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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Elder Oaks: The Thoughtful Apostle

My new book has a lot of quotes from modern church leaders in it. A lot. About half of them are cited in support of my positions, about half are cited in comparison to scriptures/quotes from Joseph Smith to show that their statements were incorrect.

My stake president asked me recently if I had something against Elder Oaks, since he is cited more than anyone else in the latter category.

Rest assured, my approach was topical, not personal.

The truth is, Elder Oaks is cited more than anyone else because he comes out and says what most of the Brethren merely feel. Note that I used the word feel instead of think. If they thought about what they do, say, and believe, they would be inundated with contradictions that they would have to explain, and it takes a lot of effort to develop a believe system twisted enough to explain away even the most obvious of contradictions. These men simply aren't doing that, and it is apparent by the things they say and don't say.

Instead of thinking Elder Oaks is one of the worst of the brethren, which is obviously the impression my stake president had from reading my book, I actually have a great deal of respect for him. It is obvious from what he says that he has thought about and recognizes many of the contradictions, and he has bothered to go through the difficult task of constructing a system of belief that avoids those contradictions. While anyone who has studied the history of the church sees abundant evidence that these beliefs are certainly church doctrine (but not God's doctrine), how refreshing it is to see someone come out and say it plainly. Though I know of quotes from other brethren demonstrating at least one of the following points, who else has said them all?
-We should not ask for revelation about things that are unknown. [1] -If the laws of God conflict with the laws of man, we need to obey the laws of man. [2] -Neither he nor any of the brethren he knows of have ever actually seen Jesus. [3]
-The goal to seek the face of the Lord in this life is a tactic of Satan. [4]
-His special witness is only due to his calling, and has nothing to do with experience, and that he has had no special experience different than any normal member of the church. [5] -It is not lying to say something that you know will mislead others. [6]
-It is the job of the brethren to hide facts that portray them in a negative light. [7]
-"Revelation" just means feelings, and not feelings of particular strength, either. [8]
-It is wrong for any member to say anything negative about the brethren, even if what they say is true. [9]
-Apostasy means having negative feelings about the brethren or what they do. [10]
-The church has no real responsibility for the poor, because any Christian can do that, but not every Christian can build temples. [11]
-The number of temples built by the church is a witness that the apostles are called of God. [12]
-God cannot reveal to you things that have never been revealed. [13]
-God cannot reveal to you anything that contradicts anything one of the brethren have said. [14]
-God cannot reveal to you any truth that portrays the brethren in a negative light. [15]
-God doesn't often answer prayers for revelation. [16]
-If God doesn't answer your questions, you should just do what you think is right. [17]
-The brethren don't need revelation to change things in the church. [18]

By his willingness to reveal that system through the things he says, it makes it obvious to anyone who is brave enough to consider it that there are gaping holes in that system. I appreciate that.
Elder Oaks is, then, the most revelatory of all the current apostles--though they reveal what is in his heart and the heart of his brethren rather than what is the mind of the Lord. Elder Oaks' seniority and apparent health means that members of the LDS church will continue to have plenty of new examples of these things in the near future.
[1] - Dallin Oaks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” BYU Speeches June 7, 1992 [2] - http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/23/us/mormons-still-against-same-sex-unions-take-a-stand-against-kim-davis.html
[3] - "Q: Why should you pray for the kind of experience Alma the Younger had? A: I don’t think you’re likely to have that kind of experience that Alma the Younger had. Remember he had a miraculous appearance of an angel and really got hit over the head spiritually. Most of us don’t have that kind of experience, but I interpret your question as being, rather, how can we get the kind of testimony that he received. I don’t think we’ll get it like Paul did on the road, when the angel appeared to him, or like Alma the Younger had that startling experience. The Lord gives a few of those kinds of experiences and they are recorded to catch our attention. I’ve never any kind of experience like that, or any of the First Presidency or the Quorum of the 12 who have had that kind of experience, yet every one of us “knows” of a certainty the things that Alma knew. I suggest that, unless the Lord chooses to do it another way, like He sometimes does, for millions and millions of His children a testimony settles upon us gradually like so much dust, or like so much dew on the grass." (Elder Oaks, Bellevue Washington Conference, 23 Jan 2016) [4] “Of course, all of the righteous desire to see the face of our Savior, but the suggestions that this must happen in mortality is a familiar tactic of the adversary. To identify a worthy goal, such as to achieve exaltation, and then to use the desirability of that goal and people’s enthusiasm for it to obscure the new means the adversary suggests to achieve it.” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, June 2015 Boise Meeting.)
[5] - "This is not to witness of a personal manifestation. To witness of the name is to witness of the plan, the work, or mission such as the atonement and the authority or priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ, which an apostle who holds the keys is uniquely responsible to do." (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Boise, Idaho, June 17, 2105.)
[6] - BYU Speech, September 12, 1993
[7] - “My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Savior. Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors.”(Elder Dallin Oaks, footnote 28, “Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon,” Introduction p. xliii.)
[8] - “I have met persons who told me they have never had a witness from the Holy Ghost because they have never felt their bosom 'burn within' them. What does a 'burning in the bosom' mean? Does it need to be a feeling of caloric heat, like the burning produced by combustion? If that is the meaning, then I have never had a burning in the bosom.” (Elder Oaks, “Teaching and Learning by the Spirit,” Ensign, March 1997.)
[9] - It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true....This reality should be part of the spiritual evaluation that LDS readers and viewers apply to those things written about our history and those who made it.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Reading Church History,” CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium, Brigham Young University, 16 Aug. 1985, p25.)
[10] - “…the key question on who’s on the Lord’s side is how they feel about the church’s current prophetic leadership. If those feelings are sufficiently negative, they take members into what we call apostasy.” (Dallin Oaks, Boise, Idaho, June 17, 2105.)
[11] - “The preeminence of the spiritual over the temporal, which Jesus taught, has many applications in our own day. For example, it explains why our church spends great sums preaching the restored gospel and building temples to perform the ordinances of eternity rather than (as some advocate) devoting these same resources to temporal concerns already being pursued by others, such as preserving the environment, researching cures for diseases, or administering to other physical needs that can be accomplished without priesthood power or direction.” (“The Lord's Way,” Dallin H. Oaks, p.111.)
[12] - “The pattern is for some false prophet to claim that the spirit has revealed to him or her that the established leaders of the church are in error in some way and that he or she is to be the Lord’s agent to correct them….Here’s the temple, the great symbol and manifestation of our faith. There are now more than 140 operating temples, just one fruit of the restored gospel and of our prophetic leadership.” (Elder Oaks, Boise, Idaho, June 17, 2105.)
[13] - Dallin Oaks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” BYU Speeches June 7, 1992
[14] - ‘“When visions, dreams, tongues, prophecy, impressions or an extraordinary gift or inspiration, convey something out of harmony with the accepted revelations of the Church or contrary to the decisions that its constituted authorities, latter-day saints may know that it is not of God no matter how plausible it may appear. (1912 First Presidency Letter, recently quoted by Elder Oaks.)
[15] - In 1912 the first presidency warned, ‘“When visions, dreams, tongues, prophecy, impressions or an extraordinary gift or inspiration, convey something out of harmony with the accepted revelations of the Church or contrary to the decisions that its constituted authorities, latter-day saints may know that it is not of God no matter how plausible it may appear. (1912 First Presidency Letter, recently quoted by Elder Oaks.)
[16] - Revelation is not constant. The Lord’s way puts limits on how often He will speak to us by His Spirit. Not understanding this, some have been misled by expecting revelations too frequently. (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “In his own time, in his own way,” Ensign August 2013.)
[17] - What about those times when we seek revelation and do not receive it? We do not always receive inspiration or revelation when we request it. Sometimes we are delayed in the receipt of revelation, and sometimes we are left to our own judgment. We cannot force spiritual things.…Even in decisions we think very important, we sometimes receive no answers to our prayers. This does not mean that our prayers have not been heard. It only means that we have prayed about a decision which, for one reason or another, we should make without guidance by revelation. (Oaks, “Revelation”, Sep 29, 1981 BYU devotional)
[18] - The divine nature of the limitations put upon the exercise of priesthood keys explains an essential contrast between decisions on matters of Church administration and decisions affecting the priesthood. The First Presidency and the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, who preside over the Church, are empowered to make many decisions affecting Church policies and procedures—matters such as the location of Church buildings and the ages for missionary service. (Dallin Oaks, April 2014 General Conference.)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Is Criticizing Church Leaders Apostasy?

