The Truth Shall Make You Free

If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)

From what, and how does truth make us free?

In this instance the Savior further explains that “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). The prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon warns us about Satan’s ability and methods of deception that lead us to sin in these last days:

For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.

And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well–and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none–and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. (2 Nephi 28:20-22)

So, it is from both sin and deception collectively that the truth frees us and enables us to overcome completely.

Consider this statement given by the apostle and gospel scholar, Boyd K. Packer:

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.”

–President Boyd K. Packer “Little Children,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17

We can only come to know truth in depth as we do what Christ said, to “continue in my word,” or to live according to His doctrine. This understanding of truth is the single motivational factor that enables us to overcome all the deceptions of Satan and his power over us, primarily because we see things as they really are, which causes sin and deception to be less appealing to us. But, freedom does not come merely by knowing and understanding truth. It comes when we become converted to it.

Often times we experience this process in conjunction with repentance. In any instance, however, the conversion part comes by way of the Holy Ghost when we understand truth and experience a change of heart (Mosiah 5:2). In these experiences are the ways of God written on our hearts, and we are edified.

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Paradox: The Peace in Tribulation

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

In order to better understand peace in Jesus Christ during times of trial or tribulation, we must first remember our true identity as children of God, and then view mortality in its true light; according to God’s eternal plan.

There is a purpose and parameters to our mortal existence that hinge upon the central principle of agency. We find clarity about this in scripture:

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, …righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

And now, …I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.

Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. (2 Nephi 2:11-16)

Now, we see that the man had become as God, knowing good and evil;

And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.

For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated.

But behold, it was appointed unto man to die—therefore, as they were cut off from the tree of life they should be cut off from the face of the earth—and man became lost forever, yea, they became fallen man.

And now, ye see by this that our first parents were cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord; and thus we see they became subjects to follow after their own will.

Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature, this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state.

As we can see, mortality is a necessary part of God’s great and eternal plan, in which we as His children are destined to become even as He is. But in order for us to progress we had to somehow gain an understanding and knowledge of both good and evil (Genesis 3:5), hence the earth was created and agency established through the existence of opposition. Surely “all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things” (2 Nephi 2:24). And so it is here, in an imperfect and fallen world, that we currently find ourselves. Evil exists here only because men allow it to be so, and God has allowed these things to be for our own growth, testing, and learning. It is also written “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).

How is it, then, in such a world that we can obtain that peace and joy spoken of?

Here we must come to know and understand one other important thing about mortality, that is that it has bounds; despite our fallen state in which we are subject to follow our own will, it is still just a sphere within God’s greater realm in which He has complete control. Sometimes we may become overwhelmed with the chaos and commotion that exists and that influence us, the injustices, or with the temptations and weaknesses that easily beset us; such things that seem to tell us that these bounds do not exist or that God does not exist, that there is no peace, no hope or joy. But as we look further and learn in the scriptures we find the truths about these bounds and furthermore, blessings, instituted by a living and loving God. Consider these four passages of scripture that demonstrate this:

There hath no temptation ​​​taken​ you but such as is common to man: but God ​is​ faithful, who will not suffer you to be ​​​tempted​ above that ye are able; but will with the ​​​temptation​ also make a way to ​​​escape​, that ye may be able to ​​​bear​ ​it. (1Corinthians 10:13)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 37-39)

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;

If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;

And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. (Doctrine & Covenants 122:5-7)

Can you see and understand the bounds of this mortal existence? And furthermore, can you see and understand the blessings that come from God through our obedience and righteous living, thereby allowing Him to consecrate our trials and tribulations for our own benefit and eternal well-being?

We might then ask, “How is it done?”

To the prophet Joseph Smith in a time of great trial and tribulation indeed, the Lord spoke this:

My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high;

The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever. (Doctrine & Covenants 121:7-8; 122:8-9)

If we are to find true peace during our own “moment” of tribulation, whatever that may be, it can only come through Jesus Christ, as He has overcome all things. He tells us how we can be partakers of His peace, as He in latter days has declared:

Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me. (Doctrine & Covenants 18:23)

With this, my friends, it comes back to that principle of agency. Christ freely offers us His peace; a profound peace that is not of this world (John 14:27), but that surpasses all things in this mortality, even death. However, we must in return choose to accept it. We do so by righteous living in following His ways. And then, as He has promised, He sends the Comforter to us that bears witness, and that gives us of that peace.

