Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Dangers of Riches and Inequality

This might be a good place to review some of the warnings that the Lord has given regarding those who fail to live by the covenant of consecration. I want to list a selection of some of the scriptures that I have shared here with the warnings or consequences listed in bold:
"For it must needs be that they be organized according to my laws; if otherwise, they will be cut off" (D&C 51:2)
"And all they who are not found written in the book of remembrance shall find none inheritance in that day, but they shall be cut asunder, and their portion shall be appointed them among unbelievers, where are wailing and gnashing of teeth." (D&C 85:9)
" Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment." (D&C 104:18)
"Nevertheless, if they pollute their inheritances they shall be thrown down; for I will not spare them if they pollute their inheritances." (D&C 103:14)
"And wo to him by whom this offense cometh, for it had been better for him that he had been drowned in the depth of the sea." (D&C 54:5)
"Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld." (D&C 70:14)
"For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;" (D&C 78:6)
"And the soul that sins against this covenant, and hardeneth his heart against it, shall be dealt with according to the laws of my church, and shall be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption." (D&C 82:21)
"Therefore, inasmuch as some of my servants have not kept the commandment, but have broken the covenant through covetousness, and with feigned words, I have cursed them with a very sore and grievous curse.
"For I, the Lord, have decreed in my heart, that inasmuch as any man belonging to the order shall be found a transgressor, or, in other words, shall break the covenant with which ye are bound, he shall be cursed in his life, and shall be trodden down by whom I will;" (D&C 104:4-5)
"Behold, all these properties are mine, or else your faith is vain, and ye are found hypocrites, and the covenants which ye have made unto me are broken;" (D&C 104:55)
I need to get very serious here for a moment (not that much of this article is light hearted anyway, I realize). Earlier, in PART 9, I asked the questions: Do the Lord's laws change? Or does man change? If we don't abide by his commands, are we condemned until we repent and follow those commands? I want to ask a series of related crucial questions to you, the reader, at this point. They are as such:
If the directives from the Lord regarding this covenant of consecration were so vital, and failure to live by them held such weighty consequences, does it seem logical that if the saints were unsuccessful in living by this law that the Lord would just let it slide? Do you think He would go on to give them so-called higher laws and/or ordinances if they failed to live by this crucial and core covenant that He provided them, a covenant that He repeatedly expressed as being paramount? Can you imagine the Lord would, in essence, just say, "Oh well, we tried. Let's move on." Does this sound reasonable to you, based on what you have read in the scriptures, including the Bible and the Book of Mormon?
I understand that the Lord is loving, forgiving, and kind. But He is also just, and He sticks to his word. The accounts in the Book of Mormon are a testament to this. Over and over again, the Lord warned the people when they were departing from his counsel. When they failed to heed His warnings, were they blessed or cursed? Were they allowed to indefinitely continue in their sins? And for them to return to a position where the Lord was once again able to bless them through his grace, were they required to do what the Lord had asked them in the first place?
Please seriously ask yourself these questions. As one thoughtfully considers these questions and their purpose, it might take casting off some preconceived notions or traditions, to do so effectively. The answer to these questions contains the core behind this entire article, in essence the reason I wrote this in the first place. I didn't write this "just for kicks". I am hoping that this will be beneficial to someone…indeed anyone that might not realize the magnitude of the dire circumstances they could be in. And hopefully if this article helps to open someone's eyes to the truth, it could assist in creating a change in their heart so that they too may be "awakened…out of a deep sleep" and that their souls my be "illuminated" and "expanded." (see Alma 5:7,9) And this could serve as the motivation that creates a change in one's life (or lifestyle), as difficult and painful as it can initially be.
The questions that I have just raised might cause someone to pause and consider whether it is possible that an entire church can be under condemnation. Rather than simply use my opinion here, lets turn once again to the scriptures.
