Role of Women, Part 3

There are many questions about issues specific to women in the emails I receive. They go way beyond the one email I posted on Sunday. Many express disappointment about “denying” priestly office to women in the church. My reaction to that issue is to say:  Why aspire to be like those claiming patriarchal priority based upon an exclusive “priesthood” when, for almost all men, their ordination will never result in heaven conferring power upon them? (D&C 121: 36-37.) Why envy nothing?

There is a misapprehension about “priesthood” and authority. This can be tracked back to the failure to adequately teach in the church, and by the example we see in the management of the church. In the church the man is called to office (bishop, stake president, elder’s quorum president, etc.). The man is supposed to fill that office using two counselors to help him. His wife is not one of his counselors. The positions often require confidences to be kept. Because of this, a bishop does not discuss everything about his calling with his wife. This gives the mistaken impression that the men fulfilling these roles matter more, and are trusted more by the Lord.

This model is a mirage, and to the extent the church is selected as the object of admiration and reverence, it will only fool you. Remember the church will end with death. The government of God in eternity is His Heavenly Family. These family relationships endure. The church will remain a creation of, and occupant confined to the Telestial world. It is a Telestial institution, attempting to invite you to rise up to something more, something higher, something that will endure. But the church extending that invitation is not to be envied. Service in it is not the model of Celestial glory. Your family is the critical relationship in mortality.

A man and woman would be better off if they never held any church office other than home and visiting teaching. They would be better off if they realized it is the family alone that will endure, and then devote themselves to improving that relationship. Inside the family, the woman is the natural and undeniable counselor, and she is presiding within the family alongside her husband. She should join with him in blessing their children, she should lay hands on her husband when he asks and bless him, and she should be one with him. Because inside the home it is the husband and wife, not the bishop, who presides. Even the president of the church does not call a man to office without first asking his wife to sustain him in the calling. Nor does the woman get a calling without consulting her husband. All the envy and misapprehensions notwithstanding, the fact remains that the church is inferior to the family. The church is temporary, transient and Telestial. The family can be eternal, enduring and Celestial.

To the extent that you choose the church to inform your understanding, you are setting it up as an idol. That approach does more harm than good. No institution can display what it was never intended to be. It is the unity found in marriage, not the structure of organizing the church, which should become our focus.

This week’s topic has been the subject of repeated discussions between me and my wife. Each morning we spend about an hour talking about many different issues as we walk together, the role of woman being one of them. Each evening we also spend time discussing important issues, from the Gospel to family matters to finances and everything in-between. She not only edits my writing, but discusses what I write with me. She is a constant adviser and counselor to me. Her view of this subject is much more critical of women’s misunderstanding than mine. She finds many complaints and complainers exasperating. Through prayer and study, she has had to come to terms with many of these same issues. On the ones she doesn’t struggle with or can’t get answers to, she trusts that God loves her and that “everything will be okay.” We find it joyful and necessary to reason together and discuss gospel issues with one another.

If we are all the Lord’s, there should be unity between us all; even more so between husband and wife. That does not come through neglect. It comes through effort. Sometimes the effort must begin by the woman bringing to the attention of the husband what he is failing to do or to be. Then it grows from there to discussion, and finally understanding and agreement. That is the work of every relationship. It cannot be avoided. Effort and time are required for any union to be obtained.

Role of Women, Part 2

The unity of man and woman is required for either of them to be saved in the truest meaning of “saved” (meaning exalted):
Paul wrote: “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 11: 11.) But what does that mean?

Through Joseph comes this response: “Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world. Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory. For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.” (D&C 132: 15-17.) But, even with this, how does this qualify?

-Is “sealing” enough?
-What if the couple are unworthy of being preserved because, among other things, they are not happy together?
-Why keep together what is more punishment than reward?
-If this union is required for either to be exalted, then does it matter who is sealed to who, with what language?

