Chauncey C. Riddle
We talked yesterday about language. The topic today is how this applies to our living our lives in the world, in the gospel. I would like to pose a problem for you, something to investigate. That is, the very interesting story we have of the fall.
Language before the fall very possibly was different. I’ve tried to understand exactly how they communicated before the fall and what difference the fall made. It’s possible that before the fall communication was simply concept communication the way it will be in the Celestial Kingdom. Adam and Eve were Celestial people, they had Celestial bodies, they had their spiritual eyes opened and they could see the Father and the Son and very possibly they simply communicated by thought.
And that Satan was given the privilege of coming and speaking to them in the same way, I don’t know. The thing I think that is the key to the puzzle is three things that we learn in the story of the fall. When we understand what it means when it says their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked and they were ashamed. I think those pieces were put in there as clues to the puzzle to help us understand something about communication.
Now my understanding further is that before they fell they did not know good and evil except in one particular that the Father had told them of. The evil was to partake of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, they knew they shouldn’t do that but everything else was just neutral. It was neither a good nor evil because they didn’t know an evil to correspond with it. Now, I think that we have to concede that part of that was the fact that they were very perceptive. That they simply looked around and saw things and took them for what they were without having anything with which to contrast that.
It’s possible that what the fall was, was giving them the kind of language that we now have. And the kind of language we now have enables us to conceive and hold in our minds varies possibilities about things. Which enables us then to contrast a good with an evil. And it is just possible that the tree of knowledge of good and evil was the giving of language. The kind of language we have as opposed to the concept language that they communicated with before.
At least, I think we can say this much. Language is the great facilitator of our knowledge of good and evil. Because through language rather than showing us exactly what to do or being something, the Savior can say to us, be kind to your neighbor, Satan can say to us, take advantage of your neighbor. Because we have language we can conceive those two possibilities in our minds.
Now, what I’m saying, I’ll try to make it a little clearer. I don’t think animals in their looking at the world can see good and evil the same way we can. They can see things that may be dangerous to them, they can see things they want to avoid but I don’t think they can see good and evil and have the same ability to choose between good and evil that we do. Because we can suit whatever is good or evil to our own desires.
We have this interesting ability because we get presented with good and evil alternatives but they don’t come labeled. No voice, no label, no power says to us, this is the good and this is the evil, we just get these two opposing things. We have to put the label on them. And we have to, we do choose which is the good and which is the evil according to our own desires. And so you find people in the world going around pasting the label good on all kinds of evil and what are they doing? They’re simply carrying out their agency. This is part of why they were put down here and on the day of judgment what will they be rewarded with? They’ll simply will be given over to those things that they wanted. As they judged so shall they be judged. If they judged these things to be good to them so they will get them for eternity. Now, that isn’t to say that they will get all of their desires but if they wish to be selfish and they call selfishness good then they can be selfish for as long as they want to be selfish. If they like to be carnal, fleshly, they will be carnal and fleshly forever. If they wish to be kind or honor the truth do good for others this will be rewarded unto them forever. Because the judgment simply fixes upon us that which we have chosen.
But language is the great facilitator of that choosing. It is the thing that exposes us to all kinds of opportunities the range of variables that make great freedom possible.
Now, when Adam was put in the garden we know that God gave him a language both oral and written. Language is a gift of God and a great and wonderful blessing. As I said yesterday, no greater technology has ever been given to man. And by this we receive the commandments of God. He speaks to us in our own language in our own concepts so that there is no confusion. We will not be able to say I didn’t understand when he speaks to us. When men speak to us there is a real possibility that we won’t be able to understand. But when God speaks to us he always gives us at least two witnesses. Sometimes there are two persons, sometimes there’s one person and the Holy Ghost, sometimes there is a written message in the scripture and then a spiritual message through the Holy Spirit directed to our concepts.
My guess is that the Holy Ghost always communicates to us in our own concepts and if we want to put that into a language we have to translate it. I’ve often asked one who knows two languages which one they pray in? They tell me one or the other and I say which one does the answer come in? How many of you know two languages? You know which one you pray in, which one does the answer come in? It doesn’t come in a language, you have to put it in the language of your choice. And that’s the answer that almost everyone gives. Which I think is a good indication that the language of the spirit is a concept language not a verbal language. And that’s why the Holy Ghost can communicate with us perfectly because it uses our concepts. He touches our mind, our heart in the way that we will understand exactly what he wants us to say. Which we human beings don’t have the power to do as we talk to each other.
