False traditions can be stumbling blocks to your journey and especially to your personal relationship with the Lord. False traditions can be limiting, binding and even blinding to the truth and fullness of the gospel that the Lord intends for you to receive. Consider these scriptures:
D&C 123:7 It is an imperative duty that we owe to God, to angels, with whom we shall be brought to stand, and also to ourselves, to our wives and children, who have been made to bow down with grief, sorrow, and care, under the most damning hand of murder, tyranny, and oppression, supported and urged on and upheld by the influence of that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity.
D&C 93:36 The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. 37 Light and truth forsake that evil one. 38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God. 39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers. 40 But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.
D&C 74:4 And it came to pass that the children, being brought up in subjection to the law of Moses, gave heed to the traditions of their fathers and believed not the gospel of Christ, wherein they became unholy.
Overcoming false traditions will only happen for “seekers.” The Lord through His Spirit will teach a person how to work through each false tradition. Those that are not seekers are complacent and satisfied with their current personal truth. The key to working through false traditions is to not just ask questions, but learn to ask the right questions.
I am going to provide some comments in hopes that it will open your mind up to some new thoughts. What you do with those thoughts are up to you. Consider the following principles to help guide you through false traditions:
- God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
- The Lord invites all to come unto Him.
- The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel and is the most correct book on the face of the earth.
- There is no such thing as the infallibility of mortal man, no matter their title or status.
- There are three voices of eternity—your own voice, the voices of light, the voices of darkness.
- One’s own voice includes one’s own opinions, theories, questions. The voice of one’s own spirit is supposed to be supplemented by the voices of light in order for it to be a confirmation of personal truth.
False Traditions—Prophet, Seer, Revelator
There is a lot to unravel in this topic. There are many false traditions related to a person being deemed a “prophet” or even a “prophet, seer, and revelator” and our LDS culture is no exception. There are also other false traditions woven into this one so I will do my best to clarify others as we go. I realize that this can even be highly sensitive for some. Some people are so invested in titles that they can get defensive and even measure their own spirituality by their loyalty to these titles or people with these titles.
Gifts ARE the power of god
For the sake of this post, I am going to refer to the terms prophet, seer, and revelator as labels. We will delineate these labels from offices in a religious institution like a president, apostle, seventy, etc. These labels—prophet, seer, revelator—are each gifts of the spirit. Just like all gifts of the spirit, they are used or applied situationally. In other words, when a person is exercising that particular gift, then it would be appropriate to say that person is acting in that particular capacity of a prophet…or a seer…or a revelator.
“A Prophet is not always a Prophet only when he is acting as such.” —Joseph SmithJournal, December 1842–June 1844; Book 1, 21 December 1842–10 March 1843, page 170; 8 February 1843, Wednesday
It is true that a person can be designated by the Lord to act as a prophet, a seer, or a revelator. But “to act as” means to have the ability to exercise that specific gift of the spirit in a particular situation. Consider studying the experience of Oliver Cowdery in D&C Section 9. Oliver took no thought to ask the Lord for this gift to translate (a gift of the spirit) but assumed the Lord would just give it to Him. Also, Oliver knew nothing about how to exercise that particular gift (to translate). Ultimately, as much as Oliver desired it, he could not translate because the Lord said it was not his purpose, and therefore that gift would not be given to him. This further explains that gifts of the spirit are only available from the power of the Lord and at the Lord’s discretion. (See also Part 3—Power in Priesthood)
The gift of prophecy is to receive the voice of the Lord and then share it (audibly, written) on behalf of the Lord to others—as if to be a conduit for or to profess the Lord’s voice. This is only possible through the power (gifts) of the Holy Spirit; “for by the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets, which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh” (1 Nephi 22:2).
The purpose of a prophet is to turn or call people to repentance which is simply to point them away from mankind (arm-of-flesh) or the temporal things of the world and instead turn them to the Lord for personal redemption/salvation. It’s that simple. Any thing less including any person that sets themself up as “the light” to others is a false prophet and is engaged in priestcrafts.
