Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The End, Part 4: Opposition and Perdition

And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place, that I shall gather in from their long dispersion my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion...
—(3 Nephi 9:11 NC)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

In Part 3, we discussed the Father’s marvelous work and its application to our day. We concluded with the idea that it’s impossible to overstate the importance of this marvelous work. It is not merely “a” priority in the Lord’s plan; it is THE priority. This is why the restoration happened, this is why the Book of Mormon exists. This is the way God will keep his promises. 

We’ll continue now by taking a look at Mormon’s warning concerning the importance of this marvelous work. We’ll examine, with a few detours, 3 Nephi 13:7-8.
And now behold, I say unto you that when the Lord shall see fit in his wisdom that these sayings shall come unto the gentiles according to his word, 
Which sayings? The ones Mormon is putting together—conveniently named, The Book of Mormon! When THAT comes to the gentiles…
then ye may know that the covenant which the Father hath made with the children of Israel concerning their restoration to the lands of their inheritance is already beginning to be fulfilled. And ye may know that the words of the Lord which have been spoken by the holy prophets shall all be fulfilled.
The marvelous work, once started, will reach successful conclusion. The prophecies SHALL all be fulfilled. 
And ye need not say that the Lord delays his coming unto the children of Israel. 
You can’t make excuses for delaying, or assume the work is meant for some ill-defined time far in the future. The Lord gave the signs to look for; they are before us now. Therefore, the time is now.
And ye need not imagine in your hearts that the words which have been spoken are vain, for behold, the Lord will remember his covenant which he hath made unto his people of the house of Israel. 
The Lord, clearly, takes this VERY seriously. These words are not vain, and are certainly not to be trifled with. 
And when ye shall see these sayings coming forth among you, then ye need not any longer spurn at the doings of the Lord, for the sword of his justice is in his right hand. And behold, at that day, if ye shall spurn at his doings, he will cause it that it shall soon overtake you.
Spurn is an interesting word. It comes from the same Latin root as “spur” and literally means to kick. But its common figurative usage means to reject with disdain, or treat with contempt. (See Webster’s 1828 Dictionary entry, “spurn” for details.) Any who will reject or treat with contempt the Lord’s work will face the sword of his justice, which is already in his right hand, prepared to smite.
Woe unto him that spurneth at the doings of the Lord. Yea, woe unto him that shall deny the Christ and his works. Yea, woe unto him that shall deny the revelations of the Lord, and that shall say the Lord no longer worketh by revelation, or by prophecy, or by gifts, or by tongues, or by healings, or by the power of the holy ghost. 
Those who spurn at the Lord’s doings literally deny the Christ and his (marvelous) works. They who oppose or seek to interfere with the Lord’s plans are anti-Christ. They deny his revelations, gifts, and power to their detriment. Why would anyone do that?
Yea, and woe unto him that shall say at that day that there can be no miracle wrought by Jesus Christ, for to get gain; 
Ah, there’s the answer why. Some will spurn the Lord’s works and deny his coming miracle for one purpose. There’s something in it for them. They do it to get gain. 
for he that doeth this shall become like unto the son of perdition, for whom there was no mercy according to the words of Christ. 
I’m not sure how to even begin to convey the seriousness of what was just stated. “Perdition” is a word that means utter ruin or destruction. This is one of the names applied to Lucifer (T&C 69:6) because his path of open rebellion will lead him to utter, and permanent, destruction in the end. The Lord applied this name to Cain who consciously chose to follow Lucifer on that path (Genesis 3:8 OC). To become like unto the son of perdition quite literally makes you like a son of Lucifer. He becomes your father because you enlist to obey him. All are within Christ’s power to help, except the sons of Perdition (TSJ 9:20). Concerning them, the Lord said: 
I say it had been better for them to have never been born, for they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God with the Devil and his angels throughout all eternity, concerning whom I have said, There is no forgiveness for them in this world nor in the world to come, having denied the holy ghost after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, crucifying him unto themselves and putting him to an open shame. (T&C 69:7)
This is such an important concept that we must here take a detour to give a fuller explanation. Let’s head over to Mosiah:

And now I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved, I say unto you that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God. Therefore, he listeth to obey the evil spirit and becometh an enemy to all righteousness. Therefore the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples. Therefore, if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice doth awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire whose flames ascendeth up for ever and ever. And now I say unto you that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment. (Mosiah 1:11 NC emphasis mine)
Note that there is no possibility of mercy for those who remain in open rebellion against God. The sword of justice awaits because they are left without excuse. They knew better, but rebelled anyway. This is why Mormon compared them to sons of perdition. 

Unfortunately, there will always be those who understand God’s plan, yet choose to rebel and fight against it. The apostle Paul taught this would be the case before the return of Christ in glory: 
Let no man deceive you by any means, for there shall come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he, as God, sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (2 Thes. 1:4)
Now, let’s head back to 3 Nephi 13, where we were a moment ago. Mormon continues his thoughts about those who oppose the marvelous work by making an important connection. He specifically ties spurning the Lord’s work with how the gentiles treat the Jews : 
Yea, and ye need not any longer hiss, nor spurn, nor make game of the Jews, nor of any of the remnant of the house of Israel, for behold, the Lord remembereth his covenant unto them, and he will do unto them according to that which he hath sworn. Therefore, ye need not suppose that ye can turn the right hand of the Lord unto the left, that he may not execute judgment unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the house of Israel.
Well, you just can’t get more specific. The last-days marvelous work involves the Book of Mormon coming first to the gentiles. Some few of them will respond to its message and awaken to the duty they have to take it to the House of Israel. Others, sadly, will hiss (express contempt), spurn (reject with disdain) the work, and make game of the very people to whom the message is intended to go.

What does it mean to “make game of” a people? Games, then and now, are public diversions or contests exhibited as spectacles for the gratification and entertainment of the spectators. To make game of the Jews is to view them as a curiousity, a spectacle, a study, an interesting source of diversion. The Lord will execute judgment on any who would be so foolish as to consider lightly his work or his ancient covenant people. This is not entertainment; this is deadly serious. 

In summary, Mormon issues a dire warning to any who would delay, reject, oppose or deny the Lord’s work to get gain, particularly in conjunction with making a spectacle of the Lord’s covenant people, the Jews. In fact, this is THE MOST DIRE WARNING contained anywhere in the Book of Mormon, and perhaps in all of scripture. Becoming like unto a son of perdition is more serious than you or I can even comprehend. Yet the Lord couldn’t lay it out more clearly.

In Part 5, we’ll follow this idea through events and circumstances in our day.

For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men, a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other, either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds, unto their being brought down into captivity and also unto destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the Devil of which I have spoken.
—1 Nephi 13:26 NC

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