So when the angel came and commanded Adam to offer sacrifice Adam knew exactly what he meant. I would guess that when the Father gave commandment to Adam to offer sacrifice Satan also said don’t bother to do that, that’s a waste of time or some such. Because now that Adam was fallen Satan had full access to Adam to communicate with him. Apparently in that same concept language. And thus here’s Adam, he has these two forces working upon him now in everything that he does and he has to decide where does his heart lie? Does his heart lie with this the voice of God? Or this with the voice of Satan?
Adam did have an advantage, he had known God and Satan before he fell and it was probably easier to recognize their voices. But his children, you see, never had that advantage, perhaps that is why so many of them fell away and worshiped Satan and called him the good instead of God. The angel came and asked Adam why he was offering sacrifice. Without language of course he wouldn’t have understood the question nor would have been able to answer. But, he gave an answer, and the answer was because he had faith. He believed the commandment of God and then the angel explained why he had given that commandment to him. To teach him that in all things he must look to Christ who’s the author of all good things and the beginning and end, the author and finisher of his faith.
Now, what does righteousness consist of? If someone chooses to serve Jesus Christ to keep the new and everlasting covenant, the facilitation of the keeping of that covenant is through language: Through the reading of the scriptures, through listening in church meetings, by receiving instruction of priesthood authorities, by bearing our witness to non- members, by teaching the gospel, hearing the gospel.
Now we do all of those things but we have to remember that in doing all of those things that there is a good and there is an evil. The fall made it so that in every choice that every human being has there is, we must always choose between a good and an evil. So whenever we open our mouths to speak we have the choice. The important thing to know is how do you find the good and what is the evil? In general, in my understanding, the evil is what we want to say (selfishness) choosing our own desires over those of God. If we wish to do the good we are going to have to inquire of God and find out what he would have us say. Now you have to have the gospel of Jesus Christ before this is a meaningful thing to say. To those outside the church they aren’t going to have that possibility but we who have accepted the new and everlasting covenant know something more.
We know that we shall be held accountable for every idle word that we speak. An idle word is a word that we speak having chosen to do it evilly. Whereas a non-idle word is a word given to us having chosen to speak the good, meaning the right thing to say, the righteous thing to say. So I conceive that the Father has devised for us a program, a plan, whereby he will teach us how to speak truly, how to speak righteously. He speaks only light and truth, he never lies, he never gives bad advice.
I take it in our apprenticeship to become as he is that’s probably one of the most important things we need to do is to learn to speak only light, his light and only truth, his truth. So how do we do that? I think the key to it is prayer. Now, there is a correct way to pray and there’s a false way to pray. The false way to pray is to say whatever we want to say. But the scriptures are plain, when we pray correctly it is given to us what we shall ask. And so if you have learned about how to pray correctly you come to realize, prayer is a thing that must be done by revelation. That is to say, our use and abuse of language is what condemns or saves us for one thing.
And there’s probably no more important thing that we do than to use language. If we use it for evil then we cannot be saved and one of the greatest things we can do is to learn to speak only light and truth through Jesus Christ. Which we do by first learning to pray, how do you do that? Well, we have to first ask the Father to help us to pray, that has to come from us. But he has commanded us to do it so it is a good thing to do. And then we wait and we think and we try to open our hearts, to be as humble, as pliable, as susceptible as we can to the enticings of the spirit.
And then sooner or later something comes to us and we have to discern whether that is a good spirit or an evil spirit. Whenever we invite the good spirit in the evil spirit also comes around and has it’s say and that because of the fall. We’re subject to Satan in that respect and so God does not speak to us except there is an evil counterpart to that so that we always have a choice. So if we will choose the good then our prayers begin to be holy prayers, prayers of light and truth. Now should we ever get so good at this that we can say a whole prayer simply by saying what we are prompted to say by the Holy Spirit we’ll be beginning to be in good shape.
