Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 10 – Take my Yoke Upon You and Learn of Me

Matthew 11:28-30

28 ¶Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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The Lord invites all of his children, throughout the whole world to ‘Come unto me’. To ‘the Jews’ who sought to kill him, Jesus said:

 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:40).

Whoever we are, wherever we are, whatever we have done, Jesus wants us to come unto Him that we might have life. Elder Richard C Edgeley said:

The Savior said, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28) and “Knock, and it shall be [given] you” (Matthew 7:7). These are action verbs—come, knock. They are choices. So I say, choose faith. Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism. (General Conference, October 2010)

He specifically invites those who ‘labour and are heavy laden’. What causes us to labour and be heavy laden. One of the main burdens we carry is sin and this burden can be taken from us through the Saviour’s atonement. President James E Faust describes this wonderful blessing:

“There is hope for all to be healed through repentance and obedience…After our full repentance, the formula is wonderfully simple. Indeed, the Lord has given it to us in these words: ‘Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?’ (3 Nephi 9:12) In so doing, we have his promise that ‘he healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds’ (Psalm 147:3).

“We find solace in Christ through the agency of the Comforter, and Christ extends this invitation to us: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28). The apostle Peter speaks of ‘casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you’ (1 Peter 5:7). As we do this, healing takes place, just as the Lord promised through the prophet Jeremiah when he said, ‘I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. . . . I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul’ (Jeremiah 31:13, 25).

Other common burdens are sorrow and loss, pain and ill health. Elder Faust goes on to promise that the Lord can lift these burdens also:

“In the celestial glory, we are told, ‘God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain’ (Revelation 21:4). Then faith and hope will replace heartache, disappointment, torment, anguish, and despair, and the Lord will give us strength, as Alma says, that we ‘should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ’ (Alma 31:38). May we live to be worthy of that glorious day of rejoicing.” (Finding Light in a Dark World, 31-2.)

Jesus Christ has the power to heal us whether our afflictions be physical, social, mental or spiritual. He can and will give us rest from these afflictions if we come unto him and take his yoke. To take His yoke upon us is to unite ourselves with Him, to avail ourselves of his divine power.

President Howard W Hunter explained:

“Take my yoke upon you,” he pleads. In biblical times the yoke was a device of great assistance to those who tilled the field. It allowed the strength of a second animal to be linked and coupled with the effort of a single animal, sharing and reducing the heavy labor of the plow or wagon. A burden that was overwhelming or perhaps impossible for one to bear could be equitably and comfortably borne by two bound together with a common yoke. His yoke requires a great and earnest effort, but for those who truly are converted, the yoke is easy and the burden becomes light.

Why face life’s burdens alone, Christ asks, or why face them with temporal support that will quickly falter? To the heavy laden it is Christ’s yoke, it is the power and peace of standing side by side with a God that will provide the support, balance, and the strength to meet our challenges and endure our tasks here in the hardpan field of mortality.”

Sometimes I hear members of the Church murmuring that it is hard to be a member of the Church, that it is hard to keep the commandments, to keep striving to perfect ourselves. This may sometimes be true, but I believe that it is incomparably harder to live life without the Gospel, to not know the purpose of life, to not know what has happened to our loved ones who have passed on, to have nor sure light or voice guiding us through life’s darknesses and to have no relief for sin. As Neal A Maxwell says:

“[Christ’s] yoke, when fully and squarely placed upon us, is much lighter than the weight of sin. No burden is as heavy as the burden of the ‘natural man’! The annoying load of ambivalence and the hecticness of hesitation produce their own aggravations and frustrations.” (Men and Women of Christ, p. 103.)

Perhaps if we find that we resent the yoke, or we find it burdensome or it chafes on our shoulders, it is because we have not ‘fully and squarely’ placed it upon us. Elder Maxwell continues:

Actually the partially yoked experience little spiritual satisfaction, because they are burdened by carrying the awful weight of the natural man-without any of the joys that come from progressing toward becoming ‘the man of Christ.’ They have scarcely ‘[begun] to be enlightened’ (Alma 32:34). The meek and fully yoked, on the other hand, find God’s reassuring grace and see their weakness yielding to strength (see Ether 12:27).

“Strange as it seems, a few of the partially yoked, undeservedly wearing the colors of the kingdom, are just close enough to the prescribed path and process to be able to observe in others some of the visible costs of discipleship. Sobered by that observation, they want victory without battle and expect campaign ribbons merely for watching; but there is no witness until after the trial of their faith (see Ether 12:6).” (Men and Women of Christ, 2.)

We can struggle along in darkness, bowed down by our burdens, not knowing where we are going – or we can come unto the Saviour and accept his help, his grace, his atonement.

Posted in LDS Church History

Trail of Hope

Parley Street in Nauvoo leads to the banks of the Mississippi River from which thousands of Saints began their exodus from the City of Joseph. Parley Street is now known as ‘The Trail of Hope’ and all along its length are 30 historic marker boards containing quotes from those who left their homes in Nauvoo to begin the long trek to their Promised Land. To walk down Parley Street and read the boards is memorable and moving.

