Billy Hibbard, 1782
“…when I came to the place of prayer had kneeled down and closed my eyes with my hands uplifted toward the heavens I saw Jesus Christ at the right hand of God looking down upon me and God the Father looking upon him The look of Jesus on me removed the burden of my sins while he spoke these words Be faithful unto death and this shall be thy place of rest I never had seen Jesus Christ.” (Memoirs of the life and travels of Billy Hibbard, p. 24)
Benjamin Abbott, 1772
“I…saw by faith the Lord Jesus Christ standing by me with his arms extended wide saying to me I died for you I then looked up and by faith I saw the Ancient of Days and he said to me I freely forgive thee for what Christ has done At this I burst into a flood of tears and with joy in my heart cried and praised God and said O that there were a minister to give me the Lord's Supper Then by faith I saw the Lord Jesus come to me as with a cup in his hand and he gave it to me and I took it and drank thereof it was like unto honey for sweetness…”
[Speaking to his wife’s minister,] He...told me he understood that God had done great things for me whereupon I related my conviction and my conversion he paid a strict attention until I had done and then told me that I was under strong delusions of the devil He got a book out of his library for me to read as he handed it to me the Lord showed me by the voice of his Spirit that the book was not fit for me However I disobeyed the Divine impression and took it at the minister's request…
“At length when in prayer under sore temptation in despair a new thought was impressed my mind that I must not trust in the arm of for Cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh* I then saw that my salvation did not depend on his standing or falling I had to stand for myself** and to give diligence through grace to save my own soul that my soul must answer at the bar of God for my own deeds.” (Experience And Gospel Labors Of The Rev. Benjamin Abbott. Emphasis Added)
* This language is not found in the Bible, but it is almost identical to the teaching of Nephi: "O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm." (2 Nephi 4:34)
** This language and teaching is nearly identical to Joseph's teaching: “President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel--said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church--that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls--applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall--that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves…” (TPJS, Section Five 1842-43, p.237)
"Therefore, let every man stand or fall, by himself, and not for another; or not trusting another." (Mark 9:44, Inspired Version)
Norris Stearns 1815
“…as I lay apparently upon the brink of eternal woe, seeing nothing but death before me, suddenly there came a sweet flow of the love of God to my soul, which gradually increased. At the same time, there appeared a small gleam of light in the room, above the brightness of the sun, then at his meridian, which grew brighter and brighter: As this light and love increased, my sins began to separate, and the Mountain removed towards the east. At length, being in an ecstacy of joy, I turned to the other side of the bed, (whether in the body or out I cannot tell, God knoweth) there I saw two spirits, which I knew at the first sight. But if I had the tongue of an Angel I could not describe their glory, for they brought the joys of heaven with them. One was God, my Maker, almost in bodily shape like a man. His face was, as it were a flame of Fire, and his body, as it had been a Pillar and a Cloud. In looking steadfastly to discern features, I could see none, but a small glimpse would appear in some other place. Below him stood Jesus Christ my Redeemer, in perfect shape like a man—His face was not ablaze, but had the countenance of fire, being bright and shining. His Father's will appeared to be his! All was condescension, peace, and love!!” (The Religious Experience of Norris Stearns, quoted in R. L. Bushman, “The Visionary World of Joseph Smith” BYU Studies 37 no. 1:191)
Joseph's experience not unique, but familiar to religionists
“Joseph did tell a Methodist preacher about the vision. Newly reborn people customarily talked over their experiences with a clergyman to test the validity of the conversion. The preacher's contempt shocked Joseph. Standing on the margins of the evangelical churches, Joseph may not have recognized the ill repute of visionaries. The preacher reacted quickly, not because of the strangeness of Joseph's story but because of its familiarity. Subjects of revivals all too often claimed to have seen visions. In 1825 a teacher in the Palmyra Academy said he saw Christ descend "in a glare of brightness exceeding tenfold the brilliancy of the meridian Sun." The Wayne Sentinel in 1823 reported Asa Wild's vision of Christ in Amsterdam, New York, and the message that all denominations were corrupt. At various other times and places, beginning early in the Protestant era, religious eccentrics claimed visits from divinity. Nathan Cole, a Wetherfield, Connecticut, farmer and carpenter, recorded in his ‘Spiritual Travels’ that in 1741 ‘God appeared unto me and made me Skringe [cringe?]; before whose face the heavens and the earth fled away; and I was shrinked into nothing….’