I testify that His peace is real. I testify that there isn’t anything here that is too hard for the Lord; no trial or tribulation in this life that He can’t make right or turn for our benefit. May we choose to obtain that peace by choosing Christ.


The Power of Godliness Manifest

I would like to follow up with my previous post, “To Know God” with this subject, as I have felt so to do; which knowledge has further enlightened me in the way of coming to know God and Jesus Christ, in faith of procuring that last and greatest gift of eternal life (Doctrine & Covenants 14:7).

Again, I begin with a passage of scripture from the Doctrine & Covenants as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith:

But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils.

Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;

For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts.

(Doctrine & Covenants 46:7-9)

As we heed this commandment to “pray always” (Doctrine & Covenants 10:5) we have the promise of the testimony of the Holy Ghost, who will “tell you all things what ye should do,” (2 Nephi 32:3). Furthermore, to avoid deception we are commanded to seek earnestly “the best gifts” from God with thanksgiving and “always remembering for what they are given.”

We also learn that the benefactors of these gifts are only those who truly seek and ask of God, in contrast to those who are merely and unbelievingly “seeking a sign” or those who would selfishly consume such gifts on their lusts or to further deceive others.

Thus, the means of these gifts, and the discernment thereof is in spirit, or by way of the Spirit:

And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit;

He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh.

And again, I say unto you, all things must be done in the name of Christ, whatsoever you do in the Spirit;

(Doctrine & Covenants 46:28, 30-31)

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

(1 Corinthians 2:11, 14)

Here it might be appropriate for each of us to consider these things; to consider our personal efforts to be truly in tune with the Holy Ghost. Do we sincerely ask God, in the name of Christ for the Holy Ghost to be with us and to guide us? Do we sincerely seek to do His will? Do we sincerely ask for His blessings? Do we conduct ourselves in such a way that we are worthy to receive them? Where is our heart? Do we truly seek God and His kingdom?

In conjunction with these gifts of the Spirit, the power of God given to men on the earth, or priesthoods, along with the ordinances that pertain unto them have been restored in these, the latter days. We might again ask what the purpose of these ordinances are, or what it is that we are to obtain from them.

About these ordinances and the priesthood the Lord revealed this through Joseph Smith:

And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;

(Doctrine & Covenants 84:19-21)

By this we learn that in the ordinances “the power of godliness is manifest.” As one receives these in that order in which they have been revealed, he or she not only becomes eligible for the blessings pertaining to that ordinance, but also progressively learns more about their Creator, about their true eternal identity as offspring of Deity, and their destiny to become as such.

From a fireside address given at Brigham Young University on 27 October 2000, Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander eloquently explains this further in this way:

Our participation in sacred ordinances teaches much about the order of God’s kingdom and about Him. For example, it seems strange to think that one could enter a temple to perform some of the most sacred ordinances before submitting to baptism, which is one of the initial ordinances of the gospel. There is order in the kingdom of God, and there is order in the way we learn about it. To Nephi, the Lord said, “I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”

Elsewhere the Lord has stated, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”

We do not receive everything at one time, but we receive knowledge of holy things progressively and incrementally as we are worthy of and obedient to such knowledge. From the first ordinance of the kingdom—baptism—we progress through other ordinances such as confirmation and ordination to the priesthood, all of which lead to the most holy of ordinances, which are performed in the temple. Our participation in the sacred ordinances of the gospel orders our knowledge of the kingdom and thereby reveals the nature of God to us.

Sacred ordinances and knowledge of God are closely related. Therefore, what are some of the things we learn about God by participating in His appointed ordinances? Let us take baptism as an example. Baptism by immersion is for the remission of sins. One who has fully repented of his or her sins and with full purpose of heart receives baptism, knows that God not only has the power to forgive and to take away the burden of guilt associated with sin, but that He does so. This person knows, through personal experience, something about God and His magnificent power and kindness. The only way to truly know these things is by participating worthily in the ordinance of baptism itself.

