Breaking the Chains of Our Own Forging…
“There is no faith sweeter and more genuine than that of a little child, trusting as only the humble may trust. In a child’s eyes one can clearly see the open gathering of truth with marvel and joy. With age and experience skepticism and a lesser ability to trust sets in causing maturing eyes to squint, often filtering out truth to guard tradition and misunderstandings of our life experience. By faith, and in looking for the fruits of the Spirit, our eyes can be widened once again, to see all truth, as the Lord would have us see, unlocking the gates of Heaven to our understanding and eternal fulfillment, even as a little child.”Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 30 September 2023
I am so grateful for continuing revelation through the Spirit of God and by the voices of inspired servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through these glorious means Heavenly Father guides us, leads us, directs us, and helps us to understand His will in our lives, in our day. Personal and modern-day revelation, by way of the Still Small Voice and living prophets, open the heavens to our understanding. We can know God’s will for us on an ongoing and individual basis, and as a people in our generation facing the trials of this modern age.
To some it seems adequate simply to abide strictly by the written word from many centuries past, accepting canonized scripture from previous millennia to be God’s only truth. For others, adhering to earthly traditions formed in the generations that followed the days of ancient prophets and the coming of our Lord Jesus satisfy the mysteries that separate God and man. There are also a growing number who would scrap it all and grasp for the ideology that believing in a God of past days or one who guides our lives in the present is outmoded, too old fashion for our times, and beneath self-discovery and superior intellect. To all of these I declare: Without ongoing Heavenly aid beyond the confines of what is written on scripture pages, the traditions of men, and the puny understanding of intellectualism, we are without hope, character, and the wisdom necessary to overcome the turmoil and challenges we must endure in the present, and in all future days.
Through the Holy Spirit, we can know truth from fallacy. As the Lord Jesus Christ taught, contrasting servants of God with those who are not, we “shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). The truth is clearly seen present in the absence of evil works of the flesh, when we can feel the peaceful presence of the Spirit of God. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23).
For our individual lives, and for all the children of God in the great human family, we can know the truth by the calming and uplifting presence of the Holy Ghost. That is ongoing revelation, whether personally directed to our hearts for our own needs, and those of our families, or by the voice of prophets to all the world.
As one such modern-day prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, taught, “You recognize the promptings of the Spirit by the fruits of the Spirit—that which enlighteneth, that which buildeth up, that which is positive and affirmative and uplifting and leads us to better thoughts and better words and better deeds is of the Spirit of God. That which tears down, which leads us into forbidden paths—that is of the adversary. I think it is just that plain, just that simple” (Devotional address, Southern Utah University Institute of Religion, Feb. 11, 1997).
“You recognize the promptings of the Spirit by the fruits of the Spirit…”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
Through living prophets the Lord sends continuing revelation to help us in these modern times of changing circumstances. What a lifesaver this is. This gives us the true freedom to follow the Savior and His teachings in our day, breaking the chains of the truly outmoded traditions that have become irrelevant due to specific needs and God’s commands of today.
Please do not misunderstand my words or intent. The doctrine of God, the doctrine of Christ, is unchanging and is truth that is eternal from the beginning even unto the last day, and beyond. The law of obedience, the law of the gospel, the law of chastity, and the law of consecration are all eternal and unchanging. Even the law of sacrifice is the same, only because it has been fulfilled by the Savior is it practiced in an augmented way from the days before the great atoning sacrifice was made.
An area where we need specific guidance for our day is where changing circumstances require different methods of delivering the gospel message. It would certainly be a shame if when pioneering latter-day prophets restored under Christ’s direction God’s kingdom upon the Earth, published all of the guidelines we would have to live by through the rest of time, not taking into account the ongoing restoration and everything that would require other methods in the future as God’s kingdom reached across the planet through different cultures, and the technologies around us progressed.
While we look at inspired changes made in the past as necessary for the growth of God’s kingdom, at the time some of these changes were made, just like in the time of Moses and then in the days Jesus, it has often been difficult for some if not all of the saints to adjust to a new way of doing things. The truth is that some at times have become so bound by tradition that they have taken tradition on as bondage, chains forged to hinder their progression.
“We forge the chains we wear in life.”
Celebrated author Charles Dickens wrote, “We forge the chains we wear in life.” Although Dickens’ words are largely thought only to relate to sin, this quote can also relate to an unwillingness to listen to the Holy Ghost, or hear the prophet’s voice and follow when called upon to do so. When anything runs counter to our established thought process, even the truth, it is often hard for us to digest and persevere in faith.
The Savior said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32). We know that the Living and Eternal Savior has not limited His words to the writings of ancient scripture, and in order to continue in His word we need to hear His voice today as well as read His voice from days past. That is how we become His disciples and continue in discipleship. We hold to the iron rod, which is the word of God, whether those words were produced in ancient times or in our day from the lips of prophets to serve the children of God.
The Apostle Paul wrestled with this very subject in his day when teaching the Galatian saints. They had failed to see that the words of the Lord or His prophet in that day superseded guidelines set in the past. Some were trying to live the old laws of Moses, those rules set down to help the children of Israel gain an understanding of the coming Lord, Who had by then already come and fulfilled those laws, and also foolish traditions that were created by uninspired men in an attempt to control people. Paul taught, “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:9).
Much was done, much was needed, to prepare God’s children for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Savior and his early apostles did and taught much to establish His Church and kingdom in the meridian of time. We live in a time of preparation for the second coming of our Lord, and much will be needed, much will be done, to prepare us for that glorious day. This is our generations’ time to prepare. The very foundations of the Earth will be shaken that our faith may be reaffirmed, and we may receive Him at His coming. And He will come. We stand at the very gates of His kingdom filling the whole Earth.
In the coming days we will continue to hear the word of the Lord by the Spirit and through the lips of prophets, seers and revelators. As we live in an ever-changing world, so will the Lord provide His gospel in ever-changing ways, never conflicting with eternal truths, but nevertheless, being His word and will. There will undoubtably be things to come that we will be less than comfortable with at first, but if we embrace the teachings of the Savior through His servants and by the fruits of the Spirit, we will continue to remain free from bondage and the chains that we set upon ourselves, and be set free by the truth that is in Christ and His kingdom.
As Paul admonished, we must “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1) This too is my testimony and admonition, that we break the repressive chains of narrow traditionalism and over intellectualism, and in child-like faith and widened eyes humbly follow the living gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
This weekend (September 30-October 1), members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will gather, watch and listen to those we revere as prophets, seers and revelators of the Lord Jesus Christ in a semiannual General Conference. I invite all to join us in hearing the living word of the Lord for our day.