This Is the Spirit of Revelation?

I was amazed when I discovered that Christians believe God still speaks to them today! When I was LDS I had always been told that only the LDS Church believed in continuing and personal revelation. But Christians don’t believe the heavens are closed! Every person who has been brought to faith by the Holy Ghost receives personal revelation from Heavenly Father all the time. I relish the fact that God lives in my heart and speaks to me personally every single day of my life:

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Eph 4:4-6) In addition to this amazing gift, the Holy Spirit also dwells in my heart and guides me every moment of my life.

The Gospel Doctrine Lesson states that “Personal revelation is the way we learn divine truths.” It also claims it is “the way we receive guidance beyond our own limited understanding in answering life’s questions, meeting challenges, and making decisions.” (Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Gospel Doctrine Lesson 5: “This Is the Spirit of Revelation” p. 25)

I’m here to tell you that this personal revelation comes to you when you read scripture! I have a very personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. I get to talk to Him through prayer and He speaks to me personally when I read His Words in scripture. Jesus taught this truth when He rebuked the Jews for not knowing scripture or the power of God. He told them that God literally spoke divine truths to them when they read scripture:

“But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mathew 22:31-32). God spoke to the Jews through scripture telling them the divine truth that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were living prophets, not dead ones.

When I was LDS I didn’t know this truth, that God speaks to us personally through scripture. That’s because I didn’t understand the important truth that God’s Word is living and active—it’s alive! Now, I know it is the “sword of the Spirit” and is so powerful it can literally pierce the soul and spirit of man. It also can discern the thoughts and intents of a person’s heart (Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12).

The Holy Spirit actively works through the hearing or reading of God’s Word; this is actually how the Spirit works the miracle of faith in an unbeliever. Jesus claimed God’s Word is so powerful that a person is immediately granted everlasting life through hearing it and believing:

“He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

The authors of scripture didn’t use their own words to write it. They were inspired about what to say when the Holy Ghost moved them to write Words given to them. In fact, the inspiration of scripture was the very mission of the Holy Ghost. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. Scripture is “able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3: 15-17/2 Peter 1:20-21).

Because I believe and trust in God’s Word I do not stumble in darkness! I boldly proclaim that God’s “word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). One of my favorite Psalms tells the importance of meditating on God’s Word:

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1).

Scripture written several hundred years earlier still “spoke” to Jesus and His Apostles, and they were guided by it daily. We read one example in the book of Romans where Paul talks about the Prophet Abraham. Paul reminds his readers of the scripture from Genesis saying that Abraham was imputed with righteousness because of his faith. Paul then says

“He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Romans 4:20-5:1).

Did you read that? These scriptures were also written for your sake! If you “believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” you also will be imputed with righteousness through faith!!! Just like Abraham and anyone else whose trust is in what Jesus has done for them—even me!

Have You Been “Pickled in Mormonism”? Lifelong Conversion: Continuing to Advance in the Principles of Truth

Today I compare God’s revealed way of determining truth with the method found in Mormonism. Why is the difference important? God’s truth has been hidden from those who have been “pickled in ‘Mormonism” because of a false spirit which is described in this weeks Relief Society lesson:

“I will [present a] figure in regard to bringing about and getting this spirit in us, and digging deep that we in the time of storm, may not be driven off. Place a cucumber in a barrel of vinegar and there is but little effect produced upon it the first hour, nor in the first 12 hours. Examine it and you will find that the effect produced is merely upon the rind, for it requires a longer time to pickle it. It does not establish the law of right and of duty in him during the first 12 or 24 hours; he must remain in the church, like the cucumber in the vinegar, until he becomes saturated with the right spirit, until he becomes pickled in ‘Mormonism,’ in the law of God; we have got to have those things incorporated in our systems.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow Chapter 3: Lifelong Conversion: Continuing to Advance in the Principles of Truth, p. 68)

There is only one way to be “saturated with the right spirit” and you will never find that spirit in Mormonism. I know this because I believe the words of Christ who taught us how the Holy Spirit works. Being “pickled” into Christianity is not like Mormonism; it happens in an instant. The Holy Ghost brings an unbeliever to faith through a spiritual rebirth that Jesus calls being “born again”:

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:6-8)

Christ also taught that the Holy Spirit shall bring you to a remembrance of what has been taught by Jesus and His apostles:

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” (John 15:26) “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:25-26)

The Apostle John warned you about false spirits and prophets. In fact he commanded that you “try the spirits” so as to discern whether a spirit is from God. How do you do this? He revealed that those who aren’t from God—won’t even hear his words or the words of Christ’s other apostles:

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world…. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:1-6)

Do you really want to know whether Mormonism has the spirit of truth or the spirit of error? Then compare God’s revealed way of determining truth with the method found in Mormonism. We read of this method in the Relief Society lesson:

“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you when you took no thought, save it was to ask me; but, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you,” etc. [See D&C 9.]

