Sunday, 15 January 2017

Sermon: Today

TODAY
What is meant in Scripture by the word “today?” Today, is a time for repentance and salvation. Tomorrow, is a time of judgment and burning. A fear that was expressed by writers in past Church journals was that today would cease before they had completed their mission and duty to the world.
“It affords us no small consolation to witness the slow but steady increase of the church of Christ of Latter Day Saints. The fulfilment of the prophecies, and the natural evidence of the fruit of righteousness, are sufficient signs for those that believe, and we rejoice that it is yet today, praying that many may hearken to the everlasting gospel. We hope, knowing that great things await us in this generation; we have faith because the promises of God are sure, and we pray for the faithful labourers in the Lord’s vineyard: they send us good tidings and we glory with them at the prospect before us.” (Messenger & Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 10, p. 153)

“Today,” is that brief time between the beginning of the dispensation to the Gentiles in 1830, to the day of the coming of our Lord. Those who fail in their spiritual duty while it is still today will have to face the judgment of our Lord who will come, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (2 Thess.1:8)
“Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.....Hearken, O ye people of my church, and ye elders listen together, and hear my voice while it is called today, and harden not your hearts;” (D&C 45:2-3)

“Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming. For after today cometh the burning, this is speaking after the manner of the Lord, for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon. Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labour while it is called today.” (D&C 64:5)

We live in the last generation of man between the time the dispensation to the Gentiles was closed and the time of the second coming of Christ. When the master of the vineyard comes to prune His vineyard for the last time, what will he do with those servants who failed to care for His vineyard according to His commands? “And until that hour there will be foolish virgins among the wise; and at that hour cometh an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked; and in that day will I send mine angels to pluck out the wicked and cast them into unquenchable fire.” (D&C 63:14)

Those who do not worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and do not obey the gospel of Christ can expect the baptism by fire (without repentance) that has been decreed by God upon the whole earth. There is nothing more certain than every person that has ever lived upon the earth has their own free moral agency to choose. We must never allude that another man must believe as us. Every person must make their own decisions concerning life and religion. Of course, each person must answer for the works in the flesh. “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) There is no salvation except through the God of Israel. Those who know not this living God, that have received no revelations from Him, can have no faith in Him. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6) “And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” (Ex. 3:15) All other gods are idols which the mind of man conceive of in their own vain imagination.

There is also no salvation except through obeying the gospel of Christ. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:15) “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) No man can receive baptism except through one called of God as was Aaron and commissioned by Jesus to perform those ordinances in His name (authority/commission). “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;” (Isa. 61:1) “ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” (Luke 4:18) “And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:2) “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom 10:15) Man cannot send himself to preach the gospel. He would be acting in his name without God’s authorization. Such ministers profane the name (authority) of God and are subject to severe judgment. The apostle Paul said, “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:9)

The gospel must be understood as the greatest opportunity in life. Obeying the gospel of Christ carries the only promise of eternal life. Soon, it will no longer be today. Tomorrow is the day of the Lord. Tomorrow will be a day of tribulation and destruction for all those that do not obey the gospel. Only the saints of the Most High are to be preserved. The prophet Isaiah said, “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isa. 1:9) We must prepare, watch, and be ready. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matt. 24:49)

“1 Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. 2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. 3 The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word. 4 The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. 5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” (Isa. 24)

Satan has set a trap for the unwary. He leads men to believe that Christ delayeth His coming that they do not have to fear the day of the Lord and spiritually prepare for it while it is still today. He leads man to believe that all is peace. “And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well, and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none, and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment. Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion! Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!” (2 Nephi)

Do not assume that as one of the sheep that you will be counted among the Lord’s flock when He comes to gather His sheep. “25 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 26 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 27 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 28 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (Matt. 16) “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:33) “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. 7:30)

“For any person to suppose that it will be his privilege to sit down in the kingdom of God, in peace, with Peter and the rest of the apostles, who has not obeyed the gospel, and kept the faith of the same, unto the end of his days, will eventually find that the way of the transgressor is hard.” (Messenger & Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 3, p. 239)

It is still today; but, soon it will be tomorrow, the day of the Lord. There is little time left to prepare. It is our duty to make every effort, today, to secure our family in the gospel of Christ before tomorrow overtakes us as the flood. It is always the darkest before the dawn. There is a quiet before the storm. Even in the days of our late prophet Joseph it was understood, “ Sanctify yourselves, O ye servants of the Lord, for much is required at your hands: the blood of souls will cry against you except you hasten on your mission: yes, let all raise their warning voice, in meekness and in mildness, for SOON WILL THERE BE A FAMINE FOR THE WORD OF GOD.” (Messenger & Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 204)

Our first duty in the gospel is to our family. “Those who are favoured with light are bound, more or less, to communicate, at least a portion of their fellow men; and as we are required to respect our own flesh, the kindred ties which bind the human heart are inseparable, in the bosoms of men of God, and have the first claim in all cases where their salvation is concerned.” (Messenger & Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 4, p. 252)

Tomorrow may be too late. “45But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 46 Then shall be fulfilled that which is written, that, in the last days. 47 Two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 48 Two shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 49 And what I say unto one, I say unto all men; Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 50 But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. but would have been ready 51 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 52 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 53 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 54 And Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 55 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 24)

