Apostasy and Restoration

Outline:

  • Establish the symbolism of Light.
    • Christ is the Light
    • God said, let there be light.
    • Acquiring light is the purpose of our existence.  (This is the personal application).
  • It is hard to understand why there would be a need for a Restoration without understanding prophets and  dispensations, and the effects of Apostasy.
  • The Story of King Lamoni’s household.
    • Lamoni is overcome by the light of the glory of God.
    • Parallel for the Apostasy and Restoration
  • The restoration of the Gospel  of Jesus Christ, was not a singular event. A series of acquisitions of light (see Alma 32:35)
    • Extensive divine preparations had to transpire before the Church of Jesus Christ could be established.
      • Detail these events.
      • Printing press
      • Martin Luther’s 95 points
      • Translation of the Bible into English by William Tyndale
      • Christopher Columbus, Pilgrams’ colonization of the Americas.
      • United States established as a safe haven of religious freedom.
    • Joseph Smith saw light in the First Vision. A restoration of that which was lost.

Compare and contrast apostasy and restoration to darkness and light.

Start with some sort of illustration of light. Where is the scripture that talks about the restoration coming forth as a light in the darkness.

Explain the terms apostasy and restoration. Give definitions.

Alma 32:35 – Light is discernible

Isaiah 8:20-22 – Testimony is light, if not share as such, no light in them.

Isaiah 9:2 – People that have walked in darkness have seen a great light.

This points us to Christ, and how it was that John described him as light: JST- John 1:7-10.

Christ also called himself the light of the world. (see John 8)

D&C 50:23&24

23 And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.

24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

Compare Apostasy and the Restoration to this darkness and light. To appreciate the full splendor of the Restoration, you have to hold up to the dark veil of apostasy.

 

Discuss the process of preparation for the Restoration, it is a series of nurturing events that change perceptions and opens the way for greater light and truth.


references:

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/04/the-blessing-of-scripture?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/04/the-miracle-of-the-holy-bible?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/the-truth-of-god-shall-go-forth?lang=eng

Also consider

The Book of Ezra, Chapters 1-3

The Book of Ezra

Feeling the need to better understand the Old Testament, I’m jumping over there for the morning, and opening the book of Ezra, of which I know nothing about.  So I’m starting here in the Bible Dictionary.

The first thing that I find particularly noteworthy is the time period. Though Ezra appears relatively early in the Old Testament, Ezra lived only about 450 years before Christ, well after the time of Isaiah and Jeremiah — 150 years after Lehi left Jerusalem.

The Book of Nehemiah is a sequel to the Book of Ezra.  Ezra, the name sake of the book, was a priest who dealt with the restoration of some Jews to Jerusalem.


(13 April 2016) – Ezra 3

In the restoration of the children of Israel to Jerusalem in the 450 BC, they take pains to resume the offering of sacrifices upon the alter of the temple even before the temple had been rebuilt.

They worked to follow the patterns established by Moses, to observe the commandments which the Lord had given to Moses. I ask myself why would they do this? Why was this, for them, counted as righteousness?

These were the ordinances that the Lord ordained for them to perform. Even in the mere act of observance, two things are accomplished: 1) a remembrance of the Lord their God and 2) an acknowledgement of their ancestry as the Lord’s chosen people and all that that entails.

A great celebration was held in the laying of the foundation of the temple.  I suppose that I am surprised to find an account of temple construction, or reconstruction in the Old Testament. But the reality of the matter is that the children of Israel were a temple building, temple worshiping people.  No modern religion outside of Mormonism has this component of worship.


 

The Savior Jesus Christ, The Book of Mormon, and the Power of and to Become Obedient

However, seen in its proper place as the door way of discipleship to the gospel of Jesus Christ, obedience becomes the empowering principle that is also found accompanied by faith and character.  The gospel of Jesus Christ can only be experienced through obedience.

Not only is obedience the doorway

Elder Scott shares four principles that are like foundation building blocks:

  • Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His program to acquire the power to achieve.
  • Repentance to rectify the consequences of mistakes of omission or commission.
  • Obedience to the commandments of the Lord to provide strength and direction in our lives.
  • Selfless service to enrich the lives of others.

 

 

 

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In December 2007, Elder M. Russell Ballard gave a talk at the commencement exercises at BYU-Hawaii campus entitled “Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet.” In his remarks, he invited members of the church to find ways to use the Internet to spread the gospel. It was in response to his talk, and longing for a better way to organize my personal gospel studies that I began what has now become an eight-year endeavor to chronicle my personal studies of the Book of Mormon.

