1. COME UNTO CHRIST PRESENTATION ONE
Learning to Come unto Christ PRESENTATION ONE Merrill Bailey – Salt Lake City, Utah 1991 (Transcribed and edited from Cassette Tapes) The Lord’s Formula for Teaching D&C 88:122-123….”appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesman at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege. See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another r as the gospel requires.” The closer we can come to that formula in the classroom, the stronger the Spirit of our Heavenly Father is felt in our teaching. Personal Testimony "I know for an absolute certainly that God lives! I know that God, the Eternal Father lives! I know that He created the earth and that He is the author of our salvation, and that He is not on vacation and not an absentee God. His work and glory is to bring to pass each and every one of our lives and eternal salvation. He never sleeps. He is constantly on the job working with that end in view. I know that - I absolutely know that! I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, as it is constituted, is His kingdom on earth. I know that the leaders—the Apostles, the Prophets, the General Authorities—are His Servants. They are standing in the place that they are to be. Their teachings, their stewardship, the things that they are trying to accomplish are pleasing unto Him. I know these things.” Purpose Our purpose for the next eight weeks is to “COME UNTO CHRIST”. No Inequality “No inequality among them? Whenever the Book of Mormon Prophets made this statement, it was always to designate a righteous people. We are all equals in the eyes of God. On the other hand, the work “iniquity” is used many times in the Book of Mormon—it comes from the word “inequality”. When inequality exists, it is always a great danger sign—things are beginning to fall apart, and Satan is beginning to get a place in the hearts of men. Alma 16:16…”And there was no inequality among them; the Lord did pour out His Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the Word which should be taught among them at the time of His coming.” All Have Equal Gifts We come together with different talents or gifts, and those gifts are equally distributed .. meaning that each may have certain gifts that would help and support the whole. As we add our gifts, it helps everyone move onward. God is no respecter of persons .. all of us have equal gifts, although we do not perceive them as such, for we may desire the gifts of someone else. The degree to which we struggle with this is a good indication of our spiritual immaturity. If we spend a good deal of time feeling cheated, or if we think of ourselves as being better than anybody else, we have some spirituality to gain--some struggles ahead. One of the greatest messages we find in the scriptures is that God Himself is the meekest of all men. He sees us eye to eye--He does not look down on us. Preparing the Heart Alma 16:19 "Holding forth things which must shortly come; yea, holding forth the coming of the Son of God, His sufferings and death, also the resurrection of the dead." This brings out something that may seem totally insignificant at this point …"holding forth things which must shortly come".(not shortly come at 78.C.).,.shortly come NOW!!! If this is a true scripture--if the Lord's Spirit is on all the face of the land preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive the words which should be taught among them at the time of His coming - then you will recognize its truth in your heart! A Prophet's Words - Move Forward Spiritually In April Conference of 1979 President Spencer W. Kimball made the following statement: “My brothers and sisters, it seems clear to me…indeed this impression weighs upon me that the Church is at a point in its growth and maturity when we are at last ready to move forward in a major ways. Some decisions have been made and others pending which will clear the way organizationally, but the basic decision for us to move forward as a people must be made by the individual members of the Church. The organization, the General Authorities, will lead the way, but the basic decision for us to move forward must be made by the individual members of the Church.” “We have paused on some plateaus long enough: let us resume our journey forward and upward; let us quietly put an end to our reluctance to reach out to others, whether in our own families or to our neighborhoods. We have been diverted at times from fundamentals from which we must now focus in order to move forward as a people.” “Are we ready, brothers and sisters, to do these seemingly small things out of which great blessings will proceed? I think we are. I believe the Lord’s Church is on an upsurge in spirituality. Our individual growth—our individual spiritual growth—is the key to numerical growth in the Kingdom. The Church is ready to accomplish these things now which it could not have done just a few years ago, so also we are ready as members. If you will accept my counsel, you will feel that there is a readiness in our people which must be put to work. Let us not shrink from the next steps in our spiritual growth. Brothers and sisters, let us not shrink from the next stage.” This prophecy is being literally fulfilled—I want to share with you in the next eight weeks the simple concepts that will move us to a whole new level of spirituality. BORN AGAIN PROCESS In October of 1985 President Ezra Taft Benson gave his first talk as a Prophet: He stated: “I would commend you to seek this Jesus. Besides the physical ordinances of baptism and laying on of hands, one must be spiritually born again