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Move Forward or Sit Idle?
In a show of confidence, Joe Namath, the quarterback for the New York Jets, made a brash statement during a news interview. It was about the game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Jets in the 1969 Superbowl #3. During the interview, a man in the back of the room asked Namath if he thought the Jets could win over the Colts. Namath said he guaranteed they would win, and the jets went out and did exactly that.
My reason in bringing this up is to call to your attention the example of the confidence one can have in their ability. What about the confidence/faith we claim to have in the Lord. We are quick to respond that there is nothing the Lord cannot do, and I agree, yet we have before us the promise given 185 years ago that He would bring forth the City New Jerusalem and Zion. Where is it? Why is it not here? Oh I have heard the words, "Zion will come in the Lords time" and "It is not time for the establishing of the House of the Lord in Zion," or words to that effect. I recall the words of Haggai 1:4 “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?"
With the breakup of the Reorganized Church and the many Restoration Branches springing up, and the organization of some of them into one body here, and another body there such as the JCRB, the Remnant, the Council of Restoration Elders, the Community of Christ, the Temple lot Church of Christ, and many various independent branches. Of all of these, which ones are making positive moves to bring about that promised Zion? None. Instead they are building their own organization, setting men in High sounding positions, talking about Zion, teaching about Zion, resting their peoples in one form of complacency or another, saying “We have an agreement with Heaven, we are safe in the arms of Jesus Christ, for we have been baptized.” Isa 10:3 “And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?"
You may rely on the blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins committed, but how will you answer for work undone? What will be your excuse for not repenting and going back and doing what is required to come out from under the condemnation of section 83:8a.“And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief hath brought the whole church under condemnation. 8b “And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all; and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written, 8c. that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father's kingdom, otherwise there remaineth a scourge and a judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion; for, shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay."
Wake up Oh Israel of the last days. Awaken from the dream that the traditions of the past, that have failed you this far, will yet carry you through. That dream is a nightmare. Traditions that have failed you in the past will not rescue you now. A scourge and a Judgment is soon to be poured out upon you, and you have some notion that because you have been baptized you need to do no more. Obedience; that is the key to your physical and spiritual salvation. Obedience to the commandments of God, including those directions included in section 83:8. Do you think that by ignoring those directions and remaining in condemnation that perhaps the Lord will forget about it? Or perhaps you do not believe the revelation that put the Church under condemnation is true. Somewhere you must make a decision, and each decision results in a consequence. Consider your decision carefully.
Again the words of Haggai call my attention to the time and condition of the work of establishing The City New Jerusalem. "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?" That is a remarkable question today, for we have procrastinated all these years in this work assigned to the 1830 restoration movement. Yet we do live in our “ceiled houses” warm and comfortable, well fed, without a lot of care - while the House of the Lord that was called for in Section 94 still is not built. The place that was to be established for the perfecting of the ministry is not. Therefore the ministry is not perfected, and now, how can the Saints be brought to perfection? Jer 18:9 “And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10 “If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will withhold the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them."
What say ye Saints of latter days, are we guilty? Yes, "what will ye do in the day of visitation?" How will you answer the Lord for work undone?
TO THE APOSTLES
RESTRUCTURED CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST
OF LATTER DAY SAINTS
There is need for a statement of information for the Apostles. You stated that when you read "bring forth my church out of darkness," you see the entire globe" I see the entire globe also, but I have been involved in the construction of buildings over the years, and I have full understanding that all things built require a foundation. This is the purpose for Zion and the Temple. Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:2 "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
Zion and the Temple is the foundation upon which the following is established: Isaiah 2:2 "And it shall come to pass in the last days when the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it;...." This is the center of the government of the Lord: Isaiah 9:6-7 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called 'Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.' Of the increase of his government and peace there is no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever."
We find the promise to us in Revelations 12:3. "And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up unto God and his throne." Therefore our work is to begin the formation of that foundation, while Brazil's beautiful work, as originally stated by Brother Mauricio Berger, is to prepare a people and bring them forth out of the South-land to help us build the physical Temple.
The work in which we are to be engaged must be based upon a solid foundation. Isaiah 28:16 "Therefore thus saith the Lord God, 'Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste."
Holden is just our core of operations and therefore needs to be strong. Yes, I do feel it is my duty and the duty of the entire ministry to protect His sheep that have been put into our hands. This is why I feel that we need to shut out the confusion of Brazil, for we have enough of our own here at home. The thrust of our effort must have a solid backing and that comes from those who support the organization, which are mainly Holden Branch and a few scattered members.
