What Manner of Being, 2

Christ “lost His body” as a result of the post-Nicaea church philosophers who twisted the scriptures to fit their incorporeal idol. That was neither part of the New Testament teachings nor how Christ was understood in early Christianity.

The post-Nicaea concern was over polytheism. They abhorred the idea of multiple gods, thinking it a pagan idea. Israel had “one God” and not several. Therefore, the idea of the Trinity allowed them (and Historic Christianity ever after) the pretense of monotheism despite the separate beings of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

The “oneness” of God the Father and Christ does not consist, as the Historic Christian creeds suggest, in these being one person of one substance, uncreated, incomprehensible and altogether “other than mankind.” Christ explained His “oneness” with the Father in His intercessory prayer in John 17. Speaking about the immediate disciples who were with Him when He prayed, He petitioned that, “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” (John 17:11.) The disciples were not of one substance with Christ, nor uncreated, nor incomprehensible, but were separate individual men. Yet they were to be “one” just as the Father and Son are likewise “one.” Christ’s prayer also referred to future believers who would accept the testimonies of the apostles. Concerning them Christ also prayed, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20-21.)

Do you believe on the apostles’ testimonies? Are you therefore “one” with other believers? Did you merge into the bodies of other believers in order to become “one” with them? Are you the same substance as your minister or priest? If by belief in the same testimony as other Christians you can become “one” with them, then Christ and the Father can likewise be “one” without disturbing their entirely separate existence from one another.

This is not a heresy and not a recent invention. In The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, he relied on what would later become New Testament scripture as well as common sense to explain that Christ came into the world as a mortal man, although He had been created by the Father and acknowledged by Him as His Only Begotten Son. Here is Ignatius’ explanation:

The Word, when His flesh was lifted up, after the manner of the brazen serpent in the wilderness, drew all man to Himself for their eternal salvation. And I know that He was possessed of a body not only in His being born and crucified, but I also know that He was so after His resurrection, and believe that He is so now. When, for instance, He came to those who were with Peter, He said to them, “Lay hold, handle Me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit.” “For a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have.” And He says to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger into the print of the nails, and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side;” and immediately they believed that He was Christ. Wherefore Thomas also says to Him, “My Lord, and my God.” And on this account also did they despise death, for it were too little to say, indignities and stripes. Nor was this all; but also after He had shown Himself to them, that He had risen indeed, and not in appearance only, He both ate and drank with them during forty entire days. And thus was He, with the flesh, received up in their sight unto Him that sent Him, being with that same flesh to come again, accompanied by glory and power. For, say the holy oracles, “This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, in like manner as ye have seen Him go unto heaven.” But if they say that He will come at the end of the world without a body, how shall those “see Him that pierced Him,” and when they recognize Him, “mourn for themselves?” For incorporeal beings have neither form nor figure, nor the aspect of an animal possessed of shape, because their nature is in itself simple. (Chapters II and III, long version as found in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p. 89; Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson, Hendrickson Publishing, Fourth Printing, 2004; emphasis added.)

The idea that Christ is now and will be a physical being when He returns in glory was a fundamental teaching of the New Testament and early Christians. Do not allow the false reasoning of Historic Christian philosophers to change the person of our Lord into an imaginary idol invented by those who hijacked Christianity and changed it into a political, economic and social industry.

Ignatius regarded any who taught to the contrary to be damned: “but blasphemes my Lord, not owning Him to be God incarnate[.]” (Id., Chapter V.)  He declared:

Let no man deceive himself. Unless he believes that Christ Jesus has lived in the flesh, and shall confess His cross and passion, and the blood which He shed for the salvation of the world, he shall not obtain eternal life. (Id. Chapter VI.)

This was important precisely because understanding the correct doctrine is required before it is possible to know God. It is as if Ignatius took aim at the heretical and false doctrine in Historic Christian creeds that God is incomprehensible:

Do ye, therefore, notice those who preach other doctrines, how they affirm that the Father of Christ cannot be known, and how they exhibit enmity and deceit in their dealings with one another. (Id.)

Because they deny Christ is a person of flesh and bone, “they make a jest of the resurrection. They are the offspring of that spirit who is the author of all evil.” (Id., Chapter VII.)

Truth comes by the revelation of heaven. Men corrupt it, and it ceases to have the same authority and effect as it would if believed. All men are required to repent and return to God. Part of that repentance will require Historic Christians to forsake the abominable creeds adopted by false priests and come to know Christ Jesus, who was sent by the Father into the world as a man, who lived, died, was resurrected and will return again in glory.

A Gospel of Christ

Joseph Smith wrote or spoke on different occasions describing the First Vision. This has become a source of criticism from some and doubt for others. The question at hand is why he would tell the story differently, using different words on two or more occasions?