The Lord told Ezekiel:
When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. (Ezekiel 3:18)

In chapter 8, Ezekiel is shown the wickedness of the leaders and the people:
1 And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me.
 2 Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.
 3 And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
 4 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.
 5 ¶Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.
 6 He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
 7 ¶And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.
 8 Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
 9 And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
 10 So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about.
 11 And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
 12 Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.
 13 ¶He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
 14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
 15 ¶Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
 16 And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
 17 ¶Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
 18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them. (Ezekiel 8)

Ezekiel is shown the wickedness of these people by the Lord. What, however, is more important? That the Lord was the one who showed him, or that these actions were actually being committed? In other words, suppose these sins were brought to Ezekiel's attention in some other way. Perhaps, like Jesus, he saw them with his own eyes. Perhaps, like Lehi, he heard about them from others who were proclaiming them in public. Would Ezekiel's responsibility to help others see the error in the leaders' ways be reduced in any way as a result of how he came to learn of their wickedness? Or, rather, is the only thing that matters whether or not the observations of sin are true? My reading of Ezekiel's charge to help others recognize otherwise unrecognized sin does not mention how he comes to recognize their sin, only whether or not the sins are real (see Ezekiel 3:18).

Now we have to deal with the knee-jerk reaction that will come from most who read this: "but Ezekiel was a prophet. He had a specific commission from the Lord to do this. It is not our responsibility. As Elder Oaks says, it is wrong to criticize leaders, even if it is true. Handbook 1 says you have to be tried for apostasy if you criticize leaders."

We continue to Ezekiel 9.

 1 He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.
 2 And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.
 3 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side;
 4 And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
 5 ¶And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
 6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
 7 And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.
 8 ¶And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?
 9 Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not.
 10 And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head.
 11 And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me. (Ezekiel 9)

The Lord charges his angels to destroy every man, woman, and child who does not posses the mark. And to whom is the mark given? Those who "sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof." What abominations was he talking about? Who was committing them? Re-read the preceding chapter: Ezekiel 8. These are abominations committed by the church leaders. Ezekiel may have been a prophet, but those who the angel marked were not. EVERY PERSON, even those who are not prophets, HAS THE RESPONSIBILITY TO WARN THEIR NEIGHBORS OF WHAT IS HAPPENING AND WHAT IS TO COME.

Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor. (D&C 88:81)

The same thing that happened in Ezekiel's day is happening right now. I witness to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that the Lord has proclaimed the folly of the Latter-day Saints. I witness to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that there will be a complete division of the righteous from the wicked. I witness to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that those who do not "sigh and...cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof" will be numbered among the wicked, and will be destroyed in what is coming.

