Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Remnant Movement Scriptures

Announcement regarding the remnant scriptures project:

A small group of us has spent most of the year going through the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, reaching back to the original manuscripts to get as true a version of what Joseph offered us as possible and showing what changes have happened since his death. We are getting bids to have a triple combination volume printed in the coming months. For the moment we want to make people aware of this effort. Electronic versions of the scriptures are free for download at in Word, PDF and some ebook formats. There are also instructions for using a Kindle reader or app with the PDFs as an ebook. The PDFs give a clear representation of how the volume will look.

We will notify everyone when orders can be placed for your own copies. We are trying to keep the cost to around $20 per copy. These will be printed on biblestock paper and will have large margins for easy note taking. An effort to produce a complete JST bible is also underway. A complete Kindle JST KJV is available by Ken Lutes on Amazon. He is the one working on a complete print version. When that work is ready to order we will let you know. He is not a part of this movement.

This volume of scripture is not "official" to the Remnant Movement in any sense, and we hope they may be of interest to Mormons of all types. While many of us felt inspired during the process, we offer this volume as a gift to our Lord and to our friends and families. Feel free to take this work and improve on it. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fellowships - Groundwork for Something Better

I grew up LDS; or using the term more commonly known; I grew up Mormon.  In particular, I was brought up in the Brighamite branch that fled Nauvoo, migrated west, and established its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The official name of that church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Growing up in the LDS church had a lot of positive influence on me.  Through the LDS church, I was taught much of the gospel.  I was taught many important truths through the scriptures and through the classes and meetings of the church.  I was taught a number of positive principles and commandments which were meant to help me live a moral and upright life.  I was taught to love my family and my neighbors, to be honest, and to choose the right.  I was taught to have faith in Christ.

I could see that the LDS church also had a positive impact in the communities in which I lived. Most of my life has been spent in cities in Utah Valley in the state of Utah.  I observed that many lives of those around me had been improved for better through this organization.  In my opinion, there are a lot of favorable and beneficial aspects and characteristics of the communities in Utah which I feel can be attributed to the favorable influence the LDS church has in the lives of its members.

The LDS church - the organization, the people, the day to day aspects of the church / religion was not without its problems; but in my view and for most of my life, I felt it was one of the best options of which I was aware and that I could find for learning about how to love God, my family, and my neighbors.  It seemed like one of the best options for helping one learn to live a moral life of integrity.  At the time, it also seemed to me to be the only church that had the real truths about the gospel of Christ.  As happens in many churches; I was taught that the LDS church was the one true church with the correct set of truths that other religions just didn't have.  I was also taught that the LDS church was led by prophets that had been called by God.  Because of the many positive and beneficial aspects of the religion; I turned a blind eye to some of the problems and issues or glossed over them with the thought that most of the problems; whatever they may be; were due to the weaknesses in the members and not in the organization itself.

During these last few years; there have been some amazing and difficult changes in my life.  These changes have led me to find what I feel is something that is better than what I have had in the LDS church.  My intent in this post is not to attack the LDS church.  I feel that many, if not most of the positive aspects I wrote about above regarding the LDS church continue to be true.  I believe it has been and continues to be a positive force for good in the lives of its members around the world.  I also believe that I have found something that at least for me has been better.  In particular, I have found and become a part of the fellowships.

What are the fellowships?  The fellowships are groups of believers in Christ who have come together to learn about Christ and the gospel in love and support of each other.  The fellowships are not a church.  There is no central organization controlling the fellowships.  Each fellowship is mostly autonomous and independent of the other fellowships.  Anyone can start a fellowship at any time.  Most of those who belong to a fellowship will often belong to and associate with multiple fellowships.  So while there are many smaller fellowships, there is an overall feeling among the fellowships that we are all in this together as a larger group.