“The visions themselves did not disturb the established clergy so much as the messages that the visionaries claimed to receive. Too often the visions justified a breach of the moral code or a sharp departure in doctrine. By Joseph's day, any vision was automatically suspect, whatever its content. "No person is warranted from the word of God," a writer in the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine said in 1805, ‘to publish to the world the discoveries of heaven or hell which he supposes he has had in a dream, or trance, or vision. Were any thing of this kind to be made known to men, we may be assured it would have been done by the apostles, when they were penning the gospel history.’ The only acceptable message was assurance of forgiveness and a promise of grace. Joseph's report on the divine rejection of all creeds and churches would have sounded all too familiar to the Methodist evangelical, who repeated the conventional point that ‘all such things had ceased with the Apostles and that there never would be any more of them.’” (Richard L. Bushman “Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism” 1988 p.57-9, Emphasis Added)
No authority, except virtue
D&C Section 121 is a greater and more far reaching statement on authority than many know. It reveals essentially, what any person already intrinsically knows -- there is no authority, except virtue. It agrees with the Thomas Jefferson's statement on Natural Aristocracy. No man is required to follow another. The righteous will seek virtue at the hands of those on whom they discern have value to offer.
Part of the greatness of the beginning of America, was the abandonment of Gentile forms of church government and the great Democratization of Christianity wherein men realized they had access to God himself and were accountable to none but Him.
Nephi's great thesis on the Fulness of the Gospel relates how men are cursed for relying on other men, but they must rely on God alone. Other men may assist only as they are influenced directly by God himself, otherwise they have no authority, despite what office they may hold.
America started the democratization of worship.
The Book of Mormon affirms it.
D&C 121 affirms the democratization of authority.
Truly God is no respecter of persons.
"God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest. How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power, and the other Comforter spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation." (Joseph Smith, HC v 3, ch 25, p 380)
"But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:26-29)
“I met with the twelve at Brother Joseph’s. He conversed with us in a familiar manner on a variety of subjects, and explained to us the Urim and Thummim which he found with the plates, called in the Book of Mormon the Interpreters. He said that every man who lived on the earth was entitled to a seer stone, and should have one, but they are kept from them in consequence of their wickedness, and most of those who do find one make an evil use of it, he showed us his seer stone.” (Brigham Young, Mill. Star v. 26, no. 8, p. 118)
"It is the privilege of the Children of God to come to God & get Revelation. XIV John [verse 1] Let not your heart be troubled &c, [verse 2] There are a great many Mansions in my Father's house. Iam going to prepare one for you rather Better than common. It is the 14 The Words of Joseph Smith privilege of the Sons of God to inherit the same Mansion &c. When any person receives a vision of Heaven, he sees things that he never thought of before. 2 if we should tell of different glories as Paul did, in my fathers house there are Many Mansions, every Man that receives the Gospel receives that inheritance that the Apostles did. [verse 9] Everyone that hath seen me hath seen the Father, [verse 12] He that believeth, any person that believes the works I do shall he do also & greater works [verse 13] The Father could not be glorified in the Son [verse 13] on any other principle than we coming to God, asking, receiving, heavens open visions &c.—They are done away because of unbelief—[verse 16] I will pray the Father & he shall send you another Comforter. There is one Comforter [i.e. the Holy Ghost] & another Comforter to abide with you forever, reach to things within the vail, know that you are Sealed. If you get it, it will stand by you forever. How is it obtained? Keep my commandments & I will pray &c.—[verse 17] It is a privilege to view the Son of Man himself, he dwelleth with you & shall be in you, his spirit shall be in you. 3 [verse 18] I will not have you comfortless, I will come to you, abide with you forever, Seal you up to Eternal life, [verse 19] Yet a little while & you shall see me no more, but ye see me.—[verse 21] He that hath my commandments & keepeth them, he it is that loveth me &c.—I will manifest myself to him. if he does not he has not told the truth. I will put promises in your hearts, that will not leave you that will Seal you up. We may come to the general assembly & church of the first born, Spirits of Just men made perfect, unto Christ. The innumerable company of Angels are those that have been resurrected from the dead, the Spirits of Just men made perfect are those without bodies. 