Posted in Inspirational, Jesus Christ

Christ-like attributes – knowledge

‘Many years ago the federal government placed agents throughout the country to help farmers learn to be more productive. One agent in the South went to visit an old farmer in his area, but he found that convincing the farmer to change proved rather difficult.

He asked the farmer, “Wouldn’t you like to know how to get your cows to give more milk?”

“Nope,” the farmer replied.

“Well, wouldn’t you like your pigs to have larger litters of baby pigs?”

Again the farmer answered, “Nope.”

“Well, wouldn’t you like to learn how to get more corn per acre?”

The same answer was given as before: “Nope.”

Exasperated, the county agent asked, “Well, why not?”

The farmer replied simply, “I already knows more than I does.”’ (William H Baker, BYU devotional July 2006)

This is often called the information age. We have more information at our fingertips than at any other time in the history of the world but not all information has the same value.

information_overload

The most vital information is gospel knowledge. President Spencer W. Kimball commented:

“Spiritual learning takes precedence. The secular without the foundation of the spiritual is … like the foam upon the milk, the fleeting shadow. … One need not choose between the two … for there is opportunity to get both simultaneously” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 390).

Where can we find information that is more vital than that offered by Twitter, Google or Facebook?

One source is the temple. In the temple we come into the Lord’s house, described in D&C 109:8 as “a house of learning”. Here we are taught eternal truths and can more readily receive personal revelation.

Another source is the scriptures.  President Joseph Fielding Smith said:

“Today we are troubled by evil-designing persons who [endeavor] … to destroy the testimonies of members of the Church, and many … are in danger because of lack of understanding and because they have not sought the guidance of the Spirit. … It is a commandment from the Lord that members … be diligent … and study … the fundamental truths of the gospel. … Every baptized person [can] have an abiding testimony. … but [it] … will grow dim and eventually disappear [without] … study, obedience, and diligent seeking to know and understand the truth” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1963, p. 22).

This is even more true today than it was in 1963. It may be salutary to look at where we get our information from, how reliable it is, how beneficial it is and what we do with it. For information, or knowledge, cannot save us. Unlike the farmer in the story we have to put our knowledge into practice.

The 13th article of faith says that we, as Latter-day Saints, seek after things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (Articles of Faith 1:13).

Satan has a different prescription he would have us follow:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men in public, in private it doesn’t matter what we do.

Indeed, we may say that on the surface we follow the admonition of Paul.

We believe all things are known by God but we hope all things we do in secret will be hidden from God.

We have endured many talks about personal worthiness, and hope to be able to endure all talks about personal worthiness without having to change what we do or watch or read.

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we find it boring a and we seek after more exciting things.

We all already know more than we do. Our knowledge should lead to a change in behaviour which should lead to a change in who we are as we become more like our Saviour. Becoming is a long term project – it will last well into the next life but we need to make a start now.

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Posted in Press aticles

Church press conference

There has been much media interest in yesterday’s press conference by the Church on the issue of the balance between religious freedom and the rights of those seeking to enshrine LGBT rights in law.  The main points made in the press conference were:

  1. The Church will support legislation where it is being sought to provide protections in housing, employment and some other areas where LGBT people do not have protections, while ensuring that religious freedom is not compromised.
  2. The Church believes that a “fairness for all” approach, which strives to balance reasonable safeguards for LGBT people while protecting key religious rights, is the best way to overcome the sharp divisions and present cultural divide in our nation.
  3. The Church is alarmed at the erosion of religious freedom. When religious people are publicly intimidated, retaliated against, forced from employment or made to suffer personal loss because they have raised their voice in the public square, donated to a cause or participated in an election, our democracy is the loser. This is just as wrong as persecution or retaliation against LGBT people.
  4. This appeal for a balanced approach between religious and gay rights does not represent a change or shift in doctrine for the Church. It does represent a desire to bring people together, to encourage mutually respectful dialogue in what has become a highly polarized national debate.
  5. In this approach, neither side may get all that they want. We must all learn to live with others who do not share the same beliefs or values.