He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. [the Lord's will] 30 Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity [to know and do the Lord's will], which charity is love [the joy that comes from righteousness]. And except they should have charity they were nothing [they are not the Lord's servant]. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish [anything short of a redeemed people]. 31 But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish [the servants of the Lord should not be compensated with money]. (2 Nephi 26:29-31)
Instead, the role of a prophet is to turn all people to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the real “light and life of the world”:
"I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end." (3 Nephi 9:18) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
… yes, the same Jesus Christ who is the only means of personal salvation/redemption:
5 And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good [divine, of God], and become miserable forever. 6 Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. 7 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. 8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. (2 Nephi 2:5-8)
Throughout the history of this earth, professing the words of the Lord has not been limited to one prophet at any given time. One example, there were many prophets warning or professing in Jerusalem during the time of Lehi up to the time of its destruction. Consider also that these prophets did not have organizational authority among the Jews and did not have titles and offices that you might be familiar with today and that you might expect would qualify them as so-called “prophets.” Yet they had divine authority to call the people to repentance and foretell of the destruction that was coming:
1:4 For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed... 2:13 Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets. And they were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem, who sought to take away the life of my father. (1 Nephi 1:4; 2:13; 5:13; 7:14)
And while Joseph Smith was appointed by the Lord to be a prophet for the church body generally, anyone (male or female, young or old) is capable of acting as a prophet/prophetess (exercising that gift of the spirit)—for God would “that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:24-29). After all, like every gift of the spirit, utilizing the gift of prophecy is a means of edifying one another whether as in church leadership, in teaching or simply prophesying among an informal gathering of believers (1 Corinthians 14:1-40; Ephesians 4:1-16; D&C 50:1-46; 43:1-35).
These are only a few thoughts on this gift of prophecy. My thoughts are simply to help you to start thinking broader and righteously about what a prophet is. You should ponder this more and see what the Lord teaches you or where else the Lord directs you in the scriptures.
I think we are probably familiar with the idea of personal revelation. It is the gift of revelation—a gift of the spirit. It’s the lifeblood of our relationship with the divine and it’s essential to our personal journey in and through the Lord. Your own personal revelation is the building blocks of your personal truth.
In a similar way, the Lord can also call and give power (bestow this gift of the spirit) to a person for the benefit of many other people—the followers and disciples of the Lord. In this case, a revelator is a person that is situationally exercising the gift of revelation to simply reveal keys, yes even “keys of knowledge” that have not yet been revealed or fully understood. (See Part 3—Keys) If the Lord enabled and authorized a person to reveal these keys it would be because it would benefit souls in their journey. All gifts of the spirit are there to benefit the spiritual progress of each soul.
Of the three labels, I have saved this gift of the spirit for last because it has greater power. A seer is a person that is situationally exercising the gift of visions to be able to visually understand—to literally see with one’s spiritual eyes for a clear understanding to that person’s mind. This gift of the spirit includes the ability to see the past, present, and future.
And again, they have brought swords, the hilts thereof have perished, and the blades thereof were cankered with rust; and there is no one in the land that is able to interpret the language or the engravings that are on the plates. Therefore I said unto thee: Canst thou translate? 12 And I say unto thee again: Knowest thou of any one that can translate? For I am desirous that these records should be translated into our language; for, perhaps, they will give us a knowledge of a remnant of the people who have been destroyed, from whence these records came; or, perhaps, they will give us a knowledge of this very people who have been destroyed; and I am desirous to know the cause of their destruction. 13 Now Ammon said unto him: I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God [the gift to translate is one of the gifts of the spirit]. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded [has the Lord’s permission/authority], lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer [to be able to literally and visually see the meaning of something for understanding to one’s mind]. 14 And behold, the king of the people who are in the land of Zarahemla is the man that is commanded to do these things [has the Lord’s permission/authority to exercise this gift], and who has this high gift from God. 15 And the king said that a seer is greater than a prophet [a different gift of the spirit with greater capacity/power]. 16 And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also [because a person that has seen will reveal and is professing the the Lord’s will]; and a gift which is greater can no man have [this gift is reserved for those that have a great relationship with the Lord—in which relationship is priesthood (See also Part 3 Priesthood)], except he should possess the power of God [except he possess all the power of God], which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God [yet mankind can possess many great gifts of the spirit to be given by the Lord]. 17 But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known [these “hidden things” or “mysteries” are the “Keys” or “Keys of knowledge” referred to in Part 3 Keys]. 18 Thus God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles; therefore he becometh a great benefit to his fellow beings [through the gifts of the spirit]. (Mosiah 8:11-18)
A seer may use objects (e.g. stone) to assist in developing this gift at first, but then further to the point when they don’t require the object. Keep in mind that the object itself is not the source of the power—that always comes from the Lord.
