All is well in Zion… Stop being a pessimist.

Nephi’s Broken Bow by Jeremy Winborg

ONE of the principles that is taught in the Book of Mormon, and in modern teachings is that of,  “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” (1 Nephi 19:23).   Ezra Taft Benson in April of 1984 tells us to:  “We urge you to study the Book of Mormon as individuals and families and then to do as the prophet Nephi counseled: liken the scriptures to yourselves so that it will be for your profit and learning.”

To liken the scriptures to yourself is to compare them to your own life. To do this effectively, ask questions like “What principles of the gospel are taught in the scriptures I just read?” and “How do those principles relate to my life?” An important part of likening the scriptures to yourself is listening to promptings of the Spirit, who the Lord promised “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). – Studying the Scriptures (2000), 2-6

This is something that I try to do, but sometimes I have a hard time doing it.  But there is one chapter in 2 Nephi that has come to life over the last few weeks.  I was specifically reminded of it during a recent EQ lesson we had Sunday (Chapter 18: Stay on the Lord’s Side of the Line).  I am going to quote the entire chapter, and make comments and link to recent news articles, and other resources that I think bring the verse into modern times.  Or in other-words, I am going to liken what Nephi says at 559-545 B.C. to today 2012 A.D.

The chapter I am going to talk about is in The Second Book of Nephi, Chapter 28.  The chapter summary is as follows: “Many false churches will be built up in the last days—They will teach false, vain, and foolish doctrines—Apostasy will abound because of false teachers—The devil will rage in the hearts of men—He will teach all manner of false doctrines”

1 And now, behold, my brethren, I have spoken unto you, according as the Spirit hath constrained me; wherefore, I know that they must surely come to pass.

2 And the things which shall be written out of the book shall be of great worth unto the children of men, and especially unto our seed, which is a remnant of the house of Israel.

Notice that this is not something he is just writing, but it is something that he is saying as he is lead by the Spirit.  What he is saying is that he is testifying of with the Spirit has witnessed to him.  This should also indicate that what he is going to say is VERY important.  This information is of great worth, and it is for written for his seed, a remnant of the house of Isreal, and unto the children of men.   Everyone falls into this category, because we are ALL “children of men”.

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

If you follow the footnotes on Churches it leads you to the TG topic of “Churches, False“.  One of the references then refers to the Traditions of Men.  This is the type of False Churches that I am going to concentrate on this post.  I think it is very obvious if you look in the news that the Traditions of Men are winning the hearts of men.  I have done several posts in the past on this topic, so I am not going into to much depth.  (Weapons of their rebellion, Traditions of their fathers, )  I think that we as parents need to be careful what we teach our children so that we do not setup False Churches in the form of Family Traditions.  I think that Mark says it best: “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do… Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” ( Mark 7:8-9)  We need to make sure that we don’t build up churches (false traditions) that worry more about the washing of pots and cups than the basics of the gospel.  If we allow our daily tasks to take over, and replace the Lord’s Church, then we are doing what Nephi is warning us about.  (For another post, but I think that some people have even created False Churches of Sports, Money, School, etc. and replace the Lord’s Church with those activities.)

We are told in Luke that there would be a time when men would be choked with the cares and the riches and the pleasures of life [see Luke 8:14]. I have in my mind … even now, men and women that I love, whose very spirituality is being choked by these very things, and the adversary is leading them along that easy pathway of pleasure and they are neglecting their duty as parents and as members of the Church of Jesus Christ.

… Now in the midst of confusion, excitement and all the pleasures of life, … let us not lose sight of the duty that we owe these boys and girls who are created in the image of God. He is the Father of their spirits, and he will hold us responsible for the teaching that they receive. I hope and pray that we will so teach them that when the end shall come we can receive from him that blessing, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord,” and that we may have our loved ones with us eternally. (Source: Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith)

Nephi continues:

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;

6 Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.

We are indeed seeing this in our days.  We are seeing lots of this happening.  We have seen this in the LDS church as well.  I can name a couple of issues that have created members to “contend one with another”.  These items have caused some very heated debates and even have lead to people leaving the Church.  We are even seeing heated discussions within the non religious groups.  Today it seems like everyone is pushing their learning, and not very many of them are actually looking towards God for truth.

In general, we are seeing this move from God to men.  A recent report from CNN states: “The fastest growing “religious” group in America is made up of people with no religion at all, according to a Pew survey showing that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion… Thirty-three million Americans now have no religious affiliation, with 13 million in that group identifying as either atheist or agnostic, according to the new survey.” (Source)

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;

6 Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.

We see this all the time.  The work of God, his miracles, are passed off as non important, not His work, or the works of science.  An perfect example is noted by Dieter F. Uchtdorf.    He talks about the falling of the Berlin Wall.  Something that most people don’t attribute to a miracle of God.

In 1976, President Monson gave my country a blessing with promises far beyond logical or political reasoning. It was a prophetic promise which required modern-day miracles. And the miracles occurred.

In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; and this week, four years ago, Germany was reunited. The borders were enlarged, and Zion was enabled to put on her beautiful garments—there are now two temples in Germany, five temples in Europe, and more to come. The kingdom of God is expanding rapidly into the eastern parts of Europe and even moving far beyond geographic or political boundaries of yesterday. Missionaries are now serving at places most of us have to look up in dictionaries or cannot find easily on maps. (Source: October 1994 Conference)

Because of this sift from a belief in God, and the ability for people to see His miracles, we are starting to see a lot of what the following verses say will happen.

