Sunday, January 31, 2021

I Suffered for All (D&C 18-19) QUESTIONS

READ D&C 18:1-6

What is the difference between the “Church” and the “Gospel”?

What do these verses teach us about receiving revelation?

 

 

Saving the Soul

 

READ D&C 18:10-16

What is a “soul”?

What is a spirit?

What is a body?

Why is the worth of souls great in the sight of God?

Why does verse 11 say, “suffered death in the flesh” rather than “suffered death”?

Does “suffered the pain of all men” mean “suffered all the pain of each person” or does it mean “suffered the pains that all men suffer”?

What are we redeemed from?

What does it mean to “come unto Him?”

How does Christ’s resurrection make our redemption possible?

If we understand the word soul to mean “body and spirit,” what does verse 13 teach us about repentance?

How do we cry repentance to others?

Why is the saving of even one soul the cause of such great joy and celebration?

 

READ D&C 18:17-25

What does Christ lay out in these verses?

 

 

Who Is Christ?

 

READ D&C 19:1

Who is Jesus Christ to us?

What does it mean that Christ is the Beginning?

What does it mean that Christ is the End?

How does this change our understanding of the Doctrine of Christ principle to “endure to the end”?

 

READ D&C 19:2-3

What does it mean “whose I am, even the Father” and what is implied by the fact that Christ referred to His apostles as “those thou hast given me” in John 17:11?

What does verse two teach us about being a Son of God?

What does it mean to “subdue all things unto myself”?

 

READ D&C 19:4-12

Why must we all repent or suffer; who is imposing the suffering?

Why does repentance free us from suffering?

What does it mean that Christ is Endless?

What is endless or eternal punishment?

What is endless torment?

Why does God use the phrases “endless torment” or “endless punishment” or “eternal damnation” if they don’t mean what we think they mean?

What is eternal damnation if it does not last forever?

Why is Christ telling us these “mysteries of godliness”?

 

 

Christ’s Suffering for Us

 

READ D&C 19:13-15

What are the commandments?

What is the relationship between repentance and the commandments?

Why will God smite us by the rod of His mouth if we do not repent and what does this mean?

What is the nature of the exquisite sufferings we will bear?

Can you read this statement and believe there is no hell; and what does this teach us about kingdoms of glory?

 

READ D&C 19:16-19

Why does verse 16 begin with “I, God”?

What is the promise the Lord extends?

What will happen if the promise isn’t accepted?

What does it mean to “suffer even as I”? 

What does an “infinite and eternal” sacrifice cost a god?

What did the Lord suffer?

 

READ 2 Nephi 9:7 and Alma 34:10, 13-14

What are the implications of this?  If you had sinned less, would He have suffered less?  If you had less emotional stress, would He have suffered less?

Why did He suffer it?

What does it mean that Christ is our advocate with the Father?

What does “nevertheless” in verse 19 refer to?

What does “glory be to the Father” mean?

What does it mean that the Atonement was Christ’s “preparations” unto mankind?

What were the preparations He finished in Gethsemane and Golgotha?

Why does Christ say He has “finished” the will of the Father (v2) but that the atonement was only His “preparations” unto the Children of men (v19)?

If the atonement, crucifixion and resurrection constitute Christ’s “preparations” unto the children of men, what must He do to complete His ministry?

What must we do to take advantage of His preparations unto us (the atonement)?

 

READ D&C 19:20

“Wherefore” means something like “because of this;” because of what?

What must we do to avoid this suffering ourselves?

What does the new covenant require?

What will happen if we do not repent?

What will happen if we do not confess our sins?

What does the suffering Christ endured have to do with withdrawing the Holy Spirit?

What three qualifications did the Savior need to have to accomplish the atonement and attain to the resurrection of the dead?

 

READ Isaiah 63:3, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Luke 22:43-44, John 16:32, Mormon 9:3-5, Alma 36:12-15, Alma 7:11-13

Why did He suffer so in the Garden of Gethsemane?

 

 

What to Teach

 

READ D&C 19:21-22, 29-31, 37, 39-41

Why must “milk” be taught before “meat”?

What is “milk”?

What is “meat”?

Why are we to teach the Doctrine of Christ and not “tenets”?

Why should we preach with a loud, rejoicing voice to all and what is implied?

What is a blind guide?

How do we prevent being blind guides ourselves?

How do we ensure we are not following a blind guide?

 

READ D&C 19:23

What does the Savior mean when he commands us to “learn of me”?

What does it mean to have peace in Christ?

 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Principles of Revelation (D&C 6, 8-9)

Commanded to Ask

 

READ D&C 6:1-2

What does it mean to say that God’s word is quick, powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword?

A two-edged sword cuts both directions; it executes a final judgement, of sorts - in this case, to one’s salvation or damnation.

It is the word that God speaks, in judgement, that will consign us to one or the other.

In addition to a final judgement, His word calls us to repentance – which while painful, is freeing and glorious.

It also imparts light and truth, which the righteous seek for but the wicked take to be hard.

How we react to God’s word is a litmus test of our spiritual health – do we cleave to it, as light does to light, or flee from it.

 

READ D&C 6:3-4

What is the relationship between your salvation and “reaping” or harvesting other souls?

If you help the Lord in His harvesting project, you will treasure up everlasting salvation for yourself.

It is the principle of grace for grace – you extend grace to others by helping them to come unto Christ and receive grace from God yourself because of your service – but despite your own sins and weakness.

Christ is the prototype of the saved being – to be saved is to be precisely like He is and nothing else (see LoF 7:9), so sacrificing ourselves to save others is something that we must become practiced in doing; this includes interceding on behalf of others with the Lord and blessing them in whatever ways the Lord requires and they will accept. 

 

READ D&C 6:5-9

What are we to ask God about?

Seeking for Wisdom.

Receiving the mysteries of God.

Being strengthened that we might be the means of doing much good in mortality; or in other words, to assist in bringing forth God’s work, which is the immortality and eternal life of man or the cause of Zion (see Moses 1:39) – it is to prepare others to enter His presence (as Zion is when He dwells with His people).

What happens if you do not ask or knock?

God honors our agency and is no respecter of persons – if we do not ask and knock, we will not receive; He will not give us something that we’ve not asked for.

What happens if we do ask?

We will be called to the work – His work of bringing to part the immortality and eternal life of mankind, including our own.

But we must follow through: keep the commandments and do the work we have agreed to do or we will not be “chosen” (see D&C 121:34-46).

God is just waiting for us to desire righteous things of Him – to desire to do His will; and when we do, a way will be opened up and it shall be done unto us according to our desire to become involved in His work.

In what sense are those with eternal life rich?