Here we read the LDS method of determining if something is true: You can’t just ask God—you must also “study it out in your mind” and then “if it is right” God “will cause that your bosom shall burn within you.” While these words were written specifically to Oliver Cowdery, President Snow explains how this method applies to you:

“So in regard to us, respecting the things which we are undertaking. If we expect to improve, to advance in the work immediately before us, and finally to obtain possession of those gifts and glories, coming up to that condition of exaltation we anticipate, we must take thought and reflect, we must exert ourselves, and that too to the utmost of our ability. We ought to … get the Spirit ourselves” (p. 65).

Can you see the difference between Mormonism’s false method of determining truth and what Jesus and the Apostle John revealed? In speaking of the Holy Ghost, Jesus taught “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

Mormonism tells you to “study it out in your mind”. But what if “your mind” doesn’t know very much about God’s truth? If you’ve seldom studied what Christ originally taught, how can the Holy Ghost bring His Words to your remembrance? What good will it do to study the matter out in your mind if you haven’t studied what the Holy Spirit has already revealed in scripture?

Only a false spirit would tell you to use your wisdom and study it out in your mind to decide if something is true. Does your mind possess more knowledge than the wisdom that God has revealed through scripture? Satan wants you to trust in your own knowledge and feelings. But doing so will expose you to false spirits and you will be led astray; just as President Snow was:

Although he was content for a time with this understanding, he soon yearned for a special manifestation of the Holy Ghost. He said, “I had had no manifestation, but I expected one.” …No language can describe the instantaneous transition from a dense cloud of mental and spiritual darkness into a refulgence of light and knowledge, as it was at that time imparted to my understanding. I then received a perfect knowledge that God lives, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and of the restoration of the Holy Priesthood, and the fulness of the gospel.”

President Snow “yearned for a special manifestation” but the spirit he received was not from God. And because He didn’t test the spirit, he was deceived. To those who “received not the love of the truth” the Apostle Paul revealed that “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie”:

“And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)

I pray that you will be as the Bereans; of whom the Apostle Paul praised:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed” (Acts 17:11-12)

All praise and glory to our Savior Jesus, for teaching us how to discern truth!

Chapter 11: Revelation From God to His Children: God Speaks to Me Daily!

I was amazed to learn that Christians believe God still speaks to them today! When I was LDS I had been told that only the LDS Church believed in personal revelation and that other Christians believed the heavens were closed. This weeks Relief Society/Priesthood Lesson teaches this:

“The thousands, yes, the millions, of our Father’s children who live in the earth are but repeating the history of the past when they deny that God has revealed again his will to the children of men, and say that they have no need of any further revelation. We do not believe that the heavens are sealed over our heads, but that the same Father who loved and cherished the children of Israel loves and cherishes us. We believe that we are as much in need of the assistance of our Heavenly Father in the directing of our lives as they were.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 11: Revelation from God to His Children, p.115)

Christians certainly don’t believe the heavens are closed! God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost all live inside the hearts of every person with a living faith in Jesus! “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Eph 3:10-19) Having this kind of personal relationship with the God of love is worth more than life itself.

I have a very personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. I get to talk to Him through prayer and He speaks to me personally when I read His Words in scripture. We read of this truth when Jesus rebuked the Jews for not knowing scripture or the power of God. He told them that God literally spoke divine truths to them when they read scripture! “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mathew 22:31-32). God spoke to the Jews through scripture telling them the divine truth that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were living prophets, not dead ones.

When I was LDS I didn’t know this truth, that God speaks to us personally through scripture. That’s because I didn’t understand the important truth that God’s Word is alive–it’s living and active! Now, I know it is the “sword of the Spirit” and is so powerful it can literally pierce the soul and spirit of man. It also can discern the thoughts and intents of a person’s heart (Ephesians 6:17/Hebrews 4: 12). The Holy Spirit actively works through the hearing or reading of God’s Word; this is actually how He works the miracle of faith in an unbeliever. Jesus claimed His Word was so powerful that a person is immediately granted everlasting life through hearing it and believing: “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)

The Holy Ghost is actually the author of scripture; those who wrote scripture didn’t use their own words to write it. They were inspired about what to say when the Holy Ghost moved them to write Words given to them. In fact, the inspiration of scripture was the mission of the Holy Ghost. Scripture is “able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Peter 1:20-21/2 Timothy 3: 15-17).

