Saturday, July 08, 2017

4-Fold Mission of Christ's Church



The purpose of God is to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39).  This is achieved only by and through Jesus Christ, the Holy Messiah. The purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ is to help the entire human family to come unto Jesus Christ through its four missions.

1. Live the Gospel (Matthew 5:48): the Church and its members are to come unto Christ by administering sacred covenants and ordinances.  Church members are to promote true discipleship, more perfect repentance and virtuous living.  The body of Christ creates a community of safety and caring. 

2. Share the Gospel (Mark 16:15): the Church and its members are to continually share the good news of Christ's gospel with all peoples by word and example.

3. Turn hearts to their Fathers (Malachi 4:5-6):  Christ's atonement overcame death.  Accordingly, the gospel of Christ is still being preached in the Spirit World (1 Peter 3:19).  Baptism can be performed by the living and accepted by the dead (1 Cor 15:29). Genealogy identifies our progenitors who we hope will accept these covenants by ordinances performed by vicarious proxy.

4. Care for Poor and Needy (James 1:27): Pure Religion involves caring for the poor and needy, especially the fatherless and widow. Welfare is the primary business and duty of religion because only religious organizations can collect voluntarily, give with accountability and effectively rehabilitate where needed. 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Elder Holland: Inviting God's Children Home


Elder Holland, addressing new mission presidents, related  a story of a young man from southern Idaho. One night the young man stormed out of the house and set off to join an infamous motorcycle gang. He succeeded in that resolve and for 20 years became immersed in a culture “of temptations yielded to and degradations explored,” never contacting his parents, who feared that he was dead.

Eventually ending up in Southern California, he one day was sitting on the porch of a rented home when he saw two LDS missionaries making their way up the street.

“With a rush of memory and guilt, regret and rage, he despised the very sight of them,” Elder Holland recounted. “But he was safe, because he kept all visitors at bay by employing two Doberman Pinschers who viciously charged the gate every moment that anyone came near.”

The dogs startled the missionaries as they passed by and continued on, “our man on the porch laughing at the lovely little drama he had just witnessed, wishing only that the gate hadn’t restrained his two dogs.”

Then, the two elders stopped, looked at each other, conversed a little, “likely said a silent prayer,” then turned around and approached the gate.

“The Dobermans on cue charged the gate again, hit it, snarling, frothing, and then stopped in their tracks,” Elder Holland said. “They looked at the missionaries, dropped their heads, ambled back to the front steps and lay down.”

The man on the porch was speechless as they missionaries opened the gate, walked up the path and greeted him.

“One of the elders said, ‘Are you from this part of California?’

“The man said, ‘No. If you want to know, I’m from Pocatello, Idaho.’

“There was a pause. ‘That’s interesting,’ the elder said. ‘Do you know the [such-and-such] family in Pocatello?’

“With a stunned look, our biker paused, and then, in very measured words, said, ‘Yeah, I know them. They are my parents.’

“ ‘Well, they’re my parents too,’ the missionary said. ‘God has sent me to invite you to come home.’ ”

The younger brother had been born after the older boy had left home. The elder brother did not even know of him.

“Mom and Dad have been praying for you every morning and night for 20 years,” the younger brother said. “They were not sure you were alive, but they knew if you were, that someday you would come back to us.”

The wayward son invited the two in, and they talked for the rest of the day and some of the night. He did return home, returned to Church activity and, in March 2015, was married and sealed in the Boise Idaho Temple.

Commenting on the account, Elder Holland said, “This is a story of the role of Almighty God, the Savior of the World, and the Holy Ghost involved in the work of the ministry to which we’ve been called.

“The Holy Ghost prompted those parents to keep praying, to keep believing, to keep trusting. … The Holy Ghost inspired that rebellious boy to come to himself like the prodigal he was and to head for California. … The Holy Ghost influenced that younger son to serve a mission and be willing to accept a call to Southern California. … The Holy Ghost inspired one of my brethren in the Twelve, who was on the assignment desk that Friday, to trust his impression and assign that young man for service not a great distance from his native-born state. The Holy Ghost inspired that mission president to assign that young missionary to that district and that member unit. The Holy Ghost led those missionaries to that street, that day, that hour, with big brother sitting on the porch waiting, and, with Doberman Pinschers notwithstanding, the Holy Ghost prompted those to elders to stop, talk and in spite of their fear, to go back and present their message. …

“And, through the elders, the Holy Ghost taught repentance and brought true conversion to one coming back into the fold.”

Elder Holland said the young elder, without realizing it, gave the missionary speech of all time, when he said to his brother, “God has sent me here to invite you to come home.”

“We are sent by God to invite His children home,” Elder Holland concluded. “We do that through the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, on the strength of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Welcome to the divine companionship.”

