Thursday, February 22, 2007

D&C 19 – The Atonement: Sin and Suffering

Below are the excerpts I read in class from a talk that Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave at a BYU Devotional. Click here to go to the full text of the talk. Click here to download the mp3 audio of the talk. This is a wonderful talk entitled, Sin and Suffering. I encourage everyone to read it who is interested in better understanding the repentance process.

Elder Oaks taught:

“The repentant sinner who comes to Christ with a broken heart and a contrite spirit has been through a process of personal pain and suffering for sin. He understands the meaning of Alma's statement that ‘none but the truly penitent are saved’ (Alma 42:24).”

“I am suggesting that there is a relationship between sin and suffering that is not understood by people who knowingly sin in the expectation that all the burden of suffering will be borne by another, that the sin is all theirs, but the suffering is all his. That is not the way. Repentance, which is an assured passage to an eternal destination, is nevertheless not a free ride.”

“We often think of the results of repentance as simply cleansing us from sin. But that is an incomplete view of the matter. A person who sins is like a tree that bends easily in the wind. On a windy and rainy day the tree bends so deeply against the ground that the leaves become soiled with mud, like sin. If we only focus on cleaning the leaves, the weakness in the tree that allowed it to bend and soil its leaves may remain. Merely cleaning the leaves does not strengthen the tree. Similarly, a person who is merely sorry to be soiled by sin will sin again in the next high wind. The susceptibility to repetition continues until the tree has been strengthened.”

D&C 11 - Taste Tests and the Scriptures

Doctrinal Taste Test Challenge

“This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to my by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings, p. 355.)

Joseph Smith, Sr., who had a dream similar to Lehi and Nephi, said this once he and his family were at the Tree of Life eating the fruit: “The more we ate, the more we seemed to desire, until we even got down upon our knees and scooped it up, eating it by double handfuls.” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, p. 50.)

Importance of Using Scripture when Teaching

Those who preach by the power of the Holy Ghost use the scriptures as their basic source of knowledge and doctrine. They begin with what the Lord has before revealed to other inspired men. But it is the practice of the Lord to give added knowledge to those upon whose hearts the true meanings and intents of the scriptures have been impressed. Many great doctrinal revelations come to those who preach from the scriptures. When they are in tune with the Infinite, the Lord lets them know, first, the full and complete meaning of the scriptures they are expounding, and then he ofttimes expands their views so that new truths flood in upon them, and they learn added things that those who do not follow such a course can never know. Hence, as to "preaching the word," the Lord commands his servants to go forth "saying none other things than that which the prophets and apostles have written, and that which is taught them by the Comforter through the prayer of faith." (D&C 52:9.) In a living, growing, divine church, new truths will come from time to time and old truths will be applied with new vigor to new situations, all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Promised Messiah, 515-16.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Principles of Seeking Personal Revelation

1. Right Reason: JS-H 1:10

“One of the Apostles said to me years ago, ‘Brother Woodruff, I have prayed for a long time for the Lord to send me the administration of an angel. I have had a great desire for this, but I have never had my prayers answered.’ I said to him that if he were to pray a thousand years to the God of Israel for that gift, it would not be granted, unless the Lord had a motive in sending an angel to him. I told him that the Lord never did nor never will send an angel to anybody merely to gratify the desire of the individual to see an angel. If the Lord sends an angel to anyone, He sends him to perform a work that cannot be performed only by the administration of an angel.” (Wilford Woodruff, Collected Discourses 5:233, October 19, 1896, Weber Stake Conference)

2. Scripture Study: JS-H 1:11

3. Get the Spirit: JS-H 1:12-13; D&C 8:2

“The Spirit of Revelation is in connection with these blessings. A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings, p. 151)

4. Agency: JS-H 1:14-15; D&C 9:8-9

“If I do not know the will of my Father, and what He requires of me in a certain transaction, if I ask Him to give me wisdom concerning any requirement in life, or in regard to my own course, or that of my friends, my family, my children, or those that I preside over, and get no answer from Him, and then do the very best that my judgment will teach me, He is bound to own and honor that transaction, and He will do so to all intents and purposes” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:205).

