Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oct 15: Baltic Chŗonīcļe: Trakās Dienas, Investigators Change Lots, The Restoration

All: 55.76 (71484). We had General Conference and a lot of bus sitting time, so we didn't walk too much. Anyway...

Today marks the beginning of Trakās Dienas (The Crazy Days) at Stockmann shopping center. They have ridiculously good sales on a few items, decent sales on a large number of things, and minor sales on most of the rest. Then, they just have their usual stuff buried in the mess of people. It's absolutely insane! But, very enjoyable. I got myself an 8GB thumb drive (for 18 Lats) and 4GB in 2 SD cards (for cameras) for 7 lats. It was quite the sale of goodies. I would have a picture, but the computer I have this time doesn't have a card reader. Next week, I'll send you the "crazy days" ghost, and what the place looks like at night. It's quite crazy, indeed.

Beyond that, conference was amazing! My favorite talks were the last talks of the first and second sessions. One was about how faith, hope, and charity work together (that's the first session's one) given by President Uchdorf. It was amazing, especially because I've been trying to think of how those work together and I've been studying them quite extensively recently. So, it was most helpful. Another was by Elder Bednar about how we can make our prayers more effective (which went well with his last talk on the same topic), and I immediately tried it. The power of my prayers has changed a good deal already. I can feel it. And it came from applying the thankfulness principle. It's amazing! Anyway, you can read them here if you want to! I loved them! (

Investigators: We just picked up some new ones. I don't know how they'll do, and I want all the time I can get for this next section, so I'll fill you in next week.

And now, I wanted to finish some thoughts about the foundation of the belief for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I spoke about the first part two weeks ago (Oct 1). Now, from the death of the apostles of Jesus Christ:

As people were not listening to the apostles, and even killing them, God retracted that leadership and the authority and power the apostles had. With no authorized leadership on the earth to receive revelation from God, the world fell into a great apostasy. Plain and precious truths were taken from the Bible, through erroneous translations and transcriptions as well as intentional removal by people who listened to Satan. What better way for Satan to keep the children of God from progressing than to make the truths of God hard to understand? Thus, mankind thought through religious questions and important matters (such as the very nature of God) through councils and after the thoughts of man, rather than seeking divine revelation from the Almighty. This resulted in much false doctrine being taught as truth, in ordinances (such as baptism) being changed, and the organization of the Church of Christ was changed. Twelve apostles and quorums of seventy were no longer found. And, most importantly, that authority to act in God's name was lost. For a long time, mankind searched for truth, but were unable to find it.

The apostles knew that a great apostasy was in the future, and warned the faithful saints of the Church of Christ to beware of it (2 Thessalonians 2: 1-3, 1 Timothy 4: 1-4, 2 Timothy 4: 3-4). They even forsaw the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His church: Acts 3: 19-21. And this is nothing new, for even during Old Testiment times, they knew about it. Amos taught about it in Amos 8: 11-12. There is an abundance of information concerning this found in the writings of Nephi, a prophet of the Book of Mormon. He wrote slightly less than 600 years before the coming of Jesus Christ about all the problems that would arise in the latter days (our days), concerning the Bible's corruption and the false teachings that man would propagate: 1 Nephi 13: 24-26, 29, 1 Nephi 13: 38-41, 2 Nephi 26: 20-21, 2 Nephi 28: 3-6, 2 Nephi 27, 2 Nephi 28, 2 Nephi 29. The last three are entire chapters that very clearly describe what happened. Included in the last chapter (2 Nephi 29) is a little about the coming forth of the proofs God provides of the restoration, and people's rejection to it. I will talk more on that in a moment.

So, for years (more than 1000 of them) mankind was in a spiritual darkness. Many good souls saw that churches had strayed from the truth (people like John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, William Tyndale, John Calvin and others), and tried to reform the church they saw to conform with the teaching of Christ as seen in the Bible. This created a scene where religion was more thought about, and where people recognized the need for a reform. However, a reform could not return the fullness. A restoration was required. Restore means to return to the state it was in originally. It was necessary that God restore His authority, to restore the fullness of truth, and to re-establish His church.

In America, in 1820, there lived a boy who was seeking the truth. He saw the religious confusion in the world at the time, and wanted to know where God's full truth could be found. He attended many meetings of different churches, but did not feel that anything felt correct. He studied the Bible often, for he know that truth could be found in the Bible. One day, he was reading in the Epistle of James. This is what he read: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering" (James 1: 5-6). He said when he read these verses, they entered into his heart with great force. He thought about them again and again, and finally came to the conclusion that he needed to ask God, or remain in confusion.

He went out to a secluded location in the woods by his home, so as not to be interrupted in his prayer. He knelt, and began to pray aloud. What happened next is a miracle, and I wish to use his own words. He said, "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. . . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" Think for a moment. Re-read what Joseph said happened as he prayed. This is the most important thing to have happened in the history of the world since Christ's resurrection. "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. . . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. In that vision, Joseph Smith learned that Christ's church was no longer on the earth, and that false doctrines abounded. He was then told that through him, the fullness of truth would be restored, and that all would be restored. Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet in these, the latter days.

