Monday, September 30, 2019

Under Condemnation

In D&C 88: 33 it says: “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.”

Joseph Smith recorded in the introduction of the Book of Mormon: 
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

We’ve all seen an arch with a keystone at the top holding up both sides. Remove the keystone, the entire archway crumbles.

The LDS Church has done an amazing job preserving the Book of Mormon and sharing it with the world - the Church’s growth is a testament to that. If our religion were to ever replace the Book of Mormon as its keystone with something else, it would fail. 

When the Church was only a year and a half old the Lord revealed something shattering and humbling to the Saints in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
In the April 1986 General Conference, President Benson expounded on this section by saying:
Unless we read the Book of Mormon and give heed to its teachings, the Lord has stated in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants that the whole Church is under condemnation: “And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.” (D&C 84:56) The Lord continues: “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.” (D&C 84:57)
 President Benson continues:
“... we not only need to say more about the Book of Mormon, but we need to do more with it. Why? The Lord answers: “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.” (D&C 84:58.) We have felt that scourge and judgment!”
President Benson concludes: 
"The Book of Mormon has not been, nor is it yet, the center of our personal study, family teaching, preaching, and missionary work. Of this we must repent.”
In the nearly 190 years since the Lord gave that revelation - the Lord has not lifted that condemnation for the church. We have treated lightly the things we have received, which is the Book of Mormon, and we are still under condemnation for having done and continuing to do so.
I don’t know when or even if the condemnation will be lifted for the church. But I do know and can stand as a witness that the Lord is merciful and will bless those who are willing to do the work necessary to lift the condemnation for themselves and their family. 

About seven years ago, my husband and I read this section together and had a deep desire to repent and to lift the condemnation for our family. We knelt down and told the Lord the desires of our hearts and prayed that our family might be guided in the steps necessary to remove the condemnation. We followed the promptings of the Spirit and put forth great effort coupled with sincere repentance. Since that time we have experienced profound blessings in our home and family. Two that we cherish beyond expression are that revelation flows more freely and that every member of our family who is able to express themselves with words, has experienced visions and dreams with the Savior and more. Repenting and remembering the new covenant, even The Book of Mormon has borne fruit and we see that the fruit is good. 

What blessings might flow to your family, and to the church as a whole, if this burden of condemnation were thrown off by humble repentance to not only to say, but to do according that that which He has written?

What does it mean to “treat lightly the things [we] have received”?

Here are some of the ways we may treat it lightly:  We pass over and don’t read the Book of Mormon at all. Or, we read it but we don’t think about it and study it out. Or, we read it and simplify it down to inspirational stories and labor to map out timelines and remember names. Or, maybe we read the Book of Mormon but fail to have eyes to see and ears to hear the Lord speaking to us personally in the patterns and the promises and the covenants that are offered.   

Remember the Joseph Smith quote from earlier when he said that “a man (or woman) will get nearer to God by abiding by The Book of Mormons precepts than by any other book"? If we are trying to take the book seriously then we will see patterns and examples of people in the Book of Mormon coming close to God and in some cases - even standing in the Lord’s presence in mortality. 

We can ask ourselves, “How near to God can I get? How near to God have others attained?" Not everyone desires the same closeness with God. But God desires great familiarity with each of us. **He will invite and allow us to be as close to Him as we individually desire.** Remember God doesn’t stiff arm us, He desires to embrace us. We are the ones who choose to either keep God at arm’s length or to humbly, and tenaciously approach our Savior who loves us so much. 

Here are a few examples from the scriptures of just how near He desires us to be with Him. How much He longs for that embrace: 

3 Nephi 9:14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.
2 Nephi 26:24 He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price. 
26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. 
 27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. 
 28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden. 
2 Nephi 1:15 But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.

Listen to Moroni and “seek this Jesus” who so anxiously seeks us:
39 And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things;
40 And only a few have I written, because of my weakness in writing.
41 And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.

What if you decided you wanted to come out from under condemnation? What would that look like? What if you humbled yourself, hiked a mountain, built an altar and cried out to the Lord until He cried back to you? 
(Enos 1, 1 Nephi 2:7, 2 Nephi 16:6, Alma 17:4)

Micah Tyler

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