Oh say, what is truth? 'Tis the fairest gemThat the riches of worlds can produce,And priceless the value of truth will be whenThe proud monarch's costliest diademIs counted but dross and refuse.
- Yes, say, what is truth? 'Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire.Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:'Tis an aim for the noblest desire.
- The sceptre may fall from the despot's grasp
When with winds of stern justice he copes.But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blastAnd the wreck of the fell tyrant's hopes.
Then say, what is truth? 'Tis the last and the first,For the limits of time it steps o'er.Tho the heavens depart and the earth's fountains burst,Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,Eternal, unchanged, evermore.
When it comes to the minds of men with respect to religion today, and what they think constitutes a true follower of Christ, I would not meet most of their criteria. I ponder and seek what is required for us to come to the full "measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ". I do not concern myself with what men think of Him, as much as I desire to know what he thinks. I want to learn from him and I would seek to know and understand him from his most fundamental teachings, to His deep mysteries. Most people, I have found when it comes to religion, would want to tell me not to seek the mysteries of God. They would tell me that it is only necessary to have faith and not to question Him with respect to his mysteries. They would tell me that all that I need to do is confess Christ with my lips, and to have faith, and that through his good grace I can be saved at the last day; and though I indeed know it is "through grace that we are we saved, "after all that we can do", that "all that we can do" requires us to repent and obey the laws and ordinances of his gospel. It includes the first principles of faith in Christ, repentance, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. It means striving to the best of our ability to observe and keep all of his commandments.
Many in the world today want to teach me in sound bites that what matters is that I have a personal relationship with Christ, and that will suffice in the end. No Church is necessary they will say, ignoring the scriptures that clearly indicate that Christ spoke of building up what he himself referred to as "my church", upon "this" rock, a "rock of revelation". Yet, as a side note, how can there be revelation without a revelator? Doesn't this suggest the need of a "living oracle" or Prophet, especially when he himself would no longer be upon the earth after ascending to heaven, or until he returns again at his glorious second coming.
The world would teach me that God no longer speaks to Prophets, that there is no need for such in our time because Christ has performed his work and that is all we need. We only need a Bible, that will substitute. The Jews crucified their Christ and the world itself combined against the people of God and the Prophets and Apostles to destroy them, and the priesthood authority which they held, and yet they will say that God in his mercy created from this grand rejection a new order; and through the ashes of this apostasy "his" Church and Kingdom survived because he, God, decreed it.
Yet, it did not, and the Bible teaches it. It is a fundamental tenant of all protestant religions, if it were not so there would have been no reformation. And yes, the Bible speaks of a future, "restoration or restitution of all things" in a period which it refers to as the "Dispensation of the Fullness of Times".
I do thank God for the Bible and I am grateful to men like Tyndale who made it possible that I should have it. I can read and have read it for myself. I thank God that I was able to read it without the influence or good intentions of a minister to teach me in the ways and traditions of men. Mine was the unique opportunity to think for myself in my studies, with the only influence being the influence of the Spirit, that sweet Spirit of the Lord which allows pure intelligence to flow into the heart and mind of those that read the scriptures with pure intent. This can be the privilege of every man. We often live below our privileges.
I can discern between the sound bites of men and the truths contained in the scriptures as I read them. Where in the scripture does it say that all that you must do is know that Christ is your personal Savior and you will be saved? Where is it implied that to follow Him indicates that somehow there is no need for his Church, his Priesthood, his laws or the ordinances of the Temple. I know what "One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism means. One means one and the world can combine against it, and twist and turn it to there liking, and it will still have the same meaning.
I ask, is it possible for the overwhelming majority of people living in the world to accept such falsehoods? The simply answer is, yes, it is not only possible, it is true, and they do.
I can read for myself the Acts of the Apostles and know that they were following the commission of the Lord Jesus Christ to build up "his Church" in all the world. Paul speaks in every case to the "saints of the Church" in Galatia, or Corinth, or Rome. Is is really so absurd to believe the Church which Christ indeed did organize, would be called after his name? It was the Church of Christ or the Church of God or more fully, the Church of Jesus Christ, housing the congregations of his saints, or his true followers.