A revelation read at the organization of the church on 6 April 1830 indicated that Joseph Smith was to be acknowledged in church records as a seer, in addition to other titles (Source). With these labels, the Lord bestowed the power of these gifts upon him. In addition, others also applied these labels to him (e.g. “Joseph the Seer”) because they witnessed him exercising each of those gifts situationally. Other people were witnesses of the fruits of these gifts given to Joseph. It was also nothing that Joseph Smith ever boasted about. People used these titles to describe how the Lord was helping Joseph Smith fulfill his mission and accomplish many seemingly supernatural things.
Joseph Smith was also given the gift of the spirit to translate the Book of Mormon and, as you can imagine, he subsequently called a translator. Joseph was capable of exercising these gifts of the spirit, and others, because of his relationship with the Lord—his priesthood—and because it was part of his mission. (See Part 3Power in Priesthood) All gifts of the spirit are available in and through one’s relationship with the Lord—a relationship of a Master and a servant. As such each gift of the spirit had to be understood and learned and developed (improved upon).
Labels & Offices
A false tradition of our modern LDS culture has automatically attached these labels (spiritual gifts) to leadership titles or offices. The source of this false tradition is rooted in a false understanding of organizational authority vs. divine authority. I won’t rehash this here because it has already been explained in Part 3 Authority—except to say that through one’s relationship with the Lord, each servant must seek for and receive these gifts from the Lord and then situationally use them as directed by the Lord (when and how).
This false tradition has even been incorporated into things like temple recommend interviews—where a person is expected to offer up their loyalty to certain leaders (arm of flesh) that hold offices, all in exchange for donning personal labels of “worthy” or even “righteous.” There is no scriptural basis for this. Actually, this type of thing is something that The Book of Mormon repeatedly warned against (2 Nephi 4, 26, 28) and is unfortunately a form of priestcraft. This is not the way it was with Joseph Smith—labels (gifts of the spirit) were independent of offices/titles.
We have been commanded to seek for, or “lay hold upon,” all the gifts of the spirit (Moroni 10:1-34). I will say that some gifts of the spirit are available only after ascending in one’s relationship with the Lord, such as after a person receives their baptism of fire and Holy Ghost.
So, by now we should understand that offices or titles are not necessarily equivalent to the power/ability to exercise gifts of the spirit. So how does a person figure it out? They have to use personal discernment, of course, because there are just no guarantees.
Let’s consider the gift of prophecy, for example. Yes, it’s true that “Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7) but when is that person speaking as a prophet (with the gift of the spirit) and how will a person know it? How can a person tell if this person is speaking for the Lord in that situation? Are all the words truth from the Lord? Some? The person exercising the gifts of the spirit has a responsibility to represent the Lord and even make it clear which words are the Lord’s. Meanwhile, the listener/audience has their own responsibility to discern and receive confirmation from the Lord.
For the person potentially exercising the gift, some fruits would include:
- The person speaking on behalf of the Lord or professing to do so should make sure they delineate between their own words and those directly from the Lord. They have a personal responsibility to clarify the Lord’s words with something like “thus saith the Lord” or “the Lord has told me….”
- They also have a personal responsibility to point people to a personal relationship with the Lord to “work out their own salvation” (Mormon 9:27; Alma 34:37).
- If they take upon themselves the praises and honors of mankind, they are acting with “priestcraft” (2 Nephi 26, See also Priestcraft post).
- A prophet should take every opportunity to deflect attention from him/herself and set people straight if people attempt to do otherwise. A prophet will not stand for this idolatry culture and allow it to passively continue. A true servant knows his Master. Likewise the Master knows His servants and therefore a servant takes no pride and joy in the praises and honors of men, but in the Lord only. Consider the interaction between Peter and Cornelius in the New Testament (See Acts 10), and also Ammon’s response to Aaron in the Book of Mormon (See Alma 26:10-12).
I am sure there are other fruits. What do you think are others?
Still using the gift of prophecy as an example, each person hearing the words has a personal responsibility to discern by the Holy Spirit which of the words the person is speaking are truly from the Lord. Not even all of a person’s words are automatically true either. However, “if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:4-5).
