BOWbutton

This button is a resource to link those desiring baptism with those having authority to baptize. More information can be found here.

 

Sacred things

I was asked this question:
“What do you say to people who state: ‘I doubt people who’ve had an audience with Christ would be out writing books and blogs about it. We are counseled not to talk about sacred things. (Followed by several GA quotes.)'”
I would say that they should accept counsel from whomever they trust and follow it.  I might add that if they read The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil they will get an answer to the question.  But, if they are hostile and offended and ask the question out of fear, I would not add the clarification.

It is not necessary for everyone to be stirred up by argument or persuasion to listen to something they do not want to hear.  What is coming will stir up everyone who has not been already touched by the Spirit.  Patience.  We’re headed somewhere.  The Lord remains in charge and has a plan to cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess the truth of who He is, what He has done, and what He has been doing.  We shouldn’t rush people forward.

There is more mischief in introducing people to truth before they are ready to comprehend and welcome it than there is in remaining silent.  It is uncharitable to tell someone a great truth which they are unprepared to accept.

Communication from the Lord

I was asked how a witness of the Spirit is felt.  Here are a variety of ways in which we receive communications from the Lord:
 
There was a talk I still recall where Elder LeGrand Richards used the expression “goose flesh.”  He was referring to the feeling he got upon hearing something he knew to be true as soon as it was spoken.  He got “goose flesh” as he listened. That is not a bad way to describe how some people feel the witness from the Spirit.  This form can also be replicated by stirring music, art or other performances.  So if this is how one feels the Spirit, they must distinguish between an emotional outpouring and a manifestation from the Lord.
 
I believe that everyone’s capacity to hear the Spirit bear testimony to them is more or less equal, as all have given to them the “light of Christ.”  (D&C 84: 46; 88: 7; Moroni 7: 19.)
 
How someone recognizes the witness to them is person-specific at the start.  Whether it is Elder Richards’ “goose flesh” or a burst of unmistakable insight coming from beyond, or a warmth in the heart as D&C 9: 8 describes, is based upon individual sensitivities.  How you feel this may differ from how I do.
 
When it has progressed from these initial stirrings to the “voice” which you hear within you, that assumes a more uniform experience.  The “voice” is clearly not your own, and introduces ideas or concepts that are clearly not your own.  You can have a dialogue with this “voice” in which your ideas are juxtaposed with those coming to you.  It is not audible, but you hear it inside.  It is clearly not your own voice, but that of another. 
 
When you have proven yourself faithful and true to all required of you by the “voice” that comes into your mind and heart, then it becomes possible for angels to visit with you.  Angels all come from this earth and have their mortality here.  (D&C 130: 5.)  If they appear as disembodied (not-resurrected) spirits, they may appear only as beings dressed in white.  They will not make physical contact with you.  Satan may attempt to appear as such a being, but since he invariably tries to deceive, if you attempt to make physical contact he will reciprocate as part of his deception.  As a disembodied spirit, however, you can detect his lack of physical presence when such contact is attempted.  A true messenger who lacks a body will not attempt physical contact, but will deliver his message to you.  If a visitor is either resurrected or translated, they may appear without glory, in which case their physical appearance will be as any other person.  The only difference you will likely note is that their countenance is pure and radiates a purity that other mortals rarely manifest.  If resurrected and appearing in glory, they bear unmistakable signs of Celestial Glory.
 
The closest image I have seen to the glory shown by a resurrected, glorified, celestial personage is the upper pattern, in gold, imprinted onto the Dome of the Rock Mosque.  When I saw it for the first time a few months ago, I was startled by the pattern and its radiant glory.  It is the closest earthly pattern I have seen to depicting a Celestial Glory.  I do not know who fashioned the pattern, but they were depicting something that I recognized to be inspired by what lies beyond the veil and patterned after Celestial Glory itself.
 
Beings appearing in Celestial Glory do not show themselves, or in other words, cannot be seen, except by those only who are prepared to behold them.  Others who may be present when they appear will feel a presence that often frightens them, as in the case of Daniel’s companions in Daniel Chapter 10.

