Tag Archives: Wicked Nephites

#BOMTC Mormon 5-7: FALLEN!

Imagine how Mormon must have felt as he witnessed the devastation of the final battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites. He had labored his entire life to do the will of the Lord and had tried over and over to help the people repent and return to God.

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Mormon Abridging

“I write a small abridgment,” said Mormon, “daring not to give a full account of the things which I have seen … that ye might not have too great sorrow because of the wickedness of this people.” (Morm. 5:9)

Mormon’s message is for our day: “How can ye stand before the power of God, except ye shall repent and turn from your evil ways? Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?” (Morm. 5:22–23) In these chapters we can see the extreme consequences that can come upon a people once they have turned from God and resist repentance.

In the short video below, the end of the great destruction of the battle of Cumorah is depicted. As Mormon and his son Moroni behold the hundreds of thousands of Nephites slain in the last battle with the Lamanites, Mormon laments, “O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! …How is it that ye could have fallen!” (Mormon 6:17 & 19).

O Ye Fair Ones

As I was doing some research for this post, I ran across an article that I had long forgotten about. It is called, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1“, and it was written by Jeffrey R. Holland, when he was the commissioner of Church Education. I don’t believe that there is anything better that I could post than what he has already left for us to study. It will be well worth your time to learn from this master teacher about Mormon and his book.

Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1

(Jeffrey R. Holland, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1,” Ensign Mar. 1978)

The Prophet Joseph Smith once wrote in his journal, “It was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord.” (Joseph Smith, Jr., History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:226.) One who must have felt that “awful responsibility” as much as any other in this world was Mormon, when at the tender age of ten years he was introduced to the weighty assignment that would be his.

After nearly a thousand years of Nephite history he was called of God to select and summarize the story of his people. That story tells in part of “peace in the land” and “all manner of miracles,” including the appearance and sermons of the resurrected Son of God.

But the story also contains the terror and depravity of that civilization gone awry, a dispensation concluding “without order and without mercy” in which women were fed on the flesh of their husbands and children were offered as sacrifice to dumb idols. In the end, Mormon’s was a painful and very lonely task.

Of the record Mormon helped to produce, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of the Church, 4:461.) After long decades of darkness, the appearance of Mormon’s book would be one of the first contributions toward the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21) in preparation for the fullness of times. His task was as crucial in the eternal plan of salvation as it was unique.

One prevailing impression we have as we read of Mormon’s life and times is that he has been almost too modest, too brief (scarcely twelve pages) with the inspiration and insight of a man so uniquely chosen and prepared to write. Indeed, we are grateful that his son, Moroni, shared with us both his memories of and his personal correspondence with his father, which reveal Mormon’s great doctrinal strength, his humanity and hope, and his abiding devotion to his people. (See Moro. 7–9.)

While acknowledging our indebtedness to Moroni for including these wonderfully inspiring chapters, we nevertheless wonder what other great discourses we might have received from Mormon if the book he abridged or the times in which he lived had not restricted his hand and limited his opportunity to speak to us. What we do have from him—and thus what we come to know of him—is of the highest order and places him in the front ranks of ancient America’s prophetic voices.

We know that “every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose” in his premortal existence. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365.) Perhaps that call has an effect on those men even in their earliest mortal years, for Mormon was recognized by his predecessor Ammaron as being “a sober child” and one “quick to observe.” (Morm. 1:2.) As a lad only ten years of age, Mormon received a charge from Ammaron that some fourteen years later he should “go to the land Antum, unto a hill which shall be called Shim” and there obtain the ancient and faithfully recorded history of his people. (Morm. 1:3.) It was a charge he accepted and faithfully fulfilled.

Under the guidance of his father, for whom he was named (see Morm. 1:5–6), young Mormon moved to the land of Zarahemla when he was eleven years of age and prepared for his prophetic role. But these were difficult times. After more than two hundred years of peace and righteousness introduced on the western hemisphere by the Savior himself, the civilization had now declined to the point where “both the people of Nephi and the Lamanites had become exceeding wicked one like unto another. … And there were none that were righteous save it were the disciples of Jesus.” (4 Ne. 1:45–46.) Indeed, that wickedness continued unchecked upon the whole of the land until even the disciples of Jesus, that last remnant of Christ’s ministry among the people, were taken away by the Lord:

“And the work of miracles and of healing did cease because of the iniquity of the people.

“There were no gifts from the Lord, and the Holy Ghost did not come upon any, because of their wickedness and unbelief.” (Morm. 1:13–14.)

Maintaining his integrity and faithful independence amidst such evil practice, Mormon was, at approximately the same age as the young prophet Joseph Smith, “visited of the Lord.” (Morm. 1:15.) Still in his teens, he tried valiantly to preach to his people, but because these people had willfully rebelled against their God and because their wickedness continued to run rampant, he was finally forbidden of God to speak. “My mouth was shut,” he records, “and I was forbidden that I should preach unto them … because of the hardness of their hearts.” (Morm. 1:16–17.)

Other, if less divine, opportunities for service were given to him. Like his ancestor Nephi, Mormon was also “large in stature” (Morm. 2:1), and with both a strong body and a resolute spirit he was chosen to lead the armies of the Nephite people—at the age of sixteen.

Even as Nephite blood flooded the battlefields, however, an army of domestic adversaries—thieves, robbers, murderers, and magicians—sheared the more private fabric of Nephite society. There was despair at home and abroad, and great sorrow among the people.

But as Mormon records, “Their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.

“And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. …

“The day of grace was past with them, both temporally and spiritually.” (Morm. 2:13–15.)

The theft of personal property naturally grew into more conquest of home and lands until Mormon watched these, his brothers and sisters, stand in open conflict against each other and fall in open rebellion against their God. The bodies of the dead were “heaped up as dung upon the face of the land.” (Morm. 2:15.)

In the midst of this kind of personal and public destruction, Mormon made his way to the hill Shim and obtained the plates of Nephi in fulfillment of Ammaron’s commandment. There on these ancient metal plates he would, over the weeks and months ahead, give “a full account of all the wickedness and abominations” of his people, for there was little else to record. Indeed, these scenes of wickedness and abomination had been before his eyes “ever since I have been sufficient to behold the ways of man.” (Morm. 2:18.) Nephite history in the fourth century A.D. was by every standard an unpleasant story to tell.

Striving to maintain what military defense he could, even as he recorded the inevitable demise of his people, Mormon urged that the Nephites “stand boldly” and defend “their wives, and their children, and their houses, and their homes.” (Morm. 2:23.) Although there was an occasional temporary gain, Mormon faced the most hopeless of all military tasks—fighting when “the strength of the Lord was not with us.” He records in his history, “Yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren.” (Morm. 2:26.)

As he fought against the enemy with sword and shield, he also tried to pierce the heart of his own people with strong testimony. But his cry was in vain. These people would not make that one crucial admission that the Lord God of Israel held the keys to their success. (See Morm. 3:2–3.) The warring would go on.

Both armies fought on in the feeble strength of the arm of flesh; and after two surprisingly successful defenses against Lamanite attacks, the Nephites “began to boast in their own strength.” (Morm. 3:9.) In utter despair Mormon threw down his weapons of war and vowed he would have no more to do with their cause. Though he “had loved them” (Morm. 3:12), he refused to lead their military forces and, by the Lord’s command, waited “as an idle witness” for total destruction. (Morm. 3:16.)

Yet at such moments of disappointment and frustration we learn something special about the heart and hunger of this man. His faith, his hope, and his charity were irrepressible. He could not abandon his own people. Notwithstanding their wickedness, he agreed once more to lead them. But some critical threshold had been passed. These people had decisively chosen darkness over light, evil over goodness, blood over benevolence. Prayer unto God “all day long” (Morm. 3:12) for that kind of soul was difficult indeed, but so Mormon prayed. Nevertheless, the judgments of God overtook his people and the degree of Nephite wickedness was equaled only by their loss of life.

Mormon records: “It is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually.

“And there never had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord, as was among this people.” (Morm. 4:11–12.)

Undoubtedly it was in one of these times that Mormon wrote the painful letter to his son which Moroni recorded in his own book.

“My beloved son,” he writes, “I am laboring with [the Nephites] continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it. …

“They have no fear of death; and they have lost their love, one towards another; and they thirst after blood and revenge continually.” (Moro. 9:1, 4–5.)

But Mormon’s remarkable and indomitable spirit prevails. He holds to faith, hope, and charity, and to the miraculous intervention of angels and heavenly priesthood powers, as a prophet always will. Indeed, he loved his people with a “perfect love” that “casteth out all fear.” (Moro. 8:16.) He would simply try once again.

“And now, my beloved son,” he writes, “notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; … for we have a labor to perform.” (Moro. 9:6.)

The Spirit of Christ could yet lead this people if they would permit it to do so, and by his light they could yet “lay hold on every good thing.” (Moro. 7:21.) Even in the midst of these wicked days there was an opportunity to repent, a message delivered by the very angels of heaven. In the midst of his people’s abject wickedness, Mormon reminds his son that, in the past, “by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold on every good thing.” (Moro. 7:25.)

And what God did in the past, he would do now: “Have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

“Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men.” (Moro. 7:36–37.)

What a remarkable message to be delivered in what we know were frightful and unfaithful times! We wonder what miracles might have been wrought, even at that late hour, if congregations of Nephite saints had claimed the privileges which could have been theirs. But they did not choose to claim them and so, for them, the day of miracles did indeed cease.

Gradually, inevitably, inexorably the Nephites lost men, women, children, property, and possessions to the increasingly powerful Lamanites; they “began to be swept off by them even as a dew before the sun.” (Morm. 4:18.) And as Nephite women and children were being sacrificed to Lamanite idols (Morm. 4:21), Mormon once again took command of the Nephite army, though he knew it was in vain and would be the last time.

