Friday, September 28, 2012

General Conference - Listen to the Prophet

For upwards of three months I have been listening to LDS General Conference talks as I drive, or on walks, or in my free-time.  If you do not know what General Conference is, it is an event that takes place twice a year as the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teach the members of the Church (and all others that want to listen).  If you do not know what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, you can chat with people that will be happy to tell you all about it by clicking the first link at the bottom of this page.

I began with listening to the speakers that I know and am familiar with already, such as:  Bruce R. McConkie, Marvin J. Ashton, Marion G. Romney, Gordon B. Hinckley, etc.  You may notice that the prophets and apostles listed above are people that have already died.  The reason being that they can give no more talks and so I can make a list of all their talks and not have to worry about adding on to it every once in a while.  But this week, as I finished the previous set of talks, I decided to begin listening to President Thomas S. Monson's talks, the current living prophet of the Church.  What I did not realize when I made this decision is that he has given over two hundred talks and devotionals, and has been speaking in General Conferences since the 60's.  But upon listening to the first few of them it is now okay with me that there is a lot of them.  In fact, it is great because he has such a warm voice and wonderful messages.  I'm sure, just like all of those before, I'm going to wish there were more when I finish.  Thankfully this time there will be, as he is still alive and will be giving many more talks as prophet of the Church.

For those that read this page this week, he will indeed be giving a few more in just a week or two at the quickly approaching Conference.  If you would like to watch this upcoming conference you can find out how by clicking the second link at the bottom of the page.  And if you want to know about the man, Thomas S. Monson, simply click on the third link below.

And now, in parting, I share a video of some past Conference messages by President Monson.  Enjoy!

1. Have questions about the Church?
2. Want to watch General Conference?
3. More about Thomas S. Monson:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Come Listen To A Prophets Voice!

In the Book of Mormon there is a conversation between a man named Ammon and a king name Limhi.  What happened was that king Limhi found an ancient record of a language that no one in his kingdom can read or translate.  Ammon, with the company of several others, came into the kingdom and were asked if they had the power to translate languages.  Ammon said to king Limhi:

"I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God.  And the things are called interpreters... and whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer" (Mosiah 8:13).

The surprised but pleased king said that "a seer is greater than a prophet," if he can do such things (Mosiah 8:15).  Ammon explains that "a seer is a revelator and a prophet also" (Mosiah 8:16).  A seer is not greater than a prophet, but is a prophet.  Not only is he a prophet, but he is a revelator also.  A prophet, by definition and reality, is a man that speaks and acts by divine inspiration.  A revelator is one that reveals things.  And a seer, as explained by Ammon, is a man that "can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known" (Mosiah 8:17).

Just as there were the great ancient prophets, seers and revelators of the scriptures - Moses, Abraham, Elijah, etc. - so have been and continue to be great prophets, seers and revelators in recent history.  Thomas S. Monson, since the year of 2008, has been the living prophet, seer and revelator on the earth.  In addition to President Monson there are fourteen other men that hold the keys of prophets, seers, and revelators.

Twice a year these fifteen men, as well as other great men and women of the world, gather together to reveal and teach the things that the Lord has asked them to teach at that time.  This magnificent gathering is called LDS General Conference, and happens every April and October.  With it being the end of September it is nice to know that just a couple weeks away we will get to hear the words from prophets, seers and revelators, men with the powers explained above by Ammon in the Book of Mormon.

Come listen to a prophet's voice!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hosanna Shout - Reflecting Words of Thomas S. Monson

Because of the upcoming dedication of the Brigham City, Utah temple I have been doing some reading on the topic.  In the April session of General Conference in 2009, Thomas S. Monson made the following remark:

"In the near future we will be dedicating the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple, and then in the coming months and years there will be many more dedications.  We look forward to these occasions.  There is something about a temple dedication which prompts a reevaluation of one's own performance and a sincere desire to do even better."