Baptism opens the door to the kingdom of God, through which one now not only passes cleanly but with a sure knowledge that God forgives. The same can be said of all other sacred ordinances of the gospel. Over time and with obedience, we progress into the ordinances of the temple, where our convictions are strengthened that our most precious relationships are not affected by death. This knowledge we receive by participating in the ordinances that are meant to teach us such things. Otherwise, they will not and cannot be known. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following relating to knowing essential holy truth through our participation in sacred ordinances: “Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose.”

As sacred ordinances reveal the order of the kingdom of God in a progressive manner, our participation in them reveals to us a knowledge of the personality and character of God that can be gained in no other way.

What profound insight and testimony Elder Neuenschwander offers us!

I can only further add my own testimony, as it has been my opportunity and experience to partake of and participate in these ordinances performed under the authority of God’s holy priesthood, that what has been expressed here is true. If you are one who is seeking to know of these things with surety, be faithful. Pray always and be watchful. Walk in meekness and in soberness. Repent, and be penitent in your repentance. By doing this you open the way for the Holy Ghost to manifest the things of God to you personally, and then you are prepared. Then, when you take part in the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Spirit will bear witness to you, and you will know of their truthfulness.


To Know God

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

How do we come to know God?

Or better yet, we might rephrase that question to be this one that a righteous king once posed to his people:

How knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart? (Mosiah 5:13)

Whether you find yourself with simply a belief in God, or if you have doubts or questions in that regard, I wholeheartedly share with you some of my thoughts and some scripture that illustrate my experience in how I personally have, and continue to, come to know Him.

I have said in the past that finding what we might term as spiritual truths, such as the existence of God, comes most effectively as we follow the principles given by witnesses who claim to know Him. Such witnesses are the ones we find in scripture.

Thus, I begin with this statement found in the Book of Mormon:

For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.

Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.

Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea. (Jacob 4:4-6)

By this we see that scripture is given primarily to testify of, and instill in us a hope in Jesus Christ and to reveal His gospel unto us by these witnesses who knew not only of Jesus, but by way of faith, or in other words, through obedience to His commandments they knew Him, and thus they knew God; just as Jesus to His chosen apostles explained this:

…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:7, 9-10)

Just like today, some people in Jesus’ time still found it hard to accept and believe in Him; that the Messiah would come in the way that He did in His first coming. To these the Master pleaded:

If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.

But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. (John 10:37-38)

On another occasion to like individuals He taught this:

My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:16-17)

This simple, yet powerful concept is the point of of which I write this, and is the key principle to knowing God and His son, Jesus Christ. And yet we find that it is the one concept that so many of us fail to see, to hear, or to feel (Matthew 15:13); It is the part of God’s wisdom that perhaps appears as foolishness to us, and hence it is the mark of which so many of us look beyond (Jacob 4:14; 1 Nephi 17:41; Numbers 21:4-9).

For, if we could but learn to prove the Lord by way of faith unto obedience, our faith in and knowledge of Him would continually grow, as would our ability to better follow Him, as Christ again explains here:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12)

With this Jesus then plainly and directly taught His beloved chosen apostles whom he called friends, as now He teaches us, the promise to this principle of faith and obedience of which I speak:

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:15-16)

In latter days He has further revealed and declared this to us:

Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me. (Doctrine & Covenants 19:23)

Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (Doctrine & Covenants 88:63)

Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will. (Doctrine & Covenants 88:68)

And so, my friends, if I could instill within you any particle of hope or faith, I would with all energy of heart leave you with these simple words of encouragement; that if you are still seeking the Lord and as of yet have not found Him, keep searching. Learn of Him in scripture. Follow His example. Change your life to be in harmony with His teachings and His commandments. As you do so you will find His promise to be true (2 Peter 3:9); and you will know Him.


The Word of God

I’ve recently been pondering a couple of questions:

What do I really know in regards to God’s will for me?

How can we answer the question about religion?

What is the truth?

The common thread between these questions is our desire to know what is real. We all seek to grasp something that is unwavering, something that we can hold on to, something firm to build ourselves upon, something absolute. We yearn for truth.