They inherit all that the Father has.

But that is no guarantee of earthly wealth during this life; and even if that were to happen, they are only given those things so that they can sacrifice them in service to others

The nature of the “riches of eternal life” are about sacrifice - as the Lord did and the Father before Him, those that inherit eternal life do so through sacrifice, that others might one day inherit them, too.

Why are we commanded to say nothing but repentance?

Repentance (a change of mind and heart) is the absolute first requirement of the gospel.

If people do not repent, none of the rest of the gospel is going to matter to them anyway.

The principles of faith (which motivates one to repent, as faith is a principle of action) and remission of sin through the baptisms of water and fire (which is how one gets the results they are looking for from repentance: forgiveness, cleansing and sanctification or a mighty change) are inherent in “repentance”; as is the principle of enduring to the End (or living one’s life in alignment with the new behavior one aspires to when one repents, until one is proved at all hazards and the Lord or “End” or “Omega” comes to you to seal you up).

After people have repented and come unto Christ, He will teach them whatever else it is they need to know from that point on (see 2 Nephi 32:6).

 

READ D&C 8:10-12

What ought we not to ask for?

Unimportant, trifling matters.

Things that will not enable God’s work and glory = our immortality and eternal life.

How might we trifle with revelation?

Trifle = to act or talk without seriousness, gravity, weight or dignity; to indulge in light amusements; to mock or play the fool with, to treat without respect; to waste or spend in vanity; to use to no good purpose; to make of no importance (see Webster’s 1828 Dictionary).

By asking to receive knowledge or revelation from God regarding things that are of no importance – i.e. vain things or things that will not further God’s work and glory.

By wasting our gift – not using our spiritual gifts at all or taking them lightly. 

What are we commanded to ask about?

How to know the mysteries of God for ourselves – or in other words, how to know God with a surety – which is eternal life. To enter into His rest or the fullness of His glory and to receive the assurance of our state before Him (see 3 Nephi 11:14-15; John 17:3; D&C 88:75; LoF 6:2-6).

How to receive knowledge of the fullness of the true gospel of Christ from scriptures, as knowledge saves a man.  We must understand how to literally come unto Him without being utterly wasted, which requires becoming like Him or filled with light, glory, spirit or intelligence like He is, which requires that we be obedient to His commandments or live a certain degree of eternal or Celestial law (see D&C 130:18-21; D&C 131:6; D&C 132:5, 21; 1 John 3:2-3; Moroni 7:48).

How to obtain spiritual gifts and use them to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man or to be a “savior on Mount Zion” by sacrificing to help others.

 

READ D&C 6:29-31

Why is it a blessing if they “do” unto you as they did unto Christ; what could be more horrible?

Christ’s reassurance to Joseph Smith and all his mortal servants is that they (the world) cannot do more unto them (the servants) than they did unto Him (rejection, scourging, crucifixion).

And if they do that to them for Christ’s sake – because they rejected Christ’s words when they were being taught by those servants who know Him, have heard His words, and were bearing testimony of them (Christ’s words), then those servants will be blessed by enjoying the “fruits” or natural results of their missionary labors.

This does not make sense unless one realizes what the fruits of testifying of knowing Christ actually encompass (and that the conversion of others is just a by-product – see LoF 2:54-56).

If knowing Christ is receiving His testimony of your salvation (see D&C 88:75), then being persecuted or killed for that testimony would be to be valiant in that testimony… (see D&C 76:51, 74, 79) and the fruit of being valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to inherit Celestial glory.

So as horrible as being rejected, tortured or killed would be, Christ is telling us that it is worth it if you are to be blessed with eternal life as a result of your valiance.

How much comfort does Joseph receive here?

Comfort that he may get the chance to inherit Celestial glory.

Which is not a very comforting thought when you fully understand what it takes to get to Celestial glory…being valiant in the testimony of Jesus under extreme circumstances of persecution and death and ultimately doing what Christ Himself has done (otherwise how can we become precisely as He is, if we’ve not done His works in the same way He did what He’d seen His Father do before Him), but this comfort, in the form of knowledge and spirit gives perspective into the duration and meaning behind what is suffered here – which gives comfort in the moments of great alarm which all who receive these promises are destined to endure (see JSH 1:15-16). 

However, the hope or promise of your eternal life from the Son (see D&C 88:75), who is a god of truth and cannot lie or He will cease to be God, means that if you receive that promise, it will happen – and He will enable you to accomplish all of the difficult tasks still left to do.  And that should be a comforting thought. 

 

READ D&C 6:32, 37

What does it mean that Christ can be in our midst?

Midst = in the middle; involved in; surrounded by; from among; in the thickest part or in the depths of.

Christ’s ministry continues to this day; the atonement was merely His “preparation” (see D&C 19:19) unto mankind; but He is there to succor His people, to be with them when they come together to speak of Him, and to minister to them so that they know who He is with a surety and know their own standing before Him (see 3 Nephi 11:15-16; D&C 88:75; LoF 6:2-7).

Whether we see Him in our midst or not depends upon us (see D&C 93:1; D&C 67:10-14).

He is also “in our midst” to the degree that we allow His Spirit to be with us continually; we can be filled with His Spirit and be one with Him through it; remember, the Kingdom of God is also within us (see Luke 17:21) and we are comprised of bodies which at the atomic level are part of a great unified energy field emanating from God.  We’re more connected to Him than we realize.

What must we do so that Christ will be in our midst?

Be His disciples; love Him, serve Him, worship Him. 

Gather together; obviously this refers to mortals gathering in a “fellowship” with each other but when one has no other mortals (or none that believe similarly), I wonder if it can also apply to gatherings across the veil?

“As touching one thing” = coming together with one mind and heart (united through the Holy Spirit, which is the mind of God) with God and each other in the discussion and comprehension of a critical principle of the gospel or doctrine of Christ.

What is Christ’s admonition to us?

To behold the wounds in His side, hands and feet; to know Him with a surety (see 3 Nephi 11:14-15).

To be faithful to Him; and to this testimony we’ve gained of His reality and the reality of His sacrifice for us.

To keep His commandments or to align our behavior with His so that we can also be filled with light and become “precisely” as He is – perfect as He is perfect, so that we can abide His glory and enter into His rest.

And if we do, we shall be saved, as salvation consists in being precisely as Christ and His Father are (see LoF 7:9, 15-16).

 

READ D&C 6:33-36

Why might one “fear to do good”?

If “good” is defined as “God’s will”…

Then doing God’s will or doing good will, by definition, by scorned and hated by the world and by Satan and his minions.

And to those who respect or adhere to the expectations of mankind more than they love God, this will create a sense of fear in them that they will be shunned and persecuted.