Because I believe and trust in God’s Word I do not stumble in darkness! I boldly proclaim that God’s “word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). One of my favorite Psalms tells the importance of meditating on God’s Word: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1).

Scripture written several hundred years earlier still “spoke” to Jesus and His Apostles, and they were guided by it daily. We read one example in the book of Romans where Paul talks about the Prophet Abraham. Paul reminds his readers of the scripture from Genesis saying that Abraham was imputed with righteousness because of his faith. Paul then says “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Romans 4: 20-25).

These scriptures were also written for you! If you “believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” you also will be imputed with righteousness through faith!!! Just like Abraham was.  And yes, every other person whose trust is solely in Christ and all that has already done for them—-even me!

Have You Seen The DVD About The First Vision? Why Didn’t Joseph Believe Jesus?

Have you seen the Church DVD called The Restoration? I watched it back in 2004 when I received it with my October Ensign. Page 54 explains the short movie as “a beautiful new dramatization of the First Vision”. It’s very well done and at times is so realistic it’s as if you’re right there with Joseph Smith.

Throughout the movie we see Joseph seeking answers to spiritual questions. Two questions that run throughout the movie are “How will we know if we are saved?” and “How can we know which doctrine is right?” As I watched, I found myself wanting to reach out to Joseph—to help him recognize that even from the very beginning of his search, God was already answering his questions. If this movie is an honest depiction of what happened, then God answered Joseph’s questions before he went to the grove to pray. By going to the grove to pray he confirms that either he believes his questions weren’t answered; or, that he has rejected God’s answers.

So what are God’s answers? God provides the answer to Joseph’s first question ““How will we know if we are saved?” before he even asks it. Barely one minute into the movie Joseph’s family gathers to listen as his father reads from the Bible. From the book of John, he reads the words of Jesus Christ our Savior, words which clearly tell us how to be saved:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This passage from God’s Word is probably the most popular verse in the Bible for Christians. At almost every football game shown on TV you will see someone sitting in the stands holding a sign that reads “John 3:16”. The reason this verse is so precious to believers is precisely because it does tell every human how they are saved! But Joseph misses it! The very Son of God promises that all who believe in Him have everlasting and eternal life!!!

It is as though Joseph Smith does not hear these words! Just four minutes after we hear Joseph’s father read this promise from God, Joseph asks him “How will we know if we are saved?” As I watched the movie, I wanted to reach out and shake him and say “Jesus already told you! If you believe in Him you are saved. Why can’t you trust him? Why do you deny Him?

Joseph Smith’s testimony of how to be saved is seen in the third article of faith: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” This ordinance stands in direct opposition to the words of the Son of God. Because Joseph chose not to believe Jesus, he has taught millions of Mormons the wrong way to gain eternal life.

God also answers Joseph’s second question “How can we know which doctrine is right?” About seven minutes into the movie Joseph reads from Psalm 119:

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Again the answer is so clear. God’s Word lights the path—revealing the way. But Joseph again denies the clear instruction of God and seeks his own understanding. He finds his own way to discern truth. He denies the truth that God has already revealed in the Bible and decides to pray for wisdom. The wisdom that he needed was that it is unwise to reject God’s Words. By placing his own way above God’s already revealed way he is easily misled by false spirits. God’s way is to use His Word to light the path—to show the way.

God’s Word is so sweet to me!! It has shown me which doctrine is right. I bear witness to you on the basis of God’s Word that eternal life is a free gift, given to all who believe in Jesus. Believe His Words of John 3:16 and you have eternal life. You are saved. You will have found the way of truth that sadly eluded Joseph—to his eternal torment!

Allow me to share just one more of many clear “lamps” found in God’s Word. Again, these words were written down by John the Beloved. God’s Word bears witness of the truth. Referring to the fact that we can know we have eternal life through belief in Christ, John testified:

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:9-13)

Believe it and receive it!!!

Link to LDS video The Restoration:

Hearken to the Truth and Give Heed unto It

I was 28 years old when I realized that Mormonism was false. I spent a few years searching for the “true church” amongst the protestant religions. After I decided that Christianity didn’t “feel” right, I went from one form of spirituality to another. Finally, I gave up searching for the truth. But I could never stop believing that there was some kind of God. Merely looking around at the marvelous universe was enough to convince me that there had to be a God who had created everything. I finally determined that God had simply left us humans to ourselves.