Current church policy stipulates that you are allowed to believe that church leaders are in error as long as you do not tell anyone what you believe or why you believe it. One who is aware of the problems could stay in the church without any discipline indefinitely. The Lord's standards are not the church's standards. The time has come where it is no longer appropriate to stay silent. The Lord expects you, like Ezekiel, to speak up about what is going on, and to stand as a witness of Christ at all times and in all places by standing for what is right and against what is wrong. If you stay silent, you are not helping those around you. The Lord will hold you responsible for their sins.

Write a blog. Post on social media. Hand out books. When at church, speak up, preach true doctrine, refute false doctrine, bear true witness. Persuade those around you to repent and seek Christ.


Those who believe that it is wrong to point out the sins of leaders either do not read their scriptures, do not understand what they read, or do not believe what they read.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Importance of Baptism by Fire

I wanted to write a quick post on the very important topic of the necessity of the baptism by fire.

Joseph Smith taught:
"But except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. This eternal truth settles the question of all men's religion. A man may be saved, after the judgment, in the terrestrial kingdom, or in the telestial kingdom, but he can never see the celestial kingdom of God, without being born of water and the Spirit. He may receive a glory like unto the moon, [i.e., of which the light of the moon is typical], or a star, [i.e., of which the light of the stars is typical], but he can never come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God..." (TPJS)

Many would like to think that they are on the strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life, having been baptized, confirmed, received temple ordinances, etc. However, Nephi taught that the gateway to the path is not baptism by water, but baptism by fire:

"...then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea..." (2 Nephi 31:17-18)

Some would teach that the baptism by fire is a subtle event that you don't notice. Others incorrectly conflate it with confirmation. It is important that you understand the truth.

Read what the scriptures say about baptism by fire. Read what those who have experienced it have written. If you have not received it, cry unto God and find out why.

BAPTISM OF FIRE AS A POINT EVENT

Did the Ammonites know they were baptized by fire? Imagine that, unbeknownst to you, someone did your taxes for you and submitted them. Then, one day, you notice a sizeable deposit in your bank account. Could you say that you didn't understand why you had a sizeable deposit in your account? You could. There was an obvious change in your bank account. But could you say that you were not aware of that change in your account? Not if you had seen it. The only way would be if you had not looked at the account.

The baptism by fire is a crucial, necessary event. There are many outcomes manifested in individuals who have been baptized by fire. I will mention only a few. They have no more desire to do evil, but to do good. They receive the Holy Ghost. They receive spiritual gifts. They receive a remission of their sins. They understand the scriptures in a way that they could not before. Said Orson Pratt, "Now then, if I receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, or if my brethren receive it, I should expect that we would receive the manifestations of these gifts, one receiving one gift and another another, according to the Bible pattern. If we did not receive these gifts, then we might doubt that we had received the Holy Spirit." Now, I hope that it would be clear if any of us received, in a moment, gifts of the Spirit that we did not possess previously. I hope it would be clear if, in a moment, our desire to do evil was replaced with a desire to do good. I hope we would perceive if our sins were forgiven us. I hope we would know it if we went from a carnal and devilish state to a state of being reconciled with God. I would hope all of these things because there are numerous examples of these things in the scriptures, and it is always a very big deal. You see this is just as the tax return example, except that you are attached to your body for a few years here on earth, and things like this can't happen to you without you perceiving it. It would be absolutely impossible.

"But," you may ask, "can't the baptism of fire occur gradually?" I challenge anyone to find a scriptural example of baptism by fire happening gradually. You won't find it. It doesn't exist. If God wanted us to understand that some people are baptized by fire as a point event, but most are baptized by fire gradually, don't you think that he would have put at least one example of the latter into the scriptures to balance the perhaps hundred or so examples of the former? Yet, he didn't. Besides, if you understand what it takes to obtain the baptism by fire---a total, unconditional submission to God---you would realize that such cannot be accomplished partially. It is not like a mortgage, where your share of ownership in your home increases with each payment. It is like buying a sandwich: you can't actually take possession until you have the exact amount of money required to buy it. It is a binary condition: you either meet the requirements or you do not. Now, some of you are thinking:

"Couldn't it happen without us perceiving it?" Perception is a funny thing. Many times we perceive in the scriptures what we want to see, not what is actually there. Is it possible to have an interaction with heaven and not perceive it? Perhaps the most popular experience that would fit the bill is the voice of the Lord heard by the Nephites in 3 Nephi 11 just before Jesus descends to visit them. Here, the Lord speaks to them. Now, in the movies this is depicted as a quiet voice at first that gets louder with each of the three repititions. So, if you go by the movies, you might assume that the first time God speaks, the people may not have heard it over their own speaking. And maybe some didn't even hear it the second time. Thus, you could conclude that some of them didn't notice this interaction with heaven until the third time God spoke. But the scriptures give a different account. They say that the very first time God spoke, they heard it. In fact, they heard it so plainly that they cast their eyes about. Of course, they heard it the other two times as well. So what was the hangup? They didn't understand the voice. Suppose you could pause God between the second and third repetition and bring one of these Nephites to testify in court. You would ask them, "did you hear a voice?" and they would say, "absolutely." Then you would ask them, "what did it say?" and he would say, "I don't know, I couldn't understand it." What was the difference between the second and third time? Well, they understood from how they felt that this must be a message from God, because they experienced the same heart burning and piercing feeling that they felt whenever God had given them revelation previously. You see, they needed instruction to understand the experience, but they did not have a shadow of doubt as to whether they had had the experience or not.

Now let us consider the example of the conversion of the Lamanites, and see if this could be interpreted as an example of a group of people who were baptized by fire without knowing it.