What is He asking us to sow and why?

He is asking us to sow good or to do God’s will.

If we obey God’s will (universal commandments in line with eternal law, as well as His personal commandments to us in the moment), we will reap a “good” or “Godly” reward.

What does it mean to be built upon Christ’s rock?

It is to have attained a promise from the Lord that one has become His Son or Daughter such that they are now part of His family and He is their foundation or “father”, the one from whom they hail or without which they could not stand.

Having a perfect knowledge from God that the course of life one is pursuing is agreeable to Him and according to His will is required to have confidence in God and obtain eternal life in the face of the storms that Satan and the world will inflict on all in this mortal probation (see LoF 6:2-6).

That promise or perfect knowledge from Christ is what constitutes the “rock” or hope or anchor to our souls in this life.

What do these verses tell us about the comfort of the Lord?

Comfort in knowing that while He will not prevent us from bearing the brunt of the storm, He will prepare us for it (the Rock), minister to us during it (v32), and reward us accordingly afterward.

Comfort is knowing we are acceptable to Christ, which can be uncomfortable to the world or while one is in the world.

How does one look to the Lord in every thought? In other words, what is He telling them to do here?

Always remember Him.

Those people or things we truly love are always in our thoughts because our mindset (paradigm, assumptions, objectives) is shaped by that love; we are predisposed towards or away from certain courses of action, beliefs, thoughts and feelings, because of our love.

This can also be manifest more overtly as a continual prayer or dialogue with God throughout the day.

How can we overcome doubt and fear?

Through our love for and faith in Jesus Christ.

Doubt/fear exist to the degree that faith is absent; they are like light and darkness – they are mutually exclusive and one (light or faith) drives out the other (doubt or fear); conversely, light cannot be driven out by darkness or doubt/fear, only through neglect or outright rebellion – which results in losing light and invites darkness to fill the empty void. 

 

 

Gifts or Tools to Enable Revelation

 

READ D&C 6:10-12 and D&C 8:6-9

What is the gift referred to here?

The “gift of Aaron”; which was a divining rod.

Aaron used a “rod” or “staff” and the Lord turned it into a serpent to show forth His power to Pharaoh (see Exodus 7:9-12); Moses used it to turn the waters of Egypt to blood (see Exodus 7:19-20); Aaron used it to plague the Egyptians with frogs and lice (see Exodus 8:5-6, 16-17); the Lord caused it to bud or show evidence of life and it bore fruit – as a sign of Aaron’s right to the priesthood (see Numbers 17:2-8); the Lord commanded Moses to use it to divine water from a rock to give life to Israel in the desert (see Numbers 20:8-11).

What has Oliver been doing with his rod or “gift of Aaron”?

Using it to receive knowledge through the veil of “many things”.

It will enable him to receive revelation from God, including the mysteries of God.

It will enable him to do marvelous works.

Oliver is being commanded to inquire of God to gain knowledge through the use of his gift; how might he do that?

To the degree that the gift works like a divining rod, Oliver could receive “yes” or “no” responses to his questions.

Quantum physics reveals that all matter is energy – that we live in a universe of energy, some is more refined or vibrates at a higher frequency and has more light (or intelligence or glory) than other energy/matter; the Light of Christ or Holy Spirit (or “unified field”) is in and through all things – it is the energy that gives light and life to all things and composes all matter, and it emanates from God, so is connected to God.

The rod amplifies the frequency effects from the “unified field” or Holy Spirit which emanates from God, to the degree that it enables a physical movement through the individual’s body which is borne out in the placement of the rod to give you a yes or no answer; it is an outer manifestation of your inner “knowing” through the Spirit, making it easier to recognize.

What is implied by the fact that this kind of gift is sacred and comes from above?

Usually we associate divining rods and wizard’s staffs with black magic and Satanic worship or with spiritualism and pagan beliefs.

God is telling Oliver that He uses physical tools like this to communicate with mankind and for Oliver trust it – that it is legitimate; other similar physical tools include Joseph Smith’s seer stones, Lehi’s Liahona, Mahonri’s Urim and Thummim, Joseph of Egypt’s silver cup, the white stone given to each Celestial heir.

What is interesting is that Oliver discovered and used this gift from God BEFORE he had ever met Joseph Smith and received  “authorized keys” with which to use his rod!  Implied is the fact that God doesn’t need man’s priestly authority to enable people to use these gifts but can interact directly with whomever He chooses, in whatever way He chooses; also implied is the fact that many people have different legitimate spiritual gifts from God outside of the “true church” and its priesthood keys.

To use a sacred divining or seeric instrument, the individual must be “one” with God and their fellows, so that the Holy Spirit is unrestrained within them and has not been grieved and thus has not departed.

In the situation when the individual is left to themselves (the Holy Spirit has departed from them), another spirit can fill the vacancy left by the Lord’s Spirit and inhabit or animate the person, and the rod will manifest the will and answers of that other spirit, not the Holy Spirit.

How can our gifts be blessings, when they usually bring obligations?

The Lord always works with mankind via covenant – which impose obligations (for our own learning and good) or terms.

He honors our agency by engaging us via contract or covenant, rather than just dictating or arbitrarily acting; this means there is no “free lunch” (blessing without an obligation) but there is also no arbitrary compulsion (curse without a choice to avoid the cursing).

All blessings are predicated upon obedience to law (see D&C 130:20-21); so, to get a blessing, we must comply with a law – which works like a covenant (you do something and you get a predetermined blessing in return).

The word mystery means, literally, “secret.” What are the mysteries the Lord is speaking of here? In what sense or senses are they secret?

The revelations of God, whereby we can learn how we might be saved.

Salvation or eternal life means knowing God or entering into His presence and being sealed up; for mankind, how to do this is a mystery, as God’s ways are not our ways; ultimately, as Christ was the prototype of the saved man, being “saved” means to become precisely like He is and nothing else – so the “mysteries” also include understanding how to become like God is (“theosis”) which requires doing all that Christ did and comprehending all things – from the highest heaven to the darkest abyss. 

They are mysterious in that they are forever unknown to mankind unless they are revealed, incomprehensible to mankind without being enlightened by the Spirit, and impossible to accomplish for mankind without the Atonement and Christ’s on-going ministrations.

They are secret only because mankind will not seek them out – and they must be sought out or we will be damned by our careless indifference (see 2 Nephi 32:4-7).

Why should Oliver Cowdery keep his gift concealed? What does “of thy faith” mean?

