In this episode, we pull out the scriptural yardstick to measure the doctrine contained in the article by Russell Nelson entitled, “The Future of the Church”. Originally published in the April 2020 Ensign, it was recently featured on the homepage of the Church’s website.
1 Peter 4:6
1 Peter 3:18-20
D&C 63:24, 36-37
JST Hebrews 6:1 Therefore not leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.
Looks like we literally fell back to dead works aka work for the dead, because we did leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ.
ESV Jeremiah 7:2-8 (I recommend reading the whole thing)
2 Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord.
3 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.
4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’
5 For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,
6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,
7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.
8 Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.”
And yet what does the modern church teach? Just go to the temple and you’ll be saved, no need to I don’t know help the widow and the beggar.
JST Mark 3:26-30
26 While he was yet with them, and while he was yet speaking, there came then some of his brethren, and his mother; and standing without, sent unto him, calling unto him.
27 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.
28 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or who are my brethren?
29 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
30 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.
Looks like Jesus is confirming that the more important thing is His heavenly family not His earthly family.
Here are a few more scriptures to support the idea that the fathers we are supposed to turn out hearts to are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
D&C 27:11 “And also with Joseph and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, YOUR FATHERS, by whom the promises remain”
D&C 98:32 “Behold, this is the law I gave unto my servant Nephi, and THY FATHERS, Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, and all mine ancient prophets and apostles.”
Exodus 3 (When Moses asks what he should say when the Israelites ask the name of the God who sent him)
“The Lord God of YOUR FATHERS, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (v. 15)
“The Lord God of YOUR FATHERS, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob” (v.16)
2 Nephi 8:2/Isaiah 51:2 “Look unto Abraham, your father…”
Now if we start with this perspective, what might the verse from D&C 2:2-3 be indicating, related to the earth not being utterly wasted at his coming? What if, instead of researching family history names, we learned from the lesson of Israelite history that we need to do the works of Abraham and have faith in order to have God’s promises manifest in our lives too?
“Then said he [John] to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father; [we have kept the commandments of God, and none can inherit the promises but the children of Abraham] for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? he answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” (Luke 3:8-11)
“They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.” (John 8:39)
“Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” (Gal. 3:7)
“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:29)
The Book of Mormon is a testament of other people who have been given this land for an inheritance who did not ultimately live up to the promises they were entitled to through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. I think the promises made to the FATHERS has been planted in the hearts of the children. Now the challenge for each of us is to remember the fathers and the promises so we can live worthy of their name. If not, the earth will be wasted when Christ returns.
WASTED, participle passive
1. Expended without necessity or use; lost through negligence; squandered.
2. Diminished; dissipated; evaporated; exhausted.
3. Desolated; ruined; destroyed.
What historical records exist about the practice of baptism for the dead? I assume it was not practiced prior to Jan 1836, which is the date recorded for Section 137 where Joseph sees Alvin in the celestial kingdom.
Upon further research, I learned that this section was not added to the scriptures until recently. It was added to the Pearl of Great Price in 1976 and then canonized into the D&C in 1981, along with section 138.
I don’t really know whether or not this had anything to do with the practice of baptism for the dead, or not. The vision was followed by other accounts of things Joseph saw which weren’t included in the scriptures, and it appears that lots of people at the meeting were also having visions, which I don’t have any particular proof ever happened, including a vision of Elder McLellin preaching to a large crowd when a lame man threw down his crutches and was healed, also Brigham standing on a rock in the southwest wilderness surrounded by a dozen hostile natives . I suspect this sction was added to the scriptures at a time when the church was starting to build more temples and their missionary focus was also on temple work, so they needed more scriptural support for that work.
The first documentation we have is contained in “15 Aug. 1840 Minutes of Recollection of Joseph Smith’s Sermon,” by Simon Baker. I haven’t been able to find that source online. According to the LDS Church, this was a funeral for Seymour Brunson. During the funeral sermon, Joseph supposedly noticed a woman in the crowd whose son had died prior to baptism, and he announced that the members “could now act for their friends who had departed this life” by being baptized in their behalf. By September 1840 members were doing their own baptisms for the dead in the Mississippi River. Joseph then had to give instructions to regulate the practice, setting up recorders and witnesses and such, and then, of course, by January 1841 Section 124 was received that declared that baptisms for the dead were supposed to be done in the Nauvoo Temple.
Personally, it seems too spontaneous and unregulated for such an important ordinance with eternal consequences. Look at how much detail and regulation the book of Leviticus gave us for “trivial” things like grain offerings. It seems out of character for God to initially say, “Do whatever you want,” and then later say, “Well, I guess my house is a house of order, maybe we should slowly and organically put some rules in place.”
Mormon 8 states unequivocally that “the power of redemption comes on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism avails nothing. But it is a mockery before God, denying the miracles of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works. Behold, my son, this thing ought not to be, for repentance is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law.”
2 Nephi 9:26 “the atonement satisfies the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from…death and hell…and they are restored to the God who gave them breath.”
I’d really like to understand why we are baptizing all these people who were born before the fullness of the gospel was restored. They didn’t have the law given to them, and the scriptures make it clear that baptizing them is a dead work that mocks Christ.
Interesting theory about why the abbreviated D&C 137 was added in 1981. I really like the remainder of the revelation that wasn’t included in D&C 137. It testifies strongly to the second commission when these servants (including Brigham Young) come back and fulfill their callings. Here is the rest of D&C 137:
I saw the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, who are now upon the earth, who hold the keys of this last ministry, in foreign lands, standing together in a circle, much fatigued, with their clothes tattered and feet swollen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus standing in their midst, and they did not behold Him. The Savior looked upon them and wept. I also beheld Elder McLellin in the south, standing upon a hill, surrounded by a vast multitude, preaching to them, and a lame man standing before him supported by his crutches; he threw them down at his word and leaped as a hart, by the mighty power of God. Also, I saw Elder Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far south and west, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of color, who appeared hostile. He was preaching to them in their own tongue, and the angel of God standing above his head, with a drawn Sword in his hand, protecting him, but he did not see it.
And I finally saw the Twelve in the celestial kingdom of God. I also beheld the redemption of Zion, and many things which the tongue of man cannot describe in full.
Many of my brethren who received the ordinance with me saw glorious visions also. Angels ministered unto them as well as to myself, and the power of the Highest rested upon us, the house was filled with the glory of God, and we shouted Hosanna to God and the Lamb. My scribe also received his anointing with us, and saw, in a vision, the armies of heaven protecting the Saints in their return to Zion, and many things which I saw. The Bishop of Kirtland with his Counselors, and the Bishop of Zion with his Counselors, were present with us, and received their anointings under the hands of Father Smith, and this was confirmed by the Presidency, and the glories of heaven were unfolded to them also.