I haven’t been active with this blog because I have been busy for months getting this ready for publication. This is the result. This document gathers together in one place all that I am about. If you don’t read anything else on this website, you should download and read this.
The scriptures always tell us that we must be holy. (Lev. 20:7, Matt, 5:48, D&C 20:69) We speak of the Holy Priesthood, holy temples, holiness to the Lord. In another article I am going to introduce a concept which I borrowed from A Course in Miracles known as the “Holy Relationship.” But what does it really mean to be holy?
Since these are biblical words, I first turned to the Bible for a definition. I have an expository dictionary of all the words in the New Testament traced back to the original Greek. The word “holiness” was translated from the original Greek word “hagiasmos.” The word is sometimes translated in the New Testament as “sanctified.” The basic meaning of the word signifies a separation from the world and a dedication to God, so much so that the word implies, in fact, even God-like. The Anglo-Saxon word from which the word “holy” is derived means “sound,” “whole,” or “happy.” This definition is in line with the Course in Miracles teaching that anything which is whole has the characteristic of holiness.
If we are to be like God, we too must be holy. We must be dedicated to the Will of God and we must be sound and whole. However, we are composite beings. There is our real self which is complete and whole and at one with God. Then there is the body, which serves as our manifestation in the material world. Then there is the mind which believes that the body is our real self and knows nothing of our spiritual or Godlike nature.
In this state we are not holy. True, part of us is holy because it has always been with God and never left. But the rest of our being is not in communication with this part and is not necessarily serving the Will of God, and hence is not holy. However, we can apply the principles of the Gospel by drawing nearer to God with our minds and giving our bodies over to the purposes of the Holy Spirit, and thus we can achieve true one-ness or holiness.
In our natural state we do not know our true nature, and we will be unable to know it until it is revealed to us by the Holy Ghost. The mission of the Holy Ghost is to partake of the nature of God and by so doing activate that same nature within us, that we, too, might become holy.
Natural men and women are in a fallen state and as such we are at war with ourselves. It seems to me that when Paul wasn’t boasting he was whining. However, in the following passage he does give us some valuable insights into our nature and a situation what we have all run into:
“…but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. …Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. … For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. … But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7: 14-24).
In other words Paul was saying he was “double-minded” (as James puts it). He knew what he was supposed to do, but couldn’t make himself do it. He knew what he wasn’t supposed to do, but he couldn’t stop himself from doing it. This is a state of unholiness. Holiness is to know what is right and do it, and to know what is wrong and not do it. But it is more than this. Holiness is doing the right thing for the right reason. If we do a kindness for someone it is because we love them and not because we expect some favor or reward in return. If we say we have a testimony of the Gospel, then our actions, thoughts, words, emotions, and our spiritual life should all reflect the same testimony and work together in harmony.
With this understanding of the doctrine of holiness being the unity or alignment of purpose of body, mind, and spirit, and that unified purpose being total dedication to the work and will of God, we can then go back and take a look at traditional Christianity and see it in a totally different light.
The one sin which Jesus totally condemned was the sin of hypocrisy. The literal meaning of a hypocrite in the Greek was “play actor.” You know—the man who sits on the front row in Church and prays and acts really pious, then goes home and beats up his wife and cheats on his taxes. Interestingly enough, hypocrisy is the one thing about traditional Christianity today that turns the general public off and which causes many people to forsake the religion of their youth.
So why is hypocrisy so bad? It is just holiness turned inside out. A person’s speech, and beliefs and actions are all working at cross purposes. In other words, they are not whole.
Another word I would like to introduce at this point is “integrity.” This is just Sunday “holiness” dressed up in his Monday workaday clothes. Integrity is applied holiness.
In the Old Testament, Moses tells the people to “be holy, for the Lord our God is holy.” Christ says the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount: “Be perfect [whole, complete] even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” The word “perfect” comes from the Greek word “telios” meaning “having reached its end” or “complete.” The Restored Gospel teaches us that God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. What is eternal life? It is living the kind of life that God leads. Then, if God is holy and we are to become like God, then God’s work and glory is to make us holy like Himself.
It is interesting to note that the Course in Miracles teaches that the only purpose of God is to have us complete. We see God is not working at cross purposes with Himself. He has one goal and all His energy is dedicated to fulfilling it.
If we are to be holy as God is holy, we should share this goal and share His dedication. Actually, God does not expect us to share an equal portion of His dedication. All He asks is a “little willingness” and He will take the final step Himself.
We are also told in the New Testament that the highest commandment is to love God with “all our heart, might, mind, and strength.” Here is another reference to holiness and integrity. All our faculties are aligned and dedicated to one goal. We must have an “eye single” to the glory of God. And God is glorified as we bring ourselves to Him and enable others to do likewise.
This whole idea also has to do with purity. When we speak of “pure gold” or “pure drinking water,” we mean a substance is composed of one ingredient. We call anything else an “impurity.” “Purity” as applied to humans has the same meaning. We speak of “pure motives,” and being “pure in heart.” Purity does not mean strict and total abstinence from a list of prohibitions in some contrived moral code. “Purity” means unity of purpose. It means total dedication to one’s goal. Purity is doing whatever you are doing with full purpose of heart. No inward struggles, no moral dilemmas, no temptations, no strivings —every faculty is working together and as one with a single goal in mind: returning to God. This is holiness.
For centuries, it was a crime for the average person to even possess a Bible, let alone read it. Religion replaced spirituality as the theological “spin doctors” not only told people what the Bible said, but what to think about it. The Bible talks a lot about holiness and purity as the way to God, but if we have incorrect ideas about what these words mean, then the Bible is useless as a tool to find God. Christ had to deal with the scribes and doctors of religion in His day. He called them “hypocrites.” He accused them of blocking the entrance to the Kingdom for others while refusing to enter the Kingdom themselves.
Many adherents claim that A Course in Miracles corrects the Bible. Latter-day Saints believe in scriptures which supplement the Bible, but in the light of the previous discussion, we don’t have to rewrite the Bible, just reread it.
We apply holiness or integrity in our personal lives when we are true to ourselves, to our beliefs, and experiences. The Course asks us to lay aside our old experiences that we might have new experiences, to choose again and see the world and our brother in a different light.
If we are true to ourselves, we will recognize that familiar Voice inside. If we are true to ourselves, we will hasten to recognize that Voice in our brother. If we are true to ourselves, we will listen to the admonition to “choose again,” and won’t be threatened by trying something new.
Then, if we are true to ourselves we will recognize that the new experiences are better than the old ones. We will acknowledge that we have grown and overcome problems and come closer to God as a result.
We have learned truth through trial and observation. What is true for us is what we have observed ourselves, and when we lose that we have lost everything. What we know is what we know.