We are on the edge of a very exciting period of time in the history of the work of God's hands. Just this morning I read this from the Book of Mormon: I Nephi 3:213-216 "Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God, 'for the time cometh,' saith the Lamb of God, 'that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men -- A work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other, Either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds, unto their being brought down into captivity and also unto destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken.'"
We read these promises, we teach them also. Why is it that when the Lord begins to bring them to pass, we step back with doubt? I proclaimed from the very start of this movement that this time God is going to win. I believe this to be true with all my heart. The Lord spoke through Joseph Jr. and made it clear to all, that if we are not one we are not His. That oneness is lacking in the ministry of this Restructured Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
While the effort abroad is desirable, the ground work first must be accomplished; the laying out and forming of the foundation. When we realize this and begin to work in that direction we will become more in God's favor.
This is my vision. It is a great work that we have been invited to share. We are to be a team, one unit; there is no room for heroes or glory hunters. Individual seeking of pride and fame is a drag to a team. The pride and glory belongs to the Lord so let us render to Him that which is His, and let our joy be in the service He has called us to.
Joseph F Smith
AS THE WORD SAYS
I have heard that in the desert there are visions that appear, yet are not as we see them. These are called mirages or optical illusions. We see them, and we want them, but when we get to where they should be, they’re not there. In the prophecies from the Old Testament we find many things we can apply to our view of today’s issues, but upon investigation we find many mistaken views. Perhaps that is because we understand them according to the way we want them to be.
Recently there was an article distributed about the 4th Chapter of Zechariah in which the theory was presented that the anointed ones were Joshua and Zerubbabel. First we need to get a clear understanding of the meaning of the word "anointed." The best description I can find to be used in this situation is this: to ceremonially confer divine or holy office upon (a priest or monarch) by smearing or rubbing with oil. Was this done in the time of Zerubbabel and Joshua? I don't know. I do know that there was a divine conferring of something very important upon some other people that we need to take into consideration.
Deut 26:17-19 “Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice; 18 And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; 19 And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be a holy people unto the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken."
In the 11th chapter of Romans the children of Israel are represented as an olive tree. Then in 1 Kings 12:16-19 “So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse; to your tents, O Israel; now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed into their tents. 17 But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. 18 Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day."
Here we see that Israel became two branches of the original tree. The covenant God made back in Deuteronomy is still the same and now is directed at two separate bodies of the tribes of Israel. 26:19 “And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be a holy people unto the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken." These two bodies became known as, The Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah. Going back now to the 4th Chapter of Zechariah let us consider something important.
Zec 4:12-14 “And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand before the Lord of the whole earth." There is much to talk about in these three verses, but let us consider first this: “two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves” The two olive branches are the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah. What then is this golden oil? We read in the book of Jacob the parable of the olive tree, and what is the Lord wanting to produce? Is it not good fruit? And what is that fruit? Is it not sanctified souls?
Consider this: Eph 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;" Remember this from Acts of the Three Nephites in the Sealed book. 11:1 “Now, brethren, listen to this premise: We cannot think of any more intimate and stronger union than that between God and His Son, the Messiah. ...............And, by merit obtained by His blood, shed for our benefit, He extends to us sinners the invitation to this same sonship with the Father, through adoption;...."Isn't this the stature of the fullness of Christ?
Remember what has been read and preached to you many times in the past 180 some years. Matt 5:15-18 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor, wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall thenceforth be good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light to all that are in the house. Therefore, let your light so shine before this world, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
Guess what. Who do you think this was addressed to? Jesus was speaking to Israelites and Jews when He was in the Holy Land. He was talking to the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel. What did He ask them to do? "Therefore, let your light so shine before this world," Why? Why did He want you to “let your light shine?” To be an example: “that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." That by seeing you who have attained "the stature of the fullness of Christ;" others may desire to also seek that high and glorious condition.
So we see that these two nations are the two Olive trees that are charged to fulfill the work of producing the Golden Oil that is to be emptied into the golden candlestick of Zechariah chapter 4. They are as Nephi said of them: 2 Nephi 12:59-61 “Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together, the testimony of the two nations shall run together also." Thus these two kingdoms become the anointed ones of Zechariah 4:14. “Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand before the Lord of the whole earth."