Imagine what it would be then, if each of us took that clue and then used it in our daily conversations with each other. And we did not say anything to anybody except that it was good in the spirit of the Lord to say so. So that we only spoke light and truth to each other. Wouldn’t that be a marvelous change in our society. We would never again get angry and tell somebody off. We would never again say something to hurt someone deliberately. We might say something that would hurt someone but it would only be because the Lord prompted us to and we say it in love with the intention of helping them. And then show forth an increase of love after so they will know we did not say it in anger, did not say it to hurt them.
Now, if you get a great big sliver, if it’s deep somebody may have to cut your flesh to get it out, that’s going to hurt. And that’s what the Lord has to sometimes do with us, he has to hurt to help us get rid of the evil that’s in us. But the hurt is always beneficial in the long run when it comes by the Holy Spirit. If it’s light and truth the hurt is but a short hurt and brings great blessings in its consequence. But we have to judge these things by their fruits. We have to tell the difference between good and evil by seeing what the results are.
So it’s given to us to judge and if we don’t like the way our life is going, that’s a clue to us that we are not listening to the right spirit, we’re not getting the clues that we want and need. If our hearts are evil, of course, then it’s very difficult for us to tell. The great key is to get a pure heart so that we will be able to tell the difference between good fruits and evil fruits.
Which leads us to tell the difference between good spirits and evil spirits, which enables us then to choose the good and never to choose the evil. If we learn to speak righteously to one another, that is the key to learning to use the priesthood.
What is the priesthood? The priesthood is the power of God, but it is not given to any man to say of his own mind and desires what he will do with that priesthood. I learned that one the hard way. Years ago I was an Elders quorum president in Manhattan, we were visiting members of our quorum on Statten Island. We came to the home of one brother, he had just had a heart attack and they had taken him to the hospital. His wife asked us to go to the hospital and give him a blessing. So we went, we slipped through the oxygen tent and gave him a blessing and told him that he would be all right, that he soon would be well. Ten minutes later he died. That’s a bit disconcerting if you’re a young elder quorum president. And so, we went to the high counselor over our quorum and said, tell us what happened? He was also the stake patriarch and understood this problem very well. He said, did the spirit tell you to say that? We said, no. We just thought that would be a nice thing to say.
That’s not how the priesthood of god works. Man does not know what is good or righteous. Righteousness is of Christ and many times the things we ask for in our prayers are simply evil. The scriptures says, if you ask for evil it will be accounted unto you for evil. We have to learn to speak correctly. And so, we get this opportunity to practice and we’re promised that the Holy Ghost will be our constant companion and will communicate with us through this concept language exactly what it is we should pray for. And then what we should say to one another and then what we should say when we’re hoping to represent him, using the priesthood. Now there is two sides to that, sometimes when you’re laying your hands on someone’s head and the Holy Ghost is speaking through you, what the Holy Ghost tells you to say is so scary that you don’t dare say it. We have to be brave enough to say it and humble enough to get what to say.
What are we supposed to do, we lay our hands upon somebody’s head and nothing comes? We’re not to say anything by way of blessing. We’re simply supposed to pray for the person. We admit defeat at that point and say, I’m sorry I can’t give you a blessing but I will pray for you. And I’ll pray for you the best I can but I don’t really know how to bless you. I had the experience a few years ago of laying my hands on a sister’s head. And I was told that there was a blessing for her, she was to be healed but because I hadn’t repented of my sins I couldn’t do it. It’s called a come up’ins. The Lord brings you up short once in a while, he lets you know where you stand. Twenty- four hours later another man laid his hands on her head, she was healed instantly. Because he had lived for that opportunity, he was able to heal her she was able to go on with her work. It’s the Lord’s desire that all of us be able to heal, by being righteous. I’ll tell you the man’s name, his name is Nathan Eldon Tanner.
But you see, how much good can we do if we would repent of our sins and learn to speak nothing but light and truth. Oh, then we would have power in the priesthood. Which does not come from man, it comes from God. But it’s learning to use language, use this great technology that the Lord has given us correctly. So that we can use the greater technology. Priesthood is greater than language. But learning to use language correctly is the key to using the priesthood correctly. So he gives us a lesser power to see if we can learn to do well with it so then we can see if we can use the greater power.