7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.

8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

It is funny how often I hear these things.  It is especially true of the media.  I can’t count the number of times I have heard things like, “It is not real violence.”  “It is only Zombies.” “I don’t listen to the Lyrics” “It is OK, John says it has nothing bad in it.”  Here is an interesting blog I found that discusses this, specifically in regards to the Zombie craze we are seeing, “Gaurding Against a Zombie…“.

9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.

I think we are past this point, because society no longer hides from the Lord and are in the dark.  Their works are out in the open because they are now to the point that God does not exist, so there is no reason to hide their works.  Their cause is now to enlighten the believers, to open their eyes.

10 And the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.

11 Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted.

12 Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up.

13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.

14 They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.

Notice how PRIDE is the cause of most of these problems.  We have been warned and warned for years about Pride and the evil effects it has on the heart of men.  James E. Faust covers this topic well in the May 1996 Ensign.  Most of us remember the talk by President Ezra Taft Benson “Beware of Pride“.  He states: “The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.”  See how this definition fits.  Now read it again, and replace pride with enmity toward God.

15 O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!

16 Wo unto them that turn aside the just for a thing of naught and revile against that which is good, and say that it is of no worth! For the day shall come that the Lord God will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth; and in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish.

17 But behold, if the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness and abominations they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of Hosts.

18 But behold, that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof.

19 For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish;

Verses 15-19 Nephi talks about what will happen to those churches and the people who fight against the church of God.  But notice, that he also mentions that there is a way out, “if the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness… they shall not be destroyed.”

20 For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.

We are also seeing this.   I am also reminded of a scripture found in 3 Nephi 11:29, “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.”   People are fighting against the good.  I am not saying that everything is gloom and doom, but we are once again seeing people who believe hide their beliefs because of the fear of retaliation, or contention from those who do not belive them.  We see it growing in society that topics are off topics because of the attack people fear will result.  If you want to see how bad it can get, just mention on a social media site that you are against abortion, or gay marriage.  It surprises me how many of the people I think would adhoore those practices will actually show hatred towards you for taking a stand against them.  And even more of them will show apathy and justify those that practice those topics.

21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

23 Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.

24 Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!

25 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!

All is well in Zion?   We are being told that it is.  If you believe in Christ and what to do the right thing, you are labeled and a lot of times and you are shouted down.  All is well in Zion, Really?

What worries me, is that there are so many people that are burying their heads in the sand and are ignoring the signs and reports of what is really happening.  I have even had people tell me that this stuff is OK because revelation says that it will get worse before it gets better, so why fight it.  To this I say.  Really, you want to just sit back and watch as the world gets almost impossible for you and your family to do what is right without being persecuted for it.

26 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!

27 Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!

28 And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.

29 Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!

30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

32 Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.

I think it is also interesting that in my experience those that are pushing a falsehood as truth will get very heated and turn the discussion to personal insults when pushed.  I think that verse 28 explains why.  Because they know deep down that their truth is built on a sandy foundation, and if you push their truth, it will wash away with the waters of discussion.  So instead of discussing the issue, they feel backed into a corner and will deflect by moving to personal attacks.  I have been told lots of times I am a bigot and racist when I address some issues.

After all the gloom and doom, he still tells us that, “I will be merciful unto them… if they will repent and come unto me.”  The problem I see is that we are now in a time when just going to regular church activities is not enough.  We need to be more valiant and shun the thought that all is well in Zion.

Elder Quentin L. Cook parallels Nephi’s warning with modern day revelation:

Today moral deterioration has escalated. One prominent writer recently said, “Everyone knows the culture is poisonous, and nobody expects that to change.” The constant portrayal of violence and immorality in music, entertainment, art, and other media in our day-to-day culture is unprecedented. This was dramatically described by a highly respected Baptist theologian when he stated, “The spiritual immune system of an entire civilization has been wounded.”…

Many who are in a spiritual drought and lack commitment have not necessarily been involved in major sins or transgressions, but they have made unwise choices. Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants. Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes. Some allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and, in some cases, invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed.

Notice how he warns of giving into the Traditions of Fathers, or what he labels “lesser causes”.  Elder Cook then continues to tell us that we can’t just rely on the Church to protect us and our children from the modern world, he continues:

Parents, the days are long past when regular, active participation in Church meetings and programs, though essential, can fulfill your sacred responsibility to teach your children to live moral, righteous lives and walk uprightly before the Lord….. Parents must have the courage to filter or monitor Internet access, television, movies, and music. Parents must have the courage to say no, defend truth, and bear powerful testimony. Your children need to know that you have faith in the Savior, love your Heavenly Father, and sustain the leaders of the Church. Spiritual maturity must flourish in our homes. My hope is that no one will leave this conference without understanding that the moral issues of our day must be addressed in the family. Bishops and priesthood and auxiliary leaders need to support families and make sure that spiritual principles are taught. Home and visiting teachers can assist, especially with children of single parents.

Now, I may be called a pessimist, but I prefer the term realist.  But I can tell you this, I am going to do everything I can to make sure that my family does not fall for “All is well in Zion” and be lulled into a carnal false sense of security.