Are you a first-timer to LDS Perfect Day! If so, welcome!
Click here to see what this blog is all about and how you can get the most out of it.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rend the Veil of Unbelief, Part 1: Why Your Efforts to Part the Veil May Be Failing


When All You Hear From Heaven...is Silence


It's when you reach out to God, and you get silence.

It's when you obey God's commandments. You repent daily. You're charitable. You're as faithful and believing as a person can be. And all you get from God is silence.

It's when you beg and plead and cry and offer your entire heart to God. And all you get is silence.

It's when you're pounding on the veil between you and heaven. And all you get is silence.

You tell God you believe in Him, have faith in Him, love Him.

His reply?

Silence.

As Mormons, we're taught since we were young that "Obedience is the first law of heaven, the cornerstone upon which all righteousness and progression rest" (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 539). After all,


In fact, a few even take D&C 93:1 very seriously. They repent daily (forsaketh our sins and come unto Him), pray multiple times a day (calleth on my name), listen to the Spirit's promptings (obeyeth my voice) and do everything they can think of to please God (keepeth my commandments).

And yet, not only do they not "see my face and know that I am", they often don't even hear Him.

Not a sentence. Not a phrase, Not a word. Not a peep.

Day after day, month after month, year after year.

Please tell me. Tell me why -- when many are supposedly drawing near unto Him through their very passionate and strict [and I mean STRICT] obedience to His word, not to mention elevated repentance, fasting and charitability -- why aren't more people seeing Him, let alone hearing Him?

Why is it that so many good, faithful, obedient, God-fearing saints are increasing in their frustration that the heavens are not only brass, they're surrounded by veils which are seemingly two-feet thick steel walls?


You Must Challenge Your Preconceptions, or They Will Most Certainly Challenge You.


Contrary to what you've been taught since you were a baby, obedience isn't the first "anything" in heaven. To be honest, even the best, most obedient among us are still unprofitable before God. My post, "The Prodigal Mormon", spotlights this point.

In fact, go ahead -- feel free to see how many times the word "obey" or "obedience" is mentioned in the Standard Works. The answer: 176. 

2,000 years ago, the Master was frequently confronted by those who believed that obedience to the law of Moses was the one-and-only way back to God. They, too, preached that obedience was everything. Yet Jesus, the source of all wisdom, refuted that claim:
"Then said the Pharisees unto him, Why will ye not receive us with our baptism, seeing we keep the whole law?
But Jesus said unto them, Ye keep not the law. If ye had kept the law, ye would have received me, for I am he who gave the law.
I receive not you with your baptism, because it profiteth you nothing
For when that which is new is come, the old is ready to be put away." (JST Matt. 9:18-21)
The Pharisees thought they were being obedient, but they weren't. They thought they were performing the ordinances to God's satisfaction, but they weren't. Oh sure, they were strictly adhering to Mosaic law. But they hadn't received Jesus.

Jesus was very specific about how to receive, how to gain favor with, God. In fact, He made it easy for the Pharisees; He narrowed the list to just two easy-to-remember bullet points:
"But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matt. 22:34-40)
Hmmm....love.

Now see how many times the word "love" is mentioned in the Standard Works. 471, or almost three times the number of "obey" and "obedience" citations.

In my opinion -- and this is just my opinion -- we obey God because we first love Him. When we love Him, we want to be closer to, and approved of, Him. Obedience is a natural outgrowth, result, of loving God.

While there is no question that obedience -- the voluntary adherence to God's laws -- is essential for eternal salvation (Abraham 3:25–26; Helaman 14:30–31), the Lord said it's love -- not obedience -- that's the true test of discipleship:
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35
Moroni gave one of the best scriptures (in my opinion) regarding the paramount importance of love, and how to develop it:

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." (Moroni 7:48)

“Draw near unto me"


"Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts." (Zech. 1:3)

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." (Rev. 3:20-21)

"Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (D&C 88:63)
Who's speaking in these verses? Is it Father? No. It's the Lord.

It's a widespread belief that praying to Father equals drawing near unto Jesus. And while there is unquestionably no doubt that praying to Father is essential to spiritual progress, prayer is supposed to be a dialogue between you and Father, in the name of Jesus Christ.

As I read these scriptures, the Lord is inviting us to turn to, draw near unto, seek and ask...Him (Jesus). He uses pronouns like "I" and "me" and "my". He promises that the more you draw nearer to Him, the more he'll draw nearer to you.

Is it possible for someone to be living the commandments, and doing the right thing, yet not be drawing nearer to Christ? It happened 2,000 years ago. It can happen today, too.

I recently had the privilege of meeting someone who has had many interactions with church general authorities and apostles over the years. Their devotion to the church was indisputable, and their (many significant) accomplishments for and in behalf of the church were unquestionable. The Brethren's trust in this person was undeniable. There was lots of energy during those 45 minutes I got to listen to them recite their church resume.