What is personal integrity? Personal integrity is knowing what we know – and having the courage to know and say what we have observed. And that is integrity. And there is no other integrity. Nothing is true for us unless we have observed it, and it is true according to our observation. That is all.
However, if one is pure, one cannot be double-minded. James says that “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Do you know people who can’t seem to settle down: they keep moving, they keep changing jobs, they can’t find a stable relationship, and they carry on a love-hate relationship with their families and with the Church? Perhaps it is because in some areas of their life they are double-minded, or they have divided loyalties. They want to “have their cake and eat it too.” Perhaps they are trying to “serve God and mammon.” Perhaps they are “living a lie.” I give up. I’ve run out of cliches. I think everybody gets the point by now. Or do we?
The point is this: God doesn’t demand perfect performance out of us. All He is asking for is purity of heart and single-mindedness. And He doesn’t expect perfection even there. He has provided all kinds of help for us. To see what He really asks of us, let’s take the famous promise in Moroni 10:4-5:
“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 heart, 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.”
This is the formula. The key to the knowledge of the truth of all things. What does God ask of us: “a pure heart and real intent.” He is not asking for perfect attendance at Sacrament Meeting. He is not requiring that we belong to any church. He is not even asking for “moral purity.” He is asking for something much more difficult: all of our heart and all of our intent. Moral purity is easy by comparison. We can fake that. All we have to do is get a guilty conscience for last Saturday night, feel sorry, exercise enough will power to quit doing whatever if was we did last Saturday night for a couple of weeks, go to the Lord in prayer, ask Him to change us, and wonder why nothing happens.
To see how He is going to help us, let’s read further in Moroni 10:32-33:
“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
“And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.”
That’s what the atonement was for! So God could indeed reach down to us, take us where we are, and bring us up to a state of holiness. Will this change us? Yes, we will become “holy without spot.” We will be changed in our natures and like King Benjamin’s people have no more “disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” Do you know people who pay extra tithing and take on extra duties in the Church thinking this will prove their righteousness or give them a testimony of the Church? My bishop at BYU once wisely said that once people really know who the Lord is, there is nothing they wouldn’t do to serve Him, and all the good works of service will follow. To live any other way is simply putting the cart before the horse.
Articles of Faith Countdown
The Articles of Faith is a generally accepted statement of belief among all the Restoration churches. Joseph Smith originally wrote 14 articles, but I’m sticking with 13 in this article as they are the most familiar to most people.
Let me take a slight tangent here. I like the number thirteen. It has always been lucky for me. In Hebrew, the letters are also numbers, and each word is a number obtained by adding up its letters. If two words have the same number, then the words are related. This has been shown time and time again to be true. Take for instance the number thirteen: the Hebrew word AChD unity (1+8+4) = 13 and the word AHBH love (1+5+2+5) = 13. Christ and His 12 apostles make 13. This number is also sacred to the Mayas.
Whether or not you believe in numerology, you have to admit that that when we look at old things in a new way, we can sometimes discover new concepts and new relationships between ideas. I tried this once by reciting the Articles of Faith backwards and discovered a logical progression from one to the other. They progress from the most basic and mundane to the most spiritual.
Here is a quick summary of the Gospel and the plan of salvation as understood by many LDS people. They usually think more in terms of compartments or different worlds (pre-existence, earth, spirit world, spirit prison, outer darkness, three degrees of glory, divisions within the Celestial Kingdom, etc). We seem to be more concerned with where we are going than with what we should know and do in the here and now. In short: don’t confuse the PLANET of salvation with the PLAN of salvation.
13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul–We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Honesty is the beginning of all things. God can’t work with us unless we are honest with ourselves, with our spouses, and our fellow men and women.
We need a sense of humility and an honest evaluation of who we are and where we stand. Earth’s creation took six days. Our own personal development could be termed our six days of spiritual creation. What day are you on? There is no shame is being a day 1 person. However, if you think you are on day 6 when you are really on day one you are deceiving yourself. Jacob, the brother of Nephi in the Book of Mormon taught that in order to come to God, we must cast away all our pretentions of knowledge and our reliance on knowledge of the flesh. We must cast these things aside and consider ourselves fools before God. This is the starting point for gaining true knowledge — of our nature and of the nature of God.
Christ condemned the sin of hypocrisy more than any other. What is hypocrisy? Hypocrisy is not judgment. The word hypocrisy means “playacting”. Hypocrisy is pretending to be one thing and actually being something else. Jesus could work with all other sinners. He could accept them for who and what they were. And, more important, the people could accept themselves for who and what they were, and let Jesus raise them to a higher level of knowledge and righteousness. The hypocrites had so much ego and energy invested in a certain identity that they couldn’t change or grow.
When Christ called Nathaniel to his side as a disciple, He stated: “Behold an Israelite in whom there is no guile.” The original Greek word here means “deceit”. Apparently for Jesus to find an honest man who was not deceitful was so rare that He had to cry out in exclamation.
12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
The scriptures teach us to keep the laws of the land, for he that keeps the laws of God has no need to break the laws of the land. And also to be subject to the powers that be until He reigns whose right it is to reign.
What are laws other than the covenants (or agreements) that society had agreed to obey? If we are going to be a member of this society, and if we are going to be honest, then we must obey the laws of society even while we seek to change the existing laws.
11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege. Let them worship how, where, or what they may.
I find it surprising that one’s conscience would dictate to a person that they must return to the same place with the same people week after week. Follow the same program week after week. Speak the same words week after week. Think the same thoughts week after week. Jesus said we must worship God in “spirit and truth”. Rather than a fixed ceremony, worship should be a spontaneous outburst of gratitude, praise, and acknowledgement. It should come from within the individual or a group, not a ritualistic order of performances imposed by an outside institution. True worship should also involve communication. One-way communication is not communication at all. Communication should be two-way. We should pray and listen to the answer.
The book of Moroni describes the worship practices in the ancient Christian church in the Americas. The people would gather once a week to sing, to speak, to pray, to speak with one another concerning the welfare of their souls, or to do whatever the Spirit directed. There was no fixed ceremony. This form of worship puts a lot of responsibility on individual members. When people came to church in those days, they had the responsibility to prepare and to contribute, not just sit and hibernate in a pew for a couple of hours, then go home.
We say we allow all men the same privilege of worshipping God according to the dictates of their own conscience. We need to realize that ultimately, when you take away the names and labels and get rid of all the pomp and circumstance, the outward trappings, we as individual people, all worship more or less the same God. The principles of salvation are the same even though the practices may be differently suited to different times and cultures.
