"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."
February 3, 2008

The Renewing Holy Ghost

Water baptism is only a preparatory cleansing of the believing penitent…whereas, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost cleanses more thoroughly, by renewing the inner man, and by purifying the affectations, desires, and thoughts which have long been habituated in the impure ways of sin.  Without the aid of the Holy Ghost, a person would have but little power to change his mind, at once, from its habituated course, and to walk in newness of life…So great is the force of habit, that he would, without being renewed by the Holy Ghost, be easily overcome, and contaminated again with sin.  Hence, it is infinitely important that the affections and desires should be, in a measure, changed and renewed, so as to cause him to hate that which he before loved, and to love that which he before hated.  To thus renew the mind of man is the work of the Holy Ghost.  (Orson Pratt, “The Holy Spirit,” in Writings of an Apostle, pp. 56-57

Conversion

Being converted…and having a testimony are not necessarily the same thing…A testimony comes when the Holy Ghost gives the earnest seeker a witness of the truth.  A moving testimony vitalizes faith; that is, it induces repentance and obedience to the commandments.  Conversion, on the other hand, is the fruit of, or the reward for, repentance and obedience…Conversion is effected by divine forgiveness, which remits sins…Thus he is converted to a newness of life.  His spirit is healed.  (Marion G. Romney, in Conference report, October 1963, p. 24)

January 30, 2008

Sin

…Sin is untruth, and the misuse of truth. It decries freedom and fosters tyranny. It deceives and lies. It destroys, but never builds up except for more destruction. It slinks away from light and lurks in darkness. It is in deliberate opposition to the Lord’s plan for human progress. Sin is the mark of Satan.

The wide spectrum of sin, laid against a background of selfishness, is everywhere evil. It extends from wilful ignorance to the use of knowledge for unholy purposes: from dishonesty in speech, to deliberate murder: from family and neighborhood contentions, to warfare among nations. Every part of it corrodes, annihilates, is death-dealing. Every part of it, if uncovered, is hideous and found to beckon from slimy, poisonous depths.

Sin cannot be shown love or mercy, however meek and beguiling it may present itself. It cannot be condoned. Were that done the structure of truth would collapse. The battle of the Church is against sin, of every kind: it must be conquered, or the plan of salvation will be defeated: it must be fought to the bitter end. Tolerance of sin is itself sin. (John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, pg. 220)

January 26, 2008

A Plan of Action

The conditions which enable man to win eternal life are included in the plan of salvation. In fact, the plan is but a series of invariable, unalterable laws, obedience to each of which increases man’s power to triumph over evil. That means that there is knowledge to be acquired (Teachings of the Prophet Jopseph Smith, p. 297): principles of action to be accepted: ordinances to be received (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 12, 331): duties to be performed through life: and the complete acceptance of Jesus, the Christ (John 17:3): that is, full health of body mind and spirit to be won. All this that man “might be raised in immortality unto eternal life” (D&C 29:43). (John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, pg. 190)

January 1, 2008

Will you know?

It is a paradox that men will gladly devote time every day for many years to learn a science or an art; yet will expect to win a knowledge of the gospel, which comprehends all sciences and arts, through perfunctory glances at books or occasional listening to sermons.  The gospel should be studied more intensively than any school or college subject.  They who pass opinion on the gospel without having given it intimate and careful study are not lovers of truth, and their opinions are worthless.  (John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, page 17)

December 18, 2007

Where’s the fight?