Looking back, I realize that through all my years of searching, I had always used the LDS method of determining whether or not something was true—trusting in my feelings. One example of this is found in the Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual Lesson 5:

Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “The Holy Ghost communicates with the spirit through the mind more than through the physical senses. This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings, through impressions and promptings. It is not always easy to describe inspiration. The scriptures teach us that we may ‘feel’ the words of spiritual communication more than hear them, and see with spiritual rather than with mortal eyes (see 1 Nephi 17:45)” (pp 22-23)

True to the Faith explains how feelings from the Spirit should be used to determine if something is true:

Note the Lord’s final words in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8 [-9: “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you;] therefore, you shall feel that it is right. [But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong…]” The burning described in this scripture passage signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity, not necessarily a sensation of heat.” (True to the Faith, page 144; D&C 9:8-9)

I spent three decades searching for truth using this LDS formula. Instead of finding the one and only “true God” I found many different people whose hearts gave them very different answers as to what truth was. There are millions of people from various different faiths who have trusted that their strong feelings were God’s answer to their prayers. I found those who sincerely believed in Shamanism, Mormonism, Buddhism, New Age thinking, Deists, Atheists and Agnostics. All truly had faith that what they believed in their heart was true. They based their faith on very strong feelings that what they were following was truth.

There are many different examples of those who have trusted in their feelings to determine truth. Take the crusades where millions were killed and persecuted in the name of God. These people who were murderers were zealots who truly believed they were doing what God wanted them to do. They believed this because they listened to their feelings and to their hearts. Take the men who bombed the World Trade Center Towers. These men believed so strongly that their feelings would never lie to them that they committed suicide doing what “felt right“.

In all my searching I realized that humans are just really messed up. There have been many horrible aspects which define “religion”. But none of these have anything to do with God—each one is simply man claiming to act on God’s behalf. I finally came to the conclusion that a person can’t determine what is true by trusting in their feelings. Feelings often lie to you and tell you what you want to hear. Many people from different religions feel that what they believe is truth, and yet there can only be one truth.

It wasn’t until I met the “God of love” that I learned that many “religions” are simply man-made attempts to define God. For years I had believed that all those horrible “religions” actually defined the Christian God. But I was wrong. The day I met the God of love, I found a God that I had never even dreamed of. This one true God loves me unconditionally and came to earth to give me a life of peace and love. Despite all the many horrible things that I have done in my life, this God actually chooses to dwell inside of me. His love fills my heart despite all the times I forget to trust fully in Him.

There is not one thing that I did to gain His love. Amazingly, Jesus came to earth to show me just how much He loves me. The Son of God lowered Himself and became a human because He unconditionally loves us. Our Savior gave His life so that we could grasp just how much He loves us.

I love the fact that Jesus told us how to determine truth! He testified, over and over again to search the scriptures!! That is where we can find God’s truth! Many times He chastised people who did not turn to scriptures for answers to their questions. After He was crucified He met two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. He hid from them who He was and listened to them as they were trying to figure out why Jesus had been crucified. The reason they didn’t know is because they hadn’t turned to scripture to find the answers. Instead, they were studying it out in their minds. But Jesus revealed truth to them by taking them to scripture! Notice, He didn’t tell them to pray so that the Holy Ghost could reveal to them what was happening. Instead, Jesus pointed them to scripture as the place they could find the truth. (Prayer is how we speak to God–God speaks to us through His scripture (Matthew 22:29-32):

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27).

Even though they claimed later that their “bosoms” burned when Jesus spoke to them, their feelings were not what they used to determine whether Jesus spoke truth. They knew what was true because Jesus took them to the source of truth–God’s Holy scripture. If we want to know what is and isn’t true, we are to test everything with what the Holy Ghost has already revealed to us in scripture.

At times I can barely fathom God’s love for me. But I trust that He does because of all the promises He has left for me in scripture. Unfortunately, those who don’t really know Him often run and hide from Him.

I love these words about our God who loves us unconditionally–in spite of our sinfulness:

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)

I pray that you will come to know of your Savior’s love for you. His love is so great that He gave His life–just so you could spend eternity with Him. Turn to Him and you will find the deepest love of your life. His greatest longing is to lavish His love on you. With the Apostle Paul, I pray this prayer for you:

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Personal Revelation From the God of Love

I was 28 years old when I realized that Mormonism was false. I spent a few years searching for the “true church” amongst the protestant religions. After I decided that Christianity didn’t “feel” right, I went from one form of spirituality to another. Finally, I gave up searching for the truth. But I could never stop believing that there was some kind of God. Merely looking around at the marvelous universe was enough to convince me that there had to be a God who had created everything. I finally determined that God had simply left us humans to ourselves.

