Monday, December 31, 2007

Pet Peeve

One of my pet peeves is when anti-Mormons accuse members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of conspiring to overthrow the U.S. Constitution. According to them, Mitt Romney's presidential run is part of said conspiracy.
If anti-Mormons took time to read our scriptures and listen rather than retransmit distorted statements about us, they might realize that Mormons uphold the U.S. Constitution as an inspired document. If you would like to read what our modern scriptures teach about the U.S. Constitution, here are the scriptural references:
D&C 98:4-10 (The principles of the U.S. Constitution belong to all mankind, and we are justified in befriending the U.S. Constitution); D&C 101:77-80 (God established the U.S. Constitution by the hands of wise men whom He raised up to protect the freedom of all mankind and to hold mankind accountable for their own actions); D&C 109:54 (Joseph Smith prayed that the U.S. Constitution would be established forever).

Further, D&C 134 is the Church's official stance on Government throughout the world. You'll notice we also believe in the separation of Church and State.
Additionally, this essay is excellent in outlining our views about the U.S. Constitution.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Prepares to Dedicate Its 125th Temple

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will soon dedicate its 125th temple. This temple is in Rexburg, Idaho. To read about Mormon Temple Worship, click here. The link also provides several photos of the Rexburg, Idaho Temple's interior. If you are in the Rexburg area, the temple will be open to visitors until it is dedicated. Take advantage of this singular opportunity to enter a Mormon Temple.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Do Mormons Believe Jesus and the Devil Are Brothers?

Before this world was created, we lived as spirits in Heaven. We were "beloved spirit [children] of heavenly parents." (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). God is the Father of our spirits, and we knew and worshipped Him as our Heavenly Father. (Acts 17:29; Romans 8:16-17; The Family: A Proclamation to the World) Our relationship with God was better than most of us realize. In fact, when this life ends and we see God again, "nothing is going to startle us more . . . than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us." ("Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations," Speeches of the Year, 1974, 1975, 313.)

Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of God's spirit children. (Colossians 1:15-17; D&C 93:21). Before he came to Earth, He was Jehovah, the Great I AM. (John 8:57-58; D&C 110:1-4). Nevertheless, He revealed Himself to some as Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. (See Ether 3:6-16). But it was not until Jesus was born in Bethlehem that He received a body of flesh and bones. (Luke 2:1-21; Ether 3:16). Jesus is the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, which means our Heavenly Father is the Father of both Jesus' spirit and physical bodies. (John 1:14; John 3:16).

Lucifer, who is now known as Satan or the devil, was also a spirit son of God. (See Isaiah 14:12; see also D&C 76:25-26). Lucifer was an angel who was in a position of authority in Heaven. (D&C 76:25). But he became power hungry and rebelled against God and Jehovah. (Id.) This rebellion occurred during a great council in which our Heavenly Father presented a plan to us, the Plan of Salvation:

Although our spirits were created in God's image, we were not like our Heavenly Father in many ways. He possessed a perfect, immortal, physical body. (D&C 130:22). He had a fulness of joy and glory that we did not. And He was perfect in every way, unlike us.

But as our children have the capacity to become like us, Heavenly Father knew that we had the capacity to become like Him: perfect. And He wanted us to receive the fulness of joy that He had. And through the Plan of Salvation, we could become like Him. We would come to Earth for a body and to be given agency—the power to choose—whereby we would be tested if we would choose to follow God. (See Abraham 3:24-26).

The power to choose for ourselves was central to this Plan. We could not become like God at once. We would need to learn from our choices to be obedient. (Hebrews 5:8). Only by obeying could we progress until we became who our Father knew we could be. Without agency, no growth or progress would be possible.

Heavenly Father also told us of obstacles that would impede our progress. Although He would create a paradisaical Earth free of sickness, suffering, sin, and death, He taught that its first inhabitants would be given a choice to either remain in paradise or pass through mortality, and if they chose mortality, mankind would be lost unless He sent a Savior, "[His] Beloved and Chosen from the beginning" (Moses 4:2), Jehovah, who would be known in the flesh as Jesus Christ. Furthermore, because we would have the power to choose, at times we would choose to sin. Our sins would also cut us off forever from the presence of our Heavenly Father. And without Jesus, we had no hope to overcome them.

Our Heavenly Father’s Plan hinged on the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ which would overcome death and sin. Father testified that "there [would] be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation [could] come unto [us], only in and through the name of Christ, . . ." (see Mosiah 3:17).

Heavenly Father gave each of us the choice to accept His plan for us. And to accept the Plan of Salvation required faith in our Father’s promises and in the ability of Jehovah, Jesus Christ, to effect the Atonement.