I belong to an online fellowship called Little Zion.  Most of its members are sprinkled throughout the various states of the United States.  I have also attended meetings of a fellowship that meets in the city of Orem.  I have particpated in activites with the remnant ministries fellowship which often will use Sundays as a day to go and minister and bless the homeless in pioneer park in Salt Lake City.  I have also participated in meetings of a fellowship located in Lehi called the Zarahemla foundation.  In addition to these groups, there are online facebook groups of like believers.  There are also online forums and google discussion groups that exist to learn, fellowship, and grow together.

In all of the fellowships with which I have participated and associated; there has not been a primary leader who dictates and controls the fellowship.  In all cases, there have been one or more individuals who have taken the initiative to create the group and to facilitate the group meeting together or to help bring about group activities and goals.  These people often act as servants to the rest of the group -- taking actions that help the group so that it can exist and function.  Members of the fellowships take turns helping out with whatever needs to be done.  We don't have any official callings, titles, or ranks.  We associate together as a group of equals and with a common goal - coming to Christ and becoming more Christ-like.

The fellowship I have associated with the most is the Little Zion fellowship.  Since it is online and we spread out across the nation, we use online social media to communicate with each other.  It is a community that is available 24/7/365.  We talk about the gospel. We study the scriptures together.  We talk about life.  We talk about what is happening in the world.  We share our struggles.  We share burdens.  We ask for prayers and we pray for each other.

Members of fellowships are not asked to leave their current church or religion.  There are members in fellowships from the various Mormon groups (LDS, RLDS, Community of Christ, AUB), from other christian religions, and from other backgrounds as well.  Many of the members continue to actively participate in their own religions from which they came.

Since the fellowship movement began, there have been a few conferences where all people from all the fellowships have been invited.  One of the conference happened in Colorado.   One happened in Moab and the latest one happened September 2016 in Boise, Idaho.

The conference in Boise focused on the Doctrine of Christ.  The talks and other information about the event can be found here:

There are other conferences with multiple fellowships getting together in various regions throughout the world as well.

If you would like to find a local fellowship in your area, a fellowship locator website has been created to help.  It can be found here:

Most of the fellowships that have been created also participate in collection and distribution of tithing.  Again, there is no central organization to which all donations are sent.  Rather, the fellowships collect money among themselves; determine needs within the fellowship and then distribute the tithing according to the needs of the group by common consent.  Some fellowships that have surpluses donate to other charitable causes or to other fellowship groups in need.

I believe that these fellowships -- which have been very good for me in helping me grow in my knowledge of the gospel and the scriptures, in my journey to come to Christ, and in learning to associate with others in love and without contention -- are preparatory to something even greater.  I love what the fellowships offer, but I realize that we all still fall quite short of the goal of a Zion community.  To me, the fellowships feel like Zion in training:  They are groups that are learning how to get along; how to take care of each other; and how to grow in the gospel together with Christ as our common head.  Our successes in all of these goals have been heart-warming and they are moving in a direction which I believe will help lay a groundwork from which a real Zion community can arise.  Whether or not that actually happens is yet to be seen.  The task and changes necessary to bring such a society about are daunting.  In any case, I don't believe it will happen through something initiated by a man or a group of men.  When it happens, I believe it will be completely orchestrated by God.

It should be clear from the prophecies that this work will start with a small group chosen to begin the work. A temple and rites will provide the legal, cultural, and covenant foundation for a new society. These people will learn how to become the “kingdom of God” and will learn His ways and to walk in His paths. When they know how to live in peace, and have obtained the original Holy Order, others will be invited to join them and learn how to live according to a new, higher way of life. The challenge of teaching new people this new way of organizing society will be daunting. The community will struggle together to learn how to overcome the social infection that comes from Babylon anytime a new family flees Babylon and comes to Zion.
As the group grows, they will increase their aptitude to assimilate new members. Skills will be gained in helping people overcome the world. The infections from Babylon, the Medes, Persians, Greeks, Romans and all modern world governments will be eradicated. People of the New Jerusalem will learn a godly way of governing and holiness of character.
As the New Jerusalem grows, eventually it will divide, and there will be another group established nearby where both communities will be able to take in new families and teach them of the Lord’s way."
This quote is from part 5 of a series of posts about the kingdom of God.  The first part of the series can be found here:  All or Nothing
If you’d like to learn more about this movement, there’s great information at this site or in the blogs linked on the sidebar of this blog:

Click Graphic to Visit Site

All are invited!  All are welcome!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Messengers and Messages from God

Two Men With Messages

What if there were two men... one of the men never claimed that he was a prophet, never claimed that he had received a message from the Lord to deliver to the people, and never claimed that the words he delivered were from God.

