Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Righteousness and War

                    The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the fact that righteousness and happiness can exist in an atmosphere of war and rumors of war.  Even though war and violence often brings out the worst in humankind, society does not have to fall to low levels.

                    Revelation 12:17 tells us that in the last days of this earth, Satan will "make war" with those who believe in Jesus Christ.  Modern scripture confirms this information.  "… the day speedily cometh; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion (Doctrine and Covenants 1:35).

                    The Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ was written for our day.  Ancient American prophets saw our day and taught the gospel to the people, but the average ancient American did not have access to the information contained in our present day Book of Mormon.  The words of these ancient prophets were preserved until our day when the Lord called the Prophet Joseph Smith to bring forth these teachings.  There are 239 chapters in the Book of Mormon; of those chapters, 174 or 73 percent deal with war, terrorism, secret combinations, political conspiracies, and other serious situations seen in our day.

                    Many readers of the Book of Mormon get to the "war chapters" and wonder why they were included in a book of scripture.  President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) provided the answer to this often unspoken question.  "From the Book of Mormon we learn how disciples of Christ live in times of war" ("The Book of Mormon - Keystone of Our Religion," Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7).

                    Captain Moroni was only 25 years old when he was appointed as the chief captain over all the armies of the Nephites.  Captain Moroni was described as a "strong and a mighty man" with "perfect understanding" who found joy in "the liberty and freedom of his country."  He labored "exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people," and he was "firm in the faith of Christ" (Alma 48:11-13).

                    Captain Moroni was a great patriot and loved his country.  To inspire his fellow countrymen to join him in fighting for their country, he tore his coat and took a piece of it to write the following:  "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children."  He then took his banner - called the title of liberty - and fastened it upon the end of a pole.  He put on his armor and knelt in prayer to plead with God for "the cause of the Christians and the freedom of the land."  Captain Moroni then went throughout the country waving his title of liberty and recruiting men to serve in his army.  The people saw Captain Moroni, girded in his armor and waving his flag, and "came running together with their armor girded about their loins" (Alma 46:12-21).

                    The prophet Mormon who compiled the Book of Mormon came to this conclusion about Captain Moroni:  "… if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever' yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men" (Alma 48:17).

                    All the chapters about Captain Moroni contain information about how he built forts, trained his army, put down insurrections, and fought wars, and yet his fellow countrymen felt great love for him and gave him their total support.  Mormon wrote, "… there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni" (Alma 50:23).

                    In an article entitled "How Disciples of Christ Live in Times of War and Violence," David Brent Marsh summarized this principle as follows:  "The Book of Mormon was brought forth to bless those who live in times of war and violence. The events and teachings recorded therein highlight hope, convey comfort, and provide divine perspective.  We learn that obedience to God delivers many, that war can be a call to return to God, and that God provides relief for His disciples who are required to suffer.  We also learn that the righteous who are called upon to die during war or violence will stand as a witness against the wicked and that these disciples will enter into the rest of the Lord.
                    "Ultimately, the Book of Mormon teaches us how disciples of Christ can receive peace in their hearts, homes, and nations.  It is the eminent instrument to bring us to Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace."  (See Ensign, Sept. 2012, 44-48.)

                    We live in a time of war and violence, and we can expect to continue to do so until Jesus Christ returns to earth.  The Book of Mormon teaches us that we can be happy even during turbulent times if we will remember God and live righteous lives.

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