Friday, September 30, 2016

How Does One Connect to Heaven?

From the mortal days of our earliest parents this has been the quest(ion), “How does one connect to Heaven?”  While in the Garden Adam and Eve walked and talked with God, they were connected to Heaven; they were literally in the Presence of the Lord.

“The earth was created for Adam: And we have planted a garden all ready for you--all you have to do is take note of it. And everything is for the taking. One gift, however, is withheld from Adam: the fruit of the tree of good and evil--the tree of knowledge. So long as Adam was immortal, the tree of life presented no problem. For acting out of order, the stranger (no longer a stranger) is denounced and cursed. He has given the fruit to Adam and Eve; it was not his prerogative to do so--regardless of what had been done in other worlds. (When the time comes for such fruit, it will be given to us legitimately.)” (Purportedly stated by Hugh Nibley, no verifiable source)

The price exacted for partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was that of being cast out of the Garden, cast out of the presence of the Lord.  And thus, Adam and Eve, as sojourners in the Lone and Dreary world began a multi-generational quest to reconnect to Heaven. 

Moses 5:4 “And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.
 5 And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
 6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
 7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
 8 Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.” (emphasis added)

What do I learn from Adam and Eve on reconnecting with Heaven?

1.       Adam and Eve called on the name of the Lord
2.       The first connection to Heaven is that they heard his voice
3.       At this time they did not see Him because they were still shut out from His presence
4.       God gave them commandments regarding how to worship God and in what manner to offer sacrifices
5.       Adam was obedient to the commandments from the Lord even though he did not know or understand why he was asked by the Lord to do them
6.       After many days (generations) an Angel from the Lord appears to Adam testing him and then commanding Adam to repent and call on God in the name of the Son forever.

After this experience Adam and Eve “blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters…And… ceased not to call upon God...And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost... And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached, and a decree sent forth, that it should be in the world, until the end thereof; and thus it was. Amen.”

In my desire to connect with Heaven and to enter back into the presence of the Lord I must follow the same pattern established by our earliest parents. As I call upon the name of the Lord, as I repent, as I hear His voice and am obedient to the commands He gives to me He will send His holy angels and He will teach me by His own voice and by the gift of the Holy Ghost all things necessary for me to enter back into His presence.   God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Praise be the name of the Lord.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Baptism, Rebaptism and the Doctrine of Christ

Baptism, rebaptism and the Doctrine of Christ

I was baptized at the age of 8 years old.  I don’t remember the actual ordinance, nor the blessing afterward where I was confirmed a member of the LDS Church and instructed to receive the Holy Ghost.  But, I do remember my aunt, who was the Primary President, giving me a gift, a 5x7 framed postcard picture of the Salt Lake Temple.  I remember feeling that it was a magical day.

Confession….after my baptism at 8 it was impossible to stay perfect.  I tried my utmost to do so, to the point I gave myself an ulcer at the tender age of 12.  I was a pretty obedient child and my sins were not evil or malignant, rather more common place and boring.  But, I did have sin, nonetheless which I knew I was in need of repentance.  In the LDS Church we are taught that taking the sacrament weekly “cleansed” us again and renewed our baptismal covenants. Even though we are taught that, I never felt that it was true.  I could not connect sacrament with being cleansed by the waters of baptism.  Over the years as I have attended convert baptisms I would find myself being jealous and wishing that I had not been baptized until I was older and cold be washed clean again.  At one such baptism I remember feeling that I should be grateful for my baptism at 8 as it had helped me to grow up with a small measure of the Holy Spirit which had kept me out of more serious sin and sorrow, yet I still longed for baptism.

A few years ago my husband and I began purchasing the books being produced by the Joseph Smith Papers project.  While studying those books we stumbled on some church history that we had previously been unaware of: rebaptism in the early days of the Church.  Historically, many members were rebaptized as an act of rededication and repentance. This was first practiced in Nauvoo and was continued in the Utah Territory. On some occasions, the Saints were rebaptized as they prepared for marriage or entrance into the temple. Early members were also rebaptized for their health, to cure some of the sick among them.  Practices of rebaptism were discontinued in 1897.

My husband and I had decided years ago that whenever the members of the Church lose a privilege or practice it is never a good thing.  We began studying the scriptures to see if there was any scriptural basis for rebaptism. What we discovered was that not only is there scriptural basis, but that it is an essential part of repentance.  In a nutshell, you cannot fully repent of anything without being baptized by immersion.  This is what is known in the scriptures as the Doctrine of Christ.

