Sunday, June 26, 2022

What "fruits" do we have?

Only one member of the LDS Church has ever really tried to "reclaim" me since they kicked me out for apostasy nearly eight years ago. Most members of the cult undoubtedly said "good riddance!" and never talked to me again -- including members of my own family. Using an admixture of calling me to repentance, inviting me back to the fold, and offering his service as a real estate broker, the fellow above prompted this post:

After I declined his offers, I reminded him that we can know the Lord's true disciples by their fruits. So, of course, he asked me, what were my fruits?

As you may be asking yourselves the same question, I give you the answer I gave him nearly eight years ago:

Literally, my fruits are my family. [My wife] would not be my wife and we would not have our seven children together but for my faith in Jesus Christ and my understanding of his gospel.
In another sense, the totality of my life’s achievements represent the “fruits” I bear, for better and worse.
In the deepest sense, the greatest “fruit” I have born is that hefted from the Tree of Life: my love for Jesus Christ and whatever good I have done because of his influence over me. I have tasted that fruit and it has filled my soul with joy. My perdurable conviction of the authenticity of the prophetic ministry of Joseph Smith, the divine inspiration and power undergirding the production and translation of the Book of Mormon, and the coming forth of the great revelations pertinent to the restoration of the gospel in our time (a movement substantially “stalled” and incomplete now) are more “fruits” I bear.
Much of my fruit, however, is destined for the grave and is not eternal, lamentably. What can be gathered for heaven from what I have produced? Not much. Neither my wife nor my children have been “born again,” born of God, or “converted,” though, from time to time, they receive inspiration via the Holy Ghost. My calling and election have, by no means, been made sure. My personal interactions with Jesus have been few and far between. I am estranged from him, it would seem (no doubt by my actions, choices, and faithlessness). Nevertheless, I have heard his voice and have seen his light. He has pierced my soul to the very core with his love.
I wish I could bear fruits that would appeal to heaven and be noted as something worth “saving.” (Otherwise, I won’t be!) What “fruits” would heaven preserve in me? Let’s see (by examining me and the scriptures) which ones I possess and which ones I lack.
First and foremost, the list of commandments and duties articulated in D&C 88:118-126 come to mind. Someone possessed of the mind of God would do (and be!) those things. Of particular note is the commandment/attribute: “And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace” (v. 125), for “charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8.)
I pray for charity! (But, apparently, not enough! At least you don’t think so!)
Clearly one of the spiritual gifts I possess is knowledge. But you have accused me of being arrogant and unhumble. Perhaps that’s because “[k]nowledge puffeth up,” while “charity edifieth.” (1 Corinthians 8:1.) I’ll continue to pray for charity.
I affirm what Paul wrote Timothy:


5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. (1 Timothy 1:5-7)


Salvation is by grace through FAITH IN CHRIST. “It is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (See Ephesians 2:8-9.) We must labor, nonetheless, with all the energy of our souls, to receive salvation — by asking, seeking, knocking, obeying God, sacrificing, purifying ourselves, consecrating our whole souls to following our Savior — until we receive his gift. It is his gift, after all, to give. He earned it.
There is a penchant among Latter-day Saints — even as there was among the Jews who were converted unto Christ, who formerly followed the law of Moses — to focus on the law (again!) and to put their trust in their works, or the arm of flesh — giving heed to mortal leaders (and their endless demands, the commandments of men) and minding ordinances (the rituals and observances of the law first delivered to them, but later added upon, changed, and corrupted by those who followed) — thinking by doing these things (whatever they are), they might somehow “earn” their salvation (as Christ did, he never really having “lost” it, because of his strict obedience).
Salvation (for us), however, does not come by keeping the commandments of God alone (for we are all — and yet remain! — sinners!), but by trusting in the Lord and by enduring in the faith that he is righteous and mighty to save until the end of our mortal lives. (See Mosiah 4:6.) Works alone (without faith in Christ) cannot save us, but faith in Christ and his power can, our faith being made “perfect” (or manifest) by our works. (See Joseph Smith Translation of James 2:15.)


9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine
15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1: 9-10,15.)

