Thursday, January 20, 2011

What difference does it make?...

Laying a foundation

When people look at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, too often, they do not see any difference. I am asked more times than I could possibly count, "what makes the Mormon church different from any other Christian denomination?"  And the answers to that question can be given in relatively short descriptions, but the deeper meaning cannot fully done justice through the answer that many desire.  There are things that set apart the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from any other church on earth, but to understand that, some of the points that do make the difference, must also be truly understood. I think as well, one important thing to realize, said by the prophet Joseph Smith, is that "The fundamental principles of our religious are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it." Central to all that we believe, the very church and gospel itself, the foundation of all of it, rests on "Jesus Christ, Himself being the chief cornerstone." (Ephesians 2:20). Now in our day, ...

foundations are vastly easier to make than anciently, now you put in the forms and lay the concrete; but anciently it was put down stone by stone.  Most important as the foundation was being made, was the cornerstones, which needed to be measured and set exactly, to support everything else, and the whole structure.  And first and foremost, was layed the chief cornerstone, of which had to be put down first and has the necessity of being perfect, due to all else is measured and put down from it.  Christ is the chief cornerstone, the foundation of this, His church.  He is that perfect support that all else builds from, and as we know, the very Savior of the world. Along with that, the apostle Paul, tells that what else makes up this foundation of Christ's church, just as one stone cannot support an entire building, Christ called others to help in His work, with the call of prophets and apostles, further on the Lord tells of why He calls these people;

"And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ [the church]: Till we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more childrentossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftinessness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." (Ephesians 4:11-14)

Look at why God called these people, in red are the things by which God would accomplish through those whom He has called. When Christ left the earth, these things were not yet fulfilled, and not yet are they fulfilled either, and further more, God cannot lie, and so He will persevere in these things to bring forth His goals.  God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and the way He teaches has been shown forth in scripture;

"Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7)

 As that is how God teaches His children, that is yet how He continues to in our day. It is amazing to know that God has in our day again called prophets, through which He leads by revelation, and has given forth His priesthood to the children of men, the very power and authority to act in God's name and to bless His children; to teach and baptize. And even as God has called prophets, and as He has restored Christ's church to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith, God knew also, that we would need a way to know for ourselves that prophets are truly from God. Christ while He was yet on the earth, knew that there would be not only false prophets to arise, but also of true prophets, and so taught how we may know if they are from God or not.

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:15-20)

My awesome old school copy =)
Christ told, that how we may know a prophet, is by their fruits.  Just as when I look at a tree I may not know exactly what it is, but when I see an apple, well obviously it is an apple tree, and even more so, you can know if it is a good tree, by the fruit that grows from it.  God knowing that He would need to restore Christ's church to the earth, knew also that with that, His children would need more to look to and fruits as to which they could know that a prophet is truly called by Him.  As such, God prepared centuries before the restoration, a fruit that could be brought forth through His power, as evidence and 'fruit' to all who wish to know.  That fruit of which I speak, that was given to the world through the prophet Joseph Smith, is the Book of Mormon.  Just as God called prophets in ancient Israel, He also called prophets in the ancient Americas.  As the people there in the Americas began to be wicked, God commanded the prophet Mormon to take the records from these prophets, and compile them together, and to hide them up for God to bring forth in His time and to fulfill His purposes.  Towards the close of Mormon's life, he gave this record to his son Moroni, who took it and burried it into the earth.  Knowing that the record would be brought forth in latter days, he left a promise for all those whom read its contents; he tells:

"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.  And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere hearth, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:3-5)

The Book of Mormon is the fruit that God has brought forth from the prophet Joseph Smith, by which we may look to, to know if He was called by God.  There are things that Moroni, a prophet of God, told we must do, to read these things, ponder it in your hearts, and to ask God to know if they are true.  That is how you may know.  I want to say that I know that God is our Heavenly Father, and loves us.  And that He continues to show that love for His children, even today.  I know that He has called prophets, that through Joseph Smith, God has restored Christ's church to the earth.  I have done those things that Christ taught and followed the prophet's counsel, and looked to the fruit of Joseph Smith, to read and ponder the Book of Mormon.  I have prayed and asked God to know for myself of its truth, and I know with every fiber of my being that it is true, and is from God.  Here is a video that is amazing, of the testimony of a living apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, Jeffrey R. Holland, of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

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