The account reads:
20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not. (3 Nephi 9:20)

You may say, "Well, that's is as plain as it can be, isn't it?" Not so fast. First, let me note that here, Jesus gives us the requirement for receiving baptism by fire. Note that, as I said before, it is indeed a point event. Your heart may gradually become more broken and your spirit more contrite, but until it is actually broken or contrite, this will not occur. And as soon as it is, this baptism will occur. That is not a gradual process. But now let's talk about this "and they knew it not bit." In our dictionary today, to know is to "Be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information." If Jesus meant they knew it not as in they had not observed the effects of baptism by fire in their own persons, then we could conclude that it can happen without one noticing. However, as I have described before and could more fully prove from the scriptures if I had time, this is not possible. You cannot be baptized by fire without receiving abundant manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit in your lives. If you could, then what would be the point of being baptized by fire in the first place? Unlike baptism by water, baptism by fire is not simply a symbol of your loyalty to God, a promise witnessed by an ordinance with no accompanying power or blessings. Baptism by fire IS the blessing that follows baptism by water. It is the bestowal of gifts necessary for you to learn what you need to reconcile yoursef to the will of heaven. Thinking of baptism by fire without the gifts always associated with it is like thinking about a check for a million dollars drawn on an empty bank account. There just isn't any point! Of course, the end of the definition I cited is the meaning that Jesus had in this verse: they were baptized by fire but they understood not whence the gifts of the Spirit had come from. Like the Nephites who heard the voice of the Lord, but did not understand what the voice said, the Lamanites experienced the power of the Lord, but could not understand why. This matches the 1828 Webster definition of "to know," which includes "to understand clearly." The power was there, but the information about it was not.

This is essential for all of us to understand so that we don't consider the experiences of non-baptism by fire to be the experiences of baptism by fire. If you have not been baptized by fire, and assume you have, and lack spiritual power and blessings in your life, you could erroneously conclude that the gospel is a load of rubbish and, even if it were true, would not be worth the cost. If you went to a restaurant and paid full price but got a picture of your meal instead of the real thing, you would probably conclude it wasn't worth the price.

We like to bring the experiences of heaven down to our own experiences, supposing we have received all that God has to give. This is a grave mistake. Instead, we ought to bring our experiences up to the experiences heaven offers us. If you have not been baptized by fire, I promise you this is an experience that you can obtain. I also promise you that you cannot learn what God desires for you to learn in this life before this event occurs. The Holy Ghost is the gateway to the knowledge required to craft your life after the pattern of heaven. I invite you to seek this experience by studying what the Lord has said about it in the scriptures and doing what you learn you need to do.

WHAT IS IT?

``And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man. And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying: Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost. This is the record of the Father, and the Son, from henceforth and forever;'' (Moses 6:65-66)

WHY IS IT NECESSARY?

``Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'' (John 3:3)

``Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'' (John 3:5)

``And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off.'' (Mosiah 27:24-27)

Impossible to receive Second Comforter without B by F. Impossible to be saved without Second Comforter. B by F is the whole point of baptism by water: ``You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.'' (Joseph Smith, HC, 5:499)

HOW CAN I KNOW IF I HAVE RECEIVED IT?

Alma describes the following as common place among the Nephite church: ``Having been visited by the Spirit of God; having conversed with angels, and having been spoken unto by the voice of the Lord; and having the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and also many gifts, the gift of speaking with tongues, and the gift of preaching, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of translation;'' (Alma 9:21)

If the Lamanites received it and didn't know it, how can you know if the same has occurred to you? ``Now then, if I receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, or if my brethren receive it, I should expect that we would receive the manifestations of these gifts, one receiving one gift and another another, according to the Bible pattern. If we did not receive these gifts, then we might doubt that we had received the Holy Spirit. We are commanded in the Scriptures to try the spirits, for there are many spirits who are gone abroad into the world who are false spirits. Try them: by what rule? Try them by the written word, and see if we have the gifts as recorded in the New Testament. If we have them, we may be assured that the Holy Ghost has been given to us. For instance, if a person receives the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, and the heavens are opened to him he is not mistaken. If the Lord inspires him to lay hands upon a sick child or a sick person, and he commands the disease to be removed, he knows that God is with him, and that he hearkens to the supplications and prayers which he offers in the name of Jesus in behalf of the sick. If a person has the vision of his mind opened to behold the future and to know that which will shortly come to pass, and he sees these things fulfilled, from time to time, he has every reason to believe that he has really received the Holy Ghost. So in regard to speaking in tongues. If an illiterate, uneducated man, who never understood any language but his mother tongue, is inspired at the very moment to rise and testify in an unknown tongue and to proclaim the wonderful works of God, he knows whether his tongue has been used by a supernatural power, or whether it is merely gibberish out of his own heart. He knows it very well for himself; and so we might continue throughout all the gifts mentioned in the Bible. If he beholds angels, and they descend before him in their glory, and he hears the sound of their voices, beholds the light of their countenances and the glory that radiates from their personages, he knows for himself, consequently this constitutes him a witness as well as those who proclaimed this Gospel before him.'' (Journal of Discourses, Vol.16, p.216, Orson Pratt, September 28, 1873)

WHY HAVE I NOT YET RECEIVED IT?


Not humble enough
``And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost...'' (3 Nephi 9:20)

``And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.'' (3 Nephi 12:2)

``becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.'' (Mosiah 3:19)

King of Lamanites giving away all his sins.

Few children are adequately taught this principle, and for this reason few receive the B by F at baptism (D&C 68:25). The Apostles did not, either. After the resurrection Jesus said to them ``ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.'' (Acts 1:5)


Too attached to false notions
``The early customs and teachings of parents and friends...influence the minds of children, but...when their minds are enlightened by the Spirit of truth, so that they can see things that are unseen by the natural eye, they may then be corrected in their doctrine and belief, and in their manner of life, but not until then.'' (JD 1:2, Brigham Young, January 16, 1853)

Lamanites/Nephites had false traditions. We do too.

