Try The Spirit

Blog #69 September 22, 2023

1 John 4:1-3 
4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God; Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God;
4:3 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 it is already in the world.

Testing the Spirit is an important lesson. We must learn to beware of all that we are offered, and to scrutinize the path we are walking. There are many spirits that seek our devotion, and not all of them are of God. We are given ways by which we might discern the nature of the instruction given but we must choose to recognize it and choose to seek God's help if we have lost our way. He gives us testimonies that will test the lesson offered and allow us to ponder, decide, and either act on the wisdom given or throw it away. Timothy suffered through a time of many falsehoods being taught. The advent of a Holy Savior should have produced a people aware and dedicated to the truth of Jesus Christ, but in reality it created an atmosphere of conflicting opinions with no way to discern the truth.

2 Timothy 3:1-5
3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.
3:4 Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away.

Like it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, these conditions still exist today. One would assumed that with the ease of self-publishing to a wide audience and the availability of far reaching instant communication, we should be witnessing a growth of common understandings concerning scripture and doctrine. Instead we are witnessing more division. Our ability to gather all believers under a common banner of belief currently seems to be improbable if not impossible.

Isaiah 13:2 Lift ye up my banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.

So how do we tell if the scriptures we use are filled with God's truth or if the version we use has succumbed to the corruption of man. One would love to believe that we could go to our scriptures and find the true word of God. But, which one? Which cannon of scripture carries the fullness of God's truth?

One would believe that the Catholic Scriptures being the oldest would be the best, but again, which one. For Catholics in general today, the most commonly used translations are the Revised New American Bible (RNAB), the Revised Standard Version (Catholic edition) (RSVCE), and the Jerusalem Bible (JB). 

Protestants are not much better off. Because of their common link with Western Europe, most begin with and will accept the King Version of the Bible. Modern Protestants seem to stumble over the old-fashioned English wording and have chosen to modernize the wording with the Revised Standard Version, the Amplified Bible, the New American Standard Bible, and the Recovery Version (1999). Do to its acceptance by the World Church Organization The New International Version (NIV) is gaining much popularity. 

Beyond the Protestant Christians there are several sects that have yet other translations of the Bible. The Jehovah Witness upholds The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures as their truth. The Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormons) were given another translation through Joseph Smith Jr. called the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) or the Inspired Version of the Bible, but it still fails to be used by the LDS of Salt Lake City. They claim the King James Version or the NIV as accepted scriptures along side their own particular Book of Mormon. The Reorganized Church of Later Day Saints (RLDS) of Independence Mo claim as their scriptures the Inspired Version of the Bible, The 1908 Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants a collection of revelations by their Prophets. Even this changed when the RLDS became the Church of Christ (COC) they chose the NIV as their scripture source and seem to be downplaying the other two. 

So there you go. It's just as simple as opening up your Bible and we can all understand each other. No it's really not because, believe or not, all of these versions of God's word do not agree in wording, in concept, nor in doctrine. Are we lost without scripture? Hardly the canon of scriptures was not affirmed until 342 AD with universality and general acceptance achieved by 1546 AD. With help from God the word went to the world based on the testimonies of a Gospel and a risen savior.

Does this make scripture invalided or unreliable? No, it just points out the need for a way to compare God's truth to what we have been given. Our faith begins in scripture and grows through scripture, but it must be the truth. God gives us a way to test the words we are given. Whether they are written scripture, shared testimony, or personal revelation, they can be tested.

1Nephi 3:168-170
3:168 For behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious;
3:169 And also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away;
3:170 And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord; that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men:
God realized the nature of man and his tendency to try to improve the scripture by interjecting a little bit of himself into the message. Simply put that is a bad idea, but it happens. God provides us simple tests that can prove or disprove any and all scripture by comparing it to itself, to the time tested patterns of the past, and to the Godliness of all that comes from following that which is written. We can determine the truth of any given fact by the number of witnesses that uphold it, by the pattern it presents, and by the fruit it produces. 

Testimony of the mouth of witnesses:
All things that are truth will be witnessed in two or more voices. Truth itself is witnessed in the voices of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. All truth will have multiple testimonies or it is not truth.

DC 6:13b and in the mouth of two or three witnesses, shall every word be established.