Title-of-Liberty1

While the press conference was specifically about these issues in the context of US society we see similar tensions in the UK. Many people of faith find that to express in public their religious beliefs is to lay themselves open to charges of bigotry, homophobia and intolerance. The Church’s stance of ‘fairness for all’ tries to steer a course that grants rights and protection to all citizens of whatever sexual orientation while also preserving the right to religious freedom. As a people, we have a history of being persecuted, misunderstood, discriminated against, demonised and mistreated by civil authorities (Governor Boggs ‘extermination’ order is only one example). We would not want any groups to be discriminated against or deprived of their legal rights; however we also believe that there is a higher authority than the state and we cherish the right to worship freely.

Elder John K Carmack wrote: ‘Government needs power, but that power should be carefully limited so that people are left free to believe what they want to believe, to speak about those beliefs, and above all to practice their religion and share it with others in peaceful ways. Any society that does not safeguard this principle is intolerant on its face. Infringements of religious freedom still exist, and some “enlightened” governments are eroding this basic concept. Without constant vigilance, prayer, and persuasion this principle will fade and die.’

Our society is much more secular, much less ‘religious’ than US society and even with ‘vigilance, prayer, and persuasion’ it may be too late to halt the erosion of religious freedom.

 

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 5 – Born Again

RH-NicodemusTalksToJesus3

Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3)

‘Jesus’ answer seems to have been given in response to an unrecorded question. We may wonder if Nicodemus first asked, “Rabbi, what must a man do in order to see the kingdom of God?” Christ responded that he must be born again, but there are two equally correct interpretations of Christ’s response. The first is that one must be baptized in order to enter the celestial kingdom. The second is that one must be born again in order to recognize the kingdom of God on earth. Christ preached, ‘the kingdom of God is at hand’ (Mark 1:15), but there were few who saw it. “Some have a certain spiritual awakening which makes it possible for them to ‘see’ the kingdom of God-that is, recognise that the gospel has been restored and the true Church has been re-established on the earth. Then, if they are ‘born of the water and of the Spirit,’ they are able to enter the Church; and, if they endure to the end, they can enter into their rest in God’s kingdom.” (Glenn L. Pearson and Reid E. Bankhead, Building Faith with the Book of Mormon [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1986], 107.)’

To be born again implies a new birth, a new life, a new reformed person. We have shown faith, we have repented of our sins and we have committed to bury our old self and become a new creature. President David O McKay said that for Nicodemus to be born again “his manner of thinking, feeling, and acting with reference to spiritual things would have to undergo a fundamental and permanent change.” (General Conference, April 1960). That is the challenge for each of us. We may have gone through the ordinances – we have risen from the water, we have had hands laid on our heads for the gift of the Holy Ghost – but have we gone through the transformation of self that truly constitutes being born of the water and of the spirit?

In 2 Peter chapter 1 Peter lists some of the characteristics of Saints – diligence, faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity – and adds in verse 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

‘…is blind and cannot see afar off..’ or in other words ‘he cannot see the kingdom of God’.

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Living water (John 4:10)

Spencer J. Condie

“When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, the Savior said that if she knew who He was, she would have asked a drink of Him who would be able to give her living water which would be ‘a well of water springing up into everlasting life’ (John 4:5-14).

“In his vision of the Lord’s second coming Zechariah foresaw that the Savior shall stand upon the Mount of Olives and ‘living waters shall go out from Jerusalem: half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea’ (Zech. 14:8). Of this same event, Ezekiel prophesied that these living waters would ‘go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters [of the Dead Sea] shall be healed. … And every thing shall live whither the river cometh.’ (Ezek. 47:8-9.)

“These dual prophecies are profound not only in their geographical and geological implications but also because of their metaphorical promise. Of all the places on earth, the Dead Sea is one of the most inhospitable to life. Even burning deserts of sand provide a home for hardy insects and reptiles and for certain plants with extremely deep roots. Concrete sidewalks and asphalt tennis courts sometimes crack, allowing a brave weed or two to survive above the surface. But the Dead Sea, because of its extreme salinity, harbors no life of any kind.

