I haven't written part of my journey in my search for the Lord but wanted to record part of my experiences. While that journey is too long to record I will write a few experiences that have happened that have contributed to where I am today.
One of the things I have learned is that the Lord has given us all gifts to help, if we will humble ourselves and follow Him, further His work and serving our fellow men. Its only when we learn how weak and how we are less than the dust of the earth that we can become useful to the Lord. Pride is incompatible with Celestial beings. They serve and exalt themselves instead of abasing themselves. Such a being like God will never view themselves better than others or think they are "choosen". The closer to God one gets the "clearer are his views". Not only do you begin to see things as they "are" but you begin to see all people as equals unto God just at different levels of "light" or progression. We are here to become "added upon". This work by God is so comprehensive that even the atheist who entirely rejects God from this probation will be "added upon" because God sees everyone as they are and their potential in becoming like Him. His work includes All people and is not confined by man or any one religion. For they are all corrupt.
I am in my late twenties with a family of two kids and grew up LDS, though later I was led to resign. I still believe that Joseph was a man of God and in the Book of Mormon but what Joseph taught has been long forgotten. Some of the gifts the Lord has blessed me with is the gift of knowledge, wisdom, dreams, and others that He has promised to bestow in due time (or I have yet to recognize at this time). I have almost always remembered desiring to learn all I can about God. I have always asked the Lord to reveal the scriptures unto me and in later years I begun to pray that "further light and knowledge" would be revealed to me through the veil knowing that "seeking the mysteries of godliness" was a commandment per the Doctrine & Covenants (D&C).
Journey Through The LDS Church:
As a missionary I was introduced to a stake patriarch in the Geneva Rochester area. At this time I had been study the teachings of Joseph Smith and had learned a great deal about what Joseph had taught. I had learned this patriarch had a great desire for knowledge and I had the opportunity to ask a few questions. The discussion included how the temple endowment - him being a patron also - was about us. He asked me "Where in the temple does Adam die?" and answered that Adam does not die because its a journey of us - being as Adam or Eve - through the veil. That it portrays us receiving the Lord through the veil while in the flesh, also known as The Doctrine of the Second Comforter by Joseph Smith. He mentioned, without details, how he has been visited by angels and that Peter, James, and John were symbolic of these ministers that would appear to us after we have been proven faithful.
Since that day I returned home and continued to study the words of Joseph Smith. Upon that journey I had an impression that the Gentiles in the Book of Mormon that Moroni writes about were the Latter Day Saints. I asked the Lord for a witness of that, knowing the implications of such an impression. Specifically 2 Nephi 28 and Mormon 8 where its written " their churches have become corrupted... They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up." (vs 12-13). I mean how could it be true that their fine sanctuaries, a temple, could rob the poor?
I was led to a blog where an individual, Daniel Rodgers, shares his experience of being visited by an Angel and was told that the Gentiles included the latterday saints. He also shared his experience of visiting with the Lord. I had asked for a witness and received not just this one witness but multiple since where I no longer doubt. I have always asked myself where are all the witnesses of those testifying of the Rissen Lord like Joseph, Sidney, or Newel K Knight (in the early days) or the New testament apostles? The only answers they had was that it was "too sacred to share" which was inconsistent with scripture.
I continued to study the words of Joseph Smith and the scriptures learning that the Lords servants are those who have been sent by Him being a actual witness of His Resurrection because of what they have both "seen and heard" As Joseph said, "Salvation cannot come without revelation. Men of the present time testify of heaven and hell, and have never seen either; and I will say that no man knows these things without this." (TJS, Chapter 16). As I continued to learn of the doctrine of the second comforter and realizing how it was one of the most talked about doctrines by Joseph Smith I became more familiar with the actual quotes that Joseph had taught.
Being more familiar with what was actually taught I started to notice that Church manuals actually altered many of these statements by Joseph. Specially anything related to seeing the lord and the ability for others, who are not apostles, were altered out of the manuals. I begun to notice other lectures as well including the sermon by Lorenzo Snow on tithing where the term "who has means" is removed out of an entire paragraph unchanged. Today all, even if you don't have means, are required to pay when Lorezno, known for tithing, said differently. I continued my studies and learned Brigham Young had never seen the lord testifying twice at years 11 and 17 as president. Likewise learning Joseph Fielding Smith as an apostle had not either. That the sacrament was changed by changing the word "water" from "wine" (even if water is used the wording shouldn't be changed) nor being allowed to practice it at home among your family (its forbidden). Endowment was changed repeatedly but most knowingly in 1990 when the penalties were removed. There are many other evidences that the Lord led me to as I asked for further witnesses of impressions I received over the course of many years. After all lying spirits are going forth in the Earth to deceive the "very elect" therefore I asked for witnesses.