Trusting in the law to save us damns us! (For we have ALL broken the law.) Consequently, salvation is in Christ — who is the Love of God — and none (and nothing) else! One can keep many commandments (even as I image Lucifer once did and still does!) and not feel one particle of selfless love. So what of that? Of what usefulness to the universe is an unloving renegade? What good can come of him who might turn on a dime and destroy that which he doesn’t love, if he could? What a danger would persist if someone possessing all power and knowledge didn’t love all that which the Father has created? Perduring love alone is able to keep in check unlimited knowledge and power. That’s what holds the worlds together!
Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) was a pretty “bad” dude. He “made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.” (Acts 8:3.) Meanwhile, “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.” (Acts 8:5-6.)
As a Pharisee, Paul was a false prophet. He taught false doctrine and persecuted and scattered the Lord’s flock. Philip was a true prophet, his authority from God being confirmed by the evidence of miracles which he performed (just as Jesus’ authority was demonstrated). The people thus gave heed to him, even as they did Jesus.
Who are God’s true messengers and authorized servants today? How would we know?
Was Paul a murderer, a whoremonger, a deviant, and such? Yet, once converted unto Christ, he called himself “chief among sinners.” Was he being falsely modest? Or simply telling the truth?
I’m astounded by to what degree I have violated during my lifetime the knowledge of God I possess. My propensity to commit sin (or to refrain from doing so!) used to be far greater (and, simultaneously, far less) than I initially imagined.
God gives us weakness to make us humble…and it works! But while some are softened, even being lowered to the dust by their failures and shortcomings, others are hardened, “steeling” themselves against the truth, ashamed to admit or confess their mistakes and weaknesses. Once “tasting” of the delicious, sweet, pure and perfect fruit of the Tree of Life, they look about as if they are ashamed of the opinions and judgments of others, then slink off into filthy waters and forbidden paths, or perhaps ascend lofty towers, having no sure foundation. They live without Christ (or his forgiveness and cleansing) in this world.
Salvation is in Christ Immanuel (“anointed one,” “God with us”). If I could sum up the entire Book of Mormon in one sentence, it would be that salvation is gained by partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Life — which fruit is the love of God, manifest in Jesus Christ…for salvation (for us) is not obtained by wielding the sword, by laying up gold and silver, or by serving one’s fellow man while keeping a long list of laws, but rather salvation comes by knowing and loving Jesus Christ personally and becoming love oneself!
One’s association with Christ suffuses and infuses everything every “saved” person does.
You asked me earlier: “Do you love the Lord, Will?” I do. And because I love him, I strive to keep his commandments. Which commandments? The ones he has given me — and continues to give me — not the commandments of men which (like bodily exercise) “profiteth little,” but are powerless to save.
For only Christ (and his love!) can save us, not just (or even primarily) our works!
This “salvation by Christ” is a personal experience. Christ manifests himself to those who love him and keep his commandments. (See John 14:23; D&C 130:3.) He introduces to his Father those whom he seals to himself. He personally promises — with an assurance that cannot be broken — that he will save whom he covenants with (by his foreknowledge and power) to do whatever it takes to resurrect and exalt that soul who manifests implicit trust in, love for and obedience to him. He will insure that they continue, having eternal life in a mansion he prepares for them! (See John 14:2-3.) This is a personal manifestation, ordinance and experience performed solely by him. It cannot be assigned to another, or gained and gleaned for oneself by being baptized only by water, or by going through some temple ceremony, or by serving a mission, holding a Church calling, getting sealed to a spouse, or receiving any other ordinance performed by mere men. This ordinance comes from God alone. Salvation is found in him and nowhere else! “[T]he keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there.” (2 Nephi 9:41.)
Follow the prophet” can take one only so far. We must come unto Christ to gain eternal life.
In the past, God’s wrath and displeasure were poured out on those who would not ascend, who failed to prepare and sanctify themselves to meet him personally. Instead they trusted in their own power, in other gods, or in the flesh pots of Egypt. (See Numbers 14.) Even when they beheld God’s power and he declared he wanted them to see and hear him personally, they besought Moses to go up for them, expecting him to approach the God of Heaven on their behalf! (See Exodus 20:19.) For this “wickedness,” those Israelites were caused to wander 40 years in the desert, until they all died, never entering the Promised Land.
How are we, by and large, any different than them if we claim to “follow the prophet” instead of “come unto Christ”? And if we do not experience the power and gifts of God in our own lives, how can we honestly claim to know him?
I reveal a great mystery given to me as I prepared these words:
11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.
13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 31:11-13.)
I have read these words hundreds of times. And (as you've noted previously) when gifted with the Holy Spirit, we experience and understand things kept “hidden” from the world.
This scripture speaks of water, but being baptized by water alone does not ensure that the gift of the Holy Ghost is received. In fact, one doesn’t even need baptism by water (or the laying on of hands!) to be filled with the Holy Ghost! Nevertheless, one who receives this gift will be inspired to be baptized (born of water, spirit and blood) even as Adam “was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water. And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man.” (Moses 6:64-65.)
What is essential is that we be baptized in Christ’s name! It is in taking upon ourselves his name — becoming like him, doing the works which we have seen him do, following him, receiving his Holy Spirit — that we are saved…and in no other way. (2 Nephi 31:4-21.) Immersion in water is but a sign, a symbol, a token of death, rebirth, cleansing, what have you. (You’ve heard it all!) But it is also a symbol of complete and total immersion in the name of Christ! We must experience being baptized in his name! (LDS apostles were commissioned to be special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world. See D&C 107:23.) We must take upon ourselves his name and become even as he is! THIS is salvation! Jesus is the prototypical saved Man, the exemplar of all we must do and become in order to be saved, even as he is, coming unto the Father as he has! There is NO OTHER WAY! He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6)