Thoughts and Impressions, 6 March 2016

In no particular order, the following notes are a collection of personal thoughts and inspiration received over the past 36 hours as a result of personal studies, hard work, and participation in Sunday church services:

  • The value of work – the Lord calls those who are already engaged in the work. Christ choose his apostles from fishermen, men who were actively working.
  • The devil on the other hand selects his servants from among the idle and lazy.
  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ can only be experienced by obedience.  A testimony is only gained by obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Even when my wife is wrong, she is right. The same can be said of our priesthood leaders: even when they are wrong they are right. The issue is not so much if what our leaders or spouses  are doing is correct, as much as it is whether or not we are willing to sustain them or in other words, love them.  The past 36 hours has shown me who I am really married to and what I can do to be more supportive.
  • Our call to Gila Bend was as much for us and me as it was to serve the people of Gila Bend. It has been a call for me to learn to follow the commands of the Lord through his servants.
  • Rain or shine, we will give praise to God.
  • Be courageous. Be bold. Stand for moral and family values. These things are being destroyed. Stand to defend them in your work.  Be more bold about testifying of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • The heart of effective Gospel teaching is loving and serving other. There is a reason why gospel teaching happens in small groups, classes of 5 to 10 people. Love, serve, visit, and become aware of the needs and likes and dislikes of those you teach.  Encourage home visits among those you instruct to be better teachers.  Review Pres. Monson’s March 2016 First Presidency message on teaching.
  • FHE- Faith in Christ (John 11:22-28) and the Value of Hard Work (Christ calls fishermen)
    • Prepare Lesson Shortly.

The Covenant of Daily Scripture Study

First, let me be up front. I don’t know that anywhere is there a direct covenant made to study the scriptures.  What I’m trying to figure out is why I feel such a direct responsibility towards daily scripture study, and why is it that I seemed to be bound by covenant to this practice if I have not made the covenant to do so?

The first and most obvious sign of daily, meaningful scripture study is probably the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood, which states: “For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” (D&C 84:44)

But what is there in some of the other basic covenants that we make that points to a daily scripture study routine?

https://www.lds.org/manual/true-to-the-faith/scriptures?lang=eng

What of the introductory ordinance of baptism? What relationship does daily scripture study have with the covenant that we make at baptism?  If pure religion is to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, it stands to reason that after we are cleansed from our sins by entering into the waters of baptism, the way that we perserve and maintain that cleanliness is through a continual scripture study.

Immediately after Nephi testifies of the doctrine of baptism, he says this:

“I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way.”  (or after you have been baptized) “But, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts?

“Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

“For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.”  (2 Nephi 32:1,3,5)

Notice the connection between the study of scripture (feasting upon the words of Christ) and reception of the Holy Ghost. Both will show unto the covenant disciple of Christ the pathway that they should follow.

So, perhaps in this regard, we look at daily, earnest study of the scriptures as the tool given us to guide us in the path of discipleship.  Consider the following:

“Whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall… lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course… And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven…” (Helaman 3:29-30)

I feel that with no further considerations, these few observations are sufficient to establish the doctrine and the necessity for a daily study of the words of Christ.

 

Notes from GenCon Oct15: It Works Wonderfully!

It Works Wonderfully! by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Is the Gospel working for me?  Is my experience in the Church working or me? Is it blessing me and my family with the peace and joy as promised in the Gospel?

Pres. Uchtdorf’s testimony to follow up on these questions is very similar to my own personal conviction about the effectiveness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

I know firsthand how the gospel can invigorate and renew one’s spirit—how it can fill our hearts with hope and our minds with light. I know for myself how the fruits of the gospel of Jesus Christ can transform lives from the ordinary and dreary to the extraordinary and sublime.

So the question is why does it seem to work better for some more than others? “What is the difference between those whose experience in the Church fills their souls with songs of redeeming love2 and those who feel that something is lacking?”

Two suggestions to making the Gospel work for each of us:

First, Simplify

Essence of the Gospel is this:

  • Hearing the word of God with earnest intent leads us to believe in God and to trust His promises.3

  • The more we trust God, the more our hearts are filled with love for Him and for each other.

  • Because of our love for God, we desire to follow Him and bring our actions in alignment with His word.

  • Because we love God, we want to serve Him; we want to bless the lives of others and help the poor and the needy.

  • The more we walk in this path of discipleship, the more we desire to learn the word of God.

Second, Start Where You Are

Day two of studying this talk/topic. On day one, I didn’t really feel it was for me. But on day two, I’m considering my family relationships, and how the Gospel doesn’t seem to be working for my family or in my relationships with my family members.

Remember, our weaknesses can help us to be humble and to depend upon Christ. We don’t need to be “more” of anything to become whom God wants us to become.

Ingredients for change:

  1. A willing heart
  2. A desire to believe
  3. Trust in the Lord

BT- As I am contemplating all of this, it seems that in my own life there are two different levels of conversion, one is of my personal habits and disciplines, the other is in my outward expression of faith towards others, primarily towards my own family, but this later level of conversion also deals with all external relationships. I am not nearly as Christ-like towards others as I desire to be.

