Who shall abide the day?

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A question is asked by the Old Testament prophet Malachi:

…who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? (Malachi 3:2)

To abide means to remain. It means to endure without yielding. “The day of his coming” refers to the second coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ. So to paraphrase Malachi’s question:

Who will be able to endure without yielding until the Savior comes?

This is not an idle question. We live in the last days (as the name given to His church by Jesus Christ Himself indicates. See D&C 115). And one of the more unnerving signs that Jesus is close to returning is indicated in His Olivet discourse:

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:24)

Abiding the day will require not just faith, but an ability to discern between truth and error. Between what is of God, and what is of Satan. And Satan is the great counterfeiter which makes it possible for him to deceive even the very elect. He takes something that is true (but difficult or sensitive or complex), something that will take sincere seeking, and asking, and soul searching, and he exploits our very natural tendency to create a worst case scenario. He magnifies our doubts and expands our fears.

Let me illustrate with a famous experience related in John’s gospel. The day after Jesus performed the miracle where he fed the 5000 with a few loves and fishes, he was again surrounded by a multitude. He said it how it was:

Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled (John 6:26)

Then He proceeds to draw a very hard line:

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed…
I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst…
I am that bread of life.
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:27, 35, 48-51)

His message is clear to the Jews in His audience, “you must choose between Me and the Pharisees, between the Living bread and the bread of tradition.” The reaction of His audience was doubt:

Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? (John 6:42)

They even, ridiculously, ask for a sign. Clearly, they don’t want to wholly commit to Him. Some even try to cast doubt in others by making His words sound weird or crazy.

How can this man give us his flesh to eat? (John 6:52)

And Jesus offers no apology for the line He drew, nor does He feel to defend His words:

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
(John 6:53-58)

Many call these words “hard sayings” and Jesus even asks if this offends them. The result is that “many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. (Vs. 66)”

Jesus then asks His Apostles if they will also leave Him. Peter’s response is inspiring:

Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
(John 6:68-69)

Our choice today is equally clear. We have the Living Bread vs. the secular (politically correct, modern social agenda) bread. We have to choose. Some will shirk this choice and content themselves with making the words of Jesus Christ through His modern Apostles sound weird or crazy. They might chose to give church history or church policy the “worst case scenario” treatment to justify their decision. But the true disciples will honestly acknowledge that they don’t understand everything, but they “believe and are sure” that this is the church of Jesus Christ, and the words of life are found in His Apostles and prophets. And it is these who will abide the day of His coming.

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A funny thing happened on my backpacking trip

As many of you bloggers out there understand, you write something, you post it, and not much happens. Occasionally you write something that connects with a few people, but mostly you write and your aunt is supportive (you know who you are).

Imagine my surprise when I return from a backpacking trip with my varsity scouts (where I had absolutely no cell phone service) to find that the article that I posted Sunday night before I went to bed had been viewed over 100,000 times. 100,000.

Just for perspective, my previously highest ranking article had 600 views. 600. To say I’m overwhelmed by this is an understatement. I have yet to read the comments, (which as I observed at a glance, were many) and have many more to moderate. Can you sympathize with my poor wife who has been desperately trying to moderate the comments on a blog post she didn’t write?

So let me say this. I’m tired from all that hiking, and will be going to bed shortly. I plan on reviewing the many comments (remember, I’m not used to this) and will probably take a few down. I don’t write to start a fight. This isn’t that kind of blog. I do appreciate differing opinions, and will leave those comments up if they are civil and polite. I apologize if you are frustrated that your comment hasn’t been posted yet. I hope you understand…100,000.

By the way, a much better blog post was written on this same subject. You can find it here.

Why would the church of Jesus Christ excommunicate any of its members?

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Recent events in the past month have brought up some old feelings in the public opinion on Mormonism. Two high profile figures, Kate Kelly (the Ordain Women movement) and John Dehlin (Mormon stories website) are having church discipline administered to them and it’s making headlines. Since the so-called September Six there has not been such a high profile example of church discipline.