Deuteronomy 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth; at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Ether 2:3 And in the mouth of three witnesses shall these things be established; and the testimony of three, and this work, in the which shall be shewn forth the power of God, and also his word, of which the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost beareth record; and all this shall stand as a testimony against the world, at the last day.

Within the scriptures you use, you should be able to find at least two scriptures that give the same message, the same concept, and the same direction. If the one you are questioning stands alone it is time to reach out through the Spirit to God in prayer then begin the test again. If that fails it is time to seek out help within the fellowship of like-minded believers and ask them to join you in your search. If this fails you it is time to go to Priesthood or other leadership and question them on the authority of the scriptures they support. Why do these scriptures fail to pass a God design test for truth? 

Testimony of patterns:
All things of God adhere to a pattern. God does not change neither do His ways. They are a pattern.

Isaiah 29:25 For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men, save it be according to their faith.

If we believe God, we will look for the patterns He gives us. He promises they will be there. In Christ the term "fulfill all righteousness" described a pattern that was crucial to the redemption of mankind.

Matthew 3:41-44 
3:41 And then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan, unto John, to be baptized of him;
3:42 But John refused him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and why comest thou to me?
3:43 And Jesus, answering, said unto him, Suffer me to be baptized of thee, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
3:44 And John went down into the water and baptized him.

There are those that hold up baptism as both a tradition and a ritual. They would argue that traditions and rituals represent another pattern from God. I would agree with that viewpoint with an admonition concerning the intent and purpose within the heart.

2 Nephi 13:16 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father, that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism; yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word; behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost;

Any pattern can lose its holy application if it fails to testify of God and the ways of the Kingdom. As well, any tradition can become a pattern if the purpose within the heart is that of building the Kingdom of God. Sadly too often, traditions and rituals are completed by their performance. They require nothing more of the participants. Patterns testify of the righteous growth of a person or a people in the ways of God. Their performance produces a change in the participant that is sought for and predictable. In this, they become a pattern that can be used as a testimony of proof that God works within the heart and the life of all who seek Him.  

Baptism and sacrament can both become traditions. Worship itself can become no more than a habit if we fail to meet it with the proper purpose in our hearts. Worship can become a ritual that ends at noon on Sunday and has little effect on any other hour in our life. Patterns reflect a growth towards God that is anything but complacent. It creates a desire within to seek God, seek His righteousness, and seek for others that desire the same. If what you are offered does not follow the definition of a pattern, it is probably not of God.

DC 52:4b-4d 
52:4b And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations; 
52:4c wherefore he that prayeth whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me, if he obey mine ordinances. 
52:4d He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek, and edifieth, the same is of God, if he obey mine ordinances. 

Testimony of the fruits of salvation:
Matthew 7:24-27 
7:24 And, again, beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
7:25 Ye shall know them by their fruits; for do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
7:26 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
7:27 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

That which we are given should produce the fruit we seek. It must lead us in the ways of God and instruct us how to share that way with others. The fruit we seek is faith unto repentance, baptism unto covenant, and growth unto perfection in and of God.

Matthew 3:35 Repent, therefore, and bring forth fruits meet for repentance;

Moroni 8:29 And the first-fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith, unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins; and the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart, cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

If that which we learn takes us away from these concepts, it is not the fruit we seek. It will not sustain our growth. We must go to God and seek that which is true and nourishing 

If we are to grow in wisdom we must seek, ponder, understand, and obey. These are actions that will produce fruit for the nourishment of our souls. God has told us that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We must trust His word and look for the pattern in all that we do. We must depend on the fellowship around us and seek for the testimonies that afford us truth. We have been given ways to discern both right and wrong and have been warned to try the spirit. We must be bold in our belief and seek always for truth. If we stumble, pray to Him. If we doubt, pray to Him. If we feel alone seek always for the fellowship, which has been promised. God is here just waiting on us to call Him.

DC 18:6a-6c 
18:6a Pray always and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing; yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth and corruptibleness to the extent thereof. 
18:6b Behold, canst thou read this without rejoicing and lifting up thy heart for gladness? or canst thou run about longer as a blind guide? or canst thou be humble and meek and conduct thyself wisely before me? 
18:6c yea, come unto me thy Savior. Amen.

Test and Discern
It is the way of the Kingdom


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