While being persecuted for one’s faith in Christ is counted as a blessing (see Matthew 5:10-12), the Lord may have mercy on us, and will prepare us to face such persecution when we are ready; seemingly, Oliver was not ready for the public shaming that would happen if his use of a rod went public (think of all the abuse Joseph Smith continues to use for his use of a seer stone).

Those of one’s faith or belief should be more open to a belief in seeric tools and should be more filled with charity towards a brother or sister (partially because they should have access to their own spiritual gifts and understand from their experience the way that God works with mankind); this is not always the case, however.

 

READ D&C 6:13

How is the word salvation used here?

Salvation here means exaltation or eternal life or living with and like God in His Kingdom; it is the same way the word is used in the Lectures on Faith (see LoF 7:9, 15-16; D&C 14:7).

Why is salvation the greatest gift?

In this case, salvation means exaltation or eternal life; which gives the individual all things, a fullness of joy, and continuation of the lives (see D&C 76:50-70; Psalms 16:11; D&C 132:21-25).

 

READ D&C 6:14-17

Does this mean that Oliver always has his prayers answered; if so, why?

He is inquiring of the Lord – the Lord bids us to ask, seek and knock.

Every time Oliver inquired of the Lord, he was instructed by the Spirit; that doesn’t mean that every time he prayed, he was given the blessing immediately, and it doesn’t mean that the Lord granted every wish; but he did receive instruction in response to “inquiries” – every time.

It is possible for the Lord to give instruction but for us not to hear it or understand it or recognize it as coming from Him.

What is Oliver being taught about how to recognize the Spirit?

Even though the “still small voice” may sound for all the world like your own thoughts, God will show you that it is He who is conversing with you inside your head through the Spirit.

God knows the thoughts and intents of your heart; in this case He is proving this by revealing Oliver’s thoughts to Joseph Smith.

By doing this, He is confirming that the “private conversation” Oliver thought he was having with himself, he was really having with God – thereby showing Oliver (and us) how the Spirit communicates so that we can recognize the difference between our own thoughts and His Spirit (His thoughts); God will give us proofs after the fact, saying in effect, “that was Me” speaking with you.

He doesn’t say “you will feel the Spirit” but that “your mind will be enlightened” – the Spirit is pure intelligence, not an emotion – although there might be an emotional response to the Spirit, depending upon the person.

Why does the Lord have to witness to Oliver that the words he is writing are true?

Oliver has had some doubts about whether Joseph Smith is a true prophet and regarding the Book of Mormon translation process.

The Lord is revealing things to Joseph that only Oliver and the Lord would know about, to show Oliver that Joseph’s work in translation is true and that Joseph is connected to God and is receiving true revelation, because otherwise he would not be able to accomplish so great a work; Joseph is the Lord’s servant but he is not perfect (see verses 18-19).

What has brought Oliver to where he is?

The fact that Oliver has been actively inquiring of the Lord for instruction (light, knowledge, guidance, etc.).

No doubt the Lord led Oliver to Joseph Smith, but He did so only because Oliver had been inquiring of the Lord for further light.

The Lord may have a part for us to play in His “strange act” but we must actively be seeking Him with real intent and a desire to submit our whole souls to His will or we will not be asked to participate, as the Lord will not violate our agency.

 

READ D&C 6:22-24

What further witness (beyond Joseph revealing Oliver’s private conversation with the Lord) did the Lord give Oliver?

He spoke peace to his mind concerning the issue Oliver was concerned about.

He comforted Oliver through His words to him.

The Lord set Oliver at ease by revealing truth to him, succoring him, and promising him relief – all these things put one’s mind “at peace”.

How is “peace” a witness of the truth of the gospel or can it be imitated by Satan?

Peace = a state of quiet or tranquility, freedom from disturbance or agitation, war, internal commotion, quarrels; harmony; a state of reconciliation; guaranteed security (see Webster’s 1828 Dictionary).

Peace comes when one receives a “hope” or promise of salvation from the Lord Himself; as the Lord’s promises give comfort (“you will be saved”) with an iron-clad guarantee (He is no respecter of persons and does not play favorites – all have equal access to Him based on laws all can abide by if they choose; He is a god of truth and cannot lie or recant His word; He has the power to fulfill all His promises), one’s mind will be put at peace as to one’s ultimate condition – and all of it is accomplished through the gospel of Christ.

Peace can be imitated by Satan as an emotional response; he will pacify, lull and flatter some people into a feeling that “all is well in Zion” (see 2 Nephi 28:21-22), which is clearly a feeling of peace as defined above; but it is not lasting peace.

Godly sorrow, which is a spiritual gift from God via the Holy Spirit and is a full realization or awakening to the awful state one is actually in here on earth and the futility of salvation on one’s own merits, is the opposite of peace (see Alma 36:12-16; Mormon 9:2-5) but it is a key requirement of the gospel and is clearly administered through the Holy Spirit by God to those who will soften their hearts to receive the truth!

That’s why it is important to understand that the feeling of peace can be a by-product of the Holy Spirit but it is not the Holy Spirit (which is pure intelligence) and can be imitated by Satan, temporarily at least.

 


Applying Spiritual Gifts: Oliver and the Translation of the Book of Mormon

 

READ D&C 6:25-28

Did Oliver ask to translate?

No.

The Lord offers him the gift of translation if Oliver wants it and “desires it of” the Lord or in other words, asks the Lord for the gift.

Why did the Lord offer Oliver this opportunity, knowing that he would ultimately fail?

The Lord will invite and entice us to grow in further light and knowledge or to “do good continually” (see Moroni 7:13), just as Satan will invite and entice us to sin.

The Lord’s hope is that all accept His invitation to receive His blessings and come unto Him and He offers these invitations to all; this includes all of the intermediate steps of growth that lead to parting the veil and entering into His presence (see 2 Nephi 26:33; D&C 93:1).

This was an opportunity for Oliver to “rise up” and exercise faith to receive the gift, and the accompanying opportunity to serve as offered by the Lord; this was his to gain further light which would advantage him in the next world (see D&C 130:18-21).

The Lord will not stop offering us the opportunity to rise up, just because He already knows that either a) we will reject His invitation outright or b) we will fail in our attempt to come unto Him; He honors our agency and ultimately it is up to us; He has promised us that He will save us (do the heavy lifting) if we will have the desire and exercise the faith to come unto Him, but we must do just that.  How just would it be for the Lord to say, “I didn’t offer it to you because I knew you’d reject it”; could we not say, “that’s not fair, as I never got the opportunity to choose for myself”, and we would be right – He gives us all a full and fair chance at salvation, but ultimately we are self-elect.

How was Oliver told to go about translating?

He is to use “his gift” – of revelation (see D&C 8:1-3) and the “rod” or “gift of Aaron” (see D&C 8:6-9).