Now, if we can, not only do we have to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost we have to read and understand by the power of the Holy Ghost. And so he gives us the scriptures. The scriptures were not written to be understood, they were written to be a puzzle. They were written to help those who have the spirit and to blind those who don’t have the spirit, lest they be condemned. Here again, we get to practice. We have these beautiful words and if we are faithful we will sit and look at those black marks on the white pages and try to hold back our own interpretation which is private interpretation, until we get the Holy Spirit coming to us in our minds and telling us what the Lord wants us to think in connection with those black marks. Thus we have a chance to learn to interpret by the Spirit of the Lord.
We get to sit in conference, we get to listen to the prophet of God and the question is: Are we in tune? If, as he is speaking, the spirit rings and our hearts swell within us and our minds are enlarged and enlightened and we know this is light and truth then we know we are on the beam. If we’re faithful the Lord is rewarding us with that resonance that comes when we are in tune. Should we find that we are beginning to wonder, is President Benson getting a little old? Is he saying things that really aren’t quite square? Has one of his helpers put this into his mind? He really wouldn’t say that if he were about to be — These are things that people say. And they are the temptations of Satan as it were. But, if you and I will go to the conference humbly in the attitude of prayer and fasting, ready to receive the word of the Lord. Having done what we were instructed to do the last conference. That’s our key to getting the Holy Spirit to understand this next conference and then the Holy spirit will just flood our minds with this beautiful feeling, will fill our heart with this warmth and we won’t have to ask further if this is the will of the Lord we will just know it, with every sentence he says, will just march into our heart and fill our being with light and truth. We will know that he is the prophet of God, that he loves us as the Savior loves us. And that he’s trying to do the thing that we need.
What does he want us to do? He wants us to read the Book Of Mormon. The Church has neglected the Book of Mormon and he knows the church is suffering under a curse because of that. The curse was pronounced way back in 1832. It’s never come out of the curse because we as a people have never paid enough attention to the book yet. He’s trying to lift that curse, he loves us, so he’s gone to the Lord to find what we need to do to start being Zion. The first thing we need to do to start being Zion is to get ourselves wrapped around that book. It’s concepts, it’s ideas, it’s a chance for us to have the most perfect instrument in the world perhaps, to teach us how to live by the spirit that there is. There’s no better way to do that than to read the Book of Mormon.
Maybe prayer is the only other thing that comes close to it. Now reading the Book of Mormon is probably the best help there is to learn how to pray. They go hand in hand. But if we learn to interpret by the spirit so that we interpret the scriptures, then we interpret the words of the brethren in conference, then we interpret the words of our Stake President, we interpret the words of our Bishop, we interpret the words of our Father. And then we begin to interpret every word we read and hear everywhere it comes. Discerning whether it’s good or evil, treasuring, collecting, remembering, living by all the good that we meet from any source. Putting on the shelf holding in abeyance everything we hear that’s evil.
Now, if we can do those two things, learn to speak and interpret by the power of the Holy Ghost then we’re really benefiting from this marvelous thing of language which God has given us to raise us up. Why does he give us language? Because only through language can he give us the freedom to choose both good and evil. This freedom is the whole key to our salvation. If by our own free will and choice we will choose the good when it comes to us, then he can give us every good thing. We have to make that basic choice. So, what is our mission in life? It is to perfect our relationships with one another by first perfecting our relationship with God. If we can love him and hear his voice and interpret him without error then we can learn to love one another.
We transact most of our business with one another through language. If we have learned to interpret language to separate the good from the evil then our language transactions with each other will begin to be holy. We will not speak anything that is evil and we will not allow ourselves to believe anything that is evil and thus we begin to bring our relationships to perfection. One place I think this needs to be focused, can be focused is in the relationships between husband and wife. The place to practice good communication is in prayer, that’s the first place, the second place is between husband and wife. Because husband and wife love each other they will want to communicate and my thought is, where is a better place to learn to communicate through spiritual means than between husband and wife?
