1 Peter 2

1 Peter 2: Converts want to Learn

                Peter writes to the new converts of the church and tells them that like; “…newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” (1 Peter 2:2) He emphasizes that it is the job of all members to nourish and strengthen those new converts so that they may grow with the word.

Peter urges us, including the converts to “…abstain from fleshy lusts… that… by your good works… shall… glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12) Jesus Christ died for our sins, and through His Atonement, we have been given the ability to be saved through His grace. However, this grace only works if we also do our best to stay clean and avoid the temptations of this world. By our good works, we shall be saved through the Grace of God.

Peter goes on to explain for new converts or members alike that we should “Submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake…” (1 Peter 2:13) This is very interesting, because the Lord is telling us to follow all of man’s laws, if they be unrighteous, then those who are making the laws will be held accountable. However, we should follow the laws of the land, for it is a commandment of God. Peter explains that if we do well to follow the commandments of God, then we “…may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (1 Peter 2:15)

                Finally Peter urges us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, that we might overcome the world.

Summary of James

Summary of James

                James wrote a series of letters to Jewish believers, but no specific group of people like in the Epistles written by Paul. James is the half-brother of Jesus, who was also persecuted. James is very similar in writing style as the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament.

In Chapters 1-3: James teaches us that if anyone lacks wisdom or knowledge, they can ask God and get an answer. He also teaches that we must be proven in our faith, by putting our faith in action.  “…faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:17) Therefore we must be doing good, and not just speaking of good. James also explains that EVERYONE sins, keeping some but not all commandments is just as bad as breaking them all.

In Chapters 4-5: James explains that if we submit ourselves to God, we will be able to overcome the temptations of the devil. He encourages us to pray, and pray often. We should continue in patience, even as Job continued in patience throughout all his trials. Finally, James explains that if we bring others unto Christ, it will help to offset our own sins.

James 5

James 5: Anointing the Sick

                James explains that we should not focus on riches of the world, but rather riches of the gospel and of things not of this world. He urges us to learn patience, even as Job learned patience; knowing that the “…Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:11)

Are you afflicted? If so pray. Are you merry? Sing a song. “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up…” (James 5:14-16) We learn that we can receive priesthood blessings when we are sick, with the anointing of sacred oil.

James also encourages us to convert others unto the Lord. If we do this, we can also be forgiven for many of our own sins. “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20)

James 4

James 4: Wars are Born of Lusts

                James opens up this letter by explaining that wars come from the lusts of the world, and that when we ask God for things, they must stem from righteous desires. James explains that “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3)

Paul addresses the sinners of the world; “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4) Those who love the world more than God, are enemies of God Himself!

James urges everyone to be humble, so that we might receive the grace of God; “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10) Those who humble themselves and submit themselves to God, will have the power to overcome the Devil; “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

James reminds us that compared to God we’re; “…a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14) Therefore we need to strive daily to perfect ourselves so that we can become like Him! James explains that anyone who knows good; “…and doeth it not, to him it is a sin.” (James 4:17). Therefore those who know good, but choose to do bad will be given their just reward.

James 3

James 3: Heavenly Wisdom is Pure

James explains that we need to govern our tongue unto perfection, because our tongue is “…full of deadly poison.” (James 2:8) But James encourages us to do good and have faith in God so that “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these ought not so to be.” (James 2:10)

James then explains that “…the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17) Therefore, things that are of God are full of good fruits.

James 2

James 2: Salvation Gained by Keeping the WHOLE Law

James explains that those who treat the rich man better than the poor man; “…have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” (James 2:1) James explains that we are not in a position to judge others for God created all men equal and does not view them in measure of their worldly possessions but rather their wealth of faith. James urges people to treat the rich and poor equally; “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:” (James 1:8)

James goes on to explain that we must follow all the laws of God, for; “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; whatdoth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:14-18)

Essentially James explains that we need to not only have faith and preach good, but also do good. If we are to believe that God exists, we should understand His power, for even the devils; “…also believe, and tremble.” (James 1:19) No one is perfect, but if we work hard to do what we preach we will be filled with faith, justified by good works.

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 1:26)

James 1

James 1: Ask God!

                James, as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ writes a letter of wisdom. While the letter is not addressed to any specific people or person, it serves as New Testament literature and as a letter written to all.

James explains that we should be filled with joy when we fall into temptation, knowing; “…that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:3) In other words, when we are tempted and overcome those temptations we will be made stronger for having been through the temptation.

Paul urges us all to ask God when we are in doubt; “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:5-6) In this life we will pass through trials and tribulations, we may have doubts and we may not understand everything in this world. But we can ask God, and those who ask God with faith will be given the answers to their righteous desires.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God: The Restoration of the Gospel

firstvision

                This very same scripture is what led Joseph Smith to ask God the question; “Which of all the sects was right?”

