We live in a time where all earthly churches or institutions have been corrupted every whit. In a day in which every church is built up not unto God while professing to be of God. They have been corrupted because of wealth, power, fame and sin. This applies to every church.
The Lord stated in the beginning of our dispensation
“For behold, the field is white already to harvest; and it is the eleventh hour, and the last time that I shall call laborers into my vineyard.
And my vineyard has become corrupted every whit; and there is none which doeth good save it be a few; and they err in many instances because of priestcrafts, all having corrupt minds.
And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this church have I established and called forth out of the wilderness.
And even so will I gather mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, even as many as will believe in me, and hearken unto my voice. (D&C 33:3-6)
The vineyard includes those that are of the very same church which produced this aforementioned text. The Lord saw this day and what would happen after the Book of Mormon was given to the Gentiles.
“For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.” (1 Nephi 22:23)
In our day we see churches built up to get gain, power, become popular and seek the things of the world.
Does your church justify investment of tithing money and have power over the flesh through the use of membership, paid clergy, policies and dictums? Does yours seek to be popular with self given titles and facebook and instagram accounts run by marketing companies? Does yours have ties to governments through relationships, policy, support and sponsorship of laws and regulation? Does your church have ornate buildings and structures that exude power and influence?
If the answer is yes then that church greatly errs.
Nephi is talking specifically of the types of Churches that would be on the land after the coming forth of the Book of Mormon not just those that would precede it. He is talking about the churches that would spring up as a result of the Book of Mormon and those adherents who profess to believe the words written in that book.
False shepherds are among us and have been since the beginning. They don’t seek to protect the flock but to exalt themselves in their earthly stations. Due to their delusion of grandeur, narcissism and self righteousness they miss the mark and have their hearts so set on the things of the world that they fail to realize that no power or influence ought to be maintained by virtue of leadership or any priestly order that they find themselves in.
The Pharisees; the supreme council among the Jews, claimed that since they descended from Moses’ priestly class, they had all authority over the people in the land. They were the Lord’s anointed and they knew the law. These men of this high Office which had all power to hear, decide and execute judgment in all cases of religion, civil and criminal law because of the priestly office, condemned Jesus to death because of their grave error
They had been so far separated from God that they missed his coming all together based on academic argument and the alliteration of scripture. They knew not the Lord. They were false teachers.
Today’s institutions as stated above are in the same state as the Jews in Jesus time.
True Messengers are sent forth as ones crying in the wilderness and re-establish the law of God that men so easily forget. To keep the commandments is to preserve them and do them. These Messengers are also doers. They labor alongside all of us for the accomplishment of God’s purposes. Not over us and not supported by us. King Benjamin did this as well as did all of the Fathers from previous dispensations.
“Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery; nor even have I suffered that ye should commit any manner of wickedness, and have taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you—
And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day.” (Mosiah 2:13-14)
Benjamin served others with his own labor, time and effort. He didn’t sit in an office writing sermons or pontificating as a paid clergy member. He worked and sacrificed.
“Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?
And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your Heavenly King!” (Mosiah 2:18-19)
This Heavenly King, even Jesus Christ said “and he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11)
Christ taught us that he who is or could be called the greatest among us should serve. The greatest should do exactly as Benjamin did, he being an example of Christ the future king.
To claim leadership, authority or calling and require that others give you your daily support is to practice something abominable to God. He called it Priestcraft.
Priestcraft is a cunning tool those that call themselves priests would use to craft to themselves a position of light, power and earthly reward. Joel Osteen is largely one of the wealthiest megachurch pastors in the world. Russel Nelson controls the purse strings and actions of the wealthiest church organization and Corporation on the planet. The Pope has more interactions with and revered status among nations than any other leader… but to what end? How many of these have TV stations, news outlets, media channels and social media digital strategies purportedly spreading the Gospel but bringing to bear their own interests through these mediums? Bigger is always better right? Some may even believe they are doing the work of the Lord. Everyone who says “Lord, Lord” is doing the work of the Lord. Right?
“He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.
Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.
But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.” (2 Nephi 26:29-31) Unlike King Benjamin, Church leaders in our day receive pay and recompense for the service they render at the expense of those in Zion.
Unto what do these men labor for? Power or money? To labor for power over men is to exercise compulsion. To labor for money is to perish. Those that labor for money have not charity and forget the sacrifice required to bring salvation to their souls. How can you bring salvation to others if you yourself have not obtained it. They can claim to do the Lords will all the day long and believe themselves engaged in a righteous cause but if they heed not the commandments they in no wise know the Lord. The lord has said “For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;” (D&C 1:31) Are they not sinning against God and those who would call themselves followers of Jesus Christ?
Are not the scriptures written to and about the reader? Why do we, when we read these things, think they are about someone else or some other group so that we can judge them and think ourselves righteous?
Why do we set up and call ourselves good and righteous when we persecute our brethren, uphold priestcraft and ignore written truth?
I can recall a people that Alma stumbled upon that did this same thing.
“Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites; therefore they had had the word of God preached unto them. But they had fallen into great errors, for they would not observe to keep the commandments of God, and his statutes, according to the law of Moses. Neither would they observe the performances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation. Yea, in fine, they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances; therefore, for this cause, Alma and his brethren went into the land to preach the word unto them. Now, when they had come into the land, behold, to their astonishment they found that the Zoramites had built synagogues, and that they did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the Lord; and they did worship after a manner which Alma and his brethren had never beheld; For they had a place built up in the center of their synagogue, a place for standing, which was high above the head; and the top thereof would only admit one person. Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice, saying: Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever. Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ. But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God. And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen. (Alma 31:8-18)
Does it change this example and make it appropriate because we say that there is Christ? Does this mingling of truth with error justify the whole of it? No. It cannot, and never will. They had been led by Priestcraft to believe in error and sin and delusionally thought themselves more blessed of God.
“Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand.
Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about.” (Alma 31:21,22)
They all declared “Lord, Lord”. They had built up to themselves great structures and places of position and high presumption.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)
One must search deep and strive to know Christ over institution and the teachings of man. He must act without hypocrisy and guile. He must do according to the commandments and repent of his sins and follow and do the works of righteousness.
“Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven;
And he that repents not, from him shall be taken even the light which he has received; for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (D&C 1:32-33)
For the spirit to strive with man and for revelation to not cease, one must strive to obey ALL the commandments. As we turn to God and put off this corruption we can avoid error and be shown mercy.
We cannot justify sin, claim to possess the truth and expect to be illuminated by God.
The ancient Prophet Micah testifies of the latter day dilemma among those that have the truth.
“And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment? Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron. Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.
Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him. Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.” Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God. But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin. Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity.
They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us.
Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.” (Micah 3 )
“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.
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.
And the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.” (2 Nephi 28:8-10)
It’s the Saints blood who cries against them. Those who have sacrificed and set up that which should have been a righteous kingdom. They justified lying and wordsmithing so that they could get away with sin because they were untouchable “leaders” and communers with God. Those who would divine for profit.
The only true way to see salvation is by communing with God and following Christ, your savior. Seeking him always and getting to know him.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 31:13)
Do you belong to Christ having been called one of his own by his voice or do you belong to some institution?
“Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine. And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me. And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost. And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.” (3 Nephi 11: 31-40)
Was your baptism based on becoming a member of some earthly organization? Did it have extra pre-requisites, questions and commitments? Did any of that include “more or less than this”? What will you do about this?