Sunday, July 26, 2015

If You Are Prepared, You Shall Not Fear

7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

We have been warned by God's former and current prophets that many terrible things are headed our way. If we have faith, we will trust God, and we will seek him to find out what we should do to prepare ourselves temporally for what is coming. This preparations will extend beyond the needs of ourselves to those who will survive but will not have the means to prepare or to bring their preparations with them.

Some people suppose that God will miraculously intervene for the righteous, and therefore they need not preoccupy themselves with preparation. How can you ask God to care for you when you find yourself in need if you had the means to prepare, his word on what was coming, and still did nothing?

God says "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear." (D&C 38:30) Truly, the greatest preparation is to have a real relationship with God and to be prepared and willing to yield yourself fully to God's will. Although temporal preparations may lengthen the life of the wicked, full yielding to God is a necessary condition to survive the full extent what is coming. But is it a sufficient condition?

Noah's faith and integrity was not sufficient to bring him through the flood. Nephi's righteousness was not sufficient for God to feed him miraculously (1 Nephi 16). The brother of Jared was able to pierce the veil through his faith, but still had to bring supplies of all sorts on his long journey to the promised land (Ether 2).

God granted the Israelites manna in the wilderness, but they were unable to prepare for the surprise journey, and left with only what they could carry. The land they journeyed on was insufficient to support their numbers. Similarly, God fed Elijah during a famine where Elijah had no other recourse.

Those of us in the United States find ourselves gorged on plenty. It is very easy for all of us, yes even those who are poor relative to the wealthy here, to stockpile the necessities of life. It is very easy for all of us, yes even those who struggle to find work, to find employment in areas that are less at risk for the population-driven problems that will shortly be upon us. God expects us to prepare for what is coming. That is why he told us what is coming. Failing to prepare (subject to revelation that might indicate you should not) is a failure to trust what he has said. Those who neglect to heed his words in this regard will find themselves enduring unnecessary death or suffering, or inflicting it upon others by diminishing their supplies through their own neglect.

I know a bunch of people who share my expectation that the tribulations will start relatively soon. Among them, it seems there is a sizable contingent who do not believe they need prepare any temporal thing for what is coming. My advice to them is to seek the Lord on the matter. It could be that they needn't worry about any temporal preparations because they are going to die, or because they are meant to go through a particular type of suffering, or because they are meant to experience a miraculous deliverance, or because they do not currently have sufficient faith to physically move away from the suburbs and cities to a place where temporal preparations might do some good, or for some other reason. Or, on the other hand, it could be that they are meant to prepare for themselves and for others. If your instructions are not done with an eye single to God, his purpose, and his glory, then I can promise they will be in vain.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

God Progresses

In the Lectures on Faith we read that "three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation. First, the idea that he actually exists. Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes. Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will."

This post is dedicated to gaining a better understanding of his perfections and attributes.

In the same lectures on faith, Joseph taught that we can learn more about God from listening to those who have interacted with him to a greater degree than we have. Joseph Smith interacted with God face to face. What did Joseph teach us about the perfections and attributes of God?

Joseph taught that God was once a man, but worked out his exaltation. How did he do it? At least part of that journey was to do what Christ, his son, did in this mortal life. And what after? Are Celestial beings at an end of their progression? No!

How do we prove it?

``This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ's. Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known. And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom...'' (D&C 130:9-11) Joseph taught that ``The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummin. This earth in its sanctified & immortal state will be a Urim & Thummin for all things below it in the scale of creation, but not above it.'' (Words of Joseph Smith, 2 April 1843) What? The earth, in a celestial state, will not be able to see things above it? What could be higher than celestial?

Those in the Celestial Kingdom receive a stone on which things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known. There are higher kingdoms than the Celestial.

Is this the only evidence we have of such a proposition? No.

