Sunday, April 3, 2016

Join None of Them

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join.  No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong) – and which I should join. -Joseph Smith History 1:18
[Side comment - it was a spring morning when Joseph went to pray in the woods.  Perhaps a spring morning like this one?]

Why is Joseph looking to join a church at this tender young age?  Do we ever really stop to think or ask what Joseph is seeking?  Of late I have really pondered this experience Joseph had.  He didn't belong to any church, and perhaps thought it was important to be a part of one.  Maybe it was because it was believed that one needed to belong to a "true church" to achieve salvation?  Or maybe it was just to fit in and have a community to walk the straight path with?

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." JSH 1:19
Joseph was informed the surprising news that they were not just partly or a few wrong, but alllllllllll these churches and professors were corrupt.  What does that mean?  The Personage explains in great detail.

Their creeds, which according to the Webster's 1828 dictionary, means
CREED, noun [This word seems to have been introduced by the use of the Latin credo, I believe, at the beginning of the Apostles creed or brief system of Christian faith. See creed ]1. A brief summary of the articles of Christian faith; a symbol; as the Apostolic creed2. That which is believed; any system of principles which are believed or professed; as a political creed"
were an abomination in his sight.  What is an abomination in 1828? 

ABOMINA'TIONnoun1. Extreme hatred; detestation.
2. The object of detestation, a common signification in scripture.
The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. Proverbs 15:8.
3. Hence, defilement, pollution, in a physical sense, or evil doctrines and practices, which are moral defilements, idols and idolatry, are called abominations. The Jews were an abomination to the Egyptians; and the sacred animals of the Egyptians were an abomination to the Jews. The Roman army is called the abomination of desolation. Matthew 24:15. In short, whatever is an object of extreme hatred, is called an abomination

Their beliefs and things they professed were of extreme detestation to the Lord. They are detested.  What if we break down the word detest (although it was not used in the verse itself)?  
DETESTverb transitive [Latin , to affirm or bear witness. The primary sense of testor is to set, throw or thrust. To detest is to thrust away.] To abhor; to abominate; to hate extremely; as, to detest crimes or meanness.

I really appreciate the idea of detest meaning that something is thrust away.  To break down the word de-test, we could also understand that it is un-tested, or not-testable, therefore cannot be aligned with truth.  If God is all truth, something which is de-tested cannot align with Him, and cannot be tolerated in His presence, correct?  

What things to we each detest? Can you conjure up that same feeling, and understand how Elohim feels about the beliefs and professations of Christianity at the time?  Are those beliefs much different than they are today?  Or has Christianity come a far way away in the past 194 years from the time of the first vision?

He continues that "their professors were all corrupt, that "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me..."  How does one draw near to another with their lips, but have hearts far away from someone?  

This notion is the heart of hypocrisy.  Just a little over a month ago I had a friend sit in my home, and profess something loudly with her lips which she physically contradicted with her actions just hours later.  As one who values honesty and truth, I don't understand the need for professations of things just for appearance sake, which in this case, it apparently was.  If our heart is not sincere, why loudly profess to be loyal and true to someone or something?  I believe the Lord considers this de-testable, not only because it is unnecessary, but also reveals that the trust or confidence does not lie solely with Him.  He is able to detect both the deception and the disloyalty from Him, misplaced onto another human.  In essence, trusting in the arm of the flesh, as though one human ought to trust another.  Both myself and this woman are guilty of trusting in the flesh, and in this case, one saying more than "yay, yay, nay, nay" (Matthew 5:33-34), and another believing it as believable.    

"They teach for doctrines the commandments of men."  What are the commandments of men?  Perhaps "thou shalt wear thy Sunday best each week and fold thy arms when thou walkest down the church hall during the third hour"?  This is the doctrine some teach their children, eh?  ;) Guilty!

"Having a form of godliness."  We suppose that we possess a form of godliness in our churches, for the gods would walk down the church hall in their finest linens, with arms folded for reverence.  The gods would profess to believe this house of worship to be God's only true house of worship.  The gods would need to make public professations of their testimony of living men being followed, and never capable of leading one astray.  Do the gods not find this important and part of being godly?    

Perhaps the most damning line of this verse, however, is that "they deny the power thereof".

DENYverb transitive
1. To contradict; to gainsay; to declare a statement or position not to be true. We deny what another says, or we deny a proposition. We deny the truth of an assertion, or the assertion itself. The sense of this verb is often expressed by no or nay.
2. To refuse to grant; as, we asked for bread, and the man denied us.
3. Not to afford; to withhold.
Who find not Providence all good and wise,
Alike in what it gives, and what denies?
4. To disown; to refuse or neglect to acknowledge; not to confess.
5. To reject; to disown; not to receive or embrace.
He hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. 1 Timothy 5:1.
DENYing ungodliness and worldly lusts. Titus 2:1.
6. Not to afford or yield.
To deny ones self, is to decline the gratification of appetites or desires; to refrain from; to abstain. The temperate man denies himself the free use of spirituous liquors. I denied myself the pleasure of your company.
God cannot deny himself. He cannot act in contradiction to his character and promises. He cannot be unfaithful. 2 Timothy 2:12.

These churches, which Joseph was instructed NOT to join, deny the power of God.  As though the power is there, somewhere, but these churches, for some reason, deny it.  Why do they deny God's power?  What was it that these Elohim were warning against?  Is it possible that we can find these same things in our day, or even in our church, be it LDS, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Muslim, or what have you?  Do we individually deny such power?

"He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time." (vs.20)  The warning needed to be so clear that it was repeated again.  What again was wrong with these churches?  Already, as a reader, I have forgotten!  Oh... they draw near to him with their lips.  In short, they are hypocrites.  

All through the four gospels in the Bible we witness how the hypocrites treated Jesus.  He stood with patience towards them, and endless love and charity.  But when Joseph had the chance to join with whatever was left of Christianity, he was told to join none of them.  Would the Lord have us do the same?  I don't understand, because there are some that feel to me to hold so much good.  Am I out of the way?  

It is a peculiar thing, that when given the chance, Joseph and those who believed what he revealed, created a church which offers this same opportunity, to draw near to Elohim with our lips, while our hearts serve other gods, despite our best (or worst) efforts.  

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