Looking back, I realize that through all my years of searching, I had always used the LDS method of determining whether or not something was true—trusting in my feelings. One example of this LDS teaching is found in True to the Faith:

Recognizing the Promptings of the Holy Ghost: He speaks to the mind and heart in a still, small voice. The Lord taught: “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation” (D&C 8:2–3). Sometimes the Holy Ghost will help you understand a gospel truth or give you a prompting that “seems to occupy [your] mind, and press itself upon [your] feelings” (D&C 128:1). Although such revelation can have a powerful effect on you, it almost always comes quietly, as a “still small voice” (see 1 Kings 19:9–12; Helaman 5:30; D&C 85:6). He prompts us through our feelings. Although we often describe communication from the Spirit as a voice, that voice is one that we feel more than we hear. And while we speak of “listening” to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, we often describe a spiritual prompting by saying, “I had a feeling …” Note the Lord’s final words in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8[-9: “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you;] therefore, you shall feel that it is right. [But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong…]” The burning described in this scripture passage signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity, not necessarily a sensation of heat.” (True to the Faith, pages 143-144; D&C 9:8-9)

I spent three decades searching for truth using this LDS formula. Instead of finding the one and only “true God” I found many different people whose hearts gave them very different answers as to what was truth. Just look at the billions of people from many different faiths who have trusted that their strong feelings were God’s answer to their prayers. I found those who sincerely believed in Shamanism, Mormonism, Buddhism, New Age thinking, Deists, Atheists and Agnostics. All truly had faith that what they believed in their heart was true. They based their faith on very strong feelings that what they were following was the true religion.

There are so many different examples of those who have trusted in their feelings to determine truth. Take the crusades where millions were killed and persecuted in the name of God. These people who were murderers were zealots who truly believed they were doing what God wanted them to do. They believed this because they listened to their feelings and to their hearts. Take the men who bombed the World Trade Center Towers. These men believed so strongly that their feelings would never lie to them that they committed suicide doing what “felt right“.

In all my searching I realized that humans are just really messed up. There have been many horrible aspects which define “religion”. But none of these have anything to do with God—it’s always simply man claiming to act on God’s behalf. I finally came to the conclusion that a person can’t determine what is true by trusting in their feelings. Everyone feels that what they believe is truth, and yet everyone believes differently. No one can use “feelings” as the method to discern truth, because your feelings often lie to you and tell you what you want to hear.

It wasn’t until I met the “God of love” that I learned that many “religions” are simply man-made attempts to define God. For years I had believed that all those horrible “religions” actually defined the Christian God. But I was wrong. The day I met the God of love, I found a God that I had never even dreamed of. This only true God loves me unconditionally and came to earth to give me a life of peace and love. Despite all the many horrible things that I have done in my life, this God actually chooses to dwell inside of me. His love fills my heart despite all the times I forget to trust fully in Him.

There is not one thing that I did to gain His love. Amazingly, Jesus came to earth because He wanted to show me just how much He loved me. The Son of God lowered Himself and came to earth to become a human because He unconditionally loves us. Our Savior gave His life so that we could grasp just how much He loves us.

I love the fact that Jesus told us how to determine truth! He testified, over and over again to search the scriptures!! That is where we can find God’s truth! Many times He chastised people who did not turn to scriptures for answers to their questions. After He was crucified He met two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. He hid from them who He was, and listened to them as they were trying to figure out why Jesus had been crucified. They didn’t know because they hadn’t turned to scripture to find the answers. Instead, they were studying it out in their minds. But Jesus revealed truth to them by taking them to scripture! Notice, He didn’t tell them to pray so that the Holy Ghost could reveal to them what was happening. Prayer is how we speak to God–God speaks to us through His scripture (Matthew 22:29-32). Instead, Jesus pointed them to scripture as the place they could find the truth:

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27).

Even though they claimed later that their “bosoms” burned when Jesus spoke to them, their feelings were not what they used to determine that Jesus spoke truth. They knew what was true because Jesus took them to the source of truth–God’s Holy scripture. If we want to know what is and isn’t true, we are to test everything with what the Holy Ghost has already revealed to us in scripture.

At times I can barely fathom God’s love for me. But I trust that He does because of all the promises He has left for me in scripture. Unfortunately, those who don’t really know Him often run and hide from Him.