I think the criticism is unwarranted. But I have taken note of it and intend to make different mistakes.  I have written only one account of my testimony, witness and gospel (announcement of “good news”) of Christ, and published it in the book Come, Let Us Adore Him. To avoid the inevitable criticism I would receive if I were to use a different pronoun, adverb or adjective by giving a second account, I intend to leave the account in that book to stand as the only statement I will make about those visits from the Lord.

He took some patience over a number of visits to help me understand His suffering in the atonement. Then He showed me His resurrection. The account of Gethsemane and the resurrection in Come, Let us Adore Him are consolidated into one narrative, although it required a number of visits for me to understand. It is written in the third person, imitating the Apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 12:2-5.

The Lord wanted my testimony of what He suffered to be public. The book has not been widely read, and I do not think that it needs to be. Those who are interested in His great condescension for our sake can seek it out. It was meant for them. For that reason I have never repeated it.

There have been other encounters between the Lord and me, including a first one that conveyed interesting information about His return in glory. I believe He will want that one to be made public at some point, but He will have to determine whether and when that will happen. I have no intention to go beyond the specific direction He gives.

2 Nephi 31: 6-7

2 Nephi 31: 6-7:

“And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfill all righteousness in being baptized by water?  Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.”

Although Christ was the one mortal upon whom death could make no claim (He being holy), He nonetheless obeyed the same conditions as everyone else.  Notwithstanding His holiness, His right to face judgment and not be condemned, He set the example. No one else could face the judgment and pass. Therefore, everyone other than Him would require baptism for repentance and remission of their sins. He did not. He determined to obey anyway so everyone could see the strait path by which they can obtain hope.

He was flesh. He was mortal. He could (and did) die. Though death could not claim Him, He was to die. Baptism is the great symbol of death and resurrection, and He is the resurrection. He lived the symbol as well as the reality, so all others could have part in that victory. The symbol to point the way. The reality to open the way. We are in turn “shown the way” by what He did.

He also “witnesses” before “the Father that he would be obedient unto Him.”

Think about the command of understanding Nephi is exhibiting here. He is telling us that Christ’s mortal ministry would include these very specific events for these very specific reasons. This was what he was permitted to tell us. What other information was within his knowledge which he was forbidden from sharing? Does this level of understanding by Nephi tell you something about what can be learned from the Lord if you are diligent in following His path? Why, if you can see what may be available, would you not be willing to do whatever is asked of you in order to receive something similar in your own life?

Well, the foundation of the “doctrine of Christ” begins by seeing Christ’s example, learning of the necessity of baptism and obedience to the will of God.  That is where everyone must begin. If you start right, you are likely to continue in the right way. But if you do not begin aright, then you are not likely to have any ability to return and find the right way. You cannot enter in by some other way. If you enter in the right way, you will begin to recognize the True Shepherd’s voice. (John 10: 1-5.) This is the beginning. It is as important to the doctrine of Christ as all that will follow.

2 Nephi 31: 5

2 Nephi 31: 5:


“And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!”

This is a missionary proof text, used to persuade everyone to get baptized. They used it on me. It worked. I got baptized.

How undeniably essential is baptism as a result of this argument? Does it seem to you that if Christ Himself needed to be baptized that without it it would not be possible for anyone to please God? If Christ needed it, then undoubtedly all of Christ’s inferiors need it as well. The only exception seems to be those children who are not accountable, and for whom Christ’s atonement will be applied because of the justice and mercy applied to such unaccountable young souls. (See Moroni 8: 20-22.) They need no baptism. But all of us do.  Without it we have no hope for redemption.

It is indisputable from this verse that baptism is essential. But the question remains “why?”  Why would this ordinance be required for residing in God’s presence in the eternal worlds? We know, of course, that all such matters were ordained before the foundation of the world, and cannot be changed now. (D&C 130: 20-21.) But that does not answer the question of “why?”

Have you ever inquired to know why? It is not answered in scripture. It is only implied.  Sometimes the best place to look for an answer is to go back to the beginning. Reading the account of Adam’s baptism (who was the first to receive the ordinance in mortality) we find a few things. By the water we keep the commandment. (Moses 6: 60.) The first man was taken by the Spirit and baptized, put under the water and brought forth out of the water again.  (Moses 6: 64.) After he had been buried in the water and brought forth again, he was told he had been born again of the Spirit. (Moses 6: 65.) Before any of the ordinance happened, however, Adam was told this: “behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.” (Moses 6: 63.)  Did you catch that?

Just before Adam’s baptism the Lord explains to Adam that the reason for “all things” being as they are is “to bear record of me [meaning Christ].” Baptism is designed to bear testimony of Christ. How so? In what way does baptism tell us about Christ?

