Enough Fun, Back To Work: LDS Intro Post 3

Intro - LDS

If the "scientific answer" is weak and insufficient and our testimonies are our irrefutable power, about what should our testimonies mainly consist?

The immediate answer from most Latter-day Saints is "the Restoration of the Gospel," "The Joseph Smith Story," or "The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon." Certainly worthy topics of which we all should have solid testimony and ready oratory. Although with answers like that it's no wonder some think we worship Joseph Smith or that angel guy at the top of the temples. Again, worthy topics but only incidental to the real story.

We have a much larger and more significant story to tell. And we can (or should be able to) tell it better than anyone else. We ought to be able too answer with truth and in detail the question: "Who is Jesus Christ and what part does He play in my life?" This question addresses the most pressing question of the ages. This question cannot be fully answered by anyone else but the Latter-day Saints because the answer was lost to the world and only restored in the mid-1800s.

To know that Jesus Christ was the first born of our Heavenly Parents in our pre-mortal world and the only begotton Son of Heavenly Father in the flesh, then opens the door to how and why He was able to accomplish the Atonement as no one else could.

To much even of the Historical Christian world, Jesus is a kindly vagabond who occasionally puts on His Savior suit, embarks on a short Magical Miracle Tour, and then retires to His "Clark Kent-like" persona to wander aimlessly around Judea looking for handouts.

But the Jesus Christ we know is the most brilliant intellect, the most patient teacher, and the most wise and loving friend ever known, not to mention His role as Messiah and literal Master of Creation. We'll get to that more in future posts.

Take, for instance, the encounter with the Pharisee lawyer.

It was toward the latter part of the Lord's mortal ministry that He had made enemies with just about all of the reigning political and religious hierarchy. His actions were not aimed at robbing them of their power or authority but as the people experienced the difference between their current ecclesiastical hierarchy and someone who truly loved them and served them and who had a completely pursuasive personality having no guile or coerciveness about Him, many of course, responded to Him.

Both the Sadducees and Pharisees, although separate, distinct, and for the most part opposing groups, hated the fact that Jesus so easily gathered great multitudes about him. He threatened their positions of power. (We'll get more into that later, too. Lots of parallels to our day.) And both groups wanted Him gone—as in dispatched with extreme predjudice. At this point, however, if they could simply embarass Him in front of a crowd, perhaps trip Him up in some way, word would spread and they might accomplish their ends without more severe action.

After Jesus had dispatched the best of the Sadducees, the Pharisees were up to bat. Apparently, their solution was to send in a lawyer. Now we all know lawyers. Some are lovely people, some not so much. This lawyer seems to have thought that he had found the one question he could ask the Lord that had no answer which would satisfy all. Surely this question would be the linchpin holding together their plan to rid themselves of Jesus.

You can easily envision the lawyer grasping his lapels and haughtily approaching the Savior with the magic bullet question he is sure will greatly elevate his personal stature as the one who confounded the Interloper.

Approaching Jesus, the lawyer condescendingly asks, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?"

Got Him! How can He answer? By this time the Jews had divided and subdivided the Mosaic law so many times and into such minutia that there now existed many hundreds of laws from which to choose. How can He pick just one out of all those?

This lawyer, as do many of us, so completely underestimated the utter and exquisite brilliance of the Savior's intellect that he was undoubtedly stupified at the simple elegance of the answer Jesus gave in an instant.

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment."

Jesus simply threw back at the lawyer what Moses had told the Jews so many years before. What law could trump that? And then, as if to throw gasoline on the fire of the lawyer's failed attack Jesus added, "And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

The lawyer asked for one law and the Lord gave Him twice what he asked. Again, reinforcing the point: Be careful what you ask.

Since they asked, apparently the Lord decided to let the Pharisees have both intellectual barrels so He asked them a couple of questions in return. The questions are simply based on Psalms 110:1 where David describes Heavenly Father inviting His beloved Son, Jehovah, to sit at His right hand.

"While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?" (Matt 22:41-42)

They don't have a clue what's coming. Jesus has just asked them what appears to be a simple question: "Who is the Messiah?" Meaning the one they expect to come some day and who they clearly do not think is Jesus. They have a solid tradition of who He will be—born as a mortal, live among men, and a descendant of David. So they proudly answer, "The Son of David."

