D&C 103:15 Behold, I say unto you, the redemption of Zion must needs come by power; 16 Therefore, I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel. 17 For ye are the children of Israel, and of the seed of Abraham, and ye must needs be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm. 18 And as your fathers were led at the first, even so shall the redemption of Zion be. 19 Therefore, let not your hearts faint, for I say not unto you as I said unto your fathers: Mine angel shall go up before you, but not my presence. 20 But I say unto you: Mine angels shall go up before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land.
I enjoy working out in the yard and improving the garden little by little. It is also a time I get to spend a lot of conversation with the Lord and to give thanks for all the little things of the moment like butterflies, rain, or when I’m planting or picking fruits or vegetables. A lot of my time is also spent pulling weeds and keeping everything tidy, keenly aware that God allowed thorns, thistles, and weeds to grow and afflict and torment man. Goathead weeds are probably the worst and I never give them a chance to get far at all. But I don’t think I’ve ever thanked God for weeds or for afflicting me with them. I’ve been alive long enough to know better than to complain about them or anything else. God has given all things to us so that through opposition in all things we might learn to be like Him. So today I am also thankful for weeds.
But whenever things are too much for me to bear and I feel like complaining, I think about how much the early saints suffered and also Joseph Smith suffered in Liberty Jail and God’s words to him in D&C 121 and 122 wherein we read:
7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; 8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. 9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. 10 Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job…
5 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; 6 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; 7 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. 8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
When I think of Joseph Smith’s suffering, I then think about what a lightweight I am. Then I think about Jesus telling Joseph that he is a lightweight compared to Job. Then I think about how next to Jesus Christ, we are all infinitely less than that. Jesus Christ descended below us all that He might lift us all up to be with Him. The root word con- in condescension means with or thoroughly. And that is what Jesus did. He descended so thoroughly and with us, having suffered all things for us. He knows our pains. He knew Joseph Smith’s pains. And He knew all of Job’s pains.
So in order to understand or at least appreciate what Job went through, I spent the last week studying his life. On the surface, Job was an upright man. God even said so to Satan when Satan approached Him saying that Job only worshiped Him because He favored and protected him. God did not deny this and He even allowed Satan to afflict Job short of taking his life. A few things I noticed about Job are that he lived before Moses’ time and he was not an Israelite. He offered sacrifices by himself without a priest to give the offerings. His wealth was measured in livestock and not gold, and in the end, he gave inheritances to his daughters. The Law of Moses stipulated giving inheritances only to sons. Scholars estimate that he lived sometime after the flood and before Moses. We read that he lived 140 years after all his afflictions. This was common among the people during the time of the patriarchs, but rarely if at all among the people of Moses’ day. I think he knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy who worshiped the one true God. In the final chapter, he tells God “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.” Abraham lived to be 175 years old so it’s very possible they were contemporaries.
Anyway, Job wasn’t under any law or covenant. He was a random and just human being who offered sacrifices and worshiped God. God even called Him blameless and upright. But because Job had only heard of God and didn’t have a relationship with Him, his view of God was very incomplete and thus warped. As an example of this warped view, we read in chapter one how his sons and daughters had spent a lot of time together feasting and drinking. After they were all done, Job got up very early one morning to offer burnt offerings according to the number of his children just in case they had sinned by cursing God in their drunkenness. Reading between the lines throughout the book reveals Job to be a “works” oriented worshiper who was “working the system.” Grace was obviously a foreign concept to him. But God did not allow Satan to afflict Job as a punishment even though Satan insisted that Job’s true colors would be revealed by taking away all that he was blessed with. It is important to understand that while Job suffered unbearable trials, he was not on trial. As a matter of fact, the Book of Job is not about Job so much as it is about God and His own wisdom. It is also not about suffering as much as it is about how to think about God while we are suffering. You see, to Job, God was a divine Genie. He was a cosmic vending machine. Burnt offerings equaled blessings. Being upright and blameless equaled wealth. And Job owned thousands of sheep, thousands of camels, hundreds of yokes of oxen, and hundreds of she asses. He was the greatest man in the East of his time. Then Satan came along and took it all in one day. And thirty-something chapters are devoted to Job’s emotional roller coaster. His own wife told him to curse God and die. This is another example of appealing to the cosmic vending machine. But although Job did not curse God with his lips, he still demanded that God judge him if he did something wrong. In chapter 29 Job lists all his works to justify himself and in chapter 31, he declares that he’s done nothing wrong. He then welcomes punishment for anything he did wrong. But God had already acknowledged Job’s righteousness to Satan and although God finally does answer Job, He does not tell him about His conversation with Satan or why He allowed Satan to afflict Him. Instead, God gives Job a virtual tour of the universe and shows Job all the details of His creations.
