Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Driving Test

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed through faith on his name; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
—Romans 1:2 RE

As I’ve considered the various discussions swirling around the Guide and Standard prepared by the seven chosen by lots, I’ve learned much, and considered things I hadn’t before. I truly appreciate the discussions taking place and the points being presented. I would like to address a couple of thoughts the Lord’s spirit has pressed upon my mind and heart as I’ve pondered and prayed about these things, particularly in light of the current vote taking place.

First, I think it’s important—no, it’s critical—to understand what the Guide and Standard is, and what it is not. Let’s start with what it IS.

The G&S is a statement of universal principles and truths required of ALL who would follow Jesus Christ. It covers the doctrine of Christ, which is mandatory for salvation, including faith, repentance and baptism. It teaches of the Holy Ghost, which leads into all truth. It lays out the correct performance of ordinances, which must not be changed. It describes how to obtain priesthood authority to perform these mandatory ordinances. It teaches the Lord’s requirement to care for the poor and seek Zion.

These things are not optional. If you would be saved, you MUST subscribe to, and do, these very things. Therefore, I view the G&S as a how-to manual, for those interested in following Jesus Christ.

OK, fair enough?

Now, let’s talk about what it is NOT.

The G&S is not a missionary tract. Its purpose is NOT to introduce people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is most decidedly NOT the first thing you would hand someone when introducing them to the gospel.

Remember, the word “gospel” literally means “good news.” The good news is that Jesus Christ offers salvation and escape from this fallen world of darkness. He offers forgiveness and redemption to all who will come unto Him. He offers eternal glory in His kingdom, and membership in His family to all who are willing. He provides the path and the means to become what He is. That’s the good news. That’s the Gospel. 

And that’s NOT what the G&S teaches—because it’s not supposed to. Like I said, it’s a how-to manual, not a missionary tract.

So, suppose someone becomes interested in following Jesus Christ. Suppose they believe and accept His promises when they hear them preached, and want to know how to get started. Well, THEN the G&S becomes applicable. Because, after all, they “know nothing, as yet, of [His] work now underway, and therefore the guide and standard is to bless, benefit and inform them.” It doesn’t say they know nothing of His gospel; rather it has to do with the requirements of the work now underway. They must know something of the gospel first, before they will ever be interested in participating in the work now underway.

Rules of the Road

I compare it to learning to drive.

Think about it—why does anyone want a driver’s license? Is it because they’re excited to merge? Interested in school zones? Delighted with the idea of stop signs?

No. That’s not it. Heck, I don’t even like speed limits.

No, people seek a driver’s license because it represents freedom, escape, and power. It gives one the right to operate a motor vehicle on public roads, which provides all sorts of benefits and blessings. And that’s what we all really want, after all.

So, once someone has decided to seek a driver’s license, the next step is the “how to” stuff. They get a driver’s manual and study the laws, rules, and requirements to obtain a license. They learn how to go about this “driving” business. The driver’s manual serves as a guide and teaches the standard that is required of all drivers. It shows the way to properly and safely receive all the benefits of driving.

Ultimately, they will be tested to see if they understand and obey the laws and principles of proper driving.

If someone had never experienced automobile travel, and was not interested in obtaining its benefits, would you introduce it to them by handing them a driver’s manual? No way! You might talk about the speed, convenience, comfort and safety of being able to cover large distances quickly and with little effort. You might give them a ride in your car so they can experience the benefits second hand, through you. Only when they decide they really want the benefits for themselves, will they become interested in learning the “how to” stuff and the rules of the road. And then they’ll need the manual, so they can learn the universal principles and laws that apply to all drivers, regardless of what kind of car they drive, or what color.

OK, so do you see where this is going?

We, as covenant holders, have been tasked with taking the gospel to Christ’s other sheep. As such, we will need to preach the gospel—the Good News of Jesus Christ. And if we are smart, we will preach it in meekness, humility, and wisdom, adapting our teaching to the culture, knowledge and traditions of our hearers, giving them the utmost respect. Obviously, this will require deep knowledge of, and respect for, each of the groups being approached.

And one size will NEVER fit all.

There is NO document that can be prepared as an introduction to the Gospel for all the varied cultures and nations where remnant sheep are located. Each will have to be approached individually, uniquely, and respectfully. Should any become convinced and converted to Jesus Christ, only then will the G&S become necessary or appropriate. At that point, it will show them the basic, universal steps ALL must take to follow Jesus Christ, regardless of culture or tradition. And at that point, such a guide will be welcome and gladly received.

Therefore, to those who feel this G&S is not a suitable missionary tool to other cultures—I agree with you! Couldn’t agree more, in fact. I don’t believe this is, or was ever meant to be, anyone’s first introduction to the miracles and marvels of Christ’s Gospel. Those who are called to teach and write will have to tackle the further responsibilities of teaching the Good News to all the various remnants, using the most suitable approach for each audience, much like Paul—who became as a Jew to gain the Jews, and became as the weak to gain the weak, and became all things to all men that by all means he might save some. (1 Corinthians 3:7 RE)


Now, as we all ponder and pray about voting this week, I’d like to share a few thoughts about that, as well. And again, I want to focus on what this document IS and ISN’T.

What it IS—is a statement of the universal laws and principles required of all who would follow Jesus Christ. Everything in the statement can be traced back to the covenant we have agreed to. It is a restatement of the things with which we already agree. And it ought to be considered as such.