Certainly, it is true that the Lord is "merciful unto the children of men" (see Alma 12:15) and allows them a "time to repent" (see Alma 13:21;42:4) as Alma explained. Mormon also understood this. Regarding the Nephites, he realized that "it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance." (see Mormon 3:3) Even while witnessing his people's spiritual decline into degeneracy, he initially still had hope for their repentance and salvation. He says: "…my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people." (Mormon 2:12) But he soon realized that the Nephites sorrow was misplaced: "But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin." (Mormon 2:13)
So, despite the Lord's overwhelming patience and mercy, Mormon also understood an additional true concept when he said that "the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin." This concept is one that is found throughout the scriptures, and it is that "the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man." ( see 2 Nephi 26:11; see also Ether 2:15, Mormon 5:16, D&C 1:33, and Moses 8:17)
If you recall, the Lord had repeatedly warned the saints of the consequences if they did not live by the covenant of consecration. We just shared a number of scriptures that attest to this fact (found above, with warnings in bold). He gave them ample opportunities in order that they might repent and align themselves with this covenant.
I have shared a good number of scriptures here from D&C 104, which serves as a very strong proclamation and judgement by the Lord regarding the covenant of consecration. This revelation was given on April 23, 1834. It is important to note that by this time the saints in Jackson County had been severely persecuted. As was mentioned earlier, it was in response to their situation that the Lord declared that they would be "thrown down" if they would "pollute their inheritances" (see D&C 103:14) and that "their portion shall be appointed…among unbelievers." (D&C 85:9)
With all this in mind, I want to mention some important dates here for a minute. As I do so, please consider these dates and the sequence of the events that took place within the course of about 4 months in 1834. I do not think that the succession of these events is a matter of chance. These dates are:
February 24, 1834–The revelation contained in D&C 103 was given, with warnings for the saints.
April 10, 1834–The United Order in Kirtland was dissolved.
April 23, 1834–The revelation contained in D&C 104 was given, with warnings and cursings pronounced.
May 3, 1834–The name of the church was changed to "The Church of the Latter-day Saints" (name of Christ removed). Although I am not going to quote them here, the following scriptures are worth taking note of and studying, especially the words of Christ himself in the first reference:
3 Nephi 27:3-10; Mosiah 5:7-13; and Mosiah 26:17-18.
May 5, 1834–Zion's Camp commences. Zion's Camp was an effort by the saints in Ohio to intervene in behalf of the saints in Missouri who were being persecuted (you can read all about Zion's Camp in Volume 2 of the History of the Church, chapters 5-8).
June 22, 1834–The revelation contained in D&C 105 was given at Fishing River, Missouri. Zion's Camp was disbanded soon after.
Now that these dates have been established, I want to talk about this crucial revelation that was given on June 22, 1834 while Zion's Camp was set up at Fishing River. The Lord says:
"Verily I say unto you who have assembled yourselves together that you may learn my will concerning the redemption of mine afflicted people—
"Behold, I say unto you, were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now.
"But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;
"And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom;
"And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.
"And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer." (D&C 105:1-6)
In verse 2, the Lord speaks of the transgressions "concerning the church" and not necessarily individuals. This is an important distinction to make. There are times in the scriptures where the Lord has rebuked individuals, but there are also times where the Lord has rebuked the church as a whole, even if some individuals were exempt from such chastisement. Such is the case here. And what was the primary reason for their reproach? The answer is found in the next verse. The Lord says that the saints have "not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands." What was it that He had required of them? To live the law that He had established as recorded in D&C 42, and had repeatedly reminded them about. He then declares that the saints "are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them." Remember again the importance of this phrase, "impart of their substance", as established throughout the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.
The Lord then says that they are not "united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom." What is this "law of the celestial kingdom"? If you recall, in D&C 78, we learn of the importance of being "equal in earthly things" so that we can be "equal in obtaining heavenly things" and that this is in preparation for receiving "a place in the celestial world" (see D&C 78:5-7). Based on these scriptures in D&C 78, and based on the context of the scriptures in D&C 105 which are obviously talking about the covenant of consecration, I would highly suspect that the "law of the celestial kingdom" pertains to this law of consecration, or more likely, IS the law of consecration.
And then we come to it. The Lord then declares that "Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself." (D&C 105:5, emphasis added) This is a commanding statement by the Lord that sums up the reasons why the saints had found themselves in such perilous circumstances. The reason they were condemned is that they failed to live by the covenant of consecration. And remember, the Lord is speaking to the church collectively, as verse 2 indicates.