While we are on the subject of law and freedom of religion, we need to discuss the whole issue of freedom. Many people are happy to claim freedom of speech or religion, or freedom to exercise other rights for themselves, while denying them to others. A true test of our understanding of the principle of freedom is that we wish to ensure the freedom of all, not just ourselves. To do this requires great strength of character and spiritual insight in order to maintain and defend our freedoms, and yet restrain ourselves from imposing our favorite beliefs upon others.
10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
Joseph Smith, in an address to the Twelve, said that we ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object. We need to realize that the Church is a temporary institution – a schoolmaster to teach us how to be a Zion people. A church is only as effective as it is able to accomplish this. A church is never supposed to be an end in itself.
If our greatest object is to build Zion, we need to start working toward this goal. We need to start preparing ourselves as individuals and as families to become a Zion people.
People often refer to Utah as Zion, or to the Mormon Church as Zion. This is pure chauvinism. At best, this is empty boasting. At worst, this is a placebo designed to convince people that they already have Zion, when in actuality, nothing could be further from the truth. Here are some personal observations and some scriptural quotes, which describe what Zion really is.
“And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest.” (Moses 7:64)
Zion will be made of up all creations under heaven (all peoples). The motto on the US currency is “E PLURUBUS UNUM” – “from many, one” or “unity out of diversity”.
“And the Lord called his people ZION, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Moses 7:18)
“And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God. And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even ZION.” (Moses 7:19)
Zion will be both a PEOPLE and a CITY. Today we can create Zion as an ATTITUDE. We can form Zion in our hearts. We need to develop the attitude of one heart (love) and one mind (unity) while at the same time retaining our individual identity and power of choice.
I know of a lady who had a revelation that said that in the City of Enoch – the Zion of that day — everyone was sealed together as one big family. If this was the case, I am sure that this feeling of unity and togetherness and the desire to join together actually originated in the hearts and minds of the people, and the outward sealing was simply an acknowledgement of this.
One of the biggest challenges we face is the question of unity vs. individuality. How can we be of one heart and one mind, yet retain our individual personalities, freedoms, and preferences? This is an issue, which has split up many a family and many an organization. The closest thing we now have to Zion right now is our families: our spouses and children, and this is a good laboratory to learn how to reconcile these seemingly conflicting goals. Just how we can accomplish this is beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say that societies such as this have existed in the past. The Book of Mormon teaches how our natures can be changed, and how we can develop unity and love by yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.
We often overlook the phrase in this article of faith, which states that “the earth shall be renewed”. D&C 63 tells us that Peter, James, and John were shown the pattern by which the earth would be transfigured. Nephi teaches us that Satan will be bound because of the righteousness of the people. Since God has given the knowledge of transforming the earth to His servants, we can assume that the earth will also be transformed because of the righteousness of the people, when they are prepared, and when the proper Priesthood authority is exercised.
9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
To prepare for the establishment of Zion, we need continual, ongoing revelation from God. Contrary to popular opinion the restoration did not begin and end with Joseph Smith. God has yet to reveal many great and important things pertaining to what? The church? No, the Kingdom of God. Early day leaders of the Church understood that the Church and the Kingdom were not synonymous. It is easy to show this from numerous passages in the Doctrine and Covenants. It is also easier to prove from the scriptures that Jesus Christ, in the Meridian of Time, established a Kingdom, than it is to prove He established a church.
So, the important thing to keep in mind is that we don’t know it all and there is much to be revealed in the future. Even the revelations given to Joseph Smith state that the restoration is not complete, and they place limits on the Priesthood keys and authority given to him and to the Church. See my article “The Redemption of Zion” for more details.
This article of faith was written in the 1840’s, long after the priesthood had been “restored”, according to popular accounts. John the Baptist came in 1819; Peter, James, and John came in 1829-1830 (Isn’t it strange that we don’t have better documentation to support the re-establishment of the Holy Priesthood of God?). Moses, Elias, and Elijah came in 1836, yet Joseph Smith states that God will yet reveal many great and important things. Note also that the things to be revealed pertain to the Kingdom, not to the Church. This raises many questions: Why not the Church? Will the Church cease to be an important factor? Would the Church even listen if God tried to reveal something? Has God stopped revealing things to the Church? If so, when did this occur? Who or what is the Kingdom, if the Church and Kingdom are separate?
The restoration won’t be complete until Zion is once again established on the earth when the Lord brings up Zion from below and brings down Zion from above. “The Lord hath redeemed his people; And Satan is bound and time is no longer. The Lord hath gathered all things in one. The Lord hath brought down Zion from above. The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath.”(D & C 84:100.)
8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
These books are treasure troves. We ought to read all good books, but we need to especially go back to these books time and again. The Lord states that these books contain the “fullness of the everlasting Gospel” (D&C 27:5). He also tells us that He won’t reveal the fullness of certain other records (9th Article of Faith) until we believe and understand these works (see Ether). When you study these books, ignore what you’ve been taught before. Don’t read the marginal notes; they only tell you what to think. Get rid of your preconceived ideas and read these books as if you were reading them for the first time. Ask God to reveal the truth of these writings to you.
You may want to consider reading other translations of the Bible, such as The Concordant Version of the New Testament. My website contains modern translations of several New Testament books. You might also want to consider looking up Biblical words on an online Strong’s concordance. There are many key words in the King James Bible which are grossly mistranslated. A correct understanding of these words and the principles behind them is vital to our personal salvation and obtaining a knowledge of and a personal relationship with Christ. Isaiah, in Chapter 29, compares true vision to trying to read a sealed book. Never mind waiting for a sealed portion of the Book of Mormon to come forth, or for other writings to be discovered. If the words in our common, everyday Bible are mistranslated, then we don’t have a correct understanding of the teachings of Christ, and we might as well be trying to read a sealed book.
Here are some examples of key words in the New Testament that have been mistranslated: faith, belief, sin, perfection, knowledge, and love. In my translation, I have attempted to incorporate the correct translation of these words.
7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
The priesthood as it works in the body of believers or within the Church is a practical channel for the gifts of the Spirit to flow. The Spirit does not flow from us, nor does it flow to us. We can only effectively use the Gifts of the Spirit when they flow through us. We are a channel for the blessings and power of God to flow from God, through us to others. This is what is meant to “glorify God”, or to worship God. This is all Christ did. He came in the Father’s Name, teaching what the Father taught him, doing the works the Father did before Him, and thus glorifying His Father in Heaven. The Holy Ghost works by the same principle. The Holy Ghost partakes of the nature and knowledge of God and is available to channel this through us, if we are in tune and allow ourselves to be used in this manner.
When we grieve the Spirit by denying these gifts (Moroni), or by boasting of them, or by using them to get gain, or by wielding them to obtain unrighteous dominion (D & C 121), or neglect to use them in our teaching (D&C 50), the heavens grieve with us, and the Holy Ghost quietly withdraws her gifts.
