Authority of God
This excerpt comes from my other post, “How to Bible Bash”, but I feel like it’s directly applicable:
When I hear the word “Authority,” what first comes to my mind is “permission.” Imagine that you’re a police officer, and I’m not. I go to the store, purchase all of the clothes necessary, make sure I have my gun and pepper spray, and then I dress up as a police officer. I then hop in my car and start pulling people over on the highway for speeding. I pull out my little notebook and write them a ticket, even. No! That’s not how it works. It’s because I don’t have the “authority” or “permission” to do so. Even though I’m trying to do what’s right and keep people safe by enforcing speed limits, I’m not an authorized law enforcement officer. I may appear to be one, but I don’t have the authority that comes to one only through the State Government.
Authority from God works in a similar way. Many people think that they can baptize, confer the Holy Ghost, give blessings, cast out devils, and do all other acts in the name of Jesus Christ, even without the proper authority, or Priesthood. Although they are good people and are trying to do what’s right, if it’s not done through the proper authority, it’s not going to be valid in the eyes of God.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has this authority. After Jesus Christ and his apostles were killed, that authority was gone from the Earth. There was no direction from God for almost two thousand years. But because of the Prophet Joseph Smith, that authority was again restored to the Earth, to him, through the Apostles Peter, James, and John, now heavenly beings, who visited him.
Having that authority and permission makes all the difference. Baptisms are now valid in the eyes of the Lord. We can confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost. No other Church has that full and complete truth.
Baptisms for the Dead
Whenever we say “Baptisms for the Dead,” we almost always get a strange look. No, we do not baptize dead corpses. It’s much more important than that.
Let’s take for example, a child who was born in the year 1600 in Africa. Because they never had the chance to listen to the teachings of Jesus Christ, are they condemned to hell for the rest of eternity? No! Of course not. That’s just not fair. We know from the scriptures that being baptized is the only way to make it back to Heaven. Those who have passed on without it still need that ordinance.
Tied with Genealogy, after finding those names of people who have not yet been baptized, we can be a proxy for those people who have passed on without it. It’s a really incredible gift.
Some may ask, “So why should I even bother to be baptized now, when I can just do whatever I want in life now, and then someone can baptize me when I’m gone?” It’s a good question. But I think it comes down to blessings. Immediate blessings come from being baptized. Why not take advantage of those blessings right now and have a better life, than simply missing out on them?
Because Genealogy isn’t exactly limited to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this may or may not really be something that should be listed here. But Genealogy is a huge focus by the Church, and I don’t know if any other larger organization really has this emphasis placed.
Genealogy is the study of our ancestors. Finding out when they were born, who they were married to, when they passed, and other specifics about their lives. This focus is knightly tied with temple work. Because we do work in the Temple for those who have passed on before us, it’s important to have a living record of all those who have currently passed, and those who are already living.
Faith with Works
A lot of people use Romans 10:9 as a scripture to say, “All I have to do is say that I believe in Jesus Christ, and then I’m saved.” Oh really? Is that all? James 2 tells us that Faith without works is dead, meaning; we can’t just believe and call it good. It requires action.
Imagine that you’re sitting in a canoe on a lake. You’ve been praying for hours and hours asking God for wind to help push you to the shore. Sitting right next to you is a paddle. And yet, you continue to pray and pray for wind. Do you think God is going to help us, even if we haven’t done our part? I don’t think so. God requires certain things of us first, and then he’ll chip in and do his part.
This goes along with the piano playing analogy from up above. We must do our part first so that we can become better and use that gift that Christ has given us.
Yet another quote from my favorite talk by Brad Wilcox:
“I have born-again Christian friends who say to me, ‘You Mormons are trying to earn your way to heaven.’
I say, ‘No, we are not earning heaven. We are learning heaven. We are preparing for it. We are practicing for it.’
They ask me, ‘Have you been saved by grace?’
I answer, ‘Yes. Absolutely, totally, completely, thankfully—yes!’