There was a Church and Jesus Christ did organize it and the scripture makes it plain as to why - "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:You might ask, why are you fighting so against a few sound bite posts on social media? The answer, they tend to license people to discard the fundamental principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They can pacify themselves in their "saved condition" that all they have to do is make a lip confession of Jesus as Lord and Master and that their obligation is done. They may actually sit there in their "saved condition" and really never come to know the Master, the beauty and majesty of his teachings, or even of their true relationship to him.You may think to yourself, who are you, to speak in this manner? We have Christ, we have his Churches, we have our preachers. We know that we are saved and forgiven, and we will enter into his heaven, and we will shout our praises to him forever. Where is this arrogance on your part? To which I will respond. I am indeed nothing. I love the Lord, just like you do. In fact I believe in an Article of Faith which states that we believe in worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men that same privilege. I just believe what I believe, and to be true to myself, and to you, I have expressed it. You can feel disposed to me how you like. You may take these sentiments as an attack on all that you hold to be dear and true to you, or you can do what any truth-seeking man or woman would do. You could simply think about things from another point of view. I do this everyday. I ask in fairness, do you know of a faith that is more scrutinized, misrepresented or misinterpreted than the faith which I espouse? Again, I only ask myself, what is true. I cannot discern truth, if I am not willing to grapple with falsehood. That is part and parcel of this whole experience in mortality. Again back to the Hymn, we must search the heights and depths to find the illusive grains of truth which lie in the mountains and seashores of falsehoods. But how precious are those grains when we find them. I return to my original thinking...Modern teachers of religion want to tell me that all Churches are true so long as they teach Christ, thus taking away the mind of Christ himself, professing that Christ has done his work, that there is no more need for Prophets and Apostles although the scriptures which they profess to believe makes no mention of Popes or Reverends or Cardinals or any of the man made distortions of the Church of Jesus Christ which they themselves know was lost many centuries ago in apostasy. Again, all Protestant Churches believe in this Apostasy which took place centuries ago, else why did they see the need for the reformation? Indeed there was a need for a reformation, but a reformation, as important as it was in establishing an environment for the free expression of religion resulted in a multiplication of Churches as each minister interpreted the teachings of the Bible in his own way. Only a restoration could bring back to the earth the very organization which Christ himself established. This would require that God himself would have to open the heavens again and call another Prophet to head a final Dispensation of the Gospel before his second coming in glory. It would require the Lord himself to declare and not man, "thus shall my church be called in the last days, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints".The Bible does not use the phrase, "develop a personal relationship with Christ". This was not had among the ancient saints. I am not critical of this, in fact I share the sentiment that it is important to know that Jesus Christ did perform his atoning sacrifice for each one of us and that he would have done so if we were the only living soul upon the earth. What John the beloved actually said was, "this is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent". This is entirely different. To know that Christ is our personal Savior is one thing, but to actually know him is another. To know him, we have to accept him on his terms and not ours. This is the ultimate in courage. We are going to have to ask, seek and knock. I thank God that he gave me the agency to ask, seek and knock and to learn for myself. I will give you a grand clue...No man who ever is truly able to walk in the light and learning of the Lord will ever find popularity in the eyes of the world. True followers of Christ will be rejected by those who profess to be true followers of Christ. These latter will follow a God after their own image, and in their own likeness, after the likeness of the world. They will draw near to God with their lips and yet their hearts shall be far from him. The will teach for commandments the doctrines of men having only a form of godliness. Some will post "prayers" in a Facebook post and their knees will never touch the ground.Many professions take a lifetime of work, study, hard work and devotion. Yet we think we can get to the heart of what it means to learn of God, to come to know him and learn of his ways in a simple or clever soundbite or Facebook post. If we can reduce our obligation to come unto the Savior to a simple sound bite, we can then release ourselves of the burden of "feasting upon the words of Christ", accepting baptism into his Church, truly repenting of our sins, partaking of the Sacrament, paying our tithes and offerings, praying fervently and serving our fellow beings just to mention a few of the practices of true followers of Christ.
If I were the Devil and wanted to capture the mind and souls of the good and honorable men of the earth, I would let them have their Bible, I would let them have their Christ on their own terms, in fact, I would teach them that all that they needed was to have a personal relationship with him. I would encourage them to build up as many Churches as they liked and focus on just what doctrines they held in high esteem or they could just not consider a Church as being essential at all. I would like it if they talked a lot about grace and "being saved" but not too much about repentance, accountability and the like. They mainly just need to feel saved. It wouldn't really be necessary to know anything about what God would be like if you saw him, after all, that's just one of the mysteries that you should just leave alone. Never mind that millions have lived upon the earth without ever knowing Christ and would be damned to hell because they never had the opportunity to know Christ as their personal Savior before they died. That's just a bad break for them.