“I was without hope,” he said, “for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them; for they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them.” (Morm. 5:2.)

Mormon achieved some temporary victories and maintained some temporary positions, but ultimately the Lamanites moved upon them in numbers so vast that “they did tread the people of the Nephites under their feet.” (Morm. 5:6.)

In solitude and sorrow Mormon withdrew from the horde and wrote to an audience yet unborn but certain to receive his record. For Jew, Lamanite, and Gentile he describes the destruction of what had once been “a delightsome people,” a nation who once had “Christ for their shepherd.” (Morm. 5:17.) Now he records that “they are led about by Satan, even as chaff is driven before the wind, or as a vessel is tossed about upon the waves, without sail or anchor, or without anything wherewith to steer her; and even as she is, so are they.” (Morm. 5:18.)

At Mormon’s request, the Lamanites let the Nephites gather in the land of Cumorah (Morm. 6:2–4) to wage “the last struggle” of these peoples. (Morm. 6:6.) Mormon, now old and hoping only to protect the record, hid in the Hill Cumorah all the plates with which he had been entrusted, save the brief abridged record that he gave to his son Moroni. (Morm. 6:6.) In fearful anticipation and finally horrible realization, Mormon and Moroni fought as the remaining Nephite men, women, and children fell before the oncoming armies of the Lamanites. Mormon himself fell wounded, but his life, for a time, was spared as the Lamanite armies swept on. Only he, Moroni, and twenty-two other Nephites remained; 230,000 of their nation had fallen.

The scope and significance of that horrible slaughter may be seen more readily when we realize that the great American Civil War of the 1860s, the costliest war, in terms of human life, that the United States has ever known, took the lives of 140,000 men in a five-year period. Here, 230,000 fell in a single day.

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Mormon and Moroni After Final Battle

Looking out over that carnage, Mormon cried:

O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! …

“O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!

“But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.” (Morm. 6:17, 19–20.)

As his own death approached, Mormon concluded his record with one great and final testimony.

To the mighty remnant of the house of Israel he testified that they must come to know that they are God’s covenant people. They must come to know that repentance is the only course to salvation.

They must come to know that war must cease and the peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only victory over death and the grave.

If indeed the great remnant of the house of Israel will lay hold upon his record and the gospel of Jesus Christ which it teaches, then, he promises, “it shall be well with you.”

Having seen a devastating day of judgment upon his own people, Mormon closed his weary eyes, seeking the rest of the valiant and the consolation of the saints. But to his eternal credit—and for our eternal good—he left behind a testament which would one day speak “out of the dust” and “hiss forth from generation to generation.” (Moro. 10:27–28.) It would be in every way “a marvellous work and a wonder.” (Isa. 29:14.)

For a wonderful followup to this article see, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 2

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Moroni Mourning

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#BOMTC Helaman 6-7: Cup Up? Fill Up!

As you have studied the book of Helaman, you have seen that the Nephites made choices that led the Spirit of the Lord to withdraw from their lives, while the Lamanites made choices that invited the Spirit to increase in their lives.

Because of the missionary efforts of Nephi and Lehi, thousands of Lamanites in Zarahemla had been baptized, and the majority of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi had been converted to the gospel (see Helaman 5:19–20, 50–51). Following their missionary efforts, the Lamanites increased in righteousness. Unfortunately, the Nephites became wicked and began supporting the Gadianton robbers, and the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from them. The prophet Nephi prophesied that if the Nephites continued to live in wickedness, they would perish. He also prophesied that because of the Lamanites’ righteousness, the Lord would be merciful unto them and preserve them. Mormon recorded that the Lord withdrew His Spirit from the Nephites and began to pour out His Spirit on the Lamanites (see Helaman 6:35–36).

influence of the Spirit

When Nephi saw the state of his people, “his heart was swollen with sorrow” (Helaman 7:6). He went up on a tower in his garden to pray and to mourn the wickedness of the people. When the people heard him praying and mourning, a multitude gathered to learn why he was so upset. After the people gathered to hear Nephi praying upon the tower in his garden, He used the opportunity to teach them (see Helaman 7:12–29). He warned them of the consequences of their decisions and emphasized that if they refused to repent of their sins, they would lose the Lord’s protection and the blessings of eternal life.

In Joel 2:28-29, the Lord promises that in the last days He “will pour out [His] spirit upon all flesh”.

For illustrative purposes, let’s liken ourselves to a cup. A cup can be placed in a few different positions. You can place it with the opening facing up, sideways, or upside down. My position as a cup is determined by my attitude and actions. Now, if the Lord is going to “pour out” His Spirit upon me, then I want to be “cup up” (like the Lamanites in these chapters) with a good attitude and righteous actions. Sometimes my attitude and actions may be bad (like the Nephites in these chapters), in which case I am “cup down”–not a very good position if the Lord is pouring out His Spirit. Sometimes I may not be doing anything bad, but I am not necessarily doing anything good either (see D&C 58:26-28), in which case I could liken myself to “cup sideways”–also not very conducive to receiving an out-“pouring” of the Spirit of God.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that our attitude and actions can cause us to withdraw from the Holy Spirit:

“The saving ordinance of baptism must be administered by one who has proper authority from God. The fundamental conditions of the covenant into which we entered in the waters of baptism are these: we witnessed that we were willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, that we would always remember Him, and that we would keep His commandments. The promised blessing for honoring this covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77). In other words, baptism by water leads to the authorized opportunity for the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead.

“Following our baptism, each of us had hands placed upon our head by those with priesthood authority and was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Holy Ghost was conferred upon us (see D&C 49:14). The statement “receive the Holy Ghost” in our confirmation was a directive to strive for the baptism of the Spirit….

“We should also endeavor to discern when we ‘withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord [cup down], that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved’ (Mosiah 2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit.

“The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us” (“That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006).

I invite you to read/listen to/watch Elder Bednar’s entire conference talk so that you can assure yourself that you are living like the righteous Lamanites (“cup up”) in these chapters. His message, along with these chapters, can help you identify what you need to do to be “CUP UP” so that you can “FILL UP” on the Spirit of the Lord.

That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us

Today, I speak by way of reminder and admonition to those of us who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I pray for and invite the Holy Ghost to now assist me and you as we learn together.

Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins “is the introductory ordinance of the gospel” of Jesus Christ and must be preceded by faith in the Savior and by sincere and complete repentance. “Baptism in water … must be followed by baptism of the Spirit in order to be complete” (see Bible Dictionary, “Baptism,” 618). As the Savior taught Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). My message this afternoon focuses on the baptism of the Spirit and the blessings that flow from the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

The Ordinance of and Covenant Associated with Baptism

As each of us was baptized, we entered into a solemn covenant with our Heavenly Father. A covenant is an agreement between God and His children upon the earth, and it is important to understand that God determines the conditions of all gospel covenants. You and I do not decide the nature or elements of a covenant. Rather, exercising our moral agency, we accept the terms and requirements of a covenant as our Eternal Father has established them (see Bible Dictionary, “Covenant,” 651).

The saving ordinance of baptism must be administered by one who has proper authority from God. The fundamental conditions of the covenant into which we entered in the waters of baptism are these: we witnessed that we were willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, that we would always remember Him, and that we would keep His commandments. The promised blessing for honoring this covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77). In other words, baptism by water leads to the authorized opportunity for the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead.

Confirmation and the Baptism of the Spirit

Following our baptism, each of us had hands placed upon our head by those with priesthood authority and was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Holy Ghost was conferred upon us (see D&C 49:14). The statement “receive the Holy Ghost” in our confirmation was a directive to strive for the baptism of the Spirit.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost” (History of the Church, 5:499). We were baptized by immersion in water for the remission of sins. We must also be baptized by and immersed in the Spirit of the Lord, “and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Ne. 31:17).

As we gain experience with the Holy Ghost, we learn that the intensity with which we feel the Spirit’s influence is not always the same. Strong, dramatic spiritual impressions do not come to us frequently. Even as we strive to be faithful and obedient, there simply are times when the direction, assurance, and peace of the Spirit are not readily recognizable in our lives. In fact, the Book of Mormon describes faithful Lamanites who “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Ne. 9:20).

The influence of the Holy Ghost is described in the scriptures as “a still small voice” (1 Kgs. 19:12; see also 3 Ne. 11:3) and a “voice of perfect mildness” (Hel. 5:30). Thus, the Spirit of the Lord usually communicates with us in ways that are quiet, delicate, and subtle.

Withdrawing Ourselves from the Spirit of the Lord

In our individual study and classroom instruction, we repeatedly emphasize the importance of recognizing the inspiration and promptings we receive from the Spirit of the Lord. And such an approach is correct and useful. We should seek diligently to recognize and respond to promptings as they come to us. However, an important aspect of baptism by the Spirit may frequently be overlooked in our spiritual development.

We should also endeavor to discern when we “withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved” (Mosiah 2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit.

The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us.

I recognize we are fallen men and women living in a mortal world and that we might not have the presence of the Holy Ghost with us every second of every minute of every hour of every day. However, the Holy Ghost can tarry with us much, if not most, of the time—and certainly the Spirit can be with us more than it is not with us. As we become ever more immersed in the Spirit of the Lord, we should strive to recognize impressions when they come and the influences or events that cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost.

Taking “the Holy Spirit for [our] guide” (D&C 45:57) is possible and is essential for our spiritual growth and survival in an increasingly wicked world. Sometimes as Latter-day Saints we talk and act as though recognizing the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives is the rare or exceptional event. We should remember, however, that the covenant promise is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. This supernal blessing applies to every single member of the Church who has been baptized, confirmed, and instructed to “receive the Holy Ghost.”

