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Thursday, April 17, 2014

01. Are You Truly Awake?

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the first examining the phrase "obeyeth my voice".


Before we dive into the Doctrine of Walking and Talking with God, I'd like to address an issue that I've become more cognizant of recently.

I believe today -- right now -- is our time to prepare to meet God. Many ignore the importance of this inevitable event, while scant few do in a meaningful way.  Because of this circumstance, I have been blessed to get to know three types of people:

1. The Asleep


These are they who choose to be asleep, to one degree or another, as to the "greater things" of the gospel.  The scriptures do a pretty good job of defining those in this group:

"And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation." (3 Nephi 26:10) 
"Otherwise Satan seeketh to turn their hearts away from the truth, that they become blinded and understand not the things which are prepared for them." (D&C 78:10) 
"And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." (Luke 22:46) 
"For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity." (2 Nephi 27:5) 
"In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the Lord." (Jeremiah 51:39) 
"O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe." (2 Nephi 1:13)
There are at least three sub-categories of "the asleep" that I'd like to highlight:

  • Those who are asleep to falsehoods that are taught.

    Many choose to rely on the teachings of an individual which are in conflict with revealed truths.  Many years ago, I was in a seminary class where the teacher taught that Cain married an ape.  I don't know which was more appalling at the time -- the teaching, or the fact that just two of the approximately 30 students present noticeably winced at the teaching.  After doing some in-depth gospel studying and prayer, my classmate and I confirmed that we had been taught was false.
  • Those who are too wise to be taught.

    "There are a great many wise men and women too in our midst who are too wise to be taught; therefore they must die in their ignorance, and in the resurrection they will find their mistake. Many seal up the door of heaven by saying, 'So far God may reveal and I will believe.'" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 270).
  • Those who rely on emotional, not spiritual, discernment.
As one friend recently stated, 
"'This doesn't make any sense to me, and therefore it can't be true.' This is insidious. God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Were it not so, we would have no need for God to communicate the gospel to us: we would already be capable of figuring it out for ourselves. Judging truth based on how much sense it makes to you is pretty much the worst path you can take. I'm sure that eating that fruit made a lot of sense to Eve. Learning to decipher the Holy Ghost is the most important skill in this life. Relying on one's emotions is a sure-fire way to get it all wrong. Anyone who takes this position is not familiar with either the scriptures or the teachings of God's servants. After reading the standard works, familiarize yourself with the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Words of Joseph Smith." ("Setting Up Stakes for God", "Upward Thought" April 9, 2014)

2. The Awake Yet Imbalanced (aka "Spiritual Sleepwalkers")


Such people do not fit the above category.  They are awake, their eyes wide open, unto the things of God.  They seek out the "greater things" of the gospel and try to embrace and integrate them into their lives as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
"And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.
And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation." (3 Nephi 26:9-10) 
"Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief." (Ether 4:13) 
"And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.
And he that will contend against the word of the Lord, let him be accursed; and he that shall deny these things, let him be accursed; for unto them will I show no greater things, saith Jesus Christ; for I am he who speaketh." (Ether 4:7-8)
Unfortunately, they lack a balanced approach to their devotions.  Although their eyes are wide open, they are "Spiritual Sleepwalkers", unable accurately perceive, nor effectively respond to, God’s will.  As a result, the influence of the Holy Ghost is not as detectable as it should be, diminishing their discernment. Left unchecked, the result is spiritual blindness. Examples include:

  • They are impatient to be given a significant spiritual manifestation.

    When we are unduly impatient, we believe our timetable is better than God's. This mindset denies us the tutoring "process of time" which helps us to better attune and develop our spiritual senses.  As we are impatient, we also shut down much of our spiritual receiving capacity: 
"Patient endurance is to be distinguished from merely being 'acted upon.' Endurance is more than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstance; it is not only acceptance of the things allotted to us, it is to 'act for ourselves' by magnifying what is allotted to us (Alma 29:3,6). 
Therefore, true enduring represents not merely the passage of time, but the passage of the soul-and not merely from A to B, but sometimes all the way from A to Z. To endure in faith and doeth God's will. (D&C 63:20; D&C 101:35) therefore involves much more than putting up with a circumstance.
Patient endurance permits us to cling to our faith in the Lord and our faith in His timing when we are being tossed about by the surf of circumstance. Even when a seeming undertow grasps us, somehow, in the tumbling, we are being carried forward, though battered and bruised.
We are to 'run with patience the race that is set before us' (Heb. 12:1), and it is a marathon, not a dash." (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Endure It Well", April 1990 General Conference
Conversely, those who "endure it well" have a quiet, peaceful majesty, an unspoken, inner awareness that, like Paul, have "kept the faith." 
  • They cling to a (mistaken) notion that they should follow great teachers of the gospel to the extent that the teacher of gospel truths is "their prophet."  
They ignore the fact that (1) Divinely-authorized teachers never ask for, nor desire, any followers or grandiose titles.  They consistently point to God.  (2)  God's first preference is for Israelites both ancient and modern to come unto God directly, without a middleman. 
"And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:29) 
"O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name." (2 Nephi 9:41)
  • They simply claim a grandiose title unto themselves.