5. Heed and Diligence: JS-H 1:16

“I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 5:402)

Note how heed and diligence is emphasized by the Lord in the following revelations:

  • For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith. (D&C 98:12; emphasis added)
  • If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal. (D&C 42:61; emphasis added)
  • And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their timethe that are faithful and diligent before me. (D&C 59:4; emphasis added)
  • That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. (D&C 50:24; emphasis added)

After quoting the above verses, Elder Bednar taught: “Brothers and sisters, if you and I would distinguish our personal emotions from the impressions placed in our hearts and minds by the Holy Ghost, then we must desire and seek, ask and discern, hear and obey, and then again desire and seek and ask and discern and hear and obey. Our faith and diligence and obedience are ongoing invitations for additional spiritual knowledge and insight. Faith leads to obedience which yields wisdom and an even greater desire for added light and truth.

“The process of discerning between our will and God's will becomes less and less of a concern as time goes by and as we strive to rid ourselves of worldliness—and thereby cultivate the spirit of revelation in our lives. That is, as we mature spiritually, we begin to develop sound judgment, a refined and educated conscience, and a heart and mind filled with wisdom. It is not just that we have grown older, nor have we simply become smarter and had more experiences on which to draw, as important as those experiences are. Rather, the Holy Ghost has over time been expanding our intellect, forming our feelings, sharpening and elevating our perspective, such that we increasingly think and feel and act as the Lord would under similar circumstances. In short, we have made steady progress in obtaining ‘the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

“This ongoing cycle of gaining spiritual knowledge ultimately produces a precious and delicious fruit, but that fruit cannot and does not grow from a blossom to its ripened state overnight. Furthermore, such fruit cannot grow in barren soil. Obedience to God's commandments and our personal integrity and adherence to commitments such as the honor and dress codes at BYU-Idaho provide the needed nutrients for fertile spiritual soil. It should be obvious to all of us that evil influences such as filthy language, immodest clothing and appearance, and pornography are bitter poisons that kill the soil and halt the spiritually subtle process of receiving help from heaven ‘. . . line upon line, precept upon precept . . . .’ There can be no shortcut around the law of the harvest; truly, we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7).” (David Bednar, “…Line Upon Line, Precept Upon Precept…” 2 Nephi 28:30, BYU-I Devotional, September 11, 2001.)

6. Line Upon Line: JS-H 1:16

“I have learned that strong, impressive spiritual experiences do not come to us very frequently.” (Boyd K. Packer, That All May be Edified, 337.)

7. The Right Time: JS-H 1:17; D&C 46:9

8. Priesthood Channels: JS-H 1:17

“I will inform you that it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves; therefore you will see the impropriety of giving heed to them; but if any person have a vision or a visitation from a heavenly messenger, it must be for his own benefit and instruction; for the fundamental principles, government, and doctrine of the Church are vested in the keys of the kingdom.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings, p. 21)

“The spirit of revelation belongs to the priesthood” (Wilford Woodruff, Collected Discourses, April 8, 1894)

9. Sacred Silence: JS-H 1:20

“Let us be faithful and silent, brethren, and if God gives you a manifestation, keep it to yourselves” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 2:309).

Bruce R. McConkie taught, “The Lord doesn’t reveal himself to blabbermouths.” (Joseph Fielding McConkie, The Bruce R. McConkie Story: Reflections of a Son, 278.)

10. Revelation Begets Revelation: JS-H 1:29-30

Friday, February 09, 2007

D&C 9 - The Translation Process

D&C 9:7-10

The fact that Joseph Smith did not tell much about the translation process of the Book of Mormon is illustrated in an exchange that took place between the Prophet and his brother Hyrum in a conference of the Church held 25 October 1831. On that occasion Hyrum said “that he thought best that the information of the coming forth of the book of Mormon be related by Joseph himself to the Elders present that all might know for themselves.” In response, Joseph Smith said that “it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the book of Mormon, & also said that it was not expedient for him to relate these things &c.” (Cannon and Cook, Far West Record, 23)

Other Interesting Statements about the Translation Process of the Book of Mormon

The earliest known description of the process of translating the Book of Mormon is found in an article titled “History of the Mormonites,” published 9 June 1831, in Kirtland, Ohio. The writer, Josiah Jones, claims as his source the first Latter-day Saint missionaries to that territory—Elders Cowdery, Pratt, Whitmer, and Peterson, from whom he learned that the book was translated by “looking into a stone or two stones, when put into a dark place, which stones he said were found in the box with the plates. They affirmed while [Joseph] looked through the stone spectacles another sat by and wrote what he told them, and thus the book was written. . . .