To use the physical words of the English language that we usually use as a key to begin to communicate by feeling and by ideas through the spirit of the Lord. If you have been married a while and your marriage is good you probably have experienced some of that. What a beautiful thing to have, that’s really wonderful when you begin to see eye to eye and you begin to know exactly how your spouse will react to something. That’s great communication and if they both choose the good, you see, there’s no limit to how close they can become, because each will become enclosed to the Savior all the time. Becoming closer and closer to the Savior enables them to become closer and closer to each other. Till finally they come to have one mind and one heart. How is Zion established? I think Zion is established by getting husbands and wives to love each other, so they come to have one mind and one heart. We’re surely not going to have one heart and one mind with anyone else if we can’t do it with our own wife or husband.
Charity begins at home. If we can’t love the person we’re closest to, our closest neighbor in all this world which is our spouse, we’re surely not going to do much for anyone else. There’s the place to perfect our language. To work with one another, talk with one another, think, pray, hope, compare notes until we can do this just the right way. Now what do we do with language? With language then we participate in our own creation. Our creation is not over, it’s on going every day. Our Savior has given us a body but the body is changing constantly, it’s being recreated every day. Our minds are being recreated every day, as our hearts also and our might. Every time some new influence comes into our life, and we react to it we are a different person.
So by making these choices that come to us through language we are choosing either the good or the evil; thus building ourselves into a better person or an evil person. Thus by the end of our lives we will have created a god through the help of God or a devil through the help of Satan, according to our own desires. We can’t do either without help from those sources. But with the help of those sources we can do either. Thus our final blessings then come by the pronouncement of either God of Satan. God has certain words which he says which seal us to him. Satan has certain words which he says which seal us to him. Thus we become the eternal child of either God or Satan, depending on which one we choose including what we do with language.
So, as we learn to use language it’s important to recognize that there are four components to all language. There’s a heart portion, a mind portion, a strength portion, and a might portion. We have to perfect each one of these. Might is our fruit, it is given unto those who are not very spiritual yet to judge others by their fruits by the effects of their language. If their language produces good we know that they are good. If their language produces evil we know that they are evil.
As we learn to communicate better and better then we begin to communicate by concepts by feelings of the heart directly. Finally by communicating as God does by looking upon the heart of other people. We have to be a little careful we don’t presume we can do that before we actually can. Well, we have said essentially what needs to be said about the use of language in our lives and applying it to the gospel.
I think that as Latter-day Saints we would do well to try to be rich in the languages of this world. Languages are the keys for bearing testimony. The more languages we know the more people we can help. I think it ought to be our constant study to be working on another language other than the one which is our mother tongue. We need to be learning child language so we can speak to children. Some people can’t talk to children. We need to be learning technical language so that we can speak to people who want to speak technical language. We need to be learning the language of whoever it is that we love. Because if we do love them we will want to speak to them in their own language, in their own frame. Father has promised that every person will hear the gospel in his own tongue. And that may be a certain variety of English, it may be French, it may be scientific language, it may be statistical language, it may be the language of music, it may be the language of painting, it may be the language of dancing. All of these are languages, they speak, they express. And whatever it is we need to know to speak to someone we need to learn that language. The measure of our love for them is our willingness to sacrifice enough to learn their language so that we can bear witness of light and truth to them in terms that they will understand.
Well, are their questions?
God says that in the mouth of two or more witnesses he will establish every word. So, he usually sends out missionaries two by two, so that there will be two witnesses. Whenever he gives a scripture, we see something written here in a book, he always sends his Holy Spirit, if we will receive it, to accompany that. So that we get the witness of the black and white and also of the Spirit. The Father and the Son are two witnesses, the Son and the Holy Ghost are two witnesses. In everything he tries to make sure we get two witnesses so that we will never have to depend on a single source. Two points make a line, he’s trying to give us lines or direction. Does that help?