4 It is our privilege to pray for & obtain these things, [verse 22] How wilt thou manifest thyself to us & not to the world? evidently knowing that it would be so that he would manifest himself. 5 There was no cholera, no mobs, before this came. I told them that rejoiced in Mobs that they should have them, they have since come in torrents, they did not receive the testimony of the Servants of the Son of God. [verse 23] If a man love me he will keep my words, & my father will love him, & We both me & my father will take our abode with him. 6 There are certain characters that walked with God, saw him, conversed about heaven &c. [verse 26] but the comforter that I will send, (not the other comforter) shall teach you all things.—who?—He that loveth me &c—This shall bring all things to remembrance whatsoever things I have said unto you, he shall teach you until ye come to me & my father. God is not a respecter of persons, we all have the same privilege. Come to God weary him until he blesses you &c—we are entitled to the same blessings, Jesus, revelations, Just Men &—Angels &c. &c. not Laying again the doctrine of Christ go on unto perfection. Obtain that holy Spirit of promise—Then you can be sealed to Eternal Life." (Joseph Smith, July 1839, Commerce, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards, in Willard Richards, Pocket Companion, pp. 75, 78–79. Words of Joseph Smith, )
One man cannot live upon the revelations given to another
"the word spoken to Noah was not sufficient for Abraham, or it was not required of Abraham to leave the land of his nativity and seek an inheritance in a strange country upon the word spoken to Noah, but for himself he obtained promises at the hand of the Lord and walked in that perfection that he was called the friend of God. Isaac, the promised seed, was not required to rest his hope upon the promises made to his father, Abraham, but was privileged with the assurance of his approbation in the sight of heaven by the direct voice of the Lord to him.
"If one man can live upon the revelations given to another, might not I with propriety ask, why the necessity, then, of the Lord speaking to Isaac as he did, as is recorded in the 26th chapter of Genesis? For the Lord there repeats, or rather promises again, to perform the oath which he had previously sworn unto Abraham. And why this repetition to Isaac? Why was not the first promise as sure for Isaac as it was for Abraham? Was not Isaac Abraham’s son? And could he not place implicit confidence in the word of his father as being a man of God?
"Perhaps you may say that he was a very peculiar man and different from men in these last days; consequently, the Lord favored him with blessings peculiar and different, as he was different from men in this age. I admit that he was a peculiar man and was not only peculiarly blessed, but greatly blessed. But all the peculiarity that I can discover in the man, or all the difference between him and men in this age, is that he was more holy and more perfect before God and came to him with a purer heart and more faith than men in this day."
"The same might be said on the subject of Jacob’s history. Why was it that the Lord spake to him concerning the same promise after he had made it once to Abraham and renewed it to Isaac? Why could not Jacob rest contented upon the word spoken to his fathers?...
"...the Lord hear [will] my prayers and listen to my cries as soon as he ever did to theirs if I come to him in the manner they did[.]" (Letter from Joseph Smith to his uncle Silas Smith, Sept. 26, 1833, Kirtland, Ohio; in Lucy Mack Smith, “The History of Lucy Smith, Mother of the Prophet,” 1845 manuscript, pp. 229–32, Church Archives.)
Promises must come directly from heaven to us, or they will do no good
"And though we cannot claim these promises which were made to the ancients for they are not our property, merely because they were made to the ancient Saints, yet if we are the children of the Most High, and are called with the same calling with which they were called, and embrace the same covenant that they embraced, and are faithful to the testimony of our Lord as they were, we can approach the Father in the name of Christ as they approached Him, and for ourselves obtain the same promises. These promises, when obtained, if ever by us, will not be because Peter, John, and the other Apostles, with the churches at Sardis, Pergamos, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, walked in the fear of God, and had power and faith to reveal and obtain them; but it will be because we, ourselves, have faith and approach God in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, even as they did; and when these promises are obtained, they will be promises directly to us, or they will do us no good. They will be commandments and walking uprightly before Him. If not, to what end serves the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and why was it ever communicated to us?" (Joseph Smith, HC v.2, ch.1, p.21)
We must claim our own blessings, like the prophets did.
