And moreover, I say unto you that there shall be no other name given, nor any other way nor means, whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ the Lord Omnipotent.
—Mosiah 1:16, REThis series of posts is about scripture. You should know that from the start, but you should also know this series might not be what you expect. To truly understand, appreciate, and utilize scripture in the best way possible, we have to start by understanding how utterly unlikely and miraculous it is that such a thing as scripture even exists. Likewise, we must understand how much Satan would prefer that scripture not exist, and how extensive have been his efforts to accomplish its destruction.
The battle over scripture is the battle over the souls of men, and it has raged since the beginning. Only by studying the battle and its costs can we begin to appreciate the results.
How Great the Importance
Our scriptures contain many categories of information, including history, prophecy, preaching, narration, parables, explication, legal interpretation, military strategy, theophany, civics, revelation and more. All of it is good, useful and beneficial. Indeed, Paul informs us:
And all scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable — for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 1:9 RE)
But even with so much good and so many types of profitable information in scripture, there is yet one category of knowledge more important than them all. Lehi summarized it beautifully:
Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah, for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh and taketh it again by the power of the spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men, and they that believe in him shall be saved. (2 Nephi 1:6 RE)
How great the importance indeed! If we are not informed with reliable information about the Messiah, we cannot exercise faith in him unto life and salvation. As we learn in Lectures on Faith:
Let us here observe that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.
First, the idea that he actually exists.
Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.
Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive, but with this understanding it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Lecture 3:4 RE)
Each of the three items on the above list are absolutely necessary and must be properly understood and applied by anyone who hopes to receive salvation. Indeed, though we may have volumes of scripture filled with all sorts of information filling thousands of pages, it all becomes useless and unprofitable if a very small portion of it can be damaged, modified, removed, concealed, or otherwise obfuscated so as to prevent the required knowledge from coming to mankind. If scripture fails to faithfully convey correct information about Christ, it fails to be worth much in any eternal sense. Therefore, this specific information in scripture becomes the primary point of attack for that being who is the enemy of our souls.
In this blog series, we’ll examine the many strategies Lucifer has employed, and continues to employ, in his attempts to blind, deafen, darken, capture, and destroy the souls of men and women. Though much of what follows will be familiar, even obvious, perhaps we can reach a few new realizations as we consider specific patterns.
Likewise, we’ll also consider the steps God has taken to ensure mankind has correct teachings available to those who care to give heed to them. But first, we have to lay some groundwork.
Know your Enemy
On this journey, the first realization we need to achieve about the tactics of our adversary is that he has many ways to accomplish the same goal. One way is as good as the next, so long as the objective is met. In understanding one tactic, we must not make the mistake of assuming we comprehend them all. The war for souls is like any other war, with endless strategies, attack points, subterfuge and exploits available in pursuit of the same end.
The upshot for us is that we must seek more than a passing understanding of these things if we hope to guard against them. Given mankind’s tendency toward pride and unbelief, we must take special care to begin with this core-deep understanding: that we lack understanding. Our ignorance is not only our greatest handicap, but also our least recognized. The common human tendency is to assume we’re right, when in fact, we’re fools. Using an analogy to the game of chess, it’s like we overturn the board and throw the pieces at one another, and assume we’re playing chess—all while utterly unaware there is MUCH more to the game, and it may take years to master.
If we’re fortunate enough to recognize our ignorance, it must become a motivator to a diligent search for understanding. We’re all under attack, which means any thoughts of carnal security and trusting in our own understanding must be abandoned before any real learning can follow.
Lucifer has been at this a long time. Therefore, if we have any advantage, it is found in the history of scripture and the approaches he has employed in the past to destroy correct understanding.
So let’s start at the beginning.
Tactic One: Believe Not
And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters. And Satan came among them, saying, I am also a Son of God. And he commanded them, saying, Believe not. And they believed not, and loved Satan more than God. (Genesis 3:4b-5a RE)
Let’s examine this tactic. In the first generations, we find Adam and Eve, who have stood in the presence of God, teaching their sons and daughters regarding “good and evil” and “the joy of [their] redemption” while Satan tells their offspring to “believe not.” Satan also claims to be a “Son of God,” and the matter therefore becomes a question of opinion. Who is telling the truth? Adam and Eve or Satan? Satan offers an alternative explanation and path, and convinces many to not believe what Adam and Eve teach.