What if people assumed he were a prophet because of his administrative position in an organization and assumed that what he spoke was God's will for them and was God's message to them? Would he be responsible for people assuming things about him and his message that he never claimed himself? Would the people who assumed those things be justified in doing so?

What if the second man did claim that he had spoken with God and what if he did claim that God had given him a message to deliver to the people? What if the message was consistent with the scriptures and brought light and truth?

But what if that man did not hold an administrative position in the organization? Would the people be justified to ignore the message because the second man did not have the required credentials they expected him to have? Would God be wrong to allow something like this to happen or to work in this way?

Has this happened before?

What if the first man were Caiphas, the High Priest of the Jewish people during the time of Christ? What if the second man were John the Bapist?

Looking back at these men through the lens of what has been passed down through history and the scriptures, we don't see this as a problem.  We don't find it upsetting to think that God chose to speak through John the Baptist who had no administrative position and not through Caiphas who was regarded by the people to be their religious leader.

But how did the Jewish people in that day feel about it?  What did they think of John's claims when they believed Caiphas to be the high priest? What if the Jewish people had been taught that God would only deliver his words through the high priest?  How many disregarded John's message just because he held no position in their religious hierarchy?

Could it happen again?

If God is the same today, yesterday, and forever; was he just being inconsistent when he chose to deliver his message through John the Baptist when there already was a religious leader in place?

How about Lehi?  Was the message he received from God rejected by the Jews because he wasn't a religious leader?  Did it contradict what they had come to believe about Christ?

How about Abinadi?  Was he the religious leader in the eyes of the people or was King Noah and his priests considered the religious leaders at the time?  Why did some of the people not accept the message from Abinadi that he said God had told him to deliver?  When Alma wrote down and shared that message, what did the people think about the authority of Abinadi?  What would they have thought about Alma who was once a priest in the courts of Noah and had now been cast out?  Would some consider him an apostate?

How about Samuel the Lamanite?  Was it wrong of him to stand on the wall and deliver a message that he claimed was from God when the people already had Nephi as their prophet?  Why would God send a message through Samuel the Lamanite when a prophet (Nephi) was already there among the people?

How about Joseph Smith?  Was he a credentialed leader or an obscure farm boy?  Why would anyone have believed him?  Was it him and his standing in the community or his message that was his credential?

How about Christ?  Was he a credentialed leader or was he an obscure person in his community?  How was the Son of God regarded in his day?

Mosiah 14

3.   He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Matthew 13

55.   And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogues, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this Jesus this wisdom and these mighty works?
56.   Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?
57.   Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended at him.

What is the true pattern?

I believe God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  I believe that the pattern is actually the same in every generation.  The people are given a choice.  Choose between the credentialed leader with standing and authority or the obscure messenger whose only credential is the message itself and the light and truth contained therein.

It also appears that the pattern is the same with the people who are given the choice.  Most of the people will chose incorrectly.  They will choose the credentialed leader over the true messenger of God.  They often are looking for status and authority to be the true messengers from God.  Those without it, are often rejected.

Samuel the Lamanite spoke about this:
Helaman 13

25.   And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out.
26.   Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.
27.   But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth--and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.
28.   Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.