In Our Hand
A Pearl of Great Price
Brother Joseph F. Smith
Eze 7:20-22; “As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty; but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein; therefore have I set it far from them. And I will give it into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it. My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place; for the robbers shall enter into it and defile it.”
Editor’s Note: Brother Joseph told me to include this in his article here. Usually I just check his grammar, but the verse above perplexed me. Maybe it does you too. I read it many times and realized something. That first line above is talking about two different things – “beauty” and “ornament.” “Beauty” is an intangible thing and “ornament” is tangible. But the whole verse is talking about a place. The “beauty” of a place like Zion would be intangible spiritual qualities like peace and safety while the “ornament” would be the tangible location – the place. Later in the verse, the word “it” is used a few times. At first the word “it” talks about the beauty. Then “it” is talking about the place. See the start again below with the whole article:
Eze 7:20-22; “As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it (the beauty) in majesty; but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein; therefore have I set it (the beauty) far from them. And I will give it (the place) into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it (the place). My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place; for the robbers shall enter into it (the place), and defile it.”
Early in the Restoration of the Church they were told about a special place, and when we read the above verse from Ezekiel about a “secret place,” we begin to wonder what this place is. In Second Samuel we find a prophecy that foretells a special place. 2 Sam 7:10; “Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them anymore, as before time,”
Notice that I have highlighted the words “appoint a place,” for it is important that we realize that this is the work of God's hands. Now notice this from the D&C: Section 57:1a-1b; “Hearken, O ye elders of my church saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the Saints: wherefore this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.”
Here we see a prophecy being fulfilled that was given hundreds of years ago. In it we find that this place is to be used for the “gathering” of the Saints. This would therefore be a special place. In fact we find in another section of the D&C that it has a special purpose. Section 45:12c; “and with one heart and with one mind, gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you, and it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the most high God;”
In our search for understanding of the secret place mentioned above, in the 7th chapter of Ezekiel, we have so far found that the Lord appointed a special place for the gathering of the Saints. It is a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the gathered Saints. Also we find that it is the place for the city of Zion, the City New Jerusalem. If it is to be a place of safety, will it not have to come under the protection of God? If it is under God's protection would that not be in agreement with this from Psalms 91:1; “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
If we conclude that Zion is the secret place of the Lord, what then is the question we would expect to hear? The New Jerusalem and Zion is no secret for the whole world knows about Zion, as it is mentioned many times in the Bible. Well yes this is true, but most Christian Churches believe that Zion was Jerusalem in David’s time, and that it will be in the land of Judah in the end times, or some variation of that theology. Then also some will say it is no secret place, for all the Restoration Movement knows about the “New Jerusalem and Zion” mentioned in the book of Mormon. Yes this is true, but how many understand the purpose and reason for the City New Jerusalem? And how many believe it? How many are working to bring forth the beauty of that City and that Zion? Who is putting forth the call to that Zion, and who is physically obeying the following from the D&C 58:3c; “and also that you might be honored of laying the foundation, and of bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand;.....”
The concept of Zion and the establishing of that city New Jerusalem has been with us for at least 180 years, and the Restoration has done nothing with it, and is now doing nothing with it. They do not want to do anything with it, for to do so would require confessing to the condemnation found in section 83 of the D&C 8a-8b; “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief hath brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all; and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written,”
The former commandments. This would include the Law of Consecration, as recorded in the Book of Commandments which will create the beauty of eliminating poverty. It requires total commitment, the entering into and acceptance of the United Order. This was a form of tithing given in the beginning of the Restored Church. When they would not obey this Law, tithing as a tenth was given in 1838. Even today, most of the fragments, groups, organizations coming out of the Restoration do not want to obey the Law of Consecration. There is however one organization which has taken the promise of Zion to heart and is beginning to move into the directives given to Joseph Jr. This is the Restructured Church of Jesus Christ of Latter days.
In March of 2018 eight of us went to Brazil. There we were blessed with the opportunity to handle the Gold plates of the Book of Mormon along with a very moving experience with the Spirit of God. Mauricio Berger, a native of Brazil, working under the direction of the Angel Moroni, gave us that honor in his home for which I am grateful. Also we were given instructions for the work here in the land of Zion. Among those instructions was the directive to reconstruct the original Church that was given in the beginning of the 1830 Restoration movement. Upon our return there was some disagreement about the reconstruction procedure which resulted in six of us deciding to begin following the instructions as given by the Angel Moroni.
