Thursday, December 8, 2016

If Ye Had Known Me

In the most recent (October 2016) General Conference, under the topic of Following Him, Elder David A. Bednar had this to say, "Following the Savior also enables us to receive “an actual knowledge that the course of life [we are] pursuing” is in accordance with God’s will. Such knowledge is not an unknowable mystery and is not focused primarily upon our temporal pursuits or ordinary mortal concerns. Rather, steady and sustained progress along the covenant pathway is the course of life that is pleasing to Him."

The scripture that Elder Bednar is quoting here is from the 1835 version of the Doctrine and Covenants.  That portion that he quotes from has also come to be known as 'The Lectures on Faith.'  The promulgated title change was an effort made to mask the reality that a committee removed scripture from the Latter-Day Saint canon without a revelation and without a vote by the church.  To this day, that decision has never been ratified by a vote by the church, and therefore this document remains scripture -even if it is little known.

From that same source of scripture, I quote a part of Lecture 6th in the 2nd verse, "An actual knowledge to any person that the course of life which he pursues is according to the will of God, is essentially necessary to enable him to have that confidence in God, without which no person can obtain eternal life."

And in the same lecture verse 5, "For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, requires more than mere belief, or supposition that he is doing the will of God, but actual knowledge..."

Sacrificing your character, reputation, honor, applause and good name all could happen in a steady and sustained progress.  I do not believe that sacrificing your house, lands, brothers and sisters, wife and children and your own life could ever be described as steady or sustained by you.  And yet that is exactly what Joseph Smith taught would be necessary.

Would Abraham have considered God asking him, to sacrifice Isaac a steady or sustained progression?  If so, how come we don't hear of more people building sacrificial altars to sacrifice their children on?

From verse 4, "Such was and always will be the situation of the saints of God, that unless they have an actual knowledge that the course that they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint..."  
And then verse 8,"It is vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him."

Do not be misled to fancy to yourself that you are or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, when you have not.  Elder Bednar's prescribed notion is for you to suppose that you have received a knowledge of things that you have not, simply because you are steadily going down a sustained road.  Joseph Smith's testimony is that doing so will only result in your growing weary in your minds and fainting under the pressure that will come upon you.  

Elder Bednar is correct in asserting however, that such knowledge is not an unknowable mystery.  Rather you have the promise of all the authors of scripture that you can obtain this knowledge.  However, you have the word of one who has been in the presence of God, and recorded in scripture no less, that such knowledge comes by your sacrifice of all things.

God bless you in your endeavor to do just that!

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