Replies to Thomas

Tag: christ

The Living Christ: A Poem

His life surpassed all—His atoned;
By Sacrifice our souls are owned;
Mid mortals—as He too was tried—
None other’s strength mankind shall bide.

Moses wrote: Immortal power,
John composed: His mortal hour;
In testament old: Jehovah;
In testament new: Messiah.

He went and did good, as The Light—
Opened minds and Healed broken sight—
But the proud could not distinguish,
Darkness sought Him to extinguish.

He walked each road in Palestine,
That He the lost thereby might find
,
Then on The Way toward Heav’n direct,
The sons of God from sin correct.

His death required He saw afar,
His Bread and Wine—a sure memoir;
The justices called Him “outlaw,”
Rejecting Him though without flaw.

A Gift to each life on the earth—
A gift—the Life who had no worth!
To all, through grace, Life Immortal;
To some, by works, Life Eternal.

He first loved us, and so atoned—
He came, saw, wept, and for us groaned—
Who formed the ground where Bethle’m stood,
And rent the earth ‘neath Calvary’s wood.

Perfect Son, Only Begotten;
Father’s will not once forgotten,
Whose will decreed: “Clothe Him in flesh;
“Redeem all man, Author afresh.”

His work did not end at death’s jeer;
To Mary first He did appear;
Then with Eleven, He broke bread,
Saying, “Fear not; for you I bled.”

Other sheep did see His glory,
Charging them to write His story.
Translated through boundless Grace,
By he who saw Christ face to face:

Who said, “His eyes are as a fire;
“Like snow, His hair and white attire;
“His Countenance above the Sun;
“Voice as water—beloved Son.

“By Him, and through Him, and of Him,
“Worlds to God ascribe patronym;”
We too, then, with thanks to God’s Word,
Have mem’ry Eternal bestirred.

“He lives! He lives!” The prophet said,
“He lives, our Savior though once dead!”
No greater message could He give—
We—with Heav’nly Parents—may live.

His priesthood and His church again,
Are found among the race of men;
Built upon a sure foundation,
Of Christ, Apostles, a holy nation.

This woman He deigned through labor,
To bear His Zion of favor;
That when He comes to earth—to His—
Some shall be like Him, as He is.

He then will rule, as king of kings;
Every knee bows, every tongue sings;
He’ll hold in hand the Book of Life,
Judgement’s Word, a double-edged knife.

Awaiting His day here I write—
Denying wrong, defending Right—
That His way is strait and narrow;
No unclean bone shall hold marrow.

Hence enter by the gate, He asks,
Feast on His word—fulfill His tasks;
And as the Light of the whole world—
His mercy comes in wings unfurled.

I, His leastwise disciple, say,
That His life is the only way;
I have tried His works to the end,
A faithful prize: called by Him “friend.”

His life surpassed all—His atoned;
By sacrifice my soul is owned;
Mid mortals—as He too was tried—
None other’s strength my life shall bide.

God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.

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“The Doubting of Thomas” Carl Bloch

Click the link below to download a PDF copy of this poem:
The Living Christ – A Poem

Scripture citations in order of line number and stanza breaks:

1. Rom 5:11;
2. Eph 1:10-14;
3. Alma 7:11;
4. 2 Chr 32:7-8;

5. Gen 1:1;
6. John 1:1;
7. 3 Nephi 15:1-5;
8. John 1:41;

9. Acts 10:37-38;
10. Mosiah 3:5;
11. John 1:5, 1 Jn 2:16;
12. Luke 22:2;

13. 1 Jn 2:5-6;
14. John 9:35;
15. John 14:6;
16. John 1:12;

17. John 13:1;
18. Luke 22:12-20;
19. Matt 27:24;
20. Heb 4:14-15;

21. John 3:17;
22. 1 Nephi 19:9;
23. Eph 2:8;
24. Rom 2:5-7;

25. 1 Jn 4:19;
26. Matt 26:39;
27. John 1:10;
28. Matt 27:50-51;

29. 1 Jn 4:9-10;
30. John 6:38;
31. 3 Nephi 1:14;
32. Heb 5:8-9;

33. 1 Cor 15:3-8;
34. Mark 16:9-11;
35. Mark 16:14;
36. D&C 45:3-5;