The Lord, by revelation and prophecy, through Joseph Smith gives great wisdom in how such teaching, receiving, discerning and edifying can and should occur:
Doctrine & Covenants, Section 50:1 Hearken, O ye elders of my church [teachers and servants that I am preparing to send out in My name], and give ear to the voice of the living God; and attend to the words of wisdom which shall be given unto you [pay close attention], according as ye have asked and are agreed as touching the church, and the spirits which have gone abroad in the earth. 2 Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world [dark angels are very real and more influential than you may realize]. 3 And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you [to make you his]. 4 Behold, I, the Lord, have looked upon you, and have seen abominations in the church that profess my name [taken the name of the Lord in vain; priestcrafts]. 5 But blessed are they who are faithful and endure, whether in life or in death, for they shall inherit eternal life [I will make them mine forever]. 6 But wo unto them that are deceivers and hypocrites, for, thus saith the Lord, I will bring them to judgment [priestcrafts; their hearts are not truly with me or for the Lord's Zion]. 7 Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some [led some away from Christ's true doctrine], which has given the adversary power; but behold such shall be reclaimed [some have not truly prophesied in My name but spoken their own words for their own benefit]; 8 But the hypocrites shall be detected and shall be cut off [from My voice and My gifts and My power], either in life or in death, even as I will; and wo unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world. 9 Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me [be warned if you are not operating by the gifts of the spirit]. 10 And now come, saith the Lord, by the Spirit, unto the elders of his church, and let us reason together, that ye may understand [see it from the Lord's perspective]; 11 Let us reason even as a man reasoneth one with another face to face. 12 Now, when a man reasoneth he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you that you may understand. 13 Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained [ord-ered; see also Part 3 Ordain]? 14 To preach my gospel by the Spirit [His gospel by His voice through His spirit (gift), no one else's], even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth. 15 And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified? [They were deceived and spoke the words of dark spirits. Wait, the Lord's servants can be deceived? Servants with titles can be deceived?] 16 Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak [teachable; humble] among you hereafter shall be made strong. [Will be strengthened by this experience and learn from it] 17 Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? 18 And if it be by some other way it is not of God. 19 And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? 20 If it be some other way it is not of God. 21 Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? 22 Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together. [If a servant is utilizing the spirit of truth to convey a message and a person receives the message also by the same the spirit of truth, then not only is the receiver blessed but both are edified for having experienced the gifts of the spirit.] 23 And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. 24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day [Ask yourself what day this is?]. 25 And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you; 26 He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest [what an incredible opportunity to be a true servant of the Lord and to do His will for His causes], notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all [beware of priestcrafts that set that person up to be the light to others]. 27 Wherefore, he is possessor of all things; for all things are subject unto him, both in heaven and on the earth, the life and the light, the Spirit and the power, sent forth by the will of the Father through Jesus Christ, his Son. [this type of servant spoken of here is one that has a unique purpose and power—the sealing power] 28 But no man is possessor of all things except he be purified and cleansed from all sin. 29 And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done [again unique servant with sealing power]. 30 But know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask; and as ye are appointed to the head, the spirits shall be subject unto you [unique servant with sealing power]. 31 Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand, and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God. 32 And it shall be given unto you, power over that spirit; and you shall proclaim against that spirit with a loud voice that it is not of God—33 Not with railing accusation, that ye be not overcome, neither with boasting nor rejoicing, lest you be seized therewith. 34 He that receiveth of God, let him account it of God; and let him rejoice that he is accounted of God worthy to receive. 35 And by giving heed and doing these things which ye have received, and which ye shall hereafter receive—and the kingdom is given you of the Father, and power to overcome all things which are not ordained of him [you will have very real interactions and spiritual engagements with darkness and you will need to learn how to not be deceived and stay connected to the Lord]—36 And behold, verily I say unto you, blessed are you who are now hearing these words of mine from the mouth of my servant, for your sins are forgiven you... 40 Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth [you will have to learn to depend upon me in all thing and in all situations so I can teach you how to exercise My gifts of the spirit without being deceived]. 41 Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; 42 And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost. 43 And the Father and I are one. I am in the Father and the Father in me; and inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you. 44 Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall. 45 And the day cometh that you shall hear my voice and see me, and know that I am [by learning how to do all things with the first comforter (gift of the Holy Ghost) and other gifts of the spirit that I give unto you, you will be led to your second comforter experience]. 46 Watch, therefore, that ye may be ready [prepared to receive Me]. Even so. Amen.
Related False Traditions
Now, if you have pondered and studied the scriptures of all the posts in this series (there are three previous to this one), we should be able to now address a few other false traditions.