"You, no doubt, will agree with us, and say, that you have no right to claim the promises of the inhabitants before the flood; that you cannot found your hopes of salvation upon the obedience of the children of Israel when journeying in the wilderness; nor can you expect that the blessings which the Apostles pronounced upon the churches of Christ, eighteen hundred years ago, were intended for you. Again, if others' blessings are not your blessings, others' curses are not your curses; you stand then in these last days, as all have stood before you, agents unto yourselves, to be judged according to your works....
"Wherefore, we again say, search the revelations of God: study the prophecies, and rejoice that God grants unto the world Seers and Prophets. They are they who saw the mysteries of godliness; they saw the flood before it came; they saw angels ascending and descending upon a ladder that reached from earth to heaven: they saw the stone cut out of the mountain, which filled the whole earth; they saw the Son of God come from the regions of bliss and dwell with men on earth; they saw the deliverer come out of Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob; they saw the glory of the Lord when He showed the transfiguration of the earth on the mount; they saw every mountain laid low and every valley exalted when the Lord was taking vengeance upon the wicked; they saw truth spring out of the earth, and righteousness look down from heaven in the last days, before the Lord came the second time to gather His elect; they saw the end of wickedness on earth, and the Sabbath of creation crowned with peace; they saw the end of the glorious thousand years, when Satan was loosed for a little season; they saw the day of judgment when all men received according to their works, and they saw the heaven and earth flee away to make room for the city of God, when the righteous receive an inheritance in eternity. And, fellow sojourners upon earth, it is your privilege to purify yourselves and come up to the same glory, and see for yourselves, and know for yourselves. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (HC 1:20 p. 282)
We are not to accept someone merely because of position
"Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile." (D&C 121:34-42)
"Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth. Consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft…The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same." (Joseph Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, page 264)
"There was no point upon which the Prophet Joseph dwelt more than the discerning of Spirits" (Minutes of Meetings held in Provo City, 28 November 1869, Church Archives). This may be true because the Prophet insisted that true religion was one of individual participation in revelation from God but that in their zeal many could be deceived." (The Words of Joseph Smith, Notes 1839, No. 21)
Luke contrasts the glory, trappings and offices of men and the authority of God:
"Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judæa, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituræa and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests,
the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness." (Luke 3:1-2)
"Afshin Javid was born in 1972 in southern Iran in a city called Abadan. His earliest childhood memories was the islamic revolution in 1979. When he was about 8 years old he remembers a plane flying about 40 feet above his head and a few seconds later there was a loud sound and the ground shook. This was the first bomb dropped by the Iraqi Airforce. At this point they got into a car and left everything they owned and went to a city about an hour away. When the Iraqi's advanced they had to move four more times before they had to leave the country in 1987. As a 15 year old he crossed the dessert walking into Pakistan and witnessed the poverty in Pakistan. From 1990-1992 he spent time in Bangladesh as a missionary while waiting to move to Canada. He is now the founding member of I AM Thirsty Ministries in Vancouver. Afshin is happily married and recently renewed his wedding vows for his 15th year anniversary. Afshin and his wife have four beautiful children."
"[After the Babylonian captivity, only a small part of the Jews would] choose to return and the larger body of Jews would settle in Babylon, to mix bloodlines into the Arab world and spread the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob into the seed of lshmael and Esau.
"It is one of history's ironies that the modem Muslim populations of Iraq and Iran have within them the descendants of this larger body of Jewish exiles. They are heirs of the promises and will, in due time, receive their own restoration to the fold of covenant Israel, although that notion offends them greatly today." (Denver Snuffer, The Second Comforter, p. 340)
Revolutionary Faith: My Faith Experience
I thought this was an excellent series on April's struggle to find truth in a strife of words and a contest about opinions, her struggle against Satan who prevented her from praying, her experience with angels, the Holy Ghost, not trusting in the arm of flesh, and becoming free from addictive sin and receives a prophecy.
"After admitting to God that I didn’t know what to do anymore, He spoke to me very clearly: 'Stop listening to everybody else. Get off the roller coaster and just follow ME!'"
She had a broken heart and contrite spirit, she was pure before the Lord in similitude of the parable of the two men who went to the temple to pray.
