Stake Conference November 2014 Part II
Here’s the talk I gave today for Stake Conference….
When Jesus stood before Pontius Pilot he was asked, “What is truth?”
Truth can be defined as knowledge of things as they were, as they are and as they are to come. Truth is unchanging.
In John 8:32 we read, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Free from what?
Free from the consequences of false information and false doctrine.
In various forms of racing, a “red flag” means to stop. I will use my “red flag” as I would like to propose 8 ways in which you can determine if what you are reading or hearing may not be true.
- If your conscience warns you something is wrong, this is a red flag. Moroni 7:16 tells us, “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ “
- If the Holy Ghost does not testify of the truthfulness, this is a red flag. Moroni 10:5 says, “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
- If the person telling you is using jargon you have never heard in church, lesson manuals, the scriptures or General Conference, this is a red flag. I Corinthians 14:4 tells us, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.”
- If it is new or foreign doctrine, and you are not hearing it from the prophet, this is a red flag. Amos 3:7 tells us, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” The current prophet is the only one authorized to receive revelation on behalf of the world. Individuals who dabble in the dreams and visions of others, and place validity on these dreams as if they were revelation for themselves or the world are on the verge of apostasy.
- If what you are being told does not align to what the prophets and apostles are telling us today, this is a red flag. President Benson in a 1980 BYU Devotional stated that the words of the living prophet are more vital than the words of a dead prophet, and the words of the living prophet are more vital than the standard works.
- Scripture, mingled with the philosophies of men is another “red flag.” Elder Hartman Rector, Jr., in the January 1974 Ensign warned, “we are not called to preach the philosophies of men mingled with scripture or our own ideas or the mysteries of the kingdom.”
- If someone is taking scripture out of context or ignoring the symbolism revealed, this is a red flag. We recently studied Isaiah in Gospel Doctrine. We learned that the tent spoken of in Isaiah 54 represents the church, and the stakes are the stakes of Zion. Also, in Isaiah 2:2 we learned that the “mountain of the lord” is reference to the temples. Yet, there are people who, using these scriptures in Isaiah would want you to believe that they mean we are all going to be living in the mountains, in tents.
- Finally, if the presenter of the information cannot back it up with a doctrinal reference, that is a “red flag”. A valid reference would be (a) chapter and verse from the standard works, (b) a statement by a prophet that has not been superseded by latter prophet, and if it has, the most recent statement should be the one cited, (c) Conference Reports, (d) Church Handbooks and Manuals and (e) the Ensign. What isn’t valid as doctrine are books written expressing personal opinions or theories, or any other source from someone who does not have the authority to represent the Lord in their speaking or writing. Again, “surely the Lord God will do nothing save he revealeth his secrets unto his servant the prophet.”
Do not be afraid to challenge a presenter of information with the statement, “Give me chapter and verse.” I had a missionary companion who taught me this. I grew up in the church, and he was a convert. Many of you may know him as until about a year ago, he lived in Canandaigua Ward. His name is Paul O’Donnell. We would be discussing some gospel topic, and I would make a claim, and Elder O’Donnell would say, “Chapter and verse, Elder, chapter and verse.” This forced me to be able to defend my claims and taught me that we should be careful that we are teaching doctrine, and not the philosophies of men.
In today’s day and age, we have the Internet. Recently, Elder Bednar gave a devotional at Education Week. In that, he encouraged us to use the Internet in a positive way. The talk can be found on LDS.org. I encourage you to read it and study his advice.
The Internet is being used for both good and bad, but beware, there are wolves in sheeps’ clothing who would like to feed you false information and doctrine.
How do you protect yourself?
I just gave you a list, but let me also add what you can do when you see a “red flag”. When you see a red-flag item, feel free to challenge the person by politely asking, “And, where did you read this?”
Recently, I was touring some of the historic sites in the area with some brethren who work in the church historic department. One of them made a claim, and his colleague asked, “What is your source for this information?”
I figure if it is good enough for them to challenge each other, should we not keep each other on the straight an narrow by asking where such information comes from? It is good for both parties. It becomes a learning experience for the student and the teacher.
Another way to protect yourself is going to the source of the information. For example, someone recently told me that our president signed an executive order that would allow the Federal Government to come seize all your food storage. Red Flag 2 went off. The Spirit told me this isn’t true. So, I asked, “May I get that executive order number?”
The conversation being on Facebook eventually resulted in about 50 or more executive order numbers along with a short description of each one.
Was this good enough for me?
No. Anyone can makeup numbers and statements. I went to the Library of Congress Web Site and I started to look up each of those executive order numbers. Every single one as signed by John F. Kennedy in the 1960s. None of them had anything to do with food. Most of them had to do with labor union contracts. I was disappointed in the person who sent this list, but more disappointed that someone would work so hard to deceive.
Learn how to validate information you receive using the Internet.
How do you know what is a valid source?
First, blogs, Facebook, pictures text over the top (called Memes), e-mails, etc., are not necessarily valid sources. If someone says it is church doctrine, go to lds.org and do some research. All of the scriptures are there as well as Ensign magazines going back to 1971, and lesson manuals and lots of other materials.
If the information is of a political or legislative nature, you have whitehouse.gov, senate.gov, house.gov and the library of congress all on line.
If the information is of a scientific nature, you have sites like nasa.gov, the Mayo Clinic, various universities, and more all on-line.
Much information is available as a matter of public record. Learn how to discern between valid sources of information, and speculation. Of course, the best tool we have for that is the Spirit. Pray for the spirit as the spirit testifies of the truth.
For church information, we have lds.org which in the upper right corner has a search box. Once you search, you can narrow your search to scriptures, conference talks, magazines, manuals, videos, etc.
For secular information, we have search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and more. These too have options, and some even allow you to configure your search results so that you can avoid pornography.
By following the spirit, and learning how to validate information using the Internet, you can protect yourselves from the consequences of false information and doctrine.
“And Ye Shall Know the Truth, and the Truth Shall Make You Free.” I testify to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.