The unity of man and woman does not come by one dominating the other, as some view the inevitable result of patriarchy. The relationship is not worth preserving if it lacks joyful association. No relationship is unified if one party dominates the other. Godly unity comes by the man conforming to the image of God, and the woman likewise conforming to the image of God, so both reflect His image. Christ put it into these words: “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 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. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17: 19-23.) What is this “glory” which the Lord has given to His disciples and which He offers us? How can we become “glorified” like the Father and the Son?
“The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” (D&C 93: 36.) 
Rather than envying the authority of patriarchy or the claims to priesthood, we should all envy/seek God’s glory. Why seek after something that does not exist? Why not seek after what is enduring?
Suppose you do become one with God? Suppose you do take in His glory, or light and truth, and become filled with light? And suppose further that your husband does not. What then?
-What is your responsibility?
-How can you return to God without seeking to reclaim and redeem your husband?
-Remember the counsel of Hyrum Smith when he wrote as the prophet to the church? He said:

Whereas, in times past persons have been permitted to gather with the Saints at Nauvoo, in North America—such as husbands leaving their wives and children behind; also, such as wives leaving their husbands, and such as husbands leaving their wives who have no children, and some because their companions are unbelievers. All this kind of proceedings we consider to be erroneous and for want of proper information. And the same should be taught to all the Saints, and not suffer families to be broken up on any account whatever if it be possible to avoid it. Suffer no man to leave his wife because she is an unbeliever. These things are an evil and must be forbidden by the authorities of the church or they will come under condemnation; for the gathering is not in hast nor by flight, but to prepare all things before you, and you know not but the unbeliever may be converted and the Lord heal him; but let the believers exercise faith in God, and the unbelieving husband shall be sanctified by the believing wife; and the unbelieving wife by the believing husband, and families are preserved and saved from a great evil which we have seen verified before our eyes. Behold this is a wicked generation, full of lyings, and deceit, and craftiness; and the children of the wicked are wiser than the children of light; that is, they are more crafty; and it seems that it has been the case in all ages of the world.
And the man who leaves his wife and travels to a foreign nation, has his mind overpowered with darkness, and Satan deceived him and flatters him with the graces of the harlot, and before he is aware he is disgraced forever; and greater is the danger for the woman that leaves her husband. The evils resulting from such proceedings are of such a nature as to oblige us to cut them off from the church.
And we also forbid that a woman leave her husband because he is an unbeliever. We also forbid that a man shall leave his wife because she is an unbeliever. If he be a bad man (i.e., the believer) there is a law to remedy that evil. And if the law divorce them, then they are at liberty; otherwise they are bound as long as they two shall live, and it is not our prerogative to go beyond this; if we do it, it will be at the expense of our reputation.

These things we have written in plainness and we desire that they should be publicly known,

(See also 1 Cor. 7: 13-14.)

The marriage of man and woman puts into the closest and most intimate contact two very different people. In their union it is possible to create offspring. It is this basic relationship where the two most important things are accomplished:
1. The work of bringing new life into the world, and
2. The work of overcoming the world and becoming “one.”
Yet fools seek to overcome the world while leaving their spouse uninvolved. Or, in other words, they seek to avoid the very test that is required and which is given to us all to help us to overcome the world. Remember there is neither the man nor the woman without the other in the Lord.

Assuming this is the requirement, then does the wording of church rites matter? Does language sealing the woman to the man change this need of unity?

Temple Conference

I’ve received several requests about how to register for the October Temple Conference. The telephone number at Utah State University taking the registration information is:
(435) 797-1300
You can register over the phone for the conference.

The link to the website where additional information can be found is:

Academy for Temple Studies

That site will be updated from time to time as additional information becomes available.

Role of Women

First, and foremost, the questions about the role of women arise from a misunderstanding of God’s will and nature, and from mistrust of God’s intentions. The first is because we teach poorly. The second is because we make the mistake of identifying God’s intentions with men’s behavior. The failure of men to live the ideals required by God do not alter God’s intention. Therefore, you should not conflate these. You can overcome both without ever listening to anything I have to say. It is, or ought to be, between you and God. I loathe to put myself between you and Him. The understanding of these two principles is all you need to go forward and get an answer directly from Him. To overcome the second, you will need to repent of your idolatry. Do not make the church an idol, and do not judge God by that idol. Realize the church is an organization staffed by frail men trying hard, but with very difficult circumstances facing them in this fallen world. Be charitable.