Yes, I said HER. The Hebrews believed that the Spirit or the Presence of the Lord was a female, mothering, or nurturing entity. Traditionally, the woman of the Jewish house is the one to offer the prayer, which invites the Presence of the Lord into the home at the beginning of the Sabbath celebration. Sbekhinah, as she is called is also believed to hover over the marriage bed and blesses the union. Personally, I believe that the Holy Ghost is our Heavenly Mother, or stated another way, performs the function or office of a heavenly mother. The reason why I do not pray to a Mother in Heaven (although She is heavenly) is because I do not believe that She is in heaven. She is where every good mother should be – with her children, here on the earth.
The psalms in the Bible speak of Wisdom and personify her as an individual who was the first creation of God in the heavens. The Gnostic Christians called her Sophia — wisdom. The Holy Ghost is the comforter that Jesus left us, and promised would abide with us and teach us all things. Instead of praying to Her, I honor Her by listening to Her still small voice as She teaches me how to pray (Romans 8) – how to importune our Father, and how to receive answers.
Consider these quotations from a book called Zohar, a medieval Kabalistic writing.
“We possess part of God’s own being: His feminine half; this is the ultimate guarantee. Cf. Zobar Hadash, Shir ba-Shirim 65b: ‘Come and see: The Blessed Holy One placed His Sbekhinah among Israel to sit over them like a mother over her children and to protect them on every side. As long as the Holy Mother sits over them, the Blessed Holy One comes to dwell with them because He never leaves Her. All supreme love is directed toward Her. Therefore He gave Her as a pledge in the midst of Israel, to make it known that He will never forget them or leave them. Why? Because that pledge is in their midst.'”
One person loved another, and said
‘My love for you is so high I want to live with you!’
The other said, ‘How can I be sure that you will stay with me?’
So he took all his most precious belongings
and brought them to the other, saying
‘Here is a pledge to you that I will never part from you.'”
6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
Again this is the organization for administering the gifts of the Spirit and for channeling them out in an organized effort. The various functions of offices within the Priesthood (presiding, blessing, teaching, testifying, administering ordinances, administering to material needs) all show forth the differences in administration of the Spirit.
When speaking of the “primitive church”, again we need to go back to the correct Greek word, which was ecclesia. This word denotes a group of people who were “called out” or gathered for a specific purpose. In the Greek city-states, an ecclesia was like a town hall meeting. Our English word church has its roots, not in a gathering of people, but refers to a building from which religious authorities issued orders and pronouncements, and came to refer to a legal institution. We need to return to the original meaning of this word. When Christ referred to building his “church” upon the rock of the testimony of the Apostles, he was not referring to a legal institution, but to a gathering of disciples. And these disciples were to be known, not for having a correct organization, but because of their love one toward another (John 13:35). Also, referring back to article 7, in the early days, the true church of Christ was recognized by the presence of the gifts of the Spirit.
The Bible (2 Tim. 3:5) speaks about having “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” It is not enough just to have the correct form. A dead body looks like a human and has the form of a human, but there is no life or power in it. The life and power of a true church of Christ, or in other words, a group of disciples gathered in the name of Christ is the power that flows through them in the form of love and through the other gifts of the Spirit.
The organization administers (or delivers) the gospel, but the organization is not the gospel. I don’t believe in “salvation by organization”. I could set up a hospital and call some doctors, some nurses, some specialists, and some lab technicians. I could visit all the hospitals and watch all the reruns of St. Elsewhere and copy everything I saw. However, nobody in his right mind would come to this hospital expecting to get better unless all my people were trained, licensed, and experienced professionals. Claiming to be a doctor doesn’t make you a doctor, any more than calling yourself an apostle makes you an apostle. A doctor administers medicine to the end that the patient gets better. An apostle administers salvation acting for and in behalf of Jesus Christ to the end that people receive salvation. “The Apostleship, whenever it is upon the earth, possesses the right and privilege of constant communion with the Savior of the world and thereby knows how to mete out salvation to all men; and there is no other office, independent of this, that holds this right, or can exercise this power.” (Millennial Star 14:690). Salvation isn’t just an abstract concept of something that happens in the sweet bye and bye. It is real it is something that happens now. It is something that changes peoples’ lives.
In the medical world, the government imposes all kind of standards to protect the public from quacks and diploma mills. In the world of religion, how can we tell if somebody is a true messenger of God? The endowment ceremony proposes two sets of tests. Satan wanted to test the apostles by having them perform a great miracle in the sight of all the people. When Adam and Eve questioned the authenticity of the apostles, Peter, James, and John invited Adam and Eve to use the test, which God showed them. The Apostles then showed them the outward signs by which they could recognize true servants sent from Father.
An outward sign or token is not enough to ensure proper recognition and could be easily faked by an impostor. Taking the endowment as a symbolic message we must learn to look beyond the symbols and see the real message behind the symbols. In D&C 18, the Lord commissions the Three Witnesses to search out and find the Twelve Apostles. The Lord tells us, in this passage, how to recognize true Apostles: “And by their desires and their works you shall know them.”
Further in 18:27:
“Yea, even twelve; and the Twelve shall be my disciples, and they shall take upon them my name; and the Twelve are they who shall desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart.”
How can we know someone’s “desires and works”? The same way the Lord expected Oliver Cowdery and the other two witnesses to know it, by the whisperings of the Spirit. (See D&C 18:18.)
“Ask the Father in my name, in faith believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient unto the children of men.”
5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
Those who truly have Priesthood keys can not only legally administer them, but they can teach about keys and covenants. Elijah was promised to come and reveal the priesthood and teach the ancient covenants. Because Christ held certain keys of knowledge, He was able to teach the two disciples journeying together to Emaus. He opened the scriptures and taught the disciples things they had never heard or considered before yet they were right under their noses in their own scriptures. He was able to do this because he held those keys.
The efficacy of ordinances performed in our behalf depends on our faith in the one performing the ordinance. We need assurance that the person is called of God and has the necessary authority.
If a person comes to you claiming to possess certain keys, but cannot even clearly explain what these keys are or teach you how to use them or explain how they relate to the rest of the Restoration, much less to the total world around us, what kind of keys do they really have? How much authority can they legally lay claim do? And how much faith should we lay upon them to lead us along the road to salvation?
4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
These are not only FIRST principles and ordinances, they are principles we should practice continually. They are very simple yet very advanced principles, and are the essence of every phase of the Gospel.
A wise man builds his house on ROCK not on SAND. These principles and ordinances are the four foundation stones of the Gospel, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.
