“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

Writing is where we truly learn. Join the Journey.

I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Notwithstanding the Miracles (Helaman 10:12-19)

"but where they have been convinced by the outpouring of the spirit of God, … they have been more likely to stand, more likely to endure persecution and trial"

NotWithStanding: in spite of : adverb nevertheless; in spite of this : conjunction although; in spite of the fact that :

Signs do not convert. Miracles do not convert. Faith alone convicts us.

Growing up in the deep south, I had ample opportunity to share the gospel with my neighbors and classmates. On different occasions someone would challenge my beliefs on faith based issues. One afternoon on my mother's dock, an older neighbor boy from down the street decided to hang out for a bit. Our conversation turned to my recent conversion and my decision to attend church. I ended up bearing my testimony to him. He told me I could not know. I told him I did know.
His lack of belief in a God caused us to get into a somewhat heated debate that ended when he said to me.. rather foolishly. "You can't know. And to show it to you, I am going to throw these rocks at you. If they hit you then you are wrong. I am sure that you are wrong and I am sure that you will get hit." (He didn't chose to throw them so that they would hurt me, but rather just to prove a point.)
I took my stance and said "Fire away". We both agreed that I would stand about 5 feet from him so that it wouldn't be too difficult or too easy, and that I would stand perfectly still. He chose several small stones and began unloading his arsenal upon me. He never hit me. Not once. He was dumbfounded. So I said.. "Well then I guess I am right".
He said that there was something wrong. So I moved closer. Still he could not hit me. Eventually he left as I had refused to argue with him. And he could not hit me. He had asked for a sign, but it did not convince him that I was protected, that God lived, or that I was right. It really did nothing more than entertain me and frustrate him.
Signs and miracles come from God as a gift to the faithful. It is not our place to ask for them. It is our place to look for them and to recognize them.

I attended a beautiful Missionary Fireside this evening where two recent converts spoke to this very topic. BrB spoke on how he had been raised by an active atheist who worked to disprove the faith of others. When he decided to give religion a try, he only knew to ask for signs. He went through this several times and each time he was awed, he was stunned, he was entertained, but he was not convicted through his faith. It was not until he asked for help, (not signs) that he learned to recognize God's love. When God's loved wrapped itself around him, his conviction changed his life forever.

God's love is not to be found in signs. It is not to be found in gimmicks or things that "prove" as if it were a science experiment. God's love is not an experiment. It is within us and can only be accessed through humble prayer.

Words and Phrases

vs 12 did not go unto his own house .. - Nephi was so obedient (remember he had gained the trust of God) that he did not stop to gain food, accessories, supplies, etc. He left immediately and returned to the multitudes.
vs 12 declare unto them - This time they were not mystified by his prayers for them (on the tower), they were not stunned by his knowledge of murderers amongst them( judges murder), nor did they witness a sign (the confession of the true murderer), instead they had to listen with their ears and their hearts to his words.

vs 13 notwithstanding that great miracle - Miracles tend to bring on power plays. I'm more powerful. I'm more knowledgeable. Miracles oftentimes can be misunderstood or explained away by the witty or learned. Miracles are for those that reason, they are not for the believers. The believers experience miracles all the time. But they do not rely on miracles to build their faith. Believers understand that it is God's love that keeps them bound to their faith.
vs 14 declare unto the word of the Lord ... In the end, we must learn to listen to God's word. We must learn to love God's word. We must learn God's love and keep it close to our hearts. Then and only then will it have sway on our minds.
vs 15 revile against him -Not only did they criticize him, but they became angry with him and tried to seize him and throw him into prison. They no longer cared about the Judge, nor the evidence, nor the truth. This was not about truth. It was about power. They wanted the power for themselves and Nephi stood in their way.
vs 16 he was taken by the Spirit and conveyed away..- I don't understand if he was translated, protected, or died, but I do know that he was protected and was able to give his message
vs 17. go forth in the Spirit - Was he a spirit? Was he in his body and he carried forth with the spirit of God in him? ??
vs 18 they were divided - If it is not of God it will divide you. If it is not of God it will bring contention. They bring upon themselves their own destruction.

The following is from Dallin H. Oaks June 2001 Ensign

Why Don’t We Hear More about Miracles?

Why don’t our talks in general conference and local meetings say more about the miracles we have seen? Most of the miracles we experience are not to be shared. Consistent with the teachings of the scriptures, we hold them sacred and share them only when the Spirit prompts us to do so.

The revelation on priesthood affirms the biblical teaching in Mark 16:17 that “signs,” including miraculous healings and other wonderful works, “follow them that believe” (see also D&C 84:65). Similarly, modern revelation directs that “they shall not boast themselves of these things, neither speak them before the world; for these things are given unto you for your profit and for salvation” (D&C 84:73). Another revelation declares, “Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit” (D&C 63:64). President Brigham Young explained, “Miracles, or these extraordinary manifestations of the power of God, are not for the unbeliever; they are to console the Saints, and to strengthen and confirm the faith of those who love, fear, and serve God, and not for outsiders.” 7

Latter-day Saints generally follow these directions. In bearing testimonies and in our public addresses we rarely mention our most miraculous experiences, and we rarely rely on signs that the gospel is true. We usually just affirm our testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel and give few details on how we obtained it. Why is this? Signs follow those that believe. Seeking a miracle to convert someone is improper sign seeking. By the same token, it is usually inappropriate to recite miraculous circumstances to a general audience that includes people with very different levels of spiritual maturity. To a general audience, miracles will be faith-reinforcing for some but an inappropriate sign for others.

There are good reasons why we do not seek conversions by exhibiting signs. “The viewing of signs or miracles is not a secure foundation for conversion. Scriptural history attests that people converted by signs and wonders soon forget them and again become susceptible to the lies and distortions of Satan and his servants (Hel. 16:23; 3 Ne. 1:22, 3 Ne. 2:1, 3 Ne. 8:4.). …

“In contrast to the witness of the Spirit, which can be renewed from time to time as needed by a worthy recipient, the viewing of a sign or the experiencing of a miracle is a one-time event that will fade in the memory of its witness and can dim in its impact upon him or her.” 8

President George Q. Cannon (1827–1901), who served for more than a quarter century in the First Presidency, observed: “It has been a matter of remark among those who have had experience in this Church that where men have been brought into the Church by such manifestations, it has required a constant succession of them to keep them in the Church; their faith has had to be constantly strengthened by witnessing some such manifestations; but where they have been convinced by the outpouring of the spirit of God, … they have been more likely to stand, more likely to endure persecution and trial than those who have been convinced through some supernatural manifestation.” 9

1 comment:

  1. What a powerful testimony. You never told me this story before. It is just powerful. Erin sent me the name of a friend who wants to read my Observations. A new reader.
    Love dad


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