Joseph Smith spoke about this:

The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves ‘in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth,’ and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men.
Others have spoken about this:
"How often the Lord chooses to send His messengers in exactly the same way as He came! Without rank or office, and without social significance or recognition; as with Abinadi, Samuel, Peter, Luke, Joseph Smith, Amos, and Elijah. The test remains exactly the same in every generation. We can know Alma would have received Christ, because he received Abinadi's teachings. Against the opposition of the society he lived in, Alma heard in the message something from the Lord.

How difficult would it have been to have seen in the obscure and lowly station of Christ the reality that this was the Son of God? For the most part, the "Christian" world flatters themselves into believing they would have recognized and accepted Him if they lived in His day. The only reason most people claim Him now is because of the two millennia of Christian conquest, and traditions of their fathers. If they had to choose a living, teaching Christ of obscure and uncredentialed origin, they would reject Him. They want buildings, budgets, hierarchies, and social acceptance. Today Christianity offers all that to them."
Do we face the same test today?

What if God chose to do this same type of thing again in our day? Is He (God) allowed to work like this in our day? or would He be constrained by the teachings of modern day leaders that have taught us that if God is going to send a message; it can only come through the leader at the top who is the  administrative head of a religious organization?  What if the message that teaches that God will only send a message through the administrative head of an organization was not from God, but was a teaching of man?  Which pattern is more consistent with scripture?  Which pattern is more consistent with how Christ came?

People assume someone is a messenger from God who has never claimed to be one while dismissing someone else who says they have received a message to deliver.  They do this because the way in which the message comes doesn't fit their current paradigm. This turned out to be the main stumbling block of the Jews in Christ's time. Many of them couldn't see what was happening because it was outside the box of their belief system so they ended up repeating the pattern and rejecting a true message from a true messenger while clinging to others they esteemed as true messengers - even though that person may have never made such a claim.

Sometimes we are content with the philosophies of men mingled with scripture instead of waiting to receive a true message from a true messenger.

We are often quick to throw out anything that doesn't fit our current understanding or beliefs. If we aren't willing to even consider that some of our beliefs could be in error or could be a false tradition, we essentially damn our progression and limit what God can give to us.

What about the leader of the LDS church?

A prophet of God and the President of the LDS church are two separate and distinct roles. A prophet is someone who has obtained a relationship with God, who communicates with God directly, and who has been given a message from God to deliver to a people. The President of the LDS church is an administrative position who with the help of his presidency and other quorums, manage the affairs of a church.

I am not saying a president of the LDS church cannot be a prophet. In fact, D&C 107 tells us that it is part of his calling as president to become one. However, you can't ordain someone a prophet. You can't ordain someone a seer. You can't ordain someone a revelator. You can ordain someone as president of the church. A prophet prophecies; a seer sees; and a revelator reveals. These are gifts of the Spirit and are controlled by God - not by man.

In the LDS church, there has been a shift that has happened related to understanding regarding prophets.  Most of this shift in perspective has happened in the last 50 or so years.  In the first 120 years of the history of the LDS church, people understood that they were not the same thing and that they were two different roles. Up until David O. Mckay - people generally referred to the leader of the LDS church as president - not as prophet. Up until that time, when people referred to "the prophet" they were usually referring to Joseph Smith.

Delivering a good sermon that people enjoy does not make someone a prophet. As Joseph Smith taught, a prophet is only a prophet when he is delivering a message from God. At any other time, he is just speaking as a man and is giving his own opinion. A message from God is almost always given in the voice of God. If you look at the revelations in the D&C, you can see this. "Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of Him that dwells on high" is how D&C 1 begins. If you go through the different sections you will notice that they are given in first person using the pronouns I and me and my in the voice of the Lord.

Because the LDS people in general conflate the two roles of president and prophet as one, they also have a tendency to think that a prophet cannot exist outside the role of the president. In other words, they also tend to think that God only calls prophets as a leader of an organization.

Men do not control God. They cannot control who he will call as a prophet or messenger. They can not ordain a prophet for themselves. Only God can do this and He will do it however He wills to bring about His purposes.

Whose fault is it?

 Back to the original questions - ask yourself the following:

Has the person that you believe to be a prophet ever claimed to be a prophet?