The final stage in development requires one to “see” the things that are being communicated.  This happens when the “answer” to the inquiry is opened to view, but only inside the mind. You can actually “behold” something as if it were before you, without actually being there. Such a process is physically demanding, despite the fact it is so intangible a matter as to defy description.  Seeing things by this process is not limited to time, place or location.  A person exercising this gift, for example, may be able to behold Abraham as he receives the box containing the records from his father, who held the box in no particular regard because he could not open it.  

 
When the person has developed the ability to “see,” the answers to inquiries come almost entirely through the exercise of this gift.  Although all these forms of messages and communication from the Lord and His messengers are still available to a seer when conditions or the circumstances warrant it.
 
There are seers among us.  In fact, we “sustain,” institutionally, fifteen men to be such every General Conference.  The development of the gift, however, comes not by consequence of office alone but by the diligence of the individual.  All are on equal footing before the Lord.  Therefore, although it may be conferred upon you or them, the realization of these blessings depends upon their/your faithfulness.  Elder Scott, for example, uses terms in some of his talks which intimate seership.  The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead (D&C 138) has language I recognize as a seer’s.  So does D&C 76.

Repentance and redemption

I was asked this question:

In D&C 138:57-59 it states: 

“the faithful elders from this dispensation, when they depart this life continue their labors by preaching to those who are in darkness and under bondage of sin, etc.”  

The scripture then says that the dead who REPENT WILL BE REDEEMED, THROUGH OBEDIENCE TO THE ORDINANCES OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. I thought temple ordinances, including baptisms for the dead, were only necessary for those who are heirs to at least some degree in the Celestial Kingdom. See Doctrines of Salvation, II, p. 191. If this is so, then why does the scripture go on to say “[a]nd after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.” 

If they repent and are redeemed through the ordinances of the temple then why are they paying the penalty for their transgressions? I understood D&C 19:15-18 to mean if you repent then because of the atonement you do not suffer because Christ suffered for us. As I read this scripture it can only mean one of two things. First, some people who end up in he Celestial Kingdom must suffer for their own sins.  Second it could mean that these people are not going to the Celestial Kingdom (“for they shall receive a reward according to their works”). So am I wrong that an “heir of salvation” (not “exaltation”) can end up in the C, T or T Kingdom, as all are kingdoms of glory and the heirs of each of these kingdoms are saved with a “resurrection of endless life and happiness”? (Mosiah 16:11) And if so then why did they need the ordinances of the temple?

My response:
To enter into the Celestial Kingdom requires the ordinances of the Temple.  As explained in D&C 131: 1-4:
 1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
 2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
 3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
 4 He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.
This statement defines the “highest” as the only one involving the covenant of marriage.  The other Celestial Kingdom residents would require all Temple ordinances, from washings, anointings through endowment to be able to enter and pass by the sentinels who stand guard there.  Only the highest requires the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.
As to who will “suffer for their own sins” and yet enter into the Celestial Kingdom, there are at least two categories:  First, those who have received their calling and election, but who return to sin, but not an unpardonable sin.  Those are required to “pay the price” for this misconduct.  (D&C 132: 26.)  Second, those who are “sealed up” through the faithfulness of their parents, who claim them as children of promise as a matter of right because of the sealing upon the parents.  Such children will need to either qualify in their own right, or if inheritors of the promise through the merit of their parents’ sealing they will have to suffer to become clean in order to inherit what is sealed upon them by this right.
It is a good question.  It shows the order in heaven and the way in which things are governed by laws established before the foundation of the world.  (D&C 130: 20-21.)