I love these words about our God who loves us unconditionally–in spite of our sinfulness:

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)

I pray that you will come to know of your Savior’s love for you. His love is so great that He gave His life–just so you could spend eternity with Him. Turn to Him and you will find the deepest love of your life. His greatest longing is to lavish His love on you. With the Apostle Paul, I pray this prayer for you:

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

The Restoration Video: Joseph Didn’t Believe Jesus

Have you seen the Church DVD called The Restoration? I watched it back in 2004 when I received it with my October Ensign. Page 54 explains the short movie as “a beautiful new dramatization of the First Vision”. It’s very well done and at times is so realistic it’s as if you’re right there with Joseph Smith.

Throughout the movie we see Joseph seeking answers to spiritual questions. Two questions that run throughout the movie are “How will we know if we are saved?” and “How can we know which doctrine is right?” As I watched, I found myself wanting to reach out to Joseph—to help him recognize that even from the very beginning of his search, God was already answering his questions. If this movie is an honest depiction of what happened, then God answered Joseph’s questions before he went to the grove to pray. By going to the grove to pray he confirms that either he believes his questions weren’t answered; or, that he has rejected God’s answers.

So what are God’s answers? God provides the answer to Joseph’s first question “How will we know if we are saved?” before he even asks it. Barely one minute into the movie Joseph’s family gathers to listen as his father reads from the Bible. From the book of John, he reads the words of Jesus Christ our Savior, words which clearly tell us how to be saved:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

This passage from God’s Word is probably the most popular verse in the Bible for Christians. At almost every football game shown on TV you will see someone sitting in the stands holding a sign that reads “John 3:16”. The reason this verse is so precious to believers is precisely because it does tell every human how they are saved! But Joseph misses it! The very Son of God promises that all who believe in Him have everlasting and eternal life!!!

It’s as though Joseph Smith does not hear these words! Just four minutes after we hear Joseph’s father read this promise from God, Joseph asks him “How will we know if we are saved?” As I watched the movie, I wanted to reach out and shake him and say “Jesus already told you! If you believe in Him you are saved. Why can’t you trust him? Why do you deny Him?”

Joseph Smith’s testimony of how to be saved is seen in the third article of faith: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” This ordinance stands in direct opposition to the very words of the Son of God. Because Joseph choose not to believe Jesus, he has taught millions of Mormons the wrong way to gain eternal life.

God also answers Joseph’s second question “How can we know which doctrine is right?” About seven minutes into the movie Joseph reads from Psalm 119:

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Again the answer is so clear. God’s Word lights the path—revealing the way. But Joseph again denies the clear instruction of God and seeks his own understanding. He finds his own way to discern truth. He denies the truth that God has already revealed in the Bible and decides to pray for wisdom. The wisdom that he needed was that it is unwise to reject God’s Words. By placing his own way above God’s already revealed way he is easily misled by false spirits. God’s way is to use His Word to light the path—to show the way.

God’s Word is so sweet to me!! It has shown me which doctrine is right. I bear witness to you on the basis of God’s Word that eternal life is a free gift, given to all who believe in Jesus. Believe His Words of John 3:16 and you have eternal life. You are saved. You will have found the way of truth that sadly eluded Joseph—to his eternal torment!

Allow me to share just one more of many clear “lamps” found in God’s Word. Again, these words were written down by John the Beloved. God’s Word bears witness of the truth. Referring to the fact that we can know we have eternal life through belief in Christ, John testified:

“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:9-13)

Believe it and receive it!!!

Link to LDS video The Restoration:

2010 LDS Curriculum: Comparing the Words of Prophets & Apostles

I was born into a devout Mormon family where I learned to dedicate my life to following the words of my prophets and apostles. My fifth generation grandfather, John Patten, was the first member of my family to become Mormon. He converted his brother David W. Patten, who became one of the original twelve apostles under Joseph Smith. The year before I was born, my Dad was ordained as Stake President of the Missoula Montana Stake by Apostles Spencer W. Kimball and Mark E. Peterson. Over the next ten years one of the Apostles or a member of the Seventy would visit our home during each Stake Conference.

My earliest memory of an Apostle is of one who visited our home. This experience is what really taught me the folly of not trusting the words of the prophets. I had a loose tooth and the Apostle (I don’t remember who it was) offered to give me a dollar if I would let him pull it out. Even though He promised that my tooth was very loose and that he would be very gentle, I still didn’t believe him. To encourage my trust, he let me take the dollar until I was ready for him to pull it out. I remember holding that bill in my little hands all through Conference as I tried to muster up enough courage. But I just couldn’t do it. After Conference I had to give him back the dollar as we said goodbye. Then, the worst thing happened. On the way home from Church—my tooth was so loose it fell out! I was so upset that I hadn’t been able to trust him. My father used that experience as an opportunity to teach me the importance of always trusting in and following the words of the Apostles.