Lucifer offered a variation to the Plan: He would take away our agency to prevent us from sinning so that none of us would be cut off. But he wasn’t interested in helping us to progress until we became like God with a fulness of joy. In fact, the only one he cared about was himself. (See Moses 4:1-3). Lucifer’s plan enticed some to follow him even though it would not allow us to become like our Heavenly Father.

And war erupted, polarizing the hosts of heaven.

The war that ensued wasn’t fought with sword and shield but with words. And even though Heavenly Father had gathered us together in the Great Pre-mortal Council to present the Plan of Salvation, I do not believe that it was first time that we had heard it; nor do I believe that it was a surprise that He presented His Firstborn, Jehovah, to be our Savior. I am certain that there were those among us who were already exercising great faith in Jesus Christ and who took every opportunity to learn the exalting doctrines of the Plan of Salvation, among whom were you and I. And when we heard Lucifer attack God’s plan and His Anointed, we stood and testified that Jehovah would do the Father’s will as He had promised. We were victorious, and Revelation 12:10-11 teaches that "[we] overcame [Lucifer and his legions] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of [our] testimony [of the Atonement of Jesus Christ]. . . ."

As punishment for their rebellion, God cast Lucifer and his followers, a third part of His spirit children, out of heaven. (Jude 1:6; Revelation 12:4, 9-17; D&C 29:36-38). And Lucifer became Satan or the devil who now seeks our misery and destruction because we refused to follow his plan. (D&C 76:25-26; Moses 4:2-4). As an additional punishment for Lucifer and his followers, they will never receive a body of flesh and bones. (See Abraham 3:24-28).

Therefore, because all of us, including Jesus Christ and the devil, are spirit offspring of God, the Eternal Father, we are all spirit brothers and sisters. So Mormons believe Jesus and the devil are spirit brothers. But Jesus and the devil are complete opposites of each other. Jesus is the perfect, obedient Son of God who has received the fulness of the Father. The devil is the selfish, rebellious, and evil father of lies and sin who will suffer for eternity for his wickedness.

Next Week's Post: If Jesus and Heavenly Father Are Two Separate Beings, Why Does He and the Scriptures Refer to Him at Times as "The Father?"

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Following the Star

When shall I see His face
With heralding choir of angelic strain
Proclaiming His divinity?
Good tidings of great joy,
As declared on a bright Judean night,
And in haste I'd go to see
A Savior,
Born unto all men, Hope:
Jehovah, Messiah, Christ the King
Come to Earth as a humble child.
To see Him
And to know and feel,
I'd adore Him on bended knee.
And my eyes would then see
From sin's dark grasp on men,
And the sharp sting of death's doleful hold---
Laid in a lowly manger bed.
But the Child
Is not in Bethlehem,
For millennia have passed
Since shepherds found Him there.
So I seek Him,
Following the Gospel's star
Until my journey shall end
Before His glorious throne.
Oh Father!
Then shall I see His face
And my own song shall I raise
To worship Christ, my King.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Our Father's Christmas Gift

We are our Heavenly Father’s sons and daughters, and more than anything else, He wants us to come home to Him. At night I used to stare at the stars and wonder where our heavenly home was. The beauty and vastness of space filled me with awe for God and His creations. Still what we can see is just the beginning: there are more stars in the heavens than there are grains of sand on the earth. (See Neal A. Maxwell, "How Choice a Seer," Ensign, November 2003, 100.) Yet despite the vastness of His creations, our Father in Heaven has numbered the very hairs on our heads! (Matthew 10:30.)

Little wonder that when Moses saw our Heavenly Father’s creations he exclaimed, "Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." (Moses 1:10.) Comparing man’s greatest accomplishments in technology, literature, science, government, medicine, philosophy, and like disciplines to God’s accomplishments, is like trying to compare a lightbulb to the sun. There is no comparison. Consequently, God’s superiority assures us that we can trust Him, even when things seem to go horribly wrong.

While the infinite works of God may be incomprehensible, our Heavenly Father, mercifully, is knowable. Before leaving His Apostles for Gethsemane and Golgotha, Jesus prayed and revealed one of the most simple and powerful doctrines recorded in the scriptures: "And this is eternal life, that [we] might know [Heavenly Father] the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He] has[] sent." (John 17:3.)

Thus, knowing the only true God must be the focus of our mortal sojourn. For if we know Him, we will be like Him, and if we are like Him, we will return to Him. (Moroni 7:48.)

And Heavenly Father will help us to know Him and His Son. Moses’ vision did not close with his sobering realization of mankind’s inferiority. Rather, Moses asked God a question, "Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?" (Moses 1:30.) And God answered:

For my own purpose have I made these things. . . . And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.

And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten. . . .

The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.

And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:32-33, 37-39.)

This answer confirmed Moses’ recognition of mankind’s nothingness and refuted it. In essence, the Father told him: While compared to Me, mankind is nothing, to Me, mankind is everything. His eternal concern focuses on us.