As we considered the Solemn Assembly and conferences, we needed a place to hold these meetings. Our natural desire was Independence Missouri, as this has always been considered the center place. This would require money and we did not have an abundance of that resource. I knew of a branch of the Church of Christ Restored located at Holden out on Highway 50, East of Lee's Summit that had a building big enough to handle the meetings. I presented our situation, and the purpose of our work to the Pastor. Upon his discussions with the members there, we were given a hearty welcome. Over a period of twelve months this has become our operating headquarters.
What becomes interesting is how these things have played out. It is apparent that Jackson county and Independence was designated to become the gathering place for the Saints. The place of safety, the city of refuge, virtually the secret place, the place where God would protect His people.
Let us look again at Eze 7:20: “As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it (its beauty - the intangible characteristics - peace, refuge, safety, etc.) in majesty; but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein; therefore have I set it (the beauty) far from them.
In reading the first line I am reminded of the following from Isa 28:1-4; “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet; And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower…........”
Again in Eze 7:21-22; “And I will give it (the ornament - the tangible thing or place) into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it. My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place; for the robbers shall enter into it, and defile it.” See Ezek 16: 10-15 for more.
What this says to me is that, Independence, the center place for Zion, His secret place for the protection of the Saints has become polluted, and the Lord does not want the beauty of His Church restructured there. So we were moved out of Jackson County, as the Holden Church is in Johnson County. It is there we are situated today. Praise God.
Joseph F. Smith
April 7, 2019 – Peter Gould’s Covenant
Isaiah 65:23-24 Concerning the promises of God to his people who answer his call to arise and heed his voice in the 2nd invitation and gathering of Israel:
“23 They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. 24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
Today I would share the words of the covenant made yesterday (06 April 2019) in the ears of the people of the Lord, for so it seemed good to me and to the Holy Ghost.
Several weeks back brother Joseph made known to me that he had petitioned the Lord that I might be appointed by the heavenly throne as his counselor. I made known to him, in return, that the Lord God had ALREADY responded to that plea and placed that burden – nay delight – upon my heart that I should so do. After this call was brought forth on April 6, 2018, having such witnesses I could not fail, because of the grace given of the Lord, but to respond - as it were: “here am I…”
In preparation for the appointed hour that I should receive this divine approbation, the Holy Spirit moved these words of covenant to be made before the congregation and the Holy Priesthood of the Lord:
Hear now the words which I am instructed by the Spirit to speak to you in the ears of all these witnesses – even the words of my covenant – to you – to this body – and to Almighty God:
Heretofore you have had the treasured spot in my heart as a dearest of friends and brothers; Henceforth I count you also as though you were a father.
As my grand-sire Leon Arthur Gould labored to serve your grand-sire, Alexander Hale Smith, as a secretary and co-laborer, so will I labor to serve you as a counselor and co-laborer.
Where you send, by the Spirit, I will go; and where, by the Spirit, you direct me to stand, I will stand.
In persecution I will be a shield.
In slanders I will stand to your defense.
In correction, I will speak but ONCE (that I do not burden you with my over-abundance of words). And then I will leave the burden in our Lord’s hands, thereafter in mighty prayers and supplications – For so the Lord has counseled me this day that you may know I will not badger nor berate, that if I should speak for your correction, you will know that I have already pled before the throne of heaven to know there is no other way; and you will know, when that day comes, as it inevitably will, that I and the Lord mean those things only for your best good.
I was then instructed to ask: “Are you brethren of the High Priesthood content in spirit with this, my covenant? If so, please stand.” - They assented in one accord.
Then I was caused to ask: “Brother Joseph are you content with this covenant and will you receive it? If so, please declare before this people by saying “I will.” - Brother Joseph stood and declared thus: “I will,” “I will,” “I will.”
The Lord then caused that I ask: “And you, O saints of the Most High, are you content with this covenant of service? If so, please stand and sing with me the Doxology “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow…” - The brethren did so in one assent – and so the portals of heaven rang – and the heavens echoed “Amen.”
Joseph F. Smith
The Future of the Restoration
For The Cause of Zion
After the death of Joseph and Hiram Smith in 1844, the Restored Church broke into different segments. Most saints do not realize that many divisions in thought and theology existed for several years before their deaths. Those controversies were controlled by the power of the office that Joseph held, but at the removal of the prophet, things began to pull apart. The Restoration began dividing, separating to some extent along the lines of the differences in thought and theology that were developing among the saints. Over 20 different factions or branches of the original Church emerged. This history reminds me of Isaiah’s prophecy: “For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches” (Is 18:5).