I read an article on Buzzfeed that declared the Mormon moment was now officially over. The article talks about how the church was having great successes in the PR department, finally showing how progressive and diverse we are. But now? “excommunicating thought leaders like Kelly and Dehlin will mean getting rid of some of the people who have made Mormonism interesting…Mormonism suddenly seems less cool and diverse…Both Kelly and Delhin told BuzzFeed Wednesday that the actions against them seem designed to send a message that questioning will not be tolerated by the church. ”

This all assumes, of course, that the objective of the church is to become popular in the eyes of the world. Why else would the church be trying so hard if we weren’t trying to fit in as a respectable world religion? The only problem is that no one at the head of the church has ever said that this is our goal. Not a prophet, not a scripture, not Jesus Christ. In fact, here’s what has been said:

“If you judge your actions and the standards of the Church on the basis of where the world is and where it’s going, you will find that you are not where you should be.” Elder Robert D Hales, April 2011

“The effect of God’s commandments and laws is not changed to accommodate popular behavior or desires.” Elder Dallin H Oaks, October 2009

“Unfortunately, messengers of divinely mandated commandments are often no more popular today than they were anciently, …As [the prophet Abinadi] said to King Noah: “Because I have told you the truth ye are angry with me. … Because I have spoken the word of God ye have judged me that I am mad” or, we might add, provincial, patriarchal, bigoted, unkind, narrow, outmoded, and elderly.” Elder Jeffrey R Holland, April 2014

In other words, we aren’t trying to be popular to the world, we are trying to help the Savior in His work to save the world. So why do we expend so many resources in the PR department? Well that’s simple, so we can help people come unto Christ by dispelling some of the false ideas they may have about members of His church. We are not interested, however, in portraying the false idea that sin is justified or that we accept the premises of the world that are out of harmony with the doctrine restored through prophets of God.

Which brings us to the topic at hand. What did Kate Kelly do that was worthy of Church discipline? (I’m not acquainted enough with John Dehlin to comment on his circumstance. I’m sure you could google him. The same principles might apply.) First of all I whole heartedly reject the notion being perpetuated by the media and on social networks that this means no one can ever ask questions. As a naturally inquisitive guy, I ask a lot of questions, especially along the lines Kelly has been proposing. In fact I’m at least grateful to her movement for helping me do that. We are commanded in the scriptures “to ask and he shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” So I couldn’t disagree more with this accusation that the church disciplines question askers. I dare say there isn’t an organization on Earth that is set up to invite the asking of questions as the restored church does.

So then what was it that got Kate Kelly disciplined? (The real answer is “I don’t know” since her local church leaders will keep confidences and we will only hear Kelly’s side of the story if we hear it all.) But there are a couple of scriptural principles that apply:

4 Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his [the prophets] words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
5 For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
6 For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.
D&C 21:4-6

35 That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.
D&C 88:35

28 Therefore I say unto you, that he that will not hear my voice, the same shall ye not receive into my church, for him I will not receive at the last day.
29 Therefore I say unto you, Go; and whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also.
32 Now I say unto you, Go; and whosoever will not repent of his sins the same shall not be numbered among my people; and this shall be observed from this time forward.
Mosiah 26:28-32

To summarize:

1. We are to accept the words of the prophets as if from God, and if we do the gates of Hell will not prevail against us.
2. Those who seek to become a law unto themselves cannot be sanctified by God’s law.
3. When a person refuses to follow prophetic counsel, the Lord authorizes His leaders to blot their names off the records of the church.

There is a difference between honestly asking questions and questioning the answers already being given. And many people are even allowed to remain in full membership when they do that. In my opinion, once the ordain women movement organized, they began to be a law unto themselves. Once they marched, they demonstrated they were at odds with prophets, (especially the second time when they were asked specifically not to), and when they started producing discussions, they were beginning a new religious organization. They are free to do all these things, of course, but not as members of this church. Any organization has the right to defend its borders, and when another organization seeks to come in and change fundamental things, especially when this organization arises from within, it has a right to declare that organization is not a part of them.

Those sympathetic to the ordain woman movement have a decision to make now. Many more questions are now being raised, and that’s ok. Ask questions, seek answers, and even question those answers if you want to. But if you start your own church within the church, don’t be surprised when the Lord doesn’t allow you dual citizenship.