During the time of Jesus Christ anyone who dared to investigate this new “Christian Cult” were scorned, abused, persecuted, imprisoned and denounced. The high council of the Sanhedrin labeled them apostates. Jesus himself was excommunicated and crucified, some of his disciples were stoned. Later as the gospel was given to the Gentiles the pagan nations treated them even worse, martyring hundreds in the roman Colosseum, crucifying them and tossed them to ravaging lions who tore them to shreds before devouring them and their children. We should ask ourselves this question:
Would I have stepped forth declaring the Gospel, and pay the price for truth?
In later centuries the Catholic Church established inquisitions, and persecuted and killed thousands who recognized the apostasy of the church. killing, forcing conversion, or expelling thousands of Jews, protestants, and heretics. New heretical or apostate ‘cults’ arose such as the Lutherans, Methodists and Baptists, and a great number were martyred many of whom were burned at the stake. Ask yourself:
Would I have dared to take up the cause of truth knowing my fate?
When the Gospel was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith, many converts to this new ‘cult’ were disowned by their families, only to be driven from place to place, repeatedly losing their homes while some were even raped, and murdered. Why? because they wanted to embrace truth, and live by the dictates of their own conscience. They gave up the comfort of their homes in the United States, and across Europe, giving up their families, friends and neighbors. Without knowing the hardships they would face they chose to venture, many of them on foot, across thousands of miles of untamed wilderness to an arid mountain land to hue out a meager existence and lay the foundation of our cities in the west. Some froze and starved to death on the way; few if any ever enjoyed the comforts they once knew. Ask yourself:
If I had lived then, would I have had such faith?
It is easy when we are not challenged with anything that would threaten our comfort to express a commitment to a cause, But it is only when a man or woman is face to face with the harsh realities of sacrifice that we see what we are truly made of. In circumstances where we are asked to make a real sacrifice for truth most people quickly weaken and retreat back to the comfort of their old traditions, even false traditions, to avoid the unknown dangers of facing true principles. This is especially true when false traditions are accepted by loved ones and the society in which one lives. It is hard to be a pioneer, a heretic, and apostate, and a reformer. In traditions one always feels secure and safe, and a sense of belonging. Lulled into a false sense of carnal security people have the tendency to justify anything necessary to defend false traditions and stay inside their comfort zone. Time and history has shown that this is cowardly and regressive, but time has not changed human nature…
Only a few will resist wrong and seek truth enough to emerge as leaders, pioneers, prophets, or patriots. Only true seekers of God and the fullness of the gospel will receive exaltation. That is what is meant by the scripture: “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it!” (Matt. 7:14, 3Ne. 14:14, 27:33, D&C 132:22. Emphasis mine)
The prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah, yet very few recognized or accepted him when he came. The scriptures also foretold of the restoration of the fullness of the gospel, yet very few recognized the prophet Joseph Smith when he came. The scriptures and latter-day prophets have foretold of a latter-day apostasy from the fullness restored by Joseph Smith, and a second gathering in the Latter-days when Israel would receive the keys of the priesthood and the gentiles would be cut off from the priesthood. How many Latter-day saints will be able to admit it when they see this happen? Do you think the Church of Jesus Christ if Latter-Day Saints will be able to recognize it when it happens? History, and prophecy both tell us that the vast majority will fight against God when this apostasy happens and reject the fullness, just as the Sanhedrin rejected Christ, and the Christian churches rejected the restoration. When this latter-day apostasy is happening, what will be your course? Will you continue with comfortable but increasingly false traditions? Or will you be a pioneer, a reformer, and a stand up for truth?
It is much too easy to justify falsehood, especially when the social pressure is against you. To stand up for truth has a price. Sometimes it costs reputation, sometimes family, sometimes your home, livelihood, and sometimes it even costs you your life.
Humankind is supposedly blessed with the ability to think and reason and act for themselves. We claim to determine our own destiny. We claim the fundamental human right of freedom of conscience and religion. We are Gods in embryo! Ponder or memorize these words of freedom by WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY:
So why do we all so often stumble along following foolish and blind guides and traditions? Why so often do we dupe ourselves into the carnal security of assuming that all is well in Zion? (2Ne. 28:21)
We have the scriptures! We can read, we can pray for guidance. We have been given God’s laws, commandments, and ordinances! Even more than this, we can receive revelation for ourselves! Why then do we so often fail to follow the course God has declared is essential for our exaltation? We have no excuse for our disobedience as a people, and we must repent before we are eternally cut off from God’s presence. We must be numbered with the house of Israel, and the not merely the Church, or we cannot be saved. (3Ne. 16:10-13) We have great cause to repent! we must awaken to our awful situation!
