D&C 90: 2

I received an email asking about the meaning of D&C 90: 2. Here’s my response:

This verse, like most scripture, is deliberately unclear. This is why the first topic in the fireside was the Holy Ghost and its relationship to both gifts of the spirit and understanding the “mysteries” of God. (See JS-H 1: 74.) The Holy Ghost inspired the text (conveying the words of Christ directly to Joseph; see D&C 90: 1). Therefore, having the Holy Ghost is required to understand the meaning of the text. (2 Peter 1: 20-21.)

The verse says: “Therefore, thou art blessed from henceforth that bear the keys of the kingdom given unto you; which kingdom is coming forth for the last time.” (D&C 90: 2.)

Ask yourself these questions:
-Who is “thou”? Is it Joseph Smith or some collective group or successors?
-Who “bears the keys of the kingdom” in the verse? In 1833, was that Joseph Smith? Or was it some group? Was it his successors?
-Who had the “keys of the kingdom given unto [them]”? In 1833, was that Joseph Smith, or was it someone else? Did it include a group? Successors, too?
-What does “for the last time” mean? Does it mean it will never, ever happen again? Or does it mean the “latest” or “most current”?

There are a few verses after this one that will help with some of these questions. For example, verse 3 seems to identify Joseph Smith: “Verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come[.]” (D&C 90: 3.) This seems to be singular. It is addressed to Joseph. But you must decide if it is him, or if it means anyone in the church leadership, then and now. The Holy Ghost should assist you in reaching the right conclusion.

It adds in verse 4: “Nevertheless, through you shall the oracles be given to another, yea, even unto the church.” (D&C 90: 4.) This seems to make it clear that the “you” and the “thou” referred to earlier was Joseph Smith. But it then raises other questions:
-What are “the oracles”? Are these the revelations (i.e., sections of the D&C, parts of the Pearl of Great Price, etc.)?
-Are “the oracles” a power or gift of the Spirit?
-If some power or gift, when? To whom? Was it fulfilled in Hyrum? (See D&C 124: 123-124.)
-Was it fulfilled in the Council of Fifty when Joseph gave “the keys of the kingdom” to them, establishing the right to create a kingdom to overtake all other governments and grind all competing governments on the earth to dust in fulfillment of Daniel 2: 36-44.

On the question of “the last time,” verse 5 helps with the meaning:
“And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them least they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house.” (D&C 90: 5.) If we can “stumble and fall,” it suggests we can lose what we were given. If we can lose it, then it can be returned. That would mean “last time” in verse 2 is referring to the “latest,” much like D&C 76: 22, where “last of all” means the “most current” or the “latest” testimony. It doesn’t mean that there will never be another person with a testimony of Christ.

The verse also makes it clear that everyone (including Joseph and his peers/successors) can “stumble and fall” if they treat the “oracles” lightly. To “stumble” is one thing. But to “fall” suggests departing from the way and losing what was given. This returns us to “the oracles” and the meaning of that term:
-Are they the revelations/Book of Mormon? (See D&C 84: 54-57.)
-Is it some ordination or gift?
-If a gift or power, and if it is possible to “fall” from it, then what does that imply?

You decide by the Holy Ghost what verse 2 means. I believe it means that Joseph Smith was blessed and he held keys which would never be taken from him, even if he died. That his possession of those keys allowed him to be regarded as a member of God’s kingdom. He was the latest person, or only one living in 1833 to be regarded as a full member of that kingdom. But you should prayerfully decide what it means for yourself.

Knowing the mysteries

Despite the millions of Mormons, we live in a very small church. We cross paths with one another after years of living in different states or different parts of the world.

As a result of how small our community is, I have run into people after years of separation and often times been astonished by the difference in them. One of the increasingly frequent things I have noticed comes from a verse in Alma.

Alma taught, “They that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction.” (Alma 12:11.)

I have noticed that the vindication of this doctrine is unrelated to whether my friends have had administrative success in the church. Many of those who have lost understanding and who preach against “knowing the mysteries of God” do so because they have had local administrative positions.

Alma connects losing knowledge of God’s mysteries directly to being “taken captive by the devil” and being “led by his will down to destruction.” So when these friends preach to me against the mysteries and claim they have no desire to know about them, I am troubled in my heart.

The less we trust the teachings of the Book of Mormon the more we draw distant from God.

