Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How Can You Tell if You've Got it Right?

It's human nature to believe we're right. We all act on our beliefs every day, and consider our actions to be aligned with our beliefs. It's unthinkable to consider otherwise.

Yet, when it comes to understanding God and seeking redemption, if we get it wrong, we lose. And we often get it wrong.

Rare, indeed, is the man or woman who has a soft heart, a humble attitude, and is ready to seek truth at all costs. The opposite behavior, which is nearly universal, is to judge ALL new ideas against the ideas we already carry in our heads.

This is NOT how truth is found.

Christ suggested a better way. He said,

"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. 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." (3 Nephi 11:37-38)

To become "as a little child" means to forget what we THINK we know, and instead consider ourselves fools before Christ so he can teach us. It means to let go of our traditions and stop evaluating new truths against our old ideas. It means we don't put new wine into old bottles because the old bottles will shatter and spill the new wine. (Matthew 9:17)

Little children are new bottles. They ask questions. They are curious. They accept what they are taught, rather than attempting to correct the one teaching them. This is how we must become.

Adults nearly always do the opposite. We've got to stop that.

Jesus Christ wants us to seek truth and let go of untruth so we can correct our course. Since our salvation is on the line, he has given us very specific ways to tell if our belief system is correct so we can have faith.

He mercifully provided us a list of ways to know if our faith is, in fact, based on truth and therefore productive. He called them signs.

Here they are:

D&C 84:65-72
And these signs shall follow them that believe—In my name they shall do many wonderful works; In my name they shall cast out devils; In my name they shall heal the sick; In my name they shall open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf; And the tongue of the dumb shall speak; And if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them; And the poison of a serpent shall not have power to harm them.

Mark 16:17-18
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Mormon 9:24
And these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover;

Notice, these are not optional. The Lord uses the word "shall" not "might." Fruitful faith will produce these signs. Not that these signs are the focus of the faith--that's not it at all. Rather, proper faith in Jesus Christ will produce these signs as a byproduct.

Also, Christ specifically mentions these signs as applying to all those who are baptized and actually receive the Holy Ghost. These things are NOT just reserved for leaders, priesthood holders, positions of authority, or ancient days. They are for here and now. And they are not optional.

Therefore, if your religious practice and belief system is NOT producing these signs, then by definition, you do not yet have saving faith.

Now, I know there's a huge tendency to overlay our own experiences on the scriptures as follows: Sure, I hear stories about miracles and healings. A woman in our ward got a blessing before her cancer operation and it was a complete success. She wasn't supposed to live, and she did!

While I'm happy for the sister in your ward, this sort of thing also happens to those without faith. This is called "beating the odds." What about all those people who receive blessings and then die? That happens too.

No, the kind of miraculous things Jesus refers to are the sorts of things HE did. Giving the blind their sight. Causing the lame to walk RIGHT NOW, not after six months of therapy. Casting out devils and immediately freeing the sufferer from mental illness.

And even if we hear stories about these things happening, they only apply to the participants. Are they happening in YOUR life? They should be. Take a look at Mormon 9:11-27

Now, one more scripture to consider.

Moroni 7:35-38
35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?

 36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

 37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.

 38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.

Mormon has been very specific. Miracles and Angels are the signs of faith. If these things are not happening, it is because there is not faith.

Now I know your tradition will try to talk you out of believing what is written plain as day. But before you start coming up with justifications and explanations about how and why these things don't apply, please stop and read it again. Slowly. Carefully. Each word. Is there room for doubt? Mormon couldn't have been more clear.

Then ask yourself if you actually believe what the scriptures say, or if you're going to go with the excuses we make to each other, trying to explain away what the scriptures say. And please don't tell me angels and miracles are only for church leaders, unless you're prepared to show it to me in scripture.

Please don't argue against God's word. Let it work in you to soften your heart. Is it possible the scriptures really mean what they say, and we really lack faith? If we lack faith is salvation even possible? (Moroni 7:38)

In my next post we'll discuss the actual cause of this lack of faith, and what to do about it.

7 comments:

  1. Those are quite startling verses and I accept them. Here is my abridgment.

    If you do not have miracles(the real ones) in your life and angels aren't administering to you then you are in damned state and you will suffer for your own sins.

    I've got some work to do and some faith to acquire.

    Gary

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  2. http://youtu.be/kH1d9i6-9L8

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  3. Great post, I remember the first time I read Moroni 7:35-38. I was half way through my mission and had received mail from home. The blog was titled somthing like "where are the angels?" and I read and reread that short post that connected faith and miracles to angels ministering to YOU and without faith those things would not occur and all would be in vain. You make the same point here and those words that day were truly sobering and I began to cry out unto the Lord, begging and pleading for him to send me angels to declare unto me repentance so all would not be in vain. It was an agonizing week to say the least. Unfortunately, no angels, no fire, no remission of sins was granted unto me but I was able to have some piece of mind and as the refining fire within me was toned down a bit. From that moment for months I studied the angels and their interactions, function etc. in the book of mormon and found that it is full but full of their presence. It still amazes me to this day how I could have read the same passage a hundred times yet never think to consider adding myself to the text.

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  4. Interesting post, I just have a question, from what I was taught, miracles like healing require faith on both ends - the one giving the blessing and the one receiving. From the post it seems the only real faith required in this is on the giver part. Is the real faith required from the receiver also? And what about the will of God concerning who should be healed and who should not? Thank you :-)

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    1. Great questions. I have a couple of thoughts.

      First, absolutely, faith is required on the part of the recipient. It is key.

      Second, healing is not the only manifestation of faith (though it often gets the most attention.)

      And third, yes, the Lord's will matters, though I think we have WAY too much of a tendency to assume our lack of faith is really just God's will operating. We need to find out God's will first, then pronounce it.

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  5. Brother, I have an honest question about this post and it is related to Denver Snuffer. Please bear with me. Is there any evidence or experience you know of that confirms Denver has that true faith you mention ? I mean, has he spoken in tongues, healed the sick or done any other thing (besides the seeing of the Lord he claims he has had) ?
    Thank you.

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    1. Hi Marcio,

      Yes, I know of spiritual gifts Denver has demonstrated and spoken of both publicly and privately.

      But of course, it goes without saying that whether Denver Snuffer receives these gifts is completely beside the point. The question is whether you do, and whether I do, because salvation is always individual. I'm sure you're aware of this already, but I just wanted to post the reminder, lest any get sidetracked focusing on Denver Snuffer rather than the Lord.

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