The Liahona as a Type and Shadow for Our Day

In our day the Book of Mormon is the primary source to which we should turn for help in learning how to invite the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. The description in the Book of Mormon of the Liahona, the director or compass used by Lehi and his family in their journey in the wilderness, specifically was included in the record as a type and a shadow for our day and as an essential lesson about what we should do to enjoy the blessings of the Holy Ghost.

As we strive to align our attitudes and actions with righteousness, then the Holy Ghost becomes for us today what the Liahona was for Lehi and his family in their day. The very factors that caused the Liahona to work for Lehi will likewise invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. And the very factors that caused the Liahona not to work anciently will likewise cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost today.

The Liahona: Purposes and Principles

As we study and ponder the purposes of the Liahona and the principles by which it operated, I testify that we will receive inspiration suited to our individual and family circumstances and needs. We can and will be blessed with ongoing direction from the Holy Ghost.

The Liahona was prepared by the Lord and given to Lehi and his family after they left Jerusalem and were traveling in the wilderness (see Alma 37:38; D&C 17:1). This compass or director pointed the way that Lehi and his caravan should go (see 1 Ne. 16:10), even “a straight course to the promised land” (Alma 37:44). The pointers in the Liahona operated “according to the faith and diligence and heed” (1 Ne. 16:28) of the travelers and failed to work when family members were contentious, rude, slothful, or forgetful (see 1 Ne. 18:12, 21; Alma 37:41, 43).

The compass also provided a means whereby Lehi and his family could obtain greater “understanding concerning the ways of the Lord” (1 Ne. 16:29). Thus, the primary purposes of the Liahona were to provide both direction and instruction during a long and demanding journey. The director was a physical instrument that served as an outward indicator of their inner spiritual standing before God. It worked according to the principles of faith and diligence.

Just as Lehi was blessed in ancient times, each of us in this day has been given a spiritual compass that can direct and instruct us during our mortal journey. The Holy Ghost was conferred upon you and me as we came out of the world and into the Savior’s Church through baptism and confirmation. By the authority of the holy priesthood we were confirmed as members of the Church and admonished to seek for the constant companionship of “the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17).

As we each press forward along the pathway of life, we receive direction from the Holy Ghost just as Lehi was directed through the Liahona. “For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:5).

The Holy Ghost operates in our lives precisely as the Liahona did for Lehi and his family, according to our faith and diligence and heed.

“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God. …

“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth” (D&C 121:45–46).

And the Holy Ghost provides for us today the means whereby we can receive, “by small and simple things” (Alma 37:6), increased understanding about the ways of the Lord: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).

The Spirit of the Lord can be our guide and will bless us with direction, instruction, and spiritual protection during our mortal journey. We invite the Holy Ghost into our lives through meaningful personal and family prayer, feasting upon the words of Christ, diligent and exacting obedience, faithfulness and honoring of covenants, and through virtue, humility, and service. And we steadfastly should avoid things that are immodest, coarse, crude, sinful, or evil that cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost.

We also invite the ongoing companionship of the Holy Ghost as we worthily partake of the sacrament each Sabbath day: “And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day” (D&C 59:9).

Through the ordinance of the sacrament we renew our baptismal covenant and can receive and retain a remission of our sins (see Mosiah 4:12, 26). In addition, we are reminded on a weekly basis of the promise that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. As we then strive to keep ourselves clean and unspotted from the world, we become worthy vessels in whom the Spirit of the Lord can always dwell.

In February of 1847 the Prophet Joseph Smith appeared to Brigham Young in a dream or vision. President Young asked the Prophet if he had a message for the Brethren. The Prophet Joseph replied: “Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom” (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 41; emphasis added). Of all the truths the Prophet Joseph might have taught Brigham Young on that sacred occasion, he emphasized the importance of obtaining and keeping the Spirit of the Lord.

My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of the living reality of God the Eternal Father and of His Son, Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost. May each of us so live that we may always have His Spirit to be with us and thereby qualify for the blessings of direction, instruction, and protection that are essential in these latter days. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482: FALLEN!

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Fallen

Click on the graphic to study Mormon 5-7

Imagine how Mormon must have felt as he witnessed the devastation of the final battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites. He had labored his entire life to do the will of the Lord and had tried over and over to help the people repent and return to God.

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Mormon Abridging

“I write a small abridgment,” said Mormon, “daring not to give a full account of the things which I have seen … that ye might not have too great sorrow because of the wickedness of this people.” (Morm. 5:9)

Mormon’s message is for our day: “How can ye stand before the power of God, except ye shall repent and turn from your evil ways? Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?” (Morm. 5:22–23) In these chapters we can see the extreme consequences that can come upon a people once they have turned from God and resist repentance.

In the short video below, the end of the great destruction of the battle of Cumorah is depicted. As Mormon and his son Moroni behold the hundreds of thousands of Nephites slain in the last battle with the Lamanites, Mormon laments, “O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! …How is it that ye could have fallen!” (Mormon 6:17 & 19).

O Ye Fair Ones

As I was doing some research for this post, I ran across an article that I had long forgotten about. It is called, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1“, and it was written by Jeffrey R. Holland, when he was the commissioner of Church Education. I don’t believe that there is anything better that I could post than what he has already left for us to study. It will be well worth your time to learn from this master teacher about Mormon and his book.

Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1

(Jeffrey R. Holland, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1,” Ensign Mar. 1978)

The Prophet Joseph Smith once wrote in his journal, “It was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord.” (Joseph Smith, Jr., History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:226.) One who must have felt that “awful responsibility” as much as any other in this world was Mormon, when at the tender age of ten years he was introduced to the weighty assignment that would be his.

After nearly a thousand years of Nephite history he was called of God to select and summarize the story of his people. That story tells in part of “peace in the land” and “all manner of miracles,” including the appearance and sermons of the resurrected Son of God.

But the story also contains the terror and depravity of that civilization gone awry, a dispensation concluding “without order and without mercy” in which women were fed on the flesh of their husbands and children were offered as sacrifice to dumb idols. In the end, Mormon’s was a painful and very lonely task.

Of the record Mormon helped to produce, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of the Church, 4:461.) After long decades of darkness, the appearance of Mormon’s book would be one of the first contributions toward the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21) in preparation for the fullness of times. His task was as crucial in the eternal plan of salvation as it was unique.

One prevailing impression we have as we read of Mormon’s life and times is that he has been almost too modest, too brief (scarcely twelve pages) with the inspiration and insight of a man so uniquely chosen and prepared to write. Indeed, we are grateful that his son, Moroni, shared with us both his memories of and his personal correspondence with his father, which reveal Mormon’s great doctrinal strength, his humanity and hope, and his abiding devotion to his people. (See Moro. 7–9.)

While acknowledging our indebtedness to Moroni for including these wonderfully inspiring chapters, we nevertheless wonder what other great discourses we might have received from Mormon if the book he abridged or the times in which he lived had not restricted his hand and limited his opportunity to speak to us. What we do have from him—and thus what we come to know of him—is of the highest order and places him in the front ranks of ancient America’s prophetic voices.

We know that “every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose” in his premortal existence. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365.) Perhaps that call has an effect on those men even in their earliest mortal years, for Mormon was recognized by his predecessor Ammaron as being “a sober child” and one “quick to observe.” (Morm. 1:2.) As a lad only ten years of age, Mormon received a charge from Ammaron that some fourteen years later he should “go to the land Antum, unto a hill which shall be called Shim” and there obtain the ancient and faithfully recorded history of his people. (Morm. 1:3.) It was a charge he accepted and faithfully fulfilled.

Under the guidance of his father, for whom he was named (see Morm. 1:5–6), young Mormon moved to the land of Zarahemla when he was eleven years of age and prepared for his prophetic role. But these were difficult times. After more than two hundred years of peace and righteousness introduced on the western hemisphere by the Savior himself, the civilization had now declined to the point where “both the people of Nephi and the Lamanites had become exceeding wicked one like unto another. … And there were none that were righteous save it were the disciples of Jesus.” (4 Ne. 1:45–46.) Indeed, that wickedness continued unchecked upon the whole of the land until even the disciples of Jesus, that last remnant of Christ’s ministry among the people, were taken away by the Lord:

“And the work of miracles and of healing did cease because of the iniquity of the people.

“There were no gifts from the Lord, and the Holy Ghost did not come upon any, because of their wickedness and unbelief.” (Morm. 1:13–14.)

Maintaining his integrity and faithful independence amidst such evil practice, Mormon was, at approximately the same age as the young prophet Joseph Smith, “visited of the Lord.” (Morm. 1:15.) Still in his teens, he tried valiantly to preach to his people, but because these people had willfully rebelled against their God and because their wickedness continued to run rampant, he was finally forbidden of God to speak. “My mouth was shut,” he records, “and I was forbidden that I should preach unto them … because of the hardness of their hearts.” (Morm. 1:16–17.)

Other, if less divine, opportunities for service were given to him. Like his ancestor Nephi, Mormon was also “large in stature” (Morm. 2:1), and with both a strong body and a resolute spirit he was chosen to lead the armies of the Nephite people—at the age of sixteen.

Even as Nephite blood flooded the battlefields, however, an army of domestic adversaries—thieves, robbers, murderers, and magicians—sheared the more private fabric of Nephite society. There was despair at home and abroad, and great sorrow among the people.

But as Mormon records, “Their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.

“And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. …

“The day of grace was past with them, both temporally and spiritually.” (Morm. 2:13–15.)

The theft of personal property naturally grew into more conquest of home and lands until Mormon watched these, his brothers and sisters, stand in open conflict against each other and fall in open rebellion against their God. The bodies of the dead were “heaped up as dung upon the face of the land.” (Morm. 2:15.)