I was thinking of prayer when the Holy Spirit speaks to us, where if …
The other witness will be the fruits of the prayer, the consequences of our prayer. If we don’t learn any other way, we will learn by what happens after we pray. If the prayer is answered, if we get what we asked for or pray for, that’s a pretty good sign. If it isn’t answered we’ll know that maybe something is probably wrong with that prayer and we can ask, why wasn’t it answered? And we’ll probably get an answer as to what we should then do to make amends or reparations. If we do that and it works, then we then know that we’re on the right track. We should always look for the second witness. My experience is that if we are in tune we always get an immediate answer of some kind. It’s true that sometimes I might pray for a million dollars and not get an answer for a long long time, I may never get it, but I can ask, why not? I’ll get an immediate answer to that. I find that sometimes my prayers are not answered but there’s one kind of question I’ll always get an immediate answer to and that is, what should I do next?
Is there a difference between the language that Satan speaks and Christ speaks?
Yes. The Savior always speaks in light and truth. Satan always speaks in darkness and warped truth or wrong, untruth. I have to be careful with that, sometimes he speaks truth, he never speaks light but sometimes he speaks truth so that we will buy what he has to say. And so yes, there’s a difference, and that’s why the whole study of our lives that the basic skill of being a Latter-day Saint consists in being able to detect the difference between the voice of God and the voice of Satan. Now we need to study that and try out different cases and try experiments until we become absolutely perfect at making that distinction.
Satan can never speak to your heart.
I don’t know about that. I think he can. But that’s my guess don’t believe that.
The question is, he asked me how I read the scriptures, as the prophet has told us to read the Book of Mormon.
I try to read it lots of different ways. I find that I have to just read it through occasionally. Start from the beginning and go to the end because that way I sweep out things I hadn’t seen before. Sometimes I read it topically, I look for a certain word or subject and just trace that though all the scriptures. I find it very useful to try a different medium, I’m currently listening to the Book of Mormon on tape for the first time and I hear things I’ve never seen before at looking at the printed page. I read it in Spanish last year. And the Spanish showed me certain things that I’d never seen in the English. I insisted sometimes to myself, that’s not in the English and I’d go back and look in the English and there it was. One difference was ever since I began to read I’ve been a fast reader. So I read the Book of Mormon just as fast as I can read, which is somewhere between 800 and a 1000 words a minute. There’s a lot you miss when you read that fast. I can’t read Spanish nearly that fast and slowing down taught me a great many things. So I would commend to you, slow down sometime, just read it very carefully word for word and piece it together. You have to do that on the tough passages. But read it slowly, read it fast, read it with other people. As you share with other people sometimes their insights are just what you need to put the pieces all together from what you’ve been studying. You’ve got the rest of it, they’ve got the one piece. That’s why the Lord wants us to teach one another, he doesn’t give everything to everybody. He wants us to need each other and to converse and teach each other about these things so that we will learn. So those are some thoughts.
Question – (unheard) – something about choosing between good and good and between good and evil.
But the real evil is always a good and the most tempting evil is always a good. That we could do, it is a good thing to do under ordinary circumstances, but it just happens in this case there something better to do so the good becomes an evil.
Question – (unheard)
My understanding is it’s always good and evil even though the two things in general terms are good. I use this technique. If there’s some job I’ve been putting off for a long time and I know I should do it. There comes a day I’m prompted to do something that’s much better than this and I say well I’ll go and do that job I’ve been putting off because I don’t want to do the good I’d rather do evil in this case, isn’t that terrible. But I find that I’m able to get some things done that way. The Lord has to try hard to save some of us.
Question – Why is the devil able to duplicate the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
Well, what he can duplicate is the results and not the holiness of the spirit. Therefore we know that the two spirits will never be confused. But for instance the devil can heal. And if all you can do is live by signs you have no sense of gifts then you can be taken in by Satan. Those that seek for signs are always evil in their hearts, cause if they had good hearts they wouldn’t seek for signs they would seek for the gifts. And they would seek to know the difference between the good spirit and the evil spirit.
That’s the basic gift of the Spirit. But if you’re just looking for signs or the guy who’s got the power or to be healed or to speak in tongues or can do mighty miracles, Satan can do all of those things. If that’s the only thing that convinces you, there’s no hope.
Question – Can Satan hear a silent prayer?
I don’t know the answer. My belief is, that if we’re under the influence of the Holy Ghost he can’t.
Question – (unheard)
May I read you a scripture? I’ll give you my understanding on that. It’s Section 58 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
“It’s not meet that I should command in all things.”
