And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same (Abraham, vs 2)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Changing The Commandments of God: Lectures on Faith

We are so prone to alter the commandments of God. As soon as they are revealed, we add to them. Its in the human nature to. Than we go on believing these additions or changes are revelations of God.

Look how quickly Eve changed the commandments given to her from God.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2: 17)
Eve immediately adds to the commandments of God.
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said , Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die . (Genesis 3:2-3)
Eve added the declaration "neither shall ye touch it". Which were never part of the commandments given from God. While it may seem harmless in this instance, it was these additions that allowed her to be deceived. Altering the commandments of God keeps us in ignorance, lacking knowledge, and allows us to be beguiled by the serpent. Also it brings guilt from "transgressing" those things that were not commandments in the first place which guilt is from the snares of the adversary.

When Abel and Cain offered sacrifices up to the Lord, Abel gave a proper sacrifice of his flocks, while cain changed the ordinance and offered of his food thinking it would be acceptable unto the Lord. But the Lord rejected his sacrifice but gave him a chance to repent which he rejected. (See Lectures on Faith)

The Lord has seen the beginning from the End (Isaiah 46:10). He warned as early as 1830 of possible change of ordinances. Read the following verses about a FUTURE date.
12 Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh;
13 And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth.
14 And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;
15 For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;(D&C 1)
Isaiah tells us the same thing, again remember these are end-time types and symbols before the Lord return again (second coming).
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 24:5.)
I also enjoy Avraham Gileadi's commentary on this verse here.

Changing the Ordinances
“The Priesthood is everlasting. The Savior, Moses, and Elias [Elijah], gave the keys to Peter, James, and John, on the mount, when they were transfigured before him. The Priesthood is everlasting—without beginning of days or end of years; without father, mother, etc. If there is no change of ordinances, there is no change of Priesthood. Wherever the ordinances of the Gospel are administered, there is the Priesthood.  (Teachings of Joseph Smith, Chapter 8)
Whenever there is a change of ordinances there is a change of priesthood. Or if there is a change of priesthood, than there was a change of ordinances.

To quickly remind us about the fulness of the priesthood. What is the everlasting covenant?
“The power of the Melchizedek Priesthood is to have the power of ‘endless lives;’ for the everlasting covenant cannot be broken. … What was the power of Melchizedek? ‘Twas not the Priesthood of Aaron which administers in outward ordinances, and the offering of sacrifices. Those holding the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings. In fact, that priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and stands as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam. …(ibid)
 Can this priesthood be passed by descent of man?
“‘Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.’ [Hebrews 7:3.] The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right from the eternal God, and not by descent from father and mother; and that priesthood is as eternal as God Himself, having neither beginning of days nor end of life. …(ibid)
This priesthood cannot be passed from Father and mother. This priesthood is received, by the "voice of God" (JST Gen 14). It is no wonder why Oliver Cowdery told the early saints their ordinations were not completed "until God had laid their hands on their head" (paraphrasing, quoted in "Declare These Things" post). Because this power, could not be passed by descent but only given with God's voice. "Which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens"(D&C 84.42). Also seen in the story of Elisha and Elijah. Elisha asked for the mantle" I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me." or he wanted the power in the priesthood and Elijah responded "Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so." knowing that it was only God that could bestow it.

I bring this up to show (again and again), it is not evidenced that it exists among a people because one person had it. This priesthood is NOT passed by descent (from Father to Son) by mortals. Also if there is a change of priesthood there is a change of ordinance. Was the priesthood ever lost?

There are four associations with heaven ,also shown in the temple endowment. Aaronic1: men with men, Aaronic2: men with Angels, Melchezidek1: men with Christ, Melchezidek2, men with the Father (fulness of the priesthood). The purest and exalting form being that which is with the Father. When He will take his abode with you allowing you to endure his presence in eternal glory while in the flesh and the world to come  (D&C 88:1-4, D&C 76:117-118) So by their fruits you will know. 

Loss of the Fulness of the Priesthood.
Nauvoo period, the Lord gave the following revelation.
28 For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood. (D&C 124:28)
They (The saints, not Joseph) lost the fulness of the priesthood. The Lord had to "come to" the temple to restore it. This is why they were trying to build the Nauvoo temple. If they lost this priesthood, than there was a change of ordinances. Think about the differences between kirtland and nauvoo. Kirtland, angels were present, the Son was present, the Father was present, people were experiencing the "manifestations of the spirit" in great abundance. Are these same experiences happening in abundance today? Also how did they loose it when we are told the priesthood would never be taken off the earth again? Doesn't this constitute loosing the priesthood for a time? Why are we taught the preisthood can never be taken off the earth when our very own history says otherwise? Perhaps the prophecies referring to the Aaronic Priesthood,the same which the Children of Israel were cursed with? Or something else altogether like Zion?