37. John 10:16;
38. 3 Nephi 23:4;
39. D&C 135:3;
40. JS-H 1:25;

41. D&C 110:3;
42. Rev 1:14;
43. Rev 1:16;
44. D&C 133:22;

45. D&C 76:24;
46. D&C 88:61;
47. 1 Jn 1:1-3;
48. D&C 38:7-8;

49. D&C 76:22;
50. Rev 1:18;
51. 1 Jn 3:11;
52. D&C 110:18-19;

53. D&C 84:17;
54. Rev 14:6-7;
55. Isa 28:16;
56. Eph 2:20;

57. Rev 12:2,5;
58. Isa 66:7-9;
59. Mal 3:16-18;
60. 1 Jn 3:2;

61. Rev 19:16;
62. Rom 14:11;
63. Alma 5:58;
64. D&C 12:2;

65. Matt 25:13;
66. Jude 1:3;
67. 2 Ne 9:41;
68. Alma 11:37;

69. Luke 13:24;
70. 2 Nephi 31:20;
71. Mosiah 16:9;
72. Mal 4:2;

73. Eph 3:8;
74. Alma 37:46;
75. 2 Ne 33:9;
76. D&C 93:45;

77. Jacob 4:11;
78 1 Cor 7:22-23;
79 D&C 93:11;
80. Moroni 10:32.

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The Devil’s Rebuttal

Dear Joseph,

Lately there’s been a lot of discussion in the media about identity. It’s made me think about what you have written before, that I am supposedly a son of God. But when I look about myself, I find that I am evidently just a menial laborer barely scraping by to provide for my family. No goodness here; no greatness here.

You know, I tried praying and fasting, like the Elders told me to do, to see if I was really a son of God. I don’t think they expected my answer: fear. Fear and a little loathing for the blows dealt me over the years that haven’t landed me that executive job in the big city. Thanks for all of that, God.

Maybe you are; but am I not a son of God? I seem to have been made for lesser things.

—Thomas


Dear Thomas,

First things first: we are all children of God. Identity theft has been Satan’s big gig lately, and he’s really stealing the show in our generation—and he’s laughing about it. I’m going to share a story with you that will demonstrate why this particular peculation is so damning.

In the Book of Moses, which is the first few chapters of Genesis with restored material (including some serious prologue), there is an encounter between Moses and Satan that is very applicable to your situation and feelings. In the spirit of Nephi, I will “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23).

In his instructive, typical experience, Moses, having first been enlightened by the truth of God’s existence, is tempted of the devil—he is given the choice of the two paths: “Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me” (Moses 1:12). As the Book of Mormon principally enumerates, “Man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other”—good or evil, God or Satan, etc. (2 Nephi 2:16). In other words, Moses can now demonstrate where his loyalties lie—he can prove his metal. No one can be considered to be truly good unless he has had evil presented before him and he has rejected it; likewise, no one can be considered truly evil unless he has had opportunity to refuse the good. The candle’s light is only bright when compared to the darkness that surrounds it.

So it appears that Moses has a simple task before him: refuse the devil—cast out the evil influence. And this he does, though the fight is far from over. Moses says:

“Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?… Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten…. Depart hence, Satan” (Moses 1:13,16,18).

In essence, Moses is saying what you said, Thomas, though in a more certain tone, ‘Am I not a son of God?’ The implication being that if he is a son of God—if any of us are—then his very nature ought to point his affections and worship to his Father in Heaven and no one else. Yet we are tempted away from that; yet Moses was tempted away from that. Mark it well: the presence of temptation does not constitute inherent evil in our hearts—it is part of our earthly visa. Even Moses, surely one of the greatest prophets to ever live, was tempted of the adversary (as also the Savior, as we shall read).

But, as stated above, the fight doesn’t end with Moses’ refusal to give in to the devil’s demands. After being cast out, something peculiar—yet, again, typical—occurs between the devil and Moses. I call it “The Devil’s Rebuttal.” It is an identifiable pattern in the lives of those who attempt to draw close to God and choose the good path in their daily choosing. Yet it is a subtle and easily misidentified reaction, often considered a reemergent aspect of an inherent evil as opposed to an outside attack.

“And now, when Moses had said these words, Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me. And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell” (Moses 1:19-20).

Now, I know I just said this is a ‘subtle’ reaction though the scripture describes Satan as ‘ranting’ with a ‘loud voice,’ but keep in mind that Moses’ spiritual eyes were open and he could see what most other mortals only feel, which feeling is usually dim and uncertain depending on our spiritual experience. Consider this: if Satan were to scream in your ear, “Thomas, you are nothing!” would you note the intensity of his tone or the depth of what you begin to feel is your nothingness? What I’m trying to say is that though we typically misidentify the source of these feelings in ourselves due to spiritual ignorance, the reality beyond the visible is that Satan’s counterattack is a violent retaliation, and we only sense it in our heart and mind (our spirit).

temptation of Christ

“If thou…wilt worship me, all shall be thine.”