What is it about a temple dedication that prompts one to reevaluate and with to do even better?  I feel it has much to do with the Hosanna Shout.  And to help those that have not been a part of a Hosanna Shout understand it, I will explain the roots of that practice.  The roots of the Hosanna Shout can be found in the Holy Bible.  In the book of Matthew chapter 21 we find the following:
"And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
"Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her:  loose them, and bring them unto me.
"And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them...
"And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
"And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
"And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
"And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David:  Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
"And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
"And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
"And Jesus went into the temple of God..."
- Matthew 21:1-12 -
The word "Hosanna" means "Save us now," or "God save us."  At the time of Jesus the Jews were in bondage to the Romans.  In the city of Jerusalem could be found a Roman government building of sorts where they ruled over the Jews.  When Jesus began his journey into the city the people came to greet him as their Savior from the Roman rule.  They, in a red-carpet kind of way, laid out their garments and waved palm leaves shouting Hosanna, that is to say, "God save us from the Romans!"

The Lord, Jesus Christ, did a couple significant, often overlooked, things at this time.  If he was truly going to go to war and save the Jews from the Romans he would have rode into the city on a horse.  But it says in the scripture that he was riding a colt, which was then a sign of peace.  He did not wish to make war with the Roman government.  Secondly, when he entered into the city, rather than going to the Roman government he turned and went to the temple.  I feel that by doing this while they were shouting "Save us" he was pointing out to them that he was not there to save them from a government rule, but from the bondage of sin.  He was saving them, but not as they expected it.

His first actions after that momentous entrance into the city was to cleanse the temple of traders and thieves, and then to heal the sick.  By so doing he was teaching these people the importance of the temple.  The temple is to be a holy place where people go to fulfill ordinances that save them from the bondage of sin and be healed (coupled with the power of the Atonement that Christ would soon perform).

These scriptures emphasize, in part, why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds such revered feelings towards temples.  It is a place where people can go to be closer to God and Salvation through the Savior.  And as we strive to be closer to God at the temple, and by following the example set by Christ, we are prompted to make a reevaluation of our own performance and obtain a sincere desire to do even better.

If you have any questions about the temple or Thomas S. Monson you can ask a missionary.  They will do their best to answer any questions.  Missionary Chat Here

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Purpose of Life - Video

This is a video I recently created and placed on YouTube, but I'd like to put it on my blog as well so that those readers here may see it.
Click the link below to learn about the purpose of life

In The World, But Not of The World

There is a popular phrase among the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that goes, "In the world, but not of the world."  This short line holds two important ideas.  The first being that we live in the world, and the second being that we try to not be of the world.  The popular phrase comes from the scripture in the Bible that says, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:16).  I want to take this simple line and separate it into its two parts.  And after talking about each part I'll talk about why they are important together.

In The World...
To explain why we must be in this world, must be born at all, we would need to explain the very purpose of life on earth.  To briefly share it, when we were in heaven, before life on earth, we were only spirits.  Our God was the only one with a physical body, all of us only had a spirit.  God proposed a way for us to obtain a body as well as a spirit, which plan is called the Plan of Salvation.  God's plan was for us to come to this earth and live with a physical body, proving we can overcome the temptation that come with these bodies, and make it back to his presence.  If we do so, following His commandments to the best of our abilities, we are then granted Eternal Life, or Salvation.  But a body was needed, otherwise we are incomplete, only a spirit.  This was taught by Joseph Smith when he said, "No person can have this salvation except through a tabernacle" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 306).

(To read more on the Plan of Salvation, visit

...But Not of the World
When Christ or a prophet or an apostle speak of not being of the world they are often referring to moral standards.  Gordon B. Hinckley, former prophet of the Church, has shared the following passage on this topic:

"They live at a time when a great tide of evil is washing over the earth.  It seems to be everywhere.  Old standards are discarded.  Principles of virtue and integrity are cast aside.  But we find literally hundreds of thousands of our young people holding to the high standards of the gospel" (The Church Grows Stronger, April 2004 General Conference).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has published a pamphlet with the name, "For the Strength of Youth."  This pamphlet contains 19 sections, each focusing on one standard or area (i.e. Honesty, Music, Language, etc).  These are not all the standards that are talked about inside the Church or world, but they are some of them.  At the same time that members of the Church hold to these standards, those that are of the world are lowering these standards.  Lying, cheating, stealing, promiscuous activity and many other things have been increasing world-wide.  While this is going on, the Church teaches being not of the world, meaning we need to stick to the higher standards.