It is in obedience to the Lord's laws that Zion can be established, and His law clearly includes the law or covenant of consecration (as D&C 42 indicates). And when a people, church, or community fail to live by these laws, Zion CANNOT be established among them. It is that simple. And it is also that difficult. It is why even the Lord's people, as recorded all throughout the scriptures (Bible, Book of Mormon, and D&C alike), often fell short of their potential, because as we know "the natural man is an enemy to God." (see Mosiah 3:19) And it is in the failing to live by this law that they were eventually led on to other sins. This was discussed in PART 4.
In case this isn't enough proof, let's add a second witness.
First, let me add a quick reference. The Lord has said: "But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin." (D&C 49:20) Take especial note of the word "wherefore" in this verse. What causes a situation where the "world lieth in sin"? It is the inequality of mankind in regard to the possession or distribution of substances which are used for the benefit of man, all of which belong to the Lord.
Now to our second witness. D&C 84 contains a revelation to Joseph Smith that includes, among other things, further information on the priesthood. After revealing the lineage and blessings of the priesthood, the Lord refers to the oath and covenant of the priesthood. The Lord then says:
"And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.
"For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.
"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
"And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
"And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.
"And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world.
"And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin." (D&C 84:43-49)
There is a lot in these scriptures that are amazing bits of truth in their own right, but that would lead on to other subjects and discussions, such as regarding the correlation between truth, light, the Spirit, and the Lord. But for this article, I think it is simply important to point out that the Spirit of Christ (or light of Christ) is given to all men, and if an individual hearkens to that Spirit it will lead him to God, who will then teach that individual truth regarding a covenant that is given for that individual's sake, and for "the sake of the whole world." And why does the world need this covenant? Because the "world lieth in sin" as verse 49 states. Remember D&C 49:20, where we are taught that the "world lieth in sin" because of the temporal inequality of men. So what is the covenant taught to us by the Father, that the world needs in order to prevent it from being in sin, which is caused by pride and inequality? The covenant of consecration of course. A few verses later, the Lord continues:
"...the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.
"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 have 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—
"That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and 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." (D&C 84:53-59)
Again, the Lord states that the "whole" world is in sin and then reproves the saints for their "vanity and unbelief" in "treat(ing) lightly" that which they had received. And the Lord declares that this has brought the "whole church under condemnation" and that "this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all." Here is the second witness to D&C 105:2 in that the church, even the "whole church", can be under condemnation.
And what are the requirements for the saints to repent? In verse 57, the Lord indicates that they needed to "remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them…to do according to that which I have written." Certainly, a remembrance of and recommitment to the covenant of consecration is included in this directive. And certainly the principles under which the law of consecration is established are extensively discussed in the Book of Mormon (as we have shown in this article and will continue to show). And the penalty for not doing as the Lord has directed here? As verse 58 indicates, "a scourge and judgement" on the "children of Zion."
The Lord clearly says that the church was "condemned". What other warnings did the Lord give the saints in his continuous exhortations to live by His law? Remember again the words in bold. In addition to "condemned", add the phrases, "cut off", "thrown down", "spirit…withheld", "grievous curse", "trodden down", "faith is vain", "covenants…broken", "scourge and judgement". I would implore you to seriously ask yourself the question, "How important was the covenant of consecration to the Lord?" Or more accurately, "How important IS the covenant of consecration to the Lord?" Again, after all these admonitions, would the Lord simply withdraw his commands and designs? Would he give the saints higher laws and/or ordinances later, in Nauvoo, were they to fail to live this most important law in Kirtland, or Independence, or Far West? Remember again the words of the Lord, specifically regarding the failing of the saints to live the law of consecration: "For I, the Lord, am not to be mocked in these things—" (D&C 104:6). Was He mocked? I think the answer to that question is found in another question: "Did the church ultimately fail or succeed in living the law of consecration?" All one needs to do is look around at the "great inequality" today to see the answer.
I simply cannot read all these scriptures that have been shared here, without knowing that the law of consecration was, and IS, crucial to establishing Zion. Without it, Zion crumbles. With it, Zion can flourish and amazing things can happen. Next, we will see some great examples of this.

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