Thursday, January 5, 2017

I Would Exhort You: Guidance Found in Moroni Chapter 10

I finished reading The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ last night. This book I have read multiple times. When I read Moroni chapter 9 a couple of days ago, I felt the Spirit of truth with me as I read, perhaps in anticipation of Moroni’s promise in chapter 10; perhaps because we still have hope even though we are living in troubled times like Moroni did.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are keenly aware of Moroni’s promise:

 3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye   should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and 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.

        5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye      
may know the truth of all things.

We have put these words to the test and know that they are true; and we like to share them with others, so they can also pray and know for themselves. They are important verses. They are so important that Moroni uses the word exhort. In other words, he strongly urges, petitions, admonishes, perhaps even begs us to give heed. We need to remember that he is not writing to his family and friends; they have all been lost in battle. He is writing to the descendants of his enemies; and he is writing to us, here and now in the 21st Century.

In these few verses, Moroni has a strong desire that we will read his words and the words of the other writers found in The Book of Mormon. He hopes that we will have gained an understanding of God’s love for us and feel His mercy in providing us with these sacred truths. He petitions us to pray, to ask our Heavenly Father in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and that if we do so with faith in Them, we will receive an answer to our query through the power of the Holy Ghost, as He warms our hearts and speaks peace to our souls. He then lets us know that this is a pattern by which we can discern all truth.

That’s wonderful. This is true. But it is not the end of Moroni’s testimony to us, nor is it the end of his exhortation.

Last night I continued reading the chapter with the familiar verses about God’s goodness and our need to develop faith, hope, and charity. But when I read verse 30, I had to pause. I looked up the cross reference to “touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.” I then looked back at the earlier verses to gain context. A careful reading of the entire chapter is most beneficial. I would exhort you to read it.

Read Moroni Chapter 10

In verses 6 and 7, Moroni establishes that things that are good are also just and true, and that every good thing testifies of Jesus. He then reminds us that we can know of Christ’s existence and goodness through the power of the Holy Ghost, and that this requires faith on our part. Here’s another admonition:

          I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God                     (vs 

Moroni wants us to believe in Jesus and in our Heavenly Father. He wants us to believe that the Holy Ghost still speaks to the hearts of men and leads them to truth. He knows that we are on shaky ground if we deny this. He reminds us that God loves us today as well as He loved His children in former days. That God does not change and that His truth remains.

We receive a new exhortation in verse 8:

8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.

We live in a day of unbelief, yet Moroni tells us to be believing. In verses 9-18, Moroni specifies certain spiritual gifts. In verse 17, he tells us:

17 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.

The gifts are from Jesus, and He is the One who gives them to us at His discretion. They are given to bless us, and we use them in turn to bless others.

In verse 18, we have a new call to action:

18 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.

We cannot take personal credit. We need to be humble. We need to remember from whence and whom our blessings come.

In verse 19, he reiterates that God does not change and that His gifts will ever be with those who are believing and faithful:

19 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.

In verses 20-30, Moroni expounds on the need for us to have faith, hope, and charity. As we exercise these principles, the gifts of God will be abundant in our lives. If we do not feel the power of the Gifts of the Spirit in our lives, it is because of our own unbelief. We need to be equipped with faith, hope, and charity in order to have God’s plan of happiness unfolded to us.

And since we are still changeable beings, Moroni asks us to keep our memory of these things constantly fresh in our minds and in our hearts. If we forget and deny these things, it does not make them any less true, but it will work to our condemnation. Moroni’s words in verse 27:

27 And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?

And here is verse 30, the verse that gave me pause:

30 And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.

The entire Book of Mormon serves as an invitation for all to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. How fitting that Moroni would conclude his message to us with this same invitation. We are invited to accept Jesus and to accept His Gospel and His redemption, and to not look for another. We do not need to modify Perfection’s order.

“Touch not the unclean gift” led me to this reference: 2 Nephi 18:19:

19  And when they shall say unto you: Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and mutter—should not a people seek unto their God for the living to hear from the dead?

And then in John 14:6, we read:

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Moroni exhorts us to remember that. We have the scriptures, and we have the prophets. We have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We do not need to look beyond the mark by trying to add elements or new guidelines to God’s Plan or to Christ’s Good News. Seeking to change the gospel to suit special interests or dissuasions we may feel may very well be touching the unclean gift and the unclean things. In our limited vision, let us trust Them who are perfect to support us perfectly through the sacred principles and ordinances of the gospel. Let us develop faith in Them and increase in faith, hope, and charity, relying upon the witness of the Holy Ghost and the Gifts of the Spirit to bring the enhancement into our lives that will bless and prosper us and make us ready for that great day when we stand before Them, saved through the goodness and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This last admonition is for all of us. We need to be on guard. We need to be vigilant. We need to hold strong to the very tenets of our faith, to the Doctrine of Christ. We can do it. The Lord has provided the way, if we wake up and stay alert. Closing verses:

31 And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled.

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

34 And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.

(Italics added)