Our thirst for truth, and the burning desire to find is part of our eternal nature.

Each time as I contemplate this and the plausible answers to these questions, my mind continuously is led to and finds rest on the idea of The Word of God.

We find in scripture several analogies and synonyms for the Word of God. In this article I will touch on only a few of them.

The Word as a Double-Edged Sword

In the New Testament the apostle Paul admonishes the Ephesian saints and tells them to put on the whole armor of God. He says,

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)

To the Hebrews he also wrote:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

The author of Revelation in the New Testament writes:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last…

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw…one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. (Revelation 1:10-16)

In modern-day revelation, the Lord spoke this through the prophet Joseph Smith:

Behold, I am God; give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore give heed unto my word. (Doctrine & Covenants 14:2)

Finally, the ancient prophet and historian, Mormon, who compiled the Book of Mormon, makes this observation

And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God. (Alma 31:5)

So we see from this final example how the Word of God was more powerful than the sword, for when we hear truth and receive it through the Holy Ghost, it peirces to the core of our soul, which has a greater and deeper influence on us than the threat or intimidation of the “sword.”

But what does the two-edge part mean?

If we contemplate Christ’s ministry, He being a perfect man who preached the Word of God, we see how it had the effect of bringing peace, comfort, and joy to those who were righteous, yet that same word pricked the hearts of those who had the need to repent and change. This is what it means. This is how God’s Word is as a double-edged sword, that will ultimately be the salvation of those who abide by it, and the condemnation of those who reject it.

The Word as the Iron Rod

Lehi, an ancient American prophet found in the Book of Mormon, told his family about a vision he had:

And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field.

And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.

And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.

And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.

And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit.

And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.

And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood.

And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.

And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.

And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.

And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree. (1 Nephi 8:10-24)

Lehi’s son, Nephi, later received the same vision and the interpretation thereof, of which he wrote this:

And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God. (1 Nephi 11:25)

Just as in their time, we need something to hold on to, even to cling to, to get us through mortality; through the dark mists of the enticing philosophies of men, and back to our heavenly home. The Word of God is that thing that we must cling to; the thing that keeps us on the straight and narrow path.

The Word as Revelation

The prophet Joseph Smith taught:

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. (Articles of Faith)

It is the privilege of the children of God to come to God and get revelation.

Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to minister without it. … No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy (see Revelation 19:10).

Jesus in His teachings says, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ (Matthew 16:18.) What rock? Revelation.

I solemnly declare as with the voice of a trump, that God still speaks to mankind, the same way He did with those of old or the way that He always has—through a living prophet and by the voice of His Spirit, or the Holy Ghost.

Consider how many different interpretations there are of the Bible, for example, and thus the vast amount of churches that exist. Which doctrine is right? And how can we know it? Again, referring back to the prophet Joseph Smith who had precisely these questions in his youth, found the truthfulness of this scripture by his own experience:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

Furthermore, the scriptures alone do not address specifically the issues and challenges that we face collectively in today’s world. For this we need continued Revelation from God, through a prophet as He has declared:

For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him whom I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations from my hand.

And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.

But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead. (Doctrine & Covenants 43:2-4)

We also receive personal revelation, or the Word of God to us, through the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost bares witness to us personally and individually of the reality of Jesus Christ, and of the veracity of His Atonement. He also testifies of all truth to our hearts and minds as we openly receive it. In these moments our spiritual eyes are opened, and our minds expanded to understand things as they really are. Doubt is completely relinquished by light and we feel a great sense of peace and joy, for “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (Galatians 5:22-23) 

The Word is the gospel of Jesus Christ

This is where we come full circle.

In the beginning was the ​gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word,​ and the ​word​ was with ​the Son, and the Son was with God,​ and the ​Son​ was ​of​ God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made which was made.

In him was ​the gospel,​ and ​the gospel was the life,​ and the life was the light of men;

And the light shineth ​in the world,​ and the ​world perceiveth​ it not. (John 1:1-5)

After His death and resurrection, Jesus visited His disciples and others according to the will of the Father. On the occasion that he visited some of His “other sheep” He declared this:

Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.