Afterwards, when I asked this person about their relationship with Jesus -- how deep and close and intimate it was -- the energy level abruptly deflated. In fact, it was almost non-existent. The person suddenly turned somber, and looking down. They confessed that they didn't know Jesus very well, and that it was something they needed to work on.

Putting It All Together


So, why do we believe that the quantity and quality of our obedience will score us a visit with Jesus, when all indications are that (1) despite our best efforts, we're "nothingness" and "unprofitable" before God (Psalm 14:1; 53:1-3; Romans 3:10-18; Moses 1:10) -- in fact, we're less than "the dust of the earth." (Helaman 12:7) -- and (2) loving God with all your heart, soul and mind, and loving your neighbor as thyself (Matt. 22:34-40) -- are the paramount keys to god's acceptance?

Why is it that we can say our prayers at night, have a smokin' hot church resume, go to church meetings and even enthusiastically rub shoulders with very important people, yet can't recount many personal experiences with He who loves us the most?

Think about it.

A Personal Experience


So, I'll start the ball rolling. I share this not to brag, but to demonstrate what our Lord is like.

A week ago yesterday, I was driving down the road, minding my own business, going to Home Depot, when I felt some sentences enter my head. They were tremendously profound. So, I pulled over and typed them into my cellphone's notes app. Here's exactly what I typed, exactly as I typed it (typos included):
"Some approach topic of 2nd comforter somewhat selfishly. I want I want. God isnt some kind of cosmic candy machine. Put wants in and out comes a visit."
If youve been wanting to see him but havent, maybe its time to reassess things a bit.
No. He wants something deeper, richrr and more rewarding: a relationship with his children."
I've said similar things on my blog in the past. Last March, I wrote how people often encounter futility in seeking the face of God because they want it to happen for their own reasons, or because they're so focused on the destination that they neglect focusing on the journey of mortality.

Anyway, back to the drive. After I received that passage, I thought "Oh, that's cool!" and kept driving.

I kid you not -- 3 blocks later, more sentences popped into my head from out of nowhere. I again pulled over. Here are my typo-riddled notes:
"He wants a relationship with us so you practically get a hug from him daily. Do you know what its like to hear from him dailym to hear his voice in your heart when he says his life is so rewarding, so complete with you in it?"
That hit me. I just sat there, awestruck by the words I had just typed. After a few moments of contemplation, I moved the lever from park to drive, and continued forward.

Yep, you guessed it -- about another 3 blocks, more came through:
"We tend to dismiss such possibilities for us. God is too busy. No, he's above time. He can be multiple places at the same time. Im too much a sinner. He still took time to speak with the woman at the well and Paul, who just helped support the killing of the apostle timothy. You can come up with thousands of excuses why he shouldnt see you, and they all crumble to talcum powder when youre with him. Because he loves you that much. Imagine being a famous rock star on stsge at the biggest stadium in the world and everybody is cheering you saying how much they like you. Imagine that energy... now multiply that stadium times ten, and now you can begin to see the extent and depth of love he has for you."
I sat there on the side of the road, just crying. I had not only received these words, but they came across so clear to me, that I could see them in my mind's eye, and feel them as the hair on my arms stood up like they were exposed to static electricity.

You guys, I think we really underestimate the extent of Jesus' love for us. We grossly understate how desperately, desperately He wants to be part of our lives. I'm reasonably confident He has done, and continues to do, everything within the playbooks of the Gods to draw near unto you.

And despite all the screw ups, mistakes, transgressions and sins you've committed, and continue to commit, He never gives up. Ever.

And He never will.

The Secret Sauce to Seeing Him: "The Old Paths"


Embedded within the scriptures is a little-known strategy for those wanting to see the Savior. It's rarely, if ever, mentioned in the books, blog posts, papers and podcasts regarding the Second Comforter. Yet there it is, staring us in the face, waiting for us to implement it as well. "Hidden in plain sight"? Definitely.

This strategy doesn't introduce more rules or laws or commandments to follow. But it does draw you closer to Christ in a scripturally and doctrinally-validated way that's only been discussed a few times online.

This is the first of four blog posts about this strategy. It's meant to dispel the notion that obedience alone will score you a visit from God, and to highlight the fact that above all things, love is the answer, and that we must passionately seek a relationship with Jesus Christ if we want Him to draw nearer to us. I hope you caught my drift.

In the second post in this series, we'll crack open the scriptures. You'll learn a Hebrew word and a Greek word which will transform your understanding about the veil and how it can be parted.

The third post will provide at least one example in the scriptures, and another example of a man (not me) in modern times, who implemented this strategy and, in my opinion, accelerated having personal encounters with the Lord in ways that far surpassed their wildest expectations.

The fourth and final post in this series will give you two exercises on how to implement this strategy -- one I've mentioned on this blog before (a long time ago) and another I haven't yet.

So, I invite you to share this post. Share it with those whom the Spirit inspires you. Invite those people as well to learn about this strategy.

Next up: Post #2.
"Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." (Jeremiah 6:16)