Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 39 – “For the Perfecting of the Saints”

  1. The dispensation of the fulness of times

Ephesians 1: 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

‘The word “mystery” (μυστήριον mustērion) means literally something into which one must be “initiated” before it is fully known (from μυέω mueō, to initiate, to instruct); and then anything which is concealed or hidden. We commonly use the word to denote that which is above our comprehension or unintelligible. But this is never the meaning of the word in the New Testament. It means there some doctrine or fact which has been concealed, or which has not before been fully revealed, or which has been set forth only by figures and symbols. When the doctrine is made known, it may be as clear and plain as any other.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

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Ephesians 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

‘In the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836, Moses appeared and gave the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the keys of the gathering of Israel. After this, Elias appeared and committed the gospel of Abraham, that in “our seed all generations after us should be blessed.”After this, Elijah the prophet appeared and gave to them the keys of this dispensation, including the sealing power, to bind in heaven that which is bound on earth within the temples. Thus, prophets of previous gospel dispensations presented their keys to the Prophet Joseph Smith in this, the “dispensation of the fulness of times” spoken of by the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians. ‘ (James E Faust, General Conference, April 2006)

  1. Jesus Christ as our cornerstone

Ephesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

“…one gratefully ponders Paul’s reminding references to those who live without hope and ‘without God in the world.’ (Ephesians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:5.) Observe what happens by way of expanding our perception when those excellent words of Paul are placed alongside these parallel words from the Book of Mormon:

‘And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.’ (Alma 41:11.)

‘Yea, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him. Yea, even at the last day, when all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God; then shall they confess, who live without God in the world, that the judgment of an everlasting punishment is just upon them; and they shall quake, and tremble, and shrink beneath the glance of his all-searching eye.’ (Mosiah 27:31. See also Mosiah 16:1.)

“Thus we see clearly that to live without God in the world is to live ‘in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.’ Yet, one day even those who have so existed (they can hardly be said to have ‘lived’) will acknowledge the justice of God.” (Neal A Maxwell, Plain and Precious Things [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 34.)

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

‘You are reckoned with the people of God. You are entitled to their privileges, and are not to be regarded as outcasts and aliens. The meaning is, that they belonged to the same community – the same family – as the people of God. The word rendered “strangers” – ξένοι xenoi – means “foreigners in state,” as opposed to citizens. The word rendered “foreigners” – πάροικοι paroikoi – means “guests in a private family,” as opposed to the members of the family.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

‘The Church was established by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets”.  In this, “the dispensation of the fulness of times” the Lord restored what once was, specifically telling the Prophet Joseph Smith, “I will establish a church by your hand”  (D&C 31:7) Jesus Christ was and is the head of His Church, represented on earth by prophets holding apostolic authority.’ (Donald L Hallstrom, General Conference, April 2012)

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Ephesians 4: 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

“Now, others may insist that this is not the true church. That is their privilege. But to claim that it does not exist anywhere, that it does not even need to exist, is to deny the scriptures.

“The New Testament teaches of ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ and speaks of ‘ [all coming] in the unity of the faith’ (Eph. 4:5, 13) and of a ‘restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began’ (Acts 3:21.)

“We did not invent the doctrine of the only true church. It came from the Lord. Whatever perception others have of us, however presumptuous we appear to be, whatever criticism is directed to us, we must teach it to all who will listen.” (Boyd K Packer, “The Only True Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 82)

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

“We now ask, all Christendom who profess to be Saints, whether they are perfect or imperfect? The general answer is, ‘we are imperfect.’ How do you expect to become perfect, if you do away out of your churches inspired apostles, prophets, and other officers? These are the only gifts and officers by which the Saints can be perfected. Have you got them in your midst? Millions answer ‘no: we do not believe in prophets in our day.’ But do you believe in ‘pastors and teachers?’ O yes, they are necessary. Who told you to reject the most important gifts of the church and to retain the rest? ‘No one has told us to do this but our ministers, and they must be good men, and they say that apostles and prophets are no longer necessary, but that evangelists, pastors and teachers are’…Know assuredly that there never was any other plan adopted in the gospel to perfect the Saints than through apostles, prophets and other gifts.” (Orson Pratt’s Works [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1945], 163 – 165.)

 Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

‘In view of the hundreds of churches claiming to be the church of Christ and yet teaching conflicting doctrine, is it not clear that men are being tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine as the Apostle Paul stated, and is this not because the apostles and the prophets whom God placed in his Church to bring them to a unity of the faith were all put to death, except the Apostle John who was promised that he might tarry to bring souls unto Christ until he should come in his glory’?’ (LeGrand Richards, General Conference, October 1963)

  1. Unity between husband and wife and between parents and children

 Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

“Christ loved the church and its people so much that he voluntarily endured persecution for them, suffered humiliating indignities for them, stoically withstood pain and physical abuse for them, and finally gave his precious life for them.

“When the husband is ready to treat his household in that manner, not only the wife but all the family will respond to his leadership.

“Certainly if fathers are to be respected, they must merit respect-if they are to be loved, they must be consistent, lovable, understanding, and kind, and they must honor their priesthood.” (Spencer W Kimball, “Home: The Place to Save Society,” Ensign, Jan. 1975, 5)

 Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

‘Both men and women are to serve their families and others, but the specific ways in which they do so are sometimes different. For example, God has revealed through his prophets that men are to receive the priesthood, become fathers, and with gentleness and pure, unfeigned love they are to lead and nurture their families in righteousness as the Savior leads the Church. They have been given the primary responsibility for the temporal and physical needs of the family.  Women have the power to bring children into the world and have been given the primary duty and opportunity as mothers to lead, nurture, and teach them in a loving, spiritual environment. In this divine partnership, husbands and wives support one another in their God-given capacities. By appointing different accountabilities to men and women, Heavenly Father provides the greatest opportunity for growth, service, and progress. He did not give different tasks to men and women simply to perpetuate the idea of a family; rather, He did so to ensure that the family can continue forever, the ultimate goal of our Heavenly Father’s eternal plan.’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, October 1993)

 Ephesians 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

“You fathers can help with the dishes, care for a crying baby, and change a diaper. And perhaps some Sunday you could get the children ready for Church, and your wife could sit in the car and honk.

“‘Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.’ With that kind of love, brethren, we will be better husbands and fathers, more loving and spiritual leaders.” (Russell M Nelson,”Our Sacred Duty to Honor Women,” Ensign, May 1999, 39-40)

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Ephesians 5: 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

‘And cleanse it with the washing of water – In all this there is an allusion doubtless to the various methods of purifying and cleansing those who were about to be married, and who were to be united to monarchs as their brides.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

“In latter-day revelation the Lord speaks again of this obligation. He said, ‘Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.’ (D&C 42:22.) To my knowledge there is only one other thing in all scripture that we are commanded to love with all our hearts, and that is God Himself. Think what that means!

“This kind of love can be shown for your wives in so many ways. First and foremost, nothing except God Himself takes priority over your wife in your life-not work, not recreation, not hobbies. Your wife is your precious, eternal helpmate-your companion.

“What does it mean to love someone with all your heart? It means to love with all your emotional feelings and with all your devotion. Surely, when you love your wife with all your heart, you cannot demean her, criticize her, find fault with her, or abuse her by words, sullen behavior, or actions.

“What does it mean to ‘cleave unto her’? It means to stay close to her, to be loyal and faithful to her, to communicate with her, and to express your love for her.

“Love means being sensitive to her feelings and needs. She wants to be noticed and treasured. She wants to be told that you view her as lovely and attractive and important to you. Love means putting her welfare and self-esteem as a high priority in your life.

“You should be grateful that she is the mother of your children and the queen of your home, grateful that she has chosen homemaking and motherhood-to bear, to nourish, to love, and to train your children-as the noblest calling of all.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 44.)

  Ephesians 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

“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).

“Tenderness and respect-never selfishness-must be the guiding principles in the intimate relationship between husband and wife. Each partner must be considerate and sensitive to the other’s needs and desires. Any domineering, indecent, or uncontrolled behavior in the intimate relationship between husband and wife is condemned by the Lord.

“Any man who abuses or demeans his wife physically or spiritually is guilty of grievous sin and in need of sincere and serious repentance. Differences should be worked out in love and kindness and with a spirit of mutual reconciliation. A man should always speak to his wife lovingly and kindly, treating her with the utmost respect. Marriage is like a tender flower, brethren, and must be nourished constantly with expressions of love and affection.” (Howard W Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 51)

 Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

‘In the Lord – That is, as far as their commandments agree with those of God, and no further. No parent can have a right to require a child to steal, or lie, or cheat, or assist him in committing murder, or in doing any other wrong thing.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Ephesians 6:2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