With that in mind, your questions should not be viewed as a problem, but as an opportunity to learn more about (and from) God. These are wonderful concerns, and they deserve an answer. God does have answers. I cheat people when I say too much about a given subject. Particularly when the topic is so important and the answer ought to be given by God.

Ponder these questions:
-What if the “role” you occupy is not just your test, but also a test of your husband (and Mormon men generally)?
-What if the Lord has only allowed you and your husband to “suppose” he has “a little authority” when, in fact, he has nothing more than an invitation to arise and receive it from heaven? (D&C 121: 39.)
-What if the Lord intends to judge your husband (and all Mormon men) on the basis of how the man conducts himself to see if he uses the wrong kind of “authority” to impose and control and exercise dominion? (D&C 121: 37.)
-What if no authority can be claimed by virtue of the priesthood? (D&C 121: 41.)
-What if to prove the heart of the man, it is necessary to put you and your husband into this probationary relationship to see if he follows the Lord or is blinded by the craftiness of men who deceive among all sects, including our own? (D&C 123: 12.)
-What if the man chooses to ignore the Holy Spirit and proceed ahead on his own desire for patriarchal supremacy?
-What if the Lord intends for you to ultimately be his “judge” because you are now apparently “subject to” him and will learn best what is in his heart?
-What if, whether you want to show all the compassion of a saint toward mormon leaders (including your husband), you are nevertheless subjugated, controlled and exploited? Will they be left in such a position after this life when greater things are underway?
-What if the conditions for the salvation of man are different than the conditions for the salvation of women?
-What if the primary obligation of the man is to preserve correct doctrine, God’s approval to bestow ordinances, and practice correct faith? If it is, how well have men performed this obligation throughout history? How well do men perform this today?
-What if women have a primary (not exclusive) obligation to bring children into the world, care for and nurture them, and live chaste lives? In other words, what if women will be judged primarily in their role as mothers? How well have women performed this obligation throughout history? Unlike men, has there ever been a worldwide “apostasy” by women where children were no longer born or cared for in this world?

The illusion of man’s patriarchal and priesthood power allows them to put on display what is in their hearts. (D&C 121: 35.) When they begin to “exercise a little authority, as they suppose” in a way which gratifies their pride, or exercises control, dominion and compulsion over the soul of another, they “prove” who and what they are. The one most immediately affected (the wife) would be the one most able to judge the man’s performance. Therefore a wise man will seek to elevate his wife, and a fool will abuse and dominate her. A wise woman will trust in the Lord and know that He is the judge of the living and the dead, and He will always restore only what is right, pure, merciful, just, true and worthy. (Alma 41: 13.)

The focus of the question is wrong. It takes a topic which should be unifying and changes the it into something competitive. I do not fault anyone for having these questions. They are a product of the environment. However, marriage as intended by God should be cooperative. The relationship is intended to make of the two “one flesh.” (Gen. 2: 24; see also Matt. 19: 4-6.) It is in becoming “one” that both the man and woman become like God. In a very real way, everything I said above, even if entirely appropriate and justified, is merely adding to the problem. The real value of the man and the woman is to be found in their unity, not in their disunity. Therefore, we must look to what the unity should include to know the real answer to the questions that alienate, divide spouses from one another, and make women feel subjugated.

TEMPLE CONFERENCE/Sundries

Here is an update on the Temple Conference. There will be a more formal announcement that will include some additions. However, since some will be traveling to attend, here is some information to help you plan.

FOR THOSE WHO ARE REGISTERED:
All those who registered for the Conference will be invited to a reception on Saturday evening, October 27th. The presenters will be there and available for you to meet during that evening reception.

On Sunday, October 28th, I will be speaking at an evening fireside. This will be free and open to the public. The location and time will be announced later.

The Conference will be all day on Monday, October 29th. Those who are registered and attend will receive a book that will include all the talks. This is part of the registration fee.

