The man whom Jesus Christ places at the head of His church as the Presiding High Priest has a very difficult job to perform. He represents the mind and will of Jesus Christ in all the world. He is vested with priesthood power and priesthood keys sufficient to execute the responsibilities of his high office. He relies upon revelation, scripture, counsel from his counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve in leading the church. He is also blessed with a keen intellect, wisdom, and extensive experience. He acts, as much as possible, under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, he is not commanded in all things through channels of open revelation; rather, he relies almost entirely to be led by the Spirit through faith. Occasionally, he is granted private interviews with the Lord which provides Him with the additional endowments of power he needs in order to fulfill the demands of his office.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints only represents a fragment of the Kingdom of God, inasmuch as it can be found upon this earth. The Kingdom of God, in its entirety, is ZION. That kingdom does not exist on this earth at present. Without a ZION on earth, the Lord and His servants are severely limited and compromised in what they can do and say. They must carry forth the banner of the Everlasting Gospel in all the world, preach the gospel, provide the saving ordinances of the priesthood, and do what can be done to strengthen the church members and their families; they must do all this without offending the powers that be within the nations of the earth which could and would shut down the work of the church were it to over-step its bounds according to their terms.
The members of the Church are vastly outnumbered by those who oppose many of God’s objectives and commandments. Accordingly, our Prophets and Apostles must be very prudent and judicious in how they interact with the people and nations of the world. Because the vast majority of the members of the church do not seek to keep all of the commandments of God; and because they are not sufficiently true or virtuous; they are unable to demand of God the protection of that sword of justice consecrated for the defense of truth and virtue. Consequently, if the Lord and His Prophets were to rise up in open opposition to the Beast, or Babylon, the church would be quickly crushed like a tiny fly. Only a fully established and empowered ZION can openly defy the world and get away with it.
The Mission of a Prophet
The Lord has called prophets in all ages of the world to speak in His behalf, administer the ordinances and covenants of the gospel, and to administrate His church. Because of their reputedly controversial nature, prophets pick their battles very carefully, as lead by the Spirit.
Historically, prophets meddling in politics have generated horrific opposition, contention, war, and death. Sometimes the Lord demands this of His prophets; other times, he directs them to stay silent. Nations and churches that ignore prophetic instructions and warnings eventually cease receiving them, are brought under condemnation, and are finally destroyed. This pattern continues today.
The Functions of a Prophet
One of the qualifications for being called as a prophet is that a prophet cannot be silenced when the Spirit constrains him to speak; likewise, he cannot be compelled to speak when the Spirit constrains him to be silent.
Often times, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints wish that the Prophet would simply command them in all things, moment by moment. But why should he, especially when so many of them have summarily ignored or rejected so much of what he has said in the past?
As a general rule, prophets disseminate only the “lesser portion” of the Word in public. This includes the basic principles of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Saints who embrace these principles with all their hearts are lead by revelation from Jesus Christ to receive the “greater portion” or “mysteries” which teaches a man or woman the precise path they can follow which leads them back into His presence, where they can behold His face, and receive all the blessings promised and foreshadowed within the temple of the Most High God. Inversely, “saints” who reject the “lesser portion” have taken from them what little they had, even until they are left with nothing and they are led down to destruction.
9 It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.
Alma 12:9 – 11
Historically, much has been said by our modern prophets and apostles on the subjects of political science, secret combinations, education, the last days, and even the “mysteries.” However, I and many others have observed the gradual withdrawal of our prophets from commenting on these matters. They are falling silent. Is it because they were mistaken in these things and had been leading us astray and now God is correcting them? Is it because these things no longer matter? Hardly. The Spirit has whispered to me, and will whisper to you if you are not hard-hearted, that it is because their teachings in these matters have been largely ignored and rejected by the majority of Latter Day Saints in North America. Apostasy exists in all ages and dispensations of the world, including this one.
Those who are true and faithful in all things look unto the Lord and His servants for guidance in all aspects of life: religious, political, academic, vocational, everything. Those in a state of apostasy both resent and despise those messengers of truth which witness of the true vine, the more sure way, and the abundant life which is alive in Christ.
Just as in Book of Mormon times, we find among us those who wear the robes of the holy priesthood, who outwardly profess membership in Christ’s church, but who inwardly, and in private, oppose the work of the Lord. These high priests, judges, and teachers who labor to undermine the work of ZION, by working against God’s prophets (3 Nephi 6:21-27, Ether 14:9), are those who have been deceived by the cunning of the world, who have not embraced the truth, who will not abide the day of the Lord, and who will be denied admittance to the wedding feast of the Bridegroom. These individuals, although they are fluent in the public doctrines and policies of the church, do not comprehend the mysteries of the fullness of the gospel, or of ZION, because they have allowed their minds to become contaminated by the doctrines of man mingled with scripture, by receiving unto themselves false teachers and false priests, and because they have set their hearts upon the riches, praise, and the institutions of Babylon.