“Thus, using the example of the Dead Sea, the Lord’s prophets have chosen the worst possible case to illustrate the power of the living waters to heal that which is dead. The living waters of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His atonement can heal dead marriages, dead relationships between parents and children, dead friendships between business partners and neighbors, and spiritual death from years of alienation from the Church. His promise is sure: ‘Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me’ (D&C 19:23).” (Your Agency, Handle with Care [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 102-103.)

I was reminded of the well known story told by Elder Theodore A Tuttle in General Conference in 1975:

This difficulty of understanding about water recalls the story of a sailing ship that had become disabled in a storm. It drifted aimlessly for many days. The crew and passengers became famished and parched from lack of food and water. Finally another ship came into view. They signaled frantically for water. The other ship replied, “Let down your buckets where you are.” This communication made no sense at all, for they supposed they were far out to sea in typical ocean water. Again the famished ones requested water. Again the signal came, “Let down your buckets where you are.” They could not know that they had drifted into the mouth of a great river and that the water beneath them was fresh and could save their lives. The water of life lay just beneath them, yet they were dying for lack of this knowledge.

Like those passengers, multitudes of people are thirsting for “living water,” and they know not where to find it. Like the people on the other ship, we are signaling that we have found the “living water.” It has brought us the abundant life. It has made us happy, healthy, and serene. We who enjoy the abundant life want to share this happiness. You, too, may want to drink of this “living water.”

Posted in Inspirational

The parable of the oranges

There was a great modern day parable in Elder Randall L Ridd’s YSA fireside earlier this month. It hit home to me so I wanted to share it:

There was a young man who had ambitions to work for a company because it paid very well and was very prestigious. He prepared his résumé and had several interviews. Eventually, he was given an entry-level position. Then he turned his ambition to his next goal—a supervisor position that would afford him even greater prestige and more pay. So he completed the tasks he was given. He came in early some mornings and stayed late so the boss would see him putting in long hours.

After five years a supervisor position became available. But, to the young man’s great dismay, another employee, who had only worked for the company for six months, was given the promotion. The young man was very angry, and he went to his boss and demanded an explanation.

The wise boss said, “Before I answer your questions, would you do a favor for me?”

“Yes, sure,” said the employee.

“Would you go to the store and buy some oranges? My wife needs them.”

The young man agreed and went to the store. When he returned, the boss asked, “What kind of oranges did you buy?”

“I don’t know,” the young man answered. “You just said to buy oranges, and these are oranges. Here they are.”

“How much did they cost?” the boss asked.

“Well, I’m not sure,” was the reply. “You gave me $30. Here is your receipt, and here is your change.”

“Thank you,” said the boss. “Now, please have a seat and pay careful attention.”

oranges

Then the boss called in the employee who had received the promotion and asked him to do the same job. He readily agreed and went to the store.

When he returned, the boss asked, “What kind of oranges did you buy?”

“Well,” he replied, “the store had many varieties—there were navel oranges, Valencia oranges, blood oranges, tangerines, and many others, and I didn’t know which kind to buy. But I remembered you said your wife needed the oranges, so I called her. She said she was having a party and that she was going to make orange juice. So I asked the grocer which of all these oranges would make the best orange juice. He said the Valencia orange was full of very sweet juice, so that’s what I bought. I dropped them by your home on my way back to the office. Your wife was very pleased.”

“How much did they cost?” the boss asked.

“Well, that was another problem. I didn’t know how many to buy, so I once again called your wife and asked her how many guests she was expecting. She said 20. I asked the grocer how many oranges would be needed to make juice for 20 people, and it was a lot. So, I asked the grocer if he could give me a quantity discount, and he did! These oranges normally cost 75 cents each, but I paid only 50 cents. Here is your change and the receipt.”

The boss smiled and said, “Thank you; you may go.”

He looked over at the young man who had been watching. The young man stood up, slumped his shoulders and said, “I see what you mean,” as he walked dejectedly out of the office.

What was the difference between these two young men? They were both asked to buy oranges, and they did. You might say that one went the extra mile, or one was more efficient, or one paid more attention to detail. But the most important difference had to do with real intent rather than just going through the motions. The first young man was motivated by money, position, and prestige. The second young man was driven by an intense desire to please his employer and an inner commitment to be the best employee he could possibly be—and the outcome was obvious.