Seating is limited. At present, about half the seats have been reserved. This is a first come first serve event, and I believe there are approximately 320 seats.
More information will follow.
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There are a number of comments that come in and I only respond to them generally. In that way, I hope to cover more than just one inquiry in a single post. Here, then, are some general reminders:

How can you want so intensely what you do not yet understand?

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The identity of who the Lord will send will be known only when that person has done the work. No one who has failed to accomplish the work can claim the identity. Vanity is no substitute for doing the works of God.
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No man ever pleased God without repenting.

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The greatest evidences of God’s power, apart from Christ’s resurrection, are yet to be. It will be the latter-day Zion: “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.” (Jer. 23: 7-8.)

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It is apparent that for many people the concept of “the Celestial Kingdom” is only an imaginary concept based upon the vaguest of understanding. But it is something they claim to “really want.” Something a person claims to want ought to be the subject of a better informed investigation.

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There have been many questions (perhaps hundreds now) from women asking about women’s issues. I’ve decided to spend next week addressing these questions in a very general way. However, to give you some context, here is one of the latest comments I’ve received. Read this and you can better understand next week’s posts:

Brother Snuffer, 
What happens if someone like me has concerns about some of the things the church teaches as doctrines? I always go along, never making waves. But sometimes I feel like the worst kind of hypocrite. I feel like a complete mutant when you speak of Zion and sanctification. I’ve had almost every calling a woman can have, and yet I feel like a stranger in the household of God. I pray, study the scriptures, fast, attend the temple, and read from good sources, such as yours. But a lot of how the church believes feels alien to my soul: the role of women chief among them. Sometimes it feels hopeless because the things you and other men in the church say just don’t feel attainable to people like me. We never hear of stories of women receiving their calling and election, except through their husband. I know of no story where a woman has received the Second Comforter. No matter how it’s worded, women are not valued the same as men. Afterall, we are given to our husbands, but they do not give themselves back. Men receive the power of God to act in his name, but women do not. We are sealed to our husbands, but they are not sealed to us. We hearken to our husbands while they hearken to God. Why can’t I just hearken to God like he does? Men become the Sons of God, but women never become the Daughters of God. We are queens and priestesses to our husbands, but not to God. Everything for women is to your husband or through your husband, but not directly through God or to ourselves. Plural marriage is the greatest abomination to women that ever existed — worse than rape and prostitution — because we are expected to be happy to have our husband fall in love with and show sexual attraction to another, many other women. Yet we are selfish if this bothers us. How can this be morally clean when a man shares with another woman what he should only share with one wife? If a wife wanted to be with another husband, or many, she would immediately be called immoral, an adulteress, and kicked out. Surely a just God who is no respecter of persons would not be so favoring of His sons, and so cruel to His daughters. I have studied until I am in a deep abyss of pain. I have lost all joy for the hereafter. I have no hope to be the kind of woman the church teaches women must be. I cannot understand how women can be so blasé about such horrible positions and men can think women would want to live like this for eternity. You may think me ignorant or rebellious, but I can only say I have studied for decades and my pain is desolating to my soul. Doesn’t anyone understand how inherently unfair and condescending patriarchy is? I’ve heard several brethren say that whatever God commands, setup, or mandates is right. Period. But would a truly loving God setup something so blatantly one-sided? Motherhood is comparable to fatherhood, not priesthood. And no, I don’t lust to be a Bishop or any other position men hold. I just cannot understand how women can be relegated to such lesser status as to not hold the holy priesthood and be able to have the same responsibilities and roles as men. We are worthy, capable, and it would lift humankind to a greater level of living. It would enrich the kingdom tremendously. To be told you don’t need it, you share it with your husband feels like a very patronizing stand to take. It is patronizing. Why can’t we share it by both of us holding it and helping our families together? What is to become of people like me? 
Thank you. 

BFHG, Conclusion

The “third member of the Godhead” is still in a probationary state. “The Holy Ghost is now in a state of probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has.” (WJS, p. 245,  27 August 1843.) Perhaps you understand that now.

The Holy Ghost is “a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” (D&C 130: 22.) It is “the testator” of the Father and the Son. (TPJS, p. 190.) Perhaps you understand that now.

The baptism of water is unto repentance. It is done upon the body you occupy. You no doubt should understand that.