TRAIL OF HOPE – PARLEY STREET

“Our camp resounded with songs of joy and praise to God, all were cheerful and happy in the anticipation of finding a resting place from persecution in some of the lonely, solitary valleys of the great interior basin whithersoever we might be led.” Orson Pratt

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How well I remember what a hard time (father) had breaking in the animals to draw the wagon. There were six cows and two oxen. The oxen were well broken and quite sedate. But the cows were wild and unruly….while Father was breaking the cattle, Mother was praying….many nights when we were in bed asleep….she would go out into the orchard…..and there pour out her soul in prayer, asking the Lord to open the way for us to go with the Saints.” Margaret Judd Clawson

 

Margaret Judd Clawson
Margaret Judd Clawson

 

I stopped my carriage on the top of a rolling prairie and has a splendid view. I could see the Saints pouring out and gathering like clouds from the hills and dales, grove and prairie with their teams, wagons, flocks and herds by hundreds and thousands as it were until it looked like the movement of a great Nation. Wilfred Woodruff, 1846.

 

Wilford Woodruff
Wilford Woodruf

 

“Last evening the ladies met to organize…Several resolutions were adopted…If the men wish to hold control over women, let them be alert. We believe in equal rights.” Louisa Barnes Pratt

Louisa Barnes Pratt
Louisa Barnes Pratt

 

“The thoughts of leaving my family for the Mormon Battalion at this critical time are indescribable. My family consisted of a wife and two small children, who were left in company with an aged father and mother and a brother. The most of the Battalion left families…When we were to meet with them again, God only knew. Nevertheless, we did not feel to murmur.” William Hyde

William Hyde
William Hyde

“So, we have both suffered. We must help one another and the Great Spirit will help us both.” Chief Pied Riche, Pottawattamie Tribe

A large amount of labor has been done since arriving in this grove. Indeed, the while camp us very industrious. Many houses have been built, wells dug, extensive farms fenced, and the whole place assumes the appearance of having been occupied for years…” Orson Pratt

“He died in my arms about four o’clock. This was the second child which I have lost, both dying in my arms. He died with whooping cough and black canker. We are entirely destitute of anything even to eat, much less to nourish the sick.” Hosea Stout

Hosea Stout
Hosea Stout

“There on the bank of the Chariton River, I was delivered of a fine son. Occasionally the wagon had to be stopped that I might take breath. Thus I journeyed on. But I did not mind hardship of my situation, for my life had been preserved, and my babe was so beautiful.” Zina Huntingdon Jacobs Young

Zina Young
Zina Young

“My last act in that precious spot was to tidy the rooms, sweep up the floor, and set the broom in its accustomed place behind the door. Then with emotions in my heart…I gently closed the door and faced unknown future; faced it with faith in God and with no less assurance of the ultimate establishment of the Gospel in the West and of its true, enduring principles, than I had felt in those trying scenes in Missouri.” Bathsheba Smith

Bathsheba Smith
Bathsheba Smith

 

“We hurried to pack some food, cooking utensils, clothing and bedding, which was afterward unpacked and strewn over the ground by the mob as they searched for fire-arms. Mother had some bread already in the kettles to bake. Of course she did not have time to bake, so she hung it on the reach of our wagon and cooked it after we crossed the Mississippi River.” Mary Field Garner

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“The fall of 1845 found Nauvoo, as it were, one vast mechanic shop, as nearly every family was engaged in making wagons. Our parlor was used as a paint shop in which to paint wagons.” Bathsheba W. Smith

“Those of us who can remember when we were compelled to abandon Nauvoo, when the winter was inclement know how dark and gloomy the circumstances of the saints were, with the mob surrounding our outer settlements and threatening to destroy us and how trying it was to the faith of the people of God. The word was to cross the Mississippi and to launch out into an unknown wilderness-to go where, no one knew. Who knew anything of the terrors of the journey thither, or of the dangers that might have to be met and contended with? Who knew anything about the country to be traversed? Moving out with faith that was undisturbed by its unknown terror, it was by faith that this was accomplished?” George Q. Cannon

George Q Cannon
George Q Cannon

“I was in Nauvoo on the 26th day of May 1846 for the last time, and left the city of the Saints feeling that most likely I was taking a final farewell of Nauvoo for this life. I looked upon the temple and City as they receded from view and asked the Lord to remember the sacrifices of his Saints.” Wilford Woodruff

“Some had covers drawn over their wagons while others had only a sheet drawn over a few poles to make a tent. Sometimes these rude tents were the only covering for the while keeping the watchman post in the darkness of the night. I wept over the distress condition of the Saints. Toward the dim light of many a flickering lamp have my eyes been directed because of the crying of children, the restless movements of the aged, infirm and mournful groan of many suffering from fever. These have made an impression on my mind which can never be forgotten.” Gilbert Belnap

Gilvert Belnap
Gilbert Belnap

 

