Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sermon: Having a Clear Vision

Many times in discussions we hear the words "LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE ". The implication is that by only looking at a section of a picture you can miss an important aspect by not looking at the whole.

Conversely by looking at the picture as a whole, and not the fine detail in practice will not provide enough information as a working example, years ago when the television was invented by John Logie Baird. He was born 14 August 1888, and died 14 June 1946 was a Scottish engineer, innovator and inventor of the world's first mechanical television; the first publicly demonstrated colour television system; and the first purely electronic colour television picture tube. Baird's early technological successes and his role in the practical introduction of broadcast television for home entertainment have earned him a prominent place in television's history.

In 2002, Baird was ranked number 44 in the BBC's list of the "100 Greatest Britons" following a UK-wide vote. In 2006, Logie Baird was named as one of the 10 greatest Scottish scientists in history, having been listed in the National Library of Scotland's 'Scottish Science Hall of Fame. I can remember pictures being scanned at 420 lines, and then 620. Now we have high resolution mega pixels images where a dot on the screen is 0.29 mm. If we liken the gospel of Jesus Christ to a large picture containing all the detail we need. But only have a small section of the whole. We will never be able to learn, or fully understand the complete gospel or become perfected.

Although all these invention are a great aid to us, we have the greatest blessing by having a living prophet in our midst. Matthew Gill. I have known his father Philip for over 37 years. The book of Jeraneck, which was translated by the Prophet Matthew Gill, is a major part in this overall picture. The canvas or land we are now living on is of special significance. A picture is worth one thousand words. A vision can be worth volumes of books. Now some people might say there is only one picture. But the Lord has albums of books or pictures. As Nephi explains.

And because my words shall hiss forth many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.

4 But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labours, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?

5 O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.

6 Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?

7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.

10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.

11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.

12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.

13 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.

14 And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in cone. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.

(Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 29:3 - 14)

I pray we as Latter Day Mormons can look, read, and ponder these pictures, books, and visions. And continue to increase in our temporal and spiritual strength.

Elder Peter Barber

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Sermon: Our Understanding of Scripture

Many of us as Latter Day Mormons think we know all there is to know about the serpent in the Garden of Eden and the fruit he offered Eve. But do we really? Let us stop for a minute and let us take a closer look at the detail, because as the famous saying goes, the devil is in the detail. So let us as ourselves what does the Bible really reveal about that creature whose temptation brought our fallen state upon mankind?

We are all familiar with the sorry events of when our first parents rebelled against their Creator or are we really that familiar with the story, wait didn’t it go something like this? One sunny day Eve was walking through the trees admiring the luscious fruit and plants that God had placed throughout the Garden, when suddenly she heard a voice. Turning, she saw that the words came from a snake. No big deal, right. Many animals talked in the garden before the fall. Eve was innocent, so she never suspected a sinister and evil scheme and readily engaged in conversation.

Wait! Stop! Hold on. That’s not what happened, well, not exactly. You see, as Eve was walking through the garden admiring the creation of God a mighty angelic being approached her and struck up a discussion. After all we all know that Eve had regularly seen angels in her untainted home in Eden, so she had no reason to be wary. Whoa! Whoa hang on a moment that’s not in the Bible either is it? Eve was helping Adam tend the garden when she accidentally wandered away from Adam and came too close to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Satan saw his him moment and seized the opportunity to deceive Eve by possessing a serpent and speak to her, that’s how it happened, Right?

As Latter Day Mormons it is important that we separate God’s Word from our conjectures no matter how wonderful they may sound or how plausible they may seem. We must remember that when we are talking about Biblical events, like David and Goliath, we often assume we know what happened, that is until someone asks, “But where’s that in the Bible?” It is at that moment that we realise that much of what we think we know as fact did in fact come from teachers, books, or movies we’ve encountered over the years, and not from the Scriptures.

In the case of the events in the Garden of Eden where does Genesis actually identify Eve’s deceiver as the devil? What kind of serpent talks? Was the serpent in a tree? And why wasn’t Eve shocked to hear a talking creature? All these questions are relevant but in many cases are not supported by the scriptures and to many of us can seem a bit of a shock when we find that what we thought we knew was in fact fantasy. It is only natural that in our effort to make sense of these scenes from history that have been left with many holes we try based on the limited perspective of our own lives to fill in the details, however we must remember to be very careful. It is so very important for Latter Day Mormons, as we proclaim the privilege of being led by God and revelation that we remember to separate God’s Word from our conjectures.