The point of all this hearkens back to Job’s assumption that God is not just, neither is God capable of running the world according to justice. Job and his so-called friends believed that they had a broad enough perspective on life to make such a claim about how God ought to run the world. God uses this virtual tour to deconstruct for Job all of his assumptions. He shows Job how vast and complex the universe is and that He has his eyes on all of it down to every tiny detail. God then demands Job tell him if he thinks he is capable of micro-managing all of creation. He asks Job if his arm is mighty or can thunder with his voice and dispense justice to all of creation from moment to moment. He tells Job that if he can do all these glorious things and more, then will God confess that Job’s own right arm can save himself. God then describes two fantastic beasts called Behemoth and Leviathan and how great and wondrous they are. He then asks Job if he is able to play with one as a man plays with a bird. But even they are His and all things are God’s. After this virtual tour, Job is deeply humbled and acknowledges how tiny his perspective is and just how ignorant he is of the vast scope of God’s creation. He had only known about God because he had heard about him, but now he was able to see with his own eyes. Job then abhorred himself and repented in dust and ashes. Moses had a similar experience, and though at one time Moses was an exalted prince of Egypt, yet at another time after being given a virtual tour of the universe, exclaimed man is nothing.
Job never did learn why he suffered. But what he did learn was to develop a relationship with God. God then restored to Job double everything he had lost, but it was not as some kind of reward. Remember that Job did nothing wrong to begin with so all his suffering was not the result of any punishment. In God’s own wisdom, He apparently simply decided to give all these things to Job as a gift. What I have learned from the Book of Job is that God is not a magic genie who you can appeal to with burnt offerings in exchange for favors and blessings. God wanted Job to wrestle with him and to get to know Him. He wanted to have a relationship with Job. Before this experiment, Job was not relying on a relationship where he was walking with God, but rather relying on the sacrifices that he was offering up. He was relying on his own works and his own character. He was a blameless man and he had the list of deeds and attributes to prove it. God had even acknowledged it.
But this is the difference between relationship and religion. The Jews claimed Abraham as their father, but Jesus told them that God could raise children out of stones for Abraham. But God doesn’t want stones or dutiful robots who flawlessly perform their offerings. God wants a family. And He wants a relationship with each of us as His family. That is why Jesus came to die for us. It is because He loves us. But he doesn’t owe any of this to us. He owes us nothing. It is because of the love and the grace that He is filled with that motivates Him to manage the universe for us. We are His work and His glory. The lesson of the Book of Job is to mind your motives.
With religion, we get dutiful people like the Jews in the Bible who had no relationship with God. They made their offerings and relied on them for their righteousness just like Job did. The Jews knew better though and it is one reason why Jesus gave to them the parable of the prodigal son. But we tend to think that the parable was all about the wayward hedonist son who spent all his inheritance recklessly in a foreign land. But let’s look at the other moralist son’s attitude. In Luke chapter 15 we read:
25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.