Just as the restored gospel was taking root and the Holy Ghost was transforming the lives of those who both heard and obeyed it, the Lord promised to prune His vineyard. Why would He cut off the ripening fruit? It is because spoiled fruit began to appear among the produce of the Holy Spirit, which yields “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal 5:22-23), the righteous deeds that adorn the Holy City set on a hill. That spoiled fruit needed to be removed.
Jeremiah predicted this pruning: “And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will withhold the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them” (Jer 18:9-10 ). The kingdom of which Jeremiah prophesied is the kingdom that was delivered to the Restoration. In September 1830, the Lord told the infant Church, “Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom” (D&C 28:2b). Receiving the kingdom and holding the keys by which it can be opened is not sufficient. Righteousness must follow. If not, the kingdom would be pruned “if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice.” Did the early saints disobey the Lord’s voice? Our history is filled with accounts of disobedience.
The saints failed to purchase the land of Zion as the commandments specified. Few consecrated to the bishop. He was only able to purchase 2000 acres. Some bought lands by themselves. They also ignored the command to build the Temple, and did not raise the "sufficient men" for Zion’s camp. In short, they did not obey the commandments and sometimes changed them to suit their desires. They were guilty like ancient Israel was: “They obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedest them to do; therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them” (Jer 32:23).
Evil came upon the Restoration just as Jeremiah predicted. Our Lord withheld the good. What was the good that He promised, the good He withheld? “With one heart and with one mind, gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you, and it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the most high God; and the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it; and it shall be called Zion.” (D&C 45:12c-d). The saints, America, and the world lost the glory intended for the land of Zion, as a frontier city of holiness could have grown into a righteous metroplex, influencing the world.
The Lord intends to bring the kingdom to perfection. We can see this in the original framework of the organization of His church in Jerusalem: “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12). This same ministry was returned with the restoring of His church in 1830. The Lord hoped to perfect that ministry in the house that He commanded to be built in the land of Zion: “I, the Lord, require at their hands, that there may be an house built unto me for the salvation of Zion; for a place of thanksgiving, for all Saints, and for a place of instruction for all those who are called to the work of-* the ministry, in all their several callings, and offices; that they may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry; in theory; in principle and in doctrine; in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth, the keys of which kingdom have been conferred upon you” ( D&C 94:3b-d). A divinely prepared priesthood armed with the fullness of the gospel contains the power to transform believers in holy saints equipped to live together in righteousness.
The church, our nation, and the world would be in a different condition today if the saints had built that house. Instead, the saints were driven out of the land of Zion, and eventually out of Missouri. Has their failure destroyed the work of the Lord? I don't believe so. In the last few issues of our newsletter, I have shown that the Lord promised to cut out a stone, which would break apart Babylon: “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces” (Dan 2:34). Daniel added that it would become an everlasting kingdom: “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Dan 2:44).
This event will happen when an enemy army attacks America. Its invasion will destroy the wicked and cleanse the land. David prophesied, “I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord” (Ps 101:8). Isaiah also described it: “It shall come to pass, they that are left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even everyone that is written among the living in Jerusalem; when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning” (Is 4:2-3). Note the promise that all those remaining “shall be called holy.” People will be made holy by the transforming power of the Holy Ghost that comes by repentance, baptism of water and of the spirit. When properly done through the priesthood of that kingdom, which was restored in 1830, they become a child of God. They come to their Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, willing to hearken to His voice and abide His commandments.
11.21.2012 - Desert of Confusion
As we struggle to prepare for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we find ourselves in the midst of a desert—a desert of confusion. Perhaps we bring this on ourselves; nevertheless it holds us in an unfruitful condition. We are not forwarding the progress of that Restoration movement, nor are we bringing forth the promised Zion. We are specifically called to build up these two things. These are the movements of God and we are told to push their causes forward. So let us look at the problems we face and see if we can find solutions that will free us from this stagnant condition.
In every philosophical movement there is a core or principle that presents the desired goal and a means to achieve it. Take for instance my Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey is the core or the principle around which this meal is built. The potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, hot rolls, vegetables, and so forth, are trimmings added to enhance the meal—to bring satisfaction to those who partake of the feast. Those who prepare the meal can destroy the event by burning the hot rolls, making watery gravy, forgetting the cranberry sauce, adding too much salt, or not enough, and letting the meal get cold before presenting it to the guests. Or, they can become overly concerned about the trimmings and improperly prepare the turkey—maybe forget to cook it.
