Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
I have been trying really hard to make these posts much shorter. They take me an average of 3 hours to compose because there is always so much I want to share! Once again I tried, and there was just too much to write about. The Spirit flows and I can't stop typing!
I started this post a few weeks ago when I was gallivanting off on a scripture chain. I came across some scriptures in the Book of Mormon that talk about how the Book of Mormon is a testament of the Bible. This caught my attention because I know so many people wonder about us Mormons and our "special book". This is the perfect opportunity to clear up the common misunderstanding that we don't believe in or read the Bible - which I have heard many times from people of other faiths.
What is the Book of Mormon?
The Book of Mormon is an ancient record written from the early inhabitants of the American continent - descendants of the House of Israel who left Jerusalem between approximately 600 BC and 400 AD.Today we know their descendants as the Native American people. They kept records of their history, genealogy as well as instruction given to them from God - most if it for our day. The ancient prophets were given revelation and prophecy for future generations - us. Their records were kept on plates of gold knowing that they would be preserved through time and would come forth in latter days to reveal additional witness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Book of Mormon is a second witness of Jesus Christ and a witness of the truthfulness of the Bible. After the Lord was resurrected and visited his disciples in Jerusalem, he came to the Americas to visit the people here and give them his gospel as well. He taught them who he was and helped them establish his church in their land. He patterned it the same way in Jerusalem with 12 ordained apostles, the keys of the priesthood and ministered unto them for a short time.
It's been interesting for me to learn over the years of Native American tribes and descendants who share oral histories that parallel events in the Book of Mormon. It's another testimony to me of the truthfulness of this book. In 1827, after the angel Moroni (who buried the records to preserve them) revealed to Joseph Smith their existence and where they were buried, the prophet Joseph Smith by the gift of God was allowed to translate the records into the English language for our day.
This is a great link for more about the Book of Mormon http://mormon.org/book-of-mormon/
We Have the Bible - Why the Need for a Second Book of Scripture?
In the Book of Mormon the prophet Nephi speaks about the two witnesses of Jesus Christ on 2 separate continents as revealed to him. The Bible which was written on one side of the world and the Book of Mormon written on the other. Both would serve as true witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ - to help bring all nations of the earth unto him.
2 Nephi 29:7
Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
The Lord cares about all his people. Before there was TV, phones and internet it was near impossible to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the earth. Because God is a loving God, he sent his son to visit inhabitants of other lands so that all could know who the Savior was and have that opportunity to follow him.
The prophet Nephi saw our day and knew that the argument would arise stemming from scriptures such as Revelation 22:18-19
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.Nephi goes on to say in chapter 29:
8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the boks which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.
13 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.
14 And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.
This scripture is so beautiful and powerful to me. From this we learn that when Christ returns to the earth and the tribes are all gathered together, we will obtain a new record from the lost tribes of Israel. They will also obtain our records the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Together these records will all serve as a powerful witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and that he loves us all. That he visited many lands and people to testify of himself and his word. No one is forgotten. Our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ want us all to return to them. God is the same today and tomorrow as He was yesterday.
2 Nephi 28:29
Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!
After the apostles died, many books from the Old and New Testament were incorrectly translated time and time again which resulted in many plain and precious truths being lost. We also know that many books were lost and therefore we have a great deal of missing scripture.
I see the wisdom in the Lord asking the Nephite people to keep a record as he clearly knew that many truths in the Bible would be lost and that when the gospel was restored we would need to have those lost truths revealed.
1 Nephi 13:29
And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.
Furthermore, we know that God always speaks to His children. It would not be fair that he spoke to them in ancient times and then one day ceased all instruction and communication. God will always instruct His children through a living prophet. The times we live in now are much different than the times of Moses or the aspostles. We experience different challenges and therefore need instruction that will help us in our day. That is the beauty of having a living, modern day prophet.
The prophet Joseph Smith helped restore this gospel to the earth and all that was lost when the last of the apostles on both continents were killed. Missionary work began and the gospel was again spread throughout the world. Today we only need one prophet, and one set of 12 apostles upon the earth. With our technology the prophet Thomas S. Monson can speak to all the inhabitants of the earth. He leads the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints the same church and organization that existed when Christ was on the earth.
The Bible Prophesies of the Book of Mormon
In Ezekiel 37:15-17 Ezekiel speaks about two sticks (scrolls) together becoming one. One being a scroll of Judah and the other of Ephraim.
15 The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,
16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
4 And thou shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.
10 For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.
I love the Bible and the Book of Mormon and have a testimony of both. I have a great love for the prophets of old and all that they sacrificed for future generations. I love learning about the Jews, the history, and Christ's ministry on the Earth. I love learning about the fulness of the gospel and the precious truths that have since been found. I love the bigger picture that the scriptures teach me about life, the purpose of this earth and the plan for after we die. Most of all, I love my Savior Jesus Christ and all he has done for me. I love that he loves us all so much that we would have the opportunity to learn of him and know of him and that by coming unto him we can forever be with him.