Then I ask them a question that perhaps they have no fully considered: ‘Have you been changed by grace?’ They are so excited about being saved that maybe they are not thinking enough about what comes next. They are so happy the debt is paid that they may not have considered why the debt existed in the first place. Latter-day Saints know not only what Jesus has saved us from but also what He has saved for us. As my friend Brett Sanders puts it, ‘A life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ’s life.” As my friend Omar Canals puts it, ‘While many Christians view Christ’s suffering as only a huge favor He did for us, Latter-day Saints also recognize it as a huge investment He made in us.’”
Tithing has been a commandment forever. It’s a commandment given in the Old Testament (Malachi 3:8-10). But it’s more than just giving God our money. It’s mustering up the faith to give what we have, make that sacrifice, and then truly expect something in return. God says, “Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Can you imagine how big the “windows of heaven” are? That’s a pretty big blessing.
I think I first gained my testimony of paying Tithing from my Mother. When I was younger, we lived in a small neighborhood with about ten to twelve houses on it. They were all built around the same time relatively. We moved in, and so did all of our neighbors. About ten or fifteen years later, one by one, every single person’s water heater on that street broke. Except for ours. I asked my Mom why she thought that was, and she said, “Because we’re paying our tithing.”
While I was on my Mission, a man told me a story about how he had paid his tithing. He worked construction, which at times, can be a very unreliable job. It came down to the end of the month. And he had absolutely no money. It was Monday, and on Friday, his mortgage payment of $1200 was due. He said he sat in his truck and said, “Okay, God. I’ve paid my tithing faithfully. Now, show me a miracle.”
He headed to work. Sometime during the day, he was driving down the road when a lady came and t-boned him in traffic. He said it wasn’t too terrible, but that the driver’s side door was definitely going to have to be replaced. They took down each other’s information. The other driver told him to take it to a body shop to get the damage estimate. Guess how much the estimate was? $1200. The lady’s insurance wrote him a check for exactly $1200. He received the check Thursday night, and he was able to pay his Mortgage on Friday morning.
Now, that’s not to say that if you pay your tithing that you’re going to get in a wreck in traffic. But the Lord does promise us that if we pay our tithing, that he will watch out for us. And God definitely works in mysterious ways. I have such a testimony of tithing!
Prayer: A 2-way communication
Many people think of prayer as kneeling down on your knees and saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, gimme, gimme, gimme.” Or maybe even worse than that, is that people have prayers that they recite! What is the point in that? The way in which we view prayer is different. We see it more as a conversation. A literal conversation with God.
Prayers are hard. It’s really difficult not to just list off what you want, what you’re grateful for, and then climb into bed. The real conversation starts after that. One you get past the “fluff,” then you can really begin to communicate with Heavenly Father. And when I say, “Communicate,” I mean it. God really does “talk” to us. We just have to listen.
Think of it as a conversation between you and a friend. Let’s say you start talking and you tell them all about your day. Then, you say, “Goodnight” and walk away. They didn’t get a single word in! That doesn’t sound like much of a conversation, does it? Obviously your friend would be glad to listen to you, but it doesn’t exactly make for an enjoyable chat.
Often, my prayers feel like this, and I’m working at it. But I do promise that God will answer if you’re listening and you’re giving him the chance.
The other night in bed, I felt like God answered my prayers pretty quickly. I said my prayers, crawled into bed, and then went to sleep. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, and just laid in bed as I felt like He was talking straight to my brain. He gave me SO much. He gave me such incredibly clear instruction, that I couldn’t believe it. Prayer really does get answered. God does care about your life and your situation. You just have to ask Him for guidance, and then expect to actually receive it.
I love this Church. I love this Gospel. In some of these sections, it may sound that I’m slightly prideful. And maybe it’s because I am. But I know without a doubt in my mind that these really are the benefits and the things that this Church has that no other does. These “Purple Cows” make all the difference in my life, and I know that if you’re truly willing to take that leap of Faith and look for yourself, you’ll see the benefit that comes from them as well.