Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gratitude and Encouragement

Behold, will ye reject these words? Will ye reject the words of the prophets? And will ye reject all the words which have been spoken concerning Christ, after so many have spoken concerning him, and deny the good word of Christ, and the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and quench the Holy Spirit, and make a mock of the great plan of redemption which hath been laid for you? Know ye not that if ye will do these things, that the power of the redemption and the resurrection which is in Christ will bring you to stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God? 
—Jacob 4:1 RE

On this day of Thanksgiving, we find ourselves filled with gratitude beyond measure. How is it possible that we’re even alive to witness such days as these—prophesied and anticipated for thousands of years, and now happening before us, and to us? 

All that remains is for us, as His people, to adopt this statement by mutual agreement as our guide and standard. After so many months of so much hard work, and heartache, by so many, we are finally to the point of having an accepted document! What a happy day this is!

We realize some still have broken hearts. We know, and love, people who do not approve of the process used to create this document. We recognize some of our brothers and sisters yet prefer some other statement or statements. We have even seen ultimatums advanced by those who will refuse to accept anything other than their preferred document, no matter what.

In the spirit of love, unity, and humility, we hope to persuade all our brothers and sisters to consider agreeing with the adoption of the Guide and Standard written by the seven chosen by lots. We believe there are good reasons to do so, and that doing so will please the Lord. Here is some of our thinking.

  • The Guide and Standard statement is true. We find nothing false or misleading in it whatsoever. Having looked at numerous statements, this is honestly the first one we’ve read that didn’t give us any cause, at any point, for concern about the accuracy of the information presented.
  • The statement consists 100% of the Lord’s words, spoken by prophets, both ancient and modern. 
  • The Lord Himself has spoken and claimed the words as His own. Therefore, rejecting these words is, in the end, rejecting Him. We hope to persuade any who feel to reject these words that they ought to reconsider. 
  • The Lord didn’t say we had to approve of the process by which the document came about, or the people who did the work. It’s probably safe to say every covenant holder would have preferred a different process and a more direct route. But the condition of our hearts required a lengthy period of struggle before some of us would be willing to humble ourselves. Some still are not willing, though we’re delighted to see that number shrinking daily.

Now, having covered these few, general notions about the Guide and Standard, we’d like to address a couple of specific ideas that are still causing disagreement.


Some have expressed concern about including words written by men, or specifically by Denver Snuffer. They’ve suggested that the inclusion of such words constitutes idolatry and makes Denver a strongman. 

But we believe such a view demonstrates an incorrect understanding of both idolatry and the actual definition of a strongman.

Every word of scripture, and frankly every written word of Jesus Christ, came through a mortal. Every word we accept as coming from Christ is, in the end, the word of a man. We certainly do not idolize Alma, Matthew, Abraham, Paul or Enos by quoting the words of Christ they recorded. Why should it be different when it comes to the words of a witness who is still in mortality? 

Did the Lord make any distinction regarding His words recorded anciently versus those recorded recently?

It seems that He lumped together ALL His words when he spoke the following:
What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself. And though the heaven and the Earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants it is the same. For behold and lo, the Lord is God and the Spirit bears Record, and the Record is true, and the Truth abides for ever and ever. Amen.  (D&C 53:7 RE)
All who accepted the covenant accepted the following statement:
Do you believe all the words of the Lord which have been read to you this day, and know them to be true and from the Lord Jesus Christ who has condescended to provide them to you?
If you said Yes, think about the implications. Every one of those words came through Denver Snuffer. And yet you covenanted to accept them as the Lord’s own words. Was that an act of idolatry toward Denver Snuffer? It is not logically consistent to claim those words from Denver are not only Christ’s words, but also scripture received by covenant, but then turn and claim we must not include other words of Christ, delivered through Denver, in the Guide and Standard. If you accepted the covenant, you accepted Denver as a suitable vehicle to deliver Christ’s words. 

This does not mean anyone worships, idolizes, or looks to Denver Snuffer as a strongman. (Nor could they, since he refuses to accept the role of a strongman.) But it does mean we, as covenant holders, accept Christ’s words, as delivered by one Christ sent.