Though we are typically unaware of Satan’s workings, Moses’ described feelings are certainly relatable: he experienced ‘exceeding’ fear and felt a bitterness that could only be described as hellish. And this is “The Devil’s Rebuttal.” It isn’t enough for us to have chosen the better path—to run from Satan’s temptation—but he chases after us and tries to tell us that the choice was wrong after having made the choice. In this case, Moses emphasized that his knowledge of his true identity (‘I am a son of God, in the similitude of [the] Only Begotten’) made Satan’s offer of worshipping him the obvious wrong choice, which led to the rebuttal, ‘[No,] I am the only begotten, worship me’!

The Devil’s Rebuttal was designed to undo Moses’ convictions.

But how could any argument stand against the very bodily witness of God and inspire fear and bitterness? The answer comes in knowing that Satan is the god of this world (see Luke 4:5-6). This world, with its temporary fads and fashions, its towers of wealth, and its pillars of learning, worships a god that is not our Father in Heaven (see 1 John 5:19; D&C 84:49). Satan has dominion over the whole of the earth for now, and so he can rightly be called the god of this world, sometimes referred to spiritually as “Babylon.”

In other words, the world at large has given in to the Devil’s Rebuttal, and they have set up Satan as the only begotten, the one to be worshipped. (This could lead us into the whole identity debate that’s raging right now, but we’ll leave that for another time.)

And with this influence at his sway, the devil can fill our minds with his false credentials, attempting to authoritatively “put us in our place,” so to speak; to use his priesthood to remind us of our nothingness in his kingdom; to bring us to our knees in desperation and resignation when he forces us to realize that we have been seeking the wrong kingdom if it was not his.

If Satan had power to inspire Moses with fear and bitterness, then he can surely bring others of us mortals low with his influence. He makes each of us feel as though we were created ‘for lesser things’ (trust me, it’s not just you).

It may sound strange to your ears, Thomas, if you—as I—have never physically heard the loud voice of a unembodied spirit ranting upon the earth, to think that our own feelings of shortcomings and inadequacies come from a real, foreign source, designed to keep us from lifting our eyes above the horizon of this world. But think of the towering skyscrapers of New York City, or the showy cufflinks of successful suits, or of big returns on smart investments, and so on. All the worldly things you’ve ever wanted, even if just for your family’s sake, any of these things—all of these things—are just the Devil’s illusory kingdom, and the honest seeker of truth will find himself tempted by such things (just as Moses), tempted to worship mammon (Luke 16:13).

When we encounter the Devil’s Rebuttal, he shows us our lowliness in all of his kingdom, which is all of his power, and he says to us:

“All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine” (Luke 4:6-7, emphasis added).

What do you do then, Thomas, when all the world is turned against your spirit to inspire fear and to question your path? You reply as the Savior and as Moses did:

“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Luke 4:8).

“Nevertheless, calling upon God, [Moses] received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory” (Moses 1:20-21).

Remind yourself, and Satan (while you’re at it), that you are a Son of God, a stranger and a pilgrim in his world (see Hebrews 11:13), and that your destination and kingdom are not of his world (see John 8:23; 15:19). And then press on as he “rage quits” and tries to make you flinch. He has no power next to the God of endless worlds (our Father). It may take more fasting and praying, and certainly studying the scriptures, but such things constitute that ‘worship’ Moses and the Savior both refused to yield when Satan demanded attention.

I can promise, Thomas, that if you will turn your heart to God fully daily—and especially in the face of violent, ranting opposition—you will receive of a strength and a knowledge of that Father you’ve only forgotten. As Moses experienced after Satan finally left him:

“And it came to pass that when Satan had departed from the presence of Moses, that Moses lifted up his eyes unto heaven, being filled with the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and the Son; and calling upon the name of God, he beheld his glory again, for it was upon him; and he heard a voice, saying: ‘Blessed art thou, Moses…. And lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days….’ And behold, the glory of the Lord was upon Moses, so that Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face” (Moses 1:24-26,31, single quote marks added).