This is why people like her will not be burned at His coming. It will be tolerable for her. She will inherit Terrestrial glory, and then as she learns more truth and light she can inherit everlasting burnings.
This is why the crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephriam who follow men (some of Thomas, some of Gordon) will look up, being in torment and plead for April to drop some cool water on their tongue. This Christian sinner who in utter humility knew more about God and his power than those who claim they are sealed by keys.
Teresa Carey was a lesbian porn star until she had a shared vision with her husband Scott shook her to the core and led her to evangelical christianity.
Former-pornographic film star Teresa Carey spent most of her adult life appearing in X-rated films but after having an encounter with Jesus himself the Glamour girl turned pornography star gave it all up and is now a Christian author and speaker.
The British-born "model" made a fortune posing for Playboy magazine but now Carey spends her days sharing her testimony with universities and studying the bible. Wherever she speaks she hangs signs that read "Porn Again Christian" or "50 Shades of Grace."
Carey tells Vice.com that she is happy she turned her back on the sex industry.
"No little girl wants to be a porn star. No little girl grows up saying, 'I want to be used in that way.' Girls are enticed by the modeling side of it," she said.
In an older interview with SWNS Carey expounded on her life style from then until now. "At the time it felt like I was living the dream. It was the kind of lifestyle that girls today dream about." She said, Adding, "Men loved me and I had legions of fans but every time I was at work I just kept thinking, 'I'm not happy with myself for doing this'. I was battling in my mind for so long."
Carey entered the porn industry when she was 17 after she flew to America because of a beauty pageant she won. Several years later In December of 2009 after years of feeling the tug from God an experience with Jesus himself help her give up the life of pornography for good.
"I was face to face with Jesus. He had fire in his eyes that burnt straight through my soul. But it was a fire of love, of burning love, not of condemnation," she told Vice.
In another interview she said, "I was meditating and suddenly a voice called out 'If you bring your life in line with what I have in store for you I will lead you down the garden path.'" she told SWNA, going on to say, "I knew there and then that my life had to take a different direction, I never stripped off again after that day."
Adding, "After that I felt instant joy. I contacted everyone that I worked with to say that I wasn't working anymore and explained why. They all wished me luck and they probably thought I was a mad woman. Then I deleted the numbers and decided I didn't ever want to go back."
Today she is a successful Christian author and has released two books, 'God's Plan for My Life - What is it?' and a book of hymns called 'Rhapsody! In The Name Of Jesus!'
The successful author tells Vice the message God wants her to tell people is, "you are not condemned, no matter how bad you think you have lived your life, he is able to take you out of it and lead you into better things."
After years of making lesbian films Carey's view on homosexuality drastically changed. "For years, I thought there was nothing wrong with homosexuality. God gives us free will, so he loves a gay person as much as he loves a straight person. But he puts guidelines in for our own protection. He puts them there because, if the whole world became gay, it would be detrimental to life," she told Vice.
She continued, "God doesn't want his children to feel condemned or pressured. Gay people are going to have a hard time, and God doesn't want that. I'm not for homosexuality; I'm certainly not for it."
“Every man lives for himself....Wherefore, we again say, search the revelations of God; study the prophecies, and rejoice that God grants unto the world Seers and Prophets. They are they who saw the mysteries of godliness; they saw the flood before it came; they saw angels ascending and descending upon a ladder that reached from earth to heaven; they saw the stone cut out of the mountain, which filled the whole earth; they saw the Son of God come from the regions of bliss and dwell with men on earth; they saw the deliverer come out of Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob; they saw the glory of the Lord when he showed the transfiguration of the earth on the mount; they saw every mountain laid low and every valley exalted when the Lord was taking vengeance upon the wicked; they saw truth spring out of the earth, and righteousness look down from heaven in the last days, before the Lord came the second time to gather his elect; they saw the end of wickedness on earth, and the Sabbath of creation crowned with peace; they saw the end of the glorious thousand years, when Satan was loosed for a little season; they saw the day of judgment when all men received according to their works, and they saw the heaven and the earth flee away to make room for the city of God, when the righteous receive an inheritance in eternity. And, fellow sojourners upon earth, it is your privilege to purify yourselves and come up to the same glory, and see for yourselves, and know for yourselves. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 12)