The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is unto sanctification. It is done upon the body and Spirit within you. Perhaps you understand that now.

There is “power” which sustains everything, as we have discussed over the last two weeks. (D&C 88: 13.) That power is called the Holy Spirit. Among its many attributes is the Holy Ghost. But no matter what you think you know, there is always more to learn. The responsibility to teach what cannot be said is reserved for God. God teaches, or “reveals” to man through the Holy Ghost the deep things of God. Hence the saying by Joseph that “the Holy Ghost is a revelator” and “you cannot receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelation.” (TPJS, p. 328.)

Man was made in the image of God. (Moses 2: 27.) Man’s destiny is to be redeemed. God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the eternal life and exaltation of man. (Moses 1: 39.) That work is not completed until you sit upon the same Throne as Christ and His Father. (Rev. 3: 21-22.)

Nothing here is static. Things in this sphere are either growing or decaying. There is either increase or decrease. These two opposing forces bring new life into this world and then decay and destroy it. Then it is recycled as another life rises from and uses the elements of the prior, deceased plant, animal or man. The purpose of baptism of “fire and the Holy Ghost” is to preserve and to purge a living being. It is to render indestructable the organism upon which it descends. It is not to prevent earthly death, but to allow eternal life. Christ’s Gospel is to bring eternal life so that those who die may live again eternally. (John 11: 25.) These people never die, because they live eternally through the fire bestowed upon them. (John 11: 26.) Such eternal life begins now, while still in the flesh. They live here as members of another assembly, and then pass from here to join them again. (D&C 76: 67.) Though they are men in the flesh, they are gods, even the sons of God, and all things are given unto them. (D&C 76: 58-60.)

Yet in all this man cannot glory in man, but must glory in God. The victory is His alone. (D&C 76: 61.)

This topic cannot be adequately explained by man to another man, but it can be known to any man through God. It is intended that all should be converted and experience this, including you. Be believing. Ask. Seek. Knock. It will be opened to you, as it has for all those who are faithful and trusting of God.

The Holy Ghost is not only “the Comforter” but also:
-the record of heaven.
-the truth of all things.
-that which quickeneth all things.
-that which maketh alive all things.
-that which knoweth all things.
-that which has all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment.
(Moses 6: 61.)

Therefore I say unto you: “receive the Holy Ghost.”

BFHG, Part 5

The work of this “baptism of fire” is always sanctification. It brings the recipient into greater contact with God. The end of that increasing contact is to receive the Son, through whose blood you are sanctified. (Moses 6: 59-60.) Once sanctified you are prepared for the presence of the Father. (Alma 45: 16; 1 Ne. 10: 21.) Therefore, this is how you receive “the fullness” (D&C 93: 19-20) and are able to join the “general assembly and Church of the Firstborn” (D&C 76: 66-67).

In the Lamanite experience and in the Nephite group who Christ visited in the 3 Nephi account, there came a point at which the heavens opened, a pillar of fire descended, and angels came and ministered to them all. Each were endowed with knowledge of mysteries belonging to God. There was a connection forged between them and those on the other side of the veil. These others are the “general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.”

There is a significant difference between the Lamanite experience and the 3 Nephi experience. The latter one began with Christ ministering to the recipients. This point should not be lost. Joseph Smith’s experiences likewise began with the Father and Son appearing to him. As pointed out yesterday, the sequence is not important and does not control. Even with the Lord’s personal ministry, you can still read in the account a similar series of events, steps and milestones. This means something. Events can and will vary in order, but do not vary in content. As explained in Beloved Enos, the Lord’s work is consistent with all who receive redemption.

This kind of conversion is required for Zion to return (D&C 76: 66) because those who will be in Zion must dwell with God (D&C 29: 11; D&C 45: 66-71). The first Zion was brought through the ministry and teaching of Enoch. (Moses 7: 20.) As a result of this the priesthood was renamed for him. When Melchizedek, by teaching righteousness brought about the City of Peace, the priesthood was again renamed for him. (D&C 76: 57.) Joseph Smith could have brought again Zion, but he was betrayed by his own people, surrendered to arrest, and was killed.