This requirement is found throughout scripture. For example:
Behold I say unto you that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord, I say unto you that all those who have hearkened unto their words and believed that the Lord would redeem his people and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you that these are his seed; or they are heirs of the kingdom of God. For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now are they not his seed? Yea, and are not the prophets, every one that has opened his mouth to prophesy that has not fallen into transgressions — I mean all the holy prophets ever since the world began — I say unto you that they are his seed. And these are they who have published peace, who have brought good tidings of good, who have published salvation, and said unto Zion, Thy God reigneth. (Mosiah 8:7 RE)
Rejecting living messengers in favor of dead ones is nothing new. The Jews did it to both John and Jesus. The Christians did it to Joseph Smith. The Lord even addressed this rejection in a revelation to Joseph and Oliver:
Verily, verily I say unto you, If they reject my words and this part of my gospel and ministry, blessed are ye, for they can do no more unto you than unto me; and if they do unto you even as they have done unto me, blessed are ye, for you shall dwell with me in glory. But if they reject not my words which shall be established by the testimony which shall be given, blessed are they, and then shall ye have joy in the fruit of your labors. (JSH, April, 1829:7)
Fortunately, we have the Book of Mormon to inform us of a better way:
And again my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children. And I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption. (Alma 9:9 RE)
When a priest of the Holy Order is sent to teach, it is ALWAYS for the purpose of pointing to Christ. Accepting the words of such a priest is not only required, but actually VITAL to salvation. 

When the angel visited Joseph Smith in his bedroom, “He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty-third verses, precisely as they stand in our New Testament. He said that that prophet was Christ, but the day had not yet come when They who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people, but soon would come. (JSH Sept 1823:4)

That didn’t mean Christ would come here to speak again; rather it meant in a day “soon to come” Christ’s voice would be heard again, spoken by a messenger He sent. That day is now upon us. If you refuse to hear Christ’s words spoken by one He sent, you will be cut off from among the people. (And please don’t shoot the messengers; we’re only quoting scripture. If you have issue with this statement, take it up with Nephi, Luke and Moses. Better yet, take it up with the Lord.) 

Denver taught this concept as well. Because one sent by Christ is among us, the kingdom of God is among us: 
In the talk given about Priesthood in Orem I read a quote from Joseph Smith about what is needed for the kingdom of God. Joseph said, "Whenever men can find out the will of God and find an administrator legally authorized from God, there is the kingdom of God; but where these are not, the kingdom of God is not.” If you can find anyone sent by God, there is the kingdom of God. It was good doctrine when Joseph declared it. It is good doctrine when Abinadi declared it in the Book of Mosiah. It is still good doctrine when I declare it. 
Any of you who will hear, and then hearken to their words will become His seed. Someone must be sent. Then you must hear it. Even then it does you no good if you will not hearken to it by acting in faith. It is by harkening you obtain faith, and faith permits you to meet God. You will find redemption, you will hear His voice, and you will become a holy vessel because His word will reside in you. (Lecture 7, p. 66)

I recognize that I am not the best messenger. I wish I had the voice of an archangel. I wish I could do something to soften the hearts of you all. Some of you will never respond to the Lord because you cannot overcome your preoccupation with me. That saddens me and I regret that deeply. But that is your choice, and you can choose differently. (Lecture 7, p. 74) 

Woe unto all those who say, If you really are who you say you are, when the voice of God is sounding in their ears. They would have rejected the Lord as well. They would have crucified the Lord as well. They are not His sheep because they do not hear His voice. If they were His sheep they would hear His voice. If we are required to develop the attributes of Christ, how is it possible for us to do so, unless God patiently tries to persuade us to voluntarily be like Him? How can you hope to be like Him, if you refuse to be persuaded? 
God came as one of the weak things of this world. The only way He is ever going to invite you is through one of the weak things of this world, speaking in weakness, asking you to be persuaded. It doesn't matter how earnest I am, I know my standing before God. What matters is your willingness to be persuaded. Over that I have no control, and want no control. I simply put the case as the Lord has put it to me, in the hopes that what He has to offer, and what He says need to be said will get through to you. Your relationship and your accountability is not to me, it's to Him. Therefore, be persuaded. Please, for your own sake, be persuaded. (Lecture 8, p. 33)

As Joseph put it: “His word will go forth, in these last days, in purity; for if Zion will not purify herself, so as to be approved in all things, in His sight, He will seek another people; for His work will go on until Israel is gathered, and they who will not hear His voice, must expect to feel His wrath.” (TPJS, p. 18)

Copy and Paste

Some have criticized this statement because it consists exclusively of direct quotes, copied and pasted from elsewhere. This is a valid point and ought to be considered. 

