Tag Archives: spirit world

Family Talks – Gwendolyn

14 Oct

On the 20th of September my family was asked to speak for Sacrament meeting, as well as perform a special musical number. They didn’t just ask me and my wife, but our three oldest children. This was a little unusual as our oldest is only nine, and the youngest of the three had just barely turned seven. However, my family all did a fantastic job. I am very proud of all my children, and so I am going to post the talks that we all gave, as well as the song we sang. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

The first to speak was Gwendolyn, our seven year old daughter. She gave the following talk on families. Note that she actually sang the song that is given as the opening of the talk.

 

Families can be together forever

Through Heavenly Father’s plan

I always want to be with my own family

And the Lord has shown me how I can.

Our first family was in heaven. We were all spirit children of our Heavenly Father. As spirit children of God we lived and grew as a family.

Now in this life we have smaller families, but we still live and grow together. With the support of our families this life is made easier. Our parents teach us right from wrong. They teach us about Jesus Christ and God’s plan for His children. Brothers and sisters help and support each other.

There was once a young boy who got in trouble. For his punishment his parents took a picture of the world and tore it into pieces. They told him that he had to sit at the table until he had put it back together. It was only a few minutes later that the parents came back and found the boy was finished. They asked him how he had finished so fast. He told them that on the other side was a picture of a family. He had put the family together and the world fell into place.

When our families are strong our lives and the lives of those around us will be strengthened.

The family existed before this life, and it will continue after it. The greatest goal of this life is to have our families continue and live together in heaven again. We must help each other in this life so that we can be together in the next life.

In the name of Jesus Christ; Amen.

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50 Questions: The Bible, part 2

14 Apr

On another blog Tim has been writing answers to a series of questions asked by a Latter Day Saint named Greg Trimble. The list was titled 51 Questions That Might Lead You To Mormonism. So far Tim has posts 5 parts in his series, and I don’t know how many more it will take to answer all 51. However, in part 4 he mentions another list of questions that was made back in 2001. This was titled 50 Questions to Ask Mormons. So, I have decided to follow Tim’s example and make a short series to answer these 50 questions.

I will answer the questions in the order they are given and in the categories they are sorted into. Each post will be less than 1000 words, so only a few questions will be answered in each.

Read 50 Questions: Prophets, part 1; Prophets, part 2; Mormon Scriptures, part 1; Mormon Scriptures, part 2; Mormon Scripture, part 3; Mormon Scripture, part 4; The Bible, part 1


QUESTIONS 32-35

  1. Why does the Mormon Church teach that we can be married in heaven when Jesus said in Matthew 22:30 that in the resurrection men neither marry, nor are they given in marriage? 

Let us look at the entire story (verses 23-32)

“The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.”

There are those who have suggested that the family in question was not a hypothetical case, but an actual family that had become famous in the area because of the circumstances just described. This is strengthened by the Sadducees say “There were with us seven brethren” indicating that these brethren had lived among the Jews. It would also make the question more dangerous because it asked for a judgment of actual people and not just hypothetical situations.

With this view in mind we see Christ giving a two-part answer. Note here that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, and thus had asked this question in an attempt to confound Christ and cause him to contradict himself. They were disappointed however.

First he addresses the family in question.

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.”

So, Christ is declaring first that the marriages in question are not binding in Heaven. Why this is the case is not explained. For whatever reason the marriages were purely temporal in nature. This is likely they were Levirate marriages, but may also be due to the fact that the sealing keys were not on the earth at the time and so no marriages were sealed, until Peter was given the keys to bind on earth and in heaven.

Christ next affirms the truth and reality of the resurrection.

“But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Note also that Christ first tells them they err not knowing the scriptures (meaning the priesthood keys of sealing and how they operate) and that they do not know the power of God (meaning the power to resurrect the dead). Both part are addressed in his answer.

 

  1. How can worthy Mormon males become Gods in the afterlife when God already said that before him no God was formed, nor will there be any Gods formed after him (Isaiah 43:10)? 

This verse must be considered in proper perspective. God, as a title for the Supreme Being, is applied only to the Father. For us there is no other God. There was never one before Him, nor will there be after. We have but one, and always will. But this does not mean that others do not exist in a state of godhood, or Celestial perfection.