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Jerusalem Temple on Mount Zion

 

Ps 48:12-13 "Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.  Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the [last] generation."

The ancient temple at Jerusalem may not have stood on the Haram al-Sharif or so-called "temple mount" where the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock stand today. Some historians and archaeologist are claiming that what is known as the temple mount today is likely the ancient Roman Antonia Fortress.  Instead, the ancient temple would has stood 600 ft to the south on Mount Zion in the City of David. 

1. Jesus Christ prophesied that not one stone of the temple complex would be left upon another (Matt 24:1-2, Mark 13:2). The reason why every rock was up-turned on the temple complex was because when Titus burned the temple, its gold melted and flowed down in between the foundation stones.  Soldiers overturned all the stones to get at the gold.  Josephus commented that the  destruction was so complete that no one would have guessed a temple stood in that location. 

2. The Antonia Fortress would have been a massive structure housing the 10th Legion comprising 6000 soldiers and at least 4000 additional support persons including numerous horses.  The Fortress would not have been a small appendage to the temple complex but would have dwarfed it.

3. According to Josephus, the Antonia Fortress was built around a massive 75 ft rock.  The Romans built massive walls around the rock (Foundation Stone) and then back-filled the area creating a plateau on Mount Moriah whose southeast tower looked down on the temple complex.  The higher elevation of the Antonia Fortress  explains why the Roman soldiers "ran down" from the Fortress to arrest Paul just outside the temple gates for inciting a riot (Acts 21:32).  The Antonia Fortress complex was connected to the temple complex by two 600-ft colonnades (arms) flush with its western wall.

4. The Bible indicates the Holy Temple stood in on Mount Zion, in the City of David (Ophel), over the Gihon Spring which flowed beneath its southeast corner (Ezek 47:1-12).  Josephus said that the temple complex stood on a 600ft crescent ridge between the Kidron and Tyropoeon (Cheesemonger) Valleys.

5. The Gihon Spring is a siphon fed by an aquifer under Mount Scopus.  Vertical  channels from the spring would have supplied the temple with needed fresh water.

6. During the time of the Maccabees, the Temple was descrated by Greeks . Simon the Hasmonean decided to purify and remove Mt. Zion, leveling the citadel (Akra) and throwing it into the Tyropeon Valley.  After Simon's leveling of the Ophel and Akra of the City of David, the hill west in what became known as Upper Jerusalem began to be called Mt. Zion.








Monday, June 19, 2017

Father's Day Message

 


The Tabernacle and Holy Temple were constructed so that man could enjoy the Divine Presence (Shechinah).  In the Old Testament, the cloud by day an firey pillar by night served as physical protections.  In latter-day temples, the covenants of the temple provide spiritual protection from sin and temptation.  Covenants are how Heavenly Father is present in our lives.  Similarly, our involvement with our children can protect them. Fathers being present and involved in our children's lives will likewise protect them from harm and temptation.


(main idea from Tolson Nichols)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ezra and the Rabbinical System

 

I asked a Jewish colleague once who was the rightful ancient High Priestly line, Ezra or Joshua, son of Josedech.  He said there was some debate on the matter.  According to the Bible, Ezra and Nehemiah came late from Babylon to Jerusalem and deposed the families of Joshua and Zerubbabel.  

Ezra had found that several of Joshua's sons had married locals (likely second wives).  Ezra and Nehemiah were concerned that these "strange wives" would turn Israel's heart away from God like Solomon's wives had.  Ezra used these infractions and the authority and money of Ataxerxes to establish a Rabbinical system of scribes and Pharisees that Jesus of Nazareth condemned. Ezra founded a proto-Sanhedrin and enforced Jewish Law through the confiscation of property (see Ezra 7). 

Since the establishment of the Judaic rabbinical and scribal system, the divine presence was not experienced in the Second  Temple and God ceased direct revelation to Israel through prophets.  Zechariah and Malachi were contemporaries of Ezra and Nehamiah and revelation ceased  until John the Baptist.  The Jewish Rabbinical system caused the Jews to misunderstand scripture and fail to recognize their Messiah. 

Today, Christianity has established a similar scribal and rabbinical system through its many divinity schools that teach the creeds of man as doctrine (Nicene, etc.).  These schools of theology have similarly turned the hearts of many Christians away from the truth of Jesus Christ.  The Kingdom of God is established again on the Earth with prophets, apostles, priesthood keys,  revelation, scripture, and the restoration of the Holy Temple. However, like the Pharisees of old, many Christians have been blinded from recognizing the truth because of their reliance upon the arm of flesh. 

The consequence of a reliance upon an academic and scribal system was the division of the Jews into various sects: Pharisees, Sadducees, Samaritans, Essenes, Zealots, Herodians, Hasideans, Therapeutae, and Zugot.  We see this same division in Christianity today.