to obtain exaltation and Eternal Life. In Mosiah 27, Alma the Younger spoke to the people: “And the Lord said unto me, Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming His sons and daughters. And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the Kingdom of God.” “The change of heart and born again process is best described in the “keystone of our religion: known as the Book of Mormon. Those who had been born again after hearing King Benjamin’s address had a mighty change wrought in their hearts. They had no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” President Benson quoted the 4th chapter and 5th chapters of Alma, then he continued: “would not the progress of the Church increase dramatically today with the increasing number of those who are spiritually reborn? Can you imagine what would happen in our homes? Can you imagine what would happen if we increased the number of copies of the Book of Mormon in the hands of the increased number of missionaries? The Lord works form the inside out; the world works from the outside in. The world would take the people out of the slums. The Lord would take the slums out of the people and then they take themselves out of the slums.” The whole talk was on seeking eternal life by being born again and having this change of heart. This was given to the members of the Church..it was not given to investigators. President Benson spoke to us again in April 1986 "Now we not only need to say more about the Book of Mormon; but we need to DO more with it. Why? The Lord answers that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father's Kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and a judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion,” In October 1988 in one of the last conference talks he delivered himself, he said : My beloved Saints, I am now entering my 90th year. I am getting older and am so grateful for your prayers and for the support of my younger brethren. I thank the Lord for renewing my body two times so I can still help to build His Kingdom. I do not know fully why God has preserved my life to this age, but I do know this, that for this hour He has revealed to me the absolute need for us to move the Book of Mormon forward now in a marvelous manner. You must help with this blessing which He has placed on the whole Church, even all the children of Zion. Moses never entered the promised land; Joseph Smith never saw Zion redeemed. Some of us may not live long enough to see the day when the Book of Mormon floods the earth and when the Lord lifts his condemnation but, God willing, I intend to spend all of my remaning days in that glorious effort." Moses sought to Sanctify the Children of Israel D&C 84:23 ... "Now this Moses plainly taught to the children or Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God." What was Moses trying to do after he got the children of Israel out of Egypt? There is a three-step process: 1. They went out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. (this is symbolic of being baptized) 2. They were taken to the wilderness to prepare. (the Israelites took 40 years…..it is up to us how long this period with take) THE LAW OF JUSTIFICATION AND THE ISRAELITES The preparatory gospel (the law of justification of ourselves) was ordained to get the Israelites out of Egypt, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of His people. It was to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power. The Israelites were under the law of justice because they adhered to the law of carnal commandments... "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth .. If you keep the commandments, you get the Spirit ... If you keep not the commandments, the Spirit is withdrawn." What is carnal? It is anything that has to do with physical body functions. In our day there are a number of things we might consider both carnal and spiritual: tithing, home teaching, attending meetings, etc. Ninety percent of our sins come from omission, not commission—something we did not physically do. Thus we pay the price of unrest and guilt for many things we are NOT doing. Most of what is taught at General Conference falls under this law…because too many of us cannot get beyond that point of reference. “Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness…and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God." Moses sought to teach them to go all the way--go through the veil and gain the key to the knowledge of God and behold the Father--to live there and teach their children to grow up without sin unto salvation. But the children of Israel hardened their hearts and could not endure His Presence. Why not? Because they did not want to pay the price. “The lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holds the keys to the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel, the gospel of repentance, baptism, and remission of sins.” We Are Still Operating Under the Preparatory Gospel The Bishop, the leader of the Aaronic Priesthood, was in charge. This is true today….we can still continue to receive the ministering of angels, although much of the time we are too spiritually dead to realize we are being ministered to. But they are leading, guiding, and teaching us--revealing to us and bringing us to places where we can hear more truth. It is a preparatory gospel to see how well we do. If we prove ourselves worthy, then when we reach 19, we can go to the Temple and “receive” more of the ordinances (gifts of God). The Two Priesthoods The Lord stated in DD&C 84:18 that there are two priesthoods---each rules over a different level of the Gospel: D&C 