I testify that through Joseph Smith, all that was in the church established by Jesus Christ Himself when he walked the earth is again on earth. All the authority, power, teachings, doctrines, and knowledge is available. If we were to talk about the difference between the LDS church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and other churches, I would tell you that only the LDS church has the full power and authority of God to govern the church on the earth. It is the only living church that receives direct revelation through a living prophet.

God, through Joseph Smith, provided convincing evidence of the divinity of Joseph's calling. That evidence is in a book. This book is the Book of Mormon. God, knowing that confusion and misinformation would abound after 1000+ years of darkness, provided another witness of Christ. The Book of Mormon, Another Testiment of Jesus Christ, is that evidence. Joseph Smith translated this book from ancient records buried in the ground. In its pages, we learn the fullness of the gospel, and we gain ever more convincing evidence that Jesus is the Christ. I do not want you to take my word for it. I know that these things are true because I followed the council of James. I have prayed to the Almighty God and asked if these things were true. I have received a witness that they are. I have not seen angels, nor have I beheld God the Father or Jesus Christ. I have had no marvelous visions. But the power of the Holy Ghost bore record so powerfully, that I cannot deny the truth of what I know. During the introduction of the Book of Mormon, the purpose of the book is made clear, as well as the requirements for one to gain a witness of that book: "We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost (see Moroni 10: 3-5). Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah."
This, I have tried, and know it to be true. This is why I want so much for all who read the words I type to begin reading the Book of Mormon. Either specific chapters or just from the beginning. You can begin reading it online here: I testify to you that your faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, will grow and expand as you read this book. And through it, you can truly know all that was promised. Knowing that the book is true, you will know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. That means all that was restored through him truly comes from God. That means God's church, the one He leads through revelation, is again on the earth, with all the authority, power, and teachings thereof. I testify again that it truly is on the earth.

Again, prophets and scripture writers knew this was going to happen, and told us about it in the scriptures. There are many scriptures concerning this. I will simply list a few, and you can see how these scriptures support the truth of the restoration. First, however, I wish to start with this pair of scriptures:
Ephesians 1: 10. This is literally fulfilled. Doctrine and Covenants (the scripture that was recorded by latter-day prophets--they wrote the revelations they received just as Moses and Amos and all the rest of the prophets did) briefly summerized what was gathered together: D&C 128: 18-21. Now, for the other verses. Please read these carefully and prayerfully:
Isaiah 29: 13-14, Ezekiel 37: 15-19, Isaiah 29: 4 CR 2 Nephi 26: 14-17, Isaiah 29: 11 (CR Joseph Smith History 1: 63-65, 2 Nephi 27: 1-26), 2 Nephi 3: 11-15, 1 Nephi 15: 13, 2 Nephi 27, 2 Nephi 29, Mormon 8: 16, Revelation 14: 6 (about Moroni): all speak of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the restoration.

As for scriptural support of the Book of Mormon, please read the introduction of the Book of Mormon, then see the following references:
Concerning the people in the story: Genesis 11: 9 CR Ether 1: 33; Genesis 49: 22 refers to the family of the tribe of Joseph that traveled to the Americas. John 10: 16 CR 3 Nephi 15: 21-24 shows that Christ knew about the people in the Book of Mormon. The importance of a second witness are these: 2 Nephi 29: 7-11, 2 Nephi 28: 29-30.

And, because I want all to feel the joy and peace that I have felt from these truths, I would like to discuss prayer. Prayer is a true communication with God. Therefore, we pray in our own words. We begin prayer by addressing our Father in Heaven. Something as simple as saying "Dear Heavenly Father" or "Father in Heaven." We then speak the feelings of our heart. This includes thanking Him for our blessings, asking for help, asking if the Book of Mormon is true, etc. It's important to ask in faith, and truly be ready to receive any answer from God. We then end our prayers with the phrase, "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." Christ is our mediator with the Father, and therefore our prayers go through Him. Therefore, we do it in His name. There are many references to prayer and how the Holy Ghost answers our prayers in the scriptures. I site only a few: James 1: 5-6, John 14: 26, Matthew 6: 6-8, Matthew 7: 7-8, Matthew 21: 22, Galatians 5: 22, Alma 5: 45-46, 3 Nephi 18: 20, Moroni 7: 26-27, 29, D&C 8: 2-3, D&C 9: 8, Moroni 10: 3-5.

You may also want to read the entirety of Joseph Smith's testimony, called Joseph Smith History. These are his own words as to what happened and his testimony of those things.

Now, if you so feel to, please read all those references and truly search for truth. I know that God does answer all sincere prayers. He loves us, and wants us to be happy. He, therefore, has given us all the knowledge we need to trust in Him, to love Him, and to know what we must do. I will share some of the doctrines that have brought such joy and peace to me in the coming weeks. Please study everything I say for yourselves, and pray to Him who knows all truth, even God the Eternal Father.

I love you all.
Elder Argyle
( >/°¥< )

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