The Lord told them all about what would happen in the Parable of the Watchtower. (D&C 101:43-70, discussed in a later post)

Church would be Rejected
The Lord told them they had a certain amount of time to restore it.
32 But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God. (D&C 124:32)
The Lord Gives Us A Chance to Repent: Arms Outstretched Still
Discussed in a later post. 3 Nephi 16:10 -15
10 And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them. [First rejection]
13 But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel. [Second chance, Last opportunity to repent before they are destroyed in verses 14-15](3 Nephi 16:10,13)
Changing of Ordinances
I have shown how quickly Eve changed the commandments given to her. I have shown how quickly cain changed the ordinances. We must learn what they are with "exactness". We must observe them with exactness. Could it be considered a change of ordinances when penalties and the "preacher" are removed from the endowment in 1990? Are we still under covenant to suffer those penalties if we know nothing about them? What about other laws? Has the law of tithing changed since first revealed to Joseph Smith? Does changing the commandment from surplus which the early saints paid on to net/gross constitute changing the law? Word of Wisdom (not by commandment to a commandment? Polygamy which was believed by Brigham Young to be required for exaltation and many others like John Taylor? What about the sacrament which we are commanded to always do even as He has done "no more or less" (3 Nephi 18:6,13)? At one time they blessed the sacrament with outstretched arms palms down. Has other things been added? Even if 90% of it is given to us correctly, could we be in error in just a small portion of the commandments of God?

Just a few thoughts I have been thinking about. I certainly don't have the all the answers.
If any man writes to you, or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, set him down as an imposter.
(Joseph Smith, Times & Seasons, April 1, 1844)
Are the servants of the Lord allowed to reveal something that contradicts the Book of Mormon? Doctrine and Covenants? Even if they do it out of ignorance and are trying their best?

Contradicting a Former Revelation: Satan Deceives
There have also been ministering angels in the Church which were of Satan appearing as an angel of light. A sister in the state of New York had a vision, who said it was told her that if she would go to a certain place in the woods, an angel would appear to her. She went at the appointed time, and saw a glorious personage descending, arrayed in white, with sandy colored hair; he commenced and told her to fear God, and said that her husband was called to do great things, but that he must not go more than one hundred miles from home, or he would not return; whereas God had called him to go to the ends of the earth, and he has since been more than one thousand miles from home, and is yet alive. Many true things were spoken by this personage, and many things that were false. How, it may be asked, was this known to be a bad angel? By the color of his hair; that is one of the signs that he can be known by, and by his contradicting a former revelation. (Joseph Smith, HC vol 4, ch. 33)
Doctrine & Covenants
As I have searched and compared some of the original documents in our D&C with today's edition, I have noticed many changes. These changes were not made by Joseph Smith but other men such as Oliver Cowdery (who's calling it was to do so). I will leave it to the reader to take this challenge and compare the originals to later editions and determine which parts are part of the revelations of Joseph Smith and which parts were added later. The question arises, what purpose were they added? Were they part of the original revelations or another mans interpretation of those revelations (precept of men)? (2 Nephi 28:14)

Lectures on Faith
One of the most significant changes in church history is the removal of doctrine from our cannon.