84:18….”And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest Order of God. The Aaronic Priesthood rules over the preparatory gospel and is designed to prepare us for the greater gospel. It contains the law of carnal commandments; it will continue forever. The Melchizedek Priesthood rules over the greater gospel (which we at this time are not ready or are not willing to accept or “receive”) it administers the gospel of Christ-the fullness, and has the keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom---even the knowledge of God. The Melchizedek Priesthood does not replace the Aaronic Priesthood, but rather, is inclusive of and added to the lesser priesthood. For example, if you have a glass half full or water and you fill it all the way up--you have not done away with the bottom half---you have added to it. Melchizedek Priesthood Withdrawn D&C 84:24-25... "But they hardened their hearts, and could not endure His Presence; therefore, the Lord in His wrath, for His anger was kindled against them swore that they should not enter into His rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fullness of His glory. Therefore, He took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also." There is no sadder verse in all scripture than verse 25. D&C 84:26 ... "And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdest the keys of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel.” We know, however, that all the Prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and the ordinances, because the power of Godliness is manifest through the ordinances. When the original plans to Solomon’s Temple we found, upper rooms were discovered therein. Those who found them had no idea what those upper rooms were used for, but they were there. Scourge and Condemnation Still Remain D&C 84:54-57.... "And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received." (Unbelief in what? Unbelief that it is even possible to see God? Or unbelief that Jesus can actually redeem us and give us Eternal Life) "And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Z ion even all... (to this day!) "And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent (turn back to Him) "and remember” (most frequently used word in the Book of Mormon) "the new covenant, even in the Book of Mormon and in the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.” There is something we must do which the Book of Mormon teaches us--something we are not doing--then the scourge will be lifted. D&C 84:58 ... "That they may bring forth meet forth their Father's kingdom; otherwise, there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion." What is that scourge and condemnation? Recall President Kimball's "We have remained upon certain plateaus long enough .. I feel a new upsurge of spirituality in the Church ... The Church is ready, the organization is ready, but it is going to have to come from the individual members." We will know when we have accomplished this because we will start bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit, which (according to Galatians 5) are Peace, Joy, Love, and Rest..."that they may bring forth (fruit) for their Father's kingdom ….otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion." In D&C 84:49, the Lord gave the answer before He stated the problem: D&C 84:49-54 ... "And the whole world lieth in sin, because they come not unto me. ....And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me. For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin. And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and it not of me." "And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that...the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now. And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received." THE SCOURGE & CONDEMNATION IS UPON US BECAUSE WE’RE NOT COMING UNTO HIM The condemnation rests in the fact that we are not coming unto God. We are not using the Melchizedek Priesthood to come to this knowledge. WE DO NOT KNOW HIM! "By this ye may know that the whole world lieth in sin; for they come not unto ME." D&C 84:49-54...."And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom, even 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. For without this, no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live." The Key to the Knowledge of God: Knowing Him. The key to the knowledge of God is .. "”DO I KNOW GOD? DO I KNOW JESUS AS A PERSON? Do I know how He thinks? Do I know how He feels? Does He talk to me personally? President Kimball said: “We may Know Him by sight, and by hearing and by touch! And this is not just for Prophets and Apostles.”(see Page 7 Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball) It is not necessary to put the Prophet between yourself and God…..you can know Him personally. Where do we get the power to get this key of knowledge to pierce the veil and come into the presence of God…..to get to know Him? Think of one person whom you know very well ... there is no other person quite like this one. You know how he or she thinks and feels, what their tastes are, etc. You do not have to turn on the television and listen to General Conference to see what the last message was from this person--you simply go and ask. Whenever we read scripture and it speaks of the corning of the Lord--specifically the second coming of the Lord, we should read it not just in terms of a physical event that is going to transpire in a few years, but in our own, personal, inward lives. Is there going to be a time when we have prepared for the Savior to come to us… A second coming of the Lord? What is the key? TO COME UNTO