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Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Best Friend You Never Knew Part 4: From now on, call upon Jesus by His real name



Your word of the day: “Epistemology”


Since the restoration of the gospel, differences of opinion regarding various doctrines have naturally developed. For example, Apostle A will believe one aspect of a doctrine, while Apostle B will believe just the opposite. These differences existed during the Apostolic era of the church, during the initial years of the Restoration right up to today.

I see these differences of opinion not as a sign that the gospel isn’t true; not at all! It’s a healthy discourse which ought to drive us all to our knees, asking God to reveal the truth of these doctrines to us (just like Joseph Smith did regarding James 1:5).

Over the years, I’ve found that the best arbiter of these differences of opinion is, of course, the words of God:
"If anyone, regardless of his position in the Church, were to advance a doctrine that is not substantiated by the standard Church works, meaning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion." (Pres. Harold B. Lee, The First Area General Conference for Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Spain of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held in Munich Germany, August 24–26, 1973, Reports and Discourses, p. 69) 
“All that we teach in this Church ought to be couched in the scriptures. It ought to be found in the scriptures. We ought to choose our texts from the scriptures. If we want to measure truth, we should measure it by the four standard works, regardless of who writes it. If it is not in the standard works, we may well assume that it is speculation, man’s own personal opinion; and if it contradicts what is in the scriptures, it is not true. This is the standard by which we measure all truth” (Pres. Harold B. Lee, “Using the Scriptures in Our Church Assignments,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1969, p. 13). 
“If you want to measure truth, measure it by the four standard Church works. … If it is not in the standard works, you may well assume that it is speculation. It is man’s own personal opinion, to put it another way; and if it contradicts what is in the scriptures, you may know by that same token that it is not true. This is the standard by which you measure all truth. But if you do not know the standards, you have no adequate measure of truth.” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 148–49).  
"Search the Scriptures—search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory, nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation. No; for when men receive their instruction from Him that made them, they know how he will save them." (Joseph Smith, HC v1, ch 20, p. 282; emphasis mine).
The scriptures are an incalculable blessing to me. They have been my refuge, my comfort, my security blanket amidst a society so filled with half-truths and counterfeits. I’ve also taken great solace, and have found peace, in the statements of Joseph Smith. In the D&C, the Lord stood by Joseph and his words. I do, too. My reverence for, and belief in, Joseph knows no bounds.

I guess you could say that these two sources form the core of my epistemology -- “the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. What distinguishes justified belief from opinion.”

“What a friend we DON’T have in Jesus”...?


I started this post addressing truth because it’s essential information if we are to learn the true nature of our relationship to God.

You see, for nearly 40 years, we latter-day saints have been told that we can’t or ought not to seek after achieving a close proximity to God. This belief can be broken down into four subpoints:
  1. We should be “modest” in our expectations of God.
  2. It is improper to have a special and personal relationship, a friendship, with Jesus.
  3. It is proper to expect and maintain a “reserve”, a “reverential barrier” between us and God.
  4. We should not have casual conversations with God.
Let’s discuss each of these points, and see what the scriptures and Brother Joseph say about them. I then invite you to study these points in more depth, reach your own conclusions and take them to God (D&C 9:7-9).

CLAIM #1. We should be “modest” in our expectations of God.

On March 4, 2017, Elders Holland and Eyring held a special young adult “Face to Face” video fireside. In it, Elder Holland stated,

“be modest in your expectations. God is close, and He loves you. And He would love to have a conversation, but remember He is God. And the idea that you're going to--I always worry when someone is speaking to Him in too familiar a way, because it is not easy. Heavenly Father's words, His ideas, are not exactly ours.”