Is that the one you’re talking about? Let’s deal with both of them then. We’re supposed to the Savior says, “work it out in your own mind”. Don’t ask until you put some effort into it. That’s the instruction to Oliver Cowdery as to how he should translate. Now not every problem is a problem of translation. Is that the formula that applies to everything? I don’t think so. If the Lord tells you to do that in some particular problem, study it out in your own mind and present it to him, that’s what we must do. But my experience is this. Sometimes I go to him without having put any investment into trying to finding the answer. I just ask the question and I get the answer before the question is half out. Other times He makes me wait and do research on it for years. So I can’t find that that’s a general formula. That’s a specific instruction and a valuable thing to do when we’re supposed to do it. That takes care of Section Nine.
Now Section Fifty Eight. This is a Section that was given that many people use that many people say, “we shouldn’t seek the revelations of God, we don’t want to bother Him with anything that’s not awfully important.” But I don’t think that is what He was saying. Beginning with verse 24, the revelation was given to Edward Partridge. He had been told in a previous revelation to take his counselors and move to Missouri where he was to be the presiding bishop of the church. He went to Joseph and said, “ask the Lord how we shall go”? This is the answer, “now as I spake concerning my servant Edward Partridge. This land, meaning Missouri is the land of his residence and those who he has appointed his counselors and also the land and residence of whom I have appointed to keep my store house. Wherefore let them bring their families as they shall counsel between themselves and me. In other words, don’t ask Joseph, ask me! For it is not meet that I shall command in all things. What does he mean by command? He has to mean. He has to mean getting a commandment through flesh and blood. For he that is compelled in all things the same is a slothful and not a wise servant, wherefore he receiveth no reward. Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and do many things of their own free will and bring to pass much righteousness. Because the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.”
What makes us agents? We are an agent when we can choose either good or evil in a situation. If we don’t have both those possibilities we are not agents. And the Holy Spirit is that which makes use an agent to know what is right to do. The evil spirit makes us an agent in knowing what is wrong to do. The power is within us, the power of the Holy Ghost to bring to pass much righteousness. We don’t have to ask flesh and blood what to do. We can find out by asking the Lord himself directly. That’s what makes a Latter-day Saint, is someone who has the Holy Ghost with him and asks and gets answers and doesn’t have to be commanded in all things.
Question – What are alms of prayer?
My understanding that an alm of prayer, that an alm is something that we give to the poor. That’s the basic meaning of the word. But we do it in the intent of doing an act of righteousness, an act of good to the Lord. We’re trying to love our neighbor as he loves us when we give alms to the poor. Now, when we pray we’re trying to learn to pray in the same kind of token and sacrifice as we do when we give alms to the poor. We’re trying to pray correctly. So an alm is an offering or a sacrifice we make. And we offer up our prayers as offerings to the Lord in the same sense we do the offerings of sheep or goats on the alter or the offering of something we give to the poor. That’s my sense of it if that helps.
Question – Something about gods and lords.
My understanding is yes, gods are only created for exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. But some create themselves into terrestrial beings by waiting a long long time to finally decide to choose good and not evil. The ones that choose good early and anxiously are the celestial spirits that become exalted. Those who want to do good but not all of it become ministering angels in the Celestial Kingdom. Those who want to do good but not too soon become terrestrial. And those who finally admit at the last ditch that it’s better to do good than evil they apparently become telestial. But they all choose the good and every one of them does nothing but good ever after. There’s no evil committed by anybody in the Telestial Kingdom. They don’t sin, they don’t do very much but everything they do is good.
Question – Does that imply that the progression of people in the Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms will sometime lead to Godhood?
My understanding is no. It says, worlds without end they will not pass the barriers. This is the time to prepare to meet God. Now is the day of our probation and after this life it’s over.
Question – Do we have the same development in our language as we grow spiritually as we do as we grow physically?
And I think so yes. As we become acquainted with the words and concepts of the scriptures we are growing in our linguistic ability which is also a growth in our spiritual ability. That’s why we study the scriptures and figure out what all these things mean. That’s a growth in language ability which sets us free then to do more perfectly the will of the Lord.