Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Ordinances that are to be observed “for ever [`owlam]”

The KJV Old Testament mentions some ordinances that are to be observed “for ever.”

“And thus shall ye eat it . . . and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s passover. . . . And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance [chuqqahfor ever [`owlam]. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance [chuqqah] for ever [`owlam]” (Exodus 12:11, 14-7).

“Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. . . . And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance [choq] to thee and to thy sons for ever [`owlam]” (Exodus 12:21-2, 24).

“And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance [chuqqahfor ever [`owlam] throughout your generations” (Numbers 10:8).

“And if a stranger sojourn with you, or whosoever be among you in your generations, and will offer an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord; as ye do, so he shall do. One ordinance [chuqqah] shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance [chuqqah] for ever [`owlam] in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord” (Numbers 15:14-5).

“And the Lord spake unto Aaron, Behold, I also have given thee the charge of mine heave offerings of all the hallowed things of the children of Israel; unto thee have I given them by reason of the anointing, and to thy sons, by an ordinance [choqfor ever [`owlam]” (Numbers 18:8).

These ordinances were not to be observed for all eternity, but were to be observed “for an age.” (The meaning of `owlam is mentioned here.)

That age ended with the coming of the Savior.

“For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world [kosmos]: but now once in the end of the world [aiōn, ‘age’] hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). (The meaning of aiōn is mentioned here.)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The meaning of the phrase “changed [chalaph] the ordinance [choq]”

“Changed [chalaph] the ordinance [choq]” means “violated the statute”

“The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed [chalaph] the ordinance [choq], broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left” (Isaiah 24:4-6).

The Hebrew choq is more commonly translated to “statute(s)” in the KJV. In addition, other Bible translations translate the phrase “changed the ordinance” (KJV, WEB) as “violated his laws” (NLT), “violated [the] statutes” (ASV, ESV, HNV, NASB, NIV, RSV), “changed [a/the] statute” (DBY, YLT), “overstepped decrees” (HCSB), or “disregarded the regulation” (NET).

Therefore, in the above scripture, the word “ordinance” is used the way we would use it when we refer to a “city ordinance.” The verse is not referring to revising the wording of a ritual, but to violating some decree.

“Changed [chalaph] the ordinance [choq]” does not mean “modified the wording of the ordinance”

In the Standard Works there are different wordings of baptisms, which we assume were approved.

“And when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world” (Mosiah 18:13).

“And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen” (3 Nephi 11:24-5).

“The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen” (D&C 20:73).

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary states that “commissioned” means “furnished with a commission; empowered; authorized.” So the 3 Nephi wording and the D&C wording are virtually the same.

All 3 baptism wordings acknowledge that the ultimate authority comes from God.

If the person performing an ordinance is unworthy (and therefore lacking spiritual authority), but the person receiving the ordinance is worthy, then God will ultimately authorize the ordinance.

God cares about the spirit of the law, and has the power to validate an ordinance, even if it did not comply exactly to the letter of the law in all aspects.

“Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

No one can be kept out of heaven on a mere technicality.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Telestial bodies as the “flesh of men”

“All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh [sarx] of men [anthrōpos], another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also [kai] celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial” (1 Corinthians 15:39-40).

Celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies are mentioned in addition to the “flesh of men,” which would therefore be referring to telestial bodies.

“For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men [anthrōpos] in the flesh [sarx], but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:6).

If sarx anthrōpos is the same as anthrōpos sarx, then it would appear that a telestial body is, or can be, a mortal body.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Teach them correct principles, and . . .

Joseph Smith understood the importance of context. He said, “I have a key by which I understand the scriptures. I enquire, what was the question which drew out the answer” (HC 5:261).

We can apply this to something else he said: “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 284).

It is sometimes misquoted as, “I teach them correct principles, and let them govern themselves.” It is a small difference in wording, but the correct quote suggests the people are properly exercising their agency.

Even more importantly, the quote needs to be put into context. The context is that a visitor to the city observed how obedient the people of Nauvoo were, and complimented the Prophet on it, and asked “how it was that he was enabled to govern so many people, and to preserve such perfect order” (Ibid.).

The conversation, and therefore the quote, would not have taken place if the people of Nauvoo, as a whole, were disobedient. For example, this conversation would not make sense:
Question: “Why are you unable to govern your undisciplined, chaotic city?” 
Answer: “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.”
To liken this to our own lives, the manual states: “Leaders teach correct principles and help those they lead learn to govern themselves” (Ibid.).

If we teach obedient people correct principles, they will govern themselves appropriately.

If we try to teach the same principles to rebellious, disobedient people, it is unclear if they will properly govern themselves.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Drinking the living water symbolizes making one’s calling and election sure

“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting [aiōnios, ‘eternal’] life” (John 4:13-4).

“Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth [pisteuō, ‘have faith’] on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-8).

“But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life” (D&C 63:23).

“Then knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Joseph Smith, HC 5:388).

The living water is more than just the sacramental cup given to a person by a priesthood holder.

It is Christ alone who symbolically gives a person the living water that causes him or her to never thirst spiritually in mortality, and springs up to eternal life.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The car accident

Imagine that a sister named Faye is sitting in her house.

She then hears a loud crashing noise from outside near the front of the house, and guesses that there was a car accident just outside.

Her brother named Noah strides in through the front door and says that he was outside and actually saw the car accident.

Hearing Noah’s description of the event strengthens Faye’s belief that it really was a car accident that occurred.

Several neighbors then come running inside the house, saying that a serious car crash happened outside her house. Faye intently listens to them. Their descriptions all agree, so this further strengthens Faye’s belief that an accident really did occur. Noah, having seen the accident himself, nods his head in agreement.

Then, out of concern, Faye starts to run past Noah and heads toward the front door to the outside to see if anyone was hurt. Noah then turns around to go with her.


Noah directly witnessed the event, so he has a witness, or testimony, of that event. It is a piece of knowledge. Several people who did not witness the event could later try to tell him their personal beliefs that the event did not happen, but since he witnessed it himself, they will not be able to convince him.

Faye was not an eyewitness of the event, so is not absolutely sure that the event happened. However, each additional witness can strengthen her belief, or faith, that the event occurred. And at the end, her belief was strong enough that it led to the action of going outside to look for casualties.

Like the witnesses who explained the car crash to Faye, when we testify of faith-promoting experiences, it builds up our faith that these spiritual experiences do occur. The more people that testify of the workings of God in their lives, the more that someone can believe that these blessings are not simply the result of chance.

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

“We have now clearly set forth how it is, and how it was, that God became an object of faith for rational beings; and also, upon what foundation the testimony was based which excited the inquiry and diligent search of the ancient saints, to seek after and obtain a knowledge of the glory of God: and we have seen that it was human testimony, and human testimony only, that excited this inquiry, in the first instance, in their minds. It was the credence they gave to the testimony of their fathers, this testimony having aroused their minds to inquire after the knowledge of God; the inquiry frequently terminated, indeed always terminated when rightly pursued, in the most glorious discoveries and eternal certainty” (Lectures on Faith 2:56).

“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail [katargeō] . . . whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away [katargeō]. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away [katargeō]. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away [katargeō] childish things. . . . And now abideth faith, hope, charity” (1 Corinthians 13:8-11, 13).

Faye’s belief that the accident happened and her concern for others drive her to go outside.

Noah’s knowledge did not necessarily motivate him to go back outside initially.

Knowledge is a static piece of information. It is faith, hope, and/or charity toward someone or something that lead us to action.