“With this advanced camp of the great exodus, there had come a brass band, led by Captain Pitt. After encampment was made and the toils of the day were over, the snow would be scraped away, a huge fire or several of them kindled within the wagoned enclosure, and there to the inspiring music of Pitt’s band, song and dance often beguiled the exiles into forgetfulness of their trials and discomforts.” B.H. Roberts

BH Roberts
BH Roberts

 

“As Sarah Leavitt and her daughters tried to comfort her sick husband, he began to sing, ‘Come Let Us Anew, Our Journey Pursue…’ He sang the hymn as long as he had strength to sing it and then wanted Elisa, one of his daughters, to sing it. He died without a struggle or a groan.” Sarah Leavitt

Sarah Leavitt
Sarah Leavitt

 

“The suffering and sadness of that camp I shall never forget. It is impossible to describe the cries of the hungry children, the sadness of others for the loss of their loved ones. What a terrible night of misery. We didn’t even have a light, except a candle which flickered out in the wind and rain as it was carried from one place to another.” Mary Field Garner

“Prepared for the night by erecting a temporary tent out of bed clothes. At this time my wife was hardly able to sit up and my little son was sick with a very high fever and would not even notice anything that was going on.” Hosea Stout

“…here we all halted and took a farewell view of our delightful City…We also beheld the magnificent Temple rearing its lofty tower towards the heavens…My heart did swell within me.” Newell Knight

“I was five years old when we started from Nauvoo. We crossed over the Mississippi in the skiff in the dusk of the evening. We bid goodbye to our dear old feeble grandmother, Lucy Mack Smith. I can never forget the bitter tears she shed when she bid us goodbye for the last time in the life. She knew it would be the last time she would see her son’s family…” Martha Ann Smith

“Without fire and something warm to eat, all would suffer through the night. Seeing no other way, I emptied a large valuable chest, highly prized, split it up with the hatchet, and soon had a warm supper, then the freezing storm, we crowded into our wagon and remained there through the night.” Benjamin F. Johnson

Benjamin F Johnson
Benjamin F Johnson

 

“I was the mid-wife, and delivered nine babies that night.” Jane Johnston

Jane Johnston
Jane Johnston

 

When a boat sank while attempting to cross the Mississippi, a number of Saints were tossed and sported on the water at the mercy of the cold and unrelenting waves…some climbed on top of the wagon…while cows and oxen were seen swimming to the shore from whence they came.” Hosea Stout

“I had a small flock of sheep which I had not time to sell. These I left, together with my house and lot, the former containing my furniture and books.” Priddy Meeks

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“Early in February, multitudes of the people commenced to cross the Mississippi, and from their encampments in the forest of Iowa. In regard to the terrible sufferings that followed, the terrible snow storms and rains that continued from February until May, causing such floods and mire, distress and suffering and consequent sickness, as perhaps has never been known to the lot of man…” Erastus Snow

Erastus Snow
Erastus Snow

 

“Unless the people are more united in spirit and cease to pray against counsel, it will bring me down to my grave. I am reduced in flesh so that my coat that would scarcely meet around me last winter now laps over twelve inches. It is with much ado that I can keep from lying down and sleeping to wait the resurrection.” Brigham Young

Brigham Young
Brigham Young

 

“We bade our children and friends goodbye and started for the west. Crossed the river about noon…I knitted almost a mitten for Mr. Sessions while he went back to get some things we left.” Patty Sessions

Patty Sessions
Patty Sessions

 

“I was not large enough to keep out of the way of the wagon at all times and consequently had my feet and leg run over two or three times when jumping out of the wagon to stop the team.” Gideon Murdock, age 6

Gideon Murdock
Gideon Murdock

 

“We had nothing to sweeten anything until the Lord sent honey dew, which we gathered from bushes until we get all the sweets we wanted. I also boiled maple juice and got cakes of maple sugar.” Jane Johnston

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 9 Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

The Lord Himself taught us how to pray in the Sermon on the Mount.

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Matthew 6:5–6  Pray in secret to avoid appearing to be righteous before men.

Vaughn J. Featherstone wrote:

“Now, the Lord taught us to pray in secret. What happens to us when we pray in secret? First, our faith is put to the test. How foolish people would feel who pray alone and really do not believe in God. We can pray in public and people might think we believe, but praying alone takes faith. When we pray alone, there is no one to impress with our command of the language, with our beautiful phrases or eloquence. We simply talk with a loving, interested Father about what is troubling us most. We take problems that no one else, not another living soul, can help us with. We become like little children, feeling a dependence and need for someone wiser and with power and influence. We do not have to worry about embarrassment if our prayers are not answered the way we think they should be, because only we and God know for what we pray. When tears come, there is no embarrassment. We can be totally honest, knowing that we cannot lie to or deceive the Spirit or God. He knows us for our real worth. He knows who and what we really are, not what we seem to be. When we have personal problems or struggles, we can pray and know that these things are kept totally confidential. We can discuss our weaknesses, our sins, our frustrations, our needs, and know that He will listen and respond.” (The Incomparable Christ: Our Master and Model, 60 – 61.)

