Last night I was invited to a friends house to talk about the scriptures. A while back, I loaned him a book written by D. Snuffer concerning the 2nd comforter (entering into the presence of Christ in the flesh). He said he read the book, and wanted to give me a write-up of his feelings concerning the author. I wanted to talk about what the scriptures said concerning the second comforter, but it was clear that his objective was to discredit the author. His arguments were against a man, and they were void of any connection to the words of Christ. He warned me about following a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and he left, forgetting his scriptures in my front room (very symbolic). Rather than taking his write-up, I gave it back to him. I told him that I already knew how he felt about the author, but my concern is what the words of Christ says concerning the truth of the second comforter.
It has been almost 6 months since that conversation. I sat next to him in Sunday school, and I nudged him saying, “So, when are we going to have a real conversation concerning the words of Christ, and not just share our feelings or perceptions?” He accepted the challenge and invited me over last night.
We set some ground rules. We agreed to keep the conversation based on the words of Christ, and not upon our perceptions. That way the words of Christ could teach us, instead of getting caught up in perceptions. When the words of Christ are at the center, no matter who is right, both would be edified because the words of Christ would become clearer. The idea was good in theory, but harder for him to implement than he expected.
I started talking about the difference between the House of Israel and the Gentiles (3 Nephi 15-16). We disagreed upon who the Gentiles were. He felt that the Gentiles were the American Nation who rejects the Mormon church. I showed him that the scriptures state that the Gentiles are the members of the Mormon church who reject the fulness, as stated in Jacob 5 (the allegory of the olive tree), 3 Nephi chapters 15 and 16.
We moved from identifying the Gentiles to identifying what is meant by “the fulness.” He said that he always felt that it was the church, baptism, temple ordinances, etc. I asked him, “What does the scriptures define as the fulness?” So we looked at D&C 84:19-24 where it says that the fulness is to enter into the rest of God. Then we looked at D&C 76:12 where it says that the fulness is “the son.” The pattern throughout the scriptures always states the fulness as being in the presence of God. I told my buddy that I am not making this stuff up. You can read it for yourself, that’s the great thing about the words of Christ, it doesn’t depend on the method of delivery. It only matters if your heart is sincere, and you seek with real intent (Moroni 10:4-5).
He asked me why I was the only one who thought of the scriptures this way. I told him that I am not the only one thinking this way. Those who read the scriptures see it this way too. He took offense at my response. He asked, “I think that over 82% of our ward studies their scriptures diligently, what do you think?” I said, “I think that less than 2% would be more accurate, and even they/we are clueless.” He told me that the gospel is supposed to be positive, but the way I put it seems so negative. I responded, “All I did was point out the words of Christ, …but I am the negative one for doing so?” He argued that it was not what I said, but how I said it.
Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I was accused of being negative in how I say things, when all I did was read the scriptures, I could be a rich man (capitalistically that is…LOL). So I read Helaman 13:22-28:
“22. Ye do not remember the Lord your God in the things with which he hath blessed you, but ye do always remember your riches, not to thank the Lord your God for them; yea, your hearts are not drawn out unto the Lord, but they do swell with great pride, unto boasting, and unto great swelling, envyings, strifes, malice, persecutions, and murders, and all manner of iniquities.
23. For this cause hath the Lord God caused that a curse should come upon the land, and also upon your riches, and this because of your iniquities.
24. Yea, wo unto this people, because of this time which has arrived, that ye do cast out the prophets, and do mock them, and cast stones at them, and do slay them, and do all manner of iniquity unto them, even as they did of old time.
25. And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out.
26. Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.
27. But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.
28. Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.
When people hear the words of the Lord, and associate them with negativity, you gotta ask yourself, “Which group do they belong to, those who hear the words of Christ and are angry because their deeds are evil, or those who love the council of the words of Christ?” I hear many say that it is not what I say, but how I say it. If I am simply reading the words directly from the scriptures, is it safe then to say, it’s the Lord’s fault? Since, it is His words right? The words of Christ has never been smooth for those who are not aligned with them. It was always hard to receive, it causes the sinner in us to be angry, it tempts people to cast out prophets, and want them dead. Those who want smoothness and gently seasoned corrections, are grouped by the Lord in verses 27 and 28.
Our conversation lasted for over 6 hours. Whenever he spoke, we talked about how he felt, what he perceived to be true, the things he has heard others say. He tried to credit Denver Snuffer for the scriptural references that I shared, as if to say that I had not the ability to read and discover the words of Christ for myself. No matter what scriptures were opened, he relied upon his perception as his defense. Although the initial rule was that we would talk about the words of Christ only, his comments were always based on scriptures taken out of context, feelings of disloyalty by Denver Snuffer, or perceptions of doctrines that traditionalism defends. This is common when we are ignorant towards the words of Christ.
The 182 year old condemnation stops us, damns us, so that we cannot move forward in our progression, because we refuse to search the words of Christ. Just because I read it, doesn’t make the condemnation mine. The Lord issued this condemnation. The condemnation that the Lord issued was because we rest the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the other commandments which we have been given (D&C 84:55).
How in the world can we right this ship if we do not escape this condemnation? We will be left to opinions and perceptions that lull us into a positive mental attitude, while ignoring the words of Christ, that demands repentance. The value of a positive mental attitude is in the repentance process, not in justifying our sins and the ignoring of the words of Christ.
Let’s not stone those who use the words of Christ to point out our failures, get angry with them and cast them out, in exchange for someone who uses smooth language to make us feel warm and fuzzy inside, as we make little or no changes in our lives to make room for the words of Christ. We gotta free ourselves from the perceptions and opinions that keep us captive. We must shift our emphasis in capitalism as our escape, to the words of Christ as our salvation. When we do so, then we can have great conversations that will remove our debts, free us from sin, fill us with light, and endow us with power from on high. Christ will be in the midst of that people.
Conclusion: Despite all the perceptions that my friend relied upon, and brought up all night long, into the morning (3 a.m.), …the fact that he talked about the words of Christ for 6 hours, and was willing to converse and not get offended, is a tribute only to him and the softness of his heart. He was willing to exchange and to think through and converse, rather than defend, reject, or take offense.
It is not the deliverer of the word that makes the difference. Wether it be Denver Snuffer, Thomas S. Monson, Joe Blow, it is the words of Christ that matters, and no none else. Only Christ matters. Our opinions and perceptions come from ignorance. When we are built upon a foundation of the words of Christ, only then are we built upon a rock (3 Nephi 15). That is why we don’t council the Lord, but seek to know His mind and will, in order to lay hold upon salvation.
Soften your hearts to make room for the words of Christ. They will tell you all things what you should do. Feast upon those words, there is nourishment in feasting there.