The Importance of the Two Together
I go to the Bible and Book of Mormon to help explain the importance of these two phrases together.

"Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
"Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16; see also 3 Nephi 12:14-16).

I will explain it a little backwards now.  We must not be of the world, not lower ourselves to the standards of the world, so that we may have the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  And we must be in the world, with that Holy Ghost, so that we can be a light and example unto those that do not have this Holy Ghost that may want it through us.  Earlier I quoted President Hinckley, and now I finish that passage with, "They are improving their minds with education and their skills with discipline, and their influence for good is felt ever more widely" (The Church Grows Stronger, emphasis added).  With the light of Christ in our lives we can spread the happiness of the gospel.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Another page on Book of Mormon Genealogy

A couple times prior to now I have published about genealogy and the Book of Mormon:
- 'Genealogy of the Book of Mormon'
- 'Short Scriptures Have Great Power'

Just now I rediscovered this chart created by the wonderful people of Mormon Charts.

Click on the picture to view the full Book of Mormon genealogy chart.

Short Scriptures Have Great Power

I wish to expound upon one small verse found in the Book of Mormon.  The verse reads as follows:

"And it came to pass that I did deliver the plates unto my brother Chemish" (Omni 1:8).

When I was in seminary my teacher thought this was one of the most pointless verses in the book.  For a while I agreed with him on the matter, but after a couple years I began thinking about this.  There are some famous short verses found in the scriptures that are not often considered pointless though short.  I wish to comment on a couple of these.

First example is, "Jesus wept," (John 11:35).  This verse is the absolute shortest verse in all of the Standard Works and is full of important meaning.  Jesus wept.  What does that tell us about Jesus Christ?  I have before written something on this matter:
'While reading the [scriptures] I have come to realize something.  Christ, as far as emotions are concerned, is quite similar to us.  I understand he is a perfect being and all, but the scriptures say, "the wrath of the Lord," and, "he wept, and the multitude bear record of it," and, "I, the Lord, am well pleased."'
The Lord, like us has emotions and feelings.  He can laugh or cry or be angry.  That is a characteristic of Christ that I feel is important to understand.

My second example is Luke 17:32, "Remember Lot's wife."  Not only is this verse an important one to understand, but it is so important that an apostle, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, gave an hour long devotional dedicated to this.  Why do we need to remember Lot's wife?  In the words of Elder Holland, as no one can say better, "Apparently what was wrong with Lot’s wife was that she wasn’t just looking back; in her heart she wanted to go back."  We need to remember that hope is in the future.  With faith and hope in the Lord we must move forward and not look back.

I'd suggest listening to this talk by Elder Holland.  To watch the video of his talk, click here.  To read the text of his talk, click here.

And now we get back to the verse I want to focus on.  "And it came to pass that I did deliver the plates unto my brother Chemish."  Mormon, the man who abridged the plates and put this verse in there, had to of had a reason to do so.  As was written many times, the plates were small, and everything on the plates had to have some significance.  So why this seemingly pointless verse about who has the plates?  The answer can actually be found in the Book of Mormon.  I will give some scriptural references.

1 Nephi 3:12 - "And he desired of Laban the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, which contained the genealogy of my father."

Jarom 1:1 - "Now behold, I, Jarom, write a few words according to the commandment of my father, Enos, that our genealogy may be kept."

2 Nephi 3:4 - "For behold, thou art the fruit of my loins; and I am a descendant of Joseph who was carried captive into Egypt."

Mormon 1:5 - "And I, Mormon, being a descendant of Nephi, (and my father's name was Mormon) I remembered the things which Ammaron commanded me."

Alma 10:2-3 - "I am Amulek; I am the son of Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi; and it was that same Aminadi who interpreted the writing which was upon the wall of the temple, which was written by the finger of God.  And Aminadi was a descendant of Nephi, who was the son of Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem, who was a descendant of Manasseh, who was the son of Joseph who was sold into Egypt by the hands of his brethren."

