A Conversation for Mormonism - A Question and Answer Session
A Prophet of God
Mormonman Posted Oct 13, 2008
I felt impressed as I re-read what I have written to you to further explain my commitment to the Prophet Joseph Smith. This commitment may be confusing to you.
It is really simple. Joseph Smith stood in the presence of God on several occasions. He was permitted to see into the heavens. He was called as a prophet by the very God of heaven. He learned about the past, present and future by the spirit of revelation. Thus he revealed the plan of salvation that the Father has for all men. He was given a message to take to the entire world. After Moses was called of God he was given a message to bring to the people (Exodus 20). After Peter was called of God he also had visions that gave him a message for all the earth (Act 10). Likewise, Joseph Smith stood in the divine presence, he saw God face to face, he saw angels, he saw into the heavens. He came to know by direct experience the plan of God, our heavenly Father. But he was also given a message for the world.
That message is the message of the Book of Mormon. In addition to Joseph Smith, three other men were permitted to see both the gold plates and the angel Moroni. These men also heard the voice of the redeemer bear witness that the Book of Mormon is true. The testimony of these three witnesses is included in the preface to the Book of Mormon. Imagine that! Three other men seeing the same angel and bearing the same witness! The Book of Mormon becomes the “keystone” witness of the restoration. Later when Joseph Smith received priesthood authority at the hands of angels he was not alone. There was another man with him; Oliver Cowdery. This man was a witness to the restoration of the priesthood. Later again, when Joseph Smith saw into the heavens he was not alone. When he had the great vision of the degrees of glory Sidney Rigdon also saw what he saw. There are so many other evidences that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God.
The point is he was called by God to be a witness to the entire world. He was called by God to be a prophet to the entire earth. The evidence that he spoke with God is in the revelations that he received. Just compare the plan of salvation as restored through the prophet Joseph Smith with what others know about where we came from, why we are here and where we are going! Joseph learned that we are children of God and from that fact the whole plan of salvation flows. Now, wouldn’t God call a prophet that the whole world can listen to? If Joseph Smith is not that prophet, who is? And how shall we know it?
I’m not talking about just being a prophet or about just being guided by God. I’m talking about a prophet who is called by God to represent him to the entire earth. I’m talking about a prophet like Moses (before Christ) or like Peter (after Christ). This is what Joseph Smith was called to be – The Prophet of the Restoration.
I have received my own witness from God that he was a true prophet. I did it by reading, pondering and praying about the revelations that he received. The proof is in the pudding. By their fruits ye shall know them. So we have to taste the fruit for ourselves. What do you think of that?
A Prophet of God
NPY Posted Oct 20, 2008
Know I've not been abvout in a bit, but wanted to post to say I'm still here. As I'm sure you can appreciate, you've left me 12 kinda long posts to read and process, so I don't want to be posting back in a hurry without really properly reading what you've said. Will post back soon though.
Mormonman Posted Oct 22, 2008
I apprectiate that! They are long posts. I got a bit carried away!!
Take your time reading them. By the way, I checked out the website for the church you go to. You put it on another thread. I want to print out a copy of the beliefs and have a good read of them. It would be interesting to study.
I actually have some vineyard music. I also like hillsong. Do they have any connection?
Talk to you soon.
NPY Posted Oct 23, 2008
Thanks. You said quite a bit and I don't want to hurry it and read you wrong.
So what Vineyard music do you have?? Hilsongs music seems to be another quite popular one, though it's not connected to Vineyard. Though from what I understand, they can be quite similar. Not sure if there are any Hillsongs churches about. Think they're in Australia, but not sure where else.
Mormonman Posted Dec 10, 2008
It has been a long time since I wrote. A few things have been on my mind that have kept me from responding.
I have four Vineyard Cds, one of which I really love ("Intimacy", "Why we Worship" and some others). I have seen Hillsong concerts on TV and listened to the English Pastor (I can't remember his name) preach. I have listen to Joseph Prince, watched the Way of the Master with Ray Comfort and Kirk ???, watched the Hour of Power, with the schuller's, listen to several of the leading TV evangelists. Some of these I enjoy immensely.
I'm looking forward to Christmas. It is a wonderful time of year for those of us who understand what Jesus has done for all men.
I hope your well and also hope to hear from you soon.
NPY Posted Dec 24, 2008
My apologies as well for the huge delay in posting. Things just kinda got on top of me for a few weeks there.