Wondering why so many doctrines have changed. What was once required for salvation is no longer required. What was once required to be sustained as true (Adam-God, blood Atonement, polygamy (which form under Brigham was derived by Brigham not Joseph) or be exed is now at a point where if you believe in it today you would be excommunicated from the LDS Church. Things started to make more sense as I learned how God works among the chilldren of men and learned why this was all happening. We were the Israelites wandering the dessert for 40 years unworthy of the promised land refusing to come up upon the mount to talk with God. Once I learned the true dilemma this generation was really in, apostasy, I could read the scriptures in the light they were intended. I had learned what Joseph begun has not been completed, is no longer remembered, and that the truth he first taught has only been receding since his death due to the saints failing to build Zion and coming unto the Lord.
I relate this to kind of share what was required to parse through to come to a truth. Having all these questions, but knowing I had a witness of the Book of Mormon and Joseph I begun to ask the Lord for answers to reconcile the contradictions placed before me. As it said in James 1:5, I lacked Wisdom and so I asked of God.
Religion is intended to be between “you” and God, deeply personal and individually redemptive. Christ is as accessible to all as He was to Moses on the mount. And what was Moses' ambition? It was to bring everyone up on the mount to likewise see God.
When you pass through all the rites of the LDS Church it begins and ends at almost the same point. The starting point is believing Joseph Smith, inspired by James 1:5, asked God and received an answer--and you can too. The ending point involves an ordinance which promises you further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord through the veil. Both at the beginning and the end of the LDS journey you are told to speak with God and expect an answer.
My Search For Truth:
My ability to talk to the Lord and hear His voice had grown immensely over the few years. I came to the writings of Denver Snuffer during this time who also shares his witness of Christ (He records his vision of Gethsemane) which is recorded in Come Let Us Adore Him. From that book I learned more about Christs atonement than I have my entire lifetime. I knew the messages he wrote were from God -- including his 10 lectures he was asked by the Lord to give over a course of a year which anyone can read. The Lord had told me I needed to listen to what he was teaching as the Lord had sent him as a "messenger" to the Gentiles.
As I begun to study that Book and his other writings, along with the scriptures in a found light, I begun to see the fruits as Joseph declared were the fruits of the Holy Ghost. Joseph said "The Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge," (T. 149-150) The Holy Ghost communicates intelligence or light and truth or knowledge. Only by bestowing "intelligence" so its responsibility is that of a teacher. It bestows knowledge.
I "began to have the scriptures laid open to our[my] understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of." (JSH 1:74) I had "intelligence" communicated to me in ways I have never dreamed or could conceive of on my own. The Lord has said "By their fruit you will recognize them" (NIV Matt. 7:16) and that if you "experiment upon the word" (Alma 32) you shall know of a surety of whether its of God. I experimented for many years and came to know for myself. I had greater love, greater devotion, and greater understanding than I had ever had. I begun to care more about the things of heaven than the ways of the World. The most important truth I have learned as Moses explained is that "man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." (Moses 1:10) and acknowledged my "worthless and fallen state" (Mosiah 4:5) But in God I rejoice because he can make weak things strong and they are a given as a gift from God to humble us.
I was led to learn about the idea of Re-baptism and that the early saints like Joseph not only were re-baptized but that the Book of Mormon taught that re-baptism was necessary anytime the Lord makes known again the Gospel in its purity after being corrupted. (3 Nephi 7, 3 Nephi 11-12) On December 24, 2014 I was baptized the day after Winter Equinox and the day before Christmas unto the Lord (not into any religion or church). There is only a few times in my life I have felt the spirit to such a degree and the "peace and joy" (Galatians 5:22:23) that accompanied that moment. The love I felt for my fellow men cannot be described with words but it was felt. I knew the Lord had accepted my sacrifice in His behalf as a sign of what He is now performing among the children of Men.
Heaven Requires Sacrifice:
My search for truth has taught me that the things of Heaven cannot be gained through casual means. The lectures on Faith teaches "A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary [to lead] unto life and salvation." (Lectures on Faith, p. 58.). Any religion that puts requirements on how one must worship cannot obtain salvation for an individual. They must be free to do what God asks of Him without restraint. It was a daunting task ahead of me if I wanted to pursue God. The Lord taught me through a dream this same principle along with the requirement for patience. I will share the interpretation of it:
How can you expect to do in 3 years what it took Isaiah 33 years to do in this lifetime? The answer to the parable [in my dream] is that if it took Joseph smith to do something in 30 years how can you expect to be able to do it in 3 years? It requires great sacrifice to attain the things of heaven. Will you sacrifice carnal securities (different items were shown before me) in place of things that we need (other items were shown before me in comparison to the previous ones). The more we sacrifice the greater the blessing we are able to have in the heavens. Will you set your things on the items of the carnal mind related to temporal items or buy the items that will last you a lifetime (food, things of spiritual worth). If you expect to do something in the 3 years it will require that much more sacrifice to be able to achieve all the things Isaiah achieved in his 33 years. That is the meaning of the things shown to me. -Feb 21, 2013, A Dream's InterpretationThe Lord directed me to begin having His sacrament at Home, being a commandment to partake, so that I may worship Him in privacy not to be seen of men. I was able to also fellowship with others who the Lord had led me to as a group "to bear one another’s burdens" and "to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places" (Mosiah 18:8-10) Most importantly to take care of the poor among us as the prior institutions I was engaged with refused to do so as the scriptures testified would happen in our day.