And so now we can answer just what it is that Amaron, son of Omni, son of Jarom, son of Enos, son of Jacob, brother of Nephi, son of Lehi, was getting at when he said he was handing the plates to his brother Chemish.  It all comes down to genealogy!  This was important to these people.  Nephi writes that his father was desirous for the genealogy in the brass plates.  Jarom writes that it was a commandments handed down to record the genealogy.  Amulek was able to trace his genealogy all the way back to Lehi, who could that trace it back to Joseph of Egypt.  Zarahemla, not listed above, had his genealogy memorized back to the time they left the tower of Babel.

Jacob wrote, "I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates."  They literally had to engrave their words into the metal plates.  This took time and effort, meaning everything they wrote down had to be of utmost importance to them.  Considering how many prophets in the Book of Mormon wrote of their genealogy emphasizes the importance of it.  Why is this so important?  Jacob continues his words by saying, "Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents" (Jacob 4:1-3).

Genealogy bring joy to the younger generations.  Knowing who you are and where you come from is always something people strive for.  It was important to these prophets because the generations after them would then know who they are, where they are from, what their 'first parents' were like.  Knowing who you are is important.  Consider genealogy when reading this quote my Thomas S. Monson:

"Some are young people who don't know who they are, what they can be or even want to be.  They are afraid, but they don't know of what.  They are angry, but they don't know at whom.  They are rejected and they don't know why.  All they want is to be somebody" (Pathways To Perfection).

This, I feel, is much like what Jacob was saying.  He wrote his genealogy, and commanded his posterity to do the same, so that they would know who they are.  When they know who they are they then know who they can become and what they can do.

Going back to the joy of knowing your genealogy, it was touched upon in an interview by Larry King on CNN with President Gordon B. Hinckley, in 2004.  Here is an excerpt from that interview:

KING: One of the things that the Mormon Church is famous for worldwide is its expertise in genealogy - it may be the number one - looking back and telling people where they came from and why.
And tonight before we went on, President Hinckley presented me with - I can't believe this - the genealogy of my own family. The arrival of my mother and my father at Ellis Island in 1907 and 1923. The papers they filled out at Ellis Island.
How do you do this?
HINCKLEY: Well, we have a ...
KING: I'm so honored by it. I can't tell you what this means to me.
HINCKLEY: We have a tremendous family history resource, perhaps the greatest in the world in many respects. And we have some very dedicated and very able people.
And sometime ago, they went to work on your genealogy. And when they heard that we were going to be on this show, they finished it off in a hurry and brought to me, so that I can make a presentation to you.
And I'm pleased and happy to do so.
KING: I'm pleased and honored to accept it.

To read the full transcript click here.

Larry King was presented with his genealogy, both from his mother and father's side.  This brought joy to him to have this information on his parents and other predecessors.

So now, in closing this thought, I want to go back to the original verse that started it all.  "And it came to pass that I did deliver the plates unto my brother Chemish."  This short verse is most wonderful.  Like all the other great and famous verses in the scriptures, this one was put there for a reason.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Words of Comfort In Times of Peril

Before I say anything in this entry, I wish to share three verses found in the Doctrine and Covenants:
"If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;
"If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can't you stay with us?  O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;
"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."
- Doctrine and Covenants 122:5-7 -

For many years I have read that passage of scripture and thought, "if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee?"  I felt bad for Joseph Smith when I used to read this.  But then I realized something I had not noticed before.  Although many of these did actually happen to Joseph and Hyrum and many other men, women and children in early Church history, not all of them did.  That may not come off as important, but it brought a thought to my mind when I realized that.

When the Lord told Joseph these words, he was not saying, "All of these things are going to happen to you and afterward you will still be okay."  But what I think he was telling the Prophet is, "No matter what happens, even if these worst-case scenarios come to life, you can know that I am still here and I will lift you up after the trials."

