You Cannot Fight Against God

So… I’ve never really understood the whole point of the whole anti-Mormon thing. And by “anti-Mormon” I don’t mean anyone that doesn’t agree with Mormon doctrine. I’m referring to deliberate attacks on the doctrine. Websites, books, cds dedicated totryingto tear down the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m never worried about them. Their efforts fail and will always fail. Yet… I’m still curious. I wonder… what drives these people to have such an intense hatred for the Mormons and the things we believe? Why try to fight against us? What does it matter to them? I’m not going around trying to bash on the Lutherans or the Catholics or the Muslims. They have their beliefs and I have no reason to attack them for it.

Yet I’ve seen books and websites with the sole purpose of trying to tear down the LDS faith. Perhaps they think it’s some kind of missionary duty, to try and destroy what they believe to be something evil. Whatever the reason, I’d like to inject the reasoning of a great teacher. In fact, Paul the Apostle was the student of this man. His name was Gamaliel. When Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, they were commanded by the Pharisees to cease preaching in the name of Christ. Peter and John, of course, were not frightened by their threats, and Peter testified to them of their wickedness and how they had slain the Son of God. The Pharisees then wanted nothing more than to murder the two apostles, yet one of them was not wicked in his heart. This was Gamaliel. He had Peter and John step out of the room and then he offered some wisdom to his fellow counselors.

Gamaliel tells them to take caution with what they were intending to do with Peter and John. He cites two references,

For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

Two men, Theudas and Judas, had risen up, attempting to bring followers to their causes, and had failed. Their rebellions came to nothing.

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

He then basically tells them to leave Peter and John alone. If the source of their cause came from their own minds, like the two men he had just mentioned, then it will result in the same manner. It will come to nothing and eventually be done away with. But, if their cause is the cause of God, then fighting against it would be the worst idea possible, because you can’t fight against God. You’ll lose every time.

This is truly wisdom, and thinking about it makes me wonder why people try and fight against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If our cause is the cause of a man from Palmyra, New York, then it will eventually be done away with. But it has not been done away with. It has lasted and endured the efforts of Satan. This is because it is not of Joseph Smith, it is of Jesus Christ. It his His work and His church. No one can fight against it, ’cause they’re fighting against God.

So here’s a little wisdom for the anti-Mormons. Go ahead. Fight against it if you want. If won’t matter, because I can tell you right now you are fighting against the work of God. You will lose. If you truly believe the LDS church is the consequence of a madman, then let us be. We’ll certainly destroy ourselves, given time. But we have not, and we never will. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s kingdom restored to the earth. See the fruit of it. Read the Book of Mormon. Compare it with the Bible. Find out foryourself and don’t let anyone tell you one way or the other.

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Called In His Name

We’re known by a few different names. Some call us LDS. Some call us Latter-day Saints. Most call us Mormons. A lot of people even refer to us as the “Mormon Church.” In fact, the actual name of the so-called “Mormon Church” is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think a lot of people forget this very important detail, or at least definitely overlook its significance.

The Church is not named after a random person or a mode of ministry. If Jesus Christ had a church, it would certainly be named after him, it would be The Church of Jesus Christ, which is precisely what the “Mormon Church” is. We did not come up with that nickname. In fact it began as a derogatory term which was eventually accepted by the Latter-day Saints. We don’t mind being called Mormons, but as for the title of our church, we belong to The Church of Jesus Christ. Since we are in the last days as foretold by the Bible, the add-on “of Latter-day Saints” is used.

In the Book of Mormon, when Christ came to minister to the inhabitants of the Americas, He established and organized His church just like He did in the Holy Land. There were disputations, however, concerning the name of said church. This is what Jesus said,

And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel. (3 Nephi 27:8)

We are called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because we are Jesus Christ’s church. If it is His church, then it should be named after Him. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established upon the earth. We are not an American church. We are not Joseph Smith’s church. We are Jesus Christ’s original church restored after centures of spiritual darkness.

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.

Nothing and Everything

At times we feel insignificant. Sometimes it happens in our own homes, among our family and friends. Take that and compare it with the community, now it may seem like we really are invisible. Then widen the perspective and look at the state, providence, or territory we live in. We’re even smaller. Keep panning out and go the country… the continent… the planet… the universe. We truly are very small when we look at life’s big picture.

Indeed, we are nothing compared to the vastness of the universe and the power of the One who organized it. Understanding this fact is what it means to be humble.

King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon stated, “...I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily…” (Mosiah 4:11)

However, we cannot fall into the trap of thinking that because we are unworthy, we are worth nothing, or capable of nothing. This is not true. There is a great potential within each of us, but God is required in order to reach that potential.

In the last LDS General Conference, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency said, “And while we may look at the vast expanse of the universe and say, “What is man in comparison to the glory of creation?” God Himself said we are the reason He created the universe! His work and glory—the purpose for this magnificent universe—is to save and exalt mankind. In other words, the vast expanse of eternity, the glories and mysteries of infinite space and time are all built for the benefit of ordinary mortals like you and me. Our Heavenly Father created the universe that we might reach our potential as His sons and daughters.

This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God.

We are everything to God, and with Him can be everything. Near the conclusion of his talk, President Uchtdorf states,

Brothers and sisters, the most powerful Being in the universe is the Father of your spirit. He knows you. He loves you with a perfect love. God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him.”

We do matter to God. His work and glory is to help us achieve eternal life. That is the reason He created this universe for us, His children. We truly and literally are children of deity, and our Father loves each of us with an incomprehensible love. We are unworthy,  yet we are of great worth. Without God we are nothing, yet with Him we are everything.

Stand In Holy Places

Driving along a road with the branch president, or bishop, of our congregation (essentially the equivalent of the pastor), we came across a good sized snake along the road. It was belly up… dead, and our bishop commented that it was probably a bullsnake.

If you’re unfamiliar with what a bullsnake is, I’ll give you a quick rundown. They’re large snakes that are pretty common in the United States. You can find them anywhere between Idaho and Wisconsin, as far north as Canada and as far south as Mexico. They’re not venemous, but they can be fairly aggressive. What tends to get them in some trouble is the fact that they look a lot like rattlesnakes, specifically diamondbacks. They have a similar pattern, and they also hiss and beat their tails on the ground to imitate rattlesnakes. Many unsuspecting hikers have come across them and killed them because they mistake them for a rattlesnake.

So what’s the point of this? Well, I’ll tell you, and it’s about what our bishop said as we continued down the road.

“Someone probably thought it was a rattler and killed it,” he said. “They often hang around them.” Then, with a chuckle, “I guess you gotta be careful about who’s company you share.”

The same can be applied to us. What kinds of people do we hang around with? They may not have venomous glands in their mouths, but perhaps they have their own kind of poison. Satan and his evil influences are all around us. Alcohol, drugs, pornography and immorality, etc. When we share their company, we can often find ourselves imitating their behavior. We may not end up dead on the side of the road (hopefully not, at least), but we will easily find ourselves spiritually dead if we break the commandments of God.

But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die. (Doctrine and Covenants 45:32)

We are commanded to stand in holy places. Keep good company and do not move from it. By doing this, we shall live and can have eternal life.

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.

 

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.