Understanding the Restoration – Part 1

In his talk at the April 2014 General Conference entitled “Are You Sleeping Through the Restoration,” Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said,

Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us—Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he received priesthood keys, the Church was organized. In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now. It includes “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,” and the “many great and important things” that “He will yet reveal.” Brethren, the exciting developments of today are part of that long-foretold period of preparation that will culminate in the glorious Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Well, that’s not exactly the whole story. What Elder Uchtdorf omits from his statement is the very important recognition of the promise of the Lord to bring again Zion, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.

A vital part of Church history includes the experience of the Saints in seeking to establish Zion, according to the revelations of the restoration. In the 1830s, they went to the designated location, they understood the vision, but they failed to accomplish the sacred mission, because of their inability to walk in all holiness before the Lord.

As the Lord explained this to them in a revelation, which is now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants Section 101, he showed them a parable “that [they might] know [his] will concerning the redemption of Zion.” The parable shows us that the time will come, when the servants of God will arise, and, being “affrighted,” they will flee; and the enemy will destroy their works, and break down the olive trees of the Lord’s vineyard.

I think it is fair to say that this great evil undoubtedly constitutes a “marring” of the Church, as is prophesied by the Lord himself in the Book of Mormon, when he taught the ancient American Christians that the record of his ministry among them would be declared to the future Gentiles, who would possess their land in the future, and they would not believe it.

The Savior went on to teach the ancients that, because of this unbelief of the Gentiles, his servant, the servant declaring the message of the ancient American record to the Gentiles, would not be hurt because of these unbelievers, but that he would be “marred,” because of them. This is because, he said, the life of his servant would be in his hand, and he would heal him and will show unto them that his wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.

As we contemplate all this, it virtually causes our bones to quake, with the witness of the Spirit, who impresses upon our souls the magnitude of this great and marvelous work of God, which the Father declared he would work for the sake of his Only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ.

For we see that this work is the very fulfillment of the writings of Isaiah the prophet, who saw our day, when the voices of those brought down to the dust, by the marvelous judgments of God, who destroyed them, who camped against them round about, and who laid siege against them with a mount, and raised forts against them, and brought them down, would speak out of the ground in our day, and their speech is now low out of the dust, and their voice is, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and their speech is now whispering out of the dust to all the world.

And the multitude of all the nations that fight against these voices, whispering out of the ground, and those declaring it, even all that fight against them and their strength, and that distress them, shall be as a dream of a night vision.

It shall even be as when an hungry man dreams, and, behold, he eats; but he awakens, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreams, and, behold, he drinks; but he awakens, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul has appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.

So we see that the Lord is bringing again Zion, but there are those who fight against it. Who are they? They are the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, the spiritual wickedness in high places. They fight against Mount Zion. They say, “Who sees us and who knows us?” And they also say unto the Lord, “Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay.”

However, they are not the only ones. There are also those who heap scorn upon the servants of the Lord, who watch for iniquity, that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproves in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.

The most bitter of these are apostates. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they should fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes oft upon it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God: But that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned, says the apostle to the Gentiles.

Nevertheless, there are also those yet among us, who lie in wait to deceive, preying upon children who are easily tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness.

A very good example of the latter is Denver Snuffer Jr., although he was recently excommunicated from the Church. This cunning individual has convinced many “children of the kingdom,” as he travels around the Western part of the country, that he does not fight against Zion, but, to the contrary, is all about “seeing that Zion comes again.”

His confessed intent is to help the “children of the kingdom” understand what they must do to be able to walk in all holiness before God. Something, as I have all ready mentioned, kept the early Latter-Day Saints from establishing Zion, in their first attempt, in the 1830s.

In teaching them this, he tells them things that are true and readily acceptable, such as how they must be a consecrated people, who are willing to sacrifice, without the thought of gain (this is not hard to accept, we even teach our Boy Scouts this principle.)

However, he very carefully teaches them this wonderful principle in a context that divorces the priesthood from the Church. The context he uses comes from both ancient and modern scriptures, which he uses to explain that “[T]he first principle is ‘there is no such thing as professional clergy,’ followed immediately by, ‘remember the poor, remember the needy,’ in both instances. That is not happenstance,” he asserts.

This is a key point upon which the man elaborates with the intent of convincing the children that it is wrong that the LDS general leadership are a paid clergy. It just so happens that it is likely that many in his audience have itching ears for this message, since many of them are no doubt suffering economically, as of late, due to the sinking economy of the world.

Moreover, finding fault with a paid clergy, something these children have seldom considered, since none of the thousands of local leaders of the Church around the world, are paid, begins the process of demonizing the generals, who are well paid.

In addition, the man drives home the point that the priesthood, held by ancients prophets, is seldom seen to be connected with the authority of a church. Indeed, it’s normally the other way around. Again, as he teaches these things, it is clear that the children are being set up for what is to come:

…the point is only this: priesthood exists independent of Israel, it exists independent of a church, and while the church may be dependent on priesthood, priesthood is not and never has been dependent upon a church, period. I hope you understand that. Priesthood is not and never has been dependent upon a church! These are two entirely different topics and very important to be understood for our purposes here today.