How can you apply this parable in your lives? How might your efforts in your family, at school, at work, and in the Church be different if you always sought to please God and do His will, motivated by your love for Him?

Posted in Family

P.A.T.R.I.A.R.C.H.

patriarchal-families

What does it mean for an LDS man to be a patriarch in his home?

‘P’ IS FOR PARTNERSHIP

Some brethren misunderstand the concept of being a patriarch in the home and think that patriarch equates to “Boss”. That is not a Gospel principle.

President Howard W Hunter:

A man who holds the priesthood accepts his wife as a partner in the leadership of the home and family with full knowledge of and full participation in all decisions relating thereto. ..The Lord intended that the wife be a helpmeet for man (meet means equal)—that is, a companion equal and necessary in full partnership. Presiding in righteousness necessitates a shared responsibility between husband and wife; together you act with knowledge and participation in all family matters.

Notice that President Hunter talks about a full partnership – our wives are not junior partners or sleeping partners – they are full partners.

Chieko Okazaki:

Let me begin by stating the obvious: a partnership occurs between equals. They don’t have to be identical but they do have to be equal. They need to be equal in commitment to the marriage itself.

Solomon explained the benefit of working and being together as “two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall one will pick up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; he hath not another to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

‘A’ IS FOR ATTITUDE

President Howard W Hunter:

Keep yourselves above any domineering or unworthy behavior in the tender, intimate relationship between husband and wife. Because marriage is ordained of God, the intimate relationship between husbands and wives is good and honorable in the eyes of God. He has commanded that they be one flesh and that they multiply and replenish the earth (see Moses 2:28; Moses 3:24). You are to love your wife as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it (see Eph. 5:25–31).

President Gordon B Hinckley:

If you will make your first concern the comfort, the well-being and the happiness of your companion, sublimating any personal concern to that loftier goal, you will be happy, and your marriage will go on through eternity.

President Hinckley taught on several occasions that one’s spouse should be treated in special regard. He said that a husband should regard his wife as the greatest treasure. (Matt 6:21). A husband is to love his wife with all his heart and cleave unto her and none else (see D&C 42:22–26). This is the only time in scripture where the Lord asks us to love anything or anyone with all thy heart beside Himself.

President Ezra Taft Benson gave husbands the following counsel:

“Once you determine that a high priority in your life is to see that your wife and your children are happy, then you will do all in your power to do so. I am not just speaking of satisfying material desires, but of filling other vital needs such as appreciation, compliments, comforting, encouraging, listening, and giving love and affection.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1981, p. 47; or Ensign, May 1981, p. 34.)

 ‘T’ IS FOR TRUST

In recent conferences the Lord’s servants have warned of the dangers of pornography. Jesus taught whoesoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

President Howard W Hunter:

Pornography, flirtations, and unwholesome fantasies erode one’s character and strike at the foundation of a happy marriage. Unity and trust within a marriage are thereby destroyed. One who does not control his thoughts and thus commits adultery in his heart, if he does not repent, shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear (see D&C 42:23; D&C 63:16).

‘R’ IS FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS

Righteousness is a state of being. When we keep the laws and commandments of the Gospel we become righteous.

Elder Tom L Perry:

Brethren, your first and most responsible role in life and in the eternities is to be a righteous husband.

Elder Bruce R McConkie:

“….from the moment we are sealed together by the power and authority of the holy priesthood – the power to bind on earth and have it sealed eternally in the heavens – from that moment everything connected with revealed religion is designed to help us keep the terms and conditions of our marriage covenant, so that this covenant will have efficacy, virtue and force in the life to come.” (Improvement Era June 1970)

 ‘I’ IS FOR INVOLVEMENT

Dr Brent Barlow:

While many men are physically present in the home, they are often psychologically absent. Too many husbands bring home unfinished work or spend a disproportionate time working at hobbies, reading newspapers, taking catnaps or watching television. A husband’s physical presence in the home should be matched by his psychological presence. Wives don’t like to be ignored, particularly when husbands are at home.” (What Wives Expect of Husbands p 128)

‘A’ IS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY

President David O McKay:

Let me assure you brethren, that some day you will have a Personal Priesthood interview with the Savior Himself. If you are interested, I will tell you the order in which he will ask you to account for your earthly responsibilities.