So let us ask ourselves and cast our minds back to the three examples I gave at the beginning of this sermon and ask ourselves if any of these three examples closely represent what happened? What do we really know about the details and events of that moment? The answers largely depend in many cases on who you ask. So with that in mind let’s us see who promoted each of these three views to see if they had any biblical support to help us identify the creature. Since the answers shed light on the interaction between humans and the evil “powers” that attempt to draw us into sin, our proper understanding is vitally important to our walk with God (see Ephesians 5:15; 2 Corinthians 2:11).

The first question asked is was The Serpent Just an Animal? Well some early Jewish writers did not think Satan was behind the temptation of eve at all, after all, Satan’s name does not appear in the Genesis account of any of the Bibles apart from our own, the JST. They believed because of there inaccurate scriptures that the serpent itself tempted Eve and the craftiness of this particular animal led to Eve’s fall into sin. It is written in the Book of Jubilees, written before the New Testament and of historical interest although not part of the Bible, states that on the day Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden God closed the mouths of all living things “so that they could no longer speak: for they had all spoken . . . with one tongue” (Jubilees 3:28).  Another account written by the Jewish historian Josephus repeated this popular Jewish idea, writing that God “also deprived the serpent of speech, out of indignation at his malicious disposition towards Adam. Besides this, he inserted poison under his tongue, and made him an enemy to men.” 

We need to remember that most of what the world now knows about Satan comes from New Testament writings, as they do not have the inspired version of the Bible given to us by God. The New Testament links “the serpent” to Satan several times (Revelation 12:9 and 20:2; and also 2 Corinthians 11:3–15). The most popular view among Christians today is that Satan possessed the body of a serpent. This position combines the strengths of the other two views while minimising the difficulties it brings up scripturally. As Latter Day Mormons we have been blessed with the JST Bible and we know that Satan was responsible in a very real sense, but we also have the witness of the New Testament which indicates this as well (John 8:44).

In concluding this sermon may I remind each and everyone of us that things are not always as they seem at first glance in the scripture which is why God blesses us with the spirit and also with Prophets to help us and to guide in the right paths? This often becomes apparent when we study the Scriptures in detail. In the case of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, many questions remain unanswered to those without prophets to guide them or fulfilled scripture to aid them, however we should still remain tentative in answering them. Either we lack sufficient understanding, or the Holy Spirit chooses not to divulge enough information for us to be conclusive, that is the state in which we find ourselves. While it is intriguing to think about the serpent’s appearance and it is important to consider the ways in which the devil works (2 Corinthians 2:11), a far more important concern is how he was able to deceive the first woman and how Satan continues even today to tempt people to doubt the Word of God today and the Gospel today Just as in the days of Adam and Eve. Let us not forget that Satan was able to led Eve to question the reliability of God’s statements (“Did God really say . . .”), the enemy of creation and God is currently attacking the reliability of the early chapters of Genesis, with similar deadly results. There are many believers who have fallen for his deception and have opted to reinterpret or ignore the biblical view of the origin of the human family. This continued attack has had devastating results because it undermines our very understanding of biblical authority and the basis of the gospel of Christ and the message of eternal salvation. Let us as Latter Day Mormons learn from the mistake of our mother Eve, and take a firm stand on God’s side and on the revelation of life and the human family contained in Genesis. Let us not forget for one moment that God meant what He said, and we need to believe it today and for ever in our quest to return to be with him again.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Stonehenge Revealing Her Secrets

Humans have marvelled at the majesty of Stonehenge for thousands of years, but the famous landmark’s original purpose has remained a mystery. Now, a new radar technique has revealed hundreds of previously unknown Neolithic monuments, chapels, and shrines around the mysterious monument in Wiltshire. One archaeologist thinks they could provide evidence that the stone circle was at the heart of a busy processional route for well over 4,000 years ago.

The archaeologist Professor Gaffney went on to say: - ‘This is among the most important landscapes, and probably the most studied landscape, in the world, and the area has been absolutely transformed by this survey. It won’t be the same again. It’s going to change how we understand Stonehenge

Professor Gaffney believes these sites suggest Stonehenge was not an isolated monument in an unspoilt landscape, but that there was lots of human activity nearby.

The Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ has always known that this entire landscape has always been more than what the wider world has thought. We know through revealed scripture that this was a place of worship for many generations and that it was frequented almost all of the time by many people who lived and worshiped near by in the vicinity of Stonehenge. We do not need to be told by so called men of worldly knowledge what we have known through revelation, however it helps us to know that they are only now beginning to learn what we have known for many years.

To learn more about the real truth of ancient Britain, read for yourselves The Book of Jeraneck and please visit our website

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