Christ died, was buried, and on the third day arose from the dead. (D&C 20: 23.) He said He would do that before His crucifixion. (Mark 8: 31; Luke 18: 33.) His disciples did not understand this prophecy. (Luke 18: 34.)

Baptism is a reenactment of Christ’s death and resurrection. Once you have been placed under the water you are cut off from the breath of life. If you remain under the water for too long, you will die. While there, you are only able to survive by holding your breath. You retain the power to live, if you return to the surface soon enough, but your life is dependent upon the one performing the ordinance. They must lift you back to return you to life. Just as Christ needed the power of His Father, we also need the power of the officiator to raise us back to life. It is as if the life of Christ has been beautifully choreographed. Christ was sent to lay down His life and take it up again. That is what He did. As Joseph Smith explained in the King Follett Discourse: “The scriptures inform us that Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power—to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious—in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it you do not believe the Bible. The scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom and all the combined powers of earth and hell together to refute it. Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.”

First we receive an ordinance which shows us the way by symbols. We are shown the way back to redemption and resurrection, but must see it with the eyes of faith, before we behold it as it truly is. (Ether 12: 19.) If we are to rise from the dead and have eternal life in Christ, we must first enact that event through the ordinance which points to the reality of our future rise from the dead.

Ordinances are the preliminary act, designed to bear testimony of the real event. They are not the real thing, but a “type” of the real thing. They must be seen through the eyes of faith (Ether 12: 19) to allow us to gain the faith necessary to obtain the real thing. Before you are resurrected in a whole, complete and glorified fashion you must first voluntarily agree to enact that future event, looking forward in faith to that future day. Before you enter into the Lord’s presence, you must first enact that in the Temple, looking forward in faith to that future day.

All things point to Christ. However, only those who have the faith to see within them the underlying reality with the “eyes of faith” will obtain to the final promises and covenants intended for all of us to obtain.

2 Nephi 29: 14

“And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.”

Now we have an estimate of the time when a general disclosure of the records of these various nations will occur. It’s set in the time when the people who have survived the great distresses and wars of the last days will leave the New Jerusalem and return to their lands of possessions. That is, post-New Jerusalem, post-destruction of the wicked, and after the time when the Lord has come among them. When they are sent into their respective lands of possessions, then at last the entire record of the Lord’s dealings with each nation will be “gathered in one.”

So this won’t be anytime soon. Well, if soon, it will be after some more dramatic events, which will take our minds off the issue of missing scripture.
What is interesting is the Lord’s emphasis on those who “fight against my word.” He puts this first. The fight, as He puts it, is against both “my word and my people,” but it is the fight against His “word” that He lists first.  This is important.
You will recall there were two different reactions to the two parts of Lehi’s message. When it was repentance from their wickedness, the Jews mocked him. But when it was a message of the coming Christ, they wanted to kill him. (1 Ne. 1: 18-19.) This is the war against His “word” in a nutshell. The message of hope and redemption found in Christ is what the enemies of God always seek to suppress.
First, distort, suppress and exclude His word.  Then it follows that He has no people, because they cannot find their way back to Him.
Remember this is the great fight. It is relentlessly underway. So soon as His word becomes available, there will be forces, enemies, alliances, even good-intentions used to suppress, discard and alter His words. This is the great work of the adversary. This is the fight that gets waged first.
When the victory is won against His word, then the victory against the people is over. There cannot be any “people” belonging to Him if they do not possess His words in clarity, fullness, and with power.
What significance is there then in changing His words? Discarding His revelations? Suppressing His ordinances? Altering what He has revealed?  Designating some of His word as “mysteries” that ought to be feared or avoided? Why would Joseph Smith advise us to search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God? Why would we be told to avoid them today?  What has happened in the fight against the Lord’s word among us? 

The purpose of His word is to establish His people. When people have His word, and obtain the light and truth that flows from it, then they are inevitably turned in their hearts to the fathers. Primarily among those fathers is the one mentioned here: Abraham. For in Abraham we see a return to the original order which preceded the flood. He inherited what “came down from the beginning” and restored the original ancient order. (Abraham 1: 2-3.) When the “word” and “people” are again here, they are directly linked to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and are heirs to the covenant and priesthood  they held. It is a return. It is a resurrection of an ancient order, where men know God and are His friends and companions while living here in this fallen world.

The results of having the Lord’s “word” is to then create a “people” who in turn are linked to “Abraham.” These things all follow in turn.  The fight against it is begun at the “word” to prevent the others who follow. If you can choke people off and get them to refuse His “words” then you can prevent them from ever becoming His “people” and realizing the association which brings their hearts to the fathers.