Joseph said, ``What did Jesus Christ do, the same thing as I se the Father do, see the father do what, work out a kingdom, when I do so to I will give to the father which will add to his glory, he will take a Higher exhaltation & I will take his place and am also exhalted. Those are the first princples of the gospel.'' (Words of Joseph Smith, 7 Apr 1844)

Joseph claims that understanding that exalted beings step up in degrees of glory in each step of their existence, following those that came before, are "the first principles of the gospel."

If Jesus becomes as the Father is now, what happened to the Father's Father? The same that will happen to the Father now. Each takes the place of the one ahead, worlds without end.

If the Father takes on a higher kingdom, it must be because he has attained more knowledge than he previously had, as all degrees of glory have a corresponding law.

 22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.
 23 And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.
 24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.
 34 And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same." (D&C 88)

A greater degree of glory means more law, or more knowledge, than was previously had.

But how can God be all knowing and still learn more? Well, in short, he's not any more "all knowing" than he is "eternal." God wasn't always God--that isn't what eternal means (he used to be a man, not God, remember?). It means he was God since before the beginning of this creation, and will continue to be until after the end of it. Similarly, "all knowing" doesn't mean "knows everything." It means "knows everything pertaining to this sphere." What is true in our sphere is independent of what is true in his sphere:

"All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence." (D&C 93:30)

This concept of sphere is called scope in programming. I can declare all sorts of variables within a certain scope of the program, and their values will have nothing to do with anything that is done outside of that scope.

This is how it is that God can be changing in his scope (by progressing) and at the same time be constant in our scope (unchanging). If he changed in our scope, we could not have faith in him. Yet, his behavior in our scope is already defined and set, despite any changes in his scope. "From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail." (D&C 76:4). Eternity to eternity is a concept that means from the beginning of time, or the council of the Gods, till the end of time, or when Jesus delivers the kingdom to his Father. It does not and cannot mean that he always has been the same (since we know that he, like Jesus, was once a mortal man).

If there is a highest kingdom, we don't know of it. ``And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.'' (D&C 88:37) God taught Abraham that whenever there are two [kingdoms], one is above the other. This lesson is written in the heavens:

``And where these two facts exist, there shall be another fact above them, that is, there shall be another planet whose reckoning of time shall be longer still;'' (Abraham 3:8) God is using the planets to teach eternal progression. He says the slower a body moves, the greater it is. The sun moves slower than the earth, and the earth than the moon. Wherever there is a planet, there is one that moves slower, or is higher. God showed Abraham all the bodies which belong to ``the same order as that upon which thou standest.'' (Abraham 3:9) ``If two things exist, and there be one above the other, there shall be greater things above them; therefore Kolob is the greatest of all the Kokaubeam that thou hast seen, because it is nearest unto me. Now, if there be two things, one above the other, and the moon above the earth, then it may be that a planet or a star may exist above it; and there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it. Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other...These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.'' (Abraham 3:16-19) He must be implying that he is more intelligent than all those spirits in the same order as the earth, for he just said---several times---that there is always a greater power.

Is all this new? No. Many (not all) contemporaries of Joseph understood his teachings on this subject and embraced them.

``But to our branch of the kingdom there is but one God, to whom we all owe the most perfect submission and loyalty; yet our God is just as subject to still higher intelligences, as we should be to him.'' (Orson Hyde, Quoted in Words of Joseph Smith)

"We have been placed upon this earth for a wise purpose, in a state and condition of being to prepare ourselves for a higher state and order of things. These are the objects for which man exists here." (JD 2:368, Orson Pratt, June 30, 1855)

“It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement from grade to grade within any kingdom, and from kingdom to kingdom, will be provided for. But if the recipients of a lower glory be enabled to advance, surely the intelligences of higher rank will not be stopped in their progress; and thus we may conclude, that degrees and grades will ever characterize the kingdoms of our God. Eternity is progressive; perfection is relative; the essential feature of God’s living purpose is its associated power of eternal increase.”
-James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith [1899 edition] pp. 420-421