Other people saying he is a prophet doesn't count.  If there are others around him saying he is a prophet all around you, that is not the same thing as him personally making the claim.

Has the person that you believe to be a prophet ever claimed to have a message from God?

Delivering a message every six months in a conference or in a monthly publication does not count unless the deliverer of the message is willing to testify that the message is from God.

If the answer to the first two questions are no, then why do you feel justified in thinking of this person as a prophet?

Picture yourself standing at the judgment bar of God with this person who you esteem as a prophet.  God asks the man, "Did you ever claim to be a prophet?" "No"  "Did you ever claim to have a message from me that you delivered?"  "No" God turns to you.  "Why did you follow this man and treat him as a messenger from me?"

Does it matter?

Does it matter whether or not you correctly determine who is a true messenger and who is not a true messenger?  Does it matter whether or not you hear and receive a message from a true messenger?  Did it matter in the days of Alma and Abinadi?  Did it matter in the days of Nephi and Lehi?  Did it matter in the days of Samuel the Lamanite and Nephi?  Did it matter in the days of Joseph Smith?  Did it matter in the days of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ?

Does it matter today?

After Samuel the Lamanite spoke about how the people accepted false prophets and cast out the true ones, he said the following:

Helaman 13

29.   O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?
30.   Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you; behold, he hath cursed the land because of your iniquity.
Another pattern in the scriptures is that usually when a messenger is sent, they are sent to call the people to repentance and warn the people of pending judgments.  What happened to those who rejected Lehi's message?  What happened to those who rejected Abinadi's message?  What happened to those who rejected Nephi and Samuel the Lamanites message?  What happened to the Jews who rejected John the Baptist and Christ?

What will happen to people today if they fail to receive the message, the call to repentance, from a true messenger?

A new messenger is sent

An obscure LDS man made a claim similar to Joseph Smith that he had seen and spoken with Christ.  In 2006, he wrote a book about how to receive the second comforter.   He wrote a book about how LDS history fulfills the prophecies in the scriptures - especially the prophecies in the Book of Mormon.  This book upset the current leaders of the LDS church.  They demanded he stop publishing it or they would throw him out of the church.  He offered to make corrections to anything that was in error.  No reply ever came as to what needed to be changed.  Instead, they threw him out.

In 2013, this man claimed that the Lord had asked him to give a series of 10 talks.  He claimed the 10 talks contained a message that the Lord wanted delivered to the LDS people.  One year after the last talk, a book with that message from the 10 talks was compiled and published.

The message is the credential
This man, Denver Snuffer, has no authority in the LDS church.  In fact, he has been cast out and has been labeled an apostate.  Those who have heard and accepted the message he delivered as being from God have in many cases also been cast out and labeled apostates. 

For many LDS people, that is enough for them to also disregard the message without ever hearing it or studying it or taking the time to find out whether or not is it a message from God.

Lehi was probably labeled as an apostate or a crank.  There were probably disparaging labels for Abinadi, Alma, Nephi, Samuel the Lamanite, John the Baptist, Peter, Isaiah, and almost every prophet that has come to this world with a message from God.  The test is always the same.

How did the people in the past who received the message decide that it was actually from God when society in general rejected it?

The message was the credential.  Not the person who brought it.  Not how that person was perceived in the culture.  Those who received the message were able to break through false traditions and receive more light and truth - bringing them closer to God.  The message will bear fruit in those that repent and follow it.  The true message will point the people to Christ - never to the messenger.  The message is the credential.

Those who receive the message will be able to hear the Lord's voice in the message itself.

John 10

24.   Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
25.   Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not; the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
26.   But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27.   My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me;
28.   And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
Update April 2, 2017:  This post regarding the Chiasmus in Testimony of St. John chapter 2 discusses
the importance of receiving true messengers from God in Christ's discussion with Nicodemus.

John Chapter 2: Conference Chiasmus

Scripture, prophecy, and covenant

Joseph Smith's Big Mistake