Looking back, I realize what a blessing it was to have believed in absolute adherence to the words of my prophets and apostles. Because I believed their words, I poured over the pages of LDS scripture and literature looking for help. Because of their words, I trusted that the only way to gain forgiveness was through my works. It was my complete failure at following their requirements for repentance that caused me to give up. If I had not failed over and over again for so many years, I would not have found the truth that their words are false. And, most importantly, I might never have opened my heart to the truth. I might never have heard that all my sins were forgiven through Christ’s shed blood. I might never have known the joy that I now live daily—serving my Lord Jesus out of gratitude for what He has done for me.

Amazingly, I once again believe in absolute adherence to the words of prophets and apostles. But this time my trust is placed in God’s prophets and apostles—not false ones. Because of all I have found, I desire to share my joy with others. Over the next few days I will be posting five or six new “Pages” which will follow along with various Lessons being taught in the 2010 LDS Curriculum. These pages will provide a few direct quotes from the Lessons as well as links to each Lesson on lds.org. The main purpose of these pages is to provide reference material for many of the Posts I will be writing.

One reason I want to provide quotes from official LDS literature is because I have spoken to many LDS members who don’t seem to know what their prophets and apostles teach. An article in the January Ensign about using the new Gospel Principles Manual in Relief Society and Priesthood gave me some understanding:

“Why the Change in Curriculum? Since we first began using Teachings, millions of people have joined the Church. Many of them have tender testimonies and, with relatively limited experience in the Church, will benefit greatly by a focus on the fundamentals of the gospel. In addition, all Church members will benefit by a return to the basics. A careful study of core doctrines as presented in the new and improved Gospel Principles manual will help members strengthen their understanding of the fundamental teachings of the gospel.”

Another reason for providing the Pages with official LDS quotes is that there are many non-members who don’t understand the teachings of the LDS gospel. Many non-members have LDS friends or family and are genuinely confused as to the differences between LDS and Christian beliefs. As a volunteer with Truth in Love Ministry I have spoken at numerous Christian Seminars across the country. When teaching Mormon doctrine to Christians, I believe it is important to use LDS literature to do so. It is the best way to understand official LDS beliefs. It is also the easiest way to show how the LDS Church uses a different dictionary for many of the words used by Christians.

My favorite reason for following along with the LDS curriculum is to help those who are leaving Mormonism. There are few things more thrilling than interacting with LDS members who have come to trust in free and full forgiveness through the blood of their Savior!! I have the joy of corresponding with LDS members who are at various stages of coming to know the truth. For these new babes in faith, it is so helpful to learn from someone who has already walked the path that they have just begun. Simple explanations showing the differences between Mormonism and Christianity help clear up unnecessary confusion.

But maybe the most important reason for providing “Pages” with the words of LDS apostles and prophets is found in scripture—we are told to “test” their words with God’s already revealed scripture. Even if an angel from heaven preaches a gospel that is different than what has already been taught, we must not believe him:

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)

Are Your Feelings from the Holy Ghost or a Seducing Spirit?

This week’s Gospel Doctrine Lesson claims “revelation comes as the Holy Ghost communicates thoughts to our minds and feelings in our hearts.” In referencing Doctrine and Covenants 8 & 9 we are told that the Holy Ghost “uses a still, small voice to communicate to our minds and hearts” often by a “burning in the bosom”. Dallin Oaks clarifies that “the word ‘burning’ in this scripture signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity.”

When I was Mormon I wanted to receive a “burning in the bosom” verifying to me that the Book of Mormon was true. I spent close to twenty years praying for an answer to this promise in Moroni:

“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.”

I had a testimony that the Church was true, but I certainly didn’t have feelings of comfort and serenity. I thought I must not be asking “with a sincere heart” or “with real intent”. Many times I thought that I was just not worthy enough to have the Holy Ghost bear witness to me. At the temple I would sincerely seek the answer I so wanted to hear. I clung to the words of my prophets that if I just lived the gospel, the Holy Spirit would eventually reveal to me that the Book of Mormon was true.

During those years there were two very important things that I didn’t even realize about Moroni’s claim. First off, the promise allows for no result other than having the Book of Mormon’s truth manifested. The passage does not say to pray to God to see if it is true or not. The prayer is not asking God a question, it is actually asking God to confirm a forgone conclusion—that it is true.

Secondly, using this test to determine whether the Book of Mormon is true is a flawed method of discerning truth! The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth who witnesses truth to us. But God’s Word never tells us to test truth through prayer and feelings! Doing what Moroni suggests leaves a person reliant on their feelings as the means to know truth.