Eventually, both Seth and his son Enos choose to believe and call upon the name of the Lord. At this point the text tells us a “book of remembrance” became necessary:
And then began these men to call upon the name of the Lord, and the Lord blessed them. And a book of remembrance was kept, in which was recorded in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration. And by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled. Now this same Priesthood which was in the beginning shall be in the end of the world also (now this prophecy Adam spoke as he was moved upon by the holy ghost). (Genesis 3:14 RE)
I think a couple of points are worth noting. Despite Satan’s efforts, there were men who called upon the name of the Lord and were “blessed.” They were first-hand witnesses in the Holy Order, and they recorded true information in a book for future generations, which also became the means by which their children were taught to read and write. This was the beginning of scripture, and the means by which others could learn of the Messiah and exercise faith in him. This conveyance of correct information, which includes writing “by the spirit of inspiration” was referred to as “Priesthood” (capital “P”). We are informed that this Priesthood will be present in our generation. At a minimum, this Priesthood includes the testimony of those in the Holy Order and accurate written scriptural records.
Tactic Two: Destruction
To avoid turning this blog post into a book, we’ll have to speed things along a bit as we trace the route of the scripture that began in Eden. Here are a few waypoints to consider in this journey, while keeping in mind that what follows is my understanding of events, based on available evidence. I don’t take issue if you view events differently, but at least consider the following:
- The Book of Remembrance was kept and passed down through the generations: Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah and Shem all kept the record.
- The record ultimately made its way down family lines to the idolator Terah, father of Abraham, who in turn gave it to Abraham because he (Terah) had no use for it. Abraham read the record and desired to reconnect to the Holy Order (Abraham 1:1, 2:3). He therefore lived a life of righteousness, became God’s friend, received God’s covenant, sought out Shem (Melchizedek), and re-established the Holy Order.
- The record then passed from Abraham down to Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. When Joseph’s jealous brothers faked his death and sold him into slavery, they destroyed the birthright garment that had come from Eden (commonly called the “coat of many colors.”) They likely also destroyed the record.
- Satan thought that by destroying the Book of Remembrance, he could prevent the Holy Order from returning. With no accurate record to teach of the coming Messiah, he supposed the battle was his. And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that meddling kid, Joseph.
See, it turns out Joseph was a seer, who rose from slavery to prominence and power in short order. Having gained Pharaoh’s favor, and having steered Egypt successfully through the famine as Prime Minister, Joseph had the necessary wealth, power, and craftsmen at his disposal to re-create the destroyed record, potentially with the help of his father, Jacob. To make the record harder to destroy, this time it would be etched on metal plates. And thus we have the likely birth of the “Plates of Brass” later discussed in the Book of Mormon—a record, you’ll recall, kept by Joseph’s posterity, and written in Egyptian. After Joseph, other prophets contributed to the record as well, including Moses, so that by Book of Mormon times, the “Record of the Jews” contained a great deal of information:
And he beheld that they did contain the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world and also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents, and also a record of the Jews from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, and also the prophecies of the holy prophets from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, and also many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah. (1 Nephi 1:22 RE)
Of course, this record most definitely contained the most important information of all: a correct understanding concerning the Messiah who would come. We know this because the record contained “the prophecies of the holy prophets from the beginning” and Jacob informs us:
Behold, I say unto you that none of the prophets have written nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Messiah. (Jacob 5:2)
Indeed, he explains:
For, for this intent have we written these things: that they may know that we knew of Messiah, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming. And not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us. (Jacob 3:1 RE)
This brings Part 1 to a close, but first let’s summarize.
- The primary purpose of scripture is to teach the way of salvation through the Messiah
- Satan uses a variety of tactics to attack scripture and prevent this information from reaching those it may help
- The first scripture was called the “Book of Remembrance” and the keeping and conveying of the accurate record was referred to as “Priesthood.”
- The Book of Remembrance remained nearly 2500 years before it was likely destroyed by Joseph’s brothers.
- Satan’s plan to thwart the purposes of God by destroying the record failed when Joseph was able to restore the lost record in a more durable form. The truth about the Messiah remained.
We’ll pick it up there in Part 2 with analysis of Satan’s further efforts to destroy what seemingly couldn’t be destroyed. Until then, remember this prophecy concerning our own day:
Then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another, and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, says the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son that serves him. Then shall you return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves him not. For behold, the day comes that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble. And the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
—Malachi 1:9-10 RE