The Question, Part 3

General Musings

Knowing the Lord’s propensity for warning us, there must be a scripture somewhere that definitively describes our day and our folly—a scripture so plain that its meaning is unmistakable. There is. But we NEVER study it and recognize the truth of it. Before I show it to you I will give you the question.

As I mentioned at the beginning, some study and find the question for themselves. A light goes on and they just ask it of themselves. Some are given the question by the Lord because they’re ready for it, or for some reason the Lord wants them to be confronted by it. The question comes in a variety of forms but always with the same meaning if not the same words. Here it is:

“Why are you allowing the sins and weaknesses of man to dictate your eternal salvation?”

As I mentioned, I came across the question from my own study. I know others who have also. I also know others, as have I, who have heard these or similar words come into their minds in the temple, or other sacred places. Today, thousands have grappled with this question and have come to find answers as the Lord provides. In those answers they have found a more intimate and communicative walk with the Lord than they have ever experienced before. Throwing off the shackles of emotional conditioning and false, prideful traditions, and facing the Lord with a truly repentant, and humble heart is to know the true meaning of agency. It is freedom and liberty personified. You become, freedom.

Notice that the question is not, “ARE you allowing the sins and weaknesses of man to dictate your eternal salvation?” The question is only asked of those who are so engaged. The question is, “Why are you…?” Those who are asked are good people, even righteous, who serve and sacrifice. Why would the Lord ask such a question of people like that? 

Now let’s return to, and discover, our definitive scripture and see if we can make some connective sense of all this. When the Lord appeared to the surviving Nephites at Bountiful, He physically proved to them that He was who He said He was. Then He taught them. As He comes to 3 Nephi 16, He prophesies about the future of their posterity and the Gentiles He will gather there “from the four quarters of the earth.” He identifies two groups of Gentiles that will have an impact on them, the first in verses 6 and 7.

"And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father...in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them." 

That is the first group. At some future point, the Savior notifies the Bountiful Nephites, a portion of the group of Gentiles, which he gathers there, will be given the “fulness of these things” because of their belief in Him and the Holy Ghost. When might this be, do you suppose? By now, in our narrative, the Savior’s mortal sojourn was over. The next time the Gospel was  explicitly presented to man was through Joseph Smith. So it was the latter day saints who are to be given “these things.”

And then the Lord identifies the second group, in verses 8 and 9:

"But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles--for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them;

"And because of the mercies of the Father unto the Gentiles, and also the judgments of the Father upon my people who are of the house of Israel, verily, verily, I say unto you, that after all this, and I have caused my people who are of the house of Israel to be smitten, and to be afflicted, and to be slain, and to be cast out from among them, and to become hated by them, and to become a hiss and a byword among them--" 

This is the second group. So we have good, believing Gentiles and bad, afflicting Gentiles. Both of which have a purpose. We might think that there is a clear-cut difference that will always exist between the two groups, but we would be wrong. Remember our question about “sins and weaknesses?” Let’s move on.

The Savior switches gears for a moment and injects a further message from the Father. This is where we want to pay very close attention.

“And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel,” Woa! What? Which group? And when exactly does that happen? We will get to these questions in a moment. But first let’s see if we can clarify something about law.

In order for someone, or a people, to have the ability to commit a sin, they must first be given a law regarding that action or behavior which would result in a sin. The Lord is very clear about that first in 2 Nephi 9:25:

"...and where there is no law given there is no punishment..." 

And then in Alma 42:21:

"And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature?"

One of the two identified Gentile groups of the latter days “shall sin against my gospel,” prophesies the Lord. According to what we just read, then, you must have been given the Gospel and be in possession of it and its accompanying commandments to sin against it. Right? In that case the Gentile group the Father has identified are those who would receive the Gospel in the latter days. We know who that is. This sounds like a lot of work to get to the obvious answer but not everyone agrees. Hold that thought.

Let’s continue with 3rd Nephi:

“At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel and shall reject the fulness of my gospel…” Oh, that sounds really bad. How in the world would the latter day saints in Joseph Smith’s day do that? Only Joseph had the fullness of the Gospel and the Priesthood. He tried to teach higher things but most simply wanted a basic New Testament church, but with the priesthood which Sidney Rigdon and the Campbellites didn’t have before, and that was it. They wanted nothing further. Joseph once said:

“There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle...I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but…they…will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions..." (History of the Church, 6:184–85; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Jan. 21, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff.) Fast forward to our day and this attitude sounds very familiar.