CHRIST. SYMBOLISM OF THE TEMPLE The Temple ceremony is not just a pattern of what is to go on in the spirit world and beyond…everything in the Temple is symbolic of what is to happen to us…here in the body NOW. The body is the real Temple---the building is a symbol. When Christ suddenly comes to His Temple, He will come to the real Temple. D&C 93: “Man is the tabernacle of God, even Temples.” Every ordinance, every token, every covenant, every step in the ceremony is to teach us how we are to get to the place where we can finally pierce that veil and stand in the Presence of God and there “receive” the key to the knowledge of God: D&C 84:21-22 And without the ordinances thereof) and the authority of the priesthood, the power or godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh. For without this, no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.” We Can Be Alive in Christ What we have always assumed is that we are going to live until we see Him and then we are going to die…let us state this another way, "We are dead until we see Him, and then we will be alive! (it is not until we stand back in the presence of God that we are spiritually brought back from the fall ... then we are alive again in God, in Christ... totally alive. We are spiritually dead until we can experience Him in our lives again, when we Pass through the veil and are in His Presence again…..in this world…in this Temple (me)! . THE FIRST PROVOCATION Because the children of Israel refused to go further and receive this higher gift, this was called the "first provocation" --they provoked the Lord to anger and He took the power out of the Church and left them with the Aaronic Priesthood only. Obviously, the first provocation is to remain under the Aaronic Priesthood power. Consider what Jacob tells us as he indicates the greatest fear he had for his people. Jacob 1:7 .....”Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into His rest, lest by any means He should not enter in, as in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness." Their great fear was that they would provoke the Lord and be left without the higher priesthood power, as were the children of Israel. What is it that provokes the Lord? When we will not come unto Him…When we harden our heart…when we are filled with pride, thinking that we can become perfect without Him. Sometimes we confuse humility with this type of pride. We would rush up to partake of the goodness of God, would we not ... unless we do not feel worthy because we had not done our home teaching or had stretched the truth in some things, etc.? But we are "humble", so humble that we will not come unto God and partake of His goodness. It is a false sense of humility and not the true virtue. WE CANNOT DO IT ALONE We nurture the belief that God cannot possibly save US…..He does not have enough power because WE have not done enough yet. We have not gathered enough sticks with which to beat ourselves, or worked hard enough, or done enough.... so we are not going to partake of the goodness of God until we are worthy. We constantly beat ourselves to death with guilt and with resolves and with Franklin Planners and goal setting, so we are determined not to partake of the goodness of God until we are worthy. Worthy in whose eyes? In our own eyes! Is that pride? We will only seek Him when we can reign righteousness upon ourselves--until we become so good that He Just cannot help but come and save us—until we have earned our calling and election, until He cannot turn us away because we have done everything so well and so right! Speaking by the Power of the Holy Ghost Let us consider the last words of Nephi to the people of our time: 2 Nephi 33:1.... And. now I Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost, the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.” Does this fit us? What if we are not mighty in reading as we are in hearing, if it is spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost in truth and light? What if the gift of tongues is not to speak in some foreign language that someone else stands up and interprets? What the gift of tongues is for us to speak with a new tongue--a tongue of angels by the power of the Holy Ghost? And for the Holy Ghost to carry it unto our hearts and for us to hear a new language that we have never heard before--a new spiritual language! What if that is the gift of tongues? What if that is true! Does that give us a new insight? Discern by the Power of the Holy Ghost Individually we are the final judges of what we learn here..... the power of the Holy Ghost cannot be deceived. We need to get familiar with the feeling of the Holy Ghost.... then we can be taught all kinds of new intellectual knowledge that we have never before known--then we cannot be deceived. We may be at odds with some of the things we hear, but our hearts will be saying, "Ponder ...that same feeling .of the Holy Ghost we have always known and trusted will not let us down. We may have to go home and rewrite our brains…..our hearts may have to re-educate our heads totally. Listening With the Heart There must be opposition in all things ... even in the gospel. Up to now, coming unto Christ has been a "head trip", but we work it upside down and it becomes a "heart trip"--then the heart becomes the master instead of the servant as it has been all of our lives. It has to re-teach our heads--the last becomes first and the first becomes last. There is much new knowledge that we have to learn all over again. If there is a lot of pride there, we will fight against this transition. Those who have ears to hear will hear--when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. If it is true, the Spirit will whisper it and you will get these feelings, these burnings--"My sheep hear My voice." The Holy Ghost carries it into the hearts of the children of men. That is the key, "Into Their Hearts". When you read the scriptures, notice the difference between heart and mind--they are both important, but the mind and the brain are part of the flesh. The heart is of the spirit. 