I want to speak to you about the doctrine of Christ and to sound a voice of warning and a voice of repentance.  I have been quiet for too long, more worried about losing the love and respect that some may still have for me instead of crying repentance.  Following the Savior has been a very difficult journey these past few years, I have lost much and I have suffered much and it has caused my natural shy tendencies to become more so.  I have pulled away from life and sheltered my battered soul. In some ways I have been acting as one ashamed of Christ.  I am trying to reverse that.  I have prayed and attempted several times to speak with others in this effort, but many have turned a blind eye or deaf ears to me, some with fear and others with pride. The time is now at hand to give you warning, for those who have been warned are required to warn their neighbors.

The Doctrine of Christ is simple, it is free and it is available to everyone.  Christ declared His Doctrine in 3 Nephi 11:32-40.  It came from His Father and is a commandment unto the entire world:
32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
 33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
 34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
 35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
 36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.
 37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
 38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
 39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
 40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
41 Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.

If a person believes the Doctrine of Christ, then they are required to be baptized and to then declare Christ’s Doctrine to others. If you believe the Doctrine of Christ, you are required to be baptized and then declare Christ’s Doctrine to others.

I believe in the Doctrine of Christ. After serious study of scriptures and serious prayer, I began to realize that what Christ offers us is a gift to be used whenever we feel the need to repent because He loves us!  Repentance means no more and no less than turning to face Christ. Some may argue Exodus 4:5 which states, “One Lord, One Faith, one Baptism”.  This scripture is true: One Lord…means quite literally that Christ is our Lord and that we have no other Lord.  One Faith…only our faith in Christ will save us.  And one baptism…there is only one mode or manner of baptism that Christ recognizes.  One baptism does not mean a one and done baptism.  It means that whenever we repent and are baptized to show fruit of that repentance it is to be done in the exact manner the Lord revealed in 3rd Nephi 11.
After the scriptures were opened to me by the Holy Spirit I knew I had never been baptized unto repentance.  Therefore, I asked my husband to pray for authority from God and to baptize me according to the manner Christ taught the people in 3rd Nephi 11, using the words Christ commanded us to use (3rd Nephi 11: 24-25: And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.), by one having authority from God, not man.  

I have been baptized in living water, in this manner.  Christ has declared today that the only way to be numbered as His, to find shelter from the coming storm is to repent and be baptized.   This is the sign He asks to demonstrate faith in Him.  Faith requires action or it dwindles away and is lost.  The importance to the Lord that we act on His Doctrine cannot be overstated.  Repentance and baptism are directly related to salvation and cannot be left undone.

 At this point you may be thinking that you have been baptized and therefore you are safe.  Unfortunately, the baptism that any church offers today does not fulfill this commandment of the Lord and will not have the power to save from the coming destruction.  Most religions have added to or taken away from the Doctrine of Christ. If you are LDS there are reasons your baptism at 8 years of age, or your convert baptism, does not have the power to save:

1.  The LDS Church has added to and taken away from the Doctrine of Christ mainly by giving a list of items that one needs to commit to or refrain from in order to be baptized; it does not follow the Doctrine of Christ which simply states that one must repent and be baptized in His name. That’s it!

 2. Baptism at 8 years of age fulfills the law found in Doctrine and Covenants 68:25, but does not fulfill baptism unto repentance.

3. Baptism was never meant to be a “one and done” type of baptism.  The scripture “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism” refers to the mode and manner of baptism, not the number of times. Baptism is the fruits of repentance and is offered freely, by the Lord, whenever we feel a desire to turn from anything that is keeping us from the Lord and face Him.  Baptism is inexorably linked to repentance.  One cannot have repentance without baptism by immersion:

2 Nephi 31:13
13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.

2 Nephi 31:14
14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.

2 Nephi 31:17
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

Moroni 6:1
1 And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it. (This scripture also helps understand that baptism is meant to be done as often as you feel the need to repent, elders, priests and teachers would have previously been baptized before receiving a call to be elders, priests and teachers)

Moroni 6:4
4 And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.

Moroni 8:10
10 Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.

Moroni 8:25
25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;

Doctrine and Covenants 19:31
31 And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.

Doctrine and Covenants 33:11
11 Yea, repent and be baptized, every one of you, for a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.

Doctrine and Covenants 39:6
6 And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom.

Doctrine and Covenants 107:20
20 The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.

When Christ appeared unto the people of the Book of Mormon in 3rd Nephi the first thing he taught them was the mode and manner of baptism, even though these people had been spared the destruction precisely because they had been baptized as seen in 3rd Nephi 7:24 “there were none who were brought unto repentance who were not baptized with water”; that is how important baptism is to Christ! 

