Blog #2 May 10, 2021
In my experience, we make conversations on or about God and God stuff a whole lot harder than they should be. We create walls that divide us. We erect barriers made from stuff about things that have very little to do with the growth we seek in righteousness. Take for instance Heaven and Hell, eternal judgment, the last days, or maybe even the very nature of sin itself. I am convinced that these conversations do very little more than exercise our imaginations. They are fun but they accomplish very little in our attempt to grow closer to God. The way of God is one piece at a time and each new piece preparing you for the one that will follow. I will not tempt you to run ahead of the Lord, and if my ignorance runs wild and I do, correct me. My aim is to walk together, talk together, and grow in the ways of the Lord together.
2 Nephi 12:36-38
12:36 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little:
12:37 And blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom;
12:38 For unto him that receiveth, I will give more: and from them that shall say, We have enough, shall be taken away even that which they have.
This is the design of the Lord and it works. I envision a ladder. The first rung allows us the ability to reach the next. How can we run unless we are first taught to walk? Can we learn to speak without first listening? Are we able to love God and His ways without first learning to trust them? How can we expect ourselves to hear the voice of God through His Spirit if we can't understand the words of the minister? What is more important to learn, what we shouldn't do or what we should do?
There is a plainness of speech that we must observe if we are to entreat others to seek God and His ways. It starts with the simple and progresses to the complicated, not the other way around. Yes, the Gospel can be harsh, because God's justice is absolute and accepting it is our only path to God's mercy. We need to observe a plainness of speech that communicates our love of God and through Him, our love for others. It is up to us to allow our love for them to be the most evident part of our labor. Bringing them the truth through love mandates that we adhere to God's design of "line upon line". Traveling beyond this plainness of speech turns truth into conjecture. By the ways of God, this is blindness. God will allow it, but understand; it is both dangerous and wasteful. In fact in times past God used this blindness to teach His people and correct them in their wanton need to run before the Lord.
3:22 But behold, the Jews were a stiff-necked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand.
3:23 Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall:
3:24 For God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they can not understand, because they desired it.
3:25 And because they desired it, God hath done it, that they may stumble.
Jacob 2:12 Wherefore, I must tell you the truth, according to the plainness of the word of God.
This is a burden that I bear willingly because God is a God of truth and I am sad to say that I can bring very little if any acceptable truth to many of the esoteric mysteries of God. My beliefs are little more than opinions until I can testify of personal revelations that allow my scriptural beliefs to become a measureable truth in my heart. I am convinced that I cannot share growth until I have grown.
Mosiah 2:23 And ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.
Gaining the Kingdom of God in our heart is a labor of growth, and as we grow together in God's ways the esoteric doctrines and mysteries of God will gain clarity every day, but they will remain opinions until we can verify them as truth within our hearts. I want you to be able to believe God, not just me. I want you to have faith in God, not in just the words I bring you. That is growth through love and it is important that I be able to offer my growth as truth and a testimony of God and His willingness to work in the life of His children. It is the nature Christ's ministry. It is the truth of Christ's life. It is the point of Christ's resurrection. It is the goal of growth through love.
4:13 Till we, in the unity of the faith, all come to the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ;
As a child I learned fully all the "dos" and "don'ts" of a life in Christ as prescribed to me in a church of the world. I learned that virtue and moral purity were based on discipline. I learned that God expected me to turn away from my own desires and choose instead to become willingly obedient to all that God expected of me. Harder yet I was taught that judgment and hell was all I was worthy of unless I had the inner strength to stand firm against the adversary and the minions of Hell. It was a heavy burden to bear, and by every thing I was told, it was truth.
Isaiah 5:16 But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness.
Daniel 9:14 Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth; for we obeyed not his voice.