“The prophets have said that our greatest tests often take place within our own homes. How we behave toward one another as children, parents, spouses, brothers, sisters, and roommates under the stress of everyday life is the real indicator of our Christianity. And although the gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses the highest ideals and standards, we must never forget its underlying principle-love. And that is what honoring implies-loving. Not judging, not resenting, but loving in its highest form.” (Kelly Clark Hinton, “I Just Don’t Have That Kind of Dad,” Ensign, June 1988, 52)

 Ephesians 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

‘it is still true that obedience to parents is conducive to length of life, and that those who are most obedient in early life, other things being equal, have the best prospect of living long. This occurs because:

(a) obedient children are saved from the vices and crimes which shorten life. No parent will command his child to be a drunkard, a gambler, a spendthrift, a pirate, or a murderer. But these vices and crimes, resulting in most cases from disobedience to parents, all shorten life; and they who early commit them are certain of on early grave. No child who disobeys a parent can have any “security” that he will not fall a victim to such vices and crimes.

(b) Obedience to parents is connected with virtuous habits that are conducive to long life. It will make a child industrious, temperate, sober; it will lead him to restrain and govern his wild passions; it will lead him to form habits of self-government which will in future life save him from the snares of vice and temptation.

(c) Many a life is lost early by disobeying a parent. A child disobeys a father and goes into a dramshop; or he goes to sea; or he becomes the companion of the wicked – and he may be wrecked at sea, or his character on land may be wrecked forever. Of disobedient children there is perhaps not one in a hundred that ever reaches an honored old age.

(d) We may still believe that God, in his providence, will watch over those who are obedient to a father and mother. If he regards a falling sparrow he will not be unmindful of an obedient child; if he numbers the hairs of the head he will not be regardless of the little boy that honors him by obeying a father and mother.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

“At the time I was a new parent, President David O. McKay presided over the Church. His counsel was clear and direct regarding our responsibilities to our children. He taught us the most precious gift a man and woman can receive is a child of God, and that the raising of a child is basically, fundamentally, and most exclusively a spiritual process.

“He directed us to basic principles we need to teach our children. The first and most important inner quality you can instill in a child is faith in God. The first and most important action a child can learn is obedience. And the most powerful tool you have with which to teach a child is love. (See Instructor, Vol. 84, Dec. 1949, p. 620.)” (L Tom Perry,”Train Up a Child,” Ensign, May 1983, 78)

  1. Putting on “the new man” and “the whole armour of God”

Ephesians 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

‘Well, the Latter-day Saints know better than to teach their children one thing at one time and another at another time; they also know better than to teach their children principles and doctrines in theory which they deny in practice. The Latter-day Saints are not at liberty to do this; we are not so called; we have not so received the Gospel; but having received the truth in our hearts, we should practice it in our lives, and on this basis —the truth as it is in Jesus – should the traditions which we instil into the minds of our children be built.’ (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses)

Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

The word ‘conversation’ here means ‘conduct’

 Ephesians 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

“Behold the natural man! Selfish, impatient, short-tempered, easily offended, unforgiving, proud, envious, covetous, carnal, and drenched in ego! No wonder he is to be ‘put off.’ (Mosiah 3:19; Colossians 3:8; Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22.) Nevertheless, he is very difficult to put off. The old ways, so pleasing to the carnal man, are really hard to set aside. Actually, these ways are not really fulfilling and not really satisfying. But they are preoccupying, for pleasing the natural man is a full-time business. He sees to that!

“Paul and King Benjamin agree that we are to put off the old man, or the natural man (Mosiah 3:19; Colossians 3:9-10). Whereas Paul would have us put on the new man, King Benjamin describes the process as that of becoming a saint. Elsewhere the process is described as becoming the ‘man of Christ’ (Helaman 3:29). In any case, we seek to have the ‘mind of Christ’ and to strive to become ‘even as [He] is’ (1 Corinthians 2:16; 3 Nephi 27:27).

“Of course, what is really to be jettisoned, put off, is anger, selfishness, malice, injustice, impatience, filthy communication, and so forth, while we put on kindness, meekness, long-suffering, and so on (see Colossians 3:9-10).” (Neal A Maxwell, That Ye May Believe [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992], 18.)