3 Nephi 21: 19-20

3 Nephi 21: 19-20:

“And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away.  For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel;”
Notice that the first four defects that are to end, include “lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes.” These are somewhat different than the next two. These first four are character flaws that lead to the next two.
The character flaws should not be thought of as defects in our ability to do business or conduct commerce. These are flaws leading to the failures of our redemption. Therefore, think of them as flaws in our beliefs, leading us to have what the Book of Mormon terms unbelief.
What lying goes on among us leads to priestcraft? How is our lying keeping us from knowing the Lord? What is it about our peculiar form of false belief that leads us to believe in, and spread about lying as part of the fallen, false faith we entertain?
What deceivings are part of our culture of unbelief? How is it we can celebrate the great priesthood “authority” we possess while acknowledging that it lacks any “power?” Are we deceiving ourselves? Are we alienated from God while thinking ourselves His peculiar people?

What envy is there among us? Has envy become a tool for church governance? If so, how does it become a tool for church governance? Have we built it right into our system at present?

Are we filled with strife? Is strife among us suppressing healthy exchange of ideas by labeling such discussion as “contention?” Is strife different from contention? Is uniformity of ideas and suppression of dissent something that will remove strife? If not, then why not?
These character flaws in turn lead to “priestcrafts” where people seek approval of the world but not the best interest of Zion. (2 Ne. 26: 29.) Do we want popularity from the “world?”  What is the “world?” Why would someone practicing priestcraft seek in particular to have approval and lead the world? Why is the distinction made between the interests of Zion and the interests of the world? Is public relations always focused on approval from the world? If so, why are we seeking such approval? Does the world’s opinion of us matter? Why? When have the followers of Jesus been popular? What have they suffered for His name? (Heb. 11: 36-40.)
Then we see “whoredoms” which we have discussed earlier. David Christensen’s comment on the meaning of false religion is worth returning to read again in this post.
Then Christ sounds the alarm, attributing it to the Father.  Repent. Come unto Christ. Otherwise you will be cut off. What does it mean to come to Christ? Read the short statement in D&C 93: 1. There is a succinct description of the process. You haven’t come to Him until you have “seen His face and know that He is,” or, in other words, until you hear from His own voice that He has atoned for your sins and He promises you a place in His kingdom.
All of these warnings are being given to orient you to what is important. The important thing is to come to Him. As Christ put it to Martha, “but one thing is needful.” (Luke 10: 38-42.) Until we have come to Him, all our concerns about other matters must remain secondary. Of what good is it to know all mysteries, if we have not come to Him? This is why, in the middle of this warning of calamities to come, the Lord places this invitation to come to Him. He can help. He can restore and protect. But only if you are His.

Alma 13:13

Alma 13: 13: 

“And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.” 

Think about what you’re reading here.  Alma is essentially declaring himself as one of those possessing this priesthood because he is inviting others to enter into the rest which these people enjoy.  That is, “come, join in the rest of the Lord.”

Alma has just revealed something profound about himself. It is subtle, but nonetheless true. In meekness he has proffered an invitation. He has not set himself up to be admired. He does not consider himself better. He has delivered the invitation to those to whom he is ministering, just as you would expect someone possessing this great, holy calling to do.

All the more remarkable is that he extends this invitation to an unredeemed, critical, reproachful audience of unconverted.  He does not shield them from these great mysteries.
He does not flinch or hold back because it would be to “cast pearls before swine.”  He knows where the line is drawn, for in the preceding chapter they have explained to an audience that there are mysteries withheld from the public.  (Alma 12: 9-11.)  There are things kept from public knowledge and obtained only by heed and diligence. The line involves sacred ordinances, NOT higher knowledge. You give that and you make converts. You withhold it and you blend into the morass of churches who teach merely a form of godliness without any power to save. (JS-H 1: 19.)
It was the same during Christ’s ministry. The line is drawn as sacred events turn to ordinances. They are withheld. NOT the teaching of deep doctrine.
So when we refuse to discuss “mysteries” and limit our correlated curriculum to an approved list of 52 subjects, recycling them endlessly, we are not in conformity with the pattern shown in the Book of Mormon. The “most correct book” condemns us.  But, then again, so does the word of the Lord precisely because we are not following the Book of Mormon.  (D&C 84: 55-57.)
The highest form of acceptance and redemption is to have your calling and election made sure; to be washed and cleansed from sin every whit. Alma is preaching this to unconverted, investigating, potential converts. Today we won’t even permit the subject to be raised in adult Sunday School, Priesthood, or Relief Society meetings because it is considered to be “too sensitive” for the members to consider. Have we, the Gentiles, rejected “the fullness of the Gospel?”  (3 Ne. 16: 10.) Not as long as any of us (like salt or leaven) keep these doctrines alive.
If you want to know about this fullness and how to obtain it, then read the books I have written. That is what they are about. Alma was right!  His message was true!
Let all come and partake. Everyone is invited. No institutional control should be used to prevent your search into this matter.  It is right in the Book of Mormon. Though the institution may be condemned for neglecting it, you don’t need to be.
So, let’s turn to the next verse and see what wonders continue to unfold before our eyes….