Reflect a moment on this: Would you have been a follower of Christ if you had listened to the church leaders of the time? Would Martin Luther and Tyndale have stood up against the corruption of their time if they has sought advice from their church leaders? Should people seek counsel from christian ministers about whether to read the book of Mormon or talk to the missionaries? These questions seem simple to answer when it is someone else long ago, but how will we answer for ourselves in our own time? Think about it! really just stop reading and think about it.
Are you truly a free agent? When faced with the problems and apostasy we see in the church today, it is much easier to close our eyes and stumble on in ignorant bliss. If a policy or an ordinance change doesn’t seem to directly affect you, isn’t it easier to turn a blind eye, and a deaf ear to those who are hurt by it? It is especially hard when we must go against the tide of popular opinion, or risk excommunication, in order to stand up for true principles.
Joseph Smith said: “The object with me is to obey and teach others to obey God in just what he tells us to do. It mattereth not whether the principle is popular or unpopular, I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it!” (TPJS p.332) He also echoed the apostle Paul when he promised: “If any man preach any other gospel than that which I have preached, he shall be cursed!” (TPJS p.366)
The leaders among the ancient Jews, the Catholics and Christians, and also the leaders of the LDS church claim that they have not deviated from the true, unchangeable, doctrines and ordinances of God, yet they all teach contrary to the gospel and ordinances preached and practiced by Christ, the apostles, and Joseph Smith. What did each of these prophets promise them? That they will be cursed!
Some will object that former churches have strayed but that the LDS church will never go astray, but this is not what the scriptures or latter-day prophets have taught. Only recently has this apostate doctrine crept into the church and begun being preached by our leaders. The eventual apostasy of the church was recognized and promised by many modern latter-day prophets and apostles. Isn’t it to be expected that so few have the courage to recognize this fact and do something about it? It is easier to wrest the scriptures that foretell of this latter-day apostasy, and claim that they are speaking of the great apostasy in former times, and not about us and our day. But how can we deny these prophecies of our time by latter-day prophets?
“If the church knew all the commandments, one half they would condemn through prejudice and ignorance.” (TPJS p.112) “Except the church receive the fullness of the scriptures they will yet fail!” (TPJS p.9)
“The time will come when the Lord will choose a people out of this people, upon whom he will bestow his choicest blessings.” (Heber C. Kimball, Deseret News 9 Nov 1865)
“Many of this people are following after the world in its mad race, but I know that there is a people who will come from the heart’s core of this people, that will arise in their majesty and push spiritual things to the front, a people who will stand up for God, fearing not what man [or the church] can do.” (Orison F. Whitney, Deseret News 11 Aug 1889)
“If we as a people do not hold ourselves on the altar ready to be used… God will pass on and get somebody else, because he will get a people who will do it! [i.e. God’s ordinances] I do not mean to say that He will pass on and leave this people; no, there will come from the midst of this people, that people which has been talked about so much.” (Daniel H. Wells, Deseret News 9 Dec 1882)
“Such a people will evolve out from those called Latter-Day Saints… and from the remnant of the whole house of Israel, will emanate the nucleus or foundation from which will spring the righteous millennial people… Such a body will evolve out from those called Latter-Day Saints, who as a church had the fullness and power of the pure plan of salvation [and will reject it!]” (see 3Ne. 16:10) (Millennial Star Vol 42 p.584)
And last but not least, read these words of prophecy about our day from the Lord to the prophet Joseph Smith, speaking not about past apostasies, but about a latter-day apostasy that was yet a future part of this dispensation:
“When the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fullness of my gospel; But they [the Latter-Day Saints] receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men. And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land. But my disciples shall stand [be gathered] in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.” (D&C 45:28-32)
How are we to know when these prophecies are taking place? Will we know how to recognize it? And who will be among this small group of people who will come out of the church? And why can’t the whole membership of the church and leaders simply be set in order by God and be included in this group?
The prophet Joseph Smith explained why this happens best when he was teaching about the necessity of the unchanging ordinances and doctrines of the gospel:
“The question is frequently asked, “can we not be saved without going through with all those ordinances exactly as they were revealed?” I would answer NO, not the fullness of salvation… Any person who is exalted to the highest mansion has to abide a celestial law, and the whole law too. … Do we not offer violence to the Supreme intelligence of heaven when we admit the truth if its teachings and do not obey them?” (TPJS p.54)
Are there doctrines and ordinances the church no longer believes or practices? Have they changed the doctrines and ordinances? Yes. no serious student of church history denies it.
Has the time come when a few people will gather out of the church to fulfill these prophecies and gather to perform all of the Lord’s ordinances and build Zion? If now is the time, are you willing to pay the price for truth?
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