    There is, today, a subtle but nonetheless evident increase in the number of individuals who are claiming the office of a significant last days leader.  It is amazing to me that these people can claim such titles without having earned such them.   
  • Could Moses claim to be Israel's deliverer while sitting in Jethro's tent, before he ever asked Pharaoh to let his people go?  
  • Could Abraham claim to be the "father of the faithful" while in his youth?  
  • Could Christ claim the title of "Savior" before he had performed the atonement, underwent crucifiction and overcame the grave?
  • Could Christ's apostles claim the apostolic office before they were sent out into the world? 
The Standard Works are unanimous about two things:  First, our God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14).  Second, titles are big.  They're significant.  They carry eternal weight and ramifications.  And in no circumstances can I see where God has pronounced a title upon someone before they earned the right to the title. So, if God works according to already-proscribed patterns (D&C 52:14), why would He choose to divert from His long-established patterns now?   
If you're "following" someone by unilaterally ascribing a title to them, or are "following" them because you believe the self-proclaimed title they've taken upon themselves is inspired, I urge you to study God's patterns for His proclaiming titles upon His faithful leaders.  I would make darn sure that you are, without question, in sync with God.  The destiny of your eternal soul will likely depend on it. 

3.  The Awake and Balanced


These are they who take the Holy Spirit for their guide.  In fact, they take the Holy Ghost's influence so seriously, that they qualify for a greater source of communication: the voice of Jesus Christ.  They are truly in sync with God, who wants to be our God, without any middleman. 
"For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me." (1 Cor 15-16; emphasis mine) 
"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." (D&C 6:36; emphasis mine)  
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6; emphasis mine)  
"And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live." (Alma 37:47; emphasis mine)  
"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day." (Alma 37:37; emphasis mine)

A Characteristic of Zion


I believe that God is, as we speak, forming the embryotic nucleus which will someday receive the title of Zion.  As a crowning achievement of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, Zion will likely not be a society reliant on a mortal for instruction.  God will be our lawgiver in a kingdom which prophets both ancient and modern longed for and yearned for: One which takes it's cues directly from God, in which "all the Lord's people" are prophets (Numbers 11:29).

Those who have no desire to be part of such a society today, in either word or deed, may find themselves on the outside of this most promised place.

So today is your opportunity to prepare to meet God:

  • If you choose to be asleep, well, now you know the ramifications of your decisions.  
  • If you choose to be "awake" yet aim your heart and mind at a mortal, then I challenge you to study how God has treated those who adopt such a viewpoint.  
  • Finally, if you choose to look unto God in every thought, and not place anybody between you and God (to any degree), then congratulations, you're ready for the next post in this series of posts examining D&C 93:1's phrase, "obeyeth my voice".



"For they will hear my voice, and shall see me, and shall not be asleep, 
and shall abide the day of my coming; for they shall be purified, 
even as I am pure." (D&C 35:21)

5 comments:

  1. Awesome! This particular peace resonates deeply within my soul. Thank you for publishing this.

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  2. Great post. Makes me ponder where I am on the spiritual list you presented.

    Thank you for your continued efforts here and elsewhere. They are making an impact on many including myself and family.

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  3. I read this post early one morning, just after "waking up" -- and really appreciated the categories here. I can found myself at each of these levels, at various times -- having fear, or relying on emotional discernment, and at other times, feeling more balanced. I love the advice to look to the Lord for his counsel in all things. I just finished reading a book that stretched my traditional thinking, but felt true on many levels.

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  4. Thank you for another great post!
    You share here: "These are they who take the Holy Spirit for their guide. In fact, they take the Holy Ghost's influence so seriously, that they qualify for a greater source of communication: the voice of Jesus Christ".
    How does know even discern if they're hearing the Holy Spirit or hearing the literal voice of the Savior? Since you refer to Christ' s voice as a greater source of communication, I'm curious if you can expound on this a bit more.

    Also, would this greater form of communication apply to the sacrament prayer that blesses us to "always have His spirit with us" ? Or is this here referring to the Holy Ghost?
    Thanks!

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  5. Stephanie,

    Excellent questions! Both points have been considered and will be addressed in future posts.

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