And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.

And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;

Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day. (3 Nephi 27:13-22)

Conclusion

And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.

For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept. (Doctrine &a Covenants 98:11-13)

The Word of God is truth; much of it absolute to all of us, and partially relative to each of us. We indeed can rely upon the word of God, with confidence that by it He will guide us to obtain our greatest potential and to the happiness that we seek, and that persists. May we take courage to cleave unto it, to embrace it, and to live according to it!


One, Two, Three

1.

The Godhead are One.

We are

Collectively to be of one heart and one mind.

Only then are we

One with them.

2.

When He was here he told them

If two of you shall agree

It shall be

“For where two or three 

are gathered together in my name, 

there am I in the midst of them.”

3.

The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

These three make up the Trinity.

With three He made the first presidency

Thrice denied when the cock crowed.

Day three came whereupon He rose.

Three times He asked, “Lovest thou me?”


Treasure: A Matter of the Heart

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. —Matthew 6:21

My friends, pure truth does not get any simpler and straight forward than that; a simple statement that even a child may understand, and yet the depth of our Savior’s words is endless.

Even from the beginning, one of Lucifer’s greatest vehicles to further his purposes is the use of the treasures of the world to sway mankind to take part in evil doing. His “gospel”, if you will, is based on greed, selfishness, pride, and secret combinations. Perhaps, this is why the apostle Paul makes this observation in his first epistle to Timothy:

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. —1 Timothy 6:10-11

This is not to say that money in and of itself is the root of all evil, but that the love for it is.

It is precisely in this, then, that we must learn and truly know that one of our main objectives and challenges in mortality is to overcome our natural senses and passions. If we do not they likely will quickly and quietly overcome us, as Christ also taught us specifically regarding the love for money:

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. —Matthew 19:24

Consider the actual incident during Christ’s ministry with the young rich man who approached Him with the question of how to obtain eternal life, whereupon the Lord answered him by saying it is by obedience to the commandments that we fundamentally obtain that gift. The young man replies by telling Jesus that he has done these things from his youth. Finally, the Savior extends yet a personal commandment to this young rich man to sell all of his great possessions, give of his wealth to the poor, and then to follow Him, whereupon the young man turned away sorrowful, because of his love for his earthly treasures (Matthew 19:16-21).

From this and other examples alike, the Lord has taught us:

Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men —Doctrine and Covenants 121:34-35

And thus we see how tightly knit our heart is to that which we treasure, whatever that my be. And thus the Lord admonishes us:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal —Matthew 6:19-20

So, knowing here that we are directly instructed by Jesus Himself, how do we lay up treasures for ourselves in Heaven? 

The answer to this question resides in yet another paradox of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is that as we give of our substance to the poor and the needy, together we all become recipients of greater blessings, not only in the temporal aspect, but also in things pertaining to our spirituality, including our final and eternal dwelling with God.

This paradox begins with the two “great commandments:”

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.—Matthew 22:37-39

In this same vein, a Book of Mormon prophet, Jacob, taught his people the following, beautifully tying in how the treasures of the earth are meant contribute to fulfilling the great commandments:

Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.

But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. —Jacob 2:17-19

King Benjamin, another Book of Mormon prophet and king expounds upon this further in his final words to his beloved people:

And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.

And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.

And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.

But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.

And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.

And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.

And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.

And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants. —Mosiah 4:12-26

We can find various instances in the scriptures where this paradox or principle was put into practice. I invite you to pay particular attention to the outcome:

And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. —Acts 2:44-47

And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them. —Moses 7:18

This, my friends, is pure economics. It is also known as the divine law of consecration, established by God. How interesting it is that as we unitedly seek to build God’s kingdom in this way, and make all that is ordained and sactified by God our treasure here on earth, we defy greed, we defy selfishness, we defy pride, we defy and conquer the Evil One. And we all prosper in all things to the point that there are no poor among us. 

Let us learn throughout our lives to live this law, and “see that all these things are done in wisdom and order,” (Mosiah 4:27). May we find the courage and will to make truth our treasure, and thus setting our hearts on that which will never fail, is my humble hope and prayer.