Being Zion


A gruff marine commander from the witness stand in a fictitious courtroom bellowed, "You can't handle the truth!" When I hear someone bemoan a lack of evidence for the existence of God, I think of Jack Nicholson's bellow at a young Tom Cruise. Perhaps that's a bit harsh. After all, we really have no idea what kind of baggage any of us carry that might hinder our faith in God. I write this, partially, with those in mind who reject a purely emotional plea for belief.

Consider Joseph Smith’s description: "There are two Comforters spoken of. One is the Holy Ghost, the same as given on the day of Pentecost, and that all Saints receive after faith, repentance, and baptism. This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence." (TPJS, Pg 149)

"A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you..." (TPJS, Pg  151)

No hocus pocus. No fairy dust. Just “pure intelligence.” Does that not sound more like what we ought to expect from God, rather than a simple good feeling about something? I’ll take pure intelligence any day. There is still, though, the notion of belief.

I've written this elsewhere but it remains true: We say, "Show me, and I'll believe." God says, "Believe, and I'll show you." Yes, we are agents unto ourselves, but this is God's show, created for us to grow and progress. His will is for our benefit, as we'll see. Anything else will be unprofitable.

The Lord is Not Afraid of Evidence

In fact, He provides lots of it. Evidence of our Lord abounds if we have eyes to see the light He provides. Evidences of His designs and wisdom surround us. Thankfully, and for millennia, true prophets have publicly prophesied and revelators published the Lord's revelations. Nothing is done in the dark. What is accomplished in the light, is evidence.

Only those who work in the dark, feign the unimportance of evidence and avoid the subject altogether. Without evidence, you find obfuscation, deflection, prevarication, and secret combinations. We are forever swayed by the modern equivalents of Nehors (Alma 1), Korihors (Alma 30:12), Gadiantons (Hel 2:4), and pious-appearing men in white robes, (1Ne 8:5). All attempt to lead us away from the Lord.

The Lord didn't expect the Nephites at Bountiful to just believe His word, even after an impressive entrance. He brought proof. Evidence. He was the evidence. He not only took the abuse of men and death, but must relive it for His children to understand. 

He invited all to see and feel. Twenty-five hundred times, in Bountiful, over and over and over, He was willing to intimately provide Himself as evidence, personally, to every member of that righteous congregation. 

Horrible scars on His back from the flogging, the spike's hideous puncture wounds on His hands, wrists, and feet, the scar where the soldier's blade entered His side, and the ragged tears on His forehead from the thorns, all testify of His true identity as the Son of God. 

These were the outward "ordinances" of the Atonement. The general Christian world acknowledges these but stops short of the meat of the task. There is, for those who have hearts to see, much more than these comparatively lesser mortal wounds. They were necessary to accomplish His weakening unto death. These tests were astonishingly vicious and provide evidence of His equally astonishing goodness as He forgave the Roman soldiers who finally brutalized Him on the cross.

The Garden of Gethsemane experience was infinitely worse. Begun in the upper room with, no doubt, the single most effective leadership training ever taught, He washed the Disciples feet--even those of His betrayer. Then, after the meal, and Judas' dismissal, down and across the brook, Kidron they walked.

With the weight of His impending task, descending upon Him, Jesus gathered the Disciples to explain how He, and the Father are one and invited them also to be one with Christ, and the Father. Then the invitation is extended to us, who believe on them.

The Savior left the rest and entered the depths of Gethsemane. A cherished description of what happens next can be read, in detail, in "Come Let Us Adore Him," by Denver Snuffer, Chapter 12, "Gethsemane." Highly recommended. You’ll never think of the Atonement in quite the same way again. Be prepared.

In short, our Savior suffered waves of torment, each more intense than the last, as He experienced the sins and maladies of mankind. Alternating waves presented the injured who would not forgive those who had sinned against them. These were the most intense of all and He bled, as it were, drops of blood, from every pore. We cannot know the depths He trod. The intensity would have, without question, killed a mortal man, but Jesus had life unto Himself.

"For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." (John 5:26-27)

How Did Our Savior “Pay” For Our Sins?

It is said that our Savior "paid a price" for our sins. What is it, then, that He gained from the transaction? 