29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
While the younger son had rebelled against God by going out to live the life of a hedonist, the elder son rebelled as a moralist. He doesn’t go into the house to be with his father and his penitent brother. Instead, he goes out—not into the world—but out into the field of his own works. He goes to where he has built his own identity which is what he thinks he is in God’s eyes. When his father comes out all he can think about is all he has done for his father and in return, his father never gave him anything. He essentially challenges his father to realize how good of a son he is and how much more deserving he is than his younger brother. You see, it’s all about him. He is using God to get all the things he wants and what he thinks he has earned rather than using the things he has to love God. In the parable, both sons were selfish, but only one was depicted as having seen the error of his hedonist ways. The elder son is never depicted as having seen the error of his moralist way and that is how Jesus left it, though, in the parable, the father graciously told him, “all that I have is thine.” The parable teaches us then about how gracious God is toward both the hedonist and the moralist. But the scriptures show us example after example of the blindness of the moralist who thinks to himself, “look at all my good works and attributes.” I am not like the hedonist sinners. That is exactly how the Pharisees behaved. The ones who don’t see themselves as lost but believe they have earned grace and blessings are in far more danger of being lost themselves.
C.S. Lewis once said, “Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger.”
When the Pharisees were offended by some of Jesus Christ’s teachings, he said, “let them alone. They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” Jesus didn’t even attempt to reclaim those who were so self-absorbed. He went after the sinners and sat and ate with them instead. This is why minding our motives is important and why Job’s life story should be deeply considered. When Lehi was given a promised land and had taken his family into the wilderness, he offered up burnt offerings of thanks. Lehi and his family were about to endure great trials and Lehi gave thanks. When his sons returned with the plates, again Lehi offered sacrifice and burnt offerings, giving thanks. When Ishmael and his family returned to the wilderness with Nephi and his brothers, again, Lehi gave thanks and offer sacrifice and burnt offerings.
Giving thanks is a good motive that allows us to be humble and trusting of God’s wisdom in our lives. It enables us to suffer hardships and trials, all of which are custom-designed to make us stronger, to make us humble, to make us meek, to make us all the things that Jesus Christ is. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but who wants to die? To follow Jesus is to take up our crosses and die to ourselves so that we can become alive in Him. Everybody wants to enter Zion, but who is willing to suffer for Christ’s sake?
Here is the story of the Silversmith: “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Mal. 3:3). This puzzled a Bible study group. One of the members offered to learn about the process of refining silver and inform them at their next study. He visited a silversmith and watched him at work. He watched the silversmith hold a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. The silversmith explained that in refining silver, you must hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest to burn away all the impurities. The member then thought about God holding us where the flames are the hottest to burn away our impurities. Then he thought again about the verse. “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” He asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit therein front of the fire and watch the process at all times. The silversmith answered that not only did he have to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire timeit was tested in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. You must leave it long enough to serve the purpose, but not too long as it would destroy it. The member was silent for a moment. Then asked the silversmith, “How do you know when silver is fully refined?” He smiled and answered, “Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.” (Author Unknown). When we are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on us and He will “sit as a refiner and purifier” keeping watch until He sees His image in each of us. God is intimately aware of our needs and limits. He also knows just when you have had enough. So let us be grateful for His perfect wisdom and praise Him as we endure the fire, and not complain or cry “why is this happening to me?” And as we are being refined, are we doing what God wants us to do of our own volition and out of love? Or are we waiting to receive a calling or an assignment? Are we anxiously engaged in many good causes or are we compelled to do His will? In D&C 58 we read:
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.