This remark was just about 5 months before Joseph was murdered. Let’s back up for a moment and look at something interesting that has a direct bearing on what we’re pondering before we get back to 3rd Nephi. A few years earlier in January of 1841, Joseph Smith received a revelation in Nauvoo, about Nauvoo, and what the saints were to accomplish there. From D&C 124:27-28:

"...build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein. For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood." 

This was given in January of 1841 after Nauvoo was well established. The Lord promises the Nauvoo saints that if they built a temple there, He will come to it and restore “that which was lost…or taken away,” including the fullness of the priesthood. I reiterate that to be clear. This was not to be a frivolous visit. As if any visit by the Lord is frivolous. But the significance of this potential visit should get anybody’s attention. This was big.

This part is challenging to describe because history has become a bit convoluted here. We have some Nauvoo citizens engaged in secretive activities behind the backs of Joseph and Hyrum. Some were participating in Cochranite “spiritual wifery” or polygamy, as it became known later in Utah. Brigham and Heber C. Kimball had both feet in Freemasonry and desired to build an associated Masonic temple in Nauvoo. 

There is talk of a “secret chamber,” an organization started by Brigham and Heber including other apostles and associates, to further pit, in opposition, those against “spiritual wifery” and Joseph, Hyrum, and Emma who are to be framed as being for it. They were decidedly not for polygamy, “spiritual wifery” or anything else even remotely resembling fornication or adultery. 

The plan is said to have fabricated evidence supplied to the group called the Expositors, by rumor and innuendo against Joseph and Hyrum in an effort to foment anger against them. That anger  perfectly covered the assassination of the two. I am aware that this information may generate severe emotional dissonance in those who have been conditioned to view the Nauvoo saints as, well, saintly. Such is the plight of those who choose the path of wool-covered eyes rather than an objective study of history.

There is much more to this story of deception with much documentary evidence on display. Make no mistake, the Expositors were naive pawns in the betrayal of Joseph and Hyrum, but they did not commit the murders. If you’re interested to discover more about this, please read “The Exoneration of Emma, Joseph, and Hyrum” by Ronald Karren. At the time of this recording the “first draft” has been removed from Amazon Kindle for further editing of typos, etc., but it should be available again soon.  Highly recommended.

Regardless of the convoluted history problem, we will treat the associated scriptures at face value. Back to D&C 124, The Lord commanded the Nauvoo saints to build an LDS temple so the Lord could restore the “fulness of the priesthood.” He gave them two promises in conjunction with that commandment.

First, the Lord promised them enough time:

"But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me..." D&C 124:31

How much time is sufficient? The Lord knew how much manpower and materials they had and making allowance for that, He gave them enough time if they got to work and treated the project with the urgency it deserved. Then, He promised to reveal some new and significant ordinances that had been saved for that time:

"And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people; For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times." D&C 124:40-41

This keeps getting more and more exciting! Imagine being able to receive such ordinances just for constructing a building. Let’s get to work, folks! And no worries about any of the plans or details.

"And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof, and the place whereon it shall be built." D&C 124:42

Okay, we need to make sure we keep Joseph safe from any possible danger because he’s the one who knows how to build this thing. Nothing but nothing can happen to Joseph or we’re toast. Then the Lord adds a beautiful promise:

"If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy." D&C 124:44

Could this be the introduction of Zion? We will have a holy place in out midst where the Lord will come, in person, to administer to us. What could be more valuable and worthy of our time, effort, and materials? And then one more incredible promise:

"And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place." D&C 124:45

How wonderful to be protected from those who might do us harm! We will have a home we never have to leave. The Lord will protect us and we can live in peace with His presence always near. And that constitutes the first set of promises. Build the temple and all this will happen. However, there is a down-side set of promises. Let’s say you begin building the temple but don’t finish it in time because you get busy with other, less important, things. Or you get tired of the project and lose your faith in the Lord’s promises. Or, you are busy engaging in unholy sexual practices and secret combinations and find yourselves unwilling to fulfill the Lord’s commandment. What then?

"But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them. And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord." D&C 124:46-47

Do you think the Lord knew what was going on in Nauvoo? He describes the environment pretty well. Then, the Lord let’s them have it with both barrels:

"For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practise before me, saith the Lord...And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord God." D&C 124:48, 50

It is as if the Lord knew they would fail and let’s them know he knows it. Were they trying His patience? I think so.

And so ends the second promise. Don’t build the temple and you get my wrath, saith the Lord, to the third and fourth generation.

In The General Musings Category
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