Why was Oliver not told to translate like Joseph did, using the seer stone or Urim and Thummim?

We are all such unique individuals; the Lord gives us different gifts and even when we receive similar gifts, the way that we might use them will differ from how another might use them.

Oliver is to use his gifts to translate, so that he can grow in the use of those gifts, and because neuroscience shows that we can excel much further and much more quickly using strengths we already have than when we attempt to address weaknesses or skills we don’t have the “inherent wiring” for; that is not to say that they cannot be achieved (and if we are to become perfect as the Lord is, we will need to strengthen them), but it will be much more difficult and take much more time, and in this life, we may never gain the same level of proficiency than if we used our strengths (and they became even stronger – “genius” level skills, in those things).

The Lord works with us where we are at in the moment; He speaks to us in our language, He addresses our concerns, He helps us leverage our strengths and address our weaknesses – He is patient in His ministrations toward us.

Note: Joseph’s gift enabled him to “see” as a seer while Oliver’s rod enabled him to have God’s will confirmed, requiring him to translate records in a different way – studying it out in his mind first and asking God if it was right, rather than just looking into a stone.

Can Oliver change his desires?

The “natural” man or woman cannot change their desires – they are an enemy to God because they prefer to be carnal, sensual, devilish and to seek to do their own will (see Mosiah 3:19; Alma 42:9-10; Helaman 12:4-8).

This seems to present a “catch-22”: if Oliver has good desires, then he can assist in the Lord’s work. By implication, if he doesn’t have good desires, he can’t. But how can Oliver change his desires? It seems like either he has them or he hasn’t, and if he hasn’t, then there isn’t anything he can do about it.

One must “yield one’s heart” to God (a broken heart and contrite spirit or one’s whole soul) as only He, through the baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost, can change the desires of one’s heart to have no more disposition to do evil but to do good continually (see Mosiah 5:2). 

So yes, Oliver can change his desires if he yields his heart unto God; this submission is within his capacity to do and up to him to exercise his agency to lay his whole soul on the altar, so he is responsible for the nature of his desires because he can have them changed.

 

READ D&C 8:1-5

What has Oliver asked for?

To take the Lord up on His offer to translate ancient records (see D&C 6:25-28).

He has a desire to translate.

By what process will the Lord enable Oliver to translate ancient records?

By the process of revelation; i.e. using his own personal spiritual gifts.

He is to ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that he would receive, and then was be “told in his mind and in his heart” by the Holy Ghost the answer to his inquiry; while it doesn’t explicitly say he can use his rod, it would make sense that he could confirm his answers through that means, as the Lord has told him it is a legitimate spiritual tool for his use.

Which is not the same as the process of “seeing” or being a seer.

Does the phrase “spirit of revelation” refer to the Holy Ghost or to something else?

The “spirit of revelation” is a gift of the Spirit or Holy Ghost.

It requires that one align their lives with eternal law to the extent that they are filled with the Holy Spirit; but it is a specific gift different from speaking in tongues or seeing in a stone, for instance.

The spirit of revelation is Oliver’s gift; how was he to use it - what does “apply unto it” mean?

He needed to follow God’s instructions on how to use his gift.

He needed to practice the gift and become proficient and eventually excellent in his usage of the gift – through the application of the gift.

 


Oliver’s Failure to Translate: Lessons Learned

 

READ D&C 9:1-6

Did Oliver fail to translate, as per the Lord’s invitation and his own desire?

Yes, he attempted it but failed to translate the record.

He started or tried to translate but then did not continue as he had started.

Implied is that the way he started was pleasing to the Lord but he either lost faith or became impatient or doubted and changed his approach.

 

READ D&C 9:7-11

To what is the Lord referring when he tells Oliver of the burning in his bosom?

He is describing a physical sensation in Oliver’s mortal body caused by the Holy Spirit quickening his spirit.

As the temporal body (less refined or more course matter) and spiritual body (more fine or pure matter) are tied together in mortality, the individual can perceive the effect of something interacting with one body in the other – especially if they engage in meditation or other “quieting” or “frequency increasing” or “quickening” activities to remove temporal distractions (see D&C 131:7-8).  But regardless of whether or not the person can understand or will acknowledge the connection, this scripture points out the real connection between the spirit body and the physical body.

This “burning” may also elicit an emotional response in some people, depending upon their personality and character traits, like the feeling of peace that the Lord described in D&C 6:23.

Must one receive a “burning” to know that something is right?

No, that is just one “sign” or proof that God is communicating with you – there are many others including a thought, a voice, a vision, a visitation, a sign in the heavens, a feeling or assurance of peace, and many other spiritual manifestations.

When was Oliver to receive the “burning”?

After he had labored in his mind and heart studying the matter.

Signs follow belief, and belief requires action to constitute “faith” and bear fruit or results (see D&C 63:9-11; Ether 12:6; JSH 1:8-13; 1 Nephi 11:1; Moroni 10:4).

Just going to the Lord with a question and expecting a “burning” or “stupor” is a sign seeking activity – one must do the labor in the spirit over time and take one’s inspired conclusions to the Lord for confirmation or act on them in faith before a sign is given (see Mark 16:20).

What is a stupor of thought and how does the Lord use it with regards to receiving revelation?

Stupor = great diminution or suspension of sensibility; numbness; intellectual insensibility; inattention to one’s interests.

A stupor of thought causes one to forget one’s line of thought; it is to be muddled or unable to focus, retain information or think clearly.

A stupor of thought can be a way that the Lord can confirm, after one has labored in the spirit to receive a revelation and has done so, that the revelation is not from God.

If the Holy Spirit is pure intelligence and enlightens the mind, a stupor of thought is like a reboot – it confirms that what was received was not of God and either was a product of one’s own mind and heart or from another source.

Why did Oliver fail to translate?

He tried to translate without any effort on his part, except to ask God; but faith without works is dead.

He then feared that he was failing in the translation, as he wasn’t receiving revelation.

He did not follow the Lord’s instruction regarding how to use his gifts of revelation and the rod or gift of Aaron - he would be told in his mind (audible thought) and heart (clear feeling) or through the physical tool of the rod (yes or no) by the Holy Ghost what was right – implied is that he was asking; in other words, he was given the gift of revelation if he would apply himself to it.

It appears that he may have started correctly but then switched to a different tactic or activity to translate.

He did not realize that the gift of revelation (“be told”) is different from the gift of seership (“to see”).

Why would Oliver have tried to translate without studying it out in his mind first; why would he have changed his translation method?