In the midst of this kind of personal and public destruction, Mormon made his way to the hill Shim and obtained the plates of Nephi in fulfillment of Ammaron’s commandment. There on these ancient metal plates he would, over the weeks and months ahead, give “a full account of all the wickedness and abominations” of his people, for there was little else to record. Indeed, these scenes of wickedness and abomination had been before his eyes “ever since I have been sufficient to behold the ways of man.” (Morm. 2:18.) Nephite history in the fourth century A.D. was by every standard an unpleasant story to tell.

Striving to maintain what military defense he could, even as he recorded the inevitable demise of his people, Mormon urged that the Nephites “stand boldly” and defend “their wives, and their children, and their houses, and their homes.” (Morm. 2:23.) Although there was an occasional temporary gain, Mormon faced the most hopeless of all military tasks—fighting when “the strength of the Lord was not with us.” He records in his history, “Yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren.” (Morm. 2:26.)

As he fought against the enemy with sword and shield, he also tried to pierce the heart of his own people with strong testimony. But his cry was in vain. These people would not make that one crucial admission that the Lord God of Israel held the keys to their success. (See Morm. 3:2–3.) The warring would go on.

Both armies fought on in the feeble strength of the arm of flesh; and after two surprisingly successful defenses against Lamanite attacks, the Nephites “began to boast in their own strength.” (Morm. 3:9.) In utter despair Mormon threw down his weapons of war and vowed he would have no more to do with their cause. Though he “had loved them” (Morm. 3:12), he refused to lead their military forces and, by the Lord’s command, waited “as an idle witness” for total destruction. (Morm. 3:16.)

Yet at such moments of disappointment and frustration we learn something special about the heart and hunger of this man. His faith, his hope, and his charity were irrepressible. He could not abandon his own people. Notwithstanding their wickedness, he agreed once more to lead them. But some critical threshold had been passed. These people had decisively chosen darkness over light, evil over goodness, blood over benevolence. Prayer unto God “all day long” (Morm. 3:12) for that kind of soul was difficult indeed, but so Mormon prayed. Nevertheless, the judgments of God overtook his people and the degree of Nephite wickedness was equaled only by their loss of life.

Mormon records: “It is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually.

“And there never had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord, as was among this people.” (Morm. 4:11–12.)

Undoubtedly it was in one of these times that Mormon wrote the painful letter to his son which Moroni recorded in his own book.

“My beloved son,” he writes, “I am laboring with [the Nephites] continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it. …

“They have no fear of death; and they have lost their love, one towards another; and they thirst after blood and revenge continually.” (Moro. 9:1, 4–5.)

But Mormon’s remarkable and indomitable spirit prevails. He holds to faith, hope, and charity, and to the miraculous intervention of angels and heavenly priesthood powers, as a prophet always will. Indeed, he loved his people with a “perfect love” that “casteth out all fear.” (Moro. 8:16.) He would simply try once again.

“And now, my beloved son,” he writes, “notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; … for we have a labor to perform.” (Moro. 9:6.)

The Spirit of Christ could yet lead this people if they would permit it to do so, and by his light they could yet “lay hold on every good thing.” (Moro. 7:21.) Even in the midst of these wicked days there was an opportunity to repent, a message delivered by the very angels of heaven. In the midst of his people’s abject wickedness, Mormon reminds his son that, in the past, “by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold on every good thing.” (Moro. 7:25.)

And what God did in the past, he would do now: “Have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

“Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men.” (Moro. 7:36–37.)

What a remarkable message to be delivered in what we know were frightful and unfaithful times! We wonder what miracles might have been wrought, even at that late hour, if congregations of Nephite saints had claimed the privileges which could have been theirs. But they did not choose to claim them and so, for them, the day of miracles did indeed cease.

Gradually, inevitably, inexorably the Nephites lost men, women, children, property, and possessions to the increasingly powerful Lamanites; they “began to be swept off by them even as a dew before the sun.” (Morm. 4:18.) And as Nephite women and children were being sacrificed to Lamanite idols (Morm. 4:21), Mormon once again took command of the Nephite army, though he knew it was in vain and would be the last time.

“I was without hope,” he said, “for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them; for they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them.” (Morm. 5:2.)

Mormon achieved some temporary victories and maintained some temporary positions, but ultimately the Lamanites moved upon them in numbers so vast that “they did tread the people of the Nephites under their feet.” (Morm. 5:6.)

In solitude and sorrow Mormon withdrew from the horde and wrote to an audience yet unborn but certain to receive his record. For Jew, Lamanite, and Gentile he describes the destruction of what had once been “a delightsome people,” a nation who once had “Christ for their shepherd.” (Morm. 5:17.) Now he records that “they are led about by Satan, even as chaff is driven before the wind, or as a vessel is tossed about upon the waves, without sail or anchor, or without anything wherewith to steer her; and even as she is, so are they.” (Morm. 5:18.)

At Mormon’s request, the Lamanites let the Nephites gather in the land of Cumorah (Morm. 6:2–4) to wage “the last struggle” of these peoples. (Morm. 6:6.) Mormon, now old and hoping only to protect the record, hid in the Hill Cumorah all the plates with which he had been entrusted, save the brief abridged record that he gave to his son Moroni. (Morm. 6:6.) In fearful anticipation and finally horrible realization, Mormon and Moroni fought as the remaining Nephite men, women, and children fell before the oncoming armies of the Lamanites. Mormon himself fell wounded, but his life, for a time, was spared as the Lamanite armies swept on. Only he, Moroni, and twenty-two other Nephites remained; 230,000 of their nation had fallen.

The scope and significance of that horrible slaughter may be seen more readily when we realize that the great American Civil War of the 1860s, the costliest war, in terms of human life, that the United States has ever known, took the lives of 140,000 men in a five-year period. Here, 230,000 fell in a single day.

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Mormon and Moroni After Final Battle

Looking out over that carnage, Mormon cried:

O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! …

“O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!

“But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.” (Morm. 6:17, 19–20.)

As his own death approached, Mormon concluded his record with one great and final testimony.

To the mighty remnant of the house of Israel he testified that they must come to know that they are God’s covenant people. They must come to know that repentance is the only course to salvation.

They must come to know that war must cease and the peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only victory over death and the grave.

If indeed the great remnant of the house of Israel will lay hold upon his record and the gospel of Jesus Christ which it teaches, then, he promises, “it shall be well with you.”

Having seen a devastating day of judgment upon his own people, Mormon closed his weary eyes, seeking the rest of the valiant and the consolation of the saints. But to his eternal credit—and for our eternal good—he left behind a testament which would one day speak “out of the dust” and “hiss forth from generation to generation.” (Moro. 10:27–28.) It would be in every way “a marvellous work and a wonder.” (Isa. 29:14.)

For a wonderful followup to this article see, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 2

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Moroni Mourning

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#BOMTC Day 60, June 5~Helaman 6-7 or Pages 381-386: Cup Up? Fill Up!

Click graphic to read Helaman 6-7

Click graphic to read Helaman 6-7

As you have studied the book of Helaman, you have seen that the Nephites made choices that led the Spirit of the Lord to withdraw from their lives, while the Lamanites made choices that invited the Spirit to increase in their lives.

Because of the missionary efforts of Nephi and Lehi, thousands of Lamanites in Zarahemla had been baptized, and the majority of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi had been converted to the gospel (see Helaman 5:19–20, 50–51). Following their missionary efforts, the Lamanites increased in righteousness. Unfortunately, the Nephites became wicked and began supporting the Gadianton robbers, and the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from them. The prophet Nephi prophesied that if the Nephites continued to live in wickedness, they would perish. He also prophesied that because of the Lamanites’ righteousness, the Lord would be merciful unto them and preserve them. Mormon recorded that the Lord withdrew His Spirit from the Nephites and began to pour out His Spirit on the Lamanites (see Helaman 6:35–36).

influence of the Spirit

When Nephi saw the state of his people, “his heart was swollen with sorrow” (Helaman 7:6). He went up on a tower in his garden to pray and to mourn the wickedness of the people. When the people heard him praying and mourning, a multitude gathered to learn why he was so upset. After the people gathered to hear Nephi praying upon the tower in his garden, He used the opportunity to teach them (see Helaman 7:12–29). He warned them of the consequences of their decisions and emphasized that if they refused to repent of their sins, they would lose the Lord’s protection and the blessings of eternal life.

In Joel 2:28-29, the Lord promises that in the last days He would “will pour out [His] spirit upon all flesh”.

For illustrative purposes, let’s liken ourselves to a cup. A cup can be placed in a few different positions. You can place it with the opening facing up, sideways, or upside down. My position as a cup is determined by my attitude and actions. Now, if the Lord is going to “pour out” His Spirit upon me, then I want to be “cup up” (like the Lamanites in these chapters) with a good attitude and righteous actions. Sometimes my attitude and actions may be bad (like the Nephites in these chapters), in which case I am “cup down”–not a very good position if the Lord is pouring out His Spirit. Sometimes I may not be doing anything bad, but I am not necessarily doing anything good either (see D&C 58:26-28), in which case I could liken myself to “cup sideways”–also not very conducive to receiving an out-“pouring” of the Spirit of God.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that our attitude and actions can cause us to withdraw from the Holy Spirit:

“The saving ordinance of baptism must be administered by one who has proper authority from God. The fundamental conditions of the covenant into which we entered in the waters of baptism are these: we witnessed that we were willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, that we would always remember Him, and that we would keep His commandments. The promised blessing for honoring this covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77). In other words, baptism by water leads to the authorized opportunity for the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead.

“Following our baptism, each of us had hands placed upon our head by those with priesthood authority and was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Holy Ghost was conferred upon us (see D&C 49:14). The statement “receive the Holy Ghost” in our confirmation was a directive to strive for the baptism of the Spirit….