Matthew 6:7  Pray from the heart, avoiding “vain repetitions.”

The Lord’s prayer was intended to be an example, not a set of words and phrases to be recited repetitiously.

Matthew 6:9  Pray to our Father in Heaven

Elder J Devn Cornish in the October 2011 General Conference said:

Jesus addressed His Father in an attitude of worship, recognizing His greatness and giving Him praise and thanks. Surely this matter of reverencing God and giving heartfelt and specific thanks is one of the keys to effective prayer.

 

Matthew 6:10  Remember that God knows best and pray for His will to be done.

Francis M. Lyman said

“What a splendid condition would obtain among the Latter-day Saints today, what an improvement there would be among us, if we were to do the will of our Father as it is in heaven! It is possible for us to do the will of our Father. We know what His will is, and we beseech our Father that we may do His will as His will is done in heaven; and when we pray with faith we will be enabled to live up to that prayer and that petition, and this should be the endeavor of every member of this Church. Our thoughts should be brought to that point upon every occasion when we approach the Lord, that his will in us may be done as it is done in heaven.” (Oct. 6, 1895)

Matthew 6:11  Pray for material or temporal needs.

Jesus was not telling His disciples to only pray for bread. However bread symbolises our physical needs and God’s care for His children. In the Old Testament we read how he promised to “rain bread from heaven” (Exodus 16:4). What he provided was ‘Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made  with honey.’ (Exodus 16:31). Wafers made with honey – that sounds pretty delicious to me! The Lord will bless us when we approach him with our needs.

Matthew 6:12  Pray for forgiveness from sins

In this verse the Lord makes a very clear link between our being forgiven of debts (or sins) and our forgiving others.

Matthew 6:13  Pray to avoid temptation

Joseph Smithtaught that a better rendition of this verse is “leave us not in temptation.” (Andrus,They Knew the Prophet, p. 87)

Elder J Devn Cornish said:

Thus, in our prayers we may begin the protective process of putting on the whole armor of God (see Ephesians 6:11D&C 27:15) by looking forward to the day ahead and asking for help with the sometimes frightening things we may face. Please, my friends, do not forget to ask the Lord to protect and be with you.

Posted in Missionary work

My story

Paul St Helier 1978001

I grew up in a poor family on a council estate. My father left home when I was very small never to be seen again. At that time I had three younger sisters. My mam worked hard, as a single parent, to support us but we were poor. I can remember being told to hide behind the settee and pretend that there was no-one home when the rent man called.

I learned to read very early and was an avid reader. I would read anything I could get my hands on and can remember reading the Bible from a very young age. We occasionally went to Sunday School at the Methodist chapel on the Green but we were not regular church goers.

When I was about 8 years old we started to attend the Kingdom Hall and to take lessons from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. One day, my mam was expecting the teachers from the Kingdom Hall to visit. She was in the kitchen doing the laundry and because it was a beautiful spring day she had the front and back doors open to allow a breeze to circulate.

There was a knock at the front door and, still busy in the kitchen, my mam called out ‘Who’s there?’ The reply came ‘We’ve come from a church.’ Thinking that it was the Jehovah’s Witness teachers, mam called back ‘Come in and sit down’. She came out of the kitchen to find two tall, young Mormon missionaries sitting on the settee. Strangely, the teachers from the Kingdom Hall never did call that day but we received the first of the missionary discussions.

I remember that the missionaries taught us with flannel boards – boards covered with a flannel type material – and pictures with sandpaper on the back that were stuck onto the flannel boards. I think the first lesson had pictures of the Eastern and Western hemispheres, the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I distinctly remember that I believed everything that the missionaries taught us – it seemed familiar, as if they were just reminding me of things that I knew but had forgotten.

In June, when I was 10, my mam, two of my sisters and I were baptised into the Church. Unfortunately, soon after we were baptised my mam and my sisters stopped attending Church. I kept going however, and was encouraged and supported in my church activity by my new friends in the church and by great leaders in the ward, like John Dale and the Ingram, Helps and Beaumont families who took an interest in the scruffy little boy from the Council estate. Harry and Maureen Beaumont, with six children of their own, unselfishly opened their home, their pantry and their hearts to me and a host of other young people who had families that were not in the Church.

Eventually, I somehow received a call to serve a mission in the England London South Mission. In the meantime I had become engaged to my Pearl among Women who promised to marry me when I returned from my mission.

While on my mission I met another missionary who knew Elder Curtis who had knocked on our door in 1968 and had taught and baptised my family. I obtained Elder Curtis’ address and wrote to him to tell him that the boy he had baptised 9 years was now himself serving as a missionary. Elder Curtis wrote back thrilled at the news but confessed that he had had to look at his journal to recall the family he had taught in Billingham who had ‘gone inactive’ as far as he knew.

I am grateful that there were people who had sufficient love to embrace a scruffy little boy from a single parent family and nurture him in the gospel.