“A few days after these men appeared again, a few of us went to see them and Cowdery was requested to state how the plates were found, which he did. He stated that Smith looked onto or through the transparent stones to translate what was on the plates. I then asked him if he had ever looked through the stones to see what he could see in them; his reply was that he was not permitted to look into them. I asked him who debarred him from looking into them; he remained sometime in silence, then said that he had so much confidence in his friend Smith, who told him that he must not look into them, that he did not presume to do so lest he should tempt God and be struck dead” (Allen, “Historian’s Corner,” 308).

What Has Oliver Cowdery Said About the Process?

In the October 1834 Messenger and Advocate, he wrote: “These were days never to be forgotten— to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated, with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites would have said, ‘Interpreters,’ the history or record called ‘The book of Mormon’” (Messenger and Advocate, 1:14).

The testimony borne by Oliver Cowdery upon his return to the Church in 1848 was as follows: “Friends and Brethren: My name is Cowdery, Oliver Cowdery. In the early history of this Church, I stood identified with her, and one in her councils. True it is that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance; not because I was better than the rest of mankind was I called, to fulfill the purposes of God. He called me to a high and holy calling. I wrote with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by means of the Urim and Thummim, or, as it is called by the book, ‘holy interpreters.’ I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was translated. I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the ‘holy interpreters’” (as cited in Smith, Restoration of All Things, 113).

Artist Rendering of the Urim and Thummim

Lucy Mack Smith was able to inspect the Urim and Thummim the morning after Joseph had obtained them from the Hill Cumorah. She stated that she “took the article in [her] hands and, examining it with no covering but a silk handkerchief, found that it consisted of two smooth three-cornered diamonds set in glass, and the glasses were set in silver bows connected with each other in much the same way that old-fashioned spectacles are made” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 1996, 139).

D&C 10 - The Devil's Plan for the 116 Pages

D&C 10:1-3

“I continued my supplications to God, without cessation,” Joseph explained, “and on the twenty-second of September [1828], I had the joy and satisfaction of again receiving the Urim and Thummim, with which I have again commenced translating, and Emma writes for me, but the angel said that the Lord would send me a scribe, and I trust that it will be so. The angel was rejoiced when he gave me back the Urim and Thummim, and he told me that the Lord was pleased with my faithfulness and humility, and loved me for my penitence and diligence in prayer, in the which I had performed my duty so well as to receive the Urim and Thummim and was able to enter upon the work of translation again.” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 1996, 176.)

D&C 10:43

“Before he wrote his Messiah series, Dad made it a point to read everything that Elder James E. Talmage had read on the subject. He asked Sam Weller at Zion’s Book Store to find copies of a list of long-out-of-print books. While returning from a conference assignment, he was reading one of those books while waiting for a plane and discovered some material by a sectarian scholar that harmonized perfectly with the restored gospel. As he boarded his flight, he met Marion G. Romney, then a member of the First Presidency, who was also returning from an assignment. He said, ‘President Romney, I have got to read this to you. This is really good stuff,’ and proceeded to share his newfound treasure. When he was finished, President Romney said, ‘Bruce, I have to tell you a story. A few years ago I found something that I thought was remarkable confirmation of Mormonism written by one of the world’s great scholars. I read it to J. Reuben Clark, and he said, ‘Look, Marion, when you read things from the great scholars of the world and they don’t agree with us, so what? And when you read something like that and you find they are right on the mark and they agree with us, so what?’” (Joseph Fielding McConkie, The Bruce R. McConkie Story: Reflections of a Son, 252)

D&C 3 - The Loss of the 116 Pages

D&C 3:9

Because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall. When Martin informed Joseph that he had lost the manuscript, Lucy Mack Smith said that Joseph clinched his hands together and exclaimed:

“‘All is lost, is lost! What shall I do? I have sinned. It is I who tempted the wrath of God by asking him for that which I had no right to ask, as I was differently instructed by the angel.’ And he wept and groaned, walking the floor continually.

“At last he told Martin to go back to his house and search again. ‘No,’ said Mr. Harris, ‘it is all in vain, for I have looked in every place in the house. I have even ripped open beds and pillows, and I know it is not there.’

“‘Then must I,’ said Joseph, ‘return to my wife with such a tale as this? I dare not do it lest I should kill her at once.’