2 Nephi 33:2 ... "But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught." How many years have we hardened our hearts? As we study these next eight weeks, you will begin to "see" all the things you just did not see in the past. You will say, "I have read the Book of Mormon time and time again, and I have missed many things that have been there and have treated them as naught!" The scriptures will come alive and change your whole life! Who Are My People? 2 Nephi 33:3 ... "But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people... " Who are "my people"? For Nephi, they were the Lamanites. On our level today, who are my people? We are all brothers and sisters--we are the elect, the covenant children. We have been saved for the last days because we are part of Mormon’s people. We are Jews, Gentiles, Israelites, Ephraimites---we have the blood of all these people in our veins. How many years have we set aside everything written to the Jews, not realizing that we are Jews (Israel) and have those Israel genes going through us. We are also part of Nephi's people--we are part of his seed because we are of Christ's seed. 2 Nephi 33: 3-4 ...For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that He will hear my cry. And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in Him and to endure to the end, which is life eternal." Seeking Eternal Life What does it mean to endure to the end.... to have life eternal? What does the Savior say? Eternal life is a well of living water springing up inside of you. "I am the resurrection and the life; he that liveth and believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." Christ is eternal life--if we have Him living in us (a fountain of living water), we have eternal life. The promise--eternal life remaineth in us. In John, the Savior said, "I will send you Another Comforter .. "Was He talking about the Holy Ghost? No, He was talking about Another Comforter--the Second Comforter. "I, Myself, will come!!" Paul tried all his life to help the people to see this -- "the letter killeth, the Spirit giveth life." God gave us His fullness first... then when we rejected it, He gave us what we think we want. He says in essence, "If you do not feel worthy, you will not be worthy. You will spend your whole life trying to earn your own way back--then you will not need me." 2 Nephi 33:8-9 ..."I have charity for the Jews--I say Jew, because I mean them from which l came I also have charity for the Gentiles. "But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the straight path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.” Are we Jews? Are we Gentiles? Are we Ephraimites? Yes ... to all of these. Joseph Smith once said the difference between a Gentile and an Israelite is that the Israelite takes on a more pure countenance. We are Gentiles too…we have Gentile genes. Which Master Do We Serve? “My sheep hear my voice and follow Me." Which master do we serve--do we serve the God of this land, which is money and all things it employs? Most of us in the church are still Gentiles. The Lord said in effect, "I have charity and love for the Gentile in you, but I do not have any hope except you shall be reconciled unto Christ." How Are We Reconciled Unto Christ? We are reconciled unto Christ by partaking of the goodness of God.....by letting Him pay for our sins. By so doing we then can become spotless and without blame. Why? Because we let Him do it... we exercise faith in Him. We say "Father, I believe.....I really believe with all my heart that Thou hast paid for my sins. I am clean before Thee." Faith is a belief in something that is real or true, but unseen. We must have faith sufficient to walk in Christ's perfection, as if He had already come. Do you have that kind of faith…as if He had already come? Do you believe in your own redemption enough to believe that you are clean through His Atonement--that He really has all power to save you, and indeed, has saved you? Do you believe that He paid for your sins in Gethsemane so that you can partake of the water at the sacrament table and know that His Name is in you. Do you believe that you do not live under the law of justice anymore, because you now live under the gift of sanctification or the gift of mercy? Let us go back to the Book of Mormon lest you consider this false doctrine: 3 Nephi 33:9….."except they shall be reconciled unto Christ and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the straight path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation." Two Necessary Conclusions In the next seven weeks we are going to see that there are two things we have to do to come unto Christ: 1. We are going to find out why we have not been coming unto Him 2. We are going to find out how we can come unto Him. What is there that is stopping us--what is there within us that holds us back? Consider this scripture: D&C 123:12-15…“For, there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations (including the Mormons), who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it ... " “Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven, these should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the Saints, which depends