If we want to repent and be baptized in order to open the gate unto salvation, we must be baptized in the manner Christ revealed in 3 Nephi 11.  We cannot afford to deviate any longer.  The end of the gentiles has come.  The land we live upon is a covenantal land and if the gentiles living upon it fail to repent and turn to Christ destruction will come.  This is the entire message of the Book of Mormon! Repent and be baptized and serve God and God alone.

As the people in the Book of Mormon became more wicked, as the time for Christ’s 1st coming drew near, Nephi and other men preached baptism and repentance in earnest:
3 Nephi 7:
24 Now I would have you to remember also, that there were none who were brought unto repentance who were not baptized with water.
 25 Therefore, there were ordained of Nephi, men unto this ministry, that all such as should come unto them should be baptized with water, and this as a witness and a testimony before God, and unto the people, that they had repented and received a remission of their sins.
 26 And there were many in the commencement of this year that were baptized unto repentance; and thus the more part of the year did pass away.

In 3 Nephi 8 the destruction comes, destruction so terrible that the entire face of the land was changed.  The people were left in darkness for 3 days and nights.  Many of the people were destroyed. Those who were spared the destruction heard a voice coming from heaven declaring Christ’s divinity and inviting men to come unto Him and be Saved.

In 3rd Nephi 10 we learn that it was the more righteous part of the people who had been spared the destruction.  What qualifies a person as “more righteous”? REPENTANCE!  If this qualification was good enough to spare the people of the Book of Mormon is it good enough to spare us the coming destruction?  YES!

It is no more and no less than Jesus Christ, himself.  Christ is the rock that will shelter us from the coming destruction.  To begin to be numbered as His, we all need to repent, turn and face Christ and be baptized as a little child.

This mode of baptism is not becoming part of a new institution, nor does it demand that you leave whatever institution you currently are a member of.  It simply means that you accept nothing more and nothing less than the Doctrine of Christ. That you desire to repent from everything and anything that is keeping you from Him.  That you desire to repent of those things and turn and face Christ.

I testify that the Savior is real.  He has visited me.  He is teaching me and slowly I am beginning to understand Him and His strange acts.  The greatest commandment is to Love God with all your heart, and the second is like unto it, to love your neighbor as yourself.   We live in a time when men’s hearts have grown cold.  The prophecies in scripture are being fulfilled.  It is a great time and an awful time.  Persecution and suffering abound for those who love the Lord. Come unto Him and be baptized.

I know that you are probably filled with more questions than this post answers. If you are interested in this baptism that Christ offers I found a website that links you to people authorized by Christ to perform it.  My heart is being filled with Christ and his love for all of his children; what I have done and am trying to continue to do is to repent, to serve Him and Him alone.  The Savior is the only means whereby man can be saved.  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Only You Can Excommunicate Yourself from Me

A few years ago I had the honor and privilege of becoming a “daughter” to my elderly widowed neighbor.  We’ll call him Carlos to help protect the identity of his living family members.  As of the writing of this post Carlos has passed away and my husband and I miss him.
Carlos was born into an LDS family and was raised in the LDS (Mormon) church.  I don’t know how “active” he was or if he had ever studied the gospel, read the scriptures or pondered much about God in his youth.  What I do know is that in his 40’s he was married with several children when he met a beautiful neighbor who was younger than him, had children and was in an abusive marriage.  As Carlos helped this woman he fell in love with her and an affair began.  I don’t know if it was an emotional affair or if it turned physical, I never asked.  One day the woman’s life was in danger from her abusive spouse and she asked Carlos to help her escape.  He did and in the process of helping her he lost everything dear to him: his children and his membership in the LDS Church.

Carlos became very bitter towards the LDS church.  He felt that he was abused by his priesthood leadership. He felt that his excommunication was unjust and unloving.  When he moved into our neighborhood a few years ago no one knew he had been LDS. The bishop went to meet his family and the door was essentially slammed in the bishop’s face.

Eventually Carlos’ wife passed away and on her death bed she asked Carlos to please consider being rebaptized into the LDS church.  A few months after her passing, my husband was prompted at work, several times, that we needed to go and meet our neighbor that evening.  It was Christmas time so we took Carlos a plastic candy cane full of chocolate and knocked on his door.  We first offered our condolences on the passing of his wife.  We then extended our friendship.  Just as we were getting ready to leave, my husband felt impressed to mention that we were also members of the local LDS ward.  Carlos grabbed my husband and said, “Get in here, I need to talk to you!”

That first meeting began an eternal friendship.  We loved going to Carlos’ home, sitting in his front room and talking with him about God and Jesus Christ.  Carlos was rebaptized a few months after our initial meeting.  The day of his baptism he heard Christ’s voice declare, “Carlos, there are many men and many churches that can excommunicate you, but only you can excommunicate yourself from me!”