It is my hope and my dream that our family will be together for the Sabbath of Creation. No man should be an island to himself. It is only through the shared love of all that we can have hope. There is a great opportunity before us, today, if we control the future rather than the future controlling us. We know what is going to happen to the saints and to the wicked (in general terms). We may even know how close it really is. Consider for a moment why so many events have happened in the last year. Why have we been afforded spiritual understanding of these last days that has not been enjoyed since the days of our late prophet Joseph? Every sermon I teach brings to you a new understanding of our times and of our scripture. You have learned much since our restoration. But please my brothers and sisters do not assume that because you have been baptised that you will be counted among the worthy. The Jews will not accept their Saviour until He appears to them on Mt. Olives. It is written when the seed of Joseph “begins to come to an understanding” of their lineage the hour is nigh. Only those who are actively preparing, keeping their lamps lit by being actively involved in spiritual affairs will be counted. Read Matthew 25. Jesus was talking about you. Light is brought into our lives through prayer, reading, corresponding, and diligently seeking the truth. Those foolish virgins who were idle relative to spiritual things, had no oil, they had lost the spirit of prophecy and revelation. “11 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 12 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matt. 25) “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” (1 Thess. 5:2) We must not let TODAY pass us by as if married to the world and to the inventions of hands.

Ponder for one moment why you have become privy to understanding such prophecies. You have stood and witnessed this year of signs. You learned much. What is the next major event to happen in this generation? Those who believe in the rock of revelation, have unwavering faith, and ask in prayer are promised to have such questions affecting their understanding, protection, and faith in eternal things revealed. Some of Mormons teachings “Wherefore take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil. For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night. For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that they may know good from evil; wherefore I shew 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; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge, it is of God; but whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil, for after this manner doth the devil work: for he persuadeth no man to do good, no not one; neither doeth his angels; neither do they which subject themselves unto him.

“And now my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully: for with that same judgment which ye judge, ye shall also be judged. Wherefore I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ. And now, my brethren, how is it possible that ye can lay hold upon every good thing? And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak; and I will tell you the way whereby ye may lay hold on every good thing. For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing. And God also declared unto prophets by his own mouth, that Christ should come. And behold there were divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men, which were good; and all things which are good, cometh of Christ, otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them. Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing: and thus it was until the coming of Christ. And after that he came, men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith they become the sons of God. And as suredly as Christ liveth, he spake these words unto our fathers, saying, Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, hath miracles ceased, because that Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath set down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men? for he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those that hath faith in him; and they that have faith in him, will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens. And Because that he hath done this, my beloved brethren, hath miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither hath angels ceased to minister unto the children of men. For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, shewing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind, in every form of godliness. And the office of their ministry is, to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him; and by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof: and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men. And Christ hath said, if ye will have faith in me, ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me. And he hath said, Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved.

“And now my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will shew unto you with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true; and if they are true, hath the day of miracles ceased? or hath angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? or hath he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved? Behold I say unto you Nay, for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore if these things have ceased, wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain: for no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man: for they are as though there had been no redemption made. But behold, my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ, because of your meekness: for if ye have not faith in him, then ye are not fit to be numbered among the people of his church. And again my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope? And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you, that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal; and this because of your faith in him according to the promise; wherefore, if a man have faith, he must needs have hope: for without faith there cannot be any hope. And again: Behold I say unto you, that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart: if so, his faith and hope are vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly of heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost, that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity: for if he have not charity, he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity. And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things; wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail; but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with them. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son Jesus Christ, that ye may become the sons of God, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is, that we may have this hope, that we may be purified even as he is pure: Amen.” (Evening & Morning Star, Vol. 1, No. 8, p. 60

Above all things we must remember to love one another. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34; John 15:12) “ For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (1 John 3:11) If we do not love one another, even as we are commanded to love God, the love of God is not in us and we do not share in the promises of God. How can we love one another when we seldom either see, or hear from one another? Communication is the life blood of understanding. Take it away and soon Satan brings strife and contention. Love without active involvement is love unrealised, no love. How do we know if we love God. “ 15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14) How do we know if we love each other? By truly knowing each other, communicating with each other, and caring for each other as much as we care for ourselves, by having faith, hope, and charity for one another. We must trust one another, believe one another, and pray for one another. Let Satan come between us and we have lost. If enmity ever enters your heart, take it to God in prayer.

Soon, the dispensation to the House of Israel will be opened and those saints found worthy will be gathered to the city of God, the New Jerusalem. there, we will rejoice with Enoch and his city, the remnant of the seed of Joseph, build a temple for our Lord, and have Him for our God on a restored earth. We must be as one, for, if not, we are simply a part of the world and must share in the judgments decreed upon them. The real questions are: How much do we love each other and how much are we willing to sacrifice to realize such a dream? There are no blessings without sacrifice. The greater the sacrifice the greater the blessing. Many men have given their lives for an opportunity to share in this great event. You are among the very few that have been afforded such an opportunity in the flesh. When tomorrow comes, there may not be another chance. If we miss this opportunity, it may never return. How many times have the people of God been consumed by the world and lost? You can understand today, tomorrow, and eternity. You have the promise through the Holy Spirit to be able to learn and experience the eternal for yourself. Once tasted, you will never want to lose such a blessing. Drink deep of the eternal spring, join together in a love we knew before the foundation of the earth, obey the gospel and the commandments of God, and we have the promise to meet the Lord in the New Jerusalem, the city of God. It may be a dream today; but, it can become reality tomorrow.

Prophet Matthew P. Gill

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