While I’ll address the topic of conversations with God shortly, I think it’s important to note that God has always encouraged us to raise our expectations of Him. That’s because “with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27):
  • Imagine if the Israelites had modest expectations of God as they were pushed up against the Red Sea, while Pharaoh and his chariots rushing towards them.
  • Imagine if Joseph Smith had modest expectations of an answer from God.
  • Imagine if the woman taken with an issue of blood had modest expectations when she touched the hem of Jesus’ garments.
  • Imagine if those in a room with Jesus had modest expectations of His ability to raise a girl from the dead.
  • Imagine if the family of Lehi had modest expectations in the Liahona or Nephi’s ability to work it by faith.
  • Do you think Peter expected Jesus to overflow his nets and his boat with fish? 
  • What happened to Peter when he lowered his expectations of walking on the water? 
  • What did Jesus say to Thomas, who had modest expectations of the Lord’s resurrection? “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” (John 20:27; emphasis mine)
Throughout history, God has encouraged and pleaded with us to aim higher, reach further and attain greater! Time and again, Jesus shows us that our modest expectations of Him are unbecoming of a true believer. His atonement single-handedly defies any modest expectations in God. In fact, it’s safe to say that God delights in exceeding our expectations:
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” (Ephesians 3:20)
The scriptures also give us ample examples where we can expect God to bless us with miracles when we go and do the things He commands (see 1 Nephi 3:7). We can also expect God’s help and healing when we have trials, troubles and afflictions:
“And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.” (Alma 36:3,27)
Even Joseph Smith said,
“For I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one.” (JS History 1:29)
CLAIM #2. It is improper to have a special and personal relationship, a friendship, with Jesus.


In a March 2, 1982 BYU devotional, Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught,

“There are yet others who have an excessive zeal which causes them to go beyond the mark. Their desire for excellence is inordinate. In an effort to be truer than true they devote themselves to gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous.

I wonder if it is not part of Lucifer’s system to make people feel they are special friends of Jesus when in fact they are not following the normal and usual pattern of worship found in the true Church.”

All of us need a personal relationship with the Savior. Isn’t that what His atonement is all about?

It’s unmistakable that Jesus considers us His friends. Here are just some of the verses where the Lord calls His followers “friends”:

John 15:13-15
Zechariah 13:6
D&C 45:52
D&C 84:63
D&C 84:77
D&C 88:62
D&C 88:117
D&C 93:45
D&C 88:3
D&C 88:62
D&C 93:51
D&C 94:1
D&C 97:1
D&C 98:1
D&C 100:1
D&C 103:1
D&C 104:1
D&C 105:26

I especially like these two passages:
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:13
“Verily, I say unto my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., or in other words, I will call you friends, for you are my friends, and ye shall have an inheritance with me—” (D&C 93:45)
So it seems to me that there’s a very real potential for Jesus to consider you His friend. The only question left is, are you willing to reciprocate His friendship?

President James E. Faust said,
What is the greatest need in the world?’ … ‘Is not the greatest need in all of the world for every person to have a personal, ongoing, daily, continuing relationship with the Savior?’ Having such a relationship can unchain the divinity within us, and nothing can make a greater difference in our lives as we come to know and understand our divine relationship with God.” (“A Personal Relationship with the Savior,” Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 58; emphasis mine).
CLAIM #3. It is proper to expect and maintain a “reserve”, a “reverential barrier” between us and God.

If we are to be Jesus’ friend, then are we to be a distant friend of His, or a close one? Just how much of a distance should there be -- or should there be any barriers -- between us and the Lord?

Elder McConkie also stated,

“Those who truly love the Lord and who worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Spirit, according to the approved patterns, maintain a reverential barrier between themselves and all the members of the Godhead.”

“Would it be amiss if I reminded you that Jesus maintained a reserve between him and his disciples and that he did not allow them the same intimacy with him that they had with each other?”

“It is a fine and sacred line, but clearly there is a difference between a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord, which is improper, and one of worshipful adoration, which yet maintains the required reserve between us and him who has bought us with his blood.”

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), after the prodigal son “came to himself,” he arose and went to his father. How did his father react?
“But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”
After reading this parable, are you left with any impression whatsoever that the prodigal son expected his father ahead of time to greet him with “the best robe,” “a ring,” “shoes,” “the fatted calf” and a party? No. God exceeded the son’s expectations. Was there a reverential barrier between the father and the prodigal son, or (to personalize things a bit), God and the penitent? No; none at all.

In fact, throughout the Old and New Testaments, the Savior likens His relationship to us as a Bridegroom (Jesus) and Bride (His disciples). The Millennium is itself the marriage feast. I ask you, what is more intimate and close than the expectations placed upon a bride and bridegroom on their wedding night? THAT is how close He wishes to be with us, in a spiritual sense.