Alma 13:11

“Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.”
If you understand these phrases, this verse clarifies the matter.
Being called into this holy order requires a person to be more than a church member, or a follower, or a believer. They need to be “sanctified.”
“Their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.”  No small feat!

To have white garments is to have the blood and sins of your generation removed from you. To be purified. To be sanctified by the Lamb – removing from you, and taking upon Himself the responsibility to answer for whatever failings you have.

This is not ritual purity. This is purity in fact.

The person described by this phrase is qualified to stand in the presence of God without sin. Clean of all blood and sin – righteous forever. He is Christ’s, and Christ is the Father’s, and all that each of them will be is the same; for we shall see Him as He is, because we will be like Him. To be like Him is to be sanctified.

I can use the words, but I am powerless beyond that. This is more than you think it is. Words are inadequate to explain it. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what great things the Lord has in mind by inheriting these promises. Indeed, to receive an understanding is to cease to be a man and become something else altogether. A stranger and sojourner here, but a resident with God in another condition altogether. It is written by the Lord concerning them: “These are they who are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all. These are they who have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn. These are they whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all. These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.” (D&C 76: 66-69.) 

Such persons are still in this world, but they are also associated with innumerable others who are not present here. Although mortals associate with each other, these individuals obtain a higher order. They connect with a higher plane, because a more sure word has been spoken to them. As a result they belong to an order of holy priesthood. That priesthood is an order without beginning of days or end of years, from eternity to eternity. This new, higher order, when it occurs can be the spark through which heaven itself can return to the earth.

To others looking in from outside, these are words without meaning, or definition. To those who hold this priestly position, these words are a perfect fit. The gulf between the two positions is so great that even a common vocabulary won’t make meanings connect.
We proclaim we “have the truth” but we do not preach it. We claim to have authority, but we have no power to redeem and exalt. We pretend it is unlawful to preach mysteries, yet Alma is preaching the deepest doctrines to the non-converted. If we preach the truth, it will attract those whose lives are empty. Why would they join us if what we offer is as trite and superficial as the false religions they already believe?
Is there no need to cry repentance to this generation with power and authority? With the tongue of an angel? To cry out as the Book of Mormon declares the message to the non-believing and skeptical? 
It does raise some troubling concerns as we claim to be the “true church” but do not act the part as shown in these scriptures. How are we justified in masking the fullness, hiding the mysteries, putting away deep doctrine that will save, and still proclaim that we are the “only true and living church upon the earth?” Does “living” require us to create sons and daughters of God who are “come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn?”  If so, why do we hear so little about it in our day?
I suppose our audacity springs from our history? If we have lost something vital that conflicts with our current understanding of the history that GUARANTEES us that we are perfect, and that we cannot be misled, then we wouldn’t want to acknowledge that. Thank goodness for these guarantees. It does let us relax a bit, doesn’t it? Broad and wide are the guarantees we have inherited. We don’t need to worry about that narrow and strait fringe who rummage about in the mysteries.

