Acts 26

Acts 26: The First Vision – Paul and Joseph Smith

King Agrippa comes to Paul and tells him that he is free to speak. Paul gives an autobiographical account of his dealings and explains his side of the story. He asks King Agrippa to hear him “…patiently…” (Acts 26:3) Why is that so important? Because what Paul is about to tell King Agrippa is easy to immediately dismiss without hearing the entire thing. After all, that is what his accusers did! They heard him speak as if he was a messenger of God (which he was), however those who accused him were too quick to judge and thought he spoke blasphemies, comparing himself to God. So it is important that King Agrippa hears Paul with an open heart and mind. Paul begins by stressinh that Moses and the prophets predicted the coming of Chris and that in his name they raised the dead and cast out evil.

Paul explains his vision and conversion story;

“At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, [Saul is Paul] why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts 26:13-18)

Paul explains to King Agrippa that he was not disobedient unto this heavenly vision. He explains that he first traveled to Damascus, then to Jerusalem and throughout all the coasts of Judea and finally to the Gentiles that they would repent and turn to God, doing works “…meet for repentance.” (Acts 26:20) Paul continues to explain, that for preaching about Jesus, the Jews caught him in the temple, desiring to kill him.

Paul continues his testimony to King Agrippa; Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:22-23)

As Paul spoke, Festus interrupted with a loud voice said to Paul; “…thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.” (Acts 26:24-25)

Paul dismisses Festus’ claim that he is mad. King Agrippa says he is almost convinced to become a Christian, and comments that Paul would have been set free had he not appealed to Caesar.

Joseph Smith’s First Vision

The story of Paul is very similar to the story of Joseph Smith, at least in the sense that no one believed him. Joseph Smith did not persecute any church, for during his time, the TRUE church of Jesus Christ was no longer on the earth. However, as a young boy Joseph Smith was curious as to which of all the sects was the correct one for him to join. For years Joseph Smith wondered which church to join, however he was confused for they all seemed to say that they had the truth. Joseph Smith explained his story;

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“I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five [1805], on the twenty-third day of December, in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, State of Vermont. … My father, Joseph Smith, Sen., left the State of Vermont, and moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) county, in the State of New York, when I was in my tenth year, or thereabouts. In about four years after my father’s arrival in Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario— His family consisting of eleven souls, namely, my father, Joseph Smith; my mother, Lucy Smith (whose name, previous to her marriage, was Mack, daughter of Solomon Mack); my brothers, Alvin (who died November 19th, 1823, in the 26th year of his age), Hyrum, myself, Samuel Harrison, William, Don Carlos; and my sisters, Sophronia, Catherine, and Lucy.

Some time in the second year after 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. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, 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.

For, notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.

I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My father’s family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church, namely, my mother, Lucy; my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison; and my sister Sophronia. During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, 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, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.

My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others. 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 are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?

While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: 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.

Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.

At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture. So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty [1820]. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.

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 Beloved Son. Hear Him!

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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 1:3-19)

Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and through him, God himself opened the door the last dispensation, or the “…dispensation of the fullness of times…” (Ephesians 1:10) by calling another Prophet [Joseph Smith], it is important to note that in Mormon Doctrine, Joseph Smith is looked at as a Prophet, like Moses. Some believe that Mormons worship Joseph Smith; however he is not looked at on the same level as Jesus Christ or God. Joseph Smith was an instrument in the hands of God, and nothing more.

John 20

John 20: The Risen Christ

Early in the morning, when it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the Sepulchre where Jesus was laid to rest. When she arrived she found that the tomb had been opened and immediately ran to Peter to tell him what had happened. Peter and the other Apostles ran to see for their own eyes. It is interesting that it specifically mentions; “…the other disciple did outrun Peter…” (John 20:4) I don’t know why this was important; perhaps the other Apostle had a stronger desire to know for himself? Maybe Peter was out of shape?

The Apostles leave and Mary stays behind weeping, she takes a look in the tomb and finds two angels sitting where the body of Jesus had been laid to rest and they ask her; “…Woman, why weepest thou?” (John 20:13) and she responds; “…Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” (John 20:13) Mary turns back around and sees a man [Jesus] (who she assumed was the gardener), Jesus asks her the same question and she asks the gardener to help her find the body of Jesus. But in that same instant; Jesus called out to her; “…Mary…” (John 20:16) and she immediately recognized His voice and she said; “…Rabboni [which means Master]…” (John 20:16) Mary must have been really excited and most likely reached out to Him as she called Him, because Jesus responded; “…Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father: but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17) We learn from this scripture that Jesus Christ is separate from the Father, or else why would He ascend unto Himself? Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and God the Father is His Father and OUR Father. What does that make Jesus to us? He is our brother! But we need to look at Him with respect, because He is our eldest brother, and He has become like our Father being a god.