First, he will request an accountability report about your relationship with your wife. Have you actively been engaged in making her happy and ensuring that her needs have been met as an individual?
Second, he will want an accountability report about each of your children, individually. He will not attempt to have this for simply a family stewardship, but will request information about your relationship to each and every child.
Third, He will want to know what you personally have done with the talents you were given in the pre-existence.
Fourth, He will want a summary of your activity in your church assignments. He will not necessarily be interested in what assignments you have had, for in his eyes the home teacher and the mission presidents are probably equals, He will request a summary of how you have been of service to your fellowmen in your church assignments.
Fifth, he will have no interest in how you earned your living, but if you were honest in all your dealings.
Sixth, He will ask for an accountability on what you have done to contribute in a positive manner to your community, state, country, and the world
‘R’ IS FOR RELIGIOUS WORSHIP IN THE HOME

Elder Tom L Perry:

Every child needs a sense of security. I often think of the security of our old family home. It was a fortress against the adversary. Each morning and evening it was blessed by the priesthood as we would kneel in family prayer. That power was also manifest as my father blessed his family in time of need.

President Howard W Hunter:

Take seriously your responsibility to teach the gospel to your family through regular family home evening, family prayer, devotional and scripture-reading time, and other teaching moments. Give special emphasis to preparation for missionary service and temple marriage. As patriarch in the home, exercise your priesthood through performing the appropriate ordinances for your family and by giving blessings to your wife and children. Next to your own salvation, brethren, there is nothing so important to you as the salvation of your wife and children.

‘C’ IS FOR COMMUNICATION

George Eliot:

I like not only to be loved but to be told that I am loved; the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave.

President Harold B Lee:

Marriages are not successful merely because these couples have fewer problems than others, but they are successful because, when problems come, as come they will, a husband and wife sit down together to solve their problems like grown-up mature individuals, rather than with the immaturity of adolescence.” (Teachings of Harold B Lee p248)

 ‘H’ IS FOR HOPE

Elder Bruce R Hafen:

 The Lord put Adam and Eve on the earth as full grown people. Why couldn’t he have done that with this boy of ours?” His wife wisely replied, “God gave us that child to make Christians out of us.” (World Congress of Families 1999)

President Howard W Hunter:

A successful parent is one who has loved, one who has sacrificed, and one who has cared for, taught, and ministered to the needs of a child. If you have done all these and your child is still wayward or troublesome or worldly, it could well be that you are, nevertheless, a successful parent. Perhaps there are children who have come into the world that would be a challenge to any set of parents under any circumstances. Likewise, perhaps there are others who would bless the lives of, and be a joy to, almost any father or mother. My concern today is that there are parents who may be pronouncing harsh judgements upon themselves and may be allowing these feelings to destroy their lives, when in fact they have done their best and should continue in faith.

Posted in Quotes

Borrowed light

In our Sunday School class this week the prophecy about a time coming when members of the Church would not be able to live on ‘borrowed light’. There was a discussion about who said this. In fact, the phrase has been used by a number of brethren including President Harold B Lee, President Gordon B Hinckley, President Spencer W Kimball, President Ezra Taft Benson, Elder Henry Taylor, Elder Charles Didier, Elder Douglas L Callister, and Elder Dallin H Oaks. However, the original quote seems to come from Elder Heber C Kimball in May 1868. As quoted by Vaughn J Featherstone in a BYU devotional in June 1983 the prophecy runs thus:

We think we are secure here in the chambers of the everlasting hills, where we can close those few doors of the canyons against mobs and persecutors, the wicked and the vile, who have always beset us with violence and robbery, but I want to say to you, my brethren, the time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to that extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy to the people of God. Then, brethren, look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall; for I say unto you there is a test, a test, a TEST coming, and who will be able to stand? . . .

. . . You imagine that you would have stood by him [Joseph Smith] when persecution raged and he was assailed by foes within and without. You would have defended him and been true to him in the midst of every trial. You think you would have been delighted to have shown your integrity in the days of mobs and traitors.