It is just like our earthly fathers. I have only one Father. I never had any other, and I never will have any other. So, before my father there was no father for me, and there will be no father for me after him. That does not preclude others from having their own fathers.

 

  1. If God had a father who was a God, how come Isaiah 44:8 says that he doesn’t know him? 

One must understand what God says he does not know. This goes back to question 33. There is no God for us but the Father. Our Father, who knows everything, knows of no other God for us. But, just as I said in question 33, this does not mean that there are not other gods out there, or that our Father does not have a Father.

 

  1. If God was once just a man who progressed to becoming a God, how do you explain Psalm 90:2: “…even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God”? 

Doctrine and Covenants 132: 20

“Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject to them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject to them.”

 

We to will be from everlasting to everlasting if we attain to the state of godhood. Everlasting here is describing a period of time within eternity; that is the period between one physical creation and the next. So, from one period, or one everlasting, to the next God is God. He continues, remaining the same God from one creation to the next, or from one eternal generation to the next.

50 Questions: Mormon Scriptures, part 3

6 Apr

On another blog Tim has been writing answers to a series of questions asked by a Latter Day Saint named Greg Trimble. The list was titled 51 Questions That Might Lead You To Mormonism. So far Tim has posts 5 parts in his series, and I don’t know how many more it will take to answer all 51. However, in part 4 he mentions another list of questions that was made back in 2001. This was titled 50 Questions to Ask Mormons. So, I have decided to follow Tim’s example and make a short series to answer these 50 questions.

I will answer the questions in the order they are given and in the categories they are sorted into. Each post will be less than 1000 words, so only a few questions will be answered in each.

Read 50 Questions: Prophets, part 1; Prophets, part 2; Mormon Scriptures, part 1; Mormon Scriptures, part 2

QUESTIONS 19-21

19.  Why do you baptize for the dead when both Mosiah 3:25 and the Bible state that there is no chance of salvation after death? 

Mosiah 3: 25 “And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls.”

To understand this one must look back to verse 22.

“And even at this time, when thou shalt have taught thy people the things which the Lord thy God hath commanded thee, even then are they found no more blameless in the sight of God, only according to the words which I have spoken unto thee.”

And then in verse 24

“And thus saith the Lord: They shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgment day; whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil.”

What King Benjamin is saying in verse 25 is being applied only to those to whom the King is speaking. We thus get the understanding that once one has had the truth preached to them then they get no more chances. We are not given to understand that one who has not received the truth will never get a chance to.

As for the Bible, I would say it carries the same basic meaning. Else why did Christ preach to the dead (1 Peter 3: 19-20, 4:6) and why did they baptize for the dead (1 Corinthians 15: 29).

20.  Since the word grace means a free gift that can’t be earned, why does the Book of Mormon state “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23)? 

Grace does not mean a free gift. It means kindness, or favor, such as a grace period in which the payment of a debt is deferred. The meaning does not carry the idea of being free. It can be if the one giving it makes it free, but the giver can put conditions on it.

Now the meaning of this particular verse is frequently misunderstood. Most people want to claim that the ‘after all we can do’ means that grace is not given until certain requirements are met. This is not the case however. We are saved after all we can do, but it is all through grace. We receive grace that we may do what is needed, and if we act on that grace, then grace does what we can’t to bring us to salvation.

21.  Does the LDS Church still regard the Pearl of Great Price as Holy Scripture even after several prominent Egyptologists proved it was an ancient funeral scroll? 

No one has proven anything, except that a few small fragments of ancient scroll were funeral text. What they haven’t proven is that these fragments came from the scrolls that Joseph Smith translated. Since Joseph Smith had several dozen feet of scrolls and less than one dozen feet survive it is impossible to prove anything.

Our First Estate or the Pre-Earth Life: Part IV

8 Feb

In the article titled “The Gospel part II: The Plan of Salvation” I spoke of three different estates that we must pass through in order to attain exaltation in Celestial Glory. Of these the first estate is our Preexistence as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. This series is written to give a more in depth explanation of what that estate was, and what happened there.

