Monday, June 22, 2015

God's Truth Is The Truth, Even If You Disagree With It


I have noticed lately that there are many in and around the church who expect that everything that comes from God should be something with which they agree, and if they do not already agree with a teaching or doctrine of the church, then they assume that it must not come from God.  There are those who reject Christianity and/or a belief in God, because they cannot reconcile their own beliefs with those which are taught in the scriptures or by church leaders.  There are members that persist in disobedience to prophetic counsel because they cannot bring themselves to listen to counsel with which they do not agree.  Many insist that they would obey a given commandment if only they understood it, or they claim that they will live it just as soon as they gain a testimony confirming that such a commandment is true.

I assert that it is unreasonable to expect God to conform to our individual worldview.  First, we are imperfect in our understanding, and we are constantly learning new things, and correcting earlier misperceptions.  God, on the other hand, is all-knowing, and He naturally has a much more perfect understanding of things as they are, as they have been, and as they will become than we could ever hope to have of ourselves.  To assume that God views the world in the same way that we do, and that He agrees with us (and supports out point of view) over all others among His children, is to be guilty of the most foolish form of myopic egocentrism.

Isaiah 55:8-9  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts

To imagine a God who always agrees with us is to imagine a God who makes no demands that may be difficult for us to understand or accept.  To imagine a God who makes no real demands of us is to essentially make God in our own image.

“To stay away from Christianity because part of the Bible’s teaching is offensive to you assumes that if there is a God he wouldn’t have any views that upset you.  Does that belief make sense?”  (Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, 116).

“Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.  Talk about man creating God in his own image!”  (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship,” Ensign, May 2014, lds.org).

There are many in and around the church who seek to advise (or even chastise) the leaders of the church, or to correct some doctrine which they feel is no longer valid or applicable.  There are many who assert, openly or in secret, that the church’s teachings concerning such things as the Law of Chastity or the sanctity of the family are too divisive, or “bigoted,” and they call upon the church to alter its doctrines and practices from the forms which have been set forth by the Lord.  Interestingly, many who do so claim to have a greater insight into the nature of God, and they insist that a loving God could never condemn an individual for acting on homosexual desires, or for criticizing church leaders.  Such individuals seem to believe that their supposed special insight into the mind of God gives them the right to demand that the church change its doctrines or practices to better suit their particular views.  There are many who hope to influence the church in order to lower God’s standards to more fully conform to what has become acceptable in today’s society.  Such individuals stubbornly assume that worldly wisdom is better than the wisdom of the Lord.

To insist that we as individuals know better than God, or that we are somehow more acquainted with the way God does things than all others, is base foolishness, and arrogant presumption of the worst order.  However, to imagine that we somehow have greater insight into the mind of God than the prophet and the twelve apostles represents something altogether worse.

“The scornful often accuse prophets of not living in the 21st century or of being bigoted. They attempt to persuade or even pressure the Church into lowering God’s standards to the level of their own inappropriate behavior, which in the words of Elder Neal A. Maxwell, will “develop self-contentment instead of seeking self-improvement” and repentance. Lowering the Lord’s standards to the level of a society’s inappropriate behavior is—apostasy.” (Lynn G. Robbins, “Which Way Do You Face?” Ensign, Nov. 2014).

“This Church can never dumb down its doctrine in response to social goodwill or political expediency or any other reason. It is only the high ground of revealed truth that gives us any footing on which to lift another who may feel troubled or forsaken. Our compassion and our love—fundamental characteristics and requirements of our Christianity—must never be interpreted as compromising the commandments.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Call to Be Christlike,” Ensign, June 2014, lds.org).

Learn to worry less about whether or not the Lord is on your side, and instead worry more about staying safely on the Lord’s side.

"Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right" (Abraham Lincoln, quoted in Minutes of the Connecticut Temperance Union, January 19, 1881).

“But if we all pray to God — the Germans, the Japanese, the English, the Americans, etc. — on whose side is God?”

God’s side is determined not by geography, but by those who do His will. If Germans, English, Japanese, and Americans prayed right, they would all be praying for the same intention: Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. And what is that Will? The reign of Justice and Charity in the hearts of men” (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Wartime Prayer Book, 13).

“There is a line of demarcation well defined between the Lord’s territory and the devil’s territory. If you will stay on the Lord’s side of the line you will be under his influence and will have no desire to do wrong; but if you cross to the devil’s side of that line one inch you are in the tempter’s power and if he is successful, you will not be able to think or even reason properly because you will have lost the Spirit of the Lord.

When I have been tempted sometimes to do a certain thing, I have asked myself, ‘Which side of the line am I on?’ If I determined to be on the safe side, the Lord’s side, I would do the right thing every time. So when temptation comes think prayerfully about your problem and the influence of the Lord will aid you to decide wisely. There is safety for us only on the Lord’s side of the line.”  (George Albert Smith, “A Faith Founded upon Truth,” Deseret News, June 17, 1944, Church section, 9. Quoted in: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, 2010)

"All safety, all righteousness, all happiness are on the Lord’s side of the line" (George Albert Smith, Conference Report, Oct. 1945, 118. Quoted in: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, 2010).