The first principle is not just faith. It is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament uses faith in two ways. Paul used it as a noun. John used it as a verb. But since English has no direct verb form of this word, it is rendered “to believe”, a much weaker form of the action word which the Greek uses. To John, “faithing” was a positive action. James makes the distinction clear: “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith BY my works.” Salvation comes by faith, not dead works. Showing forth works does not prove faith, but is evidence that faith may be present. Somebody can have works without faith, but if somebody claims to have faith, then the works must be present because they are the fruit of faith. If a man say he loves God (has faith) and does not keep His commandments, then he is a liar and the truth is not in him. (1 John.)
Repentance means to choose again or to turn again. We need to repent and improve every day of our lives. The atonement makes this ongoing experience possible.
Baptism is an outward sign of inward faith and repentance. (D&C 20). We need to continually renew our individual covenants with the Lord. We promise to take His Name upon us and keep His commandments, and He promises eternal life and that His Spirit will always be with us. (See the baptismal covenant in Mosiah 18 in the Book of Mormon.)
In the LDS Church, the ordinance of laying on of hands following baptism performs two functions: (1) We are confirmed a member of the Church, and (2) We are commanded by Priesthood authority to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The second function is described in this article of faith. The first function is not.
To truly receive the Gift of Holy Ghost, we need to listen to it, and live by every word from the mouth of God. Nephi (in 2 Nephi 31, 32) teaches that after we have received the Holy Ghost, that this is not the end-all be-all. We must continue to feast on the words of Christ as we receive them from the scriptures, from the teachings of others, and most importantly, for the specific instructions and commandments delivered to us through the Spirit. We often neglect this exercise as the peril of our salvation and eternal progression, even though Nephi laments the fact that he had made his point as plain as words can be.
3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
The atonement is two-way covenant between an individual and the Lord. Think about it! We can deal with God on a one-to-one equal basis. There is no gatekeeper; there is no middleman. We are equal partners in working out our own salvation. Christ has provided the atonement. Our part is to accept it, and actively exercise faith in it. (This is not mere belief. See definition of faith in Article 4, above.)
Joseph Smith taught that salvation is for a man to triumph over all his enemies. Salvation consists in following Christ’s example. We are saved no faster than we gain knowledge. We need faith in order to obtain power and knowledge. We also need charity because without charity we are nothing. When we unite with a body of saints where all possess the same knowledge and possess charity, we develop a society with “one heart” (charity), and “one mind” (unity). This brings us back to the opening of this article and how the number 13 relates to these to two words, and to the description of a Zion society in Article 10.
Joseph Smith said that being born again comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances. The laws and ordinances are only MEANS to another MEANS. They lead us to increased faith and charity. Faith in turn leads to increased knowledge and power, which in turn lead to salvation. An ordinance is only as useful as does these things. Whether an ordinance actually does this depends on several things:
- The nature of the ordinance
- Our attitude while receiving it
- Our faith in the sincerity of the person performing it
- Our faith in the authority of the person performing it
If any of the above are lacking, then the ordinance will not have the desired effect, no matter how “holy” it is. An ordinance is just an arbitrary practice instituted to teach something, to help us learn by DOING. What we should be learning is love and faith. If we do not learn these things, then we should go back to Article 13 and check our honesty, check Articles 5 and 6 for authority, Article 7 for the presence of the Holy Ghost, Article 4 for faith and repentance. This article depends on all previous articles, as taken in this reverse order.
2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
Every Mormon Primary child can recite this Article of Faith. Unfortunately, we are so unknowingly steeped in the Catholic tradition of original sin that we really don’t understand what this article and latter-day scriptures are really saying. To understand this article, we need to take a clear look at what Adam’s transgression was, what his punishment was, what our own sins are, and what the punishment is for our sins.
Adam’s transgression was to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam’s punishment was to be shut out of the presence of God. Prior to this incident, Adam and Eve literally walked and talked with God. After this event they were cast out of the garden. They had no contact with God or even angels until “after many days”, as the temple endowment ceremony informs us. We have no idea how long this was, but we can guess that Adam and Eve were given plenty of time to consider what they had done and to repent. During the intervening time, the couple learned to deal with life in the “lone and dreary world”. And they offered sacrifices which, as was explained to them, were in similitude of the Great Sacrifice of the Savior who was to die for their sins and redeem Adam and Eve and all mankind from the effects of the fall.
In time, Adam was redeemed from the fall and men became innocent before God again:
“Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God. (D&C 93:38.)
The consequence of the fall is to be shut out from the presence of God. It follows then that because of the redemption from the fall, a free gift to all mankind, we should all have a right to enjoy the presence of God, here on the earth; here in the flesh.
We know this is possible because there were ancient peoples in Adam’s day who walked and talked with God. Entire cities as well as individuals were caught up:
“And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, ZION IS FLED.” (Moses 7:69.)
“And Enoch beheld angels descending out of heaven, bearing testimony of the Father and Son; and the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion.” (Moses 7:27.)
“Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.” (Moses 6:7.)
If we are not today in the presence of God, walking and talking with the Savior, and communing with the General Assembly of the Church of the Firstborn, it is because of our OWN sins, not those of Adam.
This is an important fact, which has been lost somewhere down through the ages, and is one of those blockbuster ideas which has been restored again: The only things separating of from the presence of God right here and right now are our own personal sins and shortcomings.
In a revelation to the prophet of the RLDS church, the Lord stated that: “[Zion] is no nearer or farther than the spiritual condition of my saints justifies.”
1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
This article or faith does not attempt to define God; it simply asserts a belief in the three Beings who comprise the godhead. This leaves plenty of room for diversity of opinion and views. Almost all religions believe in some kind of god or cosmic force and try to explain god in terms of their own culture and experience. Even atheists who accept the theory of evolution have to admit that the forces driving evolution upward to more complexity and diversity, tend to work in the opposite direction of the physical universe which tends to wind downward to a state of equilibrium.
Mere belief in God is a starting point. True faith exercised toward a worthy end should eventually result in knowledge. Article 2 states that a direct knowledge of God is possible here in mortality. Jesus taught that it was eternal life to know God.
Taking the concepts taught in D&C 19 and tweaking them a little: if “eternal punishment is God’s punishment”, then eternal life if God’s life, or the kind or quality of life that God is living now.
God is not an object to be worshipped. God is an experience to be received. To know God, you have to be God. When we purify ourselves, even as He is pure, we shall see him as he is. This is eternal life.
Here is the Article of Faith that Joseph Smith forgot to write. Without this article, all the rest are meaningless.
0. We believe in ourselves.
The biggest lies ever taught by Satan are (1) man is a created being with no individual agency and (2) man is basically evil. Satan and his followers declared war on God in the pre-existence. Nobody ever said that this war was over. The book of Revelation states that Satan (meaning: “the accuser”) and his followers were cast down to earth, and the battle continues even to this day. Even today we find churches and political philosophies which want to force us to do “good”, while at the same time absolving us from all individual responsibility and protecting us from all the risks of life. The price of this devil’s bargain: surrender your freedom to the government and leave your brain on the doorstep of the church.