Now here’s the parable of the laborers in the vineyard in Matthew chapter 20:
1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
Here again, we read about people with their own worldview of justice and good works. Those who had worked the longest felt robbed because the idle laborers who were hired at the last hour received the same pay. They were motivated by their own reward rather than God’s glory to give to them the gift of eternal life. This parable was a direct answer to Peter’s question and an example of the philosophy of the Jewish rulers of the time. They believed that they earned rewards in the kingdom of heaven through their labors on the earth and that the greater the labor, the greater the reward. This belief overlooked some of the factors in the equation, including that of the grace of God. The Lord did not want this concept to carry over into the teachings of the gospel, and through this parable, he essentially declared that “he may do his work well, but he honors me less than others who trust in me without thinking of future gain.” This parable was a warning that the spirit in which one labors for the kingdom is what gives the service its value. This is why in the allegory of the olive trees in Jacob 5, the servants are few. If we are willing to suffer all the things that God sees fit to inflict upon us and if we do it because we love Him and because we are grateful for His infinite atonement, then we will find joy in the things we suffer because we will find ourselves yoked with Him whose burden is light. The burdens of the world are heavy and miserable. If we allow ourselves to be burdened by worldly cares and values, then we are suffering needlessly. Material wealth and goods will all perish. They have no value. But there is great value in suffering with gratitude in our hearts because when God pours out his love and His Spirit into us until we are brimming and bursting, we can likewise pour out this love upon others whose vessels may not be full. And they will rejoice as they begin to brim and burst with gratitude for God’s love.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done. Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings; ev’ry doubt will fly, And you will be singing as the days go by. When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold. Count your many blessings; money cannot buy, Your reward in heaven nor your home on high. So amid the conflict, whether great or small, Do not be discouraged; God is over all. Count your many blessings; angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end. Count your blessings; Name them one by one. Count your blessings; See what God hath done. Count your blessings; Name them one by one. Count your many blessings; See what God hath done.
I didn’t expect to write this entry today, but I kept feeling nudged to do so while my previous entry “What Is Grace” is still fresh in the minds of those who have read it. More and more Christians are abandoning institutional religion while seeking and embracing Jesus Christ with real intent. While it is imperative to seek the Lord, it is equally important to fellowship with other worshippers. One cannot become a disciple of Jesus without loving and serving as He did. That does not happen as individuals on tops of individual mountains. Zion will be a nation of disciples dwelling together who have learned by grace to get along with each other. We must learn to be refined together in the same way that river rocks are rounded and smoothed together in the same running waters. You have to endure being bumped into each other, rubbed off of each other, and smoothed together by the uncomfortable flow of the rolling waters around you. Similarly does steel sharpen steel.
We must learn to receive “grace from grace” and continue from “grace to grace” as I wrote in my previous entry. When Jesus taught those around him to love God and also to love their neighbors as themselves, He was questioned by undiscerning disciples. “Who is my neighbor” and “how many times shall I forgive my neighbor?” Where they lacked in dos, they well made up for in don’ts. Jesus had to break down the concept of the kind of love He expected them to learn. They already knew it was wrong to steal and to lie and to covet. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus expounded on the concept of the higher law of love or in other words, the law of Christ. For example, he unequivocally declared, “Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:30-31).
I still get asked by fellow LDS what about this? Or what about that? Should I just let so and so do this or that? They have not taken the time to study the personal teachings of Jesus Christ. But to answer their particular questions, the Lord covered those questions in fine detail which He declared in its entirety in D&C 98. In short, Jesus Christ declared:
13 And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal. 14 Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy. 15 For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me.
But I’m getting off subject there. People tend to want every scenario spelled out for them because they do not believe ALL the things Jesus Christ has already instructed us to do. Thus we have His sermon on the mount as a model for living and for loving. I love what Peter wrote to the blossoming Christians in his second epistle who had obtained that kind of faith. He gave them actionable further light and knowledge so that they might receive even more grace.
2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In verses one through four, Peter greets those believers who had grown in faith and thus in grace. In verses five through eight, Peter then teaches them how they can grow from grace to grace. This is what disciples DO. They do these works to BECOME like Jesus Christ and all other heavenly beings who dwell with God. We are doing these things not necessarily in order to be saved, but we are doing them to become like saved beings. We cannot waltz into Zion or into heaven and expect Jesus to sprinkle magical fairy dust or magical grace dust and transform us into brotherly people. It doesn’t work that way. We develop brotherly kindness right now so that by abandoning our undesirable qualities (repentance), His grace covers us. This is why Peter says in verse nine that those religious and dutiful people who call themselves Christians do not do these things, it is as if they chose not to be baptized in the first place to be forgiven of their sins. They continue their journey ignorantly or hypocritically. And so Peter encouraged those Christians to give diligence to make their calling and election sure so that they never fall. They who forgive will be forgiven. They who love will be loved. They who elevate the downtrodden will themselves in the end be elevated. They will be saved in God’s kingdom as one who has received as much grace as he has been given the opportunity to receive while in this mortal life. Thus are we saved by grace. It’s an open book test and we have all the advantages and opportunities in the world to grow right now.