Signs Follow Those that Believe
In just two years I have seen many miracles among these believers. They have no restraints to join or creeds you must accept. If you believe in the Doctrine of Christ all are welcome. There are many groups that spread across the US. I have seen the gift of prophecy, seen another healed of lyme disease, and another healed of cushings disease. I have seen single mothers with children be taken care of so they can tender to their children and widows. For over two years now they have been able to succor to their family instead of being forced by corrupt government and organizations to work to provide for their families as the women in Les Miserables was forced into prostitution to provide for her family. Over the course of almost 3 years just a small group of believers have donated hundred of thousands of dollars to relieve the poor among them providing food, housing, medical, and car repairs to name a few. Another family provides a house for those who cannot provide one for themselves until they can provide for themselves. And this comes from those who are for the most part living paycheck to paycheck. Miracles can happen when men "organize themselves" and actively try to do the things the Lord would have them do without the Gentiles, which they love so deeply, having "high officials exercise authority over them". (See Matt. 20:25)
I don't say these things to boast but rather to testify that signs do follow those that believe and that I had begun to realize how awful is the state of man. We are meant to experience so much more. But man is amazed with the internet, great and magnificent buildings, and his own making rather than the things of God. The occasional "healing" or yearly experience of heaven is never what the Gospel was meant to bring. It was meant to bring us with daily contact with heaven. Nephi faith was so great on the Lord Jesus Christ "that angels did minister unto him daily" (3 Nephi 7:18) Ether had great faith where he was continually before the Lord and had seen the Lord and the glory of God. The Lord promised through him:
In that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are. (Ether 4:7)God Works According To Our Faith
God works according to our faith. This is why you can see His presence among all people and all religions. Wherever an individual exercises just a particle of faith God will work through them or in-behalf of them. The Lord told Enos -- who prayed all night to wrestle a promise from God of eternal life (Calling and Election) -- that God works among the children of men "according to their faith" (Enos 1:18). Or as the Book of Jarom writes "the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith. " (Jarom 1:4). Or "the Lord Jesus Christ grant that their prayers may be answered according to their faith" (Mormon 9:37). Finally,
And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith. (2 Nephi 26:13)These things are happening but they cannot happen when "restraints" are imposed upon men of how or where one must worship because we are all so different. What is right for one may not be right for another.
As Joseph declared,
“I cannot believe in any of the creeds of the different denominations, because they all have some things in them I cannot subscribe to, though all of them have some truth. I want to come up into the presence of God, and learn all things; but the creeds set up stakes [limits], and say, ‘Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further’ [Job 38:11]; which I cannot subscribe to. (TJS, Ch. 22)Conclusion
The Lord is so anxiously engaged in all our lives and desires, more than we know, to talk to us as one man talks to another. His love was so great that "he suffered in the flesh" (1 Peter 4:1) in our behalf. Which caused God the greatest of all to suffer and tremble from every Poor (D&C 45). He descended below it all so that he knew how to walk back into the presence of God and learn what was required to succor us and walk us back into His presence.
I write these things to show Gods hand in my life. A testimony if you will. I am continually seeking Him and desire more than anything to obtain a promise from Him as those who have gone before have. He has ministered through me in many ways and given many evidences of His goodness and mercy. This is only a small fragment of Gods dealings in my life but with so many evidences how can I doubt? Most probably goes unnoticed by me. But my daily breath is a gift by Him.
I have not seen the Lord but believe in His promises that "in the due time of the Lord" he shall manifest himself unto us according to our faith. In that day I will have Knowledge which "saves a man". I have "felt" his presence near me and have heard His voice. The joy that He radiates cannot be described with words but have had such an changing effect upon me I have not forgotten it. There ARE many who testify of entering His presence. It IS happening as the scriptures promised. I have obtained much from the Lord. He has told me my worth, my importance to him in this Great work (at least partially) as He prepares the World for His return in Glory, and I know He will continually guide me in my endeavor to serve Him. If others wonder what it is the Lord has planned for them than all they need to do is "ask and they shall receive" (See James 1:5). If they doubt in his existence ask Him to convince you and believe in the signs he will send your way. Just remain humble enough to accept the answer. It requires great sacrifice to know God which can be both daunting and frightening but the Knowledge of God is worth the loss of all things.
By the power of the Holy Ghost in me I know He lives. He truly loves all of His children and has His arm stretched out still.