The truth of the matter is clearly taught in the Gospel of John and in D&C 93, an extract from the sealed writings of John.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3.)
This scripture tells me that not everything was created, that some things cannot be created, but whatever was created was created by the power of the Word of God. What could not be created? Read the following:
“And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn; And all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the Firstborn. Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth; And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. … Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation.” (D&C 93:21-32)
The Articles of Faith are statements of belief. The correct way to teach the Gospel is not to persuade or convince a person to believe, but to invite a person to try it. I hope this essay will persuade you to try living the Gospel more fully.
Testing Those Who Claim to be Special Teachers or Messengers Sent from God
In the Revelation of St. John, in the Bible, John wrote to the church at Ephesus, commending them that they had tested and detected the false teachers that came among them. Most of the following comes from a commentary about the Revelation of St. John, written by JJ Dewey with some of my own comments and observations.
“Thou canst not bear them which are evil.”
This is awkward to interpret in isolation. Many people have different definitions of what is “evil.” We are clearly told though that the aspiring disciple does not embrace that which he sees as evil or destructive, but is repulsed by it. Apparently he sees true evil for the inner voice acknowledges his intolerance as a good thing.
The next part of the verse identifies a particular evil that must be confronted:
“And thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:”
A particular evil faced by the aspiring disciple are those who say they are apostles and are not. Who are such people? The word “apostle” is generally linked with the twelve disciples of Jesus, but at the time of this writing all of them were dead except for John. Obviously many people surfaced with the claim of being the true successors of the original twelve.
Another possibility, and I emphasize possibility, is Paul or one of his associates could have been the “false apostles”. Paul said that he was an apostle, but was not recognized as such by the Twelve Apostles at Jerusalem. He was never numbered with the Twelve, never sat in council with them, and only met with them briefly. Paul didn’t meet Peter until 3 years after his “conversion” (Gal. 1:18), and he never met with any of the other apostles, except “James, the Lord’s brother” (Gal. 1:19). He never returned the Jerusalem again for another fourteen years (Gal. 2:1). Paul visited Ephesus, taught there, and wrote a letter to the Ephesians. He was in the city for over 2 years — from the autumn is AD 52 to spring of AD 55. (http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/ephesus-paul.htm.) Paul claims to have been called as an apostle, not “of man”, but “of God”.
When the position of the fallen disciple Judas Iscariot was filled, the other eleven met in council and sought the guidance of God so that through their act of casting lots, God might act through them, to fill the vacancy with the man whom God had called. (Acts 1:20-26). Thus, Matthias was chosen by God, acting through the other Apostles. Paul makes no such claim, other than that he was called of God, and not of men. Paul also has a number of associates whom he terms “apostles”. Paul warns his readers about believing any other gospel other than that which he has taught, yet Paul teaches many unique precepts, which are not anywhere else in the New Testament. There have been volumes written by Biblical scholars, detailing the differences between the teachings of Paul and the teachings of John. And, churches have wrangled for years over the question of “faith and works”, pitting Paul and James against each other. Perhaps, there were deep splits in Christianity even back then, and Paul was seen by the main body of saints as a lone, self-styled renegade, going off on his own and teaching his own brand of gospel. And, perhaps, for this reason, John and the citizens of Ephesus considered him to be one who claimed to be an apostle, but turned out to be a liar.
Regardless of who those who claimed to be apostles were, let’s continue with the commentary.
The problem goes beyond this, however. “Apostle” comes from the Greek APOSTOLOS and means “one sent forth with orders.” This implies that such a person has strong authority.
Now let us look again at who the aspirant is dealing with. It is those “which say they are apostles.” In other words, as the seeker begins the path of liberation one of the first great evils he must confront and overcome are those who seek authority over him to give him marching orders. Where do they get their authority? They only seem to have it because they (or their followers) “say” so.
In order to make his first step of granting himself “permission” [The name Ephesus in Greek means “permission”.] to listen to the inner voice he must free himself from false unearned outer authorities. But note that he does not mindlessly reject an outer authority just because it is there and attempting to instruct or order him about. What does he do?
The Master gives him praise for testing such people and John himself in another scripture talks about the importance of such tests:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
Speaking personally of myself, I am interesting in finding true messengers from God, especially one who is a true apostle, sent from Christ. Brigham Young, who was one of the first apostles of the LDS church, once said something to the effect that he would walk anywhere, anytime to hear an Apostle of Christ speak on any subject. I agree. But, how do you find such a person, and how do you verify that such a person is who and what they claim to be? The answer is simple: test them.
However, it is difficult to find a person these days who teaches and bears the kind of apostolic witness that one would expect to hear from a modern-day Peter or John, let alone Paul. There are those who claim the title “apostles”, but rather than bear personal eye-witness to the resurrection of Christ, they speak about the evils of the lottery and the importance of active church membership. There are others who appear to speak or write with the power of an “apostle”, but they, too, fail to stand up under the kind of testing that John proposes.
Now the question arises as to how the seeker is to test such people. The next verse seems to give a simplistic answer:
2 “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
(1 John 4:2-3)
Here is another translation of this passage, given in modern English:
1 Beloved, there are many false prophets going out in the world, and there are many false spirits guiding them and would gladly guide you if they could. Do not believe every spirit or every teacher who comes to you, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God.
2 Here’s the test to determine the true Spirit of God: Every spirit that teaches the words of Christ which you have already received and who testifies that Jesus Christ, (who came and who will come in the flesh), is of God, is a true Spirit sent from God.
3 But, any spirit which does not bring you these same words and does not bear this same testimony is the spirit of antichrist, a substitute for Christ, which you have heard should come; and even now already is in the world.
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome these evil spirits and false teachers: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
5 They who are of the world have been overcome of the world: therefore they speak about the world and the things in the world, and the world gladly listens to them.
6 We are of God. He who knows God listens to our message, but he who is not of God will not listen to us. And this is the way to tell the difference between the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
(1 John 4:1-6)
We return to the commentary.
So is that all there is to the test? If they confess that Jesus came in the flesh then we know they are of God, right?
I need to interject that “confession” is more than mere profession of belief, but to confess is speak from a deep personal knowledge and conviction. The word “confess” comes from the Greek homologeō. This is a legal term, used to describe testimony or witness in court. To testify falsely, which is to testify of the truth of a thing without actual knowledge of a thing, is subject to the crime of perjury. There are many who profess “belief” in Christ, but do not exercise faith (belief in action) in the works or words of Christ. Still, others commit an even greater error when they profess to having received knowledge through the Spirit, when they have received no such knowledge, and are merely parroting a popular mantra in order to gain social acceptance in some religious circle.