 

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 8 – The Sermon on the Mount ‘A More Excellent Way’.

President Joseph Fielding Smith called the Sermon on the Mount “greatest [sermon] that was ever preached” Martin Luther called the Sermon on the Mount “the devil’s masterpiece” because in his opinion “the devil so masterfully distorts and perverts Christ’s true meaning through his Apostle [Matthew] especially in the fifth chapter.”

Which one do you believe, President Smith or Martin Luther?

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Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The footnotes tell us that blessed means happy or fortunate. How can it be fortunate to be poor in spirit?

 “…the Book of Mormon sermon added the phrase ‘who come unto me…’ Obviously in the 3 Nephi rendering, being poor in spirit is not in itself a virtue, but it will be so if such humility brings one to claim the blessings of the kingdom through the waters of baptism, making covenants, and moving toward all the promises given to covenant-making disciples. It is significant that the phrase ‘come unto me’ is used at least four more times in the twenty or so verses that follow this one.” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ And The New Covenant, p. 263)

Robert E Wells wrote: “To be poor in spirit means to be humble, teachable, contrite, meek, obedient.

Verse 4 Blessed are they that mourn.

 How can it be fortunate to mourn? One reason is given in 2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation.  Robert E. Wells suggests another reason:

“Since mourning is so universal, the Lord must have a purpose for having us experience it. There is no doubt but that he softens and molds us and touches us most deeply when we are mourning.” (The Mount and the Master, p. 20)

Verse 5 Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. 

How will the meek inherit the earth? What does that mean?

Joseph Fielding Smith said:

“This earth is going to become a celestial body and is going to be a fit abode for celestial beings only; the others will have to go somewhere else, where they belong. This earth will be reserved for those who are entitled to exaltation, and they are the meek, spoken of by our Savior, who shall inherit the earth. When the Lord said the meek shall inherit the earth, He had reference to those who are willing to keep the commandments of the Lord in righteousness and thus receive exaltation.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1942, p. 28)

Verse 6 Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.

Filled with what? – 3 Nephi 12:6 tells us ‘with the Holy Ghost.’

Russell M. Nelson related:

“I was with Elder Mark E. Petersen in the Holy Land in October 1983, during his last mortal journey. Elder Petersen was not well. Evidences of his consuming malignancy were painfully real to him, yet he derived strength from the Savior he served. Following a night of intense suffering, exacerbated by pangs of his progressive inability to eat or to drink, Elder Petersen addressed throngs assembled at the Mount of the Beatitudes to hear his discourse on the Sermon on the Mount. After he recited ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness,’ he departed from the biblical text and pleaded this question: ‘Do you know what it is to be really hungry? Do you know what it is to really be thirsty? Do you desire righteousness as you would desire food under extreme conditions or drink under extreme conditions? [The Savior] expects us to literally hunger and thirst after righteousness and seek it with all our hearts!’

“I was one of the few present on that occasion who knew how hungry and thirsty Elder Petersen really was. His encroaching cancer had deprived him of relief from physical hunger and thirst, so he understood that doctrine. He withstood the trial. He thanked the Lord, who lent him power to preach his last major sermon at the sacred site where Jesus himself had preached.” (The Power Within Us, p. 21)

Verse 7 Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy

 Our salvation rests upon the mercy we show to others (Harold B Lee)

Verse 8 Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

Bruce R. McConkie said:

“We have the power—and it is our privilege—so to live, that becoming pure in heart, we shall see the face of God while we yet dwell as mortals in a world of sin and sorrow.

“This is the crowning blessing of mortality. It is offered by that God who is no respecter of persons to all the faithful in his kingdom.‘Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am.’(D&C 93:1.)”(Conference Report, Oct. 1977, p. 52)

Verse 9 Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God

 Bruce R. McConkie again:

“The gospel of peace makes men ! Christ came to bring peace-peace on earth and good will to men. His gospel gives peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come. He is the Prince of peace. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them who preach the gospel of peace, who say unto Zion: The God reigneth! Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with his saints. By this shall all men know the Lord’s disciples: They are peacemakers; they seek to compose difficulties; they hate war and love peace; they invite all men to forsake evil, overcome the world, flee from avarice and greed, stand in holy places, and receive for themselves that peace which passeth understanding, that peace which comes only by the power of the Spirit.” (The Mortal Messiah, Book 2, p. 123)

Verse 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

 Joseph Smith taught:

“Those who cannot endure persecution, and stand in the day of affliction, cannot stand in the day when the Son of God shall burst the veil, and appear in all the glory of His Father, with all the holy angels.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 42)

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015

The Feeding of the 5000

Here’s a little quiz for you about the miracle of the feeding of the 5000:

1. The story of the feeding of the 5000 is found in 3 of the 4 gospels –  True or False?

2. The feeding of the five thousand took place in the desert –  True or False?

3. The feeding of the 5000 took place at the time of the Passover – True or False?

4. Jesus fed 5000 people in the feeding of the 5000 – True or False?

5. The people were fed with two loaves and five fishes – True or False?

6. How many baskets of fragments were left at the end?

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Answers:

1. False. This is the only miracle (other than the resurrection) that is recorded in all four Gospels – it must have made an impression and been thought of as important. In fact, it is one of the central episodes in Jesus’ ministry.