Another false tradition buried in this is believing that if a person speaks prophetically at one time then they are automatically given the label of “prophet/prophetess”—as if everything they speak going forward will now be true and unquestionable. By now, if you understand what I explained above about prophets, seers, and revelators, then you will see that there is just no blanket policy for this and this is not how gifts of the spirit work. Both sharing truth and discerning truth have to happen through the gifts of the spirit.
Tied to this is another false tradition that those in leadership with titles and even true servants of the Lord can never go astray or lead others astray. Remember from above the connection between offices and labels? You should realize how critical it is for a person to have received the gifts from the Lord. And when the Lord withdraws those gifts from any leader, regardless of their title, they are no longer acting with the Lord’s power or authority.
D&C 43:1 O hearken, ye elders of my church, and give ear to the words which I shall speak unto you. 2 For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him whom I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations from my hand. 3 And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me [This is the condition—to be one with the Lord always]. 4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift [the gift of prophecy to be used for the benefit of the entire church] except it be through him; for if it [the gift] be taken from him [clearly the Lord can and will take it from a leader that is not abiding in the Lord] he shall not have power [or authority from the Lord] except to appoint another in his stead. 5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; 6 And this [this eternal principle of having the Lord's power and authority] I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me. 7 For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate [receive BOFHG; 2 Nephi 31:17-18] and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations [ability to teach with power of the Lord by the gift of the Holy Ghost] which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed. (See also Part 3—Power, Authority, Keys)
Also, I have already recommended that you need to go and study latter-day church history in more detail to find the corruption, conspiracy, sinful and dark past of church leaders and other members. But, I want to share with you a great example of this in the scriptures (Jeremiah 23):
1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. 2 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people [yes, He’s talking about THOSE leaders—the ones with organizational authority]; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. 3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them [the Lord has to send new people to help teach correct doctrine so the people can actually “be fruitful and increase” because they were not able to do this under the leadership of the others.]: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord. 5 ¶ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8 But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel [spiritual and temporal house] out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land. 9 ¶ Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness. 10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing [unrighteous oaths] the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. 11 For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. 12 Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord. 13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err [To error in what way? How could prophets error and cause the people to error? Their doctrine]. 14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery [includes polygamy], and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah [take note of what the Lord just said about His prophets and priests]. 15 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. 16 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord [They have organizational authority but no divine authority and therefore do not exercise the gifts of the spirit. (See also Part 3 Authority)]. 17 They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you [They will speak platitudes and pacify the people with flattering words]. 18 For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? 19 Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. 20 The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. 21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied [The Lord is saying that these platitudes and flattery are their fruits. They do not know the Lord nor His doctrine. Anything they have professed is of their own heart for their own gains of status and control.]. 22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings [They would have instead called the people to repentance and taught them correct doctrine]. 23 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off [Do you really think I don’t know what is happening?]? 24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord. 25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed [In the name of Christ they have professed to have visions and exercise gifts of the spirit]. 26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart [They are mediators to the people and seek for status and control instead of allowing each soul to have their own relationship with the Lord and allow the Lord to do His mighty work for each soul.]; 27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. 28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. 29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith [Vanity and blasphemy to say you speak for the Lord when you don’t.]. 32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all [The people will not bear fruit.], saith the Lord. 33 ¶ And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the Lord? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the Lord. 34 And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the Lord, I will even punish that man and his house. 35 Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the Lord answered? and, What hath the Lord spoken? 36 And the burden of the Lord shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the Lord of hosts our God. 37 Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the Lord answered thee? and, What hath the Lord spoken? 38 But since ye say, The burden of the Lord; therefore thus saith the Lord; Because ye say this word, The burden of the Lord, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the Lord; 39 Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence: 40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.
If you are still not convinced that the Lord’s servants can lead people astray, you can do your own personal study of the words of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, and JST Matthew as they prophesy of what will happen to the “watchmen,” “pastors,” and “husbandmen” in the latter days that are given stewardship over those seeking for Christ.
Now we need to address another false tradition related to all of this. There is a false tradition that there has to be “an unbroken line of authority” among the church leadership. As the tradition goes, if the chain is broken then something is wrong. However, if you have studied and pondered the scriptures of the posts in this series (there are three previous), you will know that mankind does not bestow power upon any person. This is the difference between organizational authority and divine authority explained previously. (See Part 3 Authority) It also requires the proper understanding of what an ordination is. (See Part 3 Ordain) No matter the number of people that lay hands on a person or whatever the title(s) are of these people, there is no actual power being transferred from one person to another.