Mary Magdalene went to the other Apostles and told them about her interaction with Jesus. That same night the Apostles were gathered behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus had found a way to get in without anyone noticing and stood in the midst of them and said; “…Peace be unto you.” (John 20:19) Jesus invites all gathered to feel and see His hands and feet to see where the nails had left prints from the Crucifixion. Jesus also gives them the Holy Ghost. Thomas was the only one not present at the time. The next time the Apostles saw Thomas they told Him that had seen Jesus and felt His prints. Thomas was a difficult one to persuade and said; “…Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

Eight days pass and they gather again, this time Thomas is present and Jesus comes to him and says; “…Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” (John 20:27) After hearing these words, Thomas said to Jesus; “…My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) It took seeing Jesus for Thomas to believe, however Jesus does not attack him for this, but instead gives everyone else a great reminder; “…Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) Anyone who follows Jesus, follows with Faith, for only the Prophets and Apostles of old and new have seen God or Jesus Christ.

We learn that Jesus performed; “…many other signs… in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:30-31) I like how this chapter ends by saying that Jesus performed many more miracles and signs in their presence, but that they are not written in this book. Many things are not included in the scriptures, but some would be revealed later and some are revealed through modern day prophets. For this reason we cannot go with the Bible alone, we need Power, Authority, we need GOD’s Church on earth. The Bible is great and any God fearing Christian should love and cherish the Bible, but to remember that it isn’t conclusive. For God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow… He will continue to call prophets and instruct His children. The good news is that He didn’t just leave us with the Bible, He has also given us the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

John 12

John 12: Receive Christ = Receive God

                Jesus comes to Bethany, six days before the Passover begins. He goes to the same place where He raised Lazarus from the dead, and there they make Him dinner. Mary took out ointment of spikenard and begins to anoint the feet of Jesus and wipe it with her hair. Judas Iscariot asked why this very expensive ointment wasn’t sold and the money given to the poor. Judas said this; “…not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bad, and bare what was put therein.” (John 12:6) Essentially the money given to the ‘poor’ was put in a bag that he usually had control over. His concern was not getting his cut of the expensive ointment. Jesus tells Judas to calm; “…Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.” (John 12:7-8)

                Many of the people who had heard about Jesus and how He raised Lazarus from the dead come to see, and believe on Him. Many people attended the feast and this made some Jews uncomfortable, so they plot the death of Jesus and Lazarus. Jesus continues moving forward, riding on a Colt into town as the crowd came to Him, saying; “…Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (John 12:13)

Jesus teaches that the “…the hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified.” (John 12:23) and continues by stating; “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (John 12:25) We learn from this, that whatever state you leave this world, you will enter the next. If you lived a happy life and tried to look at the positive, even during the bad… you will have that mindset in the next life. If you are grumpy in this life, you will be grumpy in the next, and so forth. Jesus knew that His hour had come and knew that He was going to be dying for the Sins of all mankind.

Jesus looks to the heavens and says; “Father, glorify thy name.” (John 12:28) Then a voice from heaven came down saying; “…I have both glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (John 12:28) Jesus explains to the crowd that the voice came down, for their benefit and not for the benefit of Jesus. This was another sign that was given to the believers. Many of the chief priests also believed that Jesus was the Christ, however; “…they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:43) and because they loved the praise of man more than God, they did not want to lose their influence over the people. The chief priests saw Jesus taking their glory and they wanted it all. We can learn from this, by wanting spiritual things, instead of wanting the things of the world.

John 10

John 10: The Book of Mormon

                Jesus opens up this chapter by exclaiming; “…He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice…” (John 10:1-2) Essentially Jesus is saying that there can be no other Christ, He is the one and true “…good shepherd…” (John 10:11) Those who try to impersonate will not have true followers, for the true sheep know their shepherd and only follow him.

Jesus goes onto say; “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15) Those who know Jesus follow Him, and He knows them and lays His own life down for them. This was accomplished through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, when He sacrificed Himself for the sins of all mankind!

Other Sheep: One fold, One Shepherd – The Bible and the Book of Mormon:

It is interesting to note what Jesus says next; “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:16) Why is this important? During the time of the Old Testament and much of the New Testament there were other people scattered across the world, not just in the “Old World” that we think about in the Bible, which encompasses much of the Middle East. The “Other Sheep” Jesus spoke of lived in the “New World”, or Ancient America and their story and interactions with prophets and God are recorded in the Book of Mormon. Shortly after the death of Jesus on the cross, He visited the people of Ancient America and instructed them and showed the prints on his hands and feet, just as He did with Mary. While He was visiting His other Sheep, He told them; “…I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (3 Nephi 15:21; The Book of Mormon)

                Jesus continues His address to the Jews…

“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again, No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” (John 10:17-18) Jesus essentially tells the Jews that opposed Him, that NO man could take His life, if they managed to kill Him, it was because He allowed it. Some of the Jews in the crown accused Him of being the devil or possessed of the devil. However, others asked how He could be the devil or possessed of one, if He performed great miracles in the name of God. Jesus reassures those people that He does the work in the name of His Father, and that anyone who doesn’t believe Him is not part of His fold, because His sheep hear Him and know Him.