As gruesome as that sounds, this was the gospel I was taught. I was offered baptism that would cleanse me of all the evil I had committed, but after that I was on my own. The best I could expect was a ritualistic cleansing that was communion once a week at Sunday service. If I missed that, I was hopeless. At twelve, I accepted what I was offered, and was baptized. By eighteen I gave up because I knew that I couldn't do it alone and no one was offering anything that even resembled hope. To me, that which I had been offered was no more than beginning my eternal punishment long before I died. I was trapped in a cage that had no door.
Mark 9: 20-21
9:20 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt believe all things I shall say unto you, this is possible to him that believeth.
9:21 And immediately the father of the child cried out, and said, with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
I believe that many people feel the same way I felt. It was not that I was overwhelmed by the information I had, it was the shear lack of hope for any help beyond what strength I could muster on my own. I wasn't looking for the hand of God, pearly gates, or provable dramatic miracles. I just wanted to see Christians that loved the way Christ loved. I wasn't asking anyone to die on the cross for me; I just wanted someone to care enough to look beyond my earthly appearance and accept me. Yes I was your typical "grunge hippy" and I understood their lack of trust in me, but they never recognized that their three-piece suit and their haughty ways made them untrustworthy to me. Both of us were wrong in our lack of trust, but they professed to be God's child. I was the one seeking and they refused to show me a better way based on anything but how I dressed and how often I took a bath. I mean, heck most of the people in my peer group looked more like the pictures of Christ I'd seen than they did. If looks were so important, they were farther from acceptable that I was, and if righteousness was nothing more than personal hygiene, what's the point?
1 Nephi 3:142-143
3:142 And I also saw gold and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots.
3:143 And the angel spake unto me, saying, Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church;
At about thirty years old, I came to the fullness of God's word at the hands of a man rich in faith and filled with the sense of authority that comes with growing in the word of God, by the design of God. Why did he impress me so much? He was friendly. He looked beyond what I presented him and saw in me a chance to open a heart for the purposes of God, which I am convinced, is the only true reason for reaching out to others. In fact he was honest enough to tell me that he didn't care what clothes I wore, but would I please take a bath before we met next time. You cannot believe how much I came to trust him at that very moment. With that request, he embodied what I thought was the truth of God as told to the people of Corinth by the Apostle Paul.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power;
2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
He spoke to the desires of my heart. I had lived for so long with the burden of my own sin that I found it hard to believe what he said. He was trying to convince me of the freedom that existed within a covenant with God. In fact, I was sure that his God and my God were two different beings. He understood my confusion and spoke to me in a way that was so plain and simple it defied all the doubt I had clung to for so long. He offered me the belief that God really was a loving Father searching for the heart of His child. He showed me that yes, God's justice is absolute, but the mercy He offered carried the same weight of authority. In God there really was a way to be faithful, honest, diligent, and free.
John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
I had never before been given a look at the true nature of God. So many scriptures had escaped my notice because I had been made to believe that I was on my own. I found I had been subject to an ignorant belief that placed man and his abilities equal to the power of God. I was living within the foolish belief that God expected me to be able to create righteousness within myself. I came to find out my Father actually loved me and wanted to join me in my labor to find truth, virtue, and righteousness. In fact God is love.
1 John 4:8 He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.
3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish; but have everlasting life.
3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Of the fifty or so verses we discussed over the next months these two passages formed the basis for my acceptance of all, my benefactor offered. Yes, I could have God and He would teach how to be free. Of the three verses I offer John 3:17 speaks to me almost every day. God does not seek to offer us the ability to condemn others or the standards by which we might judge another as unworthy. He offers all His children salvation and if we choose to grow in that salvation, God will lead us to complete redemption. He promises to not only walk with us as we grow; He seeks to be there to pick us up when we fall. It raised up in me a firm conviction that in God, if I end up in Hell it was not because of God. In was in spite of everything He tried to do to help me come be with Him. In God I am free to choose.
Luke 12: 35 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.
God through His Spirit has caused me to grow, but it is too exciting for me to keep it all to myself. I must share it, because each time I share I grow and each time I grow I have more to share. Be a friend and walk this path with me. God wants you and I need you.