Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Got Wisdom?

Recently, some have asked if they could have access to some of the letters that I shared a couple of years ago chronicling and encapsulating my family’s conversion to the Lord and subsequent departure from institutionalized religion.  This, along with a renewed desire to experience and testify of His grace, is why I am re-posting this and a few other letters.  Some of the writing has been edited to remove references to specific people, while still maintaining the integrity of the original message.  It is my hope and prayer that this may be of some help to others who may be struggling to put their own experiences and thoughts into words.  Please feel free to use and share as the Spirit guides...  
-Rex Pettingill
11 March, 2017

Other letters in this series:

18 November, 2015
Do you lack wisdom?  Do answers to your prayers seem to be elusive or hard to discern?  Do you need further light and knowledge and clarity?
This was my question and concern that started our discussion last light at our scripture study, and here, along with some additional insight that came as I was writing this, is what we received and shared with one another:
“It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God…according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.”
“He that will harden his heart, the same receiveth a lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him it is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.”  Alma 12:9-11
Consider:  What does it mean to “harden ones heart”?  What does it mean to receive a “lesser or greater portion of the word”?  What is the “word”?  Does any of this have anything to do with humility? Desire? Repentance?  Receiving the Powers of Heaven, even Christ himself?
“…I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; (he) allotteth unto men…according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.” Alma 29:4
We are granted that which we desire.  And yet, we are not given all at once…
“For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear to my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto them that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” 2 Nephi 28:30
Even the savior did not receive a fullness all at once, but rather he
“…continued grace to grace, until he received a fullness.” (D&C 93:13)
And so, what do we do when we have received a portion of his word, a degree of grace, and have done our best to hearken unto his precepts, and yet feel stuck? Are we not promised that we will be given more?  How do we go about getting more?  
The answer can be found in considering what did we did to receive the light that we received in the first place…
Humility is key, and the essential action that must follow it.  Alma taught that humility is a good thing, that we are to be humble “…that ye should learn wisdom.” (Alma 32:12)  Humility brings wisdom.  Then Alma gives us a very interesting definition of humility…
“Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart…” (Alma 32:12, 16)
Humility leads us to repentance and baptism, and wisdom follows!  How or why does wisdom follow baptism?
“For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified; therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment” Moses 6:61
As we are to learn, according to our desires, precept upon precept, grace by grace, portion by portion, we must seek to receive the Holy Ghost in so doing, as he is the teacher.  And how do we receive the Holy Ghost?  
“…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 31:13
In the truest sense of the word, repentance is turning from ignorance and facing God.  What greater sin is there than to lack knowledge of God, to not seek to know his word and will?  If this is true repentance, and if we are to indeed receive “according to our desires” and “precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little”, then it suddenly becomes very apparent just how necessary and ongoing the process of humility and repentance needs to be.  Remember, Alma offered a definition of humility, stating that it is synonymous with baptism.  If humility and repentance is by necessity a recurring event, so then is baptism and the receipt of the Holy Ghost.  
“And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance…”  Alma 13:13
To “meet” in this context means to fulfill or satisfy a need, requirement, or condition.  In order to fulfill a condition of repentance, what is the fruit that must be brought forth?
“And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling of the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins.” Moroni 8:25
Remember that great sin – ignorance and lack of knowledge of God and his will…
And so here is the pattern: 1) have desire and humility, 2) repent, 3) be baptized, 4) receive the Holy Ghost, 5) gain a portion/degree of wisdom and knowledge/ light and truth, 6) REPEAT.
In summary, baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost was never intended to be a one-time event; like the sacrament, the Lord has given us baptism as a tool through which we connect with the Powers or Heaven to receive, line upon line,  greater wisdom and knowledge and to demonstrate our continued humility, repentance, and dependence on the Lord.  
I have very little recollection of my first baptism almost 37 years ago in Bountiful, Utah.  But I can testify that after I was baptized in Idaho last October, my spirit began to be awakened in a way that I had never before experienced.  I received much needed comfort and strength to help see me through some very imminent trials that were to come as a result of my desire to covenant more fully and meaningfully with my Savior.  A sincere love for the scriptures was kindled and light and knowledge began to burst upon my mind as I read passages through a corrected lens.  I know that this was the Holy Ghost working within me, and that this is what is meant by both the promise and the commandment that we are to receive the Holy Ghost.  I desired and prayed for more, and along with my wife and children, I was baptized again in April of this year.  We have all received even greater strength and comfort, and the amount of knowledge and truth with which we have been blessed has been incredible.  And yet we now as a family find ourselves at a particularly difficult and significant crossroads, needing more than ever to know the Lord’s will for us, yet struggling to receive it.  And so it is with great humility and the desire to repent and receive a greater portion of His Spirit that we will once again this weekend enter the waters of baptism, looking forward to the promise of the Holy Ghost to teach, edify, enlighten, and testify.
I love the Doctrine of Christ!

-Rex Pettingill

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