2. False See Mark 6:31, John 6:10 (grass), Mark 6:31

3. True – John 6:4. This was significant because the Jews expected their Messiah to come at the time of the Passover.

4. False See Mark 6:44, John 6:10.

5. False See John 6:9. Note that barley was the grain of the poor people.

6. 12 see John 6:13

Posted in Jesus Christ, Uncategorized

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 7 – [He] Took Our Infirmities, and Bare Our Sicknesses

Lesson title

The lesson title refers to Matthew 8:16-17:

When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:

17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

Matthew says that the Saviour’s healing miracles fulfilled a prophecy by Isaiah. The LDS scripture footnotes do not give a cross reference for a relevant scripture in Isaiah.  However, Elder Bruce R McConkie identifies the prophecy as Isaiah 53:4:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Elder McConkie goes on to say:

Isaiah’s clear meaning is that the Messiah takes upon himself the sins-and hence the griefs and sorrows, for these come because of sin-of all men on condition of repentance. Matthew simply assumes his apostolic prerogative to give added meaning to Isaiah’s words by applying them-properly-to the physical healings that are a type and pattern of the spiritual healings wrought through the infinite and eternal atonement of Him who ransoms men both temporally and spiritually.” (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 2: 52.)

I find that an interesting thought – that the physical healings were a type and pattern of the spiritual healings made available through the atonement. The miracles that Jesus performed during his mortal ministry were marvelous and awe-inspiring but others of the Lord’s servants have exercised priesthood power to heal the sick and raise the dead. However, no-one else ever could perform the miracle of conquering death as the Saviour did through his resurrection or the miracle of bearing our griefs, sorrows and sins as the Saviour did through his infinite atonement.

Miracles today

Harold B. Lee

“The greatest miracles I see today are not necessarily the healing of sick bodies, but the greatest miracles I see are the healing of sick souls, those who are sick in soul and spirit and are downhearted and distraught, on the verge of nervous breakdowns. We are reaching out to all such, because they are precious in the sight of the Lord, and we want no one to feel that they are forgotten.” (Ensign, July 1973, p. 123.)

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Jesus Christ’s miracles in the New Testament

  1. Turning water into wine – John 2:1-11
  2. Healing a nobleman’s son – John 4: 46-54
  3. A multitude of fishes – Luke 5:1-11
  4. Casting out an unclean spirit – Mark 1:21- 28
  5. Healing Simon Peter’s mother in law – Mark 1:29 -31
  6. Healing a multitude – Mark 1:32 -34
  7. Healing a leper – Matthew 8:1-4
  8. Centurion’s servant cured – Matthew 8:5-13
  9. Stilling the tempest – Matthew 8:23-27
  10. Casting devils into a herd of swine – Matthew 8 :28 -33
  11. Healing man sick of the palsy – Matthew 9:1-8
  12. Healing an invalid on the Sabbath – John 5:1-9
  13. Healing man with withered hand on the Sabbath – Matthew 12:10-13
  14. Raises son of the widow of Nain from the dead – Luke 7:11-15
  15. Healing one possessed of a devil, blind and dumb – Matthew 12:22
  16. A woman is healed by touching his clothes – Mark 5:24-34
  17. Raising Jairus’ daughter to life – Mark 5:22-24, 35-43
  18. Healing two blind men – Matthew 9:27-31
  19. Healing a dumb man possessed of a devil – Matthew 9:32-33
  20. Feeding 5000 – Matthew 14:15-21
  21. Walking on water – Matthew 14:22-27
  22. Saves Peter from drowning – Matthew 14: 29-32
  23. Those who touch the hem of his garment are made whole – Matthew 14:35-36
  24. Healing the daughter of a gentile woman – Matthew 15:21-31
  25. Opening the ears and loosening the tongue of a person with an impediment – Mark 7:31-35
  26. Feeding 4000 – Matthew 15: 32-39
  27. Healing a blind man – Mark 8:22-26
  28. Healing a lunatic – Matthew 17:14-21
  29. Paying taxes in a miraculous manner – Matthew 17:24-27
  30. Casting out a devil – Luke 11:14
  31. Healing a man born blind, on the Sabbath – John 9:1-38
  32. Healing a woman on the Sabbath – Luke 13:11-13
  33. Healing a man on the Sabbath – Luke 14:1-4
  34. Raising Lazarus from the dead – John 11 :1-46
  35. Healing 10 lepers – Luke 17:11-19
  36. Healing two blind men – Matthew 20:30-34
  37. Cursing a fig tree – Matthew 21:17-19
  38. Healing Malchus’ ear – Luke 22:50-53
  39. Rising from the dead – John 20
  40. Multitude of fishes – John 21:1-6
Posted in Jesus Christ

The Infinite Atonement

I heartily recommend Elder Tad Callister’s book ‘The Infinite Atonement’ – it will help you to a deeper understanding of the atonement than you have ever had before. To whet your appetite here are some notes I took when I  read the book and some of the key scripture references and quotes used by Elder Callister.

atonement-what-can-the-scriptures

  1. INFINITE IN THE DIVINENESS OF THE CHOSEN ONE

The atonement is infinite in the divineness of the one who was sacrificed. He is an infinite being with infinite characteristics.