I say this in his holy name, Jesus Christ, amen.
My husband who is German sometimes doesn't understand why Americans are so patriotic. Germans are proud to be German but they are not as patriotic about their country as Americans are. Over the years I have tried to help him understand why this is and I think he gets it now.
This nation is a land consecrated by God to bless all who desire to worship Him freely to have a place to do so. As long as we remember Him and worship Him, He will protect this land. It is a land of refuge for the oppressed. It is a land of liberty and a land of freedom. It is a land of prosperity. It is a land that other nations have looked to for aid. This land was kept undiscovered from the rest of the world for quite a time as it was being reserved for a sacred purpose. This would be the land where the New Jerusalem would be built and where Christ would reign when he returns.
The Book of Mormon contains the records of the first people who came here seeking freedom and safety. Yes, way before the pilgrims. The Jaredite people (2200 B.C) and the Nephite people (600 B.C) who left Jerusalem and traveled across the ocean by faith, were led by God to this great land to preserve a record for our day containing instruction from the Lord to warn us and guide us in the days leading up to the Savior's return. When reflecting upon this, these scriptures comes to mind:
7 For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not.
2 Nephi 1:8
8 Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away.
2 Nephi 10:10
10 But behold, this land, said God, shall be a land of thine inheritance, and the Gentiles shall be blessed upon the land.
2 Nephi 1:19
9 Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.
20 Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.
15 And the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him. And the Lord said unto him: I will forgive thee and thy brethren of their sins; but thou shalt not sin any more, for ye shall remember that my Spirit will not always strive with man; wherefore, if ye will sin until ye are fully ripe ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And these are my thoughts upon the land which I shall give you for your inheritance; for it shall be a land choice above all other lands.
2 Nephi 10:12
12 And I will fortify this land against all other nations.
3 Nephi 24:12
12 And all nations shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of Hosts.
Ether 1:4343 And there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed, and of the seed of thy brother, and they who shall go with thee, a great nation. And there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth. And thus I will do unto thee because this long time ye have cried unto me.
This nation was founded upon principals of God. We have seen throughout history that those who have dwelled upon this land and perverted the word of God have faced and experienced destruction. God has promised us that if we serve Him, this land will be protected. If we break or promise, then He is not bound to keep His end of the deal. As we watch the slow demise of our country along with the demise of righteousness and all that was once considered good, true and sacred, it's tough to remain optimistic and often we feel beaten down, frustrated and hopeless.
After all, the prophets have promised and warned us:
Ether 2:12 12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.
Ether 8:22 22 And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.
However, I think we often forget that we know the ending to this story. Christ will return to this earth. A city will be prepared where the saints will gather and where Christ will personally reign. This land will not be destroyed, it was consecrated for a sacred purpose. We have reason to be full of hope, optimistic and excited! Not only have prophets of old testified this to us as they had seen our day, but modern day prophets who have lived among us have given us direct prophecy from the Lord. They have seen what is coming and have given us great reason to be hopeful:
PRESIDENT JOSEPH SMITH
We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: ‘Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction” (Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City, July 19, 1840) (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 623 - 624).
Words of James Burgess: “In the month of May 1843, several miles east of Nauvoo, the Nauvoo Legion was on parade and review, at the close of which Joseph Smith made some remarks upon our condition as a people and upon our future prospects, contrasting our present condition with our past trials and persecutions by the hands of our enemies; also upon the Constitution and government of the United States, stating that the time would come when the Constitution and government would hang by a brittle thread and would be ready to fall into other hands, but this people, the Latter-day Saints, will step forth and save it. . . .I, James Burgess, was present and testify to the above” (The Words of Joseph Smith, 279).
PRESIDENT BRUCE R. McCONKIE
“It is our firm conviction as a people that the stars and stripes will be waving triumphantly in the breeze, as a symbol of the greatness and stability of the United States of America, when the Lord comes. This nation was established to be the Lord’s base of operations in this final gospel dispensation. From it the gospel is to go to every other nation and people. The greater its influence among the nations of the world, the more rapidly the gospel spreads. But the Lord has told us that all nations, the United States included, shall cease to be when he comes” (The Millennial Messiah, 491).
PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON
“The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith there would be an attempt to overthrow the country by destroying the Constitution. Joseph Smith predicted that the time would come when the Constitution would hang, as it were, by a thread, and at that time ‘this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction’ (Journal of Discourses, 7:15). It is my conviction that the elders of Israel, widely spread over the nation, will at that crucial time successfully rally the righteous of our country and provide the necessary balance of strength to save the institutions of constitutional government” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 618 - 619).
PRESIDENT HAROLD B LEE
"Men may fail in this country, earthquakes may come, seas may heave beyond their bounds, there may be great drought, disaster, and hardship, but this nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail.