Perhaps because he decided to try and translate as he had seen Joseph Smith do it, by looking into a seer stone instead of doing as the Lord requested and using his own gifts, and a different (albeit more difficult or tedious) process from Joseph.

Joseph Smith was a seer (and prophet and revelator); he had seeric tools with which he was able to see; he did not need to “study it out in his mind first” as he was seeing the words in the seer stone (see Mosiah 8:13); Joseph would literally stop the translation in the middle of a sentence and then resume again right where he left without need of the scribe to read back what was already written – this was because he was seeing the words as they appeared, similar to how the Liahona operated (see 1 Nephi 16:29).

Seers see with their eyes through a tool while revelators hear or are “told” things from God; even Oliver’s tool (the rod) gives yes or no answers to questions – one cannot “see” with a rod.

What are the lessons we should learn from Oliver’s experience with regards to receiving revelation from God?

The Lord wants to communicate with us, interact with us, and strengthen us spiritually through our use of spiritual gifts.

Each of us have been given different gifts, and may even use the same gifts differently based on who we are.

When the Lord invites us to participate in His work, we should accept the invitation.

The Lord will coach us with regards to how we should accomplish His work if we inquire of Him; and we should follow the Lord’s counsel, even if it is different from what others are doing or from how we think we “should” proceed.

We should endure patiently through any trial or difficulty we encounter.

And if we do this, our relationship with God and faith in Him will be strengthened as we accomplish His will using the gifts and tools and counsel He has given us.

 

READ D&C 9:12-14

Why was Oliver not condemned by failing to translate?

The Lord gave him an opportunity to grow in light and knowledge, which he accepted but then failed to succeed in accomplishing; it was a wasted opportunity but the Lord in His mercy chose not to condemn him or declare him guilty and sentence him to punishment.

However, that still means that a) he did not gain the light he could have, b) the opportunity to exercise this gift and grow in light might not be offered again or not for a season.

The Lord’s work would not be affected by Oliver’s failure to translate, as Joseph had “sufficient strength” or in other words, Joseph was succeeding in the opportunity to translate via his gift of seership; and the Lord still had a work for Oliver to do in the translation – that of scribe to Joseph – if he would consent to serve in that role.

What is the point of the Lord’s message to Oliver?

The Lord always has opportunities for those who volunteer or rise up to be His servants; Oliver is still needed to accomplish the work.

If he is true to the new work the Lord has called him to, he will be blessed – to the point that he will be “lifted up at the last day” or saved.

Although it doesn’t say that he would be blessed to the same extent that he would have if he had succeeded in translation (see D&C 130:18-21); but as we saw, he wasn’t condemned for failing in that endeavor, either – he could still be saved through being faithful in accomplishing a smaller work.

 

 

Principles of Revelation

 

What is a testimony?

Essentially, it is a revelation from God to you.

That He lives and loves you enough to reveal the truth to you.

What is the implication of this initial revelation?

That He wants you to know Him (again).

That He is approachable.

The imposed duty of all members and perspective members of the restored Church is to seek for and receive revelation individually. 

What happens when revelation is taken or absent from a people?

Confusion regarding the truth.

Contention between those with conflicting opinions.

What or who fills the gap left by revelation?

The gap is filled by scholars, whose “legitimacy” is through their learning and credentials.

Sometimes it is filled by revelation from another source than God.

How is truth determined in a society led by scholars instead of revelation?

They demand that everything be “proved” through their own analytical methodologies and rules.

What is the issue with this?

They will never figure out the truth through their methodologies because “God reveals himself or He remains forever unknown” (Bible Dictionary - “God”, paragraph 4 or D&C 29:11).


The whole message of the Restoration can be summed up in James 1:5…

READ JSH 1:11-12

Revelation is the key to the FULLNESS of the Gospel - coming back into God’s presence and being sealed up to Eternal Life.  The purpose of Joseph Smith’s work was not to inform people of revelation as a theoretical possibility, but to instill it as a practical reality - and a reality for all! 

What are we to ask for?

Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you... he that hath eternal life is rich. (D&C 6:7, 6:11; 6:27; 8:11).

Even as you desire of God so it shall be unto you (D&C 6:8); whatsoever things you shall ask, you shall receive (8:1); this is the spiritual truth behind the “law of attraction”.  But the true “secret” is to first lay your soul on His altar and receive a mighty change of heart so that your desires have become His and then obtain His will – if you seek to manifest His will, all will be well with you.

NOTE: some things, like the mysteries of God, MUST be learned, but they cannot be taught by men (which is why they must be revealed straight from the Lord).

Who is revelation open to?

Whosoever will come may come, freely (Alma 42:27).

Every soul... “shall see my face and know that I am” (D&C 93:1).

What can you do to prepare to receive revelation?

Strict obedience and complete repentance.

Be meek and humble.

Filled with charity/love.

Study and ponder the scriptures (JSH 1:11-12).

Meditation and reflection on life and God’s will (JSH 1:8).

Mighty prayer.

 

READ D&C 11:14, 16

What must you do to receive revelation? 

Desire (D&C 6:25).

Ask: If you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you (D&C 6:5; 6:11; 42:61).

Exercise faith in God’s ability to commune with you (D&C 8:1; James 1:6-7).

Watch and wait patiently on the Lord.

Revelation must be sought, but it is the Lord alone who determines when, where and what is received.  We cannot impose our will upon Him and we cannot “conjure” Him.  Instead, we must conform to His will, as a result of which we qualify for revelation from Him.  Then we watch for Him and wait for Him. 

What limits the depth of revelation?

Fear (9:11).

Lack of faith - failing to believe (“doubt not” D&C 8:8).

Failing to ask (don't care enough to engage with God through “labor”).

“Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 324.)

Endlessly repeating old inspirational stories while failing to add any new ones is an issue called out in the Book of Mormon.  Reading about the revelations and dealings of the Lord with those who lived long ago is no substitute for having faith to see the miraculous in your own life.

What can you do to guarantee you will always have your prayers answered?

First, prepare yourself spiritually – that your desires and “eye” are single to the Lord.

Second, obtain then pray for, the will of the Lord.

Why is the spirit a “still, small voice?” (D&C 85:6)

It provides a test – an active choice on our part to seek after it or listen for it.

We are naturally “tuned” to a different frequency - we can’t hear it or understand it well, due to the other programming we are listening to, including the day to day distractions that come with living a mortal life.

It is a test - will we seek to “open our ears to hear it”? (3 Nephi 11:5).

These first manifestations of the Spirit have the substance of gossamer - the Lord wants to see if we will seek to hear them and then bring them into the physical world by acting on the impulse we thought we sensed or heard.  That act of faith brings us into better alignment with God, fills us with more light, and makes us better able to hear and discern the Spirit the next time – we are tuning more closely to God’s frequency.