What it IS NOT is a referendum on who is important, who is not, who gets to write, who doesn’t, how they’re chosen,  other documents previously written, prior votes, prior authors, or anything about winning and losing.

Though we all are tempted to look at this document through the lenses of fear, heartbreak, envy, or even ultimatum, those are not the terms upon which it is offered. It stands alone, independent of whatever has gone on before (though it does rely heavily on the principles espoused and explained in prior documents.) We all ought to consider the document by itself, on its own merits, as it relates to the Lord’s requirements, and independent of ANY other consideration.

Read through the Guide and Standard. Is there anything written there with which you disagree? Is there anything there you have not already covenanted to do, live, and obey? If so, what is it?

Do you disagree with the Doctrine of Christ? Baptism? Caring for the poor? The Sermon on the Mount? Priesthood requirements? Marriage between one man and one woman? Seeking Zion?

Obviously, put in those terms, we all agree. We already have. By agreeing to the covenant, including its requirement to guide our lives by scripture, we have already agreed to these things.

So why do we yet disagree?

What I have to say next may not be comfortable. Please understand these thoughts are offered reluctantly, in humility, and only because the Lord has tasked me with speaking truth, which, sadly, is often uncomfortable. No offense is intended to anyone, so I pray you will not take offense at anything I say next. If something pricks your heart, please consider why it does, and whether there is validity to the point that bothers you. And let’s stay friends. Fair enough?

I find it compelling that this Guide and Standard is assembled entirely from direct quotes. Everything it expresses, it expresses in the Lord’s own words, given through His servants, and vouched for by Him. This follows Christ’s pattern—He who frequently taught from and quoted scripture, and continues to do so.

These are HIS words, and I believe the revelation in which He approved them. I know His voice, and it was our Lord who spoke. If you oppose these things that He has spoken and approved in the G&S, you are opposing the Lord’s words. There’s just no way to soften that truth.

Therefore, consider this:
  • If you oppose the Lord’s words, because you disagree with the process used to create the document, you are still opposing the Lord’s words.
  • If you oppose the Lord’s words, because you have issues with the people who conceived of the process or participated in the writing, you are still opposing the Lord’s words.
  • If you oppose the Lord’s words, because you believe false rumors about secret meetings involving those you envy, you are still opposing the Lord’s words. 
  • If you oppose the Lord’s words, because you couldn’t persuade others to agree with your idea or proposal, you are still opposing the Lord’s words.
  • If you oppose the Lord’s words, because you prefer a worthy prior effort or a different document, you are still opposing the Lord’s words.
  • If you oppose the Lord’s words, because you believe the Lord’s universal commandments, expressed in His own words, are culturally insensitive, or even offensive, you are still opposing the Lord’s words—of which we must not be ashamed.
  • If you oppose the Lord’s words, because they lack polish and skilled writing, you are still opposing the Lord’s words.
  • If you oppose the Lord’s words, because you believe your own idea is the only correct approach, and that any and every other approach is automatically wrong, you are still opposing the Lord’s words.
  • And finally, if you oppose the Lord’s words, because you object to quoting the Lord’s servants when they speak His words, you are still opposing the Lord’s words. (And I covered the validity of quoting the Lord’s servants in my prior blog post. If you accepted the covenant, you accepted the servant who delivered it.)
Therefore, as you consider how to vote, I would urge you to consider ONLY what is written in the document, laying aside history, hurt feelings, and personal preferences. These are the words of Jesus Christ. If you are inclined to reject them, please consider that decision, and your reasons, carefully.

I had no hand in writing this Guide and Standard, and have nothing to gain by promoting it, other than a clear conscience. I say this in love and concern for all my covenant brothers and sisters, and I say it in a desire “to assist all others who covenant to likewise accept this standard to govern their lives to keep the Lord’s will” as I am required to do. 

At the September conference, we heard the following words:
There will be more grafting and further pruning. As more is revealed and therefore more is required, some will find the “digging” and “dunging” too much to bear and will fall away; or in other words will be pruned despite the covenant.
Though the pruning must continue, I despair at the thought that any, having come this far and sacrificed this much, would jeopardize their relationship with Jesus Christ by rejecting His words.


Of course, neither I, nor any other mortal, can judge anyone’s heart. Your covenant and your standing, are strictly between you and the Lord. You accept or reject Him yourself, and no man has power to cast you out. But I do know He is a man of laws, that He sets standards, and that He can only guide us when we’re humble and repentant, soft hearted and willing to sacrifice, “relying wholly upon the merits of Him who is mighty to save.” In the end, Christ must dispense justice to all who will not receive His mercy:
Wherefore, the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God or to be cast out because of that justice of which I have spoken. Wherefore, the wicked are rejected from the righteous and also from that tree of life whose fruit is most precious and most desirable above all other fruits: yea, and it is the greatest of all the gifts of God. (1 Nephi 4:5 RE)
It’s my prayer that we can ALL, and yes, I mean all of us, recognize this Guide and Standard as an accurate representation of what the Lord requires of those who would follow Him, and that these principles cannot and will not change. I pray we can be of one heart in this thing, desiring only to receive and obey “commandments not a few.” I pray we can put an end to our disunity and unite in Christ’s doctrine and law.

Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion who have obeyed my gospel, for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the Earth and it shall bring forth in her strength. And they also shall be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few and with revelations in their time, they that are faithful and diligent before me. 
—D&C 71:1 RE