Ephesians 4: 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

‘It is a serious sin to lie. The scriptures teach us that “lying lips are abomination to the Lord”(Proverbs 12:22) and that “he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out” (D&C 42:21). They also teach us that to lie about a person is a form of hatred, for “a lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it.”(Proverbs 26:28). The Apostle Paul gave us counsel concerning this matter: “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour.” (Ephesians 4:25)’ (L Lionel Kendrick, General Conference, October 1988)

 Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

‘Should circumstances arise to call for anger on your part, let it be as Christ’s “anger” (Mr 3:5), without sin. Our natural feelings are not wrong when directed to their legitimate object, and when not exceeding due bounds. ‘ (Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Bible Commentary)

 Ephesians 4:27 Neither give place to the devil.

“…we need not become paralyzed with fear of Satan’s power. He can have no power over us unless we permit it. He is really a coward, and if we stand firm, he will retreat. The Apostle James counseled: ‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’ (“James 4:7James 4:7.) He cannot know our thoughts unless we speak them.

“We have heard comedians and others justify or explain their misdeeds by saying, ‘The devil made me do it.’ I do not really think the devil can make us do anything. Certainly he can tempt and he can deceive, but he has no authority over us that we do not give him.

“The power to resist Satan may be stronger than we realize. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: ‘All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 181.)” (James E Faust, Reach Up for the Light [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 107.)

  Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

‘The word rendered “corrupt” (σαπρὸς sapros) means bad, decayed, rotten, and is applied to putrid vegetable or animal substances.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

 32 And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

“In such homes, where we are ‘kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another’ (Eph. 4:32), where we are holding our family meetings, discussions, and councils, where we are praying, working, and playing with love as our chief motive, where we are trying to share the gospel with others and fulfill the other purposes of the Lord-in those homes there will dwell a powerful spirituality and unity that will be a lifelong strength to all family members.” (Spencer W Kimball, “Therefore I Was Taught,” Ensign, Jan. 1982, 5)

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

‘Men sometimes falter? Yes, sometimes they think they are strong; but no man is strong unless he be strong in the Lord. No man is sustained only as God sustains him; and if he does not sustain him, I would not give much for his ideas or position. ‘ (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses)

 Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

‘The word “wiles” (used only here and in Ephesians 4:14) is an almost technical word for the stratagems of a skilful leader. It is notable that these “wiles” are ascribed to the devil, the “prince of the evil spirits” directing his hosts against the army of Christ; the actual “wrestling” of hand-to-hand struggle is with these evil spirits themselves.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

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 Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

“The tide of evil flows. It has become a veritable flood. Most of us, living somewhat sheltered lives, have little idea of the vast dimensions of it. Billions of dollars are involved for those who pour out pornography, for those who peddle lasciviousness, for those who deal in bestiality, in perversion, in sex and violence. God give us the strength, the wisdom, the faith, the courage as citizens to stand in opposition to these and to let our voices be heard in defense of those virtues which, when practiced in the past, made men and nations strong, and which, when neglected, brought them to decay.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Be Thou an Example [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 58.)

 Ephesians 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

‘ The Lord may call us when we little think of it, or require labors at our hands when we are not prepared; which would be an awkward position, and very unpleasant to a person who had any regard for his character, before God, and in the society of his friends. There is no time to lay off the armor of Christ; there is not a moment in the lives of the children of men when they can afford to serve the devil; it is always the best to be on our guard, be honest, and honorable in the sight of God and man, which is the path of safety.’ (Joseph F Smith, Journal of Discourses)

 Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

‘In this magnificent passage, while it would be unreasonable to look for formal and systematic exactness, it is clear that (as usual in St. Paul’s most figurative passages) there runs through the whole a distinct method of idea. Thus the order in which the armour in enumerated is clearly the order in which the armour of the Roman soldier was actually put on. It nearly corresponds with the invariable order in which Homer describes over and over again the arming of his heroes. First the belt and the corselet, which met and together formed the body armour; then the sandals; next the shield, and after this (for the strap of the great shield could hardly pass over the helmet) the helmet itself; then the soldier was armed, and only had to take up the sword and spear.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

 Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

‘I bear witness that parents who consistently read and talk about the Book of Mormon with their children, who share testimony spontaneously with their children, and who invite children as gospel learners to act and not merely be acted upon will be blessed with eyes that can see afar off (see Moses 6:27) and with ears that can hear the sound of the trumpet (see Ezekiel 33:2-16) The spiritual discernment and inspiration you will receive from the combination of these three holy habits will enable you to stand as watchmen on the tower for your families—”watching … with all perseverance” (Ephesians 6:18) to the blessing of your immediate family and your future posterity. I so promise and testify in the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.’ (David A Bednar, General Conference, April 2010)

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