I have heard that the Spirit speaks to the heart (demonstrated by weeping or described as a burning in the bosom), is this true?

The Spirit speaks to the mind and heart (D&C 8:2); but it primarily enlightens the mind (D&C 6:15; 11:13).

“This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile” (TPJS, p. 149.).

What does the Brother of Jared’s experience with an “interior lighting problem” teach us about receiving revelation? (Ether 2 & 3)

When the Lord finally gets our attention, He has a lot to tell us – a lot more than just to solve the issue that is plaguing us.

He probably would prefer to tell us more or more often or sooner, if we sought after Him more diligently.

Sometimes we REALLY need/want to know something and we do certain things to ensure we get an answers - if we were to be this serious with the Lord more often, perhaps we would receive more; remember He is bound by our agency.

What are God's answers to prayer quite often like?

Unanticipated - never something you would have considered.

Inconvenient - requiring of you something you would prefer not to give or do.

Clear and unequivocal - enough to make your frame shake as it penetrates to your soul.

What is the Holy Spirit?

It will "teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance" (John 14:26).

Will testify of Christ (John 15:26).

It is the "spirit of revelation" and will "tell you in your mind and in your heart." (D&C 8:2-3).

Causes men to speak the will of the Lord, the mind of the Lord, the word of the Lord, the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation (D&C 68:4).

Will unfold the mysteries of God to them that diligently seek (1 Nephi 10:19).

Remits your sins (2 Nephi 31:17).

Cleanses you (Moroni 6:4).

Sanctifies you (3 Nephi 27:20).

Performs a mighty change to your spirit such that you are a “new creature” and no longer desire the things you once desired (Mosiah 5:2).

Is the power by which angels speak (2 Nephi 32:3).

Bears record of the Father and the Son (3 Nephi 11:32).

Abides in you (Moses 6:61).

Is the “record of heaven” (Moses 6:61).

Comforts you (Moses 6:61).

Is the truth of all things (Moses 6:61).

Quickens all things and makes alive all things (Moses 6:61).

Gives light to everyone that is born (D&C 84:46), both physical light (D&C 88:7) and intellectual or spiritual enlightenment (D&C 88:11).

Knows all things (Moses 6:61).

Has all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, judgement (Moses 6:61).

Is the “mind of the Father” (LoF 5:2).

And proceeds from God to fill the immensity of space (D&C 88:12).

Will lead you to directly to Jesus Christ, if you will follow its promptings (2 Nephi 32:5-6).

Why is recognizing and receiving the Holy Ghost so critical?

According to the doctrine of Christ, the Holy Ghost will change our hearts, show us all things that we should do, and, if obeyed, will ultimately lead us to encounter Christ while yet in the flesh—which is the very definition of redemption. (2 Nephi 32:1-7; Ether 3:13).

Satan will do whatever he can to stop this from happening and his best strategy is to try to prevent us from recognizing and receiving the Holy Ghost by deceiving us with regards to what the Holy Spirit is, so that we think we are following God when we are not.  (2 Nephi 32; 1 Nephi 8, TPJS on discerning spirits, etc.).

To not be deceived, we must hearken to the voice of the Lord (Moses 4:4).  To receive the Lord’s voice, we must take the Holy Spirit for our guide (D&C 45:57).  We must learn to hear the Lord’s voice through the Holy Spirit – it is about hearing Him, not feeling something.

How can we recognize the Holy Spirit?

The Spirit testifies of truth - one of the titles the Spirit holds is the “Spirit of Truth” (John 15:26; D&C 6:15), because it testifies of truth (John 16:13; Moroni 10:5).  The Spirit testifies of all truth whenever it is encountered, regardless of who is speaking it.  A speaker cannot “infuse” their words with the Spirit – they may try to manipulate the listener into thinking they have felt the Spirit (through emotions) but the Spirit doesn’t need the help and cannot be forced.  Also, the Spirit does not withhold its testimony of a truth just because the speaker might be wicked or because some of the rest of the message is false; ask yourself: am I confusing the message with the messenger? 

Laboring in the Spirit - receiving revelation from God through the Holy Spirit requires labor born of faith in Christ.  We must “study” the things of God out in our minds (D&C 8:8). We must exercise faith or act in a way completely aligned with our belief.  We must be called up to serious reflection, pondering to ourselves and reflecting again and again, reading the scriptures and praying for light and knowledge (JSH; 1 Nephi 11:1); the first inclinations of the Spirit, after all this labor, may be like the touch of gossamer, barely there!  But we must persist and follow those hardly perceptible answers, acting on them in faith, and the voice of the Lord will become more and more clear until He parts the veil and stands before us because we can’t be kept within it. (Ether 3:19-20); ask yourself: how badly do I really want to know the answer to the question I am asking or blessing I am seeking for?  Am I willing to labor in the Spirit for months or years to get it, and am I willing to change my life when asked to do so?

Pure Intelligence - the Holy Spirit communicates intelligence, light and knowledge to your mind.  Joseph’s “pure intelligence” and “sudden strokes of ideas” refer to the experience of suddenly knowing something or realizing something you didn’t know a moment before, without being taught it.  It’s just there.  In time, the Holy Ghost will also teach us by showing us things – in your mind’s eye, at first.  Seeing is usually better than hearing because of the wealth of information conveyed (see TPJS 328, 151, 51, 149; 2 Nephi 32:5); ask yourself: was any intelligence communicated?  Was inspiration or new knowledge received?

Still Small Voice - the Holy Ghost speaks in a still small voice, not a powerful feeling.  This means that we must quiet our mind and emotions to hear it – we must become attuned to its “frequency”, which if we do will have a physical affect upon our bodies, minds, and emotions as it interacts with our spirit.  The voice of the Spirit sounds like your inner voice (D&C 8:2; John 14:26) because it brings all things to your remembrance and tells us in our mind and our heart (see 1 Kings 19:12; 1 Nephi 17:45; Helaman 5:30; D&C 85:6; 3 Nephi 11:3-6; Moroni 10:4-5); ask yourself: did I have to tune my heart to God to hear this message? 

Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit - this “pure intelligence” is accompanied by fruits of the spirit (states of being like love, joy, peace) and gifts of the spirit (divinely given talents like teaching with power, healing, miracles, prophesy, beholding angels).  While an “evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Matthew 12:39), Christ promised signs to those who believe (D&C 68:10; Mark 16:17, 20; Mormon 9:24; Ether 4:18; D&C 58:64; D&C 84:65) because signs follow faith (D&C 63:9-10) and confirm that what was received was from God (see Galatians 5:22-23; D&C 46:7-8; Moroni 10:8-18; Ether 4:11-12; Moroni 7:12-16); ask yourself: does it persuade me to do and be good, to enable me to bless others through spiritual abilities, to deepen my belief in Christ, to change my heart, and to truly love God?