Let me say to you, that many of you will see the time when you will have all the trouble, trial and persecution that you can stand, and plenty of opportunities to show that you are true to God and his work. This Church has before it many close places through which it will have to pass before the work of God is crowned with victory. To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary for you to have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess this personal knowledge or witness will fall. If you have not got the testimony, live right and call upon the Lord and cease not till you obtain it. If you do not you will not stand.

Remember these sayings, for many of you will live to see them fulfilled. The time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within himself. [Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1967), pp. 446, 449, 450]

Elder Kimball made these remarks in 1868 and many of the people in his day will have lived to see them fulfilled, particularly in respect of the changing demographic of the Salt Lake Valley. However, the fact that modern prophets have chosen to repeat the warning indicates that it is applicable to us and that (if it has not already arrived!) the time will come when we will not be able to endure on borrowed light. I’d better get some oil in that lamp.

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Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 4 – ‘Prepare ye the Way of the Lord’.

Zacharias

In our Gospel Doctrine class last Sunday our teacher posed an interesting question. She asked us if Gabriel smiting Zacharias so that he was deaf and dumb seemed a bit harsh and why it was done. (Note that Luke 1:20 only says ’thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak’ but in verse 62 his family make signs to him indicating that  he couldn’t hear).

Zacharias

There are a number of possible reasons:

  • Zacharias may have doubted Gabriel’s message
  • He seems to have asked for a sign (‘Whereby shall I know this?’)
  • It was a witness to the people at the temple that something miraculous had occurred
  • It was a witness to his family when he was healed on insisting on John’s name.

It seems to me at least possible that there is a further reason. Zacharias was individually a righteous priest but the priesthood in general had become corrupt. The authority of the old priesthood was about to be swept away and a higher priesthood was to come about through Jesus Christ whose forerunner Zacharias’ promised son was to be.

Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

“This miraculously-born son of Zacharias was the last legal administrator of the old dispensation, the first of the new; he was the last of the old prophets, the first of the new. With him ended the old law, and with him began the new era of promise. He is the one man who stood, literally, at the crossroads of history; with him the past died and the future was born.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:113)

Further, D&C 84:26-27 says:

And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;

27 Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up…’

I suggest that the striking deaf and dumb of Zacharias could symbolise that the old dispensation was to be replaced by a new one ushered in by John and that the priests of the old dispensation, who Zacharias represented in the temple that day, would no longer hear the word of the Lord or be His voice on the earth.

John the Baptist

In Luke 7:28 Jesus says:

‘For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’

What did Jesus mean by this?

saint-john-the-baptist-and-jesus

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained the meaning of Jesus’ words:

“How is it that John was considered one of the greatest prophets? His miracles could not have constituted his greatness.

“First. He was entrusted with a divine mission of preparing the way before the face of the Lord. Whoever had such a trust committed to him before or since? No man.

“Secondly. He was entrusted with the important mission, and it was required at his hands, to baptize the Son of Man. Whoever had the honor of doing that? Whoever had so great a privilege and glory? Whoever led the Son of God into the waters of baptism, and had the privilege of beholding the Holy Ghost descend in the form of a dove, or rather in the sign of the dove, in witness of that administration? …

“Thirdly. John, at that time, was the only legal administrator in the affairs of the kingdom there was then on the earth, and holding the keys of power. The Jews had to obey his instructions or be damned, by their own law; and Christ Himself fulfilled all righteousness in becoming obedient to the law which he had given to Moses on the mount, and thereby magnified it and made it honorable, instead of destroying it. … These three reasons constitute him the greatest prophet born of a woman.

“Second question:—How was the least in the kingdom of heaven greater than he?

“In reply I asked—Whom did Jesus have reference to as being the least? Jesus was looked upon as having the least claim in God’s kingdom, and [seemingly] was least entitled to their credulity as a prophet; as though He had said—‘He that is considered the least among you is greater than John—that is I myself.’” (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 275–76.)