Of course, I’m not just saying we must acknowledge we are Christians by calling ourselves such (as I did with each of my three sons: Christian Daniel Carter, Cael Christian Carter and Nathaniel Christian Carter). I’m saying we must become indistinguishable from Christ: to see us is to see him. (See D&C 130:1, 1 John 3:2 and Moroni 7:48.) In fact, Moroni’s words are most instructive, because he identifies what we must do and be in order to be “saved”:
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. (Moroni 7:48.)
One possessing charity is loath to swat a fly! He cares not for material possessions, but wants nothing more than to relieve the suffering and lift the spirits of others. He will not willfully sin. He is “outward-oriented,” focusing on others’ welfare, not his own. His sorrows (and he will have many, if he is a true follower of Christ) will be “swallowed up” in the joy of Jesus. (See Alma 31:38.)
Peter elaborated:
Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:9-11.)
In other words, whatsoever God has given and entrusted to us we ought to use in the service of others, to the glory of God through Jesus Christ.
Moroni (and others) have expounded on these gifts and attributes:
“And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.
For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom; And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles; And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things; And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits; And again, to another, all kinds of tongues; And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues. And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.
And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ. And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.
Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity. And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope. And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity. And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me.
And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth—that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief. And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God. And wo unto them who shall do these things away and die, for they die in their sins, and they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God; and I speak it according to the words of Christ; and I lie not.” (Moroni 10:8-26.)
Perhaps we all are in need of calling upon God with greater faith to receive and exercise his power and gifts in greater abundance in the service of our fellowman.
An angel visited king Benjamin, delivering a message for his people that they might repent and exercise faith in Jesus Christ unto keeping his commandments (see Mosiah 3). Before delivering that message, however, king Benjamin spoke of the dire consequences of listing to the evil spirit:
36 And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved—
37 I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.
38 Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.
39 And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment. (Mosiah 2:36-39.)
Apparently “that man” won’t be saved!
We know we are counted with that man if we transgress and refuse to repent; if we are inclined to “shrink from the presence of the Lord,” perhaps feeling “guilt, and pain, and anguish” for our sins. All those who come unto Christ initially feel this way…for they recognize they are fallen and damned. It is impossible not to feel this way and come unto him…for we stand — or, rather, we kneel and lie prostrate before him — fully cognizant of our unworthiness and dependence upon his grace and mercy and cleansing and ordinances for our salvation.
Those of us whom he saves receive him — not just his words or his servants — but him, personally. In his own time, and in his own way, and as he sees fit (see D&C 88:68), he comes to those to whom he chooses to minister and with whom he chooses to covenant and dwell — introducing them to his Father. (See John 14:23.) I have now met (since being excommunicated from the Mormon Church) two men who have testified of meeting Christ. I have reason to believe they are telling the truth. (Of course, we can only know of these things for certain by experiencing them ourselves.)
I have enough personal experience with Deity, however — with Jesus Christ, specifically, via the Holy Ghost — to believe these witnesses are telling the truth. I have hope to continue pressing forward with steadfast faith in Christ, feasting on his word. (See 2 Nephi 31:19-21.)
I am told (and believe) he is the same yesterday, today and forever. His ways are from everlasting to everlasting, unchangeable. The gospel he bares is the same from the foundation of the world. All are equal before him. We are saved and exalted upon the very same principles and by the very same means. God cannot lie.
Surely those who defy his laws “forfeit” his spiritual gifts, for without his Holy Spirit, how could any possess them? (Nevertheless, God is faithful to “reward” even evil doers and the ungrateful with goodly (even godly) gifts, for he keeps his own word, giving unto them who faithfully ask…and even to them who don’t! (See Matthew 5:44-45 and Helaman 5.)
Consider the “hardened” Lamanites and “apostate” Nephites that were converted to the Lord, even the murderous dissenters who came to kill Nephi and Lehi being held in prison! In a miraculous display of God’s power and glory — for he works by power and glory through faith, which Nephi and Lehi exercised on the behalf of others; as did Alma on behalf of his wicked son, Alma the younger; or Ammon on behalf of king Lamoni and his family — God pours out his Spirit even upon the wicked that they might be saved…if they will but hearken and look and call upon his holy name for deliverance! (See Helaman 5.)
God has so delivered me, many times, in many ways. Those are more “fruits.”
Those who have violated God’s laws and have withdrawn from his Spirit can be “detected” by their lack of spiritual gifts. Moroni wrote:
[I]f the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief. And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.” (Moroni 10:24-25.)
The kind of “charitable” stuff we “commonly” do — what we call “good works” — does not qualify as “the power and gifts of God.” (Going to church, paying tithing, working on a welfare farm, receiving the ordinances of the temple, etc. — these are the “works of men” (though they may be motivated by charity, a heavenly gift). We may all have “joy” in these works for a season, but they come to an end.
God’s works, on the other hand, are everlasting.
I have received many divine gifts, primarily the gift of knowledge, but also several others, including the gifts of prophecy and revelation (through visions and dreams), healing (both spiritual and physical), tongues and interpretation of tongues, detecting and casting out devils, etc.
What “fruit” do I have and exercise now? I hope I have charity! But, if not, I pray with all the energy of my soul that I may cultivate and receive that heavenly gift!