The Lord has prophesied that the Gentiles (most of the Latter Day Saints in North America and Western Europe) will not be successful in establishing ZION (D&C 45). Rather, many will apostatize and will cease laboring for ZION. Consequently, ZION will not be built or established by the Gentiles, rather the Gentiles will merely be successful in bringing the fullness of the Gospel to scattered Israel, and it is they, the Israelites that are gathered, who will build and establish ZION in the Latter Days, assisted by those few Gentiles who were faithful.
Why do the Gentiles fail? They fail because they reject the fullness of the Gospel. That fullness is composed of both the “lesser portion” and “greater portion” which will lead individuals and families into the literal presence of Jesus Christ according to the oath and covenant of the priesthood (D&C 84, all of it). Only those who seek out and are faithful to the “greater portion” are able to abide the presence of the Lord—an indispensable prerequisite for building, receiving, and entering ZION.
The Mission of the Church
The mission of the Church is to preach the gospel, perfect the saints, and redeem the dead. That mechanism exists and is fully operational. Our church leaders will not do anything to inhibit its progress and functionality.
It is the responsibility of individuals and families to receive and live the fullness of the Gospel, not the churches; the church is only an ecclesiastical organization designed to enable and encourage obedience to God’s laws. Obtaining ZION is an individual and family affair. The church merely provides the ingredients necessary for achieving it, along with a lot of wonderful warm fuzzy encouragement. But only a deliberate and focused concentration of personal and family initiative can ever make ZION a reality.
If enough saints in a given area become ZION individuals, then they are empowered to become guardians and temporal saviors within the Stakes of Zion in behalf of the weaker saints.
5 Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;
6 And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.
Doctrine and Covenants 115:5 – 6
Seeking the Truth
I have no idea of the source of this quote, but it certainly sounds scriptural to me. “The truth is like a sword that strikes at the heart of the ungodly; yet it is a fire that burns in the hearts of those who love my name.”
We speak of truth and our desire to obtain it. Great! But as we seek truth we had best direct our efforts in this venture with wisdom.
First, we should prioritize the truths we seek. May I humbly suggest that we prioritize that truth which brings us back into the presence of the Father.
Secondly, we need to rid ourselves of vanity and pride and recognize that we are not prepared to receive all truth at this time. Therefore, be careful what you wish for; you may get it; and it may very well damn you along the way if you are not truly ready to receive it and accept it. If you seek truth, you had better be prepared to align your life in harmony with it; otherwise, you will be condemned.
Third, we need to be discrete, just as our General Authorities are discrete, in what we say and who we say it to. We can do a lot of damage by saying too much, to the wrong people, at the wrong time, and in the wrong place. I have certainly learned this the hard way. In fact, I am still learning this one.
Keeping it Simple
Have our church leaders withheld information? Have they simplified and generalized and admonished us to focus mainly on the basics? Yes, they have. Why?
They will always do what is best for the Church. Hence, they simplify some issues; others they do not address at all; and others they allow to remain uncorrected as part of our test of faith.
Too many of us cannot bear meat now; therefore, we get milk; and many of the more difficult questions and issues are simply put on the top shelf, out of sight and out of mind, until the Lord requires us to face up to them again.
Reliance Upon the Holy Ghost
All truth is to be obtained directly from Christ through the Holy Ghost. We should not rely upon Church leaders as a crutch in obtaining it. If and when we are ready to receive these mysteries, the Lord will reveal them to us personally, just as he has promised in scripture and within His Holy House. Do not be too eager to plough on ahead without Him.
Guardians and Guides
I must also add this caution. The Lord has given us the scriptures and apostles as sure guardians and guides. It is vital that we use these heaven-sent resources as guide-posts and cross-references as we seek learning through the Spirit. This is how we are to confirm that the revelation we receive is truly inspired by Jesus Christ through the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost will never inspire conflict with the Lord’s anointed.
Additionally, the Prophet Joseph Smith gave us a valuable treasure when he said, “I will give you a key that will never rust. Always go with the majority of the Twelve and with the records of the church.” If you will always apply this statement in defining your loyalties, you will never go wrong.
Evil Speaking of the Lord’s Anointed
Do our leaders claim infallibility? No. Do our leaders sometimes make mistakes? Yes, they do. This becomes especially problematic when they choose to ignore church policy and do not make a point of acting and speaking scripturally. When this happens, keep it to yourself. Do not seek to correct it unless you preside over that individual. Of course, sometimes it is possible to correct such a problem indirectly by meekly inquiring about it one-on-one with that leader or his superior. If that is possible, great; otherwise, forget it and move on. Priesthood leaders are held accountable to God for the discharge of their responsibilities; not to us.