When you think about it, such an approach is not ideal. Obviously, getting such a collection of pull quotes to flow properly and read well is nearly impossible. Certainly a polished, well-worded essay would be more pleasing to read. 

But on the other hand, with so much contention about WHO would do the writing, rather than the content, it became, literally, impossible for anyone to write a statement and get it accepted. The pride, jealousy and hard hearts among us ruined the possibility that someone could write a beautiful essay and get it accepted by the body.

Given such a difficult situation, the cut-and-paste solution is nothing short of brilliant. By using the direct words of Christ, acknowledged by Him as His own, the seven have all but eliminated any possibility of anyone arguing against the actual words themselves. Yes, the document could flow more smoothly; but it couldn’t be better sourced or more true. The Lord admonished us to be wise in word. These words are the His, and therefore the wisest words of all.

And by pulling relevant quotes from other sources, the document provides ready access, as well as reference, to vital issues, most important for all Christ’s followers to understand. Yes, we could expect new converts to search through thousands of unfamiliar pages seeking these things themselves. But providing this direction is a helpful kindness. The Lord commanded us to be kind in deed, and this document fulfills that commandment. 

The Issue of Lots

We’ll be honest: we would have preferred another method of selecting who would prepare the statement. If all our hearts had been more humble, perhaps we could have accepted the efforts of someone who stepped forward with a commission from the Lord to complete the labor. Perhaps we all could have focused on the message and not the messenger. Perhaps we could have put away jealousy, jarrings, and contentions from among us. 

But the fact is so many chose to contend, rather than unify. In such a situation, choosing by lot is a scripturally sanctioned option for breaking a deadlock and removing emphasis from WHO does the writing. And in this case, the results of the lots were not only remarkable because of their improbability, but also have proven to be inspired by the Lord, who led the chosen group to success and approval.

Ideally, we will all grow spiritually to the point that we won’t need to draw lots in the future to break an impasse. But for now, at least, the method was successful. We ought to thank God. 


As we each consider whether we can personally accept the document as the guide and a standard of our faith, we just want to offer a few reminders: 

  • Remember, this has nothing to do with whether you would prefer another document, different content, or a better-written statement. It only has to do with the document in front of us.
  • Likewise, it has nothing to do with what went on before in this effort. Some may still have hurt feelings, or may still prefer another approach. But those are other issues and have no bearing on the document before us. 
  • As you read through the Guide and Standard, is there anything there you cannot agree to live by? In fact, is there anything there you have not already agreed to live by? Aren’t ALL these principles already contained in the covenant?
  • Is there anything there that is untrue, or that will lead someone away from Jesus Christ? 
  • And if these are Christ’s words, both claimed and approved by Him, can you safely reject them? Will your logic hold up at the bar of God when you confront the Lord who mercifully, kindly condescended to offer you membership in His household, only to be rejected because you did not value His words, or did not like the one he sent?
  • If these are Christ’s words, rejecting them is a supreme act of ingratitude. On this day of all days, don’t we all hope to demonstrate our gratitude to our Lord?

We believe these are the words of Christ. We believe He has approved them. We have heard His voice, both in the document, and in His words of approval. We plead with all our covenant brothers and sisters to accept this effort and adopt it by mutual agreement. 

In closing, we express our gratitude and thanksgiving to our Lord, who has provided the means for all of us broken, but newly grafted, people, to yet accomplish the works he has asked of us. We rejoice that He speaks! We receive His words with gladness, and pray that they will take root deeply in our hearts. We pray the grafts will take nourishment from the roots, and yet bear much fruit.

With love and gratitude to all,

Adrian and Tausha Larsen

And if ye shall believe in Christ, ye will believe in these words for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me, and they teach all men that they should do good. And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye, for Christ will show unto you with power and great glory that they are his words at the last day. And you and I shall stand face to face before his bar and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness. And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day. 

—2 Nephi 15:2 RE