Set up stakes. ``To all those who are disposed to say to set up stakes for the almighty will come short of the glory of god. To become a joint heir of the heirship of the son he must put away all his traditions.'' (Words of Joseph Smith)

Persist in Sin
Alma's instruction for baptism: ``I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.'' (Alma 7:14-15)

``I say, the Holy Ghost, being a pure spirit or influence, even after all this is done, will have an objection to perform his office in an impure tabernacle. That is the reason why a great many never receive the Holy Ghost, because they say they are pure, and lie to God, and also to the Holy Ghost.'' (HCK JD 7:16)

``Pray the Lord to inspire your hearts. Ask for wisdom and knowledge. It is our duty to seek after it. Let us seek, and we shall find; knock, and it will be opened unto us. But as for His coming down here to pour His Spirit upon you, while you are aiming after the vain and frivolous things of the world; indulging in all the vanity, nonsense, and foolery which surrounds you; drinking in all the filthy abomination which should be spurned from every community on the earth − so long as you continue this course, rest assured He will not come near you...refrain, purify, and sanctify yourselves before your God, and get so much of the spirit of truth that you may become filled with it, so that you can shout aloud with all your might to the praise of God, and feel your hearts clear as the noon−day sun.'' (JD 1:120, Brigham Young, February 27, 1853)

``The gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands cannot be received through the medium of any other principle. than the principle of Righteousness, for if the proposals are not complied with it is of no use but withdraws'' (Words of Joseph Smith)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Seals of the Book of Revelation Do Not Represent Each 1000 Years

In my book, "Teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men," I address the example of the wording of the baptismal prayer, which have been preserved in their incorrect form since Oliver Cowdery took the liberty of changing them from what Joseph revealed while preparing the 1835 D&C. I provide the links to the Joseph Smith Papers Project websites which both show the differences and show that the changes came from Cowdery (Joseph was not around when the manuscript was prepared).

This post will treat another error in the Doctrine and Covenants: The exposition on the book of Revelation found in D&C 77.

Say the Joseph Smith Papers Project for this text, "[Sydney] Rigdon probably served as the original scribe for the explanation, but Jesse Gause could have been the scribe instead. The earliest surviving copy is an undated one made by John Whitmer in Revelation Book 1, where it is identified only as 'Revelation Explained.'" There is no known original copy. Of Revelation Book 1, the JSPP says, "Revelation Book 1 contains the earliest known copies of many revelations and, in some cases, the only surviving early manuscript copy." Many of "the revelations and other items are out of chronological order. Manuscript pages 128–148 contain fourteen items dated December 1831–April 1832 that were copied into the manuscript book after April 1832. The manuscript source of these revelations and other items is unknown, but JS and other church leaders possibly brought them to Missouri in April 1832. While these fourteen items are out of order chronologically, Whitmer copied more of them into Revelation Book 1 than other scribes copied into Revelation Book 2, which was begun in late February or early March 1832 and kept by JS and his scribes at church headquarters in Ohio."

Revelation Book 1 was highly edited. JSPP says:
"Many redactions were made before selected items were published in Missouri, while others were made in Ohio before the 1835 publication of the Doctrine and Covenants. Changes made in Sidney Rigdon’s hand are among the earliest, and evidence indicates that he made them in Ohio before the book went to Missouri in November 1831....John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery could have made redactions in either Ohio or Missouri as early as 1831 or as late as 1835, though the majority of redactions they made first appear in print in 1833 or earlier. Whitmer’s marks often reversed changes made by Sidney Rigdon, and his later editing also modified some of the wording in the revelations. Though not as frequent, changes in Cowdery’s hand were often more substantive in nature, clarifying and expanding the meaning of several items in preparation for the publication of the Book of Commandments and the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. William W. Phelps had neither reason nor opportunity to edit the items in Revelation Book 1 until he and his associates began preparing the texts for publication in Missouri. As printer of The Evening and the Morning Star and the Book of Commandments, Phelps provided much of the punctuation and versification and many of the other copyediting changes. Only rarely did he alter the original language."

With that historical background, the text of D&C 77 consists of several questions asked about the Book of Revelation (not Revelation Book 1, but rather the last book in the Bible). Historically speaking, if other doctored LDS documents are to be taken as precedent, it is very unlikely that the entire section as printed came from Joseph Smith, but also very unlikely that the entire section was fabricated. Instead, the most likely modifications were to themes, passages, or individual words.

This passage is highly suspect:
"6 Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?
A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
7 Q. What are we to understand by the seven seals with which it was sealed?
A. We are to understand that the first seal contains the things of the first thousand years, and the second also of the second thousand years, and so on until the seventh." (D&C 77:6-7.)
Why? Because if this passage were true, it would mean that those events associated with the 1st-6th seals must already have transpired. While sufficient effort could successfully pin some items, such as the four horsemen, on past events, it does not seem that any of the many commentators have been able to find plausible subjects that have garnered as much attention from history as they do in John's revelation. In other words, though candidates for some of the items pertaining to seals 1-6 exist, they certainly are not prominent enough to be the singular feature used to describe each period. For example, in seal 2 there goes forth "another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword." Was peace somehow more abundant in the first 1000 years of the earth than the 2nd thousand years? What event heralded the change?

Other events simply have not yet occurred, no matter how hard we try to shoehorn them into past events. For example, during the 6th seal we read: "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Revelation 12:17.)

But all of this is merely speculation, right? Not exactly.

