Arm of Flesh

The purpose of the revelations to Joseph

"And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh" (D&C 1:18-19)

"Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost." (2 Ne 28:31)

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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)

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"Search the Scriptures—search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory, nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation. No; for when men receive their instruction from Him that made them, they know how he will save them." (Joseph Smith, HC v 1, ch 20, p. 282)

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"Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!" (2 Nephi 28:26)

"Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!" (2 Nephi 28:27)

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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.

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“Put trust in no man. Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a Bishop, an Apostle or a President; if you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone; but if we lean on God, He never will fail us. When men and women depend on God alone and trust in Him alone, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside.” (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth Chapter 22)

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"...when the Church lost revelation it had to turn to another source for guidance and so threw itself into the arms of the established schools of learning. The schoolmen, as one of them expresses it, took over the office and function once belonging to the prophets and once in power guarded their authority with jealous care, quickly and violently suppressing any suggestion of a recurrent inspiration....By its very nature the university is the rival of the Church; its historic mission has been to supply the guiding light which passed away with the loss of revelation, and it can make no concessions to its absolute authority without forfeiting that authority." (Hugh Nibley, Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others and the Temple)

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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.)

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“The way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the Keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived [as an authority can], for the Lord God is his name. And whoso knocketh to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches - yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, He will not open unto them.” (2 Nephi 9:41-42)

If you already know everything, how can you ask questions?

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"Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?" (2 Nephi 12:22, Isaiah 2:22)

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"And [the scribes and the Pharisees] love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ." (Matthew 23:2-12)

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"'But I will say, this you will be called the first elders of the church and your mission will be to the nations of the earth, you will gather many people into the fastness of the Rocky Mountains as a center for the gathering of the people and you will be faithful because you have been true and many of those who come in under your ministry, on account of their much learning will seek for high places and they will set up and raise themselves to eminence above you, but you will walk in low places unnoticed and you will know all that transpires in their minds and those that are your friends are my friends.

"'This I will promise you that when I come again to lead you forth, for I will go to prepare a place for you so that where I am you will be. I now dismiss you with my blessing to go home. Amen.'

"The last discourse that Joseph Smith delivered in Nauvoo on the top of a frame building close to the Nauvoo house on the twenty- fourth of June 1844." (Autobiography of William B. Pace)

 

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"In our own day we are oftentimes no better at recognizing and accepting truths sent us than were Laman and Lemuel.  We tend to accept truth from what we regard as "bona fide" sources, even when those sources are corrupt or uninspired.  And we tend to reject truths from sources which are not considered bona fide, even when their words are certified by and accompanied with the willing witness of the Holy Ghost." (Denver Snuffer, Nephi's Isaiah, ch. 7, p. 111)

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New doctrine promulgated by Wilford Woodruff which contradicts the teachings of Joseph

"The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme." (Wilford Woodruff, General Conference, October 6, 1890)

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Ezra Taft Benson discourses on not trusting the arm of flesh

“Six of the original Twelve Apostles selected by Joseph Smith were excommunicated. The Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon left the Church. Three of Joseph Smith's counselors fell-one even helped plot his death. A natural question that might arise would be that if the Lord knew in advance that these men would fall, as He undoubtedly did, why did He have His prophet call them to such high office? The answer is: to fill the Lord's purposes. For even the Master followed the will of the Father by selecting Judas. (Title of Liberty, p. 217)

“The Lord strengthened the faith of the early Apostles by pointing out Judas as a traitor, even before this Apostle had completed his iniquitous work. (see Matthew 26:23-25; Luke 13:21-26) So also in our day the Lord has told us of the tares within the wheat that will eventually be hewn down when they are fully ripe. But until they are hewn down, they will be with us, amongst us. (See D&C 86:6-7) (CR April 1969, Improvement Era 72 [June 1969]: 42)

“President George Q. Cannon states: 'Perhaps it is His own design that faults and weaknesses should appear in high places in order that His Saints may learn to trust in Him and not in any man or men.' (Millennial Star, 53:658-59)

“And this would parallel Nephi's warning: Put not your 'trust in the arm of flesh' (2 Nephi 4:34).”

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"...whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." (D&C 1:38)

In the days of Christ, can anyone believe it would have been accurate to say "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of the Pharisees, it is the same?"  Surely a statement such as this causes revulsion in the senses of anyone familiar with the New Testament.  Jesus affirmed they sat in Moses seat, and were thus the authorized representatives of the church.  So the question must naturally be asked, what qualifies as "my servant"?

The word of God is never as simple as one statement, otherwise we would all be guilty of murder, or of condoning it, as the commandment "thou shalt not kill" should not be taken in isolation of other scripture; and the twelfth article of faith would condemn many righteous and holy men.

If the common interpretation is correct, then this scripture would contradict Nephi's declaration when he said "Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost." (2 Ne 28:31)  If all that church authorities say is the same as God's own voice, then there is no need for Nephi's teaching, for we can then suspend all judgement.  We are to judge who is and who is not God's servant, and the Lord places the responsibility for this judgement squarely on the shoulders of each individual.

If a man speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, then he is God's servant, God the Testator being the willing witness to the words of that person.  If he speaks by some other spirit, by his own learning, wisdom or wit, then no matter his position or church calling, his words cannot be recognized as the voice of God.

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"And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him. And it came to pass that as I followed him [for many hours] I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste." (1 Nephi 8:5-7)

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"Beware of Gentile sophistry; such as bowing and scraping unto men in whom you have no confidence." (Joseph Smith, HC 3:26)

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If you feel like the meat of the gospel has disappeared, and even the milk is turning to water, there is a reason.

"Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough! ...and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have." (2 Nephi 28:29-30)

It is no coincidence that this verse comes right after:

"Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost." (2 Nephi 28:31)

As a consequence of neglecting the duty devolving upon ourselves and looking to a "Strong-man" for light and wisdom, we are bound by the chains of hell.

"It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God....And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell." (Alma 12:9-11)

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"Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost." (2 Nephi 28:31)

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Before 1990, there was only one mortal man in the temple endowment besides Adam and Eve.  This man was a preacher.  His teachings were not the point.  They were not pointed to tell us which religions to avoid. They were an illustration that when man builds his own foundation, he creates confusion, stupidity, mind-numbing dullness, or in other words, darkness.

The point is as Nephi said, we are not to trust any man but on one condition.  Adam demonstrated that he would only recieve messengers from his Father.  Only those who bore the signs and tokens was Adam willing to recieve.

These signs and tokens are not merely what everyone who goes through the temple recieves, for we are the same people when we enter as when we leave.  We have not been proven "true and faithful in all things" by the end of the endowment.

But rather the tokens are proven in those who fulfill their endowment, have the real tokens, and not merely ceremonially bestowed.  Those who bear the Sign of the Son of Man, whether they be God Himself, true angels, or mortals bearing an authorized message, only these was Adam willing to listen to.

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