From the vision given to President Joseph F. Smith, son of Joseph's brother Hyrum, we know that these words give to the Prophet were true.  God did raise him up after the trials.  Joseph F. Smith recorded:
"These the Lord taught, and gave them power to come forth, after his resurrection from the dead, to enter into his Father's kingdom, there to be crowned with immortality and eternal life...
"The Prophet Joseph Smith, and my father, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in lying the foundations of the great latter-day work..."
- Doctrine and Covenants 138:51, 53 -

We see that Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the two martyred in Carthage, as well as Brigham, the man that led the pioneers, and other men who lived through these trials are now all promised the return into the kingdom of God.

Just a thought that came to me while reading these verses recently.  I hope you get something good out of these words of comfort too.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Baptism Explained

Baptism is the first saving ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Ordinances, as defined by, are "sacred rites and ceremonies.  Ordinances consist of acts that have spiritual meanings.  Ordinances can also mean God's laws and statutes."  A saving ordinance is an ordinance of the gospel required to return to the Celestial Kingdom, or the Kingdom or God.  Christ taught this truth to Nicodemus, of the Pharisees.  Record of this can be found in John chapter 3.
"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
"Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
- John 3:3-5 -
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit.  What exactly does this mean?  Joseph Smith clarifies by saying, "Baptism is a holy ordinance preparatory to the reception of the Holy Ghost; it is the channel and key by which the Holy Ghost will be administered. (History of the Church 3:379)

Baptism is a symbolism of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The water represents the grave.  We, when baptized, are submerged under the water representing death, and are brought back out just as Christ was resurrected and brought back to life.  In this way we are born of water.  We are born of the Spirit when we have the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  This is different than the gift of the Holy Ghost, which we receive after baptism.  Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost means we are now able to have the companionship of the Spirit, so long as we live according to the commandments of God.  Joseph Smith taught, "Baptism is a covenant with God that we will do his will" (Discourses, 273).  We are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and when we live righteously we obtain the companionship of the Holy Ghost, meaning we have the Spirit with us.  In this way we are born of the Spirit.

Just how important is the ordinance of baptism?  For this we can look to the life of Christ.  Jesus, as mentioned earlier, taught that no one can be admitted to the Kingdom of God without this ordinance, and not even he, a perfect person, was excluded from this.  The Gospels record that the Savior was baptized by John the baptist in the Jordan River.  Through his example we know that no one is exempt from this ordinance.

This is further understood by the many references and sermons given about baptism in holy scripture.  The book of Acts reads:
"Now when they heard this, thy were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
- Acts 2:37-38 -
In the book of Moses, of the Pearl of Great Price, we learn that even Adam, the first man, was baptized.
"And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water.
"And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit."
- Moses 6:64-68 -
This has been practiced since the days of our first parents.  And now, having learned of the importance of the ordinance, must understand how it is performed.  Is the person supposed to be completely buried in the water, or is it more of a sprinkling on the head?  Or is it something between these two?  Again we can look to the scriptures for the answer.  Written in the Book of Mormon is the following:
"And after Alma had said these words, both Alma and Helam were buried in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit.
"And again, Alma took another, and went forth a second time into the water, and baptized him according to the first, only he did not bury himself again in the water."
- Mosiah 18:14-15 -
So why is it that we must be buried by submersion?  I have touched upon this earlier when talking about the symbolism of baptism to the death and resurrection of Christ.  Now let's read the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

"The word baptize is derived from the Greek verb 'baptiso,' and means to immerse or overwhelm, and that sprinkle is from the Greek verb 'rantiso,' and means to scatter on by particles" (Discourses, 92-93).

Baptism, the word itself, means to immerse and anything other than to fully immerse in water does not follow under the word "baptism."  One is fully immersed in the water, representing a burial in the grave, and is then brought out of the water, as a spiritual re-birth, representing the resurrection.

Now understanding the importance and process of baptism we must ask - When is someone supposed to be baptized?  This doctrine is taught in many ways in our world today, but what is the correct answer?  Like before, the scriptures hold the answers to even this question.  But first let's return to the words of Joseph smith, "Baptism is a covenant with God that we will do his will."  To covenant with God to follow his commandments we must first know his commandments and be in a state of understanding them.  There are people that are in a state of innocence, not fully knowing good from evil yet.  And who are these people?  Children.