When Zion returns again, the priesthood will be renamed. (Moses 6: 7.) It will no longer be called the priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” (D&C 76: 57), nor the priesthood “after the order of Enoch” (D&C 76: 57), but will again be called the priesthood “after the Order of the Only Begotten Son” (D&C 76: 57.) The one whom our Lord uses to accomplish this last gathering will refuse to allow the priesthood to be called after his name; respecting instead the prophecy of Adam rather than claiming such an honor for himself (Moses 6: 7). He will want it to return to the Lord. The city will likewise be the Lord’s  Men must finally return to Him, and He to them.

There is a progression of blessings conferred through the fire and Holy Ghost. Even if there is a mere beginning, there is a glorious ending. As with the Lamanites, it leads to an open vision into heaven, ministering of angels, and an endowment of unspeakable learning. It brings to the initiated the knowledge of the mysteries of God.

This more distant end of the endowment also involves priestly rights. Priesthood ordination is required before entering into the ceremonial presence of God in His Temple rites. Priesthood conferral is required to enter into His actual presence. The revelations are clear in connecting baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost with knowledge of God’s mysteries. (3 Ne. 11: 35-36; 3 Ne. 19: 13-14.)  They are equally clear in connecting this knowledge of God with priesthood. (See D&C 84: 19; D&C 107: 19.)

The fullness of the Gospel, the fullness of the Priesthood, and the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost all have as their object to reconnect man to God and God to man. Man is unworthy to enter into God’s presence, and therefore, requires a power higher than their own from which to borrow purity. This purifying agent is the Holy Ghost. (3 Ne. 19: 22, 28.) Christ will administer the final rites and confer the final blessings only upon the pure. (3 Ne. 19: 29-33.) The reference to “blood” as sanctifying is a reference to the Lord. (Moses 6: 59-60.) He alone sanctifies.

The Lord is directly involved in the final endowment of fire upon the Holy ones. This is what He explained in January, 1841 to the Saints when He explained to Joseph: “For there is not a place found on earth that he [meaning Christ] may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.” (D&C 124: 28.) The Lord can confer this upon a single man in any location. (See, e.g., D&C 132: 45-50, when Joseph Smith received it long before the first Temple was built.) But to confer it upon a group intended to become His people, He requires His House to be built for Him to meet with and confer these final rites upon them. (D&C 124: 39.) Only there will these things take place. (D&C 124: 40-41.) People can gather and build a Temple. A single man cannot.

When the Lord establishes Zion, He will come dwell with His people there and complete the process of endowing them with His knowledge and power. The power of God will protect these people.(D&C 45: 66- 70.) They cannot be moved because the Lord will not permit it. (D&C 124: 45.) While man does not have the power to do so, the laws of the Celestial Kingdom must be lived for Zion to be established. (D&C 105: 5.) The power to do so comes from God, delivered through His Holy Spirit, making men’s spirits Holy. Baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost are necessary parts of bringing mankind back to redemption and into God’s presence.

BFHG, Part 4

The experience of Joseph and Oliver at their baptism, months before they would receive priesthood with authority to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, requires you to ask yourself:
-Can this experience be regarded as a form of “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost?”
-If so, then what are the essential elements of the experience?
-If not, then what more is required?

We want to have absolute events; for the light to be either on or off. However, the scriptures use the experiences in the lives of disciples following the Lord to illustrate and teach the doctrines. Nephi in particular, is a gifted composer of experience-based doctrinal teaching. He focuses his narrative entirely on doctrine, but uses his personal experience to draw from to teach the doctrine. 

Christ declared the Lamanites experienced “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost” (3 Ne. 9: 20). This week we have compared that event with the Nephites’ experience in 3 Nephi. The following is a list of what was similar between the two:

-A voice speaks to them telling them to repent. (Hel. 5: 29; compare with 3 Ne. 11: 3.)
-The voice is not thunderous, but nevertheless pierced them to their core. (Hel. 5: 30; compare with 3 Ne. 11: 3.)
-The voice repeats a second time. (Hel. 5: 32; compare with 3 Ne. 11: 4.)
-The voice repeats a third time. (Hel. 5: 33; compare with 3 Ne. 11: 5-7.)
-The communication includes such marvelous information man is unable to communicate it. (Hel. 5: 33; compare with 3 Ne. 17: 16-17.)
-The Lamanite observers saw Lehi and Nephi in a pillar of fire, with angels ministering to them. (Hel. 5: 36-37; compare with 3 Ne. 17: 23-25.)