upon these things.” The first thing we must do is look and see what it is that is holding us back. We are going to look and see what dark, hidden things are keeping us from this goal---we are going to reveal those things that may be part of our personalities or parts of our culture that may be keeping us from seeing the truth....the light. Next, we must determine how we can come unto Christ…how can we get the faith necessary to do this? Answers to both of these will be found in the Book of Mormon…turn to 2 Nephi 25. Nephi wrote this whole chapter to us so we would understand the relationship between Gentiles and Jews and our own application to it. 2 Nephi 25:23…... “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children and also our brethren, to believe in Christ and to be reconciled to God.” Nephi is telling us how they sought to teach their children…that in order to “receive” this salvation, this mercy…they had to be reconciled to Christ. In essence he is saying, “That is what we teach our children day in and day out—that they have got to come unto Christ to have their sins forgiven them. They have got to throw themselves to His Mercy, to His love. They have got to put themselves to the ultimate test. We persuade, we write, we labor diligently to bring them to Christ to be reconciled to God. For we know that is by grace that we are saved." Do We Follow Nephi's Example? How do we teach our children? As a seminary teacher, how do I teach your children to be reconciled to God…to have their sins forgiven them? Do we tell them that they have to live the commandments better? Yes, we do. But that is not what the Nephites were teaching their children; they were teaching them that they had to come unto Christ to be reconciled. Keeping the commandments was not going to do it for them…nor will it be sufficient for us. "For we know that it is by Grace that we are saved.” I know that you have heard that scripture before—probably a hundred times---and always with emphasis on the part that I am going to read now…”After all we can do.” This is a favorite one in the church—because most of us believe that we can never do enough to be saved, even with the grace o f God. All That We Can Do How many of us believe that we are doing all that we can do? How many of you believe you are doing all you can do? I hope that you w ill not consider it an act of pride when I say that I am doing all that I can do. That is not pride. I am doing all that I can do. If I could do better, I would be doing it. But we do not accept this …we go home and beat ourselves with guilt and then next month we try and do better. I am 47 years old, and so far that has not worked . .I have done it at least ten thousand times .. I have beat myself up because, according to my head, I am not doing all I can do. When will my mind say .. "Yes, Bailey, you are doing all you can do. You are keeping every commandment you have committed to keep. My mind will never do that…..if I wait until my mind says that I am doing all that I can do, I will never get there! My mind recounts all my failings--there are months I have missed my home teaching. I don't really know if I am paying a full tithing .. I go through a whole list of my sins! But do you know what my heart says? It says, "Merrill, you are doing all you can, or you would do better. You are not doing much--you are not doing all you could do, or should do, or all you ought to do, you are not even close! But you are obviously doing all you can. So now what you need to do is go to the Savior and tell Him that. Say, “Father, I am not doing very well. I am not worthy of salvation.” I will never make it by the Law, so I have several choices--I can be a hypocrite, be a Pharisee--stand up and make everyone else think that I am living a lot better than they are, by hammering them for what they are not living. Or I can just rebel and leave the Church and say, 'Oh heck, I cannot do it anyway!' Or I can admit the truth, which is “Heavenly Father, I am doing all I can do---which is not much. But if I am going to get anything, I am going to have to get it through you. It is going to have to be through your grace, and you are going to have to have a lot of it! The Lord can deal with truth….. now He can give me mercy. He can say, "No, you are not doing real well.” If we hope to do it ourselves, then we are in trouble because we are not doing all that great. Paul was having the same trouble with the Romans--in his letter to them he wanted them to realize that if they were going to be reconciled to God, it would have to be through Christ ….we cannot do it alone. Romans 9:31…."But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness." They had been working all these years and teaching each other with all their might, beating each other over the head with it, but had it made them perfect? They were so far off--they did not attain to righteousness--why not? Because they sought it not by faith…faith in Christ. Only One Faith There is only one faith--faith is a belief in something---a hope in something. It is unseen, but true. Paul's followers did seek righteousness by faith, but the Jews or Israel sought it by the works of the law--they sought righteousness by works, by their own works in the law. They did not seek it by faith in Christ and by grace. When you go through the Book of Mormon from now on, every time you see the word "stumbling stone", circle it in red--What is the stumbling stone of Israel? It is the law…the first provocation. Christ is the stumbling stone! You might ask, "How could Christ be the stumbling stone? The answer is because we do not want Him.... we are