Have I done any good in the world today? If not, I have failed indeed! Then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above.
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Prove All Things, Part 1

Many people missionaries come in contact with want us to give them evidence and proof that we are right. They want us to show them the church is true in the scriptures rather than accepting the Holy Ghost into their lives. We can't prove that the scriptures or our beliefs are true. Only the Holy Ghost can do that.

"For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee"
Even if we could prove everything, God still expects us to have faith. If we don't have faith, it
doesn't matter how much we can prove. Hebrews 11:1 says: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Christ set the example for us on how to know spiritual truths in Matthew 16:15-17.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Just as Peter knew Jesus Christ was the Son of God by the power of the Holy Ghost rather than seeing His flesh and blood, Christ expects us to receive spiritual knowledge by the power of the Holy Ghost rather than physical evidence that something is true.

Many cite the scripture found in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to make it seem like we need to prove our beliefs with evidence.

Christ set the example for us on how to pray.
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

In context, this chapter is talking about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This verse is not telling us to prove the scriptures, doctrine, or beliefs. Another meaning of the word "prove" is to "test" something. See 1 Samuel 17:39 and Psalms 26:2.

Here is the scripture reread in context:
21 [Examine] all things; hold fast that which is good.

Or it could be read this way:
21 [Put] all things [to the test]; hold fast that which is good.

Or in other words, "Look at the signs of the Second Coming, examine the things happening around you, and only talk about or concern yourself with the good things you hear."

Another similar scripture is found in Romans 12:2.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Again, this scripture is not asking us to prove to someone that something is good. Compare John 7:17 to get a more full meaning of this scripture.

17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

What we learn from these scriptures is that if we do the will of the Father by keeping His commandments, we can know if the doctrine being taught is really of God or not. This is how we can "test" if something is of God, as the scripture says. For example: When missionaries teach the Word of Wisdom and someone says it is not inspired of God, we invite them to live it anyways so they can see the blessings of living it. Every time, if they really do their part, they will always see the promised blessings.

In the Book of Mormon, we read of the sons of Lehi, returning to Jerusalem to retrieve the plates of brass. After the second attempt to get the plates, Laman and Lemuel were furious at Nephi because Laban stole all of their riches. The scriptures say, "Wherefore Laman and Lemuel did speak many hard words unto us, their younger brothers, and they did smite us even with a rod."

While Laman and Lemuel were beating Sam and Nephi to death, an angel appeared to stop them. However, immediately as the angel left, Laman and Lemuel began to doubt again the strength of the Lord.

31 And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?

These guys have got to be the most stubborn an heard hearted people ever to have lived on planet Earth. However, Nephi was faithful and trusted in the Lord that He would protect and provide a way for them. Nephi knew the Lord had commanded them to get the plates and he knew how important it was to have them as they were traveling in the wilderness.

In 1 Nephi 4:1, we read Nephi's response to his brothers: "And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?"

Curious how Laman and Lemuel could so quickly lose faith after seeing the angel. Surely, anyone would be converted and want to do the will of the Father after seeing an angel, right? Why didn't Laman and Lemuel have as much faith as Nephi, even after this experience? The difference between Nephi and his brothers was that Nephi prayed to know if the things his father told him were true.

In 1 Nephi 2:16, we read Nephi's account of praying to know spiritual truths: "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers."

Nephi prayed to know the truth and the Lord
visited him with the Holy Ghost.
"I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me." Or in other words, "I wanted to know if what my father, the prophet, was telling me was true so I asked the Lord and He visited me with the Holy Ghost and told me it was true."

How did I get out of this verse that Nephi was only visited by the Holy Ghost? If you follow the footnote under the word "visit" it points you to Doctrine and Covenants 5:16, which reads: "And behold, whosoever believeth on my words, them will I visit with the manifestation of my Spirit."

Seeing and believing is not enough to keep a lasting testimony though. Surely Laman and Lemuel believed in God. I mean, they had seen angels! How could they not believe? Their father Lehi was a prophet. They had probably seen him do many mighty miracles in his calling as a prophet. We, like Nephi, must act on our beliefs or they will do nothing for us.

Jesus Christ tells us in James 2:19, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." He also says in Matthew 7:21, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

It all comes down to our desire. If we desire to know spiritual truth, we must ask God, as James 1:5 tells us. If we do our part, God will give us the answers we seek. To know spiritual truths by the power of the Holy Ghost and not just cognitively we must ask God.

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

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