Why have you never heard this? Well, Brigham Young was bitterly opposed to the idea of a progressing God. He had bitter, public fights with Orson Hyde about it. In modern times, there has been a general distancing from the idea of even our progression because it is bad PR. Also, some modern leaders did not believe in a progressing God. Elder McConkie went as far as to name it as one of his "Seven Deadly Heresies." I guess they didn't read much Joseph Smith...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I speak to my prophets everywhere

A few years ago, I was overcome with a desire to better understand the scriptures describing events to occur leading up to the Second Coming of Christ. I undertook many study and prayer sessions with the intent to learn more about these events from God. As my picture of things to come focused, I found myself overwhelmed at the magnitude of the tribulation described in the scriptures. Then I found myself puzzled. If so much is going to happen, and if it is going to happen soon, why haven't I heard anything about it till now? After all,

 7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)

If we are entering into the tribulation prophesied for so long, then surely God should be showing such to at least a few people. I became aware of several LDS who have had visions of things to come, who have received promptings as to where to be and what to be doing. I then wondered, "shouldn't God also be warning other Christians? After all, I know some very good Christians who are very close to Jesus."

13 And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith. (2 Nephi 26:12-13)

I realize that there are Mormons who think that only Mormons can be prophets, seers, or revelators, or (in the extreme) that anything we need to know will come from the pulpit of general conference. Though this idea could be disproved with any number of scriptures, here is a fun application of just one passage:

6 Thou fool, that shall say: A [prophet], we have got a [prophet], and we need no more [prophet]....
 7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
 8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
 9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
 10 Wherefore, because that ye have a [prophet] ye need not suppose that [he speaks] all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be [revealed].
 11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
 12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. (2 Nephi 29)

Sure enough, there are at least a few Christians who have been showed a thing or two. In fact, they've been shown a lot. I don't vouch for what these folks say, however I can find scriptures to corroborate what they say as at least one possible fulfillment of prophecy.

John Paul Jackson

Mena Lee Gribbin

TD Hales

Rebecca Sterling (annoying host keeps interrupting)

John Johnston

I had my own experience with a nomad prophet. About a year ago I picked up a hitchhiker in the middle of nowhere. Several hours later, this man told me about visions the Lord had shown him. He was not LDS, and had never read the Book of Mormon or talked with members. He said the Lord had shown him the state of the Indians before the arrival of the whites, and told him that they were a chosen people to him. He also was shown that China and Russia would invade the US after launching a "superflu" here. He said massive storms are coming to this country.

Meanwhile, even the secular world is issuing warnings of incoming calamity. Many scientific reports have been released about imminent volcanic eruptions, or overdue earthquakes in places like Utah, California, and the Northwest. I read financial advice daily that calls for an unprecedented stock market crash this September due to a collusion of factors, including the fed raising interest rates.

 23 And again, the Lord shall utter his voice out of heaven, saying: Hearken, O ye nations of the earth, and hear the words of that God who made you.
 24 O, ye nations of the earth, how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not!
 25 How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, and by the great sound of a trump, and by the voice of judgment, and by the voice of mercy all the day long, and by the voice of glory and honor and the riches of eternal life, and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!
(D&C 43)

 87 For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig tree.
 88 And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
 89 For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
 90 And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
 91 And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people.
(D&C 88)

I pray that you have obtained from the Lord his will for you in the time to come, and that you are being gathered like a hen's chicks. The time of judgment is upon us.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Swept off the land

Today in fast and testimony meeting, I shared the following message.

This morning I read the following scripture in Ether:

8 And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.
 9 And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.
 10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.
 11 And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done. (Ether 2)

We also read that
And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land. (Mosiah 29:27)

This nation has shown that the voice of the people chooses iniquity. The time is coming when we will be swept off from the face of the land. Every jot and tittle of the destruction God promised to bring against us is coming, and it is coming soon. We all need to be prepared spiritually, physically, and temporally for what is coming. It is coming soon.