2 Timothy 2

2 Timothy 2: Eternal Glory for the Elect

                Paul writes to Timothy and explains that Timothy will need to “…endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3) Everyone who follows Jesus Christ needs to know that as followers, it is possible to experience or endure hardness. Persecution can and will happen!

Paul explains that “…if a man strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” (2 Timothy 2:5) – In other words, if someone wants to master something, they must follow the rules of that something. For example: Someone who competes in a sporting event must follow the rules of that event in order to have the chance of becoming victorious. If someone competing breaks the rules, they usually become disqualified for the prize. This is the same as our lives on earth, we are here to learn and prove ourselves worthy to live with our Heavenly Father again.

Just as the farmer must labor to obtain fruit, so must we also labor to obtain the fruit (the reward) or eternal life! “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” (2 Timothy 2:6)

Paul explains that Jesus Christ was the seed of David and was raised from the dead, Paul says that he endures all things for His sake; for if “…we deny him, he also will deny us.” (2 Timothy 2:12) Paul urges the followers of Christ to “…strive not about words to no profit, but… Study to shew thyself approved unto God…” (2 Timothy 2:14-15) We should not waste our time with things that have no profit to us, instead we should be well studied, so that we can obtain as much knowledge in this life.

Paul leaves us with some very good advice;

“Flee… youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace… the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves…” (2 Timothy 2:22; 24-25)

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1 Corinthians 2

1 Corinthians 2: “The Mormons” – We have the Mind of Christ

                When I was serving a Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Honduras, I was often ridiculed for my faith. I would run into people that would tell me that I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. I would point out to them that the Church has the NAME of Jesus Christ in it. But usually that wouldn’t be enough. For those who are reading this now… I testify that Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.ka. “Mormons”) absolutely believe in Jesus Christ. He is central to the Plan of Happiness and ONLY through Jesus Christ can we be saved. I know He is my redeemer, He is MY Savior and He is YOUR Savior. For this purpose, I always called this chapter of 1 Corinthians “The Mormons” – We have the Mind of Christ. Because we do, we believe on Him.

                Paul comes to the Corinthians and explains that he is not perfect, but that through the Spirit and through the Power of God, he came to them as an Apostle of the Lord;

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

                Even in during this time, False teachers had come forth… enticing men by the slight of their words. Paul explained that he was a simple man, called of God to preach the Gospel. He knew that he was flawed, but knew that God was there for him. He came demonstrating the Power of God, not of Men.

Sometimes when we think of God and His dealings with us, we sell ourselves short. The bottom line is that, GOD LOVES US! We are His children and He would do ANYTHING for us. When we are sad, He is sad! When we are happy, He rejoices with us. Paul reminds us that; “…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.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

                Paul goes on to explain that we can receive the Spirit of God, which is FREELY given to us. With this power we can have the ability to speak with the wisdom that comes from the Holy Ghost and not from the wisdom taught of men. Paul explains that Spiritual matters need to be compared, understood and taught I a Spiritual manner. Those who have the natural man, do not receive the Spiritual things of God, for they are foolishness to them!

                “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.” (1 Corinthians 2:12-15)

                Essentially Paul is saying that if you want to know if something is of God, you must come to that knowledge not through the wisdom of God, but through the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, the Spiritual Wisdom.

Paul closes by saying that the Church has the mind of Christ; “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Romans 11

Romans 11: The Olive Tree

Paul asks the question; “…Hath God cast away his people?” (Romans 11:1) Paul answers his own question by exclaiming that He does not. Paul then goes on to explain that God had a specific purpose to fulfill in allowing Israel to stumble,  so that salvation would come to the Gentiles.

The Olive Tree

Paul explains how Israel is the root of a tree, whose branches can be removed or grafted on. God’s plan for Israel includes a future Restoration. God’s love and calling for Israel to come unto Him and to believe on His Son, still continues. Essentially, the Olive Tree can be grafted or dug about to remove the bad branches and add good branches. This is a metaphor for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His believers, and how the Lord can clean up His vineyard by casting away the bad branches. The Gentile Christians came from disobedience; yet God showed them mercy, in part through the disobedience of Israel. God is full of wisdom and knowledge, Paul exclaims: “…how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord?” (Romans 11:33-34)

In the Book of Mormon (Jacob 5) we learn more about this Olive Tree:

Jacob quotes Zenos about the allegory of the tame and wild Olive Tree. The Olive Tree in the Lord’s Vineyard is like Israel and the Gentiles, the scattering and gathering of Israel… the Gentiles will be grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel.

In this chapter (which is super long), we learn about the Lord’s Vineyard… which we can liken to missionary work…

                “And the Lord of the Vineyard caused that it should be digged about, and pruned, and nourished, saying unto his servant: It grieveth me that I should lose this tree; wherefore, that perhaps I might preserve the roots thereof that they perish not, that I might preserve them unto myself, I have done this thing. Wherefore, go thy way; watch the tree, and nourish it, according to my words. And these will I place in the nethermost parts of my vineyard, withersoever I will, it mattereth not unto thee; and I do it that I may preserve unto myself the natural branches of the tree; and also that I may lay fruit thereof against the season, unto myself; for it grieveth me that I should lose this tree and the fruit thereof.” (Jacob 5:11-13) God wants his servants to work hard, so that they will not lose one soul or “branch” of the Olive Tree.

                “Wherefore, go to, and call servants, that we may labor diligently with our might in the vineyard, that we may prepare the way, that I may bring forth again the natural fruit, which natural fruit is good and the most precious above all fruits. Wherefore, let us got to and labor with our might this last time, for behold the end draweth nigh, and this is for the last time that I shall prune my vineyard. Graft in the branches; begin at the last that they may be first, and that the first may be last…” (Jacob 5:61-63) This really shows the importance of Missionary work in the last days, God will prune his vineyard one last time before his second coming… and it is the responsibility of the members of the church and the full time missionaries to teach the truths that we know to the world… we must labor diligently and with all our might… this last time.