So what are your thoughts on the Vineyard/Hillsongs music? Would they be songs you would sing in your church?
Happy New Year
Mormonman Posted Jan 5, 2009
Hope you had a nice Christmas. My little fellow got lots of gifts and was very excited by the whole experience (he's only 18 months). We watched a nice DVD I have called First Christmas about the birth of the Saviour and the true spirit of Christmas. It has nice music in it - including a lovely gospel music style song. I will listen to various kinds of music and I am happy when they have Christian lyrics.
In Church the music we sing plays an important part in our worship - as a preparation for the spirit of prayer and testimony, as a way of focusing the mind on the sacrifice and atonement of Christ in preparation for partaking of the sacrament, and as a closing hymn prior to the benediction. There are also special musical items performed by various members of the congregation. All of these are extremely worshipful, intimate and spiritually sensitive.
Gladys Knight joined the Church several years ago and she created a choir (based in Las Vegas) which reflects her experience with gospel music. I have her recent albums which include several well known LDS songs such as “I am a child of God”, “Love at Home”, “Come, Come, ye Saints” etc. She said once that she was preparing the Saints to sing to the sound of the trump (as when the Lord comes again). Even the Mormon Tabernacle Choir occasionally sings more Gospel music style songs (like the Nigerian Christmas Carol “Bethlehem”). That usually takes place outside of our sacrament meetings though. In those meetings the songs and the spirit that they encourage is more reverential, intimate and gentle. In my experience it is not as stuffy as some traditional choral and church music but not as energetic as most gospel music or Bible fellowships.
We have an LDS hymnal because the Lord has told us that his “soul delights in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” (D&C 25:12). This hymnal includes hymns unique to the Latter-day Saints which celebrate the Fatherhood of God, the atonement of Christ and the restoration of the gospel in these last days. We also have hymns about the gathering of Israel, the blessings of the gospel, the beauties of temple worship and the desire to establish Zion. We do have many of the great Hymns of Christianity, such as, “Upon the cross at Calvary”, “How Great thou art”, “Onward Christian soldiers” and all the Christmas Carols.
We do occasionally stand to sing the hymns but we do not sway, dance, raise or wave or hands. That is more cultural. I have Christian rap, rock, country and even pop music, and so I might do those things while listening to those. But in our congregational meetings the music tends toward introspection, meditation and prayer. It heart is involved if it wants to be. It can be very spiritually electrifying. I think I have heard the choirs of angels singing with us on certain occasions. The key here is that the Lord dictates the method and manner of our worship. The Hymnal, like the scriptures, have been published by the Church and are the primary source for our worship. The Lord said, “I give unto you these sayings [and I would add that he has given us these inspired hymns] that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness. (D&C 93:19).
Some things in the church are cultural and change from place to place and some things are essential and do not change. The gospel itself is the same at all times. The gospel is as eternal as God himself is. The scriptures indicate clearly those aspects of the church that never change. Anything that draws us closer to Christ and his gospel is good and is inspired of God. But some things are more inspired than others.
Hope you are well. Talk to you soon, I hope.
The First Vision
Mormonman Posted Jan 20, 2009
I will let Joseph Smith tell his own story:
“OWING to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil-disposed and designing persons, in relation to the rise and progress of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors thereof to militate against its character as a Church and its progress in the world—I have been induced to write this history, to disabuse the public mind, and put all inquirers after truth in possession of the facts, as they have transpired, in relation both to myself and the Church, so far as I have such facts in my possession. In this history I shall present the various events in relation to this Church, in truth and righteousness, as they have transpired, or as they at present exist, being now  the eighth year since the organization of the said Church… Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, "Lo, here!" and others, "Lo, there!" Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist.
During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong. My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others. In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?
While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible. At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to "ask of God," concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture. So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
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. 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." 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.
Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them. I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me. It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.
However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation. I had now got my mind satisfied so far as the sectarian world was concerned—that it was not my duty to join with any of them, but to continue as I was until further directed. I had found the testimony of James to be true—that a man who lacked wisdom might ask of God, and obtain, and not be upbraided.”
The only way to gain confirmation of this event is to “ask of God.” The foundation of our faith is revelation. Everyone can experience revelation. I know that Joseph Smith saw God.
Mormonman Posted May 8, 2009
It has been a while since we spoke. I hope you had a nice Easter.
How are things?
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