This brings us to the third event; the War in Heaven. We read in the Joseph Smith Translation of Revelation 12: 6-8
“And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought against Michael; And the dragon prevailed not against Michael, neither the child, nor the woman which was the church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ. Neither was there place found in heaven for the great dragon, who was cast out; that old serpent called the devil, and also called Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth; and his angels were cast out with him.”
Take note of one thing. This war was fought between the followers of God and the followers of Satan, but it was Michael that lead the heavenly host that eventually cast Satan out. Who is Michael? We learn in Doctrine and Covenants 27: 11 that Michael is “Adam, the father of all, the prince of all, the ancient of days” So Christ did not lead the faithful against the Rebels, but Adam, who was then blessed with being the first of all men to live on this earth, and thus be the prince over it. Thus we see that greatness of Adam in the preexistence.

But, returning to the subject of the War in Heaven, I think some can be said of the nature of this war. In the great vision of the degrees of Glory that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon enjoyed, they record the following:
“…we beheld Satan, that old serpent, even the devil, who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ—Wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about. And we saw a vision of the sufferings of those with whom he made war and overcame…” (D&C 76: 28-29)
From this we can see the type of warfare that was waged, both in heaven and here on earth. This was not a battle with swords and armor, or guns and tanks. It was a war of words; a debate between Lucifer and Michael and all the rest. It was a court intrigue that Satan was attempting, through which he hoped to dethrone God and take his place. He works on earth through that same subtle intrigue, still making war on those who chose God in the preexistence.

There are two more things concerning this war that it is important to remember. The first is known by all members of the church, and that is that one third of children of God sided with Satan in that great war, and were cast out with him. In Revelation John tells us that the Dragon, who is Satan, “drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth.” (Revelation 12: 4) This is confirmed in D&C 29: 36-37 “the devil…rebelled against me… and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels”
However, what many people may not realize is the power by which Michael was enabled to win in this war and cast Lucifer and his followers out of heaven. In Revelation 12: 10-11 we read “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
Even in the preexistence we relied on the atoning sacrifice of Christ to bring about that first victory in which Satan was cast out. By the word of the Testimony of the faithful, believing on the sacrifice that was to come in our mortal lives, Satan was cast out of Heaven and became the devil. It is an encouraging thought that what saves us in this life is what saved us in then. For if it worked once, it will work again.

Our First Estate or Pre-Earth Life: Part III

1 Feb

In the article titled “The Gospel part II: The Plan of Salvation” I spoke of three different estates that we must pass through in order to attain exaltation in Celestial Glory. Of these the first estate is our Preexistence as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. This series is written to give a more in depth explanation of what that estate was, and what happened there.

Having already shown the doctrine from the Bible, and discussed the generalities of what happened there, I will now turn to a specific event that occurred in our First Estate. The event that I wish to discuss in the counsel that was held in heaven. As we have seen, we had been taught and tested, and through all this we had progressed, until there came a point at which we could progress no more as spirits. At this time God began His preparations for our mortal life. From Abraham we get the greatest knowledge of these events, as recorded in the third chapter of the Book of Abraham, verses 22-28.

22-23 “…the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the [spirits]…before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he said: These I will make my rulers…”

Here we have the first step of the counsel, in which God selected from among his children those who had gained the most talents, and had proven themselves through their faith to be good. These he chose out of all the others to hold positions of authority in mortal life. We read further:

24-25 “And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them”

Once the rulers were chosen from among the most faithful of the spirits, Christ, himself being among them and being like unto God himself, took the floor and the plan was set for those rulers to join with Christ in forming this world so that we could be born into mortal life, in which we would again be tested in our obedience to the laws of the Father.
I find this important to note: Christ was like God in heaven, and held great authority in this counsel, for it was he who lead the great and noble spirit children of the Father; but even in this he still defers all law back to the Father.

The last part of this counsel is touched on only briefly by Abraham. He writes in verses 27-28 “And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.”

It was in this great counsel that God asked all of us who we would accept as the savior of the world. Two stood up to vie for the position, and when Christ was chosen (one like unto the son of man) the other rebelled against God, and drew many after him. Much can be said concerning this contest, but for our purposes we need only understand this. Christ was the savior, chosen by God, and having the right to it as our eldest brother. The choice was given as our final test, to see who would uphold the plan set by God, and who would not. As Abraham shows one stood up to challenge that plan, and “many followed after him.”