“Stay on the Lord’s side, and you will win every time.” Richard G. Scott, “For Peace at Home,” Ensign, May 2013, lds.org).


If there is something which is taught in the scriptures, or by the general authorities of the church with which you do not agree, it is up to you to determine the Lord’s will, and gain a testimony that it is His will, in the following two ways:

First, you must ask God in prayer to confirm the truth of said teaching through His spirit, with the understanding that you will act sincerely based on the answer when it comes.

Second, you must exercise faith to obey said teaching, even if you have not yet obtained such a witness.  Why is this required of us?  Because you cannot expect to gain a testimony of any principle which you are not first willing to live.  If you want to gain a testimony of the benefits and blessings of paying tithing, you will need to first pay your tithing.  The gospel is not something that can be accepted in the abstract world, without any requirement to live it in the real world.

If you wait until you understand or agree with a commandment before you decide to obey it, you may be waiting for a long time.  You should not expect to gain a witness of the blessings and benefits of a commandment you have not kept.

“The Savior taught, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Sometimes we try to do it backward. For example, we may take this approach: I will be happy to live the law of tithing, but first I need to know that it’s true. Maybe we even pray to gain a testimony of the law of tithing and hope the Lord will bless us with that testimony before we have ever filled out a tithing slip. It just doesn’t work that way. The Lord expects us to exercise faith. We have to consistently pay a full and honest tithe in order to gain a testimony of tithing. This same pattern applies to all the principles of the gospel, whether it is the law of chastity, the principle of modesty, the Word of Wisdom, or the law of the fast.”  (Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Be Ye Converted,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 77).

Do not expect that you will always agree with what the Lord commands and instructs, be it in the scriptures, or through His prophets.  Each of us will likely face moments in our lives when we struggle with accepting and obeying a particular principle or doctrine.  This should not come as a surprise to anyone who is sincerely trying to live the gospel to the best of their ability.

“You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may conflict with your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. … Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. … Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church.” (Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152–153.)”  (Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, (2014), 146–55).

Such situations are what faith is for.  If we will exercise our faith to obey the commandments, even those with which we struggle, the Lord will bless us with increased light and understanding, which will help us to learn to accept and live those doctrines which at first seemed so challenging to us.

You may not always agree with what is taught in the scriptures, or by the Lord’s servants, but that’s OK, because it would be unreasonable to assume that you, in your fallen state, would always agree with a glorious Lord.  The trick is to get over the shock that comes from discovering that the Lord requires you to make sacrifices and surrender your will to His, and then get to work on reconciling your life to His direction, and your will to His.

2 Nephi 10:23-24  Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.

Learning to surrender our will to God’s will is a vital part of the process of putting off the natural man, and becoming converted as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  As we learn to humble ourselves and grow in the gospel, we will find that we will need to repent often as we learn how to live the gospel more perfectly.  It is only through this process of humbly coming to Christ that we can be redeemed through Christ’s grace. 

Mosiah 3:19  For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

It may be a painful sacrifice to live a commandment, or accept a doctrine, with which we do not agree.  Naturally this will require us to humble ourselves and set aside our pride.  Christ’s grace will help us to manage that, if we will allow it, and as we exercise faith in the Lord and in His servants, and as we become converted, the Lord will bless us with increased access to the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost will aid us in developing the ability to judge right from wrong, and in recognizing truth over error.  As we increase in spiritual power, we will gain an increased ability to recognize the truth of principles and teachings from church leaders, which might have given us pause before, when we were still living as the natural man, which made us rebellious and proud, and hard to be taught.
As we develop our spiritual life, in which we learn to obey the Lord’s commandments from the heart, and not under compulsion, we will be enabled to become more like Christ.  As we begin to act and think as Christ does, we will lose our desire to sin, and we will no longer need to worry about whether or not we disagree with Him, because we will desire what He desires, and our goals will match His goals, and we can say with sincerity that we agree with God and we know His will, because we share the same mind.

1 Corinthians 2: 9-16  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.  For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?  even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?  But we have the mind of Christ.

2 comments :

  1. There are some who agree to disagree, yet when I feel the spirit of contention coming into my home, I invite them to leave. I would rather have God on my side than those who refuse to accept the prophets. From time to time, they continue to try. I have been called "foolish", "old fashioned", and told I "need to get with the times." I let them know I left Sodom when I joined the Church, I don't plan on going back, especially now. I often wonder why people have eyes, yet they do not see. They have ears, yet they do not hear. I feel sorry for God who has only us humans to deal with. Bless His loving heart. I'm glad I do not have as many children as He does.

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