Jesus boldly states; “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30) One thing we need to learn here is what Jesus meant when He said that He and His Father were one, did He mean physically? Many believe that God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are One being. But are they? We can see from many scriptures in the Bible that this is not the case, in the next book of the Bible, the Apostle Stephen recounts; “…being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55) The LDS position is that they are not One being, but three SEPARATE and INDIVIDUAL BEINGS, in ONE PURPOSE; Stephens testimony confirms this.

Upon hearing what the Jews thought was blaspheme, they gathered rocks to stone Him. Jesus asks them; “…for which of these works do ye stone me?” (John 10:32) The Jews respond; “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (John 10:33) So, Jesus was going to be stoned for comparing Himself to God? We being made in the likeness of God, permits all of us to one day be like our Father in heaven, but never replace Him. Jesus confirms this; “…Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:34-35) Notice how Jesus sad; “god” and not “God”. We being offspring of God, can become like Him, gods. But never become HIM, God. This is important to understand as children of God, we definitely have the ability to become like Him. This is the very reason we are on Earth, to learn and gain a knowledge of Good and Evil and choose the good. In 1 John 3:2, it reads; “…now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be” but we know that, when he [Jesus] shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

                Jesus ends His speaking by telling those gathered they have two choices, to believe Him or not; “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” (John 10:38) Again, Jesus tells them that they have a choice to believe Him, but if they do know Him they will believe. The Father is in Him, and He is in the Father… they are of One Purpose, and He is indeed the Only Begotten of the Father.

John 8

John 8: He that is without Sin, cast the First Stone!

                Jesus leaves and goes into the mount of Olives, before returning to the Temple to teach those gathered. Shortly after being in the temple, the scribes and Pharisees bring in a woman and throw her before Jesus saying; “…this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” (John 8:4-5) It is clear that the scribes and the Pharisees were only trying to tempt Jesus and catch Him in a trap. Jesus however, stooped down and began to write on the ground with His finger as if He did not hear what they just said. This angered the scribes and the Pharisees and they persisted in asking Jesus what He thought of the woman and the sin she had just performed. Jesus said to them; “…He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7) Upon hearing this and after the conscience of their own guilt they began to leave one by one, until only the woman and Jesus were left. When Jesus saw that no one else was around, He lifted up His head and asked the woman; “…Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” (John 8:10) The woman responded; “…No man, Lord.” (John 8:11) Jesus then tells her; “…Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

Jesus takes the opportunity to teach those who had gathered; “…I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12) The Scribes and the Pharisees attack Him for bearing record of Himself, Jesus explains that even if He bears record of Himself, it is still true. He explains that the Father bears record of Him and He bears record of the Father. He reminds them that in their law; “…the testimony of two men is true.” (John 8:17) The Scribes and Pharisees foolishly ask where His Father is, and Jesus explains that if they knew the Father, they would have known His Son also.

Jesus tells them; “…When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me I speak these things.” (John 8:28) Essentially we learn here that Jesus is the Son of God, and being so means that the Son and the Father are two separate and individual beings, one in purpose. Jesus tells those gathered that if they follow Him, they shall be set free. This, asking how they could be free if they were never in bondage confused some. Jesus explains; “…Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” (John 8:34)

Even so, many sought to kill Jesus. Saying that they were the children of Abraham and because of Abraham they were children of the Father. Jesus tells them; “…If God were your Father, ye would love me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? …Ye are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:42-43)

                The Scribes and Pharisees then say that Jesus has a devil inside of Him (which makes no sense, He just said that the Devil was evil, and evil spirit would never say such a thing) Even after Jesus explains that He doesn’t have an evil spirit, they persist. Jesus tells them that if anyone follows Him, they shall not see death. Jesus of course was speaking of Spiritual Death, but the Scribes and Pharisees said that he definitely has a devil, asking Him; “Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead?” (John 8:53)

Jesus explains that “…Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56) The Jews were angry at this point and asked Jesus; “…Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” (John 8:57) They just didn’t get it, because they did not believe that Jesus was the Christ, nor the Son of God. Jesus answered them, saying; “…Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) The Jews were even more angered and picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus escaped.