Certainly, knowing that we are children of God explains why our Heavenly Father does what He does. How else could He send His Only Begotten Son to suffer, bleed, and die for us? And why else would He, time after time, "gather [us] as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings"?(3 Nephi 10:4-6.) And how else could He look on our iniquity and "spare [us] a little longer" (Jacob 5:50-51) hoping that we will repent and return to Him. After all, our time on Earth is but a "twinkling of an eye" to God, and the veil doesn’t retard His memories of our lives with Him in our heavenly home.

If we could glimpse, for a moment, our lives in our heavenly home, we would lose all desire to sin. But for us to keep our second estate and prove that we will keep all of God’s commandments simply because we trust and love Him, our first estate must remain a mystery to us. Thankfully, the scriptures and modern prophets under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost have given us glimpses of the premortal existence. For example, President Ezra Taft Benson taught, "Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us. (Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations," Speeches of the Year, 1974, 1975, 313.) We lived with God for a long time before we came here, and all He wants is for us to come home.

You and I have felt Heavenly Father’s desire for us to come home. I feel it as I search the scriptures and when I pray, not some superficial prayer, but prayer which necessitates "groanings" because words fail to express what I feel. Maybe a particularly beautiful piece of music, a sunset, or the birth of your child made you "long for home." (Phillip Paul Bliss, "More Holiness Give Me," Hymns, 131.) There are many ways that we feel Heavenly Father calling to us, but because He loves us, He will never force us to come. He loves us too much.

Heavenly Father’s plan is a plan of growth. Imagine receiving all that He has as we are right now! (See D&C 84:38.) The roots of Divinity would certainly overcome the tender branches of our capacity. (See Jacob 5:65.) Thus, He must nurture us as we cultivate our talents, attributes, and abilities to become "even as [He] is." (3 Nephi 27:27.)

And Father sent a master Gardener to bring us into His garners. (Jeffery R. Holland, "Missionary Work and the Atonement," Ensign, Mar. 2001, 15.) After all, the angels had good reason to sing that first Christmas night. In a vision explaining his father’s dream of the tree of life, Nephi saw the "most beautiful and fair [of] all virgins" holding the Son of God. (1 Nephi 11:15-22.) Instantly, Nephi recognized that the tree of life symbolized Christ and knew that the baby born in Bethlehem was the embodiment of God’s love for His children. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16.)

And God’s love abounded as Jesus walked among men. As Jesus healed and served, He testified that He merely did the works of the Father. (John 14:10.) That is, if Heavenly Father had been in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, He would have healed the sick, raised the dead, caused the blind to see, and lifted the sinner. For it was "God’s love [Jesus was] showing [us]." (Jeffery R. Holland, "The Grandeur of God," Ensign, Nov. 2003, 72.) The same sorrow which filled Jesus as He lamented over Jerusalem filled Heavenly Father, as did the same compassion which Jesus showed to sinners, even to a woman caught in adultery. How can we imagine a stern and unforgiving God when He refused to condemn one guilty of the heinous sin of adultery? (See John 8:1-11.) True, God cannot "look upon sin with the least degree of allowance," and "no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God." But He wants us to repent of our sins, and when we do, immediately He will extend the blessings of the plan of redemption to us until "He takes us on His shoulders and casts our sins behind His back." (Alma 34:31; Holland, The Grandeur of God, 73.)

Thus the greatest manifestation of God’s love for us was the offering of His Son as the "great and last sacrifice" for sin. (Alma 34:10,13-14.) None of us compared to Christ premortally. The prophet Joseph Smith taught that many years will pass after our deaths and resurrection before any of us attain perfection. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 348.) Yet Jesus continued "from grace to grace" (D&C 93:14) until He attained Godhood many billions of years ago, enabling Him to create all things. (Moses 1:32-33.) Despite His premortal perfection, Jesus yielded Himself as a willing sacrifice to the will of the Father. No one deserved greater praise, glory, and honor. Yet no one suffered more. (D&C 19:15-18.) Still, to glorify the Father and to exalt us, Jesus "descended below all things." (D&C 122:8).

Yes, the angels sang that first Christmas night because over Christ’s manger bed loomed the shadows of Gethsemane’s trees and of Golgotha’s cross. And the silence of that night portended the silence of the empty Garden Tomb.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."(Luke 2:14.)

I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who suffered the pains of death and hell to bring us home. And I know that the life and sacrifice of our Savior attest to our Heavenly Father’s love for us.

Did you know?

Did you know Glenn Beck, national T.V. and Talk Radio host, is a Mormon? Here's an article about him and how he became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I think Mr. Beck and his life is a perfect example of the goal of Mormonism: to make bad people good and good people better.