The Restoration of the Kingdom of God has a core purpose around which the Church can be built. This core or principle can be stated in several steps. First, we were directed to declare repentance and to establish the principle of baptism, and the means of receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. Then, we were directed to purchase the land of Zion and to begin to push forward the establishment of that Zion. In August 1831, Joseph and others laid the foundation for the Holy City— the appointed place that was to be established as the New Jerusalem. This will become the center of the House of the God of Jacob—the spot from which the Lord will rule this New Jerusalem in the land of Zion. We agree on these principles. Regardless of which portion of the Restoration and which fellowship in which we worship, we agree. Why not work to further the saints’ togetherness and declare the Restoration principle to the world in which we live?
Like the Thanksgiving dinner, we, as members of the Restoration, became carried away in preparing the trimmings. We allowed ourselves to forsake our instructions—how we were directed to accomplish our work. Some even designed and chose their own philosophy. Then, we began judging each other and dividing over such things as who has the right to lead, who has the authority, who was teaching the right philosophy, what is the right way. We did these things without listening to the voice of the Lord or to the directions that He had given. Have we hearkened to spirits that were not of the Lord or did not conform to the scriptures? Spirits that did not come from the Lord, but rather from the hearts of desirous men? Spirits that led us away from the purposes set forth in the beginning? Spirits that gave us substitutions for the real thing? In the middle of our disagreements, separation and confusion, the adversary has gained influence among us.
I believe the only way we can prepare for the coming of Christ—to be found with sufficient oil for our lamps—is to begin to be obedient to the directions we have received. The Bible, Book of Mormon and Latter-Day revelations tell us what type of person we should be. We must all begin to walk in the path of righteousness laid out for us to follow. We must hearken to the voice of the Lord from the scriptures and from latter day revelations.
History reveals that God’s people, who do not follow His directions, end up rejected and will receive chastisement. Ancient Israel, both the Kingdom of Israel, and the Kingdom of Judah, became disobedient and rebelled against the Lord. They were driven out of their homeland and scattered throughout the world. We worship the same God that they worshipped, should we not expect the same judgment? In fact, does not the Book of Mormon give us warning that if we do not walk in His righteousness, we will suffer His chastisement?
Ether 1:31 “And now we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise, and whatsoever nation shall possess it, shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fullness of his wrath shall come upon them.”
Ether 1:34 “And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God, that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fullness come, that ye may not bring down the fullness of the wrath of God upon you, as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.”
Ether 1:35 “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it, shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.”
As a young boy growing up in the Ozarks I enjoyed listening to many local churches as they would have their “sing fest.” They had some very good singers, and some songs with very factual verses. One I particularly remember was entitled: “What would you give in exchange for your soul.” That is a good question for us today. What would you give up to walk in God’s pathway of salvation? How humble and obedient would you willing become to secure a residence in this land of freedom of worship? How much effort would you put forth to establish Zion, God’s Holy Mountain? Think about it…..
Joseph F. Smith
November 21, 2012
11.04.2017 - Half the Picture
There is a lot being passed around by some who have half the picture. This is my fault, for I did not make the whole story clear in my testimony this past Sunday. If I had tried to do so it would have taken much more time. If we will remember, the Lord said through Joseph Jr. that if this people would not do the work He has asked them to do, He would raise up a people who would.
Consider, we have used up 180 some years and the City New Jerusalem is not established, nor do we have Zion. With the division and contention we see in the branches where are we to find a people who will work together to do His purpose? “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, …” (Isaiah 11:11) “But behold, there shall be many at that day, when I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are the house of Israel; …” (2 Nephi 12:42 [RLDS])
He is setting His hand the second time because we have failed to do His bidding, and we have rested more on the arm of flesh than on the words of the prophets and the words of the Lord contained in the revelations. In this event let me testify to all that the whole trip and the events that transpired were arranged and directed by the Lord. I knew before I went to Brazil, that I would baptize some, I did not know how many. I also knew who I was directed to ordain to the priesthood.
There are always questions when something new comes up, especially when it involves changes in our organizational theory and understanding. This event where the Lord is setting His hand the second time for sure cast questions upon our present purposed process, but perhaps with prayer and repentance we can receive the word from the Lord one way or the other.