going to do it ourselves. He becomes the stumbling stone if we are going to earn it with our own works--so the law is the stumbling stone ---the first provocation is the stumbling stone. Romans 9:33…"As it is written, Behold, I lay in stone a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed." A ROCK AND A STUMBLING STONE Who laid the stumbling stone? Why did God put it there--does He want us to fail? YES!! Why would He ever do that! Remember, whenever you see the word 'rock', Christ is the ROCK! He is also the stumbling stone. He becomes this when we say, I want to do it myself… I do not need Christ." So, obviously, whosoever does not believe on Him has got to be ashamed. I am ashamed when I tell you that I am not living the law and how far I miss it. (When we focus on the Law, we are trusting in it, not in Christ) But I am not ashamed because I know in whom I have trusted. I know where my strength is….in Christ, so I am not ashamed. As members of the Church, we have a great zeal for God and we like to think that perhaps this replaces our reliance on His mercy. Think of our zeal for missionary work--the money spent for 40,000 missionaries at $350 per month is $336 Million for two years. Think of our zeal with our callings and the number of hours we spend each week at the chapel…….but it is never enough! Romans 10:3…."They, being ignorant of God's righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness , have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God:" Is Paul saying that they are ignorant of God's righteousness? That they (we) do not know how good He is, how forgiving, and how kind and all merciful He is.... because they (we) are too busy trying to establish their (our) own righteousness? By not submitting ourselves unto God, we think it is humility. When asked if they are doing all they could, they say, "No, I am not." They do not realize that they are not coming unto Christ and not receiving His grace. 2 Nephi 25:21..... "It is by grace we are saved, after all we can do, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses…." This is what we do….the Law now becomes written in our inward parts--"We bark like dogs because that is what dogs do". In analogy---"Gods keep the law because that is what Gods are." They serve, and they love, and they give their whole heart and souls to Christ out of appreciation, not to get a place in heaven, but because that is what Gods are. 2 Nephi 25:24..."We keep the law of Moses and look forward to Christ until the Law shall be fulfilled. For this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive because of our faith....(in Christ’s redeeming power) " Do We Testify of Christ? Do you remember a few conferences ago when someone wrote Brother Dallin Oakes and asked if it was okay that we testify of Christ, even though we are not apostles? This person said he sat through a complete church block--Priesthood meeting, Sacrament Meeting, and Sunday School--and never once heard anyone talk about Christ. 2 Nephi 25:26…..."And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." How are we ever going to teach our children to grow up without sin unto salvation if we are not doing it ourselves? Is there something we do not understand? Is there something we do not know? Do we think that the only way they will grow up without sin is if Satan is bound and then they will never do anything bad? HOW WILL SATAN BE BOUND? Satan can only be bound by “righteousness” within the people. Where is that “righteousness” going to come from? (not from them selves that is for sure) How are our children going to grow up without sin unto salvation? They are going to have teachers….Zion is going-to emerge out of the church with a new plateau of spirituality ... it is about to burst forth! However, the church itself is not going to lead it--it is going to happen among the individual members. And the church will be ready for it when it happens. As cattle into the stall, one by one, it will come out ….and then we will teach our children, just as the people in the Book of Mormon did. Wherefore our children may know the deadness of the Law….the Law does not do it. They keep the commandments so they get the Law in their minds, know what God’s righteousness is, and realize that they are not going to be able to reach it by themselves--that they must come unto Christ., (and “receive” it from Him by Faith in Him). 2 Nephi 25….."Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness or the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away." For what end was the law given? To teach us that we cannot do it ourselves ... to humble us . Ether 12:27…..”And if men come unto Me, I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before Me; for if they humble themselves before Me and have faith in Me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (It is all in the scriptures---like a big jigsaw puzzle—we just have to fit the pieces together) “And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against Him when the law OUGHT to be done away.” “Receive” the Higher Way Instead of 'hammering’ one another and comparing ourselves and our well doing with others, we need to go out and love our brothers--do all we can for them, so that they can see what is meant by the higher law(the “more Excellent Way”). The lower law has to be done away…not that we do not keep it anymore, but our motivation changes from that of fear and guilt to LOVE, HOPE, and JOY. This is what we must teach our children. 