When the Spirit reveals truth to us there will often be a “burning in the bosom” but that doesn’t mean a burning in the bosom always confirms truth. (If you go out in the rain you will get wet; but that does not mean being wet confirms that you’ve been out in the rain.) Feelings often will confirm falsehood as truth. This is one of Satan’s favorite tactics.

God’s Word tells us that in the Last Days people will give heed to seducing spirits. Many people are easily deceived because they rely on their feelings instead of on God’s revealed method of determining truth. Based on strong emotions, suicide bombers have accepted what they were told as truth and sacrificed their lives for a falsehood. One of my friends believes she is following truth and has had very strong emotional feelings to validate her path. She is a follower of “Mother Earth” and believes that Mother Earth is God—-a truth confirmed by her feelings.

The most alarming problem with using feelings or emotional responses as the means to discern God’s truth, is that it exposes you to false spirits. God’s Word tells us that there will be deceiving and false spirits and commands us to “test the spirits”. Heavenly Father revealed how to determine if something is true through the Apostle John:

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1-6). Test your feelings by testing the message that the spirit brings. Compare what the spirit has witnessed as truth to you with already revealed scripture. That’s the only way you can know for sure, whether or not your feelings are truly from the Holy Ghost.

Anyone who truly tests the message of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants will find out that the Holy Ghost is not their author. These books don’t agree with what the early Apostles claimed about forgiveness! We receive total forgiveness the very moment we believe in Christ.

“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). The prophesied Christ of the Old Testament has already reconciled man’s debt to sin. All your sins are forgiven! I know this to be true!

It has been revealed to me by the Holy Spirit and yes, this truth does give me a “burning in the bosom”. But that is not how I know this message is true. I have tested this witness with the rest of God’s scripture. Forgiveness has truly been won for you through Christ’s shed blood. It is His gift, freely offered to you. Please, don’t reject it!

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)

Personal Revelation: God Speaks to me daily!

I was amazed when I discovered that Christians believe God still speaks to them today! As a Mormon I had always been told that only the LDS Church believed in continuing and personal revelation. But Christians don’t believe the heavens are closed! They receive personal revelation from Heavenly Father all the time. I relish the fact that God speaks to me personally every single day of my life! In addition to this amazing gift, the Holy Spirit dwells in my heart and guides me every moment of my life.

The Gospel Doctrine Lesson this week states that “Personal revelation is the way we learn divine truths.” It also claims it is “the way to receive guidance beyond our own limited understanding in answering life’s questions, meeting challenges, and making decisions.”

I’m here to tell you that this personal revelation comes to you when you read scripture! I have a very personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. I get to talk to Him through prayer and He speaks to me personally when I read His Words in scripture. We read of this truth when Jesus rebuked the Jews for not knowing scripture or the power of God. He told them that God literally spoke divine truths to them when they read scripture!

“But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mathew 22:31-32). God spoke to the Jews through scripture telling them the divine truth that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were living prophets, not dead ones.

When I was LDS I didn’t know this truth, that God speaks to us personally through scripture. That’s because I didn’t understand the important truth that God’s Word is living and active! Now, I know it is the “sword of the Spirit” and so powerful it can literally pierce the soul and spirit of man. It also can discern the thoughts and intents of a person’s heart (Ephesians 6:17/Hebrews 4: 12).

The Holy Spirit actively works through the hearing or reading of God’s Word; this is actually how He works the miracle of faith in an unbeliever. Jesus claimed His Word was so powerful that a person is immediately granted everlasting life through hearing it and believing: “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

The authors of scripture didn’t use their own words to write it. They were inspired about what to say when the Holy Ghost moved them to write Words given to them. In fact, the inspiration of scripture was the mission of the Holy Ghost. Scripture is “able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Peter 1:20-21/2 Timothy 3: 15-17).

Because I believe and trust in God’s Word I do not stumble in darkness! I boldly proclaim that God’s “word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). One of my favorite Psalms tells the importance of meditating on God’s Word:

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1).

Scripture written several hundred years earlier still “spoke” to Jesus and His Apostles, and they were guided by it daily. We read one example in the book of Romans where Paul talks about the Prophet Abraham. Paul reminds his readers of the scripture from Genesis saying that Abraham was imputed with righteousness because of his faith.

Paul then says “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Romans 4: 20-25).

These scriptures were also written for your sake! If you “believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” you also will be imputed with righteousness through faith!!! Just like Abraham and anyone else whose trust is in what Jesus did for them—even me!

« Older entries