"For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, [or tried], he is able to succour them that are tempted." (Heb 2:18)

"And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." (Alma 7:12)

The evidence gained for His Gethsemane success, is the Lord's understanding of the way back, to the Father, for each of us. This is why you can never say to our Lord, "But, you don't understand." He's been below where you were and made His way back, mapping the whole thing along the way. This "way back" or "path," is known as His will. It is not the Lord's frivolous opinion about mortal distractions.

This evidence, this path, is available to any who will follow it. Joseph Smith considered an "actual knowledge" of the Lord's will, and our adherence to it, to be a requirement for salvation. (LoF, 3:5) Of the three "things" mentioned in the Third Lecture on Faith, only this one required actual knowledge.

The first requirement is "an idea" that God exists. The second "a correct idea" of His character, perfections, and attributes. It is a progression from idea, to correct idea, to actual knowledge.  All these produce more evidence about Christ and the faith, in Him, that is necessary for salvation.

According to Joseph, the entrance to the path is rationality and intelligence. We are taught that we must lower our pride-wall enough to allow for the idea that God, in fact, may very well exist. For some, this is a big leap. The Lord is kind to require so little for so much. Just allowing for the idea is enough.

The Spirit will speak, with pure intelligence, to anyone who asks with real intent. The idea soon becomes a possibility, which grows into faith in Christ, which is at once, the most powerful, and the most delicate, of all things.

To progress we add study to our activities. The scriptures are our curriculum. In them we find a Savior who we are encouraged to approach. "Come, follow me," is His instruction. "Ask," He invites, as He promises not to upbraid. You will never hear, "Go 'way kid, ya bother me," from the Lord. 

Our desire to know the Lord is the fuel that takes us to Him. It has to be dig-down-deep-gut-wrenching recognition of how much less than the dust we are, before the Lord. (Mos 4:2, Hel 12:7-8)

We have only one thing of value to Him. It is the only thing of any value you own because it is uniquely yours. It is your will. Your will you can give to God. That has eternal value and is your pearl of great price.

Should I know Him?

Learning and experiencing the graciousness of our Lord informs us all the more of His character, perfections, and attributes. More evidence. More understanding. More growth as we learn the answer to the question, "Who is the Lord that I should know Him?" Great question if asked sincerely. Didn't work out so well for Cain, though. (Moses 5:16)

Our Lord is not afraid of evidence requested by the sincere seeker. Ask, with real intent and faith in Christ, and see. If you had paid such an unfathomable price to know the answers to all our questions, would you keep them hidden and make them difficult to discover? He wouldn't, and doesn't. 

We, however, hold the door open or closed to Him. He does not coerce. You have to want His answers more than all the shiny, tinkling, things of this world and the shallow, worthless honors of men. Each of us is met with the question: Should, I know Him? Is it worth the effort? Or, perhaps, your question is: Who am I that God would know me? If you think you have no standing with God, to approach Him, consider these nuggets:

"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:" (Acts 10:34) "For there is no respect of persons with God." (Rom 2:11)

All have equal privilege before God. In fact, it's much more than that. In the great intercessory prayer before Jesus entered the Garden, the theme was oneness with God the Father, our Savior, and each other. But what about the Holy Ghost? How does that fit in? Those who are baptized and receive the Holy Ghost, are sanctified, or made pure, by the Atonement of Christ. How's that for "standing?"

Our Lord invites you to:

"...enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;

"For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;

"Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment. (Moses 6:59-61)

The Spirit of the Lord is no simple thing. A power source, a vast database, a communications grid, an accurate source of truth, that which powers life, and operates with perfect "...wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment."

The Mind of God 

Joseph takes us a step further:

"And all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace and become heirs of the Heavenly kingdom and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, possessing the same mind...being filled with the fullness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son, and holy spirit are one." (LoF 5:2)

The more we know Him, the more we leave the envy and deception of the world behind. As we find those who can also see the evidence, gathering comes naturally. Some rise and some descend from their worldly hierarchies and all mutually rejoice in equality before the Lord. This is something different than the world offers. This is what god offers.

If we are equal, then we are one. If we are one, then we are His. This is evidence that, at least, the concept of Zion, a place of peace, where the Lord dwells among us, exists in the hearts and minds of man. It must exist there first. So many have forgotten. They don't see the evidence. 

He lives to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) 

He lives “my hungry soul to feed.” (I Know That My Redeemer Lives, LDS Hymnbook, Pg 136)

He lives. Now the ball’s in your court.

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