3 For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord—4 And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance. 5 And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men; (2 Nephi 28:3-5)
In any instance where there is a righteous, inspired and authorized ordination done by one person to another, the Lord will always be the source of that person’s divine power—which power is the proper exercising of the gifts of the spirit. That person does not even need an institutional title or office. But even in the case of the death of one church leader and establishing a new person to fill the vacancy, the power is not within the establishment—it is and will forever be only in the Lord. If the new leader is divinely inspired, it is that person’s responsibility to seek the Lord and receive all things (guidance, gifts, and therefore power) from the Lord and no other.
Mixed in with what we have already discussed, there is another false tradition to expose—that the leadership of the church, specifically The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the quorum of the 15), are infallible. The tradition is that they are infallible in their roles as administrators—so every policy, program, or procedure (think handbooks) is considered inspired. The tradition also includes that every word spoken by any leader in any meeting, especially in general conference, is divinely inspired and doctrinally correct.
All one has to do is do their in-depth study of LDS church history to find that all the leaders of the church were fallible. Let me be very plain and clear on this—church history leadership includes liars, conspirators, murderers, adulterers, fornicators, the unloyal, priestcrafts, Judases, oppressors, racists and more. This was even prophesied in the Book of Mormon (see 3 Nephi 15-16.) If you are unaware of the history of these humans throughout the history of the church, it may not be your fault. The church has developed a correlated curriculum which keeps the general membership focused on more recent teachings of church leaders instead of the more historical variety.
However, this in no way should destroy your hope and faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Instead, it should destroy your idolatry and undying loyalty to another person (arm of flesh) because they have a leadership title, office, or appointment. There is absolutely no basis for this tradition in the scriptures.
It has been said that “the Catholic theology believes the Pope is infallible but the catholic members don’t actually believe it. Likewise, Mormon theology believes that leaders are fallible but the members don’t actually believe it.” We may not even say it aloud but our personal actions and even our collective actions within our culture demonstrate our belief in this false tradition.
As referenced above, the Lord has been very clear in scripture, especially in the Book of Mormon, that we should never place our trust in the arm of flesh. Sure, the Lord can use the words of another person to inspire you. People are always going to be allowed to preach, teach, and lift one another—mourn with those who mourn, etc. However, the power of their words will only become part of your spiritual journey if you take their words and ponder them, develop questions for the Lord, then take your questions to the Lord for personal learning—this is how you increase your personal truth. (See also Lectures on Truth)
The hymn, We thank thee o God for a Prophet, has become an LDS folksong of sorts. The first 15 words may be considered a personal tribute to the Lord for sending a latter-day prophet to guide people with true doctrine back to the Lord God. However, the entire song still remains a tribute to the Lord:
1. We thank thee, O God, for a prophet To guide us in these latter days. We thank thee [O God] for sending the gospel To lighten our minds with its rays. We thank thee [O God] for every blessing Bestowed by thy bounteous hand. We feel it a pleasure to serve thee [God] And love to obey thy [God’s] command. 2. When dark clouds of trouble hang o’er us And threaten our peace to destroy, There is hope smiling brightly before us, And we know that deliv’rance [by God] is nigh. We doubt not the Lord nor his goodness. We’ve proved him [the Lord] in days that are past. The wicked who fight against Zion Will surely be smitten at last. 3. We’ll sing of his [the Lord’s] goodness and mercy. We’ll praise him [the Lord] by day and by night, Rejoice in his [the Lord’s] glorious gospel [of redemption through Christ], And bask in its life-giving light. Thus on to eternal perfection [personal redemption through Christ] The honest and faithful will go [through Christ], While they who reject this glad message [of personal redemption] Shall never such happiness know [of receiving personal redemption]. Text: William Fowler, 1830–1865 Music: Caroline Sheridan Norton, 1808–ca. 1877
Another false tradition is that we should never question our church leaders or so-called prophets. Contrary to culture and tradition, all persons and especially prophets should be questioned. By their very nature, they are to be questioned—whether they represent the Lord in the moment, with their specific words. This is what should point you to the Lord to develop the right questions and allow the Lord to answer the questions you have. This is the only way to develop your personal truth. The Lord is the only source of truth. This is the most fundamental part of your personal relationship with the Lord. This is your journey “in and through the Lord.” (See also 2 Nephi 2:6; 10:24; Mosiah 3:17-18; 16:13; Alma 13:5)
“And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.”Alma 38:9
Each person should assess their own level of idolatry of church leaders. Each person should repent of these false traditions and the idolatry of the arm of flesh. This was the Lord’s purpose in inviting you to come directly to Him—come unto Christ. The scriptures have never said, “come unto a prophet.” This is not the Catholic church with surrogates and mediators that offer salvation on behalf of the Lord (2 Nephi 9:41). The Lord is not an intangible, fictional character or even some esoteric being. He is real. He is absolutely personable. His invitation to come unto Him is also very real and very personable. And it all starts with developing a relationship with Him.