[Keep in mind that during this 2 week time period Joseph and Emma had had their first child, a son named after Alvin, die. Only those who have lost a child can know how he felt.]

“‘And how shall I appear before the Lord? Of what rebuke am I not worthy from the angel of the Most High?’

“I besought him not to mourn so, for it might be that the Lord would forgive him, after a short season of humiliation and repentance on his part. But what could I say to comfort him, when he saw all the family in the same situation of mind that he was? Our sobs and groans, and the most bitter lamentations filled the house. Joseph, in particular, was more distressed than the rest, for he knew definitely and by sorrowful experience the consequence of what would seem to others to be a very trifling neglect of duty. He continued walking backwards and forwards, weeping and grieving like a tender infant until about sunset, when we persuaded him to take a little nourishment.” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 1996, 165-66.)

D&C 3:12-14

“After I arrived here, I commenced humbling myself in mighty prayer before the Lord, and as I poured out my soul in supplication to him, that if possible I might obtain mercy at his hands and be forgiven of all that I had done which was contrary to his will, an angel stood before me, and answered me, saying, that I had sinned in delivering the manuscript into the hands of a wicked man, and as I had ventured to become responsible for this man’s faithfulness, I would of necessity suffer the consequences of his indiscretion, and I must now give back the Urim and Thummim into his (the angel’s) hands.

“This I did as I was directed, and as I handed them to him he remarked, ‘If you are very humble and penitent, it may be you will receive them again; if so, it will be on the twenty-second of next September.’” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 1996, 173-74.)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Podcast Available!

A good friend of mine is hosting the podcast for class. Click here to download. If you use iTunes, and want to subscribe to the podcast that way, simply open iTunes (if you don't already have it, you will want to download and install it on your computer), go to Advanced>Subscribe to Podcast. A new window will appear and copy and paste this into that window--without the quotation marks: "" Click ok. It should work now. Everytime a new file is uploaded the podcast will automatically update and iTunes will download the mp3 for you. It's a pretty slick technology. If there is something that is not working, let me know.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

D&C 2: Promies Made to the Fathers

Here is a list of a few of the scriptural references you can go to about the promises made to the fathers:
  • Genesis 12:1-3
  • Genesis 13:16
  • Genesis 15:2-6
  • Genesis 16:2-4
  • Genesis 17:2-7
  • Genesis 21:12-13
  • Genesis 22:18
  • Genesis 24:60
  • Genesis 25:23
  • Genesis 28:1-4
  • Abraham 2:8-11

D&C 1 and 67: The Voice of Warning

Here are the quotes & statements that were referred to in class:

The Isaiah Connection

This is a scan of the page from the Geneva Bible I brought into class of Isaiah 49. The page was printed in a bible sometime between 1566 and 1640.

You can click on it for a larger image.

Pre-Quiz: Profile of God’s Servant

You are invited to test your knowledge by identifying the servant of God described with the following clues:

  1. His family was often in trouble and moved about a good deal.
  2. His parents were described as being of the lowest social class and having the loosest morals.
  3. As a young man he said things that astonished and disturbed people.
  4. Local ministers stirred up trouble and spread scandalous reports about him and his family.
  5. He claimed to be the agent of God chosen to restore the gospel in its purity.
  6. He preached to those who professed to already having the way to salvation, not to the heathen who professed no belief in God.
  7. The greater part of the people of his day rejected him and his message while claiming a belief in the prophets of past ages.
  8. He was rejected in the name of God and by the use of scriptures.
  9. The most bitter opposition against him was incited by the religious leaders of his day
  10. He was eventually killed by those who were angry and bitter with him for his teachings and what he professed to be.

(Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Sustaining and Defending the Faith, p. 13-14)

D&C 67 and the “Folly of William McLellin”:

“After the foregoing was received [D&C 1], William E. M’Lellin, as the wisest man, in his own estimation, having more learning than sense, endeavored to write a commandment like unto one of the least of the Lord’s, but failed; it was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord. The Elders and all present that witnessed this vain attempt of a man to imitate the language of Jesus Christ, renewed their faith in the fulness of the Gospel, and in the truth of the commandments and revelations which the Lord had given to the Church through my instrumentality; and the Elders signified a willingness to bear testimony of their truth to all the world.” (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:226.)

D&C 67:10:

“This principle ought (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest. How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power, and the other Comforter spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.149.)