Be still and know that I am God

It is apparent from emails sent to the blog that some readers refuse to study carefully either the scriptures or what I have written.  I will make yet another attempt to explain some important distinctions.
There is a difference between testifying that some principle is true and teaching others how to follow the principle, and discussing details of personal experiences which are not going to be meaningful and are not appropriate. 
There are reasons why intimate details of temple ordinances are guarded by covenants they will not be revealed. It is true those covenants have been violated by many people. Some people have decided to reject what was offered, make themselves liars, and treat with contempt what should have been treated with care. All of that is between them and the Lord, with whom they made the covenant.  Their violation of a trust does not detract one bit from the power of covenants kept by others.
We are not responsible for how others behave when they receive something that ought to be treated as sacred.  We are all only accountable for how we individually treat such things.
It is appropriate for anyone to testify to the truth, that the Lord lives, and that He has and still does minister to men in the flesh. It is appropriate to explain that those blessings are predicated upon the same conditions for any person who will follow the law upon which such blessings are predicated. It is appropriate to explain what those conditions or laws are. It is appropriate to gather together in one continuous discussion the diverse elements scattered throughout the scriptures and put them into one convenient discussion of the whole. I have done that.
What is not important for anyone to know is the details of what goes on in a meeting between God and one with whom He deigns to appear. Joseph Smith for example remarked, concerning the First Vision, “many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.”  JS-H 1: 20.
Repeatedly the Book of Mormon draws a line and says that things were “not lawful” for man to write.  See, e.g., 1 Ne. 14: 28; 3 Ne. 26: 16; 3 Ne. 27: 23; Ether 4: 1, Ether 13: 13.  A person who does not understand the difference between the line that must be drawn and why it exists simply is not prepared to receive with gratitude what the Lord is offering.
The riches of eternity are offered by the Lord to you and each of you directly. It does not come from learning “secrets” from someone else. It comes by following the path. You do not need anything more than a description of the path. Follow it. Until you follow it, the heavens will remain shut against you. As soon as you follow it, you will have the results you would like to have. 
Curiosity about sacred details that the scriptures repeatedly warn are not lawful to put into writing here in this fallen world, reveals an immaturity that should be overcome. If you want the details, learn them from the Lord. Directly. Without an intermediary. Teachers are commissioned by the Lord to reiterate the path by which they are to be obtained.  He does not send someone to do the work for you. Indeed, you either do the work for yourself or it remains undone – forever. 
It is clear that some who want the most revealed to them are the ones who have not yet read what I’ve written. You simply continue to ask and ask again. Study what I’ve written carefully and anyone will find it is all there. Several people have done so, and have received the promised results. But they took care and devoted careful, solemn and ponderous thought to the matters set out in what I have written. That is what the writings were intended to produce, and why they were commissioned to be written by the Lord. I know that the process is true, because I have lived it. I know that the descriptions provided in my writings are sufficient, because they have produced results akin to my own. You do not need more details from me. You need to take seriously what I’ve already written.  Actually, you don’t even need that. What I have written is taken from the scriptures, primarily the Book of Mormon. If you understood the scriptures you wouldn’t even need what I’ve written.  I have only been instructed in how to bring the process together in a convenient single narrative, building line upon line to a whole.
Careful, solemn and ponderous thought is what is needed. Not frantic, exasperated and impatient demanding that someone tell you something right now that will fix what is amiss in your life. Such frantic conduct is likely to yield nothing. 
I hope this aids in understanding what is appropriate and what is over the line. If you want to know all the mysteries of God, He is willing to reveal them. Not to the impatient, demanding and immature. But to those who develop a firm mind in every form of godliness, including patience, persistence, faith and sacrifice.  (Moroni 7: 30.)  These things are not won cheaply.  But they are won. 
I think the words “be still and know that I am God” are more than just an admonition to ‘shut-up.’  (D&C 101: 16.)  I think it is a formula. Let your anxieties pass over you. Leave them. Be calm. In the great calm of pondering over what He has given to you, you will “know” Him.  Therefore, if you would like to know God, then ponder deeply and meditate on the things He has already given to you.  (See e.g., D&C 138: 11; JS-H 1: 12; 1 Ne. 11: 1 and Helaman 10: 2-4.)  This is how Joseph Smith received the First Vision, Joseph F. Smith saw the Vision of the Redemption of the Dead, Nephi saw in vision the Lord, and Nephi son of Helaman would receive his calling and election.  I can’t give you a formula, I can’t recite any additional vision and I can’t tell you about any visitation I have had that will absolve you of following the process by which God has become known to all those who have come to know Him since the time of Adam.  All I can do is testify that the same path is open to everyone. But only on the same condition as it is available to all. 

Angels

There is a system by which men learn the mysteries of heaven and are saved.  That system is set out in Alma 12: 29-30
 
-First, angels are sent to prepare men/women.
-Second, they are allowed to behold the Lord’s glory.
-Then they converse with the Lord, at which point they are taught the things which have been prepared from the foundation of the earth for their salvation.
-All of which is driven by the man/woman’s faith, repentance and holy works.
This is in keeping with Joseph Smith’s revelation about those chosen to become a member of the Church of the Firstborn.  They are chosen by the holy angels to whom the keys of this power belong.  (D&C 77: 11.)
 
If this isn’t happening, then faith does not exist on the earth any longer.  (Moroni 7: 37.)
 
Ministering angels are an indispensable part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That is why those keys were restored so early on in this dispensation, and are so widely disseminated into the Church membership. (See D&C 13 and D&C 107: 20.)