Thursday, September 3, 2009

Testing Your Spiritual Bravery

Just as it is impossible for one to gain a spiritual testimony of the Book of Mormon as being the word of God by way of hard scientific facts, it is likewise impossible to gain a testimony of the Holy Bible as being the word of God by the same means; such are only intellectual convictions. However, God does provide physical evidences for those who have not the spiritual discernment to recognize spiritual things. By that means He confounds those who have eyes, but will not see; have ears, but will not hear; have a heart, but one that is hardened to truth.

So with all of the forgoing scientific and intellectual evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon being what it purports to be, why are people so stubborn as to not accept it as God’s word along with the Holy Bible? If the same type of overwhelming scientific evidence was presented in support of the Bible, the reader knows very well that such scientific evidence would be used to show the Bible to be the word of God. Then why not accept the same evidence in favor of the Book of Mormon? Why not? It’s because the pride of man is the great stumbling block to God’s work, and the human ego gets in the way and helps uphold the old devil’s plan instead of God’s.

If one was to truly believe and accept the Book of Mormon as being from God, then they could not escape the fact that they would have to accept the inevitable results that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God; and if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, then that which he taught must be of God; and if what he taught was of God, then one will have to change his belief system, and possibly their way of life; and if he accepts what he once believe to be false, and had possibly preached against, then he might lose credibility with his family, friends, and other associates. With such awareness, then, fear of ridicule and embarrassment enters in, personal pride takes over and the individual becomes even more adamant against the Book of Mormon in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. Consequently, stubborn ego hinders the Spirit of the Lord. So neither being honest with God, nor themselves, they pigheadedly and mistakenly help thwart the Lord’s work while unwittingly upholding Satan’s.

Although the so-called enlightened scholar is believed to approach science in an objective manner, yet vast evidence has shown that such is not necessarily the case, for many have their own prejudice and beliefs to jealously protect. For example, judicial proceedings have been well known to accommodate falsified evidence to protect the guilty or accuse the innocent, and this where truth is presumed to prevail. Also, the Smithsonian Institute has often been charged with, not only hiding historical and scientific evidence of things they did not want exposed, but of actually destroying the same. The cherished belief in these United States of America, and fostered in its social school system, is that Christopher Columbus discovered America, that Darwin was correct in that we all came from monkeys, that all Native Americans came from Siberia, and any view to the contrary upsets the proverbial “applecart.”

Protecting religious beliefs is no different. Regardless of the evidence, the “learned” Mormon scholar will doggedly stick to their belief that Lehi landed in Central or South America, and that this is where the drama of the Book of Mormon played out, regardless of the evidence to the contrary; so they reject any attempt to show otherwise.

The LDS antagonist and critic will likewise do the same in their quest to disprove the Book of Mormon, regardless of overwhelming evidence in its defense. It’s like they are saying the sun isn’t shining when it’s a bright and cloudless noon-day summer sky. Yet religion is where truth and honesty are to prevail. But it doesn’t always, for there is one’s own cherished beliefs to protect in spite of truth!

Where's the Beef?
Many years ago, Wendy’s fast-food restaurant had commercials on television with a little elderly lady who would ask, “Where’s the beef?” Meaning, Where’s the proof that this is a real hamburger? In like manner, many continue to ask, Where’s the proof that the Book of Mormon is what it purports to be?

Many critics say that the idea of people having come to North America from the Middle-East at about 600 B.C. is just a theory without any evidential foundation, and that Joseph Smith’s claim concerning the Book of Mormon is a total fabrication without any solid proof.

So let’s ask: What is a theory? Among other explanations, a theory is simply an “idea” concerning relationships between subject matter, usually accompanied without sound evidence. However, when a few pieces of evidence first appear in support of a theory, that theory then becomes a possibility, based upon coincidental and circumstantial evidence. But when an overwhelming amount of evidence emerges, the theory is no longer considered only a possibility, but an absolute fact. Our courtroom legal system is built upon just this type of reasoning.

The trick to discovering truth, however, is to examine all the facts, not just those that only support one’s pet theory. If one is already predisposed to reject a proposition, and only examines evidence in support of his own chosen belief, then that individual may be denying himself of further beneficial light and knowledge — truth. It’s like an Atheist who denies the existence of his Creator God, but refuses to examine the Holy Bible, along with any other physical or spiritual witnesses.

When it comes to the Book of Mormon, many are indoctrinated into not accepting it by those who have not even read it themselves, let alone seen a copy of it. What often exist are many generations of people who never read the Book of Mormon, but disbelieve it any way, solely based upon the testimony of another person, who probably never read it either, whose unbelief is based upon the testimony of another person, who also probably never read it, etc., etc., etc. Most are only parroting back what they heard other preachers preach. Is such a belief honestly based upon truth? Of course not! It’s based upon false assumption — assuming that what is spoken is true, in spite of opposing evidence.