If I were the Devil, I would let them teach, through their erroneous interpretations of scripture, that there was no family in heaven, and that it is just an earthly institution. I would teach them that no man has ever actually seen God. I would really like it if they talked a lot about salvation, but nothing of exaltation. It would be blasphemous to speak of man ever approaching a measure of the stature, of the fullness of Christ. I would have them speak of the Temple only in terms of endearment and disguise its true purpose. No need for Prophets anymore, no more Apostles, but you can have all the preachers and ministers of religion that you want. Certainly no need for additional scriptures, its all in the Bible you know.
If I were the devil, I would teach these good Christian people that if a man ever professed a revelation or a vision from God that he be dismissed as a charlatan and a fraud. I would teach them that there is no need for modern Prophets or Apostles, and that if any man professed to be such and draw a following after them, that they should be persecuted and martyred with their claims. I would brand them as not worthy of the title of Christian and I would place upon them a nickname to disguise them and their faith and ridicule them as a people. I would teach them that the wretched of the earth would be more worthy of acceptance than they and would drive them from city to city seeking to destroy them and their faith off the face of the earth. Then I would teach their children that it never happened.
At this point I know most have left off in reading these words for obvious reasons and only a few remain. Thank you for staying with me. I return to where I began, as a humble follower of Jesus Christ and as one who has spent a lifetime in pursuit of truth and the joy and peace that it has brought to me. I am a follower of Him. There are so many things that I wish to share with you. Some of them will be new to you. Some may have heard some of these things in a distorted form and may have preconceived notions about them, nevertheless if you are still here with me, I think you are at least willing to hear what I wish to say. I will link this blog to our Facebook site and afterward, you can return to this blog to truly know the things of my soul on your own, or save the link.
I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am not playing the part of a "lone wolf". I am one of millions who have lived and who now live that believe in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We are among the hundreds of thousands who have answered the call of a Prophet to serve as missionaries for this Church. We are even now serving as a full time missionaries for this wonder organization in Jamaica, and I feel reasonably confident, that after spending some time at home with our children and our grandchildren and other extended family members, we will serve again at some future time in another land, or even in the United States.
Our intent is not to draw a following. Our intent is to share truth. As missionaries, we point the way to Jesus Christ, if we draw people to us, we have failed in our calling. I hope that this can be interactive. Please make comments and ask the hard questions if you'd like. My wife and I would be pleased to answer them to the best of our ability. We only ask that you be civil. This is not a contest of opinion, but a quest for truth and understanding
We are here at our own expense. This is the way it has always been with those who would follow and serve the Lord. The gospel of Jesus Christ is free, and always has been. We have not attended an institution to obtain our knowledge, but we do have authority to preach the gospel. I really prefer the expression, "teach the gospel", and I think our primary function as missionaries is to "guide" others as they make their own discoveries of these beautiful truths.
We are still full time missionaries and have full responsibilities here, and because of this, we will share these truths with you as we have the time, yet, our time is reasonably short here in Jamaica, and we hope to continue sharing our understanding of these revealed truths after we get home until we have this chance to serve again somewhere else.
We will start by sharing with you the same discussions that we share here in the homes of the people we teach. We will teach these principles in our own words, as moved upon by the Spirit, and teach according to the needs that we perceive in the hearts and minds of those that study with us. Since this is part of a blog you don't necessarily have to keep up but you can come and go as you please.This is in no way a substitute for meeting with our missionaries personally in your homes to investigate the teachings of this marvelous Church. Please consider this as we go along. They will ask you to make commitments and use the agency that God has given you to do so. Our Heavenly Father knows that when you use your agency to make and keep commitments with Him, that you are demonstrating faith in Him and His Gospel, and by so doing he will bring to you more light and truth. He is the way, the truth and the light.
Tuesday, 11 July 2017
Oh Say, What is Truth?
I have a favorite Hymn entitled, "Oh say what is truth". I want to share with you the lyrics of this beautiful hymn: