get ourselves out there and make something happen. A prayer said without a willingness to help that prayer be answered is a prayer said in vain. God will not simply wave a magic wand and make the world a better place. He expects us to do our part. We are His tools, and He has given us the gift of agency for a reason.

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma taught,

Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.

And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith. (Alma 34:27-28)

If we have the means to assist others, we need to do so. If we don’t, we are nothing more than hypocrites. Jesus Christ was all about serving others. Nothing He did was for Himself. He rendered all his energy to Heavenly Father’s will, and undoubtedly was and forever will be the greatest instrument in the hands of God. If we profess to be followers of the Savior, we must do as He did.

The surest way for a prayer to come true is to do our part to make it happen. Our Father in Heaven will do the rest. We are the instruments He uses to make miracles happen.

The Broken Bow

In the beginning of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi takes his family and friends and journeys into the wilderness out of Jerusalem. Life is good. They feed themselves well upon the beasts of the land… until Lehi’s son, Nephi, breaks his bow. Fail.

And it came to pass that as I, Nephi, went forth to slay food, behold, I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel; and after I did break my bow, behold, my brethren were angry with me because of the loss of my bow, for we did obtain no food. (1 Nephi 16:18)

Not only his brothers, but his entire family becomes angry at him and also God. Even Lehi complains against God. So what does Nephi do? What would you do?

Well, Nephi didn’t want to just sit around and be mad at God. Instead, he took action. Verse 23 of that same chapter says,

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?

Nephi gets to work and makes himself a new bow. After Lehi repents of his anger against God, he inquires of God where Nephi should go to get food. Nephi obeys and is able to slay animals for them to eat. Rejoice! Everyone is happy, and probably feeling like a bunch of fools for sittin’ around and doing nothing.

Nephi was part of the solution, not the problem. This is a prime example of doing our own part.

So, although we may not be out in the desert hunting beasts, we all have our own problems that come up, our own broken bows, if you will. They can be pretty much anything. Small or big, temporal or spiritual. They all must be solved the same way, however. If we expect a problem to be solved, we must take action and be part of the solution, like Nephi.

I know that if we do our part, God will cover the rest and provide a way to overcome our obstacles.

Of Sheep and Goats

It’s impossible to earn your way into Heaven. Everyone knows that. No human power can bring about salvation. It is only through the grace of Jesus Christ that we are saved. But doesn’t Jesus Christ bid us to follow Him? Did not the apostles state that He, Christ, set the example for us to follow?

I ask you, what did Jesus do? Perhaps a better question would be to ask what He didn’t do, but I’ll answer the first one. Christ carried out the will of the Father. He performed miracles, forgave sins, and set the ultimate example of righteousness for us to follow. He is the Good Shepherd, and those that follow Him are His sheep. Those that do not follow Him are goats. We read in Matthew 25, verses 33 through 40…

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

The goats, on the other hand (literally), did not tend to the hungry, the poor, the sick and afflicted, or the needy in general. They did not work righteousness. They still, however, acknowledged Christ as their Lord. They believed, but they did not follow Jesus’ example. They didn’t do the will of the Father. Christ said Himself that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of the Father.

The prophet Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, stated,

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23)

We are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, but only after all we can do, for we will be judged by our righteousness. So don’t be a goat! Believe in Christ. Believe He can save you, and then follow His example and work righteousness.

 

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.

Prophets and Apostles: Called of God

This upcoming weekend is a rather special event for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s what we call “General Conference”, a semi-annual event that takes place every year in April and October. I suppose you could say that it’s a gathering of sorts. Thousands of Latter-day Saints flock to the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, which can seat up to 21,000 people. All over the world, millions of members, and others, gather to church buildings to watch the broadcasts via satellite. Others listen on the radio or watch on their televisions or computers in their own homes. There are four main sessions. Two on Saturday and two on Sunday. Each one is two hours long.

So what exactly is all the excitement about? Why do so many people sacrifice eight or more hours out of a weekend to participate in this event?

The reason is profound. It is because we have a living prophet today, as well as apostles and others, called of God, to lead us in these last days, and General Conference is when we can hear and see them speak. It is a wonderful blessing that I am grateful for and am looking forward to.

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)

Whether it is from God or the mouth of His servants, it is the same. Listening to a prophet’s words is having new scripture unfolded unto us. But many think that we don’t need prophets and apostles in our day. To them I must ask, isn’t it during times like these when we need them most?

Ephesians 4:11-14

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive

There were prophets and apostles in Christ’s day, and even before then. So why not now, when Satan is working his hardest to lead us astray?

I testify that there is a living prophet on the earth today. His name is Thomas S. Monson. I know he has been called of God. We have twelve apostles living today as well, just like the twelve apostles of Christ’s day. They are also all inspired men, called of God to serve Him and guide His people. I invite you to hear them speak this weekend and see for yourself that they are truly prophets, seers, and revelators.