“We should also endeavor to discern when we ‘withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord [cup down], that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved’ (Mosiah 2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit.

“The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us” (“That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006).

I invite you to read/listen to/watch Elder Bednar’s entire conference talk so that you can assure yourself that you are living like the righteous Lamanites (“cup up”) in these chapters. His message, along with these chapters, can help you identify what you need to do to be “CUP UP” so that you can “FILL UP” on the Spirit of the Lord.

That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us

Today, I speak by way of reminder and admonition tothose of us who are members of The Church of JesusChrist of Latter-day Saints. I pray for and invite the HolyGhost to now assist me and you as we learn together.

Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins “is theintroductory ordinance of the gospel” of Jesus Christand must be preceded by faith in the Savior and bysincere and complete repentance. “Baptism in water must be followed by baptism of the Spirit in order to becomplete” (see Bible Dictionary, “Baptism,” 618). As theSavior taught Nicodemus, “Except a man be born ofwater and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into thekingdom of God” (John 3:5). My message this afternoonfocuses on the baptism of the Spirit and the blessingsthat flow from the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

The Ordinance of and Covenant Associated with Baptism

As each of us was baptized, we entered into a solemncovenant with our Heavenly Father. A covenant is anagreement between God and His children upon theearth, and it is important to understand that Goddetermines the conditions of all gospel covenants. Youand I do not decide the nature or elements of acovenant. Rather, exercising our moral agency, weaccept the terms and requirements of a covenant asour Eternal Father has established them (see BibleDictionary, “Covenant,” 651).

The saving ordinance of baptism must be administeredby one who has proper authority from God. Thefundamental conditions of the covenant into which weentered in the waters of baptism are these: wewitnessed that we were willing to take upon ourselvesthe name of Jesus Christ, that we would alwaysremember Him, and that we would keep Hiscommandments. The promised blessing for honoringthis covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to bewith us (see D&C 20:77). In other words, baptism bywater leads to the authorized opportunity for theconstant companionship of the third member of theGodhead.

Confirmation and the Baptism of the Spirit

Following our baptism, each of us had hands placedupon our head by those with priesthood authority andwas confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christof Latter-day Saints, and the Holy Ghost was conferredupon us (see D&C 49:14). The statement “receive theHoly Ghost” in our confirmation was a directive to strivefor the baptism of the Spirit.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “You might as wellbaptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view ofthe remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost.Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good fornothing without the other half—that is, the baptism ofthe Holy Ghost” (History of the Church, 5:499). We werebaptized by immersion in water for the remission ofsins. We must also be baptized by and immersed in theSpirit of the Lord, “and then cometh a remission of yoursins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Ne. 31:17).

As we gain experience with the Holy Ghost, we learnthat the intensity with which we feel the Spirit’sinfluence is not always the same. Strong, dramaticspiritual impressions do not come to us frequently.Even as we strive to be faithful and obedient, theresimply are times when the direction, assurance, andpeace of the Spirit are not readily recognizable in ourlives. In fact, the Book of Mormon describes faithfulLamanites who “were baptized with fire and with theHoly Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Ne. 9:20).

The influence of the Holy Ghost is described in thescriptures as “a still small voice” (1 Kgs. 19:12; see also 3Ne. 11:3) and a “voice of perfect mildness” (Hel. 5:30).Thus, the Spirit of the Lord usually communicates withus in ways that are quiet, delicate, and subtle.

Withdrawing Ourselves from the Spirit of the Lord

In our individual study and classroom instruction, werepeatedly emphasize the importance of recognizingthe inspiration and promptings we receive from theSpirit of the Lord. And such an approach is correct anduseful. We should seek diligently to recognize andrespond to promptings as they come to us. However,an important aspect of baptism by the Spirit mayfrequently be overlooked in our spiritual development.

We should also endeavor to discern when we “withdraw[ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may haveno place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we]may be blessed, prospered, and preserved” (Mosiah2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that wemay always have His Spirit to be with us, we shouldattend to and learn from the choices and influencesthat separate us from the Holy Spirit.

The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear,or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we shouldstop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. Ifthat which is intended to entertain, for example,alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly thattype of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spiritcannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest,then clearly such things are not for us. Because weestrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage inactivities we know we should shun, then such thingsdefinitely are not for us.

I recognize we are fallen men and women living in amortal world and that we might not have the presenceof the Holy Ghost with us every second of every minuteof every hour of every day. However, the Holy Ghostcan tarry with us much, if not most, of the time—andcertainly the Spirit can be with us more than it is notwith us. As we become ever more immersed in theSpirit of the Lord, we should strive to recognizeimpressions when they come and the influences orevents that cause us to withdraw ourselves from theHoly Ghost.

Taking “the Holy Spirit for [our] guide” (D&C 45:57) ispossible and is essential for our spiritual growth andsurvival in an increasingly wicked world. Sometimes asLatter-day Saints we talk and act as though recognizingthe influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives is the rare orexceptional event. We should remember, however, thatthe covenant promise is that we may always have HisSpirit to be with us. This supernal blessing applies toevery single member of the Church who has beenbaptized, confirmed, and instructed to “receive the HolyGhost.”

The Liahona as a Type and Shadow for Our Day

In our day the Book of Mormon is the primary source towhich we should turn for help in learning how to invitethe constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Thedescription in the Book of Mormon of the Liahona, thedirector or compass used by Lehi and his family in theirjourney in the wilderness, specifically was included inthe record as a type and a shadow for our day and asan essential lesson about what we should do to enjoythe blessings of the Holy Ghost.

As we strive to align our attitudes and actions withrighteousness, then the Holy Ghost becomes for ustoday what the Liahona was for Lehi and his family intheir day. The very factors that caused the Liahona towork for Lehi will likewise invite the Holy Ghost into ourlives. And the very factors that caused the Liahona notto work anciently will likewise cause us to withdrawourselves from the Holy Ghost today.

The Liahona: Purposes and Principles

As we study and ponder the purposes of the Liahonaand the principles by which it operated, I testify that wewill receive inspiration suited to our individual andfamily circumstances and needs. We can and will beblessed with ongoing direction from the Holy Ghost.

The Liahona was prepared by the Lord and given toLehi and his family after they left Jerusalem and weretraveling in the wilderness (see Alma 37:38; D&C 17:1).This compass or director pointed the way that Lehi andhis caravan should go (see 1 Ne. 16:10), even “a straightcourse to the promised land” (Alma 37:44). The pointersin the Liahona operated “according to the faith anddiligence and heed” (1 Ne. 16:28) of the travelers andfailed to work when family members were contentious,rude, slothful, or forgetful (see 1 Ne. 18:12, 21; Alma37:41, 43).

The compass also provided a means whereby Lehi andhis family could obtain greater “understandingconcerning the ways of the Lord” (1 Ne. 16:29). Thus,the primary purposes of the Liahona were to provideboth direction and instruction during a long anddemanding journey. The director was a physicalinstrument that served as an outward indicator of theirinner spiritual standing before God. It worked accordingto the principles of faith and diligence.

Just as Lehi was blessed in ancient times, each of us inthis day has been given a spiritual compass that candirect and instruct us during our mortal journey. TheHoly Ghost was conferred upon you and me as wecame out of the world and into the Savior’s Churchthrough baptism and confirmation. By the authority ofthe holy priesthood we were confirmed as members ofthe Church and admonished to seek for the constantcompanionship of “the Spirit of truth; whom the worldcannot receive, because it seeth him not, neitherknoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth withyou, and shall be in you” (John 14:17).

As we each press forward along the pathway of life, wereceive direction from the Holy Ghost just as Lehi wasdirected through the Liahona. “For behold, again I sayunto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receivethe Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what yeshould do” (2 Ne. 32:5).

The Holy Ghost operates in our lives precisely as theLiahona did for Lehi and his family, according to ourfaith and diligence and heed.

“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shallthy confidence wax strong in the presence of God.

“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, andthy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness andtruth” (D&C 121:45–46).

And the Holy Ghost provides for us today the meanswhereby we can receive, “by small and simple things”(Alma 37:6), increased understanding about the ways ofthe Lord: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teachyou all things, and bring all things to yourremembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John14:26).

The Spirit of the Lord can be our guide and will bless uswith direction, instruction, and spiritual protectionduring our mortal journey. We invite the Holy Ghostinto our lives through meaningful personal and familyprayer, feasting upon the words of Christ, diligent andexacting obedience, faithfulness and honoring ofcovenants, and through virtue, humility, and service.And we steadfastly should avoid things that areimmodest, coarse, crude, sinful, or evil that cause us towithdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost.

We also invite the ongoing companionship of the HolyGhost as we worthily partake of the sacrament eachSabbath day: “And that thou mayest more fully keepthyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to thehouse of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon myholy day” (D&C 59:9).

Through the ordinance of the sacrament we renew ourbaptismal covenant and can receive and retain aremission of our sins (see Mosiah 4:12, 26). In addition,we are reminded on a weekly basis of the promise thatwe may always have His Spirit to be with us. As we thenstrive to keep ourselves clean and unspotted from theworld, we become worthy vessels in whom the Spirit ofthe Lord can always dwell.

In February of 1847 the Prophet Joseph Smith appearedto Brigham Young in a dream or vision. President Youngasked the Prophet if he had a message for theBrethren. The Prophet Joseph replied: “Tell the peopleto be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spiritof the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful andnot turn away the small still voice; it will teach themwhat to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of thekingdom” (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church:Brigham Young [1997], 41; emphasis added). Of all thetruths the Prophet Joseph might have taught BrighamYoung on that sacred occasion, he emphasized theimportance of obtaining and keeping the Spirit of theLord.

