Monday, January 17, 2011

Come Partake of Salvation

Hello family and friends!

We had a zone activity today.  It was really great, really inspiring.  We went over some details that President Callan told the zone leaders in their last leadership council.  Then I spent the whole time talking to Hermana Sargent hahah.  I can´t even tell you how weird it is...the Hermanas that were in the MTC with us only have ONE CHANGE LEFT before they go home.  She finishes this change, and then next change is her last one and she goes home in March.  That is really really strange to me.  I have so much to do and so little time left.  But it was good to talk to her again, it´s always nice to talk to an MTC buddy :).

President seems to be tired of not having success here in Paraguay in this mission.  He is fed up with the lack of obedience, the lack of baptisms, the lack of success.  And I don´t blame him.  Paraguay is a prepared country with hundreds of prepared people in every area, it´s we as missionaries that aren´t cutting it.  For the past 2 weeks or so, my companion and I have tried to be strictly obedient and talk to more people during the day, and really we have seen miracles.  I´ll tell you about one that happened yesterday.

We had 4 places that we planned to visit after lunch.  We went, and one by one they all fell through.  It was about 2pm, and we had absolutely nothing to do until 4pm.  Literally, nothing.  So we were standing outside the door of one of our investigators that wasn´t home, and I was just like "I´m tired of not having anybody to teach.  Elder Ponce, from now until 4:00, we are going to talk with every single person we see.  I don´t care if they´re young, old, drunk, smoking, music blaring, it doesn´t matter.  We´re going to talk to all of them."  So we did.  The first guy we talked to was drinking and listening to music outside his house, but he was really nice and we got a lesson out of it.  Then we got rejected, rejected, rejected until about 3:30.  We decided to start walking to the 4:00 appointment because it was kind of far.  We were on one side of the street, and on the other side was a family outside their house.  There were 2 grandparents, 2 parents, and their 2 kids.  The guys were drinking and they had music playing.  I was going to pass them by.  I figured that we were already on our way to our other appointment and they wouldn´t accept anyway.  Then the thought came into my mind very clearly "Don´t complain that you don´t have people to teach if you don´t talk to the people I put in your path."  So I stopped and said to my companion "Well, we said we were going to talk to everybody.  Let´s go."  So we went and contacted them.  They turned out to be very nice.  They invited us in, we shared a short message with them, and then they invited us barbecued ribs they were cooking.  We put appointments to go back with them tomorrow and Wednesday (Tuesday with the grandparents, Wednesday with the parents and their kids).  It was just a really cool testimony about how the Lord puts people in our path to talk to, and they´re not always the people we are expecting.  It will be a lot easier for me to talk to everybody now; I have a testimony that it works.

Let´s continue.  Just 2 verses left.

Verse 19
"I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ´they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.´"

-The answer given to Joseph by our Savior is given in absolute form: "join none of them, for they were all wrong."  There were no exceptions and no room for misinterpretation.  Christ replied in clear and absolute language.

-To verify the validity of prophets and that He really does speak through them, in His answer to Joseph, He quotes two of them.  "They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men" refers to the prophecy of Isaiah 29:13.  The remainder, "having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof", is an almost word for word quote from the Apostle Paul in his second epistle to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:5).  The Lord Jehova spoke to the prophet of the new dispensation using the same words He spoke to the prophets of the dispensations of old.  The first time He said it, it was to foretell the event.  The second time (declaring it to Joseph Smith) was to corfirm its fulfillment, proving that prophets - old and new - have power and authority to speak on behalf of God.

-Extend that last idea.  The prophecies of old about the Great Apostasy had been fulfilled.  The people - in spite of their profession of love for and service to God - still were far from true adoration in their hearts.  These people had the Bible (Joseph Smith makes that clear earlier in his account).  In spite of free, liberal, unrestricted access to the word of God, for intentional or unintentional reasons they still taught with incorrect and undoctrinal interpretations of men.  And this was a wide-spread epidemic; this was not just something happening in a few homes or communities.  This was the result of corrupted and changed doctrine in all the world through centuries.  Could anybody less than a prophet of God fix such a mishap?  Prophets today are just as important and necessary as prophets in ancient times.

-The Lord makes clear to Joseph that the creeds of these religions were an abomination.  I find it interesting that the Lord used the word "creeds".  He is referring to the Nicene Creed resulting from the Council of Nicea in the year 325 AD, and the changes made to that creed in future councils of similar nature.  Emperor Constantine had converted to Christianity.  He realized the difference in beliefs in all the sects of the world - all believing in the same Jesus Christ.  The pastors and professors of all the religions in the region were called to a council to see if an agreement could be reached as to the true nature of God.  What came out was a mixture of compromised beliefs that they called the Nicene Creed: a mush-pot of non-Biblical beliefs created or misinterpreted by man jumbled up together and declared to be the true nature of God.  It is important to note that none of these beliefs that composed part of the whole were received by revelation given to a prophet as God had always done in working with mankind in the past - the authority of the Priesthood was absent from the earth at this time, and there were no prophets to receive revelation.  This "creed" that professes to state the truth about an "incomprehensible God" is what defined the majority of Christian beliefs of Joseph Smith´s era and the beliefs of most Christians today.  Jesus Christ told the boy Prophet Joseph that this creed was an abomination.  He did not say that those people were an abomination or that those pastors were abominations, but the creeds they professed were and are disgusting in His sight.  They are the commandments of men and not revealed truths of God.  They distort His true nature, and many do not know Him because they believe they can´t.  The Lord was going to fix this and clear this up by revealing true doctrines lost through the ages to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

I invite all of you to take advantage of the truths that the Lord has made available to you.  If you have already found these truths and know them to be of God, I invite you to share them with one of your brothers or sisters this week so that they might find their way back to their heavenly home.  Joseph Smith was a prophet.  God our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer spoke to him.  Through the Holy Ghost, God has allowed me to come to know this.  I have felt it in the very core of my soul, in the most profound way, and I will never deny it.  The truth is on the earth.  The way to salvation is known to man.  Thomas Spencer Monson is the prophet of the world today.  The Book of Mormon is the word of God.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God upon the earth today.  Come partake of salvation.

Elder Moore

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