Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thoughts on King Benjamin's Sermon

I was studying Mosiah 3:25 - Mosiah 4:1 and received what seemed to me to be tremendous insights. (Remember, there's a disclaimer somewhere on this site that my posts are my own opinions.)

I'm going to put my notes below, then try to clean it up a little so that, hopefully, it will make sense.

If's one's works are evil, that person is consigned (not sure what that means) to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations. Their view, their guilt is the punishment. This view causes them to shrink from God's presence - And they shrink into a state of misery and endless woe - whence they can no more return!

The idea that people can or will somehow advance from a lower kindgom to a higher is shot out of the water here. If they feel guilt - shrinking from God's presence - it's a “no more return” (to God) thing.

And they have drunk damnation to their own souls.

In other words, it was their own doing. They cannot blame others or circumstances no matter how bad they were. Someone growing up in hell, if taught the truth by the Spirit, is just as accountable as someone growing up in righteousness who has been taught by the Spirit.

Thisis drinking out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice cannot deny! Why can it not deny it? Because YOUknowyou are guilty! It has absolutely nothingto do with “little intelligences” that refuse to allow God to let us advance. There are no little intelligences telling God, “Uh, uh, You held usback.”

No, it is allwithin each soul. Wehave a sense of justice within us. When we are brought to ourselves again, and it is everlastingly too late, weare the ones who cannot deny that justice was done. We know, perfectly well, that we are not worthy, because we rejected mercy when it was extended to us.

We cannot deny God's justice because it is also our justice. We are part of God. We have forgotten that here. We think we can hide from God. We think we can hide our sins. But we cannot. The sins are written in our souls. If we have not repented and taken the Holy Spirit for our guide, wewill know it. And because weknow it, we will shrink from God, feeling excruciating pain at being in His presence - and forever carrying the guilt and torment. It may be allayed somewhat as we move far away from God, but being separated from God is hell. So, then, where are we?

Mercy NEVERhas claim again. Neverforever.You cannot get more plain than that.

Their torment is asa lake of fire and brimstone. There is no realfire, no realbrimstone. The comparison is a figure of speech from something long forgotten, though some scholars claim to know where it came from.

It is a figure of speech, originated by those who sawsuch a lake (or lakes). They sawhow terrible the fire, brimstone, and smoke was.

Now, I understand that the idea was supposed to have originated from a group of evil men who prepared the fires to torment and kill others, but I submit that this idea may be more ancient than that. I submit that this goes to the root of the myths about the violent and angry gods such as Venus, Mercury, Mars, and so forth, those planets that once terrorized the earth.

And what do we teach each other today? We teach about the three degrees of glory and how most people will go to a degree of glory. Any torment before reaching one of those is glossed over or ignored. Few of us will be consigned to actual hell, we say. And some few even teach that there is progression from kingdom to kingdom. Others teach that all those in outer darkness, whether with a body or without, will have a total dissolution into intelligences and have another go at becoming Gods.

Some teach that we keep coming back to this life over and over again until we either give up or get it right. They claim that this is notreincarnation. But this view is refuted in the Book of Mormon. Thislife(not some past or future lives) is the day in which to repent and produce fruit. Besides that, our tendency to act in a certain way will remain - whether we are totally dismantled and put together again or whether we come back to this life six hundred times. How we act will not change. One life is enough to show who and what we really are. And that is the purpose of this life after all: To show us what and who we really are when we are wearing blinders.

“There is no hell.” “There is no devil.” And thus he whispereth in their ears and draws them down to hell with his flaxen cords that have turned into chains of iron.

I don't think we take the opportunities offered is in this life seriously enough. We think we'll get another chance in the spirit world. We think we'll magically want what we either did not want or actively fought against here - so we blithely assume, suppose, and hope that unhearing or antagonistic loved ones (or even ourselves) will magically transform once they are dead. Some truths, apparently, are too hard for people to bear.

I had an experience that showed me this truth (that we do not change once we hit the spirit world).

I was working for a man who had - oh, I'm thinking it was Musser, but I'm not sure - anyway this person's journal (on small floppy disks), who was a leader in what eventually became the FLDS church. When I worked for the man, he was blind and could not do his own typing, so he hired me to help him. He wanted me to type the journals for him.

As I typed, I came across something I could not decipher. I didn't know what to do, so I asked the man who wrote the journals to tell me what the words said. I thought, living in the spirit world and having his eyes opened, he would have a different view of polygamy and all that. He did not. He was very eager to tell me what the words were that I could not read. In fact, he was very eager for me to understand where he was coming from. He was very enthusiastic as I typed the journal. He was pleased that it was being done, even though it would not further his purposes. He never tormented my dreams or anything. He was respectful of me, but I could sense the eagernesswith which he shared the missing words.

I promise you: We do not change simply because we have died.

Back to my notes: Benjamin has finished telling the people what the angel told him to say to them. He looks at the people and sees they have fallen to the earth. They have understood his words. They have understood that they don't get to come back over and over again (whether from scratch, as an intelligence, or as a spirit being). They have understood that theywill be the condemner of themselves. And so on.

They know full well what they are. They can and do clearlysee their own fallen state. They are carnal. They are sensual. They are devilish. They see the natural tendency to deny justice and concentrate on mercy - receiving mercy without following the laws that lead to mercy. They are less than the dust of the earth, because the dust of the earth obeys God willingly, never putting it off, never refusing, never complaining.

Dowe realize this stuff? Do I realize this? Am Iguilty of any of these things (being carnal, sensual, devilish, unwilling to always obey every single thing God tells me to do)?Of course I am. I admit it freely. But my desire is to change until I am not guilty. I amchanging. I can feel it, and I can see it.

This book (the Book of Mormon) was written for us, those who read it and those believe it. It was written for me. It is a warning to us so that we will not lift up our eyes in hell, being in torment. It is a handbook to teach us how to come to Christ, until we are redeemed from the fall and brought back into God's presence. That means wehad better scrupulously study this book. Ihad better do so.

It was written to help us escape from hell. How was that again? [This is referring to previous parts of Benjamin's sermon.]

Believe in Jesus Christ. Understand that He lived and what He did. Understand your need to repent. Understand that little children and the ignorant are covered by the atonement. Understand that it is youwho are the catalyst for the power of the atonement in your life. Understand that youare the marker and the judge and you cannotdeceive yourself at the last day, let alone deceive God.

Understand that the punishment and torment is real. Don't minimize it. Don't ignore it. Understand that God sends holy prophets (and they may not be who you expect them to be) to warn us and to teach us. But, ultimately, it is between us and God, not between us an anyman.

Understand that Jesus is the onlyway. It is in yoursoul that justice will be satisfied. Youwill judge yourself. What about all the other judges? 12 original apostles, 12 disciples, etc. I think there is more to that information than meets the casual eye. They will not condemn us. Neither will Christ. We will. We are less subservient than we think.

[Note: if you want scripture references for what I've written that is not in Benjamin's speech, search the Book of Mormon; it's in there.]

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