Monday, 18 January 2016

The Word of God - Not Always Accepted by Man

Did he really just say that? I thought. Again, his words echoed. Not a single word had escaped our mouths, and I wasn't even certain if any should. Animated, he continued to relate to us his encounter, as well as his response.

It turns out that after a short discussion concerning The Book of Mormon, this man took it to his pastor and asked concerning the matter. His pastor replied, "Don't even bother reading it. Just throw it away, and stop seeing those people." Apparently this did not sit well with him. He went down the road to one of our members and spoke with him, and began reading for himself.

By the time Elder Varner and I returned for a sit-down lesson, he decided to vent: "Who gives him the right to tell me to throw that book away?"

My heart sank. For, perhaps, the first time on my mission I was able to witness someone willing to find out for themself rather than just listening to the words of their pastor.

It continued, even until our meeting at Church on Sunday. With an attendance which hasn't been seen in years, and a Gospel Principles class fuller than usual, two women shared their encounters as well; of family, friends, and neighbours turning to tear down what they've come to know for themselves.

One of them, a recently returned member explained how three of her dearest friends had ganged up to tell her that we prayed through Joseph Smith, and that The Book of Mormon was all about him. Even her parents had attempted to keep her daughter from attending Church with her.

The other, the mother of a young man that joined only two years back, explained how her husband, neighbour, and family Church told her to stop her son from coming, and that they should throw away their copy of The Book of Mormon.

Both of them turned with conviction, bearing witness that The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ, and that through Christ, and Christ alone, are all things done. They had seen the change the gospel can bring, and they weren't willing to have false accusation sway them in the least. Instead, the young man's mother has an affirmed commitment to work towards her own baptism, and the recently returned member declared, "It only strengthened my faith."

The father of a family we're preparing for baptism smiled, and listened closely the whole time they spoke. Even he knew, because he searched, asked, and trusted God - and it was then, and only then, that the Spirit bore witness (and there's no denying the Spirit).

With these encounters, contrasting a family that dropped us due to the voices of others, I've decided to share in this week's "epistle" the origins of scripture, more specifically, The Book of Mormon. And let us remember that word of God has not always been accepted by man.

God has always worked through prophets (Amos 3:7, Hebrews 13:8). These prophets have led the people out of bondage (as Moses did for Israel), warned the people of physical and spiritual dangers (as Noah did for the people), reared the people in the ways of the Lord (as Enoch did for his city), and prophecied concerning the coming of the Lord (as Isaiah did in his ministry).

Each of these prophets, with the authority of God, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost have recorded these events. The words of the prophets, and apostles, constitute scripture - even the Bible which constitutes select books.

During the times of Jeremiah, the prophet, the Lord sent his prophets to warn the people that Jeruselam would fall (Jeremiah 17:19-27). The people did not listen, so God commanded one of His prophets, and his family, to depart and flee into the wilderness.

As they departed into the wilderness, they took with them brass and golden plates. Upon these plates they recorded their dealings, and their ministry, according to the commanments of God. They then travelled to the aincient Americas and each generation continued to record their dealings, and their ministry.

One of the books in The Book of Mormon (Ether) actually record the dealings of another nation (the Jaredites) which travelled to the aincient Americas, much earlier than Lehi and his family, at the confounding of tongues at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:9).

The crowning event in The Book of Mormon is the fulfilment of Christ's words in John 10:16 where, after His ascencion, He visited the people of the aincent Americas.

Nearing the end of its record - around A.D. 421 - God instructs one of His prophets, Mormon, to compile the plates and abridge the records. Mormon then gives these records to his son Moroni, also in the ministry. At this time, the believers in Christ were being hunted down, tortured, and killed.

Moroni, in an attempt to preserve the records, buried them in the earth and prayed to God that He would keep them safe until the time they could be brought forth for the children of men. The intent was so that we could all come to a perfect knowledge of Christ, and His gospel (2 Nephi 25:26). Moroni called these records The Book of Mormon as they had been given to him by his father, Mormon.

Many years later, in 1827, God called and prepared Joseph Smith to find these plates, and to translate them into the English language by the gift and power of God. Remember, Jospeh Smith had the equivelant of a third grade education. In the end, Moroni, now a glorified, resurrected being was the messenger to direct him to the place they had been buried (Psalm 85:11).

Today we have The Book of Mormon as Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The Lord has said that in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established (2 Corinthians 13:1). The Book of Mormon is the word of God - let us not be caught up with what we have, as to refuse anything else the Lord would have us know.

I know of its truth. And, to be honest, I didn't know all these details before I decided to read and find out for myself - I found out by reading, and praying. Even know I see the blessings the gospel brings, through this book, and the restored gospel. A family we have is changed, excited, and joyfully preparing for their baptism soon at hand.

There are many voices out their - and if we're not willing to look for ourselves, we'll fall with those who dragged us down with them.

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