Not quite. First we know this is not correct based on observation alone. Many tyrants and people of great evil have confessed such things. Cortez and other Conquistadors confessed the coming of Jesus in the flesh and forced thousands of Native Americans to also make such a confession or die.
If this common interpretation is not correct then what is? To understand let us examine the verse more carefully. The key to the meaning is found in the phrase: “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” We have previously covered that the name Jesus Christ means “anointed to deliver” and applies not only to the Master in Galilee, but to all who successfully follow in his footsteps and seek to assist those who tread the path of deliverance.
“Is come” is from the Greek ERCHOMAI and is the middle voice of a primary verb used only in the present and imperfect tenses. Here it is used in the imperfect tense which implies a thing that is in the state of progress or happening in the now, whenever that now is occurring. If we take this into consideration then what is the verse really telling us? Who are those that pass the test?
The orthodox version reads: “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:”
A more accurate rendering as far as the meaning is concerned would be:
“Everyone who confesses in spirit that the name of Jesus Christ is manifesting in the flesh of all who will receive is of God.”
This agrees with another scripture written by John:
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” (Revelation 14:1)
The name given of the Father is Jesus Christ and is written in the minds and hearts of all true followers.
What then is the test of the true apostle? The seeker must search him out and discover this one thing. Does he see himself as a representative of Jesus Christ in a way that you are not or could not be if you so chose? Or does he see you and himself as equals in the opportunity of manifesting the Christ within our fleshly tabernacles? Does he allow you to speak the words of your innermost soul and allow you to follow them without trying to place his outer authority over you, above your own inner authority?
If he respects your inner voice as he does his own and if he allows you to manifest Christ with the same authority that he does for himself then he is of God. But if he seeks authority over you for the sake of glorifying his ego then he is not of God — no matter what words of support he gives to Jesus.
The seeker at this stage is thus praised by the Master’s voice. He has seen the deceit behind those who sought to control him and direct him toward their own ideal rather than that of the inner Christ.
Be Still and Know
by John Crane, Živorad Mihajlović Slavinski, Ouran
What is Gnosis?
Gnosis or Enlightenment or Mystic Union is The DIRECT EXPERIENCE OF TRUTH. It is the goal of all mystical, occult and (truth be told) religious systems and teachings. Its quintessence is the disappearance of differences between subject and object. They merge and become ONE. From that moment on the human being is changed forever.
Why we have to strain to get it? The reason is very simple. From the early childhood we have only indirect experiences. The main characteristic of indirect experiences is some process between subject and object. For example, you read this text; between subject, that is you, and the object, that is this text, there is the process of reading, the process of seeing and the process of understanding.
When someone speaks to you, there is the process of listening and the process of understanding. That way you get the experience of what that person wants to convey to you. When you watch some picture, there is the process of seeing as intermediary between you and that picture which is the object of your experience.
It would be very easy to be in Direct Experience of Truth all the time if we don’t have our mind. Our mind is the only barrier to that. And the best definition of mind is this: The MIND is totality of all our misunderstood experiences, our traumas, unpleasant experiences, unfinished cycles, uncommunicated intentions and unfulfilled desires. As soon as we want to experience something, instead of Direct Experience of that something our concrete mind is reactivated.
“Oh, that’s just like…” “It’s a …”
This might be fine on a survival level, but, when we want to experience ourselves, when we have a question upon our mind “Who am I?” instead of Direct Experience of ourselves, we get all things we learned from our parents and other members of family, all things we learned in school or read in books, all things we heard from other people or learned from authorities…We get all kinds of indirect experiences.
Thus the only way to get Gnosis or Enlightenment or Direct Experience of Truth on the eternal question “Who am I” is to empty all contents of our mind. When we attain that emptiness, Direct Experience of Truth happens spontaneously and naturally.
Why is Important to “Know how to Know”?
Here is a little Q&A about this subject, given in the same style as Lectures on Faith.
We are told in the D&C if we have “an eye single to the glory of God”, our whole bodies will be “filled with light”.
What is the glory of God? “The glory of God is intelligence, or in other words light and truth.”
What is truth? “Truth is knowledge of things as they were, as they are, and as they will be.”
Why is it important to know the truth? “A man is saved no faster than he gains intelligence [i.e. no faster than he knows truth].” “Salvation is the ability to triumph over one’s enemies.”
Therefore, we are able to triumph over our enemies no faster than we are able to know truth.
Who are our enemies? Death and hell.
What is death and hell? Hell is the Telestial world, or the world in which we now live. For by Adam, all die, but we are punished from our own sins, not for Adam’s transgression.
The Savior through the Apostle John taught that “he that hath the Son hath [eternal] life, but he that hath not the Son is condemned already”.
As Lecture Fifth points out, it is the Father’s good pleasure to bestow upon us the same Sonship as he bestowed his Only Begotten. As John, again, points out, “unto us He gave the power to become the Sons of God”.
Now we come full circle. How can we give glory to God? Know the truth and apply it.
Obtaining the Keys of Knowledge
Joseph Smith restored the idea that the truth is knowable. He also restored or reemphasized many keys of knowledge. JJ Dewey is teaching the Keys of Knowledge. What is a key of knowledge? I have given a couple of examples above: “The Glory of God is intelligence” is a key. So is the answer to the question: “Who or what are you?”
A key is a seed thought, which when meditated about, prayed about, or contemplated over, leads to the knowledge behind the key. Then, when the knowledge is obtained, the key can be a shorthand reminder of the knowledge obtained. It is important to distinguish between a key of knowledge and the knowledge which the key points to. You could have the key to my house, but the key is not the same thing as my house. However, possessing the key to my house, provided I gave it to you, or you obtained it by other legal means entitles you to obtain the blessings and benefits that my house might provide.
Knowledge of a truth is a goal, but know, itself, is a process, A Key of Knowledge can be used to trigger further meditating and contemplation and lead to increased knowledge.
Unless we ourselves obtain the knowledge that the key points to, the knowledge is not knowledge to us; it is but a belief or a second-hand knowledge. Unless a person “turns” the key, he/she does not obtain the knowledge, and the key becomes little more than a substitute for second-hand knowledge.
Here are the steps necessary to go from receiving a Key of Knowledge to obtaining the knowledge which the key unlocks. Please understand that this is a continuing process.