Make sure the answers come from the Lord. Perhaps it would be best to hearken to the advice of Gamaliel “And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)
Joseph F. Smith
04.06.2018 - Prophetic Warnings
Recently I have dealt with prophecies that foretell of tribulation and chastisement that is to befall, both this nation and Jerusalem. The warnings are not confined to the three main prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, but is also included in the minor prophets. Also we find that the Lord spoke through our latter day prophet, to give us warning to prepare for the time that is just before us. [Ezek 33:6] But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. Now perhaps I am not designated to be a watchman, but having been given insight into what the Lord has planned, I feel it is my duty to warn the Saints. That is what I’ve been trying to do. Lets look for instance at one of the prophecies that Isaiah has given. Most of Isaiah’s prophecies are directed at us, for we contain the blood of ancient Israel, and are subjects of the covenant the Lord made with all of Israel. Isaiah began his prophecies around 700BC, the Northern Kingdom called Israel had already been gone at least 20 years before, and Judah was already in trouble. So the many prophecies directed at the people of Israel are directed to latter day Israel. Lets look at one……….
Isa 5:1 And then will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill; 2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein; and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
It does not require a lot of imagination to fit this United States into this prophecy. We have borders and oceans that form fences, He did cast out England, France, Spain, and Mexico, stones of obstruction, and planted the choicest vine Israel, Restored His Church , the tower, and sent His priesthood to harvest the grapes. The Restoration produced wild grapes. Thus our condition today.
In sect one of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord speaking through Joseph said this: [Sec 1:3a] Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear; [Sec 1:3b] prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh; and the anger of the Lord is kindled, and His sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth, and the arm of the Lord shall be revealed.
What is to come? Going back to Isa 5th chapter, verse 4-6: "What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, it brought forth wild grapes. And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard; I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down; And I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it."
To prune and dig in a vineyard is to cultivate in a manner to bring forth a good crop. Without cultivation, briers and thorns will come up. Without the effort of the priesthood, Saints will fall away. Priesthood without divine assistance would be worse than a unlearned husbandman in a vineyard. No divine assistance would be as destructive to a Spiritual vineyard as the lack of rain to a physical vineyard. If the Lord takes away the hedge, or boundaries, and breaks down the wall, (our protection), we shall be wasted. "That all that will hear may hear;……. prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come."
The way to prepare is through repentance, turn away from those old habits and traditions and return to the Lord in truth. Come to the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I know this is old food, this is old ideas, but it is the only way you can find favor with the Lord. I am not talking about the Sunday School brand of repentance or righteousness. I am talking about making God a reality in our lives. That repentance is not just something that we talk about in Church. It becomes a reality in our lives also. We need to be on our knees seeking God’s favor.
Psalm 91:1-8: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust; his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
JOSEPH F SMITH
04.15.18 - Why Has Zion Languished?
In Missouri’s Ozarks there are many places where water springs out of the rocks in the side of a mountain. The water is crystal clear and usually very cold. As the current flows down the waterway, it mingles with other sources of water and eventually picks up soil and other contaminants. The stream gradually loses its purity and becomes dingy.
The Restored Church followed a parallel course to an Ozark spring. Truth sprang out of the ground in purity and righteousness descended from heaven in splendor, but as man began organizing and administering the work, vanity and pride began clouding it. By September 1832, the Church had become sufficiently contaminated that the Lord placed it under condemnation: “Your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief hath brought the whole church under condemnation” (D&C 83:8a.)
When I first read this divine indictment, I was surprised at the words “unbelief” and “treated lightly.” Doubt and disinterest rise from people’s vanity. As I researched the history of the Church, I began to realize that arrogance and unbelief gave birth to apathy and disobedience. People grew slack in keeping the commandments of God. Sometimes they became outright rebellious. In June of 1829, Joseph Smith, David Whitmer, and Oliver Cowdery treated lightly the command to select those who were to become Apostles. It was neglected until 1835. Then the decree was changed to include Martin Harris in the selection committee contrary to the original commandment. This is but one example of how people revised and reinterpreted God’s revelations to fit their understanding.
I would like to think that those men, who enjoyed such sublime and extraordinary spiritual experiences, did not recognize the adversary’s influence among them. We find a parallel in the Old Testament: “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (Lev 10:1-2). God gave directions about how to use the incense, but these two priests chose to offer it differently. They mingled their understanding and preferences with God’s revelation. In so doing, they altered His commandments and changed His ordinance. The result was death.