The primary message of the Book of Mormon—“the most correct of any book on earth” and the book that “contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel”—is simply to “come unto Christ.” (See also 1 Nephi 6:4; 8:15-18; 10:18; 13:40; 15:13-15; 2 Nephi 9:6-51; 26:25-33; 28:32; Jacob 1:7; Omni 1:25-26; Mosiah 3:9-17; Alma 5:16-35; 29:2; 3 Nephi 9:14-22; 12:3-24; 21:6-27; 27:20; 30:2; Mormon 2:14; 3:2; 7:3-8; Mormon 9:27; Ether 5:5; 8:26; Moroni 10:30-34)
“… that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto Him and obey the laws and ordinances of His gospel may be saved.”Introduction, The Book of Mormon
The scriptures are an invitation to make the Lord your Prophet, Priest, and King—to have an eye single to His glory and none other—especially not the arm of flesh.
- “Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews—even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world.” (1 Nephi 10:4)
- “And the Lord will surely prepare a way for his people, unto the fulfilling of the words of Moses, which he spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people. And now I, Nephi, declare unto you, that this prophet of whom Moses spake was the Holy One of Israel; wherefore, he shall execute judgment in righteousness.” (1 Nephi 22:20-21)
- “Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.” (3 Nephi 20:23)
- “… He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty-third verses, precisely as they stand in our New Testament. He said that that prophet was Christ; but the day had not yet come when “they who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people,” but soon would come.” (JSH 1:40)
- “And upon them that hearken not to the voice of the Lord shall be fulfilled that which was written by the prophet Moses, that they should be cut off from among the people.” (D&C 133:63)
Yes, there is a sad alternative to heeding the invitation to come unto Christ. It is death—a spiritual death—to be “cut off” from the Lord and His kingdom. (See also Part 2 The Church and Kingdom of God) It is a death in which you become in bondage to a dark Lord with dark angels. (See also Part 1 The Church and Kingdom of the Devil)
If you have not yet rid yourself of idolatry and made the Lord your Prophet, Priest, and King, you have missed the mark. If you are seeking for a Moses to spiritually deliver you and go to the mountain on your behalf, you are one of the modern-day children of Israel wandering in the spiritual and temporal wilderness. Please repent. And come unto Christ—the author and finisher of your faith.
To increase your understanding of the doctrine of Christ you are invited to study the Book of Mormon more carefully and more intimately with the Lord’s guiding Holy Spirit. For additional help, The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide is available for free. As a supplement to the study guide, you can also study alongside a couple of blog series that unveils the doctrine of Christ in the Book of Mormon (ASSIGNMENT SERIES: The Covenant Path Unveiled in the Book of Mormon) and another that celebrates the bicentennial anniversary of the First Vision (2020—The Bicentennial Anniversary Celebration). See also The Doctrine of Christ, A Proclamation to the World
JourneyDoctrineOfChrist.org is based on free, online study guides to help you learn, believe, live and teach the Doctrine of Christ. The Study Guides invite any and all to see and know this truth for themselves that the Savior, Jesus Christ, has, in fact, introduced His doctrine and He personally invites all to receive personal redemption and to even literally receive Him while in the flesh (mortality).
Blog posts are only intended to supplement the Study Guides. Per all blog posts, seek the understanding and confirmations from the Lord in your own personal revelation. Study guides are intended to point you to both the Lord’s written word and His voice (personal revelation). These study guides will help you uncover what the Doctrine of Christ is and other essential topics that will help you in your journey to literally “come unto Christ” while in mortality. All study guides are available at JourneyDoctrineOfChrist.org.