Let Us Not Wander in Strange Roads!
By Richard Price
"And many were lost . . . wandering in strange roads"
(1 Nephi 2:81).5>
|The Old, Old Path
By Virginia Brown
One of the dangers to us who have joined the Restoration Branches Movement in order to preserve the original Gospel of the RLDS Church, is that we will forget our religious roots and accept false doctrines. Nephi explained concerning some of the people in Lehi's vision, "And after they had tasted of the fruit . . . they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost" (1 Nephi 2:76). Yes, even some of those who followed the Rod of Iron to the tree of life and partook of the precious fruit, afterward wandered "in strange roads" until they departed from the faith. This danger is always present, for the Lord has given us a definite set of doctrines and ordinances, and all we have to do is to depart from them—and suddenly we are lost in apostasy!
It is amazing how easily some set aside the original teachings of the Church and accept new theories and practices, which are contrary to the Gospel which Christ restored in 1830 through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Even some of the leading ministers in the Restoration branches today add to this tendency by making such statements as, "The first thing I want to affirm is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not so much about what church we belong to, or what set of doctrines we hold to, or what kind of apologetic we can present. . . . It is not about pitting one church against another or one doctrine above another." The truth is, that is exactly what the Restored Gospel is about! It is true that we all must accept Christ as our Savior, and we must preach salvation and atonement through Him, but we must also keep His commandments by adhering strictly to the RLDS Church's doctrines and practices. Christ went to all the trouble to restore the New Testament Church just the way He wanted it, and it is extremely important that we learn all the points of His doctrine and adhere closely to them. As the Book of Mormon says, "How strict are the commandments of God" (Alma 17:43).
The Lord has promised to preserve the RLDS Church and build Zion through it, and thousands of Saints are at the present time, as in times past, longing to assist in that great and marvelous work! In addition to the faithful Saints who are in the Center Place, many have recently left their homelands and moved here specifically to give their time and talents to help "establish the cause of Zion." But in spite of the longing to assist, the possibility of canceling our efforts by believing the wrong doctrines, serving incorrectly, performing ordinances in wrong ways (and thereby going into apostasy) is always before us. It is so easy to decide to take a different road than the "Old, Old Path" that the Lord has commanded us to walk in—to try to do the Lord's work in our own way and not in His way!
We must study the Scriptures and Church history carefully, and follow their directions.
The possibility of wandering in strange roads—that is, of doing our Church work in ways we like, even though they are contrary to the commandments of God—is especially prevalent at the present time, since we in the Restoration Branches Movement have no Prophet or apostles to guide us by revelations from the Lord. Today there are many elders and other leaders who are crying, "Lo here," and "lo there!"
And to make matters worse, many of us do not study the Scriptures and good Church books enough to know what the true path is which God wants us to follow. As a result, sometimes we do not know what the true doctrines and established practices are; and so false doctrines are taught or preached, and the ordinances are performed incorrectly.
Some do not even know to what church they belong—they seem to have forgotten that they received their membership and authority in the RLDS Church, and that the orthodox portion of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is still God's only true Church. If they do not belong to the orthodox part of the RLDS Church, to what church do they belong? Where do the Scriptures say that God will accept any other church —or even another name for the true Church? Nowhere! Those who give a different name as the official name of the church to which they belong are in danger of having left the true Church.
Another example of departing from the Faith is that in some branches the Saints are using charismatic music, instead of the time-proven "traditional" music in the hymnbooks, which have inspired true worship and holiness for so long. Some branches are allowing, or even encouraging, charismatic or Pentecostal forms of worship, such as waving of the hands and shouting "Amen," or speaking in false tongues. Some priesthood men no longer respect the Lord enough, nor want to show Him dignity and honor, to even wear suits while serving on the rostrum. Some branches are being governed by supreme directional control with their leaders insisting that common consent is unanimous consent, when really it is the vote of the people, even if the majority is only fifty-one percent.
The answers to all the above problems are in prayer and the study of the Scriptures and the good books of the Church. The priesthood especially must study the Doctrine and Covenants, the Priesthood Manual, and the General Conference Rules and Resolutions. The doctrines found in them are the "Rod of Iron," which we must cling to if we are to assist in bringing to pass the cause of Zion. No other system can be used.
What a tragedy it will be if we serve God incorrectly during this our time of probation, and find when we pass over that if we had studied diligently the Scriptures and the Church books which contain the laws of God—and if we had prayed earnestly—we would not have gone astray, but would have done all these things correctly and thereby brought glory and honor to God, and joy and comfort to His people.
Let us cling strictly to the Rod of Iron by adhering to the doctrines and practices which the RLDS Church believed and used during the days of the Prophets Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith III, and Israel A. Smith, and not become lost by wandering in strange roads!
(Vision 54 [November 2006]: 6)