Abraham and Sarah

I have been thinking a lot lately about Abraham and Sarah and their relationship. Their story is one of the greatest in history.
Little details in the story are touching.  The “ten years” that Sarah waited (Gen. 16: 3) before urging Abraham to father a child with Hagar is based upon a custom at the time.  Abraham’s willingness to follow the custom was because the Lord promised him children, Sarah could not conceive and Sarah urged him to do so. In fact, of the three, Sarah’s urging was what seems to persuade Abraham.  Her urging is tempered by making it seem she is looking out for her own interests: “it may be that I (Sarah) may obtain children by her.”  (Gen. 16: 2.)  This softens the request, makes it a blessing for Sarah, and casts it in terms which do not belittle or dismiss Sarah.  Then, as the account reads: “Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.”  (Gen. 16: 2.)
Abraham was willing to wait on the Lord’s promises of children. He was willing to forego the customs that allowed a man to take another wife.  It was Sarah’s gentle persuasion that convinced Abraham to take Hagar. Sarah was loved by Abraham with his whole heart.  It was this great marriage relationship that allowed the Lord to preserve them as the parents of “all righteous.”  A new Adam for the Lord’s covenant people.  And, of course, there cannot be an Adam without an Eve.  Sarah becomes the “Mother of All Righteous.”
This is more critical than most people recognize.  It was because of this important relationship that the tenth parable in Ten Parables begins with the marriage relationship.  Without this, there was no reason to save the man.
Marriage is separate from its two parties. It has a life of its own.  The husband and the wife may be parties to the marriage, but the marriage itself is a separate and living thing.  It is distinct from the two partners in the relationship, and greater than either of them.  It lives.  It is real.
The only people whose right to eternal life has been secured, to my knowledge, came as a result of the marriage relationship and its worthiness to be preserved into eternity.  Neither is the man without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord.  Therefore, if you are interested in eternal life, the very first place to begin is inside your marriage.

A “friend” of God

Here’s a concept to ponder . . .

In the beginning, our relationship with God is rather primitive.  We start out fearing Him and following His “commandments” in the hope of appeasing Him or avoiding punishment.

We later get some insight that allows us to see Him as a more loving God.  As a result of that insight and growth, we begin to view the commandments as warnings and blessings that will benefit us if we heed them.  

Developmentally there is a point somewhere far distant along this path where we become a “friend” of God.  Abraham achieved this.  When he did, the relationship was quite different than what it was in the beginning.
When the Lord requested Isaac be sacrificed, it wasn’t a “commandment.”  The language in the KJV Bible is too coarse to really communicate the idea underlying what happened.  It wasn’t a “commandment” to Abraham.  It was more of a polite suggestion.  It was an expression of the Lord’s preference.  The suggestion was quite gentle. Abraham responded to this polite suggestion from the Lord by proceeding without question.  He was willing to sacrifice his long awaited heir.
Now if you can get your hands around this idea, then you can begin to see the difference between where our relationship with God starts and where it should eventually end.  At the beginning, our relationship with God is quite primitive.  At the end it is a trusted, loving friend in whom absolute confidence resides in the one who has become His friend.
There is such a profound difference between one end of the spectrum and the other that it hinders our understanding of the examples we see in scripture.  We distort things considerably when we view His relationships with others in the scriptures in the same context we relate to Him.  
When a person has become a “friend” of God, they are introduced to another level of language and experience with Him.  When they become a member of His family, they have yet another kind of relationship.  The openness and love that exists, and the accompanying trust that goes with it, is something quite distinct from the coarse beginnings of the path.
The faiths which view our relationship to God as “slave to master” are only in the beginning of the process.  From that end things which seem to be alright (and may even be alright) are different from what is found further along the progression.

Your end is to become part of the household of God, a member of the Church of the Firstborn, and a family member of God the Father.  When that happens, the relationship is considerably more polite and respectful than it is when you are first experiencing awareness of God’s existence and His commandments to bring us light and truth.

Holy Ghost vs. The Holy Spirit

I was asked this question:
 
Can you comment on the Holy Ghost vs. The Holy Spirit and who Jesus is and who the Father is, etc…  Also, is it possible that Jesus is the same Spirit as the Holy Ghost? Moses 5:9
 
This is fraught with debatable language in the scriptures.  There are those who will absolutely disagree with what I have to say.  I can explain how I have sorted it out to my understanding, but you should recognize that there are others who would take a different view of the scriptures and of the definition of these roles of the Godhead.
 