For the children predisposed to hear that these Church leaders are deceivers, this is dynamite ammunition for their rebellious spirits. Yes! And not only so, but the priesthood in the Church should not even pretend that they control the Holy Ghost:

…the Holy Ghost can and does speak to everyone, Baptists, Lutherans, and Catholics included. C.S. Lewis could not have written and comprehended what he wrote and understood, unless the light of the Holy Ghost shown upon that man’s mind. He has been often quoted in General Conference because he declares the light of eternal truths in his writings. There is no organization that controls the Holy Ghost. It is untrue to say there is some organization, which itself must be dependent upon the existence of priesthood for its order, has the authority to control the priesthood in the entire world! That is utter rubbish!

The demonization of the generals is in high gear at this point. Few will notice that they have never claimed to control the ministering of the Holy Ghost, which has gone on for millennia around the world, especially among the Gentiles, with faith in Jesus Christ.

However, most of these children will fail to notice, as this man does, that there is an important distinction between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost, which gives this man the opening he needs.

After going on at length to demonstrate that the Holy Ghost operates outside the Church, and, evidently, carried away with his own success at the endeavor, as he supposes, his hubris leads him on to excess and he declares most soberly:

I have never said this publicly, but because of what I think will ensue after this talk I am going to say it, not for my sake, and certainly not for the sake of anyone who believes the truth or who has the Spirit, but I say it only to benefit those who may view things completely otherwise. The Lord has said to me in His own voice, “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.” Therefore, I want to caution those who disagree with me, to feel free, to feel absolutely free to make the case against what I say. Feel free to disagree, and make your contrary arguments. If you believe I err, then expose the error and denounce it. But take care; take care about what you say concerning me for your sake, not for mine. I live with constant criticism. I can take it. But I do not want you provoking Divine ire by unfortunately chosen words if I can persuade you against it.

Well, I must say that “I view things completely otherwise,” and I feel free to disagree vehemently with this man, and make my contrary arguments and expose the error and denounce it. He is deceiving you. All of you who believe that he is speaking the truth are mistaken, and not just in this one instance, regarding the ministry of the Holy Ghost, but in more to come.

The Melchizedek Priesthood has been restored by righteousness sent down from heaven, just as the Lord declared would happen, in connection with the truth that he would send forth out of the earth. This Holy Priesthood is after the order of the Son of God, and those who hold its keys are authorized to direct the work of the Father, to accomplish his words, to which the voices from the dust testify saying that he would establish his church among the Gentiles, in our day, if they would but repent and hearken unto his words, and harden not their hearts.

This is critical to understand and believe, for the church the Father established, beginning in 1830, with the properly constituted order to establish and direct it, holds the keys to the kingdom of God on earth. The only salvation remaining for the Gentiles is for them to repent, become as a little child, and to be baptized, by those who are sent and authorized to officiate in the office of Priest, by the order of the Church, to number them in the covenant of the house of Israel.

The voices from the dust testify that the Father declared to them that, if they do this, they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among the remnant of Jacob, unto whom he has given this land for their inheritance;

Furthermore, the Father promised, according to the spokesman for the prophet Joseph, that “they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.”

Which brings us back to our start. The saints failed to establish Zion, build the holy city of New Jerusalem, because they were cast out by their enemies. The Lord suffered this to be, as he explains in Section 101:

2 I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions;

3 Yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels.

But it was not to be for generations, as it turns out, while the saints learn the very important lessons of Zion – that it “cannot be built up, unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself,” the Lord says. Yet, the Lord taught the saints that his mercy would not depart from them. Says he:

8 In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.

9 Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding their sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards them. I will not utterly cast them off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy.

10 I have sworn, and the decree hath gone forth by a former commandment which I have given unto you, that I would let fall the sword of mine indignation in behalf of my people; and even as I have said, it shall come to pass.

11 Mine indignation is soon to be poured out without measure upon all nations; and this will I do when the cup of their iniquity is full.

12 And in that day all who are found upon the watch-tower, or in other words, all mine Israel, shall be saved.

13 And they that have been scattered shall be gathered.

14 And all they who have mourned shall be comforted.

15 And all they who have given their lives for my name shall be crowned.

16 Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.

17 Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered.

In contrast to this, the man Snuffer tries to convince his audience that, due to an unusual dream the prophet Joseph is reported to have had, Zion has been moved out of her place, that the LDS people are no longer the people of the Lord, that “…today, Joseph would have no welcoming arm within it. It would suffer from such a curse in its present state that they would quarrel with him, and tell him to leave if he came among the church today.” Finally, he states his belief clearly: “I believe that the farm in the last vision was a symbol for what the church has become.”

The farm he refers to was a run down and neglected piece of property that Joseph, in his dream, owned, but hadn’t occupied for a long time, leaving it to decompose and decay. Suddenly, a man appears very menacingly, insisting that the place belongs to him, and soon a mob convenes, all with knives and evil motives, quarreling over the property, while Joseph sneaks off, unnoticed.

The point of the dream is that the enemy occupies what rightly belongs to the prophet, an inheritance, you might say, albeit a greatly neglected one. However, the iniquities of the usurpers fall upon their own heads, leaving Joseph to contemplate the “screeching and screaming” of these be-knighted knaves, engaged in a fight over something that didn’t belong to any of them.

It is a clear picture of the land of Zion, the land of MO, which stands in need of redemption, but it is presently occupied by strangers who know nothing of its glory, as the future location of the holy city. They know nothing of the law of the celestial kingdom, which will soon reign there, but only the law of the jungle. Yet, Snuffer sneakily applies the dream to the Church, asserting that the run-down farm is a symbol of what the Church has become, further demonizing it to serve his purposes and to prepare his audience for what is to follow:

(Part 2 continues in next entry)

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