Let's read the words of Christ to Mormon:
"Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God.  Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them;"
- Moroni 8:8 -
Young children are still learning and are not at an age of accountability.  What is the age of accountability?  "And I will establish a covenant with thee," God told Moses, "that thou mayest know for ever that children are not accountable before me until they are eight years old" (JST Genesis 17:11).  Thus we learn that a person need not be baptized until at least eight years old.  That is the age of accountability.  This does not mean that a person needs to be baptized right when they turn eight, but that is the time when this ordinance is now available to them.  At any age from this point on, so long as the person understands the commandments of God and seeks to follow them they can be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

And what of those children who die before they turn eight and have the opportunity to be baptized?  Again the Prophet answers, "All children are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and the moment they leave this world they are taken to the bosom of Abraham" (Discourses, 273).  Through the Atonement of Christ they are saved.

We now approach the final topic of baptism:  Baptism for the dead.  From the apostle Peter we hear that "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34).  If this be the case then there must be a way for every person to receive the saving ordinances.  As was just said, some children die before the age of accountability and therefore do not receive the ordinance of baptism.  There are also those who died without the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ or the knowledge of baptism.  If God is no respecter of persons then there must be a way provided for all of these people to receive this ordinance as well.  The way provided is what is known as baptism for the dead.

This baptism for deceased members of mankind is not a new doctrine.  We can find teachings of it in the Holy Bible.  Consider the words found in 1 Corinthians:
"Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?  Why are they then baptized for the dead?"
- 1 Corinthians 15:29 -
This practice is done today by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  A member of the Church, by one with the Priesthood, is baptized, as a proxy, for a deceased person.  "By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died," we read on, "Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors.  Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf."

The last part of that quote is important, so let's go over it again.  "Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done on their behalf."  We understand from this that simply because a proxy has been baptized for them on the earth, the people, now in the Spirit World, are not automatically made a member of the Church.  It is still their choice, as it is in life on earth, to follow the commandments of God and accept the ordinance done for them.  Through this practice of baptizing for dead ancestors, all people of the human race are offered the chance to be born again by water and the Spirit and receive the saving ordinance of baptism.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Parable of the Beam and Mote

For the first time I have read for myself the parable given by Jesus Christ concerning the beam and the mote.  I have heard the parable many times but I had never read it before now.  Before I continue I'll share the parable as recorded in the book of Matthew in the Holy Bible.
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged:  and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
-Matthew 7:1-5

A note I'd like to make:  This was given as part of the Sermon on the Mount.  This particular sermon was among the most notorious sermons given by Jesus, and therefore of all Christendom, because this was when the Higher Law was presented to the people of Israel, to take place after the fulfillment of the Law of Moses.  This higher law replaced "an eye for an eye" with "turn the other cheek."  The great commandment was now - Love the Lord, thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and the second commandment - Love thy neighbor as thyself.  In this parable Christ is trying to teach these great laws to the people.

His words begins with the words, Judge not that ye be not judge.  Joseph Smith, when he went through the Holy Bible with the Urim and Thummim, translated this verse to read:
"Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged" (JST Matt. 7:1, italics added).

It is human nature to judge.  Judgments in our minds happen too fast to realize at times.  Sometimes we see people, and based on how they look, think they belong in some clique or other.  But first impressions are not always accurate, and Christ is trying to teach this.  People tend to see the problems in others without looking at the problems of themselves.

Christ, in this parable, speaks of a mote in another and a beam in us.  In Greek, the word 'mote' means a speck or splinter, and the word 'beam' refers to a wooden post used in constructing houses.  Now notice who it is that has the tiny speck and who it is that has the large mote in the eye.  It is us with the large mote that try to rid others of a tiny speck.  Christ teaches, First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote of thy brother's eye.

The Lord in this parable is trying to teach the people, in both ancient days and these latter-days, to work on ourselves, our own faults.  We all make mistakes, and all have problems, and so it is right for us to first clean our own selves of these things.  And once we have cleaned ourselves of these things we then understand better how to help others with them.