  • Alma 26:35 – he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things.
  • Psalm 147:5 – his understanding is infinite.
  • Mosiah 5:3 – infinite goodness
  • Mosiah 28:4 – Infinite mercy
  • Alma 34:14 – the son of God infinite and eternal
  1. INFINITE IN POWER

The atonement has the power to resurrect the dead, the power to conquer spiritual death and the power to exalt ordinary people.

  • John 17:2 – power over all flesh
  • D&C 19:3 – the power to destroy Satan
  • Alma 12:15 – the power to save every man
  • D&C 93:17 – received all power
  • Revelation 5:12 – slain to receive power
  • Alma 7:12 – he will take upon him death that he may loose the bands of death
  1. INFINITE IN TIME

The Saviour’s atonement was effective for those who died before him.

  • Headnote to Alma 39
  • Ether 3:13 (2200 BC) ye are redeemed from the fall
  • Mosiah 3;13 – even as though he had already come among them
  • Mosiah 3:18 – salvation was, and is and is to come
  • D&C 82;10 The Lord had covenanted to perform his sacrifice

The atonement stretches back to sins we committed in the premortal existence

  • Alma 3;13 – in the first place being left to choose good and evil – so agency
  • Abraham 3:22-23 – some had progressed more than others
  • Joseph Fielding Smith – the picture is complete. Man could sin before his mortal birth.

Orson Pratt: We see no impropriety in Jesus offering himself as an acceptable offering and sacrifice before the Father to atone for the sins of his brethren, not only in the second, but also in the first estate.

  • D&C 93:38 – we began our second estate innocent because of the atonement.

The atonement covers postmortal spirits

  • D&C 138:58 – The redeeming powers of the Saviour stretch forward to reach the spirits of the dead.
  1. INFINITE IN COVERAGE

Bruce R. McConkie: “When the prophets speak of an infinite atonement, they mean just that. Its effects cover all men, the earth itself and all forms of life thereon, and reach out into the endless expanses of eternity….Now our Lord’s jurisdiction and power extend far beyond the limits of this one small earth on which we de\well. He is under the Father, the creator of worlds without number (Moses 1:33). And through the power of his atonement the inhabitants of these worlds, the revelation says, ‘are begotten sons and daughters unto God’ (DC 76:24), which means that the atonement of Christ, being literally and truly infinite, applies to an infinite number of earths.” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 64-5

  • D&C 76:24, 42, 43 Saviour saved all the people from the worlds made by him

 Elder Russell M Nelson:

The mercy of the atonement extends not only to an infinite number of people, but also to an infinite number of worlds created by him.

5. INFINITE IN DEPTH

Includes even those who don’t repent

 Brigham Young – He had paid the full debt whether you receive the gift or not.

Voluntarily took upon him not only sins but depression, sorrow, loneliness, hurts etc.

Isaiah 53:4

  • Isaiah 63;9
  • Alma 7:11

6. INFINITE IN SUFFERING

D&C 19:18 – both body and spirit

 Elder Orson F Whitney:

Our little finite afflictions are but as a drop in the ocean compared with the infinite and unspeakable agony borne by him for our sakes.

  • Hebrews 2:9 – tasted death for every man
  •  Mosiah 15:10-11 – saw each of us

 Elder Merrill J Bateman –

The Savior’s atonement in the garden and on the cross is intimate as well as infinite. Infinite in that it spans the eternities. Intimate in that the Savior felt each person’s pains, sufferings and sicknesses.

7. INFINITE IN LOVE

The motivation behind the atonement was love

  • D&C 133:53
  • 1 Nephi 19:9
Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 6 – They straightway left their nets

The keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:19)

The Lord’s promise was fulfilled six days later on the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter, James and John had keys bestowed upon them by the Lord and by prophets from previous dispensations. These keys have been restored to the earth today through the prophet Joseph Smith and are exercised in holy temples around the world. Boyd K. Packer wrote:

“Peter was to hold the keys. Peter was to hold the sealing power, that authority which carries the power to bind or seal on earth or to loose on earth and it would be so in the heavens. Those keys belong to the President of the Church-to the prophet, seer, and revelator. That sacred sealing power is with the Church now. Nothing is regarded with more sacred contemplation by those who know the significance of this authority. Nothing is more closely held. There are relatively few men who hold this sealing power upon the earth at any given time-in each temple are brethren who have been given the sealing power. No one can get it except from the prophet, seer, and revelator and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is more closely held than any other authority. I am an Apostle and in company with fourteen other men now living hold all of the keys. I have the sealing power. It was given to me at the time of my ordination, as is true of all the Brethren who hold membership in the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. I can seal and I can loose according to the directions given by the President of the Church. But I cannot give this authority to another. If another is to have it, he must get it from that one man on the earth who has the right to exercise all the keys of the priesthood. We know from the revelations that there will be but one at a time on the earth who has this right.” (The Holy Temple, 88.)