It turns out we do have teachings from Joseph Smith on the Book of Revelation outside of D&C 77. This comes from "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith":
There is a grand difference and distinction between the visions and figures spoken of by the ancient prophets, and those spoken of in the revelations of John. The things which John saw had no allusion to the scenes of the days of Adam, Enoch, Abraham or Jesus, only so far as is plainly represented by John, and clearly set forth by him. John saw that only which was lying in futurity and which was shortly subject: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of his prophecy and keep those things that are written therein: for the time is at hand." Also Rev. 4:1. "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven; and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter."....Now, I make this declaration, that those things which John saw in heaven had no allusion to anything that had been on the earth previous to that time, because they were the representation of "things which must shortly come to pass," and not of what has already transpired. John saw beasts that had to do with things on the earth, but not in past ages. The beasts which John saw had to devour the inhabitants of the earth in days to come. ....The revelations do not give us to understand anything of the past in relation to the kingdom of God. What John saw and speaks of were things which he saw in heaven; those which Daniel saw were on and pertaining to the earth.
What is the source for this teaching? It comes from William Clayton's first hand contemporary record found in Words of Joseph Smith 8 April 1843. It is also found (a briefer version) in Joseph Smith's diary of the same date kept (at that time) by Willard Richards.

So, given the proven alterations in Revelation Book 1 that filtered into D&C, and given a solid source for the above passage, we are forced to decide: Did Joseph Smith teach that each seal corresponded to 1000 years of the earth's existence, or did John's revelation consist only of events of the future reckoned from John's time (circa AD 96)?

If he taught one but not the other, certainly the TPJS passage is more reliable. If he taught both, certainly the TPJS passage, which came around ten years after D&C 77, would reflect his more developed understanding.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Lehi, Nephi, Laman, Lemuel, and "Follow the Prophet"

How did Lehi receive further light and truth? He listened carefully to contrarians, who preached directly against what he considered to be true, and took it with an open mind to God. Is this how you respond to people who seemingly attack what you consider to be sacred, who insult what you consider to be precious? What was God's response? Essentially, God said to Lehi, "it is not only true, but it is worse than those men told you." Lehi was a good man. Despite his faithful acceptance of the apostate Israelite traditions, he was humble enough to consider the possibility that the men who had come preaching against what he cherished may in fact have been from God. God rewarded him with what may have been his first vision. No doubt Lehi had a plethora of "tender mercies" from his life that had suggested that his idea of the gospel was correct. In one moment, all the treasured experiences he had accumulated from a lifetime of living an apostate religion were minimized into nothingness by a supernal direct interaction with God that exceeded by many times any previous experiences he had, like the fire Elijah summoned from heaven exposed the works of the priests of Ba'al for what they were. Whether "the prophet" was the high priest of the apostate Israelites, or the prophets that had come declaring the coming destruction of Jerusalem, Lehi did not follow the prophet. Instead, he heard all messages with an open mind, approached God directly, and received direct instruction from heaven that sat independent of anything he had heard from either the high priest or the traveling prophets. Because Lehi followed God and not a man, he was able to receive instructions directly from God. He did not, upon learning of the truthfulness of the prophets' message, seek out those who had brought him that message, and follow them around. Instead, he followed the instructions he received from God, and received an independent dispensation of the gospel. He relied upon no man. Thus, when he was asked to do difficult things, like leave his home and possessions, he could lean upon the Lord, who had asked him to do it, instead of putting his trust in a man.

How did Nephi receive further light and truth? He did not merely follow his father, "the prophet." Instead, he, like his brothers, thought his father was crazy. But, being humble, he approached God and asked about his father's claims. He did not merely seek for a witness to know whether or not his father's words were true. The supposed response of such an inquiry would be expected to come through his feelings--something very easily counterfeited, especially when the subject has a preconceived notion about the topic. Instead, he asked to see what his father saw. And God granted his wish. Nephi did not "follow the prophet." Instead, he followed God. Thus, when things became difficult, he did not need to return to his father for support. Instead, he leaded upon the Lord with whom he had direct experience. This was particularly important when his father also began to murmur. When we hinge our salvation on another man, we are guaranteed to make all the same mistakes they make. We are limited in our progression to whatever point at which they have arrived. If they do not re-enter the presence of God, neither will we.

Nephi did not follow the prophet, nor did Lehi. But Laman and Lemuel did. Laman and Lemuel, despite being adults, went with their father into the wilderness even though they didn't really believe his claimed revelations. They went back to Jersusalem as instructed by their father, even though they did not believe they would be able to get the plates. They kept doing the things that Lehi asked them to do, even though they didn't believe he was inspired or that what he told them was God's will. They never bothered asking God. If they didn't believe Lehi, and they didn't think God was the source, why did they do it? They did it because they were following their father. The sense of duty Laman and Lemuel had towards Lehi was sufficient for them to go through the motions, but it was insufficient for them to perform at the level required for miracles to happen. Laman, Lemuel, and Nephi all experienced the same situations in the beginning book of the Book of Mormon, but while those experiences were sufficient to propel Nephi from a zero to a king who had exercised miracles and been in the presence of God, Laman and Lemuel were no better than they started (and perhaps a great deal worse). Why?

Progress with God requires faith. Faith requires revelation from God. You can't progress with God by following some man, even if that man is a prophet of God, as Lehi was. That's because you can't have faith unto life and salvation in a man, only in God. When you have faith in God, you have strength to overcome the trials necessary to obtain blessings with God. When your faith is in a man, you will never have strength to achieve the level of obedience in spite of difficulty required to obtain blessings from God. Laman and Lemuel had no chance of re-entering God's presence, as did their brother Nephi, because they relied on Lehi (and later Nephi) instead of going directly to God.