As the account continued, they repented, were wrapped in fire and were able to speak inspired words. (Hel. 5: 44-45.) These are additional events, so you must decide:
-Do all these things need to occur before there has been “fire and the Holy Ghost?’
-Are they things that will unfold as a result of receiving “fire and the Holy Ghost?”
-Can you receive “fire” and have your sins purged without all of this accompanying the event?
-Can you receive the “gift of the Holy Ghost” as your companion without a visible pillar of fire?

Joseph received an audience with the Father and the Son, stood in a pillar of fire, and was commissioned to do a great work. BUT this happened before he was baptized, before any priestly authority was conferred by John the Baptist, before a church existed, temple rites were restored, before marriage, sealing, etc. If you reflect on that for a moment you will see the order of events does not control. There is an order, and it is generally followed, but it is the fullness of this endowment that is important and not the order it is given. 

In Nephi’s explanation of this gift, he refers to another, much shorter list. It includes:
-Repenting of your sins.
-Witnessing your repentance by baptism in water.
-Receiving the power to “speak with the tongue of angels.” (See 2 Ne. 31: 13-14.)

Joseph and Oliver did these things. And, as they experienced it, “No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and many other things.” (JS-H 1: 73.)

The Lamanite experience in Helaman 5 does not include baptism by water before this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, but it did require repentance. We can know from subsequent missionary work they performed that they preached, and undoubtedly did receive baptism (or rebaptism). But the order is changed. A change in order, however, is not a change in requirement. To fully repent, they needed to witness it by baptism. Therefore, the ordinance may have followed, but it was a necessary part of the process.

The most consistent and the minimum description of this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost includes these elements:
-repentance,
-baptism by water,
-baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost,
-evidenced by speaking with the tongue of angels.

One proof of baptism of fire is the gift of prophecy. Both Joseph and Oliver experienced the gift. So did the Lamanites, which they used to preach and declare repentance. I also experienced it after baptism in water. The gift follows as a sign to confirm baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. (D&C 63: 9.)

This “gift,” like other signs, is designed to confirm in the one who receives it a witness to them, from God, that this baptism has occurred. It is one of the essential elements, and is present in all the accounts. It appears on Nephi’s list also.

Beyond this minimum list, however, there are these other events that the Nephites and the Lamanites also experienced. There are many facets to understanding the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost, and there is a host of things which can be associated with baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. There is a continuum.

It is in this sense that Nephi’s and Joseph Smith’s experiences provide us the best blueprint. The Book of Mormon accounts (with the exception of Nephi) are often sudden and compressed. Both Nephi’s and Joseph’s were unfolding, growing and spreading to include ultimately comprehending both God and the eternities.

BFHG, Part 3

There is a balance of light and darkness. There is an opposition necessary in all things. (2 Ne. 2: 11-12.) Moses was not able to encounter the Lord without also experiencing the adversary. (Moses 1: 12.) Joseph, likewise, felt the destructive power of our common enemy before understanding the Lord. (JS-H 1: 16.) Some days before baptism, and then about a week after, I encountered the murderous rage of the enemy who seeks to destroy us all. I do not speak or write about this, because fools are prone to give the wrong attention to such matters and thereby surrender unnecessary power to our enemies. Therefore, I leave it to others to confront this subject and only declare I know who and what my enemy is. I have rarely spoken in any detail, and do not recall providing any written account of these experiences.

I make mention of this because there are some critics who suggest I may be sincere, but I have been misled. I know the difference between the Lord and the Adversary. I’ve met both.

These two extremes aside, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, in both Helaman and 3 Nephi, include ministering by angels. The first time I beheld an angel I was caught