First the clarification:  
The Holy Ghost is a personage.  It is an individual.  It is a Spirit that will dwell inside you.  (D&C 130: 22.)
 
The Holy Spirit is the power of God which fills the immensity of space.  (D&C 88: 12-13.)
 
Now the problem:
Sometimes the Holy Spirit is called the “Light of Christ” rather than the Holy Spirit.  (D&C 88: 7-11.)
 
Sometimes the Holy Ghost is called the Holy Spirit. (Luke 11: 13.)
 
Whether you are reading something about the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is something that must be determined by the context, not the language used.
 
The relationship between the Holy Spirit or Light of Christ and every living thing, whether a planet, plant, animal, human or ecosystem is direct, immediate and continual.  They are all borrowing power from the Holy Spirit to live, move breath, remain organized, and do according to their own wills.  (Mosiah 2: 21-25.)  This is the means by which the Holy Ghost, which resides inside of you, receives intelligence from Christ.
 
The Holy Ghost is the “record of heaven” which lives inside you and that you have lost contact with because of the veil.  It is a personage of spirit who resides inside you, and you must “receive” it after baptism by finally listening to that inner “truth of all things” or “record of the Father and the Son.”  (Moses 6: 61, 66.)
 
The Holy Ghost bears record of the Son.  When the Son speaks to you through the Holy Ghost you hear the words in the first-person.  Hence the Holy Ghost speaking that it “is the Son” in Moses 5: 9.
 
I’m keeping this short because the more I explain the more questions will arise.  So clarity on this topic is almost invariably related to brevity.

Opposing wickedness through violence

There is a continuing unease about the subject of opposing wickedness through violence.  So I thought I would add this additional explanation:
 
I do not foresee that a gun will be effective against radioactivity; nor against weaponized anthrax.  I read the plagues that are coming and the descriptions in D&C 29: 15-21 and I do not foresee a handgun doing me any good under those circumstances.  I see wicked being killed, but no role for me and a sidearm to join in the fray.
 
I do not foresee any need for Zion to be protected by armed machine-gun nests around a perimeter when a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night hangs over them. (D&C 45: 65-71.)  In the description, it does not say they go up with songs of joy, interrupted by occasional gunfire and all hell breaking loose.  It says they proceed quite peacefully, singing songs of everlasting joy. (verse 71.)
 
When sickness and scourge are poured out, there will be widespread death and destruction.  But there is no need for me to join in the killing.  In fact, all those who take up the sword are included within the ranks of the wicked scheduled to die.  (D&C 45: 30-33.)
 
I think the “power” we need in the Priesthood of God will be necessary to protect us from plagues.  To stay the disease which will be poured out.  To keep at bay the effects of the illnesses caused by the wickedness and evil of men who, killing one another and leaving the unburied dead to rot, will spread cholera, diphtheria and other illness.
 
I do not foresee the need to take up arms.  The violence of nature will be responsible for killing many.  In fact, the depopulation of the earth will be as a result of the following, as I understand it:
 
War
Pestilence incident to war
Famine (incident to war and pestilence)
Drought (incident to wickedness)
Hail (to destroy what few crops remain)
Earthquakes and Tempests (targeting those who remain alive but who are wicked and threaten Zion)
 
Nowhere on my list is there an entry for a Zion-based sniper unit.  (I’m just trying to let a little humor into this, not mocking this idea.  It is a serious idea to be sure, deserving serious thought and pondering.)
 
What we are going to face is global genocide.  A handgun won’t do much good against the things that are prophesied.  There may be isolated opportunities to shoot a bad guy.  But there may also be the same isolated bad guy who, in his fear and cowardice, may be vulnerable to conversion to the Gospel if we don’t shoot him.  What is coming will intimidate mankind so fearfully that men’s hearts will fail them.  I think preaching to them while they are in such a stupor rather than shooting them may work.  And if not, well then I haven’t taken my brother’s life.