I know some people who constantly chant "follow the prophet." Yet, ironically, these same people ignore "the prophet" whenever he says things they don't want to hear. Before you tell me to "follow the prophet," ask yourself if:
-You have 1 year of food storage (or 3 months or 3 years or 7 years, depending on which president of the church you ask)
-You pay a generous fast offering and fast every month.
-You pay 10% of your gross income to the church.
-You financially and ideologically support the Boy Scouts of America.
-You attend the temple often.
-You complete your home or visit teaching every month.
-You attend all meetings, including stake conferences.
-You read your Sunday School and other reading assignments before church each week.
-If you are in leadership, you fulfill your calling exactly how the handbook says to.
-You read your scriptures individually and as a family daily.
-You completed your genealogy.
-You pray daily as a family.
-You hold organized family home evening weekly.

I'm not saying any of these things are correct. However, it is ironic that those who get the most upset with me for preaching against "follow the prophet" are, in fact, not following the prophet themselves. The difference is that while I disregard certain precepts because God has told me to, they do so because, like Laman and Lemuel, they do not really have sufficient faith in their professed beliefs to bring about obedience and repentance, and therefore have cut themselves off from salvation, even according to their own law.

Friday, January 1, 2016

What is the great and marvelous work? In the past, the scriptures used the words great and marvelous have been used to describe:
  • Total temporal destruction of a people. "And it came to pass that Ether did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not. (Ether 12:5.) "And in the days of Coriantor there also came many prophets, and prophesied of great and marvelous things, and cried repentance unto the people, and except they should repent the Lord God would execute judgment against them to their utter destruction;" (Ether 11:20.) "And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem—that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon. And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish! Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard." (1 Nephi 1:13-14,18.) "Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works..." (2 Nephi 4:16-17.) What things did God show Nephi? "Yea, he said unto them: As the Lord liveth, except ye repent of all your iniquities, and cry unto the Lord, ye will in nowise be delivered out of the hands of those Gadianton robbers. And so great and marvelous were the words and prophecies of Lachoneus that they did cause fear to come upon all the people; and they did exert themselves in their might to do according to the words of Lachoneus." (3 Nephi 3:15-16) "And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites. 8 And behold, it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it. And behold also, the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war." (Mormon 8:7-8)
  • A prayer of Jesus containing words that could not be written. "Nevertheless, so great and marvelous were the words which he prayed that they cannot be written, neither can they be uttered by man." (3 Nephi 19:34.) 
  • Miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, etc. "And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus. (4 Nephi 1:5.)
  • Taking the gospel to a fallen and wicked people. "Yea, they were encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work."(Alma 26:15). 
  • The mortal advent of the Savior: "But behold, we know that this is a wicked tradition, which has been handed down unto us by our fathers, to cause us that we should believe in some great and marvelous thing which should come to pass, but not among us, but in a land which is far distant, a land which we know not; therefore they can keep us in ignorance, for we cannot witness with our own eyes that they are true." (Helaman 16:20.)
What will the latter-day great and marvelous work consist of?
  • The utter destruction of the Gentiles. (See 3 Nephi 21, quoted below.) "10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. 11 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people....15 And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth. 16 And as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations which belonged to the mother of abominations, the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold, the wrath of God is upon the mother of harlots; and behold, thou seest all these things— 17 And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel. (1 Nephi 14:10-11,15-17.) "1 But, behold, in the last days, or in the days of the Gentiles—yea, behold all the nations of the Gentiles and also the Jews, both those who shall come upon this land and those who shall be upon other lands, yea, even upon all the lands of the earth, behold, they will be drunken with iniquity and all manner of abominations— 2 And when that day shall come they shall be visited of the Lord of Hosts, with thunder and with earthquake, and with a great noise, and with storm, and with tempest, and with the flame of devouring fire. 3 And all the nations that fight against Zion, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision; yea, it shall be unto them, even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh but he awaketh and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion. 4 For behold, all ye that doeth iniquity, stay yourselves and wonder, for ye shall cry out, and cry; yea, ye shall be drunken but not with wine, ye shall stagger but not with strong drink. 5 For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity." (2 Nephi 27:1-5, later in the chapter the great and marvelous work is referenced, see below.)
  • The preaching against the false traditions of the LDS. (See 3 Nephi 21, quoted below.) "1 And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks—2 And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; [e.g., the Lehites] yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded. 3 And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end. 4 For behold, this is according to the captivity of the devil, and also according to the justice of God, upon all those who will work wickedness and abomination before him. 5 And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, Nephi, saying: Thou hast beheld that if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them; and thou also knowest concerning the covenants of the Lord unto the house of Israel; and thou also hast heard that whoso repenteth not must perish. 6 Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God. 7 For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other—either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken." (1 Nephi 14:1-7.)
  • The taking of the restoration to the Lehites. 7 And it meaneth that the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered. 8 And after our seed is scattered the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wherefore, it is likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders. (1 Nephi 22:7-8.)
  • The building of New Jerusalem by the Lehites. "8 Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away. 9 And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new. 10 And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel. 11 And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham. 12 And when these things come, bringeth to pass the scripture which saith, there are they who were first, who shall be last; and there are they who were last, who shall be first. 13 And I was about to write more, but I am forbidden; but great and marvelous were the prophecies of Ether; but they esteemed him as naught, and cast him out; and he hid himself in the cavity of a rock by day, and by night he went forth viewing the things which should come upon the people." (Ether 13:8-13.)
  • The preaching of the gospel to the other scattered Israelites. "Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel. (Ether 4:15.) [This passage could also merely apply to the Lehites.] "But behold, there shall be many—at that day when I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel;" (2 Nephi 29:1) "And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind—and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands, and look not forward any more for another Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things. And the Lord will set his hand again the second time to restore his people from their lost and fallen state. Wherefore, he will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men." (2 Nephi 25:16-17.)
  • New scripture will come forth: "But behold, there shall be many—at that day when I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel; 2 And also, that I may remember the promises which I have made unto thee, Nephi, and also unto thy father, that I would remember your seed; and that the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed; and my words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel; 3 And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible." (2 Nephi 29:1-3.) It is likely that this refers to the book of Mormon. "6 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall bring forth unto you the words of a book, and they shall be the words of them which have slumbered. 7 And behold the book shall be sealed; and in the book shall be a revelation from God, from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof. 8 Wherefore, because of the things which are sealed up, the things which are sealed shall not be delivered in the day of the wickedness and abominations of the people. Wherefore the book shall be kept from them. 9 But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another; 10 But the words which are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof. 11 And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth. 12 Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein. 13 And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men; for the Lord God hath said that the words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead. 14 Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to bring forth the words of the book; and in the mouth of as many witnesses as seemeth him good will he establish his word; and wo be unto him that rejecteth the word of God! 15 But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book: Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them. 16 And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God. 17 And the man shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed. 18 Then shall the learned say: I cannot read it. 19 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say: I am not learned. 20 Then shall the Lord God say unto him: The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee. 21 Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work. 22 Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men. 23 For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith. 24 And again it shall come to pass that the Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him: 25 Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men— 26 Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid. 27 And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. For shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding? 28 But behold, saith the Lord of Hosts: I will show unto the children of men that it is yet a very little while and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field; and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest. 29 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. 30 And the meek also shall increase, and their joy shall be in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 31 For assuredly as the Lord liveth they shall see that the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off; 32 And they that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught. 33 Therefore, thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. 34 But when he seeth his children, the work of my hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. 35 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine." (2 Nephi 27.)
See also:
1 And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place—that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion;
 2 And behold, this is the thing which I will give unto you for a sign...when these works and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter shall come forth from the Gentiles, unto your seed...that thy seed shall begin to know these things—it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel.
 8 And when that day shall come, it shall come to pass that kings shall shut their mouths; for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
 9 For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them.
 10 But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.
 11 Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.
 12 And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
 13 Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off.
 14 Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;
 15 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds;
 16 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land, and thou shalt have no more soothsayers;
 17 Thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands;
 18 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities.
 19 And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away.
 20 For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel;
 21 And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.
 22 But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;
 23 And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
 24 And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.
 25 And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.
 26 And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem.
 27 Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name.
 28 Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance.
 29 And they shall go out from all nations; and they shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward. (3 Nephi 21:1-2,5,7,8-29.)