 Temptation in the wilderness

“[When Jesus came] up … out of the water: … the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God [the Holy Ghost] descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’

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Jesus then went into the wilderness; Lucifer came tempting Him. Jesus deflected each temptation with scripture.

“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone.”

“It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”

“It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Think on it carefully. When facing Perdition himself, the Lord drew upon scriptures for protection. (Elder Boyd K Packer, April 2000)

Posted in Symbolism

Symbolic meanings of numbers in the scriptures

In my booklet ‘Reading the Preston Temple’ I comment on the symbolic meaning of certain numbers.  Some people have expressed an interest in the symbolic meaning of numbers found in the  scriptures so I thought I would share some thoughts on some significant numbers.

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1 – God, Unity

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: (Deut 6:4)

2 –  symbolizes witness and support.

  • Two witnesses establish truth (Matthew 26:60).
  • The disciples were sent two by two (Luke 10:1).
  • The Ten Commandments were inscribed on two tablets of stone.
  • The Old and New Testament

3 –  Signifies completion or perfection, and unity.

  • Three is the number of Personages in the Godhead.
  • Many significant events in the Bible happened “on the third day” (Hosea 6:2).
  • Jesus’ earthly ministry lasted three years
  • This number operates as a “sign-post” in Scripture study for the reader to “pay attention” to the significance of the next event (eg Jesus spoke 3 times to the Nephites at Bountiful before they recognised his voice)

 4  Relates to the earth.

  • Earth has four seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall.
  • There are four primary directions: north, south, east, west.
  • The four corners of the earth
  • Four earthly kingdoms (Daniel 7:3).
  • Parable with four types of soil (Matthew 13).
  • Four lunar phases

 5 – A number associated with grace

  • Five kinds of animals were sacrificed under the Old Covenant Law of sacrifice: goats, sheep, cattle, pigeons and doves
  • Samuel the Lamanite prophesied that Jesus would be born in 5 years
  • David chose 5 stones for his sling (indicating his reliance on the grace of God)

 6 – imperfection, opposition to God

  • It falls short of 7
  • The mark of the Beast is 666.
  • Goliath was 6 foot 6 inches tall and wore 6 pieces of armour.

7Refers to perfection or completeness.

  • On the seventh day God rested after completing the creation (Genesis 2:2).
  • Jesus taught Peter to forgive 70 times seven (Matthew 18:22).
  • 7 days in a week
  • In Hebrew seven is shevah (shebah) from the root shava, meaning “to be full.”
  • It took Solomon seven years to build the Temple in Jerusalem.
  • There are multiple sevens in the Book of Revelation

 8 – new beginnings, rebirth, resurrection

  • Eight people survived the flood (Genesis 7:13, 23).
  • Circumcision took place on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12).
  • Aaron and his sons were consecrated on the 8th day
  • Jesus was resurrected on the day following the 7th day
  • Children are baptised at 8
  • 8 Jaredite barges
  • Lehis’s family wandered in the wilderness for 8 years before sailing for the promised land
  • Alma the Elder and his converts travelled 8 days into the wilderness to escape King Noah.

12– Relates to divine government, priesthood authority

  • The 12 tribes of Israel.
  • The 12 apostles
  • Baptismal fonts resting on the back of 12 oxen

30 associated with mourning and sorrow.

  • Aaron’s death was mourned for 30 days (Numbers 20:29).
  • Moses’ death was mourned for 30 days (Deuteronomy 34:8).
  • 30 pieces of silver

40  A number associated with testing and trials.

  • During the flood it rained 40 days (Genesis 7:4).
  • Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years (Numbers 14:33).
  • Jesus was in the wilderness 40 days before being tempted(Matthew 4:2).
  • 40 years to build the Salt Lake Temple.
Posted in Missionary work

The parable of the two lamps

Elder James E Talmage
Elder James E Talmage

One of the greatest ‘Mormon Blokes’ in history was James E Talmage. He was born 21 September 1862 in Hungerford in Berkshire. He was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and is probably best known for his highly influential book, ‘Jesus the Christ’ which was published 100 years ago (September 1915).  However, in January 1914 Elder Talmage began publishing a series of nine parables. Given Elder Talmage’s expertise as a chemist and geologist, it is perhaps not surprising that his parables tend to have a scientific flavour to them.