The scriptures tell us that Jesus did not maintain a reserve between himself and His disciples:
“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23)
Jesus Himself said,
“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).  
He also asked Father, in His great intercessory prayer,
“That they [those who believe in Jesus] all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20-21; emphasis mine)
Brigham Young once said,
“The greatest and most important of all requirements of our Father in heaven and of his Son Jesus Christ, is . . . to believe in Jesus Christ, confess him, seek to him, cling to him, make friends with him. Take a course to open and to keep open communication with your Elder Brother or file-leader—our Savior.” (Journal of Discourses, 8:339; emphasis mine)
More recently, Pres. Nelson encouraged us in an April 2017 General Conference talk to
“reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air.”
CLAIM #4. We are not to expect or hold casual conversations with God.

Elders Holland and Eyring continue:

“God is close, and He loves you. And He would love to have a conversation, but remember He is God. And the idea that you're going to--I always worry when someone is speaking to Him in too familiar a way, because it is not easy. Heavenly Father's words, His ideas, are not exactly ours. And so the idea of having really a conversation where you're chatting with Heavenly Father is probably a little bit of a lofty goal.”

“And They [God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ] are so far above us in terms of Their powers that--in fact, I've been with people who chat as if they're chatting when I've heard them pray. And I thought, ‘You're a little more familiar than I am with that one.’"

“We talk with each other, and it's very personal. Elder Holland and I have had wonderful conversations. But I don't have conversations with Heavenly Father like that, at least I don't. I do a lot of the asking. And then I wait and then I wait. And then answers come, but not in what you'd call a conversational mode.”

“Again, what you're saying is, I realized that the feeling that I am going before the throne, there's a beautiful way of thinking of that, that God is real. He's on a throne. And when I approach in prayer, I'm approaching a throne. And the way you do that is different than if you just say, ‘I'd like a chat. I want a conversation.’"

There are two issues here: (A) are prayers monologues or dialogues/conversations, and (B) is it appropriate to speak to God casually in prayer?

Anyone who has read the Book of Enos can quickly and easily discern it as a dialogue, a conversation, between Enos and God:
Enos: “I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul”
God: “Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.”
Enos: “Lord, how is it done?”
God: “Because of thy faith in Christ…”
Enos: [“I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites.” and “And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me”]
God: “I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.”
Enos: [“I did cry unto God that he would preserve the records”]
God: [“he covenanted with me that he would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time.”]
These dialogues/conversations can be conducted just “as one man converses with another”:
Ether: “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 . . . concerning these things . . . .
And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written.” (Ether 12:39, 41
Enoch: “And I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face;” (Moses 7:4)
And here’s Joseph Smith:
“It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another” (Documentary History of the Church, 6:305). 
“Be plain and simple and ask for what you want, just like you would go to a neighbor and say, ‘I want to borrow your horse to go to mill.'” (“Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, Mar. 1, 1892, p. 151-52; Donald W. Parry, "After This Manner … Pray Ye", Ensign, January 1996
“Jehovah … talked with him [Noah] in a familiar and friendly manner....." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 171)
I hope I’ve demonstrated via these scriptures and quotes that you needn’t be “modest” in your expectations of God. Expect great things from Him. Even then, He’ll likely exceed your expectations. Jesus wants a relationship as intimate as possible with you. He wants no barriers between you and Him; in fact, He asks you to draw closer and closer to Him. And you can do so while behaving and acting as a friend, conversing with Him as one man converses with another.

If you have trouble believing you can have such a relationship with Jesus, then I invite you to click here for a Google doc with testimonials of subscribers to this blog’s Facebook group who enjoy such a relationship.

If you believe that you and Jesus can be friends, and enjoy a personal relationship, then keep reading.

Saved. Delivered. Rescued.


All throughout their history, Israelites have sought salvation. A redeemer.

In fact, they have a word which means “to save, to rescue, to deliver” -- yasha (yaw-shah). It was used quite a bit in the Old Testament (https://biblehub.com/hebrew/3467.htm)

Now, in Hebrew, yasha has a masculine noun version: yesha (yay-shah), which means deliverance, rescue, salvation, safety, welfare. It’s also used in the Old Testament (https://biblehub.com/hebrew/3468.htm)

Yehoshua (yeh-hoe-shoo-ah) is another word that’s based on yasha. It was (and is) the Hebrew name of Joshua, Moses’ successor. Every time you read of Joshua in the Old Testament, the proper name that’s being used in Hebrew is Yehoshua (https://biblehub.com/hebrew/3091.htm)

