20 December 2022

Miracles Shining Through Adversity

As I read in the Book of Mormon, I see many prophetic parallels to our day, just as many as can be found in the Old and New Testaments. I know many people, even professed Christians, summarily reject the Book of Mormon in spite of fulfilled prophecies unfolding right in front of us, which I see addressed in these verses:

 4 Nephi 1

24 And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world.

25 And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.

Pride is always the gateway to evil that you never thought could happen.  Righteous things that have been before are cast away in favor of things that are more selfish than Christ-like.

26 And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ.

Here is the institution of what I call "affinity churches". These are congregations brought together around friendship, status, and particular scriptures or concepts that are attractive (and profitable) to the group.  Even if such groups contain many of the attributes of the true church, these congregations deny other parts that "offend" them or disagree with prideful sensibilities. 

27 And it came to pass that when two hundred and ten years had passed away there were many churches in the land; yea, there were many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel, insomuch that they did receive all manner of wickedness, and did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness.

28 And this church did multiply exceedingly because of iniquity, and because of the power of Satan who did get hold upon their hearts.

In ten years of the Book of Mormon record, the environment had come from a unity in Christ, so much that they shared all they had with each other, and had moved to a new model of several denominations, each focused on one pet "gospel" or another and the denying of parts of the true gospel.  Accepting "all manner of wickedness", and the giving sacred things to those to whom such was forbidden by the Savior, are specific examples of the doings of these break-away congregations.  In the past ten years of my life, it is absolutely stunning to see what different groups have preached and done, praising behavior that God condemns.  Stunning and identified as Satan's work among people who mistakenly profess Jesus but reject many elements of righteousness through policy and practice.

29 And again, there was another church which denied the Christ; and they did persecute the true church of Christ, because of their humility and their belief in Christ; and they did despise them because of the many miracles which were wrought among them.

This is the next step, the rise of "churches" that outright deny Jesus and have a mission to make followers of Christ miserable in their belief.

30 Therefore they did exercise power and authority over the disciples of Jesus who did tarry with them, and they did cast them into prison; but by the power of the word of God, which was in them, the prisons were rent in twain, and they went forth doing mighty miracles among them.

31 Nevertheless, and notwithstanding all these miracles, the people did harden their hearts, and did seek to kill them, even as the Jews at Jerusalem sought to kill Jesus, according to his word.

32 And they did cast them into furnaces of fire, and they came forth receiving no harm.

33 And they also cast them into dens of wild beasts, and they did play with the wild beasts even as a child with a lamb; and they did come forth from among them, receiving no harm.

Yet, even in the face of all these miracles which would obviously show the approval and blessing of God on those striving to follow the true gospel of Christ, this "anti-Christ" church didn't cease their persecution.

34 Nevertheless, the people did harden their hearts, for they were led by many priests and false prophets to build up many churches, and to do all manner of iniquity. And they did smite upon the people of Jesus; but the people of Jesus did not smite again. And thus they did dwindle in unbelief and wickedness, from year to year, even until two hundred and thirty years had passed away.

35 And now it came to pass in this year, yea, in the two hundred and thirty and first year, there was a great division among the people.

This is a warning to people like me: make sure you don't lead people away from the Savior. If you have ever felt to work over Latter-Day Saints or other followers of Christ, you should probably consider your ways and be especially wary of "priests and false prophets" that encourage such persecutions. Would Jesus behave this way? 

After just twenty-one years, the conditions had gotten so bad that there was a "division" - the good people split away from those who oppressed them and became a different nation and likely moved off to a different place, so they could live without persecution for their beliefs.  Does this sound like the sort of division some people call the future "rapture" - a big separation of good and evil?

36 And it came to pass that in this year there arose a people who were called the Nephites, and they were true believers in Christ; and among them there were those who were called by the Lamanites—Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites;

37 Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three disciples of Jesus who should tarry) were called Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites.

38 And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites; and they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did wilfully rebel against the gospel of Christ; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, even as their fathers, from the beginning, did dwindle.

39 And it was because of the wickedness and abomination of their fathers, even as it was in the beginning. And they were taught to hate the children of God, even as the Lamanites were taught to hate the children of Nephi from the beginning.

There are a lot of people who were never really taught about Christ and can be forgiven their ignorance to some degree, but there is another far worse group that know about Jesus and "wilfully rebel" against him and his gospel and, worse yet, train up children to hate Christ and to commit all sorts of sins.  I can only guess at the punishments coming to those who corrupt the minds and hearts of children to do things against the "good news" of the Savior.

My advice?  Learn more of Jesus and obey his commandments and enjoy the blessings of his love to his followers, in spite of whatever persecution comes.   What you can expect from your righteous pains are miracles all around you!