Satan’s Deception: “Feeling the Spirit”


How do we speak about experiencing the Spirit in the LDS Church?

We “feel the Spirit”.

Strong, even overwhelming, emotions including crying, weeping.

Peace, warmth.

Chills, goosebumps.

Pounding heart, shaking, sweating from heat.

A "rushing" feeling in the body.

A feeling of being "filled" in the body.

What will a true spirit or revelation do?

Testify of Christ.

Lead to repentance.

Be consistent with existing scripture and to the true whisperings of the Holy Ghost you previously have received.

Edify and enlighten your mind; be understandable and not cause confusion.

Cause light to grow within you.

Turn you toward Christ, not men.

Never cause pride.

Make you a better servant of Christ.

Increase your love of your fellow man and clothe you with charity for the failings of others.

Leave you humble and grateful for God's condescension.

Make you want to bring others to the light.

Lead you to rejoice.

Not all revelation is from God - the "man in the white robe" from Lehi's Dream is an example (see 1 Nephi 8:4-9).

 

What will a false spirit or revelation do?

Deny Christ.

Cause pride.

Make you believe you are better because of the experience.

Contradict the scriptures.

Appeal to carnality and self-indulgence.

Cause confusion.

Lead to ambition to control others.

Make you intolerant of others' failings.

Seek self-fulfillment rather than service.

Appeal to your vanity and assure you that you are a great person.

Bring darkness.

Repulse the Holy Ghost.

Prevent you from repenting and forsaking sins.

Interfere with serving others.

Focus on yourself rather than the needs of others.

Is it easy to discern the difference?

Satan is at his most powerful in subtly; so sometimes it is difficult to see the differences.  Even Joseph Smith had to ask God about some of the phenomena going on in Kirtland before he knew which were of God and which were deceiving; again, Lehi is another example as he followed the man in the white robe into darkness and was lost for hours before he realized what was happening (following this guide he was now lost) and prayed for help from God. But the more filled with light and truth you are, the easier it is to discern light and truth in messages, messengers and other things - “light cleaveth to light” and the dark cannot abide the Son of God.

Should this stop you from seeking revelation?

No - it is part of the test.

If it does stop you, Satan has won, because you cannot be saved in ignorance - remember the mysteries of God that only Christ can reveal to you.

 

From a talk in Church on this subject that I gave several years ago:

You are not your thoughts or emotions - the fact that you can think about your thoughts or choose to feel or not to feel certain emotions proves this point.  You are the "observer" because you can “watch” and “select” your thoughts and emotions (Mosiah 4:30).  You are a spirit entity or intelligence in a mortal body who uses a brain and chemical system to think and experience emotions, which are biologically produced in the flesh.  But "fish discover water last" and since we are swimming constantly in thoughts and emotions and have been since mortal birth, it is very difficult to separate ourselves from them; but that is what meditation can do for you - you can observe them, transcend them, and ultimately choose not to be determined by them.

It is also critical to realize that emotions are not the Spirit!  The Holy Spirit acts on your spirit and your body; your reaction to that interaction could trigger an emotion, a thought or a physical sensation - but so could your reaction to a good movie or piece of music.

Some people have told me that they’ve “felt a dark feeling” when talking about an uncomfortable spiritual or doctrinal or historical topic or while reading a book, including in some cases, the Book of Mormon – and that this was a sign to them that they were not feeling the Spirit, so the information was wrong or worse, inspired by Satan.  But how did Alma feel when he was harrowed up to such a decree that he wished to be extinct rather than enter God’s presence?  Was it of God or did Satan want him to feel that way?  Did Satan want Alma to cry out to God for mercy?  Alma’s was the emotional response that all people have when they enter unprepared into the presence of a just and holy being who is filled with the Holy Spirit.  They can’t abide it and wish the rocks would fall on them to hide them from His Spirit.  Is that Satan?  No! But in a terrible twist of irony, they will feel more comfortable with the damned souls in hell than with the Lord in His glory.

When nothing has been communicated through a spiritual experience, but we still “feel” the Spirit, we may be sure we are feeling a “spirit” but it may not be from God – it may be our own emotions or it could be another spirit trying to deceive us (D&C 50:2-3).

Don’t confuse sentiment with enlightenment – settle for nothing less than revelation from God.  The Holy Ghost will change you fundamentally and lead you back into the presence of the Lord, as Nephi promised (see 2 Nephi 32:1-7).

If you only listen to the voices of praise, and adulation which speak to you that "all is well in Zion" then you will never recognize an authentic call from the Lord to repent – and you will NEVER accept it as being from God. Instead, like Laman and Lemuel, you will erroneously think any message that condemns your misbehavior is "sharp" or "angry" (2 Nephi 1: 26), even contentious and thus from the devil.  Yet Nephi's only intention was to seek "the eternal welfare" of Laman and Lemuel. (2 Nephi 1: 25).

“The cure for some illness requires a knife to be used first before healing can begin. The purpose is not to injure, but only to heal” (Denver Snuffer).  Sometimes His truth HURTS (1 Ne 16:2) as it is a two-edged sword.

Deception happens when people place their trust in the arm of flesh, and therefore put men between them and God.  This is a status wholly unacceptable to the Lord.  Those who trust in men are damned (D&C 76:98-101).

 

How else can people set themselves up to be deceived and what can we learn from this?

Zeniff was deceived by King Laman because he was “over-zealous” to inherit the land of his fathers (Mosiah 7:21).

A person with a passion, vice, or addiction is a person you can deceive, control, and make money from (the Master Mahan principle).

Like Korihor (Alma 30) you can rationalize your behavior and reduce your guilt by choosing to believe that there is no devil and that right/wrong are subjective and relative to cultural norms - there is no sin (D&C 10:25).

Is there ever a time when truth is static? (where we might not be gaining more but we’re also not losing what we have?)

No - it is always dynamic.

Nature bears record of this - the cycles of the moon and sun are always in motion (the full moon only lasts one night, same with the new moon; the same holds true with the sun from solstice to solstice) - they are always gaining or receding in light.  Individuals and groups are the same way - we are either growing in truth or apostatizing from it (see 2 Ne 28:30).  The scariest part of all is that because Satan is most effective when he is subtle, there is no deliverance from his chains because so many do not realize they are filled with darkness.

 

The Law of the Lord (D&C 4 & 42) QUESTIONS

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