2 Nephi 25:28…..."And now· behold, my people. Ye are a stiffnecked people; wherefore, I have spoken. Plainly unto you, that ye cannot misunderstand." (Why haven't we seen this before!) "And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way.....!” This means any man or woman who wants to hear …who really listens by the Spirit, who really wants to believe that they are perfect, that Christ has paid for their sins. This is the Celestial Kingdom—this is not some place we endure with gritting teeth! We need to get our noses out of the ‘pain pits' and have joyful lives! “…..for the right way is to believe in Christ and deny Him not; and I say unto you again (for emphasis), the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny Him not!” Do not deny Him or His power of His gifts. Remember Moroni 10? “Deny not the gifts of the Spirit.” What is the greatest gift of God? ETERNAL LIFE…..that is His greatest gift! And that is the gift we deny everyday, for we refuse to forgive ourselves. We will not let God forgive us or love us or cleanse us or redeem us by His Grace. "…."for by denying Him, ye also deny the prophets and the law.” If we deny the gift, we also deny the prophets and the law….because that is all they are trying to get us to do----to Come Unto Christ and be born again. 2 Nephi 25:29-30...“And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny Him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before Him and worship Him with all your might, mind and strength and your whole soul, and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out. And, inasmuch as it shall be expedient, ye must keep the performances and ordinances of God until the law shall be fulfilled which was given unto Moses." So long as it is expeditious for our expedition, we continue to live the law in the wilderness until we are ready to move to the promised land. There it is--the symbolism is all there! We will see it over and over again. The Most Important Verses I want to leave you with the three most important verses in the Book of Mormon. If I were the prophet and wanted to sum up everything I had said--everything I was trying to get you to do, I would quote the last three verses in the Book of Mormon because they summarize the real gospel of CHRIST. Moroni 10:32…..."Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him, and deny yourselves all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is His Grace sufficient for you, that by His Grace ye may be perfect IN Christ…..” Love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is His grace sufficient...for all our past sins. But what about our future sins--all the ones we are ever going to commit? The Atonement is Infinite--do we know what that means? It is all inclusive from the first of our lives to the last. Do we believe in the Infinite Atonement? An Infinite Atonement is one that covers everything. ….."and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can nowise deny the power of God," Why could we not deny the power of God if we are perfect in Christ? Because it has been through Him, through His spirit. We cannot deny God's power...it is impossible, because there would be nothing were it not for His power. So it is impossible for us to deny it, if we are perfect in Him. His spirit is in us and we are in Him, and we are one. Everything we do from now on--everything we say or feel--is with His image in our countenances. We shine with it...we feel it....we cannot deny it!
Moroni 10:33....."And again, if ye, by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not His power, then are ye sanctified (not only justified, but sanctified) in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ....”
Notice the difference in the Sacrament prayers...with the water we only make one covenant. Are we willing to always remember Him? How can we help but always be willing if His spirit is within us--if He has taken up His abode within us--if He has introduced the Father to us? How can we deny Him, how can we not remember Him--to always give credit where it is due? That becomes the covenant for sanctification that His blood has cleansed us….the water represents the blood with which we are totally cleansed.
“…….which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot."
Moroni 10:34 ..."And now I bid unto all farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.”
How To Test Concepts
Think about the conc
epts we have discussed, and pray about it with all your heart, then fast. Fasting is not just doing away with food....it may not even be food or water. Fasting is pulling back from the things of the world---to detach from anything physical---relationships, materialism, the children, or whatever.
Detach a few times during the week and just go unto the Lord and ask Him to soften your heart that you might know if these things are false or true. Ask Him by the Spirit. If you are struggling with something, or if you are not quite ready to grasp it because there is so much guilt or whatever--put your doubts on His shoulders.
Read Moses Chapter 6 in the Pearl of Great Price. If what I have talked to you about is true, there are two places where the Lord is going to show in detail-- word for word, step by step--the process of keeping the commandment to justification to sanctification. It is going to be so obvious that you cannot miss it. He is going to point it right out to you. The first place it is taught is in the temple in the highest level where the truth is taught; the second place is in the scriptures.
This, we are told, is the plan of salvation--from verses 55 to 62 is the plan, and we will start there next week to see if the Lord has mapped this out. Read the verses slowly and see what you can see…..in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.