My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of the livingreality of God the Eternal Father and of His Son, JesusChrist, and of the Holy Ghost. May each of us so livethat we may always have His Spirit to be with us andthereby qualify for the blessings of direction,instruction, and protection that are essential in theselatter days. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482: FALLEN!

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Fallen

Click on the graphic to study Mormon 5-7

Imagine how Mormon must have felt as he witnessed the devastation of the final battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites. He had labored his entire life to do the will of the Lord and had tried over and over to help the people repent and return to God.

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Mormon Abridging

“I write a small abridgment,” said Mormon, “daring not to give a full account of the things which I have seen … that ye might not have too great sorrow because of the wickedness of this people.” (Morm. 5:9)

Mormon’s message is for our day: “How can ye stand before the power of God, except ye shall repent and turn from your evil ways? Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?” (Morm. 5:22–23) In these chapters we can see the extreme consequences that can come upon a people once they have turned from God and resist repentance.

In the short video below, the end of the great destruction of the battle of Cumorah is depicted. As Mormon and his son Moroni behold the hundreds of thousands of Nephites slain in the last battle with the Lamanites, Mormon laments, “O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! …How is it that ye could have fallen!” (Mormon 6:17 & 19).

O Ye Fair Ones

As I was doing some research for this post, I ran across an article that I had long forgotten about. It is called, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1“, and it was written by Jeffrey R. Holland, when he was the commissioner of Church Education. I don’t believe that there is anything better that I could post than what he has already left for us to study. It will be well worth your time to learn from this master teacher about Mormon and his book.

Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1

(Jeffrey R. Holland, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1,” Ensign Mar. 1978)

The Prophet Joseph Smith once wrote in his journal, “It was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord.” (Joseph Smith, Jr., History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:226.) One who must have felt that “awful responsibility” as much as any other in this world was Mormon, when at the tender age of ten years he was introduced to the weighty assignment that would be his.

After nearly a thousand years of Nephite history he was called of God to select and summarize the story of his people. That story tells in part of “peace in the land” and “all manner of miracles,” including the appearance and sermons of the resurrected Son of God.

But the story also contains the terror and depravity of that civilization gone awry, a dispensation concluding “without order and without mercy” in which women were fed on the flesh of their husbands and children were offered as sacrifice to dumb idols. In the end, Mormon’s was a painful and very lonely task.

Of the record Mormon helped to produce, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of the Church, 4:461.) After long decades of darkness, the appearance of Mormon’s book would be one of the first contributions toward the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21) in preparation for the fullness of times. His task was as crucial in the eternal plan of salvation as it was unique.

One prevailing impression we have as we read of Mormon’s life and times is that he has been almost too modest, too brief (scarcely twelve pages) with the inspiration and insight of a man so uniquely chosen and prepared to write. Indeed, we are grateful that his son, Moroni, shared with us both his memories of and his personal correspondence with his father, which reveal Mormon’s great doctrinal strength, his humanity and hope, and his abiding devotion to his people. (See Moro. 7–9.)

While acknowledging our indebtedness to Moroni for including these wonderfully inspiring chapters, we nevertheless wonder what other great discourses we might have received from Mormon if the book he abridged or the times in which he lived had not restricted his hand and limited his opportunity to speak to us. What we do have from him—and thus what we come to know of him—is of the highest order and places him in the front ranks of ancient America’s prophetic voices.

We know that “every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose” in his premortal existence. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365.) Perhaps that call has an effect on those men even in their earliest mortal years, for Mormon was recognized by his predecessor Ammaron as being “a sober child” and one “quick to observe.” (Morm. 1:2.) As a lad only ten years of age, Mormon received a charge from Ammaron that some fourteen years later he should “go to the land Antum, unto a hill which shall be called Shim” and there obtain the ancient and faithfully recorded history of his people. (Morm. 1:3.) It was a charge he accepted and faithfully fulfilled.

Under the guidance of his father, for whom he was named (see Morm. 1:5–6), young Mormon moved to the land of Zarahemla when he was eleven years of age and prepared for his prophetic role. But these were difficult times. After more than two hundred years of peace and righteousness introduced on the western hemisphere by the Savior himself, the civilization had now declined to the point where “both the people of Nephi and the Lamanites had become exceeding wicked one like unto another. … And there were none that were righteous save it were the disciples of Jesus.” (4 Ne. 1:45–46.) Indeed, that wickedness continued unchecked upon the whole of the land until even the disciples of Jesus, that last remnant of Christ’s ministry among the people, were taken away by the Lord:

“And the work of miracles and of healing did cease because of the iniquity of the people.

“There were no gifts from the Lord, and the Holy Ghost did not come upon any, because of their wickedness and unbelief.” (Morm. 1:13–14.)

Maintaining his integrity and faithful independence amidst such evil practice, Mormon was, at approximately the same age as the young prophet Joseph Smith, “visited of the Lord.” (Morm. 1:15.) Still in his teens, he tried valiantly to preach to his people, but because these people had willfully rebelled against their God and because their wickedness continued to run rampant, he was finally forbidden of God to speak. “My mouth was shut,” he records, “and I was forbidden that I should preach unto them … because of the hardness of their hearts.” (Morm. 1:16–17.)

Other, if less divine, opportunities for service were given to him. Like his ancestor Nephi, Mormon was also “large in stature” (Morm. 2:1), and with both a strong body and a resolute spirit he was chosen to lead the armies of the Nephite people—at the age of sixteen.

Even as Nephite blood flooded the battlefields, however, an army of domestic adversaries—thieves, robbers, murderers, and magicians—sheared the more private fabric of Nephite society. There was despair at home and abroad, and great sorrow among the people.

But as Mormon records, “Their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.

“And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. …

“The day of grace was past with them, both temporally and spiritually.” (Morm. 2:13–15.)

The theft of personal property naturally grew into more conquest of home and lands until Mormon watched these, his brothers and sisters, stand in open conflict against each other and fall in open rebellion against their God. The bodies of the dead were “heaped up as dung upon the face of the land.” (Morm. 2:15.)

In the midst of this kind of personal and public destruction, Mormon made his way to the hill Shim and obtained the plates of Nephi in fulfillment of Ammaron’s commandment. There on these ancient metal plates he would, over the weeks and months ahead, give “a full account of all the wickedness and abominations” of his people, for there was little else to record. Indeed, these scenes of wickedness and abomination had been before his eyes “ever since I have been sufficient to behold the ways of man.” (Morm. 2:18.) Nephite history in the fourth century A.D. was by every standard an unpleasant story to tell.

Striving to maintain what military defense he could, even as he recorded the inevitable demise of his people, Mormon urged that the Nephites “stand boldly” and defend “their wives, and their children, and their houses, and their homes.” (Morm. 2:23.) Although there was an occasional temporary gain, Mormon faced the most hopeless of all military tasks—fighting when “the strength of the Lord was not with us.” He records in his history, “Yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren.” (Morm. 2:26.)

As he fought against the enemy with sword and shield, he also tried to pierce the heart of his own people with strong testimony. But his cry was in vain. These people would not make that one crucial admission that the Lord God of Israel held the keys to their success. (See Morm. 3:2–3.) The warring would go on.

Both armies fought on in the feeble strength of the arm of flesh; and after two surprisingly successful defenses against Lamanite attacks, the Nephites “began to boast in their own strength.” (Morm. 3:9.) In utter despair Mormon threw down his weapons of war and vowed he would have no more to do with their cause. Though he “had loved them” (Morm. 3:12), he refused to lead their military forces and, by the Lord’s command, waited “as an idle witness” for total destruction. (Morm. 3:16.)

Yet at such moments of disappointment and frustration we learn something special about the heart and hunger of this man. His faith, his hope, and his charity were irrepressible. He could not abandon his own people. Notwithstanding their wickedness, he agreed once more to lead them. But some critical threshold had been passed. These people had decisively chosen darkness over light, evil over goodness, blood over benevolence. Prayer unto God “all day long” (Morm. 3:12) for that kind of soul was difficult indeed, but so Mormon prayed. Nevertheless, the judgments of God overtook his people and the degree of Nephite wickedness was equaled only by their loss of life.

Mormon records: “It is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually.

“And there never had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord, as was among this people.” (Morm. 4:11–12.)

Undoubtedly it was in one of these times that Mormon wrote the painful letter to his son which Moroni recorded in his own book.

“My beloved son,” he writes, “I am laboring with [the Nephites] continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it. …

“They have no fear of death; and they have lost their love, one towards another; and they thirst after blood and revenge continually.” (Moro. 9:1, 4–5.)

But Mormon’s remarkable and indomitable spirit prevails. He holds to faith, hope, and charity, and to the miraculous intervention of angels and heavenly priesthood powers, as a prophet always will. Indeed, he loved his people with a “perfect love” that “casteth out all fear.” (Moro. 8:16.) He would simply try once again.

“And now, my beloved son,” he writes, “notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; … for we have a labor to perform.” (Moro. 9:6.)

The Spirit of Christ could yet lead this people if they would permit it to do so, and by his light they could yet “lay hold on every good thing.” (Moro. 7:21.) Even in the midst of these wicked days there was an opportunity to repent, a message delivered by the very angels of heaven. In the midst of his people’s abject wickedness, Mormon reminds his son that, in the past, “by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold on every good thing.” (Moro. 7:25.)

And what God did in the past, he would do now: “Have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

“Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men.” (Moro. 7:36–37.)

What a remarkable message to be delivered in what we know were frightful and unfaithful times! We wonder what miracles might have been wrought, even at that late hour, if congregations of Nephite saints had claimed the privileges which could have been theirs. But they did not choose to claim them and so, for them, the day of miracles did indeed cease.