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The original twelve apostles

Simon (Peter)  – Given a special name by Jesus: Cephas (Syriac) or Petros (Greek) which means “stone or rock.” He was Andrew’s brother and the son of Jonah. By trade, Peter was a fisherman. He was a married man (1 Corinthians 9:5) and his home was Capernaum. He received the keys of the kingdom on earth from Jesus, Moses and Elias on the Mount of Transfiguration. He was the President of the Church following Christ’s ascension. He opened up the gospel to the gentiles. He came with James and John to bestow  the Melchizedek Priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in 1829. Tradition says he was crucified, head downward, in Rome.

James – the son of Zebedee and Salome. James is the Greek form of the Hebrew Jacob. He was John’s brother. Jesus referred to James and John as Boanerges, the sons of thunder, evidently because of their temperament. (Mark 3:17.) He was a fisherman who lived in Bethsaida, Capernaum and Jerusalem. He was with Peter and John on certain special occasions – the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the Transfiguration and at Gethsemane. He preached in Jerusalem and Judea and was beheaded by Herod, the first of the twelve to be martyred (Acts 12:1,2).

John -The name means “Jehovah’s Gift,” from the Hebrew Johanan. He was James’ brother. He was known as the ‘Beloved’. He wrote the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and the book of Revelation. John did not die but has been allowed to remain on the earth as a ministering servant until the Second Coming.

Andrew – The name means “manly.” He was Simon Peter’s brother. He lived in Bethsaida and Capernaum and was a fisherman before Jesus called him. Originally he was a disciple of John the Baptist (Mark 1:16-18). Andrew brought his brother, Peter, to Jesus (John 1:40). According to tradition, it was in Achaia, Greece, in the town of Patra that Andrew died a martyr. Andrew, feeling unworthy to be crucified on the same-shaped cross as his Master, begged that his be different. So, he was crucified on an X-shaped cross, which is still called Saint Andrew’s cross and which is one of his apostolic symbols.

Philip – The name comes from the Greek and means “lover of horses.” Philip came from Bethsaida, the town from which Peter and Andrew came (John 1:44). The likelihood is that he, too, was a fisherman. Tradition says that after the ascension of Christ Jesus, Philip traveled into Scythia (south Russia) and remained there for twenty years preaching the Gospel. Eventually, in the company of the apostle Bartholomew, Philip went to Asia Minor and laboured in Hierapolis in what is modern day Turkey. He was crucified there. Philip’s tomb is still to be found in the Turkish city of Hierapolis.

 Nathanael (Bartholomew) -The name means “gift of God,” and is from the Hebrew. Bartholomew was probably his surname.  Jesus called him  “An Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile” (John 1:47). He is said to have been martyred in 68 AD

Thomas – He is also called Didymus, from the Greek, meaning “twin.” In John 20:25, we see him saying unless he sees the nailprints in Jesus’ hand and the gash of the spear in His side he will not believe. That’s why Thomas became known as Doubting Thomas. Tradition says he laboured in Parthia, Persia, and India, suffering martyrdom by being thrust through by a spear near Madras, India.

Matthew – He was also called Levi, a Hebrew word meaning “gift of Jehovah.” Also called the Publican (tax collector). He is James the Less’ brother. He was probably the best educated of the apostles and had a thorough knowledge of the scriptures. He wrote the Gospel of Matthew to show that Jesus is the Messiah of whom the prophets spoke. He is believed to have been killed by a spear and a battle axe.

James – Son of Alphaeus. Called “the less” to distinguish him from James, son of Zebedee. He is Matthew’s brother. He is believed to have been beaten and stoned to death in Jerusalem for preaching of Christ.

Thaddeus – (Also known as Jude or Judas, not Iscariot) Thaddeus is the Hebrew root for “heart.” He is also called Lebbaeus which is Arabic for “root.” Tradition says he preached in Assyria and Persia and died a martyr in Persia.

Simon – Called “the Canaanite” (Matthew 10:4) and “the Zealot” (Lu. 6:15). The Hebrew word for zealots was Kananim. This would explain the title “Canaanite.” The Zealots were fanatical Jewish Nationalists who hated Rome. There is a strong Christian tradition that Simon was crucified by the Romans in Caistor, Lincolnshire and subsequently buried there on May 10, circa 61 AD.

Judas– Called Iscariot, probably because he was from the village of Kerioth (Joshua 15:24). He was the only one of the twelve who was not a Galilean. He betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He was replaced in the Twelve by Matthias.