The Spirit, the Witness

I was told recently that my faith is blind. My belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. My belief that the Book of Mormon, alongside the Bible, is scripture that testifies of Jesus Christ. My belief in the entire set of doctrines outlined in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, as found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All of this… all that I hold dear to me and believe with every fiber of my being… is blind following.

And why is it blind? According to my accuser, because…

1. There is an apparent lack of archeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon, and…

2. The teachings of the Book of Mormon are obviously, according to my accuser’s opinion, in contradiction to the Bible’s doctrine.

Both of these arguments are, in my opinion, weak excuses. I bore my testimony to this man, but his heart wasn’t sufficiently softened to receive it. Honestly, that’s fine. I told him straight up that I didn’t expect to convince him, and I wouldn’t want to anyway. But to accuse me of blind faith? No, I won’t have it. Heck, he even insinuated that what I believed to be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit confirming my beliefs was in reality a trick of Satan.

Last time I checked, Satan doesn’t have influence over my spirit. Yes, he can make evil appear good, and he is a grand master manipulator. He can deceive us by affecting our carnal senses. Our sight. Our hearing. Our physical sense of feeling. These are often what he attacks, but our spirits? No, that’s God’s territory. Satan can make sin seem appealing, but only God’s Spirit can touch my own spirit and manifest truth. If Satan could manipulate the very spirit within us, how awful our circumstances would be! You couldn’t trust anything! You wouldn’t be able to trust any thought or feeling you have, no matter how righteous and peaceful it feels.

But now I’m rambling, and perhaps that particular topic should be given its own blog post, just like how Venom should’ve been the spotlight of Spiderman 3.

I’m going to just focus on the first reason now. No archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon? Anyone that has ever honestly looked into this topic knows that such a claim is complete nonsense. However, evidence for the Book of Mormon is not what helps an individual gain a testimony and a spiritual witness of its divinity. It is through a witness of the Holy Spirit that that is accomplished. For the sake of those who might be curious though, here’s a great link to a website dedicated to phyiscal evidences of the Book of Mormon.

http://www.bookofmormonevidence.org/

Concerning the Spirit, the apostle Paul teaches us,

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath preparedfor them that love him.

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1 Cor. 2:9-10)

It is through the Holy Spirit that the things of God are revealed to man. Indeed, studious research is beneficial, but without a firm testimony from the Spirit, an unshakable conviction in any particular truth will never stand up to persecution and the storms of life. I marvelled somewhat that despite the fact that my accuser was a strong Christian man (and I had no reason to doubt this of him), he denied my testimony of the Spirit and claimed I was blindly following my beliefs because of an apparent lack of physical evidence. He should know very well that if something is of God, it cannot be understood or known except through His spirit.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

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Hypocrites!? Yes, we are.

I’ve heard a lot of different excuses for not coming to church. Some are better than others. Some are lengthy, others to the point. Some are humorous and creative, others are cliche and unimaginative. There’s one thing, however, that they all have in common. They’re excuses, not reasons. One that I’ve heard quite a few times is “everyone there is just a hypocrite!”

To a degree that is true. Hypocrites attend church. But church is not for perfect people. To those people, I usually wantto respond with something like, “Yeah, I know. So what? At least they go to church. You really think you’re any better than them? You’re not. You’re just as much of a hypocrite as them by bringing that up. Get the beam out of your own eye before you start pointing out the motes in the theirs!”

That’s not the best way to respond of course, so I keep those thoughts to myself. But it’s true. As King Benjamin says in the Book of Mormon, “are we not all beggars?” We all depend upon the same God to provide for us, whether it be food, clothing, shelter, etc. We are all on equal ground. Yes, there are hypocrites in the chapel Sunday morning, but if we’re using them as an excuse to not attend Sunday services, are we really any better than they are?

Eternal life is too precious a gift to let it depend, unncecessarily, upon the actions of others. Our Father in Heaven will not excuse our sins of ommission (things we should do that we don’t do) because the guy sitting two pews behind was a jerk.

James, in the New Testament warned us,

Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned. (James 5:9)

The Savior also warned,

 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Before we point the finger at others, we must first examine ourselves. I speak also to myself, ’cause I’m certainly not perfect at this. But I do know that this is true. We are all sinners. We may sin differently, but we’re all sinners nonetheless. So don’t bother yourself with what so-and-so did or what what’s-her-face said to you. You can hold it against them all you want, but tearing down others doesn’t elevate yourself to any degree. You’re only jumping aboard their sinking ship.

So if you aren’t going to church because you think they’re all hypocrites, take a step back and see that we are all hypocrities. We must look at ourselves and do what we know to be right.

Articles of Faith XI and XII: Freedom and the Law

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

The Church of Jesus Christ was restored in the United States for a reason. In no other country would such a seed have had opportunity to sprout, because no other country enjoyed or embraced the freedom as did the United States.

Latter-day Saints understand how important our freedom is. We embrace it ourselves and respect the freedom of others to do as they please, while expecting the same in return. Free agency is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. It’s so great that He allows terrible things to occur in the world, all for the sake of respecting the agency He has granted to His children.

Hence, we all have the agency to choose how we worship God, if we worship Him at all.

The twelfth statement is pretty short, so I’m going to include it in this post.

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

Pretty simple. We believe in being patriotic. We support our country and obey its laws.

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…