 

God is no respecter of persons

I am surprised by how people regard me as something special.  I have been blessed by the Lord to be able to write some books and put some information on this blog. However, if you were raised LDS and put forth some nominal effort to living your religion, you have lived a better life than I have. I wasn’t raised LDS and had no understanding of the Gospel, or the underlying reasons for the commandments.  Therefore, I never obeyed even a fraction of the commandments that you have grown up following.
 

I am absolutely convinced that any one of you is a better candidate than I was to receive an audience with the Lord.  The wonder of this process is not that someone has done it, but that so few have.  Given that I am probably the least qualified, the point should not be lost on you.  If it has happened to me, then it absolutely can and should happen to you.
God is no respecter of persons.  All are alike to Him.  Qualifications are based upon the behavior and faith of the person, not on their status or past mistakes.
You probably think your errors are more serious an impediment to God accepting you than He ever has.  He doesn’t want to judge you, He wants to heal you. He wants to give you what you lack, teach you to be better and to bless you.  He doesn’t want to belittle, demean or punish you.  Ask Him to forgive and He forgives.  Even very serious sins.  He does not want you burdened with them.  He wants you to leave them behind.

His willingness to leave those errors in the past and remember them no more is greater than you can imagine.  It is a guiding principle for the Atonement. Asking for forgiveness is almost all that is required to be forgiven.

What alienates us from Him is not our sins.  He will forgive them.  What we lack is the confidence to ask in faith, nothing doubting, for His help.  He can and will help when you do so.
The sins that offend Him are not the errors, weaknesses and foolishness of the past.  He is offended when we are forgiven by Him, and then return to the same sin. That shows a lack of gratitude for His forgiveness.  Even then, however, there are addictions, compulsions and weaknesses that we sometimes struggle with for years, even decades.  When the sin is due to some difficulty based on biology, physiology or  an inherent weakness that we fight for years to overcome, then His patience with us is far greater than our own.  He will help in the fight.  He will walk along side you as you fight.  He does not expect you to run faster than you have strength.  When, at last, because of age or infirmity, a troubling weakness is at last overcome, He will readily accept your repentance and let you move forward clean, whole and forgiven.  That is His ministry – to forgive and make whole.

I know all my mistakes.  They are greater than most of yours. I am in awe of His mercy and forgiveness.  I am not at all impressed by my worthiness.  It is nothing.  It consists of borrowed finery from Him who has let me use His great worthiness to cover my own failings.  To the extent that I have any merit, it comes from Him.  I remain astonished that He would condescend for someone like me. 

It is a wonder some think I have an advantage.  I assure you that the promised blessings are available to ALL.  If that were not true then someone as weak, simple and flawed as I am would never have had the hope that I now have in Christ.

Get busy!

Another statement from Joseph Smith worth considering as part of deciding how seriously you would like to be a disciple of Christ’s:
 
 All men know that they must die. And it is important that we should understand the reasons and causes of our exposure to the vicissitudes of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world, our sufferings here, and our departure hence. What is the object of our coming into existence, then dying and falling away, to be here no more? It is but reasonable to suppose that God would reveal something in reference to the matter, and it is a subject we ought to study more than any other. We ought to study it day and night, for the world is ignorant in reference to their true condition and relation. If we have any claim on our Heavenly Father for anything, it is for knowledge on this important subject. Could we read and comprehend all that has been written from the days of Adam, on the relation of man to God and angels in a future state, we should know very little about it. Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject. (DHC vol. 6, page 50.)
The definition of “ordinances of God” are not all contained in a formal church setting.  Read again the experiences of others in scripture and you will find that a great deal takes place between the Lord and those who follow Him.  When He appears He also ministers.  There is also the description of the “sealing” which will qualify those living in our day to become a member of the Church of the Firstborn, which involves an ordinance performed by “angels to whom is given power” and to whom this ministry belongs.  (D&C 77: 11.)
Search the scriptures.  They testify of all things.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints administers the ordinances of salvation and prepares you to receive further light and knowledge directly from the Lord.  If you have received what the Lord offers through the church, but have failed to take the final admonition to receive further light and knowledge by conversing directly with Him, then your salvation has not been perfected.  You still have work left before you.
 
Get busy.