Joseph Smith was a young farm boy who lived in the east coast of the United States in the early 1800’s, he explains in his own words;

“I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five (1805)… in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, State of Vermont… My father, Joseph Smith, Senior, left the state of Vermon, and moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) county, in the state of New York, when I was in my tenth year… In about four years… he [Joseph Smith Senior] moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario… Some time in the second year of our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country… which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist…. Priest contending against priest, and convert against convert… During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness… though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was… to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong…. In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself : What is to be done? Who of all these parties is right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?” (Joseph Smith History 1:3;5-6;7;8)

                Joseph Smith, like many today may ask themselves, which of all the sects is the correct one? Why would there be different beliefs, if there be one God? Joseph Smith was confused and unsure of which religion was right. So he consulted the Bible, God’s word! He read in James 1:5-6; which says that anyone who lacks wisdom will be given it. So, who better to ask which religion was right… then GOD HIMSELF!?!

Joseph Smith decided to take this advice from James and retired to a grove of trees near his home;

“ After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description,standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My BelovedSon. Hear Him!

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith History 1:15-19)

Joseph Smith followed the advice given by James and asked God; which of all the sects was right. Joseph Smith was answered and told that none of the sects were right. This single question from a young, 14 year old boy would lead to God restoring His Church on the Earth, using Joseph Smith as an instrument in His hands.

James goes on in the first chapter to explain that those who endure temptation shall receive a just reward; “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” (James 1:13) James explains that God does not tempt anyone, but rather we choose to sin on our own accord; “…every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust…” (James 1:14)

James explains that anything GOOD is from GOD, and anything BAD or EVIL is from the DEVIL; “Every good gift any every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17)

James encourages people to be DOERS and not just HEARERS; “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass.” (James 1:23) James explains that anyone who seems to be religious but does not follow his religion; “…deceiveth his own heart… this man’s religion is in vain.” (James 1:26) James goes on to explain that pure religion is; “…undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27) While many may claim to be religious, anyone who fails to take care of those around them and stay clean and worthy are not following the will of God.

Summary of Hebrews

Summary of Hebrews

                The Book of Hebrews is a collection of letters Paul wrote to Hebrew believers to help them to understand the difference between older traditionally accepted teachings in Judaism to the newer ‘Christian’ belief of the new covenant. During this time the Hebrew believers were under intense persecution and many were thinking of returning to their beliefs in Judaism.

In Chapters 1-10: Paul explains that Jesus Christ is superior to all the angels in heaven, for “…all the angels of God worship him.” (Hebrews 1:6) We learn about the Atonement and the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for our Salvation. We are also taught the difference between the Aaronic and Melcizedek priesthoods, one being of a higher order than the other.

In Chapters 11-13: Paul defines Faith as “…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) We are also taught that as we have earthly fathers here in this life, we also have a father of our spirits; Heavenly Father. Finally Paul elaborates on why Marriage is honorable and why we should be content with the things that we have. He leaves his last letter with encouragement for the struggling Hebrew Christians

Hebrews 13

Hebrews 13: Marriage is Honorable

                Paul opens his address to the Hebrews by exclaiming; “Let brotherly love continue.” (Hebrews 13:1) Paul explains that we should be kind to everyone, including strangers. Paul explains that often times you may run into an angel and not even know, just as the Apostles did not recognize Jesus Christ (see Luke 24)

Paul explains that “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4) Essentially Paul is telling us that marriage is a very honorable thing to do, and is even encouraged. However we should never cheat on our spouse and anyone who commits adultery or fornication will be judged by God.

Paul explains that we should “…be content with such things as we have.” (Hebrews 13:5) We should never complain about or situation or want things that are beyond our basic needs. Be content! We should never fear man, because; “…The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” (Hebrews 13:6)

Paul explains that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8) He warns us to “Be not carried about with… strange doctrines…” (Hebrews 13:9), because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is simple.

Hebrews 12

Hebrews 12: God is our Heavenly Father

                Paul writes to the Hebrews and explains that we should; “…lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Paul uses ‘weights’ to describe sin, and then tells us to be patient in the race of life. But one must consider how much easier that race could be ran, and finished with less to weigh us down!

Paul urges us to look; “…unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Paul explains that Jesus is our FAITH, and He put aside His life for US! We should look unto Him during our good times and our bad times, for He truly knows how we feel when we are sad, but also knows how we feel when we are happy. He can be there through the good and the bad, if we are also there with Him through the good and the bad.

Paul likens God our Eternal Father with our earthly fathers; “…we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?” (Hebrews 12:9) Paul lays out our divine lineage; we are SONS and DAUGHTERS of God the Father! If we respect and love our earthly fathers, should we not love and respect even more the Father of our Spirit? Paul explains that in life we will go through trials and often times we feel like God is punishing us, either for our sins or to make us stronger; “…no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous… nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness…” (Hebrews 12:11) In other words, being punished (or feeling like we are being punished) in the present is not fun. But God knows all, and He has a plan for us all! Therefore after we are punished we can grow and then receive the fruit righteousness, a heavenly peace.

Paul goes on to explain that in the days of Moses, there were consequences for rebelling against the word of God. Paul tells us that we have “…come unto mount Sion [zion], and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:22-23) Essentially Paul is saying that we will be brought to judgment, God being the Judge of all, but presiding over a group of judges of men who were made perfect.