Matthew 21:33 ¶ Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
3 Nephi 26:1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had told these things he expounded them unto the multitude; and he did expound all things unto them, both great and small. 2 And he saith: These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations. 3 And he did expound all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory—yea, even all things which should come upon the face of the earth, even until the elements should melt with fervent heat, and the earth should be wrapt together as a scroll, and the heavens and the earth should pass away; 4 And even unto the great and last day, when all people, and all kindreds, and all nations and tongues shall stand before God, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil— 5 If they be good, to the resurrection of everlasting life; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of damnation; being on a parallel, the one on the one hand and the other on the other hand, according to the mercy, and the justice, and the holiness which is in Christ, who was before the world began. 6 And now there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people; 7 But behold the plates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he taught the people. 8 And these things have I written, which are a lesser part of the things which he taught the people; and I have written them to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people, from the Gentiles, according to the words which Jesus hath spoken. 9 And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them. 10 And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation. 11 Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people. 12 Therefore I, Mormon, do write the things which have been commanded me of the Lord. And now I, Mormon, make an end of my sayings, and proceed to write the things which have been commanded me.
D&C 84:54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— 55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. 56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. 57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written— 58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.
“Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.”–Title page of the Book of Mormon, the last leaf of the plates which is an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from plates of Nephi.
Ether 12:35 Wherefore, I know by this thing which thou hast said, that if the Gentiles have not charity, because of our weakness, that thou wilt prove them, and take away their talent, yea, even that which they have received, and give unto them who shall have more abundantly. 36 And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles grace, that they might have charity. 37 And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.
“For the Lord will have a place whence His word will go forth, in these last days, in purity; for if Zion will not purify herself, so as to be approved of in all things, in His sight, He will seek another people; for His work will go on until Israel is gathered, and they who will not hear His voice, must expect to feel His wrath. Let me say unto you, seek to purify yourselves, and also all the inhabitants of Zion, lest the Lord’s anger be kindled to fierceness. Repent, repent, is the voice of God to Zion; and strange as it may appear, yet it is true, mankind will persist in self-justification until all their iniquity is exposed, and their character past being redeemed, and that which is treasured up in their hearts be exposed to the gaze of mankind, I say to you (and what I say to you I say to all), hear the warning voice of God lest Zion fall, and the Lord sware in His wrath the inhabitants of Zion shall not enter into His rest.“–Joseph Smith, (B. H. Roberts, History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 316).
Jacob 5:72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things. 73 And there began to be the natural fruit again in the vineyard; and the natural branches began to grow and thrive exceedingly; and the wild branches began to be plucked off and to be cast away; and they did keep the root and the top thereof equal, according to the strength thereof. 74 And thus they labored, with all diligence, according to the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard, even until the bad had been cast away out of the vineyard, and the Lord had preserved unto himself that the trees had become again the natural fruit; and they became like unto one body; and the fruits were equal; and the Lord of the vineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit, which was most precious unto him from the beginning. 75 And it came to pass that when the Lord of the vineyard saw that his fruit was good, and that his vineyard was no more corrupt, he called up his servants, and said unto them: Behold, for this last time have we nourished my vineyard; and thou beholdest that I have done according to my will; and I have preserved the natural fruit, that it is good, even like as it was in the beginning. And blessed art thou; for because ye have been diligent in laboring with me in my vineyard, and have kept my commandments, and have brought unto me again the natural fruit, that my vineyard is no more corrupted, and the bad is cast away, behold ye shall have joy with me because of the fruit of my vineyard.