It is a consistent plan and a predictable fight. How’s it going in our time? What good things have we done to preserve His word? Have we kept intact everything He handed us through Joseph? Do we possess all of the word He intended us to have, study and live? Are we thereby made into new creations, His people? Do we show the fruits of being His people? Do the visions of heaven flow over us, and angels minister to us? Do we possess knowledge of God in the sense used in the Book of Mormon? Are we in possession of all the rights and powers conferred upon Abraham?

It is an interesting interconnection the Lord refers to here. Worth reflection at a minimum. Fasting, prayer and seeking as well, perhaps.

1 Nephi 13: 42

1 Nephi 13: 42:

“And the time cometh that he shall manifest himself unto all nations, both unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles; and after he has manifested himself unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles, then he shall manifest himself unto the Gentiles and also unto the Jews, and the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”



Christ showed Himself to the Jews during His mortal ministry.


He showed Himself to the Nephites after His resurrection.


He visited others, who have also kept records of His appearances to them. The full extent of the records that have been kept has not become apparent to us yet.  Nephi would report in the final summation of his lifelong ministry the following about the many records to come forth:


“Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews. And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in  one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.” (2 Nephi 29: 10-14.)


The “lost tribes of Israel” are plural. However many the number may be, each kept records and they are to come into our possession at some point in fulfillment of this prophetic promise.


All of this was foreseen by Zenos even before Isaiah. Zenos tells us the lost tribes of Israel will be spread all about, into the “nethermost” parts of the earth: “And these will I place in the nethermost part of my vineyard, whithersoever I will, it mattereth not unto thee; and I do it that I may preserve unto myself the natural branches of the tree; and also, that I may lay up fruit thereof against the season, unto myself; for it grieveth me that I should lose this tree and the fruit thereof. And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard went his way, and hid the natural branches of the tame olive-tree in the nethermost parts of the vineyard, some in one and some in another, according to his will and pleasure.”  (Jacob 5: 13-14.)


Where is “nethermost?” How many were there?


When Christ informed the Nephites of His post-resurrection ministry, He informed them He would be visiting the various Israelite people:  “But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel, for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them.”  (3 Nephi 17: 4.) He visited the Nephites. They were an organized body, led by prophets, expecting His birth and death. There were other organized believers who also looked for His coming. What their prophets told them, and how they understood His ministry will be in their records. What He taught them when He visited with them after His resurrection will also be in their records. It is likely to mirror the Nephite experience and record. However, it is undoubtedly true that we will again learn how involved a Redeemer He has been. Should we already realize that from what we’ve been given?  We ought to welcome His direct ministry among us. Somehow we find His intimate involvement hard to comprehend. We think, if someone should acknowledge they have seen Him, that such a person is somehow special, different, or unique. It ought to be commonplace.


In the unfolding ministry of the Lord, the Jews were the first, but will be the last, to receive again His ministry. The gentiles have been given the Gospel. The remnant will be receiving it from them – soon.

What does it mean to possess your soul?

I was asked this question:

“In one scripture the Lord connects patience to possessing your soul.  What does it mean to possess your soul?  And it’s connection to patience?  This is a very new connection for me.”   

My answer:  

That’s a great question.  The verse is D&C 101: 38, reads: “And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.”  To possess your soul is to have body and spirit inseperably connected, in a resurrected and immortal state.  D&C 88: 14-16 explains: “Now, verily I say unto you, that through the redemption which is made for you is brought to pass the resurrection from the dead. And the spirit and the body are the soul of man. And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul.” To possess your soul, therefore, is to have the resurrection.
In the context of 101: 38, it is also saying that while in that resurrected state you will “inherit eternal life.”  This means to receive exaltation.  So the concept that these words are covering is the concept of exaltation and receiving, in the resurrection, a Celestial inheritance.
Patience is tied directly to this. Indeed, patience is required for this.  No person arrives in this state without offering sacrifice sufficient to develop the faith to lay hold on eternal life.  That is explained in the post a day or so ago about the Sixth Lecture on Faith.  This kind of sacrifice is very rarely done in a single act, but over a number of years by faithful obedience to the Lord’s plan for your own life.  It is developed by learning the Lord’s will for your life and then following that will. 
The whole concept begins by framing the issue around, “seeking the face of the Lord always.”  That is, possessing your soul, eternal life, and exaltation are all tied to the quest to return to God’s presence here in mortality.  It is tied to the path of seeking the Second Comforter.  As you know, I’ve written about that process and it takes more room than this blog can accommodate.  But this verse it speaking about that process.
It’s a beautiful verse.  It is another affirmation that the Second Comforter is intended to be a regular minister to mankind. Not some distant, unattainable visit, limited to a select few because of its difficulty.