So who is I AM? In the Old Testament we read about the God of the Old Testament, known as Jehovah, who said he was the great I AM. When Moses was speaking to God and asking Him who he should tell his people that sent him; “…God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM… Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you…” (Exodus 3:14-15) Therefore, the reason Jesus knew Abraham, is because He was His God. He was His Father, and Jesus Christ’s Father was God the Eternal Father.

John 7

John 7: The Father’s Doctrine

Jesus walked into Galilee, but His Apostles advised Him to carry out His ministry in Jerusalem during the Feast of the Tabernacles. Jesus tells His Apostles that they need to go up to the Feast, but for Him it is not His time yet.

During the feast, Jesus goes to the Temple to teach the Jews, and they marveled that Jesus could speak with so much wisdom, but Jesus reminded them; “…My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:16-17) Jesus goes on to explain that anyone who seeks after his own glory will not teach the truth, but he who comes seeking the glory of God will tell the truth. Jesus asks them; “Did Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?” (John 7:19) He continues to explain that Moses (through God) gave the law of circumcision, and on the Sabbath the Jews performed this ordinance. Jesus then asks them if they are still angry at Him for making someone whole on the Sabbath. He exclaims; “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)

Jesus continues His address in the Temple, some were saying that He was the Christ and others saying that if the Christ came, no one would know. Jesus tells them; “…ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.” (John 7:28-29) Some try to lay hands on him, seeking to kill him… but they did not, for His hour had not come yet.

Jesus offers everyone there living waters, if they are to follow Him. The people continued to persecute Jesus and desired for Him to be killed. Nicodemus, however asked the question; “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” (John 7:51) But the council that was gathered did not listen to him and chose to unlawfully persecute Jesus.

John 5

John 5: Salvation of the Dead

                After the feast of the Jews, Jesus left to Jerusalem. While in Jerusalem, Jesus stopped at a ‘sheep market pool’, which was called Bethesda. This pool had many lined up to be healed, but only for a short period after the waters were troubled could anyone be healed. A certain man, who had an infirmity for 38 years couldn’t walk and it made it difficult for him to jump into the water. The man asks for Jesus to help him into the water; however Jesus decides to just heal the man.

Jesus said unto him; “…Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” (John 5:8) and immediately the man was cured and took his bed and ran off. Soon after, a Jew spotted the man carrying his bed and was told him; “…It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.” (John 5:10) The man responded that he was cured by a man, and that man told him to take his bed and walk.

The Jews find out that it was Jesus who had been healing people on the Sabbath day, and begin to persecute Him. But Jesus responds to them; “…My father worketh hitherto, and I work.” (John 5:17) But this only angered the Jews more, because Jesus had said His Father, was God! Jesus tells them; “…The son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John 5:19) Jesus goes on to explain that the Son does the will of the Father, but that the “…Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” (John 5:22) Everyone should honor both the Son [Jesus Christ] and the Father [God], for not honoring one, you dishonor the other. For God has given His Son power and authority (see John 5:27).

Jesus teaches about Baptisms for the dead; “…for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29) In modern day LDS temples, baptisms for the dead are performed so that those who did not have a baptism by the proper authority in this life can be baptized by proxy. Meaning, someone else is baptized in place of the deceased. Because without baptism, no one can enter into the kingdom of heaven. Therefore it is necessary that someone acting on their behalf is baptized in the flesh so that they can receive the baptism and the saving ordinances that come with it, while still in the Spirit. Later in the New Testament Peter also teaches about this; “…for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4:6)

Jesus explains that in the judgment day, He will be the one doing the judging; “…as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30)

                Jesus tells the Jews, that they received Moses and he came in the form of Moses. Jesus, being the Son of God comes in the form of the Son, and is rejected. Essentially Jesus is telling them; If you do not believe the Son, you do not believe in God. Moses wrote of Jesus, and rejects those who reject Jesus. Yet the Jews were so fond of Moses, yet not fond of Jesus.

Jesus ends with this wisdom; “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)

Isaiah 63-64

Isaiah 63-64

Chapter 63: We shall accept Jesus as our Father

                Who is this who comes from Edom with dyed red garments? He has trodden the winepress furiously. Nobody was by to help him. A savior redeemed his people, though afflicted. His people rebelled and grieved his holy spirit, so he turned against them. An exile’s plea for restoration – where is the God of Moses, who redeemed his people?

                “…thou art our father through Abraham…” (Isaiah 63:16)

Chapter 64: Salvation at the Second Coming

A prayer for God to intervene, shaking the mountains and making His name known to his adversaries. Sinfulness is confessed, and acknowledged as an obstacle. A plea is made to forget iniquity. God is asked to act in light of the fact that Zion is a wilderness, and Jerusalem desolation.

We are the work of the potter’s hand [God] and we are molded as clay is molded by the potter.