Gradually, inevitably, inexorably the Nephites lost men, women, children, property, and possessions to the increasingly powerful Lamanites; they “began to be swept off by them even as a dew before the sun.” (Morm. 4:18.) And as Nephite women and children were being sacrificed to Lamanite idols (Morm. 4:21), Mormon once again took command of the Nephite army, though he knew it was in vain and would be the last time.

“I was without hope,” he said, “for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them; for they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them.” (Morm. 5:2.)

Mormon achieved some temporary victories and maintained some temporary positions, but ultimately the Lamanites moved upon them in numbers so vast that “they did tread the people of the Nephites under their feet.” (Morm. 5:6.)

In solitude and sorrow Mormon withdrew from the horde and wrote to an audience yet unborn but certain to receive his record. For Jew, Lamanite, and Gentile he describes the destruction of what had once been “a delightsome people,” a nation who once had “Christ for their shepherd.” (Morm. 5:17.) Now he records that “they are led about by Satan, even as chaff is driven before the wind, or as a vessel is tossed about upon the waves, without sail or anchor, or without anything wherewith to steer her; and even as she is, so are they.” (Morm. 5:18.)

At Mormon’s request, the Lamanites let the Nephites gather in the land of Cumorah (Morm. 6:2–4) to wage “the last struggle” of these peoples. (Morm. 6:6.) Mormon, now old and hoping only to protect the record, hid in the Hill Cumorah all the plates with which he had been entrusted, save the brief abridged record that he gave to his son Moroni. (Morm. 6:6.) In fearful anticipation and finally horrible realization, Mormon and Moroni fought as the remaining Nephite men, women, and children fell before the oncoming armies of the Lamanites. Mormon himself fell wounded, but his life, for a time, was spared as the Lamanite armies swept on. Only he, Moroni, and twenty-two other Nephites remained; 230,000 of their nation had fallen.

The scope and significance of that horrible slaughter may be seen more readily when we realize that the great American Civil War of the 1860s, the costliest war, in terms of human life, that the United States has ever known, took the lives of 140,000 men in a five-year period. Here, 230,000 fell in a single day.

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Mormon and Moroni After Final Battle

Looking out over that carnage, Mormon cried:

O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! …

“O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!

“But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.” (Morm. 6:17, 19–20.)

As his own death approached, Mormon concluded his record with one great and final testimony.

To the mighty remnant of the house of Israel he testified that they must come to know that they are God’s covenant people. They must come to know that repentance is the only course to salvation.

They must come to know that war must cease and the peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only victory over death and the grave.

If indeed the great remnant of the house of Israel will lay hold upon his record and the gospel of Jesus Christ which it teaches, then, he promises, “it shall be well with you.”

Having seen a devastating day of judgment upon his own people, Mormon closed his weary eyes, seeking the rest of the valiant and the consolation of the saints. But to his eternal credit—and for our eternal good—he left behind a testament which would one day speak “out of the dust” and “hiss forth from generation to generation.” (Moro. 10:27–28.) It would be in every way “a marvellous work and a wonder.” (Isa. 29:14.)

For a wonderful followup to this article see, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 2

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Moroni Mourning

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#BOMTC Day 60, June 5~Helaman 6-7 or Pages 381-386: Cup Up? Fill Up!

Click graphic to read Helaman 6-7

Click graphic to read Helaman 6-7

As you have studied the book of Helaman, you have seen that the Nephites made choices that led the Spirit of the Lord to withdraw from their lives, while the Lamanites made choices that invited the Spirit to increase in their lives.

Because of the missionary efforts of Nephi and Lehi, thousands of Lamanites in Zarahemla had been baptized, and the majority of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi had been converted to the gospel (see Helaman 5:19–20, 50–51). Following their missionary efforts, the Lamanites increased in righteousness. Unfortunately, the Nephites became wicked and began supporting the Gadianton robbers, and the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from them. The prophet Nephi prophesied that if the Nephites continued to live in wickedness, they would perish. He also prophesied that because of the Lamanites’ righteousness, the Lord would be merciful unto them and preserve them. Mormon recorded that the Lord withdrew His Spirit from the Nephites and began to pour out His Spirit on the Lamanites (see Helaman 6:35–36).

influence of the Spirit

When Nephi saw the state of his people, “his heart was swollen with sorrow” (Helaman 7:6). He went up on a tower in his garden to pray and to mourn the wickedness of the people. When the people heard him praying and mourning, a multitude gathered to learn why he was so upset. After the people gathered to hear Nephi praying upon the tower in his garden, He used the opportunity to teach them (see Helaman 7:12–29). He warned them of the consequences of their decisions and emphasized that if they refused to repent of their sins, they would lose the Lord’s protection and the blessings of eternal life.

In Joel 2:28-29, the Lord promises that in the last days He would “will pour out [His] spirit upon all flesh”.

For illustrative purposes, let’s liken ourselves to a cup. A cup can be placed in a few different positions. You can place it with the opening facing up, sideways, or upside down. My position as a cup is determined by my attitude and actions. Now, if the Lord is going to “pour out” His Spirit upon me, then I want to be “cup up” (like the Lamanites in these chapters) with a good attitude and righteous actions. Sometimes my attitude and actions may be bad (like the Nephites in these chapters), in which case I am “cup down”–not a very good position if the Lord is pouring out His Spirit. Sometimes I may not be doing anything bad, but I am not necessarily doing anything good either (see D&C 58:26-28), in which case I could liken myself to “cup sideways”–also not very conducive to receiving an out-“pouring” of the Spirit of God.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that our attitude and actions can cause us to withdraw from the Holy Spirit:

“The saving ordinance of baptism must be administered by one who has proper authority from God. The fundamental conditions of the covenant into which we entered in the waters of baptism are these: we witnessed that we were willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, that we would always remember Him, and that we would keep His commandments. The promised blessing for honoring this covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77). In other words, baptism by water leads to the authorized opportunity for the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead.

“Following our baptism, each of us had hands placed upon our head by those with priesthood authority and was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Holy Ghost was conferred upon us (see D&C 49:14). The statement “receive the Holy Ghost” in our confirmation was a directive to strive for the baptism of the Spirit….

“We should also endeavor to discern when we ‘withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord [cup down], that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved’ (Mosiah 2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit.

“The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us” (“That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006).

I invite you to read/listen to/watch Elder Bednar’s entire conference talk so that you can assure yourself that you are living like the righteous Lamanites (“cup up”) in these chapters. His message, along with these chapters, can help you identify what you need to do to be “CUP UP” so that you can “FILL UP” on the Spirit of the Lord.

That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us

Today, I speak by way of reminder and admonition tothose of us who are members of The Church of JesusChrist of Latter-day Saints. I pray for and invite the HolyGhost to now assist me and you as we learn together.

Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins “is theintroductory ordinance of the gospel” of Jesus Christand must be preceded by faith in the Savior and bysincere and complete repentance. “Baptism in water must be followed by baptism of the Spirit in order to becomplete” (see Bible Dictionary, “Baptism,” 618). As theSavior taught Nicodemus, “Except a man be born ofwater and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into thekingdom of God” (John 3:5). My message this afternoonfocuses on the baptism of the Spirit and the blessingsthat flow from the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

The Ordinance of and Covenant Associated with Baptism

As each of us was baptized, we entered into a solemncovenant with our Heavenly Father. A covenant is anagreement between God and His children upon theearth, and it is important to understand that Goddetermines the conditions of all gospel covenants. Youand I do not decide the nature or elements of acovenant. Rather, exercising our moral agency, weaccept the terms and requirements of a covenant asour Eternal Father has established them (see BibleDictionary, “Covenant,” 651).

The saving ordinance of baptism must be administeredby one who has proper authority from God. Thefundamental conditions of the covenant into which weentered in the waters of baptism are these: wewitnessed that we were willing to take upon ourselvesthe name of Jesus Christ, that we would alwaysremember Him, and that we would keep Hiscommandments. The promised blessing for honoringthis covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to bewith us (see D&C 20:77). In other words, baptism bywater leads to the authorized opportunity for theconstant companionship of the third member of theGodhead.

Confirmation and the Baptism of the Spirit

Following our baptism, each of us had hands placedupon our head by those with priesthood authority andwas confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christof Latter-day Saints, and the Holy Ghost was conferredupon us (see D&C 49:14). The statement “receive theHoly Ghost” in our confirmation was a directive to strivefor the baptism of the Spirit.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “You might as wellbaptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view ofthe remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost.Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good fornothing without the other half—that is, the baptism ofthe Holy Ghost” (History of the Church, 5:499). We werebaptized by immersion in water for the remission ofsins. We must also be baptized by and immersed in theSpirit of the Lord, “and then cometh a remission of yoursins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Ne. 31:17).

As we gain experience with the Holy Ghost, we learnthat the intensity with which we feel the Spirit’sinfluence is not always the same. Strong, dramaticspiritual impressions do not come to us frequently.Even as we strive to be faithful and obedient, theresimply are times when the direction, assurance, andpeace of the Spirit are not readily recognizable in ourlives. In fact, the Book of Mormon describes faithfulLamanites who “were baptized with fire and with theHoly Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Ne. 9:20).

The influence of the Holy Ghost is described in thescriptures as “a still small voice” (1 Kgs. 19:12; see also 3Ne. 11:3) and a “voice of perfect mildness” (Hel. 5:30).Thus, the Spirit of the Lord usually communicates withus in ways that are quiet, delicate, and subtle.

Withdrawing Ourselves from the Spirit of the Lord

In our individual study and classroom instruction, werepeatedly emphasize the importance of recognizingthe inspiration and promptings we receive from theSpirit of the Lord. And such an approach is correct anduseful. We should seek diligently to recognize andrespond to promptings as they come to us. However,an important aspect of baptism by the Spirit mayfrequently be overlooked in our spiritual development.