Sustained as Doctrine: LOF
If you read the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants it gives this summary of it being sustained as doctrine for the Church. This edition included the Lectures on Faith which were also voted upon, through common consent, to be Doctrine for the Church.
“President Cowdery arose and introduced the ‘book of doctrine and covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints,’ in behalf of the committee: he was followed by President Rigdon, who explained the manner by which they intended to obtain the voice of the assembly for or against said book: the other two committee, named above, were absent. According to said arrangement W.W. Phelps bore record that the book presented to the assembly, was true. President John Whitmer, also arose, and testified that it was true. Elder John Smith, taking the lead of the high council in Kirtland, bore record that the revelations in the said book were true President Cowdery arose and introduced the ‘book of doctrine and covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints,’ in behalf of the committee: he was followed by President Rigdon, who explained the manner by which they intended to obtain the voice of the assembly for or against said book: the other two committee, named above, were absent. According to said arrangement W.W. Phelps bore record that the book presented to the assembly, was true. President John Whitmer, also arose, and testified that it was true. Elder John Smith, taking the lead of the high council in Kirtland, bore record that the revelations in the said book were true… Elder Levi Jackman, taking the lead of the high council of the church in Missouri bore testimony that the revelations in the said book were true, and that the said High Council in Missouri, bore testimony that the revelations in said book were true, and the said high council of Missouri accepted  and  acknowledged  them  as  the  doctrine  and  covenants  of  their  faith,  by  a  unanimous  vote. President W.W. Phelps then read the written testimony of 12 as follows. ‘The testimony of the witnesses of the book of the Lord's commandments, which he gave to his church through Joseph Smith, jr. who was appointed by the voice of the church for this purpose: we therefore feel willing to bear testimony to all the world of mankind, to every creature upon the face of the earth, and upon the islands of the sea, that the Lord  has  borne  record  to  our  souls,  through  the  Holy  Ghost,  shed  forth  upon  us,  that  these  commandments were given by inspiration of God, and are profitable for all men, and are verily true... (Revelations and Translations, Joseph Smith Papers, 1835 Doctrine and Covenants)
And it continues on. This is in the back of the book, you can read it online here.

McConkie also taught it to be eternally true.
"In my judgment ... It is, in effect, eternal scripture; it is true (239)"7 
"It is without question the most excellent summary of revealed and eternal truth relative to the Godhead that is now extant in mortal language. . . . To spiritually illiterate persons, it may seem hard and confusing; to those whose souls are aflame with heavenly light, it is a nearly perfect summary of those things which must be believed to gain salvation" (221).4 (Both quotes take from byustudies: The Lectures on Faith in Historical Perspective)
A Committee Removes Doctrine
The Lectures on Faith were removed from the scriptures in 1921 by a committee.

The following were in that committee: George Richards, Anthony Ivins, Melvin J. Ballard, James E. Talmage, John A.Widstoe and Joseph Fielding Smith.

There was no vote to remove these doctrines.

Reason For Removal
The committee gave this reason along with saying it had an incorrect understanding of God's character and attributes..
“they were never presented nor accepted by the Church as being otherwise than theological lectures or lessons.“ 

Which I have shown to be false.

Commanded to Receive Revelations Given through Joseph
Ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church through him who I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations from my hand (D&C 43:2)

Yet the children of men are so inclined to change the ways of God as soon as they are revealed.

A Correct Idea of God To Gain Salvation
The Prophet said that three things were necessary for any rational and intelligent being to obtain life unto salvation
First, the idea that he [God] actually exists. Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes. Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will.(Lectures on Faith 3:2–5)
What does this mean?
Either Joseph Smith did not, indeed could not, have faith. Or alternatively George F. Richards, Anthony W. Ivins, Melvin J. Ballard, James E. Talmage, John A. Widstoe, and Joseph Fielding Smith did not, indeed could not, have faith. One or the other is true because they disagree on the definition of God. And you must have a correct idea of His character, perfection and attributes in order to exercise faith in Him. And so now we find ourselves having to choose. It's a healthy thing. You ought to have to choose. You ought to have your salvation at peril on how you choose. You ought to have to decide between whether you believe a man who stood in the presence of God, and bore testimony of what he saw, and what he felt, and what he heard, and others who constitute a committee that disagree with him. You should have to choose. And your eternal peril should hang in the balance as you make that choice. That is a perfect conundrum, in my view. Grow up. Accept the burden. Find out. Learn about God. Or be damned by your carelessness, by your indifference, by your refusal to go forward. It ought to be so. And it ought to be put to you plainly. And you ought to have to choose. And you ought to have to choose every time you hear someone get up and offer something to you and conclude in the name of Jesus Christ. Because they are either offering you something from Him that will save you, or they are offering something that they hope will damn you, because they're signing you up on the wrong team. It ought to be so. Everlastingly, it ought to be so.

Be careful about how you interpret the scriptures. Be careful about how flexible you think an unchanging God can be made into Shifting Sands a changeable Being who has given His power unto men. (2 Ne. 28: 5.) Be careful about believing that the God who is the same today, yesterday, and forever is now so whimsical that on one day one thing can be asked of you, and on another day something altogether different can be asked of you. And to the extent that you detect the varying shifting sand beneath your feet, ask yourself why that is so. And ask yourself, where might I go to find the rock upon which to establish my feet, so that the winds and the rains might not mow me down. Because God vouched for Joseph Smith, and God vouched for those things committed to you, through him.

Worth our Study
I agree with McConkie and would advise all of us to take the lectures on faith seriously. It is eternally binding on all of us.

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