Our church leaders have never claimed infallibility. This is one reason why they keep admonishing us to “get the Spirit.” As long as we do not have sufficient sensitivity to the Spirit we are as vulnerable as a small child who is completely dependent upon a mother that may falter or even abandon her child. When we have the Spirit, even an errant church leader cannot lead us astray.
I use a Three Key system. I always ask: 1) What do the scriptures say? 2) What do my priesthood leaders say? Specifically, what do our Prophets and Apostles say? 3) What does Jesus Christ tell me through revelation? We must endeavor to remain continually in tune with all three voices. This process, with effort, can become natural and instinctive.
As the winding-up scene of the Last Days continues to unfold, we will find ourselves in situations where we do not have our bishop, or stake president, or Prophet to hold our hands and protect us. Getting the Spirit is paramount in both spiritual and temporal survival within these Last Days of the world.
Albeit our church leaders are not infallible, we must not allow ourselves to fall prey to the temptation of pointing out their mistakes and shortcoming to others, or of poking fun at them, or in any way disparaging their messages or characters. This is referred to in sacred places as “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed.” When we sin in this way, the Spirit withdraws. Even if we are correct in our estimations, 99.9% of the time we should keep it to ourselves.
As a case in point, I have been astonished at how many card-carrying Latter Day Saints have disparaged Ezra Taft Benson for his prophetic mandates. President Benson is an excellent sheep and goat divider. I know this comment will deeply offend many of the deaf and blind. Might I remind such that arrogance is the belief and attitude that what you do not know or understand is not important.
Those who denigrate President Benson simultaneously reject all the prophets of God who stand with him in warning us of secret societies which combine to overthrow the freedom and liberty of all lands. Specifically, such individuals reject the central messages of the Book of Mormon. Such individuals align themselves with the personalities of Laman and Lemuel, and the people of Ammonihah who claim that they and their people are a righteous and God-fearing people, and who ridicule those prophets who warn of political corruption in high places and of their imminent destruction. Be careful of the company you keep and of the originator of the doctrine you parrot.
We Have All We Need
The Church is a simple mechanism designed to facilitate the perfection and exaltation of families. We need not blame our bishop, or stake president, or Prophet, for our own failings in utilizing this heaven-sent mechanism for its intended purpose in our lives. The ingredients are all there. None are forbidden. Anyone who wants it is free to exercise their agency in activating those eternal laws which guarantee exaltation and eternal life.
If we think the brethren don’t say enough, or say too much, or say the wrong thing, then we simply do not understand their divine designations. They are designated as servants of Christ to make the blessings of the gospel attainable to all the family of Adam. That is all. They have no innate obligation to reiterate doctrine which past prophets and apostles have already carefully defined, which are available to the generality of saints. If the people are too slothful to study it out and research it themselves, then they are the ones to be condemned for denying the light even at noon day.
Once a person is baptized and confirmed a member of the true Church, then that person has within his or her reach all that is needed to gain eternal life. They are invited to exercise their agency in seeking after and obtaining the supreme gift, even as Abraham did. (Abraham 1) Gaining this gift requires a lot of personal initiative and self-discipline. Nobody just ends up as an exalted being. Where everything is given, everything is required.
The Duties of Discipleship
Our duties as disciples of Jesus Christ are very similar to our church leaders. We should teach, testify, exhort, encourage, and assist just as they do. There is no need to criticize any other member or leader. Just focus on testifying of Christ; learn to know and love Him with all your heart, might, mind and strength; and face directly into His light and come into His most wonderful and glorious presence. Don’t let the smaller details get you down or get in your way. The answer is always more charity and more faith in our Savior.
A few months ago a nonmember asked me how I knew for certain the Church was true. This was a good man I had a lot of respect for who had lived in Utah for many years. When I attempted to explain my experience with the Spirit as a testator of truth he was unimpressed and insisted that such an experience did not offer sufficient proof. He thought he had me. However, he thought wrong.
I proceeded to relate to him in more detail a few of the evidences I had received in my life that the Church is true. I related the evidence I had received through revelation, evidence in miracles, and evidence in manifestations. I promised him and I promise anyone in the name of Jesus Christ, that when we embrace that truth which comes from Christ through the Still Small Voice, then as our faith becomes unwavering, God will pour out upon us a torrent of evidence in all forms insomuch that it will be impossible to deny His word because His light and His voice and His love will be continually before us leading us forward with that hope and that joy which is unspeakable.
I testify that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. The Book of Mormon is true. Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s foremost Prophet on the earth today. Jesus Christ is our Savior, Redeemer, Lord, and King. Inasmuch as we learn to keep all of His commandments, we will be blessed with all that He has, even exaltation and eternal lives according to the divine promise.
Of these things I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
The ideas presented in this article represent the opinions and testimony of the author. The author does not claim to represent any church or organization.
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