Three of the parables were reprinted in the Ensign in 2003 (https://www.lds.org/liahona/2003/02/three-parables-the-unwise-bee-the-owl-express-and-two-lamps?lang=eng)  and each is an enjoyable read. I think that my particular favourites are ‘The parable of the defective battery’  (http://mylifeinzion.com/2012/05/12/the-parable-of-the-defective-battery/)  and ‘The parable of the two lamps’.

In the parable of the two lamps Elder Talmage describes a time when he was a student and was sitting outside his lodgings one evening and was approached by a stranger who turned out to be a lamp salesman. The salesman offered to show the young James Talmage the lamp he was selling. James replied that he already had a lamp, a very fine ‘Argand’ lamp which he offered to show to the salesman.

Argand lamp
Argand lamp

Young James lit his lamp and the salesman enthused over it.  He then asked permission to demonstrate his ‘Rochester’ lamp. Elder Talmage records:

‘It had a chimney which, compared with mine, was as a factory smokestack alongside a house flue. Its hollow wick was wide enough to admit my four fingers. Its light made bright the remotest corner of my room. In its brilliant blaze my own little Argand wick burned a weak, pale yellow. Until that moment of convincing demonstration, I had never known the dim obscurity in which I had lived and labored, studied and struggled.’

 

Rochester lamp
Rochester lamp

James immediately bought the lamp and on testing it found that it could emit 48 candle power compared to the 12 candle power of the Argand lamp. Two days later, James met the lamp salesman again, but this time about noon time. When James asked him if he was working that day he replied:

“Do you think that I would be so foolish as to go around trying to sell lamps in the daytime? Would you have bought one if I had lighted it for you when the sun was shining? I chose the time to show the superiority of my lamp over yours, and you were eager to own the better one I offered, were you not?”

Elder Talmage then proceeds to set forth ‘a part, a very small part’ of the meaning of the parable:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” [Matt. 5:16]. The man who would sell me a lamp did not disparage mine. He placed his greater light alongside my feebler flame, and I hasted to obtain the better. The missionary servants of the Church of Jesus Christ today are sent forth, not to assail or ridicule the beliefs of men, but to set before the world a superior light, by which the smoky dimness of the flickering flames of man-made creeds shall be apparent. The work of the Church is constructive, not destructive. As to the further meaning of the parable, let him that hath eyes and a heart see and understand.

 

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 3 – Unto You is Born… a Saviour

He was Elohim’s Only Begotten Son and a member of the Godhead but when He came down to the earth that he created, there was no room for Him. There was no room for him in crowded Bethlehem and no room for Him in the hearts of those who purported to be His chosen people. They preferred Barabbas (whose name means ‘son of the father’) to the real Son of the Father. As John states: And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:5) .

“On that night in Bethlehem there was no room for him in the inn and this was not the only time during the thirty-three years of his sojourn in mortality that there was no room for him. Herod sent soldiers to Bethlehem to slay the children. There was no room for Jesus in the domain of Herod so his parents took him to Egypt. During his ministry there were many who made no room for his teachings-no room for the gospel he taught. There was no room for his miracles, for his blessings, no room for the divine truths he spoke, no room for his love or faith. He said to them, ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head’ (Matthew 8:20).

“Even in our day, although two thousand years have passed, there are many who say the same thing that was said on that night in Bethlehem. ‘There is no room, no room’ (see Luke 2:7). We make room for the gifts, but sometimes no room is made for the giver. We have room for the commercialism of Christmas and even pleasure-seeking on the Sabbath day, but there are times when there is not room for worship. Our thoughts are filled with other things-there is no room.” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter,edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 42.)

Is there room for him in our crowded lives? As those who purport to have taken upon themselves His name, do we make room for Him in our thoughts?

 

innkeeper-5X7-copy

As the’ innkeeper’ of our heart, do we welcome Him in or is He relegated to the equivalent of  a stable?

In His Father’s house there are many mansions but Jesus today seeks those who will make room for Him.  Still he asks us to let him in:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

 

See also: Scriptural advent calendar – December 15