Now the Savior, the actual Messiah and the Only Begotton Son of God, who stands before them, drops the bombshell. If the inspired David described Heavenly Father inviting His Son to sit at His right hand and David calls this Son of God his Lord, how can this Lord also be David's son? Is the Messiah the Son of God or son of a man?

The answer, of course, is that He is both. Son of David (and, therefore, son of a man, or a mortal man) through Mary, His mother, and Son of God by virtue of Elohim's fatherhood through Mary.

The uninspired Pharisees, however, were baffled. "And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions." Matt 22:46

These political buffoons sent the best they had and the best they had was woefully unprepared and unable to match the majesty of the Lord's brilliant intellect.

With examples such as this at our fingertips it is a wonder we, like the Pharisees, so underestimate the Savior when we ask for help, fail to receive a quick "lightening bolt" answer and slink off feeling so sorry for ourselves that nobody loves us. How shortsighted we are! How much we fail to understand the price He paid to completely understand all we experience so He can succor us—meaning heal us.

No, the fix may not be quick. But think of Him looking down upon us as we dejectedly slink away, lonely and feeling rejected but toward the very experience which He has arranged and which He knows will be the very answer we seek. He must chuckle a little at our impatient lack of faith knowing we will see His wisdom soon in the lessons He will shortly teach us. We will discuss faith in much more depth but suffice it to say for now that we have become a generation and culture of little of it.

Why Let Babylon Influence?

The Doctrine and Covenants (1:6) uses the term Babylon to mean the World. The area known as Shinar, in the old world, spawned the great Tower and ultimately Babel or Babylon became the epitome of great cities, with lavish gardens and much flaunted wealth. Latter-day Saints, for the most part, do not seem to understand the line in the sand drawn by the Adversary regarding wealth when he said, "You can buy anything in this world for money." That statement ought to make us extremely wary of wealth. However, we seem to be proud of our wealth as a church and individually. We deem it a blessing from the Lord. Is it? Or is it a test? Is the way we use our wealth either a blessing or a curse?

If we use or wealth to bless others but then take credit for the act by accepting our name on a plaque or building, what is our reward? Is there any eternal credit given? Or is the worldly recognition then our only reward? The Lord gave the clear answer that should be readily on the lips of anyone bearing the name: Latter-day Saint. Does our wealth become the fuel of our pride? Do we justify the fame from our goodly acts by our goodly acts, thinking the fame is just an unavoidable by-product? What of the suggestion that the same act be done anonymously? Does our selfish-nerve spasm in horror at the thought of foregoing the fame? Ah, you say, but if the love of money is the root of all evil and I'm giving away the money, what can be the harm in a little worldly credit for the act? Is it your habit to give your tithing envelope to the bishop at the beginning or end of Sacraemnt Meeting where all can see or later in the hallway when no one is looking?

There are a number of worldly influences that we could query in a similar way. Reflect for a moment on the last verse of 3rd Nephi and the list of worldly influences from which we are to turn away: wicked ways, evil doings, lyings and deceivings, whoredoms, secret abominations, idolatries, murders, priestcrafts, envyings, strifes, wickedness, and abominations. I suppose the distinction between "wicked ways" and "wickedness," is a similar contrast to the changes in thinking the Lord instituted after He fulfilled the Law of Moses and gave the Sermon on the Mount. Wicked ways being behavior and wickedness being attitude and thought. The distinction between "secret abominations" and apparently public "abominations," can only be a condemnation of our formerly secret behavior becoming commonly approved and public in the latter days. What is the difference between "wicked ways" and "evil doings?" Are "ways" more like tendencies and prejudices with "doings" being the behavior manifested therefrom?

One of the greatest stories rarely told reflects on the Mayflower Pilgrims. In the years prior to their journey to the new world, they moved from England, and persecution, to the Netherlands. This was a place of religous indiference leaving them free to worship according to their beliefs. It was also a place of flourishing business. The Pilgrims grew in prosperity and worried about their children and the material influences playing upon their piety. Rather than stay, the Pilgrims decided to travel across an ocean to a relatively unknown place where they could freely worship and not be influenced by wealth. Do we recognize the great lesson they taught? Or is a turkey dinner more important?

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