Will the world recognize the great and marvelous work to be either great or marvelous? Will they attribute it to God's hand?
"And there had many things transpired which, in the eyes of some, would be great and marvelous; nevertheless, they cannot all be written in this book; yea, this book cannot contain even a hundredth part of what was done among so many people in the space of twenty and five years;" (3 Nephi 5:8) God explicitly predicts that at least some will not notice and/or recognize this as a sign from God: "Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid." (2 Nephi 27:26.)

Who causes the marvelous work and wonder?
The list includes the three Nephites:
27 And behold they will be among the Gentiles, and the Gentiles shall know them not.
 28 They will also be among the Jews, and the Jews shall know them not.
 29 And it shall come to pass, when the Lord seeth fit in his wisdom that they shall minister unto all the scattered tribes of Israel, and unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, and shall bring out of them unto Jesus many souls, that their desire may be fulfilled, and also because of the convincing power of God which is in them.
 30 And they are as the angels of God, and if they shall pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus they can show themselves unto whatsoever man it seemeth them good.
 31 Therefore, great and marvelous works shall be wrought by them, before the great and coming day when all people must surely stand before the judgment-seat of Christ;
 32 Yea even among the Gentiles shall there be a great and marvelous work wrought by them, before that judgment day.
 33 And if ye had all the scriptures which give an account of all the marvelous works of Christ, ye would, according to the words of Christ, know that these things must surely come.
 34 And wo be unto him that will not hearken unto the words of Jesus, and also to them whom he hath chosen and sent among them; for whoso receiveth not the words of Jesus and the words of those whom he hath sent receiveth not him; and therefore he will not receive them at the last day; (3 Nephi 28)
And also includes "the marred servant":
 9 For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them.
 10 But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.
 11 Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant. (3 Nephi 21:9-11.) 
Who is the marred servant? It is quite important that we know, because God said those who do not hearken unto him will be cut off from his people of the covenant. Whoever he is, he must preach to a people who are already of the covenant, as you can't be cut off from something you don't already have. Could it be Joseph Smith? While Joseph Smith was indeed marred by "them," he was not healed. I suppose he could be resurrected and preach again to the church that rejected him. The other alternative is that God will raise up a servant to preach to the LDS church, and he will be rejected by them.

Why should I believe that a great and marvelous work will occur? Wouldn't many church leaders or other important people be telling me about this if it were really going to happen?
  • First, the Book of Mormon is full from cover to cover of references to, descriptions of, and prophecies of this happening. If you believe in the Book of Mormon, you have to believe in the great and marvelous work.
  • Second, recall that, though God promises to make known his secret through his servants before they come to pass, he does not promise that people will recognize those messengers or take them seriously. For example, when Alma and Amulek preached to Ammonihah of its impending destruction, they said: "Who art thou? Suppose ye that we shall believe the testimony of one man....Now they knew not that God could do such marvelous works, for they were a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people. And they said: Who is God, that sendeth no more authority than one man among this people, to declare unto them the truth of such great and marvelous things?" (Alma 9:2, 5-6.)