This is the cradle of humanity, where life on this earth began in the Garden of Eden. This is the place of the New Jerusalem. . . . This is the place where the Savior will come to His temple.
We are living in a time of great crisis. The Country is torn with scandal and with criticism, with faultfinding and condemnation. There are those who have downgraded the image of this nation as probably never before in the history of the country.
I plead with you not to preach pessimism. Preach that this is the greatest country in all the world. . . . It is the nation that will stand despite whatever trials or crises it may yet have to pass through.
We must be on the optimistic side. This is a great nation; this is a great country; this is the most favored of all lands. While it is true that there are dangers and difficulties that lie ahead of us, we must not assume that we are going to stand by and watch the country go to ruin. We should not be heard to predict ills and calamities for the nation. On the contrary, we should be providing optimistic support for the nation.
You must remember . . . that this church is one of the most powerful agencies for the progress of the world, and we should . . . all sound with one voice. We must tell the world how we feel about this land and this nation and should bear our testimonies about the great mission and destiny that it has.
If we do this, we will help turn the tide of this great country and lessen the influence of the pessimists. We must be careful that we do not say or do anything that will further weaken the country. It is the negative, pessimistic comments about the nation that do as much harm as anything to the country today. We who carry these sacred responsibilities must preach the gospel of peace, and peace can only come by overcoming the things of the world. Now, we must be the dynamic force that will help turn the tide of fear and pessimism."
(Excerpts from a talk given at Ricks College Devotional Assembly, “Have Faith in America,” October 26, 1973, and printed in two sources: Ye Are the Light of the World: Selected Sermons and Writings of Harold B. Lee, 340, 350-351, and The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 365-366.)Finally a reminder from the prophet Nephi:
2 Nephi 27:3
3 And all the nations that fight against Zion, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision; yea, it shall be unto them, even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh but he awaketh and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; yea, even so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion.
My own patriarchal blessing speaks of why I was born in this great land of America and how it will bless my life. I read it often and feel the truth of the words burn within my soul. I know that what the prophets have testified to us is true. They warned us because they love us. They were commanded to tell us these things so that we might be prepared and strengthen our faith.
As you see things happen all around you this year and in years to come, and you worry for the future of this country, remember that we have been told that this land will be not be the United States of America when the Savior returns. It will be a new land, a cleansed land.
The popular conservative American constitutionalist and author Cleon Skousen states in his book The Cleansing of America (I highly recommend this book)
"What will happen to the United States of America?
We are told that just as soon as the people adopt God's law, they will be known as 'The Kingdom of God'
Of course the original United States of America will always be remembered with affection and respect as the first free people in modern times, but in view of all the circumstances listed above, it no longer would be appropriate to speak of the United States as anything but a chapter in history.
Notice how appropriate it will be to speak of the new order of things as THE KINGDOM OF GOD. In this new, expansive name, there is no reference to any geographical area, nor will there be any implication of a chauvinistic nature suggesting either racial superiority or regional pride. On the other hand, the royal banner or title of liberty waving over the world under the insignia of the Kingdom of God will be like the Ensign spoken of by Isaiah that announces a new righteous dominion that eventual ly will spread over the entire earth.
The flag of the United States has become the symbol of liberty throughout the world. Tens of thousands gave their lives in an attempt to preserve the principles for which it stood. Because of what the original thirteen states accomplished and what the flag came to represent to the whole world, it will have acquired an eternal life.
Therefore here is what Brigham Young stated on July 8, 1855; 'When the day comes in which the Kingdom of God will bear rule, the flag of the United States will proudly flutter unsullied on the flag staff of liberty and equal rights, without a spot to sully it's fair surface; the glorious flag our fathers have bequeathed to us then will be unfurled to the breeze by those who have power to hoist it aloft and defend it's sanctity.'" (Skousen, Cleon - The Cleansing of America p. 39-40)
Good people of all faiths will unite with the saints of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in defending the constitution. They will prepare for the Savior's return. The Kingdom of God will be built and will be a kingdom of righteous people. People of MANY religions who together desire to live in peace and righteousness will unite. Christ will reign personally and it will be a wonderful time of peace and happiness!
With this knowledge we can go forward with faith that all will be well. We can trust in God that he will not abandon His children. Continue to defend the principles of God. Prepare your family. Serve and love others. Repent of all sin. Free yourself of debt and have an adequate food storage supply and you will not have anything to fear. There is a light at the end of the dark tunnel.
Next weekend we have the opportunity to hear a living prophet and apostles of the Lord speak. They will give us wise counsel and instruction. Click here to learn how to listen to this live broadcast.
I know that God lives. He loves us and He wants us to be happy and return to live with Him again. He has given us the tools to be able to do so. Scriptures, a living prophet, and so much more. I know that if we listen to and heed the words of His leaders we will be greatly blessed. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ - amen.