—Joseph

The Holly and The Ivy

Breaking from the usual letter-response format of my blog, I’m posting a poem I’ve written for this Christmas season that I would like to share with my readers. A little background will go a long way to appreciating the content of this poem:

In olden times, a Christmas tradition was a song competition between the men and women of a given town. The contest was to see who could sing the highest praise of their respective symbol: the men were to sing of the holly; and the women, the ivy. At the end of the singing, the two groups would reconcile beneath a row of mistletoe. Many of these songs have been forgotten to time, but some, particularly those sung by the males, have survived. The carol, The Holly and the Ivy, is a product of such remembered songs. I’ve combined those ancient themes, along with the legend of mistletoe being the Herbe de la Croix, whose wood was said to be that used to make the cross of Jesus’ crucifixion, to form an original poem set in the meter of said carol and using Middle English (as best I could).

The Holly and The Ivy
A Retelling of a Classic Carol

  1. As the snow falls at that dark and dreary time of year,
    Friends and fam’ly gather to grow a feeling, O so dear;
    To remember what was born, and ended with a pall,
    When a love and a life was giv’n, at once to save us all.
  2. But seldom is remembered, the story of a pair;
    Whose budding romance betoken’d our savior, O so fair.
    When the woods are blast by ice, and in color are grey,
    These lovers then appear evergreen, in the light of day.
  3. The holly and the ivy, when they were both full grown,
    Upon the wintry day did meet, when they were both alone.
    The holly loved the ivy, and she did love him too;
    But she kept her feelings hidden, to see if he’d be true.
  4. “Now Christmas is tomorrow,” said the doting holly,
    “Thou my wife I plan to make; ‘twill fill my life with jolly.”
    “Not so,” denied the ivy, “when all is grey and iced.
    “These days I am striving outwards, to be like Jesus Christ.
  5. “I started in October, to blossom and to bud,
    “So animals I could give food, when else is draped in mud.”
    The holly stood uprightly, and said, with humble heart,
    “I too am like the savior—I’m trying to do my part.
  6. “In May I bore a blossom as white as any milk;
    “And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ, and swaddled him in silk.
    “Nay, Ivy, nay, it shall not be on Christmas we shall wed,
    “For Christmas day is on us now; by new year I’ll be dead.
  7. “Now hear the words I say,” continued the old holly,
    “Thou my wife I plan to make; ‘twill fill my life with jolly.”
    “Not so,” denied the ivy, “when all is grey and iced.
    “There’s yet more ways in which I try to be like Jesus Christ.
  8. “Though other shrubs can’t abide, ’till spring my fruit I keep,
    “My berries black feed the fowels, who neither sow nor reap.”
    The holly hunched uprightly, and said, with trembling heart,
    “I too am like the savior—I’m trying to do my part.
  9. “In fall I bore a berry as red as any blood,
    “And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to do poor sinners good.
    “Nay, Ivy, nay, it shall not be on Christmas we shall wed,
    “For Christmas day is past us now; by new year I’ll be dead.
  10. “Now hear the words I say,” pleaded the aged holly,
    “Thou my wife I plan to make; ‘twill fill my life with jolly.”
    “Not so,” denied the ivy, “when all is grey and iced.
    “There’s one more way in which I try to be like Jesus Christ.
  11. “I only grow my flowers high atop my briery face,
    “Kept neither under bushel nor in any secret place.”
    The holly stooped uprightly, and said, with fainting heart,
    “I too am like the savior—I’m trying to do my part.
  12. “Beneath I bear a bark as bitter as any gall,
    “And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.
    “Nay, Ivy, nay, it shall not be on Christmas we shall wed,
    “For Christmas day is long past us; and now I shall be dead.”
  13. “Now Christmas day is long past us?” questioned the ivy.
    “But thou my spouse I planned to make; to fill my life with thee!”
    “Not so,” cried the lone ivy, “now thou art grey and iced.
    “There’s one last way I wish that I could be like Jesus Christ.”
  14. “To restore that which is lost?” came a voice from above,
    “To conquer death, to green the wood, to mend forever love?”
    “Who art thou?” asked the ivy. “Doth thou the savior know?”
    Then softly came the stranger’s voice, “I am the mistletoe.
  15. “I know sweet Jesus Christ,” said the old plant draped in frost.
    “I was once a great tree from whom they fashion’d out His cross.
    “For that painful sacrifice, the Lord gave a power;
    “Kiss thy man beneath my care and have him from this hour.”
  16. Then the faithful ivy, crying teardrops like a mist,
    Picked up her cold, dear loved one, and gave unto him a kiss.
    “Nay, Ivy, nay,” came the voice of he who once was dead,
    “The new year is upon us now; this day we shall be wed.”
  17. Now for always remember, the story of this pair;
    Whose flowered romance betoken’d our savior, O so fair.
    When thy woods are blast by ice, and in color are grey,
    Through Him thy love shall be evergreen, in the light of day.

—Joseph