(See Also Moses 4: 1-4)

Our First Estate or the Pre-Earth Life: Part II

31 Jan

In the article titled “The Gospel part II: The Plan of Salvation” I spoke of three different estates that we must pass through in order to attain exaltation in Celestial Glory. Of these the first estate is our Preexistence as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. This series is written to give a more in depth explanation of what that estate was, and what happened there.

Having shown that the doctrine of the preexistence can be found in the Bible I will now proceed to give a few tidbits as to what happened to us during this time. I will point out that very little is known, and what is known deals more with generalities rather than specifics. So, I will speak of generalities in this second part of the series.

It is important to know that we are the literal children of deity. We were born as spirits to our Heavenly Father and He “lives in the family unit. We are members of his family. We lived in this pre-mortal life with him for an infinite period of time.” While there we “were schooled and trained and taught in the most perfect educational system ever devised, and that by obedience to his eternal laws we developed infinite varieties and degrees of talents.” (As quoted in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, Chapter 41, link below).
We also know that at the beginning we were all “on the same standing with [our] brethren” (Alma 13: 5) and that we were “innocent in the beginning.” (D&C 93: 38) which is why children remain innocent before the Lord in mortality. However, through our obedience and faithfulness in this pre-mortal life many progressed faster and gained more glory and honor than others. After all we read in Abraham 3: 22 that “the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the [spirits]…before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones.”
It is obvious that while we were all equal in knowledge and ability when we were first born as spirits we did not stay equal, but through our choices we progressed at different rates. This is the basis for the doctrine of Foreordination, for of these Noble and Great ones God declared “These I will make my rulers” (Abraham 3: 23) speaking of mortal life. Because some had progressed farther than others in matter of faith and obedience God chose them before they were born to hold positions of authority in mortality. God told Abraham “thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.” He told Jeremiah the same thing (Jeremiah 1: 5).
So, we know that in our pre-mortal life we still had our agency, and with it we learned and progressed through the teachings and guidance of a loving Father. We also know that based on what we did there many of us were called to fulfill specific callings in this life.

Our First Estate, or the Pre-Earth Life: Part I

24 Jan

In the article titled “The Gospel part II: The Plan of Salvation” I spoke of three different estates that we must pass through in order to attain exaltation in Celestial Glory. Of these the first estate is our Preexistence as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. This two part article is written to give a more in depth explanation of what that estate was, and what happened there.

Now, in the first part I will show how the preexistence is taught in the Bible, for it is taught in that sacred volume, and is fairly plain to those who understand the doctrine. To be clear, it is not that we imprint our doctrine onto the Bible; it is simply that because we understand this doctrine we can see the subtle references to it that the Bible contains.

For instance, in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 12 verse 7 we read “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
In this verse we are told what will happen to both the physical body and the spirit that inhabits it. One goes back to the earth, to decompose and be assimilated into the elements. The spirit, on the other hand, returns to God. I would ask, “How can it return to God if it was not with God at a prior time?” So, while this verse does not state directly that we lived with God before our mortal births, the implication that we did is clear, and stated in such a way as to make it appear that such was common knowledge at the time.

Another scriptures tells the story of a man born blind. When the Apostles saw him they asked Jesus “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” To this Christ replied “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9: 2-3)
Now, one is left to wonder how it is that the man could have caused the blindness through personal sin, as he was born with the affliction, and thus nothing in mortal life could have caused it. The obvious conclusion is that the apostles knew that we had lived as spirits before this life, and thus were asking if the man had done something prior to his birth that caused him to be born blind. If there is no preexistence than the question they asked was a moot point, and it seems to me that Christ would have taken this prime opportunity to declare this.

Now, there are other passages in the Bible that show that we existed as spirits in heaven before being born on this earth. Jeremiah was told that God knew him before he was born (Jeremiah 1: 5). Paul tells us that God knew many before this earth was formed, and them he predestined for certain blessings in this life (Romans 8:29). And we are told that we are the offspring of God (Acts 17: 28)

All these, and several more, testify to the fact that we lived as spirit children of God before the world was ever created, and that we will one day return to our Father.