Important in the record of the dispensations is that when men to depart from God’s way and substitute their own ways in its place they usually do not admit that that is what they are doing; often they do not deliberately or even consciously substitute their ways for God’s ways; on the contrary, they easily and largely convinced themselves that their way is God’s way. “The apostasy described in the New Testament is not a desertion of the cause, but a perversion of it, a process by which the ‘righteous are removed and none perceives it.’” The wedding of the Christian Church and the Roman state was a venture in political dialectics, a restatement of the age-old political exercise of demonstrating that our way is God’s way….the Lord told the Apostles that in time “whosoever kills you will think that he doeth God service” (John 16:2). The horrible fiasco of the Crusades went forward under the mandate of the Deus Vult — God wills it: it is His idea; the Inquisition was carried out by selfless men “for the greater glory of God.” In every age we find the worldly powers hypnotized by the image of the world as a maidan, a great battleground, on which the forces of good and evil are locked in mortal combat. True, there is a contest, but it is within the individual, not between ignorant armies; that solution is all too easy. Recall the statement of Joseph Smith that “every candid man [must] draw [the] conclusion in his own mind whether this [any political system] is the order of heaven or not.” Banners, trumpets, and dungeons were early devised to help men make up their minds. But God does not fight Satan: a word from Him and Satan is silenced and banished. There is no contest there; in fact we are especially told that all the power which Satan enjoys here on earth is granted him by God. “We will allow Satan, our common enemy, to try Man and to tempt him.” It is man’s strength that is being tested–not God’s. Nay, even in putting us to the test, “the devil,” to quote Joseph Smith, “has no power over us only as we permit him.’” Since, then, “God would not exert any compulsory means, and the devil could not,” it is up to us to decide how much power Satan shall have on this earth, but only in respect to ourselves; the fight is all within us. That is the whole battle. But how much easier to shift the battle to another arena, and externalize the cause of all our misfortune.

It is easy enough to see how a world willingly beguiled by the devil’s dialectic is bound to reject God’s way and continue with its own. Even the Saints are guilty: “Repent, repent, is the voice of God to Zion; and strange as it may appear, yet it is true, mankind will persist in self-justification until all their iniquity is exposed, and their character past being redeemed.” As in every other dispensation, the world will continue to go its way, which is one of progressive deterioration:….After all is said, there is nothing for it but to accept God’s way–nothing else will work. (Hugh Nibley, on the Timely and Timeless, Beyond Politics, pages 310-311)

December 9, 2007

It’s killing me

Put right out of your head the idea that these are only fancy ways of saying that Christians are to read what Christ said and try to carry out–as a man may read what Plato or Marx said and tried to carry it out.  They mean something much more than that. They mean that a real person, Christ, here and now, in that very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing things to you.  It is not a question of a good man who died 2000 years ago.  It is a living man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when He created the world, really coming and interfering with your very self; killing the old and natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has.  At first, only for moments.  Then for longer periods.  Finally, if all goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a new little Christ, a being which, in its own small way, has the same kind of life as God; which shares in his power, joy, knowledge and eternity.  (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, page 165)

November 13, 2007

Strangers in a strange land

…the everyday things we see about us, far from representing the real world represent the very opposite — a shadow existence, a toy world, the most trivial and transitory aspects of our existence. As to the things we are told to do in our religious observances they should seem strange to us by the very fact that they are not of this world of things. Here we are concerned first and last with the preservation of our physical plant: we are essentially animals; Adam was condemned to an economy of sweat and dirt. All things necessary for that economy — the building of bridges. the processing of food, the selling of insurance, etc. — are temporary in nature. They are but a means to an end, they are not — as we are being constantly told and as we are constantly forgetting — an end in themselves. They are as temporary as our temporary life here below; they belong strictly to the corruptible order of things, and they will all pass away, nay, they are passing away at this moment. It is to them that we as individuals and as a society are wholly conditioned, adapted, reconciled, and abandoned. They represent for our age the whole life of man. Would you expect the eternal ordinances of the gospel to fit naturally and practically into such a setting? Are you surprised that they seem stange and out of place to us? — Hugh Nibley, The World and the Prophets, pgs 136-137

September 29, 2007

Choose ye…

…every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pg. 87)

Good AND evil

…the right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge. When a man is getting better he understands more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is alright. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people dj not know about either. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pg. 88)