Yeshua (yay-shoo-ah) is a shortened form of Yehoshua (much like Mike is a shortened form of Michael, John is a shortened form of Johnathan and Don is a shortened form of Donald). It’s found in 1 Chronicles 24:11, 2 Chronicles 31:15, Ezra chapters 2, 3, 4, 8 and 10, Nehemiah chapters 7-12 (https://biblehub.com/str/hebrew/3442.htm)
“Matthew 1:21 provides the beginnings of the Christology of the name Jesus. At once it achieves the two goals of affirming Jesus as the savior and emphasizing that the name was not selected at random, but based on a Heavenly command.”: (Wikipedia)
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS (Hebrew: YahushuĂ , a derivative of Yeshua): for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21; emphasis mine)
Notice the play on words there: Yahashua (or Yeshua, which is a proper noun which means to save, rescue or deliver) shall do what? “Save his people.”

Also (emphasis mine):
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:10-12)

It’s all Greek to me


By the time the New Testament was written, “Yeshua” had been transformed into the Greek version, Iesous (Greek had no equivalent to the “sh” sound, so it was replaced with an “s”). From Greek, Iesous moved into the Latin IESVS, where it stood for many centuries. Using the letter J (as opposed to “I”) became common in the 17th century (early 17th century works, like the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible, continued to print the name with an I. (Image of the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible, Gospel of Luke. From http://nazirene.peopleofhonoronly.com/. Retrieved March 28, 2006).

His name is Yeshua


Jesus was probably never called Jesus in His life. Although it’s not 100% certain, it’s highly likely He had a given name in Aramaic that approximates Yeshua -- the name which His family and friends, prosecutors and defenders, called Him.


There’s no doctrine, no policy, which requires you to refer to Him as Yeshua or Jesus. I suspect He doesn't have a strong preference because He hears our hearts regardless of what name we use (Luke 9:47). As we see in 3 Nephi 9:15 and D&C 6:21, Yeshua says, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God.”

Yet others have found it rewarding to refer to Him as Yeshua. As one Facebook subscriber once said,
“I love the name Yeshua most. I repeat it softly to myself as a way to bring his energies to my heart. It seems to me to fit his nature better than Jesus. Yeshua sounds so strong and yet compassionate. It reminds me of the rushing of waters. Living waters. Loving waters.”
I myself have found a newfound power and strength when using the name of Yeshua. When I factor in the fact that we are to take upon ourselves His name, Yeshua carries far more significance and meaning to me than the Greek/Latin Jesus.


“The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” (Exodus 15:2)
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)
Imagine enjoying and commanding greater strength, more deliverance and redemption from life’s challenges, because you speak strength to it! Yeshua is the answer to everything: Rescuing. Safety. Deliverance. Salvation.

But I do think there is something that matters to Yeshua.

Now that you’ve taken upon yourself His name, what are you doing with it?

Do you actively promote Him to others, or are you ashamed (and come up with a multitude of excuses) to do so?
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ: for it is the power of  God unto Salvation to every one that believeth." (Romans 1:16)
Are you taking your concerns, challenges and problems to Him? Are you putting His name -- as a rescuer and deliverer -- to the test?
“The name of the Lord [Yeshua] is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)
It’s now 2020. Now’s the time to start the new year off right. I invite you to take Yeshua up on His offer: Look unto Him in every thought; doubt not, fear not. (D&C 6:36)

Regarding this blog post, I want to make one thing crystal clear: This post’s primary focus isn’t about general authorities or their opinions. As you’ll note, I haven’t editorialized their statements, because I [1] sustain them and [2] don’t believe in publicly criticizing church leaders. This post is about dispelling myths, and highlighting scriptural truths, concerning your potential relationship with Yeshua.

I testify that as you draw near unto Him, He will draw near unto you. Seek Him diligently, and you’ll find Him. (D&C 88:63)

P.S. Future references to Jesus on this blog will refer to Him as Yeshua.
“thou shalt call his name JESUS (Heb.: Yeshua): for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)


4 comments:

  1. So beautiful...and so much truth. Thank you for educating yourself in the scriptures and writings of the church. And for being a seeker of truth. We know when truth is spoken, and there is great value on this website for those who yearn to really know the Savior...

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  2. Are we to assume that the Apostles referenced have a different relationship than we are striving for or are they wrong? I'm not trying to be controversial and I remember when Elder Holland made those statements and wondered why. Perhaps each individuals relationship with deity is unique and personal?

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    1. I think your question is the answer: "Each individual's relationship with deity is unique and personal." We're all on different levels or degrees of spiritual understanding and ability.

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