Romans 10

Romans 10: Salvation and God’s Servants

                Paul explains that it is his “…heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” (Romans 10:1) Israel has gone about to seek and “…establish their own righteousness…” (Romans 10:3), by creating their own sense of what righteousness is, they “…have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:3) This means that you could have every good intent to worship God and to follow His commandments, and still do it wrong. This doesn’t mean that their can’t be different ways to worship God, however there is only one authority to baptize and perform saving ordinances.

We read further that; “…if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9) So does this mean that we can just confess the name of Jesus Christ and accept Him in our hearts and be saved? No. Why? If we believe, but do not follow the commandments nor get baptized we are only saved from a Physical death, but not from a Spiritual death. While Peter was teaching when the group he was teaching said “…what shall we do? …Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized everyone one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37-38) So, not only do we have to believe, but by believing means we have faith and by having faith means we follow in the footsteps of Jesus. So if we believe on Him, we will also put forth good works. Remember that Jesus said; “Not everyone 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.” (Matthew 7:21) – So just by saying the name of Jesus is not enough, we must also do the will of the Father. What is the will? Its work, its following the commandments and doing good.

“…how shall they preach, except they be sent? …How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15) – Mormon missionaries are called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the globe. They are called and sent by a modern day prophet to preach the glad tidings of good things!

Acts 18

Acts 18: Apollos Preaches with Power

Paul departs from Athens and arrives in Corinth, where he stays with tentmakers named Aquila and Priscilla. Paul preaches to both Jews and Greeks, and many believe and are baptized. Paul receives encouragement in a vision to stay, and remains in Corinth for one and a half years. The Lord tells Paul in the vision; “…Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee…” (Acts 18:9-10) The Jews of Corinth attempt unsuccessfully to convict Paul before the civil authorities, but they refuse to convict Paul on the grounds of lawlessness. Paul cuts his hair in order to make a Nazirite vow. From here Paul travels to Ephesus, Antioch, Galatia and Phrygia. Aquila and Priscilla instruct a fervent Jew named Apollos about Christ; “…publickly shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 18:28)

A few things are very interesting from this chapter, first God tells Paul to not be afraid. Often times we can become afraid of spreading the Gospel, for fear of those who may reject it. God has made it clear that if we spread His Gospel, we will have His peace and comfort. The second thing that is interesting, is that Aquilla and Priscilla taught a Jew and not only did they verbally testify to him, they also used the scriptures to teach and convince. This means that it is ok to question things, but we need to fervently seek the answers by means of scripture study and help ourselves build our testimony of Jesus Christ and His Gospel through the testimonies and experiences of others.

Acts 14

Acts 14: The Spreading of the Gospel

                Paul and Barnabas go into a synagogue in Iconium where they preach to the Jews and Greeks. Unfortunately only half of the people believe in them and the other half desired to kill them. Paul and Barnabas seeing there might be trouble flee to Lystria where they continued to preach the Gospel. While in Lystra, Paul heals a lame man, and the excited crowds declare that both Paul and Barnabas are gods in men form visiting the earth.

Jews from Iconium had followed Paul to persecute him, they stone him and think that they had stoned him to death… but he manages to escape and got to Antioch, where many churches are established. Paul reminds the Saints in the area that “…we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) Essentially he is saying that if you believe in Jesus Christ and follow his commandments there will always be someone, with evil intent, who will persecute you. Believers will always be tested through tribulations, but if they endure well… God will reward them on high!

Acts 13

Acts 13: Saul = Paul

                In the church at Antioch, the Holy Ghost calls Barnabas and Saul to missionary work. They are both set apart by the Holy Ghost to administer this missionary work (see Acts 13:2). This act of ‘separating’ them for the work is the same way LDS Missionaries are set apart for 18-24 months to preach the Gospel throughout the world.

Barnabas, John and Saul depart for Seleucia, Cyprus, Salamis, Paphos and during their travels they encounter a man named Bar-jesus, who was a false prophet and a sorcerer. Another man named Sergius Paulus, who was a prudent deputy of the country desired to hear the word of God from Saul and Barnabas. However, Bar-jesus [Elymas, as it was being interpreted] desired to turn him away from the faith. Saul, who is also called Paul looked at Elymas and said; “…O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10) Sergius wanted to learn about Jesus and the His Gospel; however those with evil intent were trying to say him away from hearing the truth. Paul causes Elymas to go blind for a season. When Sergius saw this, he believed. John departs back to Jerusalem and Paul and Barnabas continue on to Perga where Paul delivers a sermon in the synagogue on the Sabbath day.

Paul gives a extended history of Israel, and explains how Jesus came from the lineage of David. Paul preaches the risen Christ. When the Jews see the popularity of Paul’s message, they become envious. Paul quotes Isaiah, saying that Christ is a light to the gentiles. Paul explains that they need to be careful if they don’t want the wrath of God, as promised by the prophets of old. Paul explains that God will “…work a work in your days, a work which ye shall no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” (Acts 13:14, see also Habakkuk 1:5) Paul is explaining the great Restoration the Gospel of Jesus Christ that will happen in the Last. Many will not believe of the great work, even if someone were to tell them. That Restoration has already occurred, and the Church of Jesus Christ is back on the Earth today; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These statements angered the Jews, which causes them to expel Paul and Barabas from the region; they shake the dust from their shoes, and move on to Iconium.