70 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few.
I have published my second book. Because of the nature of its contents and approval from the Lord, it is for sale at cost; no royalties are made. Although writing this was a very daunting task, it was a labor of love and is my gift to the world. It is primarily written for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but also for all disciples of Jesus Christ from all Christian religions or paths, particularly in the United States. To order a copy, please click the link:
This is a brief excerpt from one of the chapters titled, “Why Zion?”:
First we must ask what is Zion? Zion is the antithesis—the direct opposite—of Babylon, which is this fallen world we all currently occupy, ruled by Satan and all who love the material and vain things of this world, and also who seek to rule and control others and to be ruled and controlled by others. It’s more than any fictional Utopian society. It is where people live in perfect harmony with one another and who have the love of God in them and His law written in their hearts. Where Babylon is darkness, Zion is light. But most importantly, Zion is where all people know the Lord intimately and walk with Him as Enoch and his people walked with Him (Genesis 5:22-24). They are called Zion because they possess three characteristics or qualities devoid of those people who love Babylon and serve Mammon. As mentioned in the previous chapter, those three qualities are:
1. They are of one heart and one mind. 2. They dwell in righteousness (they deal justly with one another). 3. There are no poor among them.
“What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.” (Isaiah 14:32, emphasis added.)
Zion is also mentioned throughout the Bible by many prophets as a sanctuary. The Hebrew word for Zion means refuge. Zion, which many people today anticipate with the second coming of Jesus Christ, will also be a place of refuge for those who seek shelter from an increasingly wicked world and from those corrupt despots and dictators who seek absolute control of it. So Zion is both a place and a people.
“Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” (Isaiah 66:8.)…
…It is imperative that all believers in Jesus Christ, whatever religion we profess, learn to gather and purify ourselves of all ungodliness and to forsake all worldliness, covetousness, and to abandon all our lusts for material wealth. We must learn to seek to elevate the poor and make ourselves all equal in earthly things that there might be no more poor, so that the Lord might make us all equal in heavenly things (D&C 78:3-7) if we are of but one heart and one mind, dealing justly with one another.
“Let every one labor to prepare himself for the vineyard, sparing a little time to comfort the mourners; to bind up the broken-hearted; to reclaim the backslider; to bring back the wanderer; to reinvite into the kingdom such as have been cut off, by encouraging them to lay to while the day lasts, and work righteousness, and, with one heart and one mind, prepare to help redeem Zion, that goodly land of promise, where the willing and the obedient shall be blessed. Souls are as precious in the sight of God as they ever were; and the Elders were never called to drive any down to hell, but to persuade and invite all men everywhere to repent, that they may become the heirs of salvation.” (Joseph Smith, Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1, No. 8, pp. 137-8.)
To all Elders of Israel: we must stop our vain and worldly pursuits and stop procrastinating the day of our repentance, and rise up now to save the Constitution of the United States and preserve our liberty. We must heed God’s admonitions and warnings and educate ourselves and teach one another that we might all be edified, and in the Lord’s strength, prepare for the work necessary to redeem Zion and to welcome the Great and Dreadful Day of His Second Coming.
“For the Lord will have a place whence His word will go forth, in these last days, in purity; for if Zion will not purify herself, so as to be approved of in all things, in His sight, He will seek another people; for His work will go on until Israel is gathered, and they who will not hear His voice, must expect to feel His wrath. Let me say unto you, seek to purify yourselves, and also all the inhabitants of Zion, lest the Lord’s anger be kindled to fierceness. Repent, repent, is the voice of God to Zion; and strange as it may appear, yet it is true, mankind will persist in self-justification until all their iniquity is exposed, and their character past being redeemed, and that which is treasured up in their hearts be exposed to the gaze of mankind, I say to you (and what I say to you I say to all), hear the warning voice of God lest Zion fall, and the Lord sware in His wrath the inhabitants of Zion shall not enter into His rest.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 316, emphasis added.)