And its numbers were few

One of the things that has often intrigued me as I have grown up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is how relatively few in number we are. I am not referring to the thirteen million on the rolls of the church but to those who regularly attend the temple and Saturday sessions of Stake Conference.

When I sit on the stand of Stake Conference and look out at the congregation, I think of the many members of the stake who could and should be there but are not. The scripture that comes to mind is found in 1 Nephi 14:12. It invokes a feeling that I imagine Nephi must have experienced as he recorded his vision of our day.

Nephi sees our day

“I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of wickedness and abominations…the saints of God, were upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions were small, because of wickedness.” I wonder if Nephi felt sadness as he recorded this. But then I am encouraged with the next verse:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.”

We all can know for ourselves

I sit on the stand in Stake Conference not because I am in a priesthood leadership position but because Carol and I like to sing in the choir. They are the best seats. It allows me to see the reactions of the people as the spirit moves upon them during the songs and the addresses by those who speak under the influence of the spirit.

I keep thinking to myself that anybody can know for themselves that the LDS Church is the kingdom of God on the earth. We all have an equal opportunity to gain a personal witness of the spirit that what is taught in this church is the most important knowledge we can gain in this life. And yet, so few understand this.

The unconverted resign

Several web sites that oppose the work of the Lord have made a big deal out of the facts that so many are resigning from the church over Proposition 8. Even if you stretch the number to include all that wrote letters on Andrew Callahan’s Signing for Something, 500 people is a very small number, who had mostly already left.

Of course every soul is precious and it is concerning that they feel the need to resign in a public way, but in most cases, these were people who stopped coming to church a long time ago. They are just formalizing something that they had effectively already done in their minds – gave up their commitment to the church.

Opposition in all things

This last week has been tough as I have watched and read the accounts of those who have lost their jobs or have been otherwise attacked for having supported the proposition to preserve the definition of marriage here in California. We were also the recipient of one of those attacks. Gratefully, it did not turn into a loss of a job.

So many in our stake have been targeted and are on the published blacklists of those who now seek in hate to punish us. Our Stake President spoke about the opposition we have been witnessing, especially in connection with the temple. Fellow blogger S. Faux wrote an especially insightful essay on why this is so.

Proposition 8 exit polls

The Proposition 8 exit polls revealed some very interesting things that I already suspected. 82 percent of those who voted yes attend church at least once a week. 82% considered themselves Republicans. In addition, it was mostly those who were older – at least over 30 – who voted yes. Older Republican conservatives…

So the exit polls on this proposition revealed that religion or faith had a large part in the way people voted on this issue. I don’t think there’s any surprise there. That explains why there was such a dramatic polarization in the dialog leading up to this vote. It was basically the religious against the irreligious with little in common.

The dialog going forward

In connection with this point about dealing with opposition our Stake President quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith in section 123, verse 16: “You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.” Hmmm…

He then taught us that workways means not to go directly against the wind and not to run the opposite with the wind, but to keep the ship at about a 90 degree angle from the point of the wind. So it does no good to go head to head with those who do not have the background of faith or a belief that it is God who defined marriage.

Prophets forewarned us

As only a Stake President could do, we were reminded of the importance of being prepared for what we see happening all about us in the economic chaos that is now becoming more evident. It was seven years ago last month that President Hinckley mentioned in General Conference about the seven years of plenty. Hmmm…

Connor Boyack has an intriguing essay over on Connor’s Conundrums about why the coming depression will be worse than what was experienced in the 1930’s. I wrote that his outlook painted a bleak and glum picture of what he sees happening. It is worth the read, including the many links to articles that support his viewpoint.

Catastrophes yet to come

While some of the points I have made may seem unconnected or unrelated, they are all receiving wide attention on the Internet blogs and forums lately. Several of the speakers in our Stake Conference mentioned that these are the signs of the times of the last days. It is becoming more and more obvious to the converted.

While the faithful and believing are small in numbers compared to the rest of the world, I remain convinced that coming catastrophic events will soften the hearts of the people and turn them to the Lord. Economic chaos is not the only kind of catastrophe that we will experience. We need to be familiar with the prophecies.

Summary and conclusion

For some reason, Saturday night always brings more hits on my essays about the signs of the times of the last days, especially Joel 2:31. It is encouraging that people are beginning to wake up and take seriously the idea that there may be something to all this talk about catastrophes and other coming events before the coming of the Lord.

In spite of the obvious increase of concern over the economic threats that face us, we can have peace as we look to the Lord, to the scriptures and to our priesthood leaders to help us understand the significance of these events. We will continue to invite the world to join with us in preparing for the approaching return of the Lord.

3 thoughts on “And its numbers were few”

  1. “500 people is a very small number, who had mostly already left.” I really do find it interesting that those who are “resigning” (what a funny word for leaving a church) almost universally have left activity already – and that someone like AC would trumpet that estimated number as a widespread and sweeping movement. I always have been uncomfortable with the wild speculation about church growth I hear / have heard. In the big picture, we always will be a few voices in the wilderness.

  2. Tim – Thank you for your very thoughtful comments. So much has happened in such a short period of time that it indeed appears that the Lord is hastening his work. I’m afraid there are many sides to Prop 8 – see Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing.

  3. Hi Tim -We had stake conference yesterday also (in California). Attendance appeared to be about the same as the last stake conference.Those who are resigning from the church had already left the train a long time ago.Meanwhile I keep hearing interesting little missionary stories about people whose respect for us has actually grown.

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