We should also endeavor to discern when we “withdraw[ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may haveno place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we]may be blessed, prospered, and preserved” (Mosiah2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that wemay always have His Spirit to be with us, we shouldattend to and learn from the choices and influencesthat separate us from the Holy Spirit.

The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear,or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we shouldstop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. Ifthat which is intended to entertain, for example,alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly thattype of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spiritcannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest,then clearly such things are not for us. Because weestrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage inactivities we know we should shun, then such thingsdefinitely are not for us.

I recognize we are fallen men and women living in amortal world and that we might not have the presenceof the Holy Ghost with us every second of every minuteof every hour of every day. However, the Holy Ghostcan tarry with us much, if not most, of the time—andcertainly the Spirit can be with us more than it is notwith us. As we become ever more immersed in theSpirit of the Lord, we should strive to recognizeimpressions when they come and the influences orevents that cause us to withdraw ourselves from theHoly Ghost.

Taking “the Holy Spirit for [our] guide” (D&C 45:57) ispossible and is essential for our spiritual growth andsurvival in an increasingly wicked world. Sometimes asLatter-day Saints we talk and act as though recognizingthe influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives is the rare orexceptional event. We should remember, however, thatthe covenant promise is that we may always have HisSpirit to be with us. This supernal blessing applies toevery single member of the Church who has beenbaptized, confirmed, and instructed to “receive the HolyGhost.”

The Liahona as a Type and Shadow for Our Day

In our day the Book of Mormon is the primary source towhich we should turn for help in learning how to invitethe constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Thedescription in the Book of Mormon of the Liahona, thedirector or compass used by Lehi and his family in theirjourney in the wilderness, specifically was included inthe record as a type and a shadow for our day and asan essential lesson about what we should do to enjoythe blessings of the Holy Ghost.

As we strive to align our attitudes and actions withrighteousness, then the Holy Ghost becomes for ustoday what the Liahona was for Lehi and his family intheir day. The very factors that caused the Liahona towork for Lehi will likewise invite the Holy Ghost into ourlives. And the very factors that caused the Liahona notto work anciently will likewise cause us to withdrawourselves from the Holy Ghost today.

The Liahona: Purposes and Principles

As we study and ponder the purposes of the Liahonaand the principles by which it operated, I testify that wewill receive inspiration suited to our individual andfamily circumstances and needs. We can and will beblessed with ongoing direction from the Holy Ghost.

The Liahona was prepared by the Lord and given toLehi and his family after they left Jerusalem and weretraveling in the wilderness (see Alma 37:38; D&C 17:1).This compass or director pointed the way that Lehi andhis caravan should go (see 1 Ne. 16:10), even “a straightcourse to the promised land” (Alma 37:44). The pointersin the Liahona operated “according to the faith anddiligence and heed” (1 Ne. 16:28) of the travelers andfailed to work when family members were contentious,rude, slothful, or forgetful (see 1 Ne. 18:12, 21; Alma37:41, 43).

The compass also provided a means whereby Lehi andhis family could obtain greater “understandingconcerning the ways of the Lord” (1 Ne. 16:29). Thus,the primary purposes of the Liahona were to provideboth direction and instruction during a long anddemanding journey. The director was a physicalinstrument that served as an outward indicator of theirinner spiritual standing before God. It worked accordingto the principles of faith and diligence.

Just as Lehi was blessed in ancient times, each of us inthis day has been given a spiritual compass that candirect and instruct us during our mortal journey. TheHoly Ghost was conferred upon you and me as wecame out of the world and into the Savior’s Churchthrough baptism and confirmation. By the authority ofthe holy priesthood we were confirmed as members ofthe Church and admonished to seek for the constantcompanionship of “the Spirit of truth; whom the worldcannot receive, because it seeth him not, neitherknoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth withyou, and shall be in you” (John 14:17).

As we each press forward along the pathway of life, wereceive direction from the Holy Ghost just as Lehi wasdirected through the Liahona. “For behold, again I sayunto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receivethe Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what yeshould do” (2 Ne. 32:5).

The Holy Ghost operates in our lives precisely as theLiahona did for Lehi and his family, according to ourfaith and diligence and heed.

“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shallthy confidence wax strong in the presence of God.

“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, andthy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness andtruth” (D&C 121:45–46).

And the Holy Ghost provides for us today the meanswhereby we can receive, “by small and simple things”(Alma 37:6), increased understanding about the ways ofthe Lord: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teachyou all things, and bring all things to yourremembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John14:26).

The Spirit of the Lord can be our guide and will bless uswith direction, instruction, and spiritual protectionduring our mortal journey. We invite the Holy Ghostinto our lives through meaningful personal and familyprayer, feasting upon the words of Christ, diligent andexacting obedience, faithfulness and honoring ofcovenants, and through virtue, humility, and service.And we steadfastly should avoid things that areimmodest, coarse, crude, sinful, or evil that cause us towithdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost.

We also invite the ongoing companionship of the HolyGhost as we worthily partake of the sacrament eachSabbath day: “And that thou mayest more fully keepthyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to thehouse of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon myholy day” (D&C 59:9).

Through the ordinance of the sacrament we renew ourbaptismal covenant and can receive and retain aremission of our sins (see Mosiah 4:12, 26). In addition,we are reminded on a weekly basis of the promise thatwe may always have His Spirit to be with us. As we thenstrive to keep ourselves clean and unspotted from theworld, we become worthy vessels in whom the Spirit ofthe Lord can always dwell.

In February of 1847 the Prophet Joseph Smith appearedto Brigham Young in a dream or vision. President Youngasked the Prophet if he had a message for theBrethren. The Prophet Joseph replied: “Tell the peopleto be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spiritof the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful andnot turn away the small still voice; it will teach themwhat to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of thekingdom” (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church:Brigham Young [1997], 41; emphasis added). Of all thetruths the Prophet Joseph might have taught BrighamYoung on that sacred occasion, he emphasized theimportance of obtaining and keeping the Spirit of theLord.

My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of the livingreality of God the Eternal Father and of His Son, JesusChrist, and of the Holy Ghost. May each of us so livethat we may always have His Spirit to be with us andthereby qualify for the blessings of direction,instruction, and protection that are essential in theselatter days. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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#BOMTC Day 60, June 5~Helaman 6-7 or Pages 381-386: Cup Up? Fill Up!

Click graphic to read Helaman 6-7

Click graphic to read Helaman 6-7

As you have studied the book of Helaman, you have seen that the Nephites made choices that led the Spirit of the Lord to withdraw from their lives, while the Lamanites made choices that invited the Spirit to increase in their lives.

Because of the missionary efforts of Nephi and Lehi, thousands of Lamanites in Zarahemla had been baptized, and the majority of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi had been converted to the gospel (see Helaman 5:19–20, 50–51). Following their missionary efforts, the Lamanites increased in righteousness. Unfortunately, the Nephites became wicked and began supporting the Gadianton robbers, and the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from them. The prophet Nephi prophesied that if the Nephites continued to live in wickedness, they would perish. He also prophesied that because of the Lamanites’ righteousness, the Lord would be merciful unto them and preserve them. Mormon recorded that the Lord withdrew His Spirit from the Nephites and began to pour out His Spirit on the Lamanites (see Helaman 6:35–36).

influence of the Spirit

When Nephi saw the state of his people, “his heart was swollen with sorrow” (Helaman 7:6). He went up on a tower in his garden to pray and to mourn the wickedness of the people. When the people heard him praying and mourning, a multitude gathered to learn why he was so upset. After the people gathered to hear Nephi praying upon the tower in his garden, He used the opportunity to teach them (see Helaman 7:12–29). He warned them of the consequences of their decisions and emphasized that if they refused to repent of their sins, they would lose the Lord’s protection and the blessings of eternal life.

In Joel 2:28-29, the Lord promises that in the last days He would “will pour out [His] spirit upon all flesh”.

For illustrative purposes, let’s liken ourselves to a cup. A cup can be placed in a few different positions. You can place it with the opening facing up, sideways, or upside down. My position as a cup is determined by my attitude and actions. Now, if the Lord is going to “pour out” His Spirit upon me, then I want to be “cup up” (like the Lamanites in these chapters) with a good attitude and righteous actions. Sometimes my attitude and actions may be bad (like the Nephites in these chapters), in which case I am “cup down”–not a very good position if the Lord is pouring out His Spirit. Sometimes I may not be doing anything bad, but I am not necessarily doing anything good either (see D&C 58:26-28), in which case I could liken myself to “cup sideways”–also not very conducive to receiving an out-“pouring” of the Spirit of God.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that our attitude and actions can cause us to withdraw from the Holy Spirit:

“The saving ordinance of baptism must be administered by one who has proper authority from God. The fundamental conditions of the covenant into which we entered in the waters of baptism are these: we witnessed that we were willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, that we would always remember Him, and that we would keep His commandments. The promised blessing for honoring this covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77). In other words, baptism by water leads to the authorized opportunity for the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead.

“Following our baptism, each of us had hands placed upon our head by those with priesthood authority and was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Holy Ghost was conferred upon us (see D&C 49:14). The statement “receive the Holy Ghost” in our confirmation was a directive to strive for the baptism of the Spirit….

“We should also endeavor to discern when we ‘withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord [cup down], that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved’ (Mosiah 2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit.

“The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us” (“That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006).

I invite you to read/listen to/watch Elder Bednar’s entire conference talk so that you can assure yourself that you are living like the righteous Lamanites (“cup up”) in these chapters. His message, along with these chapters, can help you identify what you need to do to be “CUP UP” so that you can “FILL UP” on the Spirit of the Lord.

That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us

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