People often believe what they are told, especially by those of influence such as parents, teachers and preachers in whom they want to have faith. But there is such a thing as “false faith.” Believing that there is no God is such a false faith, as is believing in Pagan philosophies and rituals contrary to our Lord’s gospel of salvation.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” And in verse fourteen he continued, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:11, 14 respectfully.) This saying of Paul being true, then it is the Spirit of God that testifies of truth, not the spirit of man that comes by way of worldly, intellectual, and scientific means.

Like the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon cannot be proven that it is the word of God by physical evidence, nor can one disprove it just because they heard some critic say that somebody else condemned it. Proof of its divine authenticity can only come through study, application, and the influence of the Holy Spirit.

If the reader believes in the power of the Holy Ghost, then he knows that the Holy Ghost cannot lie for it speaks for Christ. So is the reader ready to set aside his inclination to reject something solely based upon another person’s opinion? Does he choose to open his mind and heart to ALL the evidence to discover the “beef,” so to speak? Is he honest enough with God, and himself, to be willing to receive a new challenge — one of the Spirit?

The Spiritual Challenge
Jesus gave a challenge to those who might believe on Him as follows: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). That genuine proposition is offered at the end of the Book of Mormon to those who desire to know of its truth — those desiring to do Father’s will. The last great prophet mentioned in the Book of Mormon, who went by the name of Moroni, said,

And when ye shall receive these things [speaking of the Book of Mormon], I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:4-5.)

One of the keys to this promise is asking God with a sincere heart. If we are not “sincere” in our desire to know truth, because we have some other agenda, bias or prejudice, we cannot, and will not, receive a testimony of truth, for God knows the sincerity of the heart. Another key is the “intent” of our hearts in learning truth. If our intent is to disprove instead of embracing truth, or if our intent is to NOT follow the spirit once received, then the spirit will not be given. For as the Lord said in Matthew 7 and 6: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” In this case, “rend you” means, turning around that which was received, and trying to injure him from whom the gift was so graciously given.

The other key to learning truth is having “faith in Christ”; faith that Jesus Christ will provide you with more than just compensation for that which you might have to surrender for the sake of truth, and that through the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things — not just believe them, but KNOW them, for the Holy Ghost can “burn” that testimony in your heart, and bring a serene spirit of peace to the soul.

Now, dear reader, how spiritually brave are you? Are you willing to set aside all prejudices and previously conceived biased notions against the Book of Mormon? Can you disregard all the ranting-and-railing you have heard against the Book of Mormon to open your spiritual eyes that you can see truth, your ears that you can hear truth, your heart that you can understand truth, and your mind that you can comprehend truth? Will you conquer any pride that might be in the way and take the opportunity presented to honestly, and wholeheartedly, search the Book of Mormon to know of its truthfulness? Can you be honest with yourself, and with God, to accept truth when you do hear the Spirit whisper it to your soul? Can you overcome the fear of what others might think of you when the time comes to make a change in your belief system and way of life? Do you run from truth when it becomes uncomfortable, or can you embrace it regardless of opposition and persecution?

These are sobering questions, I know. But God wants you to be honest with Him and with yourself. Anything short of that is hypocrisy, and I am sure the reader knows what the Lord had to say about hypocrites. (Matt. 23:13; Mark 7:6.) No spiritual testimony can be obtained that either the Holy Bible or the Book of Mormon is the word of God unless there is total obedience to His will, absolute sincerity, and unwavering commitment to truth.

There is one thing I am sure of, and that is this: that you cannot read the Book of Mormon through, from beginning to end, humbly desiring to know the truth at all costs, having no other agenda but to be honest with God and to please Him, and sincerely pray to know if it is true each time you pick up the book to read it, without gaining a testimony of its divine nature. Is your heart pure enough, and is your intention true enough to accept that proposition?

As stated in the preface of this book, this presentation is not for the purpose of converting anyone to Mormonism, for many humble followers of Christ have received a spiritual witness to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon without being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the “Mormon Church.” (See Appendix I: Pastor Lynn Ridenhour; Southern Baptist Minister; apologizes to Mormons and testifies of the Book of Mormon.)

That which has been presented, other than the invitation to appeal to truth by ways of the Holy Ghost as presented in Moroni 10:4-5, is strictly my intellectual attempt to show, through worldly scientific evidence, that the Book of Mormon, along with the Holy Bible, is the word of God. But the real challenge is to see how spiritually brave one can be. So I will repeat a question that was offered above: Are you honest enough with God and with yourself, and willing to receive the Lord’s challenge as offered by Moroni? Are you ready for a new challenge — a new awakening — a renewing of the spirit?