Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Work of Restoring the Truth to the Bible

When the angel Moroni appeared to the young Joseph Smith on 21 September 1823 not only did he open the door for the restoration of truth with the bring froth of the book of Mormon but he also opened up in the mind of the young Joseph certain things that might be amiss with the revealed word of God, the Bible. When Moroni spoke to the young Joseph he quoted a few passages form the Bible however when he quoted them he quoted them with certain significant differences from the widely known King James Bible. This stayed with the young Joseph as a seed being planted in his mind to com forth in full beauty when the time was right. While translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph learned that many “plain and precious things” had been lost from the Bible (see 1 Nephi 13:25-29) and the quotations told him by the Angel Moroni and that had taken route in his mind all those years ago now started to make sense to him. After Joseph was baptised he found that he was enlightened, and the true meaning and intention of the scriptures was revealed to him. So when the Prophet Joseph had made an end of his translating the Gold Plated in to the book of Mormon, it was only natural that his attention would turn to the Bible. When we think of the work that brother Joseph did on the Bible the word translation can be misunderstood. The word translation brings to mind the use of the original text and ancient languages however brother Josephs work was to restore the correctness of the scripture to restore the “plain and precious things” that had been lost and all this to be done by the power of the Spirit, not by scholarly interpretation. As he started the work on the Bible he stated that in June of 1830 while receiving the truth of the Book of Moses or what has become termed the revelation of Moses he stated that “line upon line of knowledge” was being revealed which gave a correct account of hat Moses had received of the Lord, but had not survived the ages of writing and re-writing. As Joseph and Sidney Rigdon were working on the New Testament, the Prophet recorded these words “For while we were doing the work of translation, which the Lord had appointed unto us, we came to the twenty ninth verse of the fifth chapter of John, which was given unto us, now this caused us to marvel, for it was given unto us of the Spirit” (D&C 76:15, 18). Joseph’s work of translating the Bible was a purely spiritual work, although he would later go in to study German, Hebrew and Latin it was not that knowledge that provided a basis to correct the scriptures. Brother Joseph would go through the entire Bible, dictating to Sidney Rigdon the changes, deletions, or additions. This work brought forth so many new truths that had been lost to us and new information that we could hold true to and expand our understanding of the Gospel.
It had been over a year since the Prophet had started work on the revision of the Bible, and the months of January and February 1832 found him again involved in this assignment. It was though is diligent study of the scriptures that many questions were resolved through revelation. One such question had to do with the Christian belief and interpretation of Heaven. The Prophet wrote “Upon my return from Ohio conference, I resumed the translation of the scriptures with Brother Sidney. From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching upon the salvation of man, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled. It appeared self evident from what truths were left, that if God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body the term ‘Heaven’, as intended for the saint’s eternal home must include more kingdoms than one. Accordingly, on the 16th of February, 1832 while translating St. Johns Gospel, I and Elder Sidney Rigdon saw the following vision….”

This vision can be found in what we know today as section 76 of the D&C and today makes up our understanding of what heaven truly is and what it shall be for all men and this was done through the process of translating the Bible through the spirit. Let us just imagine what great truths and understanding we would be missing today if that work had not rolled forth and how we would be in the same state that the rest of the Christian world finds themselves in today. All this great work that we have in our possession today is thanks to the work done on the Bible and section 78 is no exception.  I would like to finish this sermon with the words of the Prophet himself concerning the work of the translating of the Bible and the impact of “The Vision” that makes up our D&C section 78. “Nothing could be more pleasing to the saints upon the order of the kingdom of the Lord, than the light which burst upon the world through the foregoing vision. Every law, every commandment, every promise, every truth, and every point touching the destiny of man, from Genesis to Revelation, where the purity of the scriptures remains unsullied by the folly of men, go to show the perfection of the theory of different degrees of glory in the future life and witnesses the fact that that document is a transcript from the records of the eternal world. The sublimity of the ideas; the purity of the language; the scope for action; the continued duration for completion, in order that the heirs of salvation may confess the Lord a bow the knee; the rewards for faithfulness, and the punishments for sins, are so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men, that every honest man is constrained to exclaim: It came from God”
In the Name of Jesus Christ Amen.

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