1. Receiving the key.
2. Knowing that you have received the key.
3. Knowing the significance of the key.
4. Knowing how to apply the key.
5. Knowing that you have applied the key correctly.
6. Knowing what the result is of having applied the key.
7. Knowing that you have received the result of having applied the key.
8. Receiving and applying the knowledge that the key points to.
9. Teaching points 1-8 to others.
This list presupposes the ability to know. The type of “knowing” that I am talking about is another term for what JJ calls listening to the voice of God within us all. It’s the same thing. Believe me, if you are attuned to that still small voice and have learned to discern it from all other voices, and learned to listen to it, and learned to trust it, that in and of itself is valuable knowledge, but not only that, it is the source of all other knowledge. So we are really speaking about the same thing. JJ is emphasizing the “what”, and I am emphasizing “how”.
By the way, I don’t know if I will ever go by a nickname. If I went by my first two names, it would be “JR”, but that has bad connotations to TV viewers. If I were to go by “JC”, some people might think I was being sacrilegious. I do answer to the name of “John”, but unlike the fictitious character, I am quite real, and I am quite for real.
The remainder of this document will not go any further into obtaining specific keys of knowledge, but will instead be devoted to obtaining knowledge itself.
Historic development of techniques of Enlightenment
In ancient times Enlightenment demanded the devotion of the whole life of a human being: Severing connection with everyday living, with family, rejecting the goals and ambitions. The best example is Buddha. He got Enlightenment after eight years of persistent meditation. His Enlightenment was all-inclusive, he got Direct Experience about himself, another human being, life, everything…
Many centuries latter, the Zen school of Buddhism came into existence. They discovered that it was easier to get Direct Experience on one particular segment of reality then on whole of life. Thus their followers meditated on particular koans or questions and their Gnostic Experiences were narrower, but reached Enlightenment faster.
A koan is an action, a little story, and or an especially insoluble verbal problem, so as: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” The purpose of a koan is to force one to order to break out of normal consciousness and perceive more than the apparency.
The essence of Zen is the destruction of the automaticity of the thinking mind and with it the destruction of being a separate self-existing as a small single viewpoint. This frees YOU, the spirit, to know more DIRECTLY. There’s a hell of a big difference between thinking and knowing. Zen koan technique seems to have its roots in Buddha’s replies rejecting four questions asked of him, which translated from the Sanskrit form the following pattern:
I am not.
I both am and am not.
I neither am nor am not.
The above contradictions all held equally and simultaneously, tie the thinking mental computer into knots, short-circuits it. It is intended to allow the spirit (you) to free itself from name-and-form, subject and object, self and the thing viewed.
In traditional mystical schools they did not pay attention to the time needed to attain Gnosis or Enlightenment, because they considered time as illusion anyway. But for us, people of the 21st century, the time needed to attain anything, even Direct Experience of Truth, is most important.
So in the middle of last century some people discovered that it is more efficient if people work in pairs and groups then individually. Two human beings would alternatively meditate and communicate to each other. The logic of this conclusion is very simple: When working in pairs, we have two consciousnesses against one unconsciousness. Others discovered that the most efficient method is combination of meditation with communication, because such method empties the contents of the mind most rapidly.
Here are some techniques, which you can practice alone, for quieting one’s mind and perceiving reality directly.
- Spotting objects in space. Quietly sit in a chair, or take a walk outside. Spot an object. Don’t look at it; just spot it. Don’t think about it. Don’t evaluate it. Don’t compare the object to anything else. Don’t assign any meaning to the object. Just take the object as you see it. Then, acknowledge that you have spotted it. Then, spot more objects. Continue until you have a major realization or cognition.
- Anchor points. Sit or lie in a relaxed position in a room, close your eyes, and, without thinking, spot two corners of the room. Just hold that for as long as possible. See these points as your anchor points in space. See yourself occupying that space. Most people can only to this for 30 seconds. If you can hold it for as long as 2 minutes, you’re doing well. After a little practice, try it with more points, until you have all 8 corners of the room.
- A new moment in time. Knock on the table three times. Did you hear the same knock three times, or did you hear three distinct knocks, each in its own moment of time?
Here are some general guidelines for these and other practices. Don’t enter into them lightly. Do them with serious intent, or don’t do them at all. Don’t leave a process unfinished. Keep working at something until you have some kind of major realization. If some fear or pain comes up in the process, keep running the process. What turned it on, will also, if continued, turn it off.
Why do we need to quiet our minds?
Our minds have been compared to a computer, but whereas most computers are excellent at number crunching, our minds excel at pattern recognition. There has and probably never will be a computer developed which is as proficient as the human mind in being able to recognize all handwriting (for example), with a bare minimum of clues. Some computer programs can recognize speech, but they need to be trained to “listen” to the voice of one speaker, specking in clear distinct tones, and only speaking a few selected words. The human mind can recognize speech by speakers one has never heard before. The speech could be colored over by a thick foreign accent, a drunken slur, spoken through sobs or laughter, etc. and still be recognizable without training or programming.
In order to survive in the physical universe we need to be able to rapidly recognize a situation and handle it. Try driving to work without this ability!
However, in dealing with realities from higher worlds, especially the mental plane and above, recognizing patterns and assigning meanings and significances does not serve us well. As spiritual beings we have the innate capability of direct experience, but our existence on the physical plane has trained us to rely exclusively on concrete mental abilities. We need to develop the ability to choose the right tool for the job: to use our higher mental spiritual perceptive abilities when the need calls for it, and to use concrete reasoning and pattern recognition when the need calls for that.
How does Direct Experience affect our lives?
The only goal of practices, drills, or processes is Gnosis, Enlightenment or Direct Experience of Truth. There are no other goals. Many people feel good after achieving gnosis, but the goal is not to feel fine. Some people have better relationships with friends, partners and members of family. Sometimes people experience telepathy, precognition or ecstasy. None of these are goals. The goal is Direct Experience of Truth!
The most important consequence of Gnostic Experience is this: From that moment on the human being advances more rapidly in all systems of psychological and Spiritual teaching, meditation and self-development. Why? For the first time he/she has the stable point of consciousness inside himself/herself. Now he/she meditates, he/she learns and teaches others. Before that Experience, maybe it was his/her desire to look good in other people’s eyes, or his/her inferiority feeling or whatever…
Gnosis will enable you, as complete your life’s journey to create your own love, fulfillment, creativity and peace; you will bring light into dark parts of yourself. You will be able to make decisions yourself and not the blind forces inside you, which you are unconscious of.
The Bible advices: “Be still and know that I am God.” It might just have easily said: “Be still and know that you are God.”
The theme of this article has simply been: “Be still and know.” Once you have recovered the freedom of knowing how to know, your freedom of choosing what you want to know, and hence, of becoming that which you choose to become is thereby restored.
In compiling this article and in my own personal quest for Direct Knowledge, I found these websites helpful in explaining this process. Zvorad and Ouran are both masters in teaching and practices of this technology. Much of this article was excerpted from their excellent writings.