Notes from CES Devotional: True Millenials

January 2016 CES Devotional – Pres. Russell M. Nelson

President  Nelson:

  1. Learn your true identity and purpose –  Pray about who you really are.
  2. Expect and Prepare to Accomplish the Impossible – The Lord will ask you to do difficult things.  Best efforts and fervent prayers.  It will become less and less popular to be a latter-day saint.  Keep covenants with increasing precision. The Lord will bless you with strength
  3. Learn how to access the power of heaven – Learn best by asking inspired questions. Make your home a holy place where you can escape the distractions of the world.  Give the Lord a generous portion of your time, and he will multiply the rest.
  4. Follow the prophets – Pres. Kimball invited regional reps to learn Mandarin.  Prophets see ahead. They see the dangers that the adversary will place in our path. You may not like what you hear from the prophets.

Born to be true Millenials. Here to do a remarkable work: prepare the world for the 2nd Coming of the Savior.

Power

In each of my different sets of studies (Book of Mormon – English, Book of Mormon – Spanish, and misc.), I’ve been brought to consider “the Power” that made each happen.  The power of Christ or priesthood power or whatever we want to call God’s power by which all things are accomplished, is the thing that I am being brought to consider which ever way I turn.  Why? Why especially at Christmas time?

For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men… (Mosiah 3:5)

Power was given to Christ to go forth among men to heal them.  This is the purpose of his power – to do good.

In Genesis 32:28, it reads that Jacob wrestled with an angel, and then finally obtained from him a blessing: “And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”  Perhaps it is the fact that Jacob wrestled all night to receive the blessings he sought.

Exodus 9:16  – “And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.

What kinds of promise is this?  Does God intend to make me this kind of instrument? How is this possible?

We go on: “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” (Proverbs 3:27)

“But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” (Micah 3:8)

“Thy Will Is Done,” JST Matthew 27:54

JST Matthew 27:54 (click on footnote)

“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, saying, Father, it is finished, thy will is done, yielded up the ghost.” (emphasis added)

It impresses me that it was the Father’s will to have an Atonement made by one who would do so in love.

The temptation is to ask why would a loving Father want to do this horrific act to His Son, but then it seems to me that this is not about his Son, it’s really about the rest of us. All of his other children.  The Father was willing to take his one perfect child and sacrifice and subject him to this unspeakable suffering, torture, torment, and death, to save the rest of us. So it’s not about Christ, it’s about the rest of us. It was the Father’s will to save us. And Christ was the one who was willing to do it, and did it.

I’m use to hearing the words “Thy will be done” from the Lord’s prayer on the sermon on the mount. But here is the Savior, with power and authority (even on the cross) declaring “Thy will is done,” because he did it!

Priesthood and Personal Prayer

Just re-read this talk on priesthood and personal prayer and there are passages that I want to commit the principles to memory:

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/priesthood-and-personal-prayer?lang=eng

This is what I’ve learned: God is not interested in long prayers. Rather He is interested in specific prayers, and us knowing what we should be praying for.

“Ye worship ye know not what… Salvation is of the Jews.”

Here are the paragraphs that I need to come back to:

So you will pray for the way to know their hearts, to know what things are amiss in the lives and the hearts of people whom you don’t know well and who are not anxious to have you know them. You will need to know what God would have you do to help them and to do it all, as nearly as you can, feeling God’s love for them.

It is because you have such important and difficult priesthood calls that President Smith suggests that when you pray, you always plead with God that He will bless you with His Spirit. You will need the Holy Ghost not once but as much as God will grant it to you for your constant companion. That is why we must always pray that God will guide us in our service to His children.

Because you cannot rise to your priesthood potential without the Spirit going with you, you are a personal target for the enemy of all happiness. If he can tempt you to sin, he can lessen your power to be led by the Spirit and so reduce your power in the priesthood. That is why President Smith said that you should always pray that God will warn and protect you from evil.6

He warns us in many ways. Warnings are part of the plan of salvation. Prophets, apostles, stake presidents, bishops, and missionaries all raise the warning voice to escape calamity through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and making and keeping sacred covenants.

As a priesthood holder, you are to be part of the warning voice of the Lord. But you need to heed the warning yourself. You will not survive spiritually without the protection of the companionship of the Holy Ghost in your daily life.

You must pray for it and work to have it. Only with that guide will you be able to find your way along the strait and narrow path through the mists of evil. The Holy Ghost will be your guide as He reveals truth when you study the words of prophets.

Getting that guidance will take more than casual listening and reading. You will need to pray and work in faith to put the words of truth down into your heart. You must pray that God will bless you with His Spirit, that He will lead you into all truth and show you the right way. That is how He will warn and guide you into the right path in your life and in your priesthood service.