If the early Saints had better understood the Old Testament, they might have better prepared themselves to endure the temptations that erupt from pride and insolence. Jeremiah foresaw this trouble that has befallen latter-day Israel. He bewailed ancient Israel’s captivity while prophesying the expulsion of present-day Israel: “How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger!” (Lam 2:1). Jeremiah’s phrase “covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud”evokes a similar phrase from the cited revelation to the Restored Church: “Your minds in times past have been darkened” (D&C 83:8a).
Jeremiah also lamented, “cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel.” What does the phrase “beauty of Israel” mean? Consider the Lord’s promise for our time: “Righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine own elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare; an holy city, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion; a New Jerusalem” (Gen 7:70). God established His nation and inspired its Constitution to birth a government that guarantees liberty to all. That freedom was necessary to facilitate the Restoration. Its primary purpose is to bring forth Zion, that city New Jerusalem. Attached to that goal is the gathering of God’s scattered people. That latter-day glory is the beauty of Zion and the gathering of the righteous to it. While the Restored Church made several incomplete attempts, the it has failed to accomplish either. The Lord has cast down its beauty. Why?
The answer lies in one of Isaiah’ prophecies: “Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia” (Is 18:1). The term “land shadowing with wings” is clearly understood by Latter Day Saints to refer to the lands of North and South America. The verse begins with the word “woe,” which means great sorrow, misery and trouble. The fourth verse adds, “For so the Lord said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest” (Is 18:4). The Lord is revealing that He will take a break from the latter-day work and consider the situation. That He will pause for a time is illustrated by the dew in the harvest. When dew rests in the harvest, reapers must stop until things dry out.
The next verse states, “For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches” (Is 18:5). The “bud”represents them Restoration movement. It is perfect when the flower opens up.The scripture continues with “the sour grape is ripening in the flower.” The “sour grape” would be the fruit of the flower. In the Restoration movement, it would represent the growth of the Church. Since it says “sour grape,” it means a fruit the Lord does not like. As we study the history of the Church, we see that after September 1832, the Church begins a downhill slide. For instance, the Saints were driven out of the Land of Zion in the very next year, 1833. In winter of 1838-39, the Saints were driven out of Missouri. In 1844 Joseph and Hiram were killed and in the next few years the Church began to break apart.
That division has continued to our day and the saints have scattered, fulfilling the prophecy: “He shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches.” During all this time, the heartfelt effort by many to stem the tide has failed. It continues today. It must stop. The Lord is calling the Saints to come together and build up a people who would be acceptable to Him, but we have not obeyed. How long O Israel will you be content to languish away in the foolishness and vanity of man?
JOSEPH F. SMITH
04.16.2018 - Joseph’s Prayer
“Oh Lord my God! My heart is grieved, my soul is fallen deep in sorrow for my people here in these last days. We stand on the brink of a disaster the like of which we have never seen, and very few are prepared for this day of visitation. We cannot present ourselves before you as being guiltless, for our sins are great. In the flash of promise that comes to us in this bountiful nation we tend to follow our own leading’s, neglecting thy words and directions. The learning and technology of our day tends to lead us off into paths that are not of your presentation or desire. The events of our day occupy our time so much that we forget to study and learn the work of thy hands. We seem not to remember the faith and obedience of Moses and Aaron, as they led the children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt. The people whom thou hast chosen above all other peoples to be thy people. They did not come out without trials and tribulations, but with sufferings they were led to the Mountain where they received thy law, which many would not accept. They began their rebellion, and from that day forth tends to be a stubborn and stiff necked rebellious people.
It seems we also have forgotten the faith of Daniel in the Lions den; of the faith of the three Hebrew children and the furnace of fire and their refusal to acknowledge a false god. We do not teach much about these things today, yet this is the type of faith we need. Hast thou forsaken thy priesthood that thy light no longer is shed upon them as in the beginning of this Restoring of thy Church? From the very beginning of this work of thy hands, our forefathers faced the power of the adversary. A power that is mightier than men who are without your favor and guidance. So it was that they were led astray, and the results of the pitfalls into which they fell, still has its effect upon us. I, for one, acknowledge the failures of our forefathers, and willfully repent not only of their failures, but of mine also in that I have not worked hard enough to turn my brethren and sisters to the realization of what is needed to again come into sufficient favor, to again receive Your guiding hand. I beg in the name of Christ for you mercy, for your grace, that we be not cast off forever, for thou art the only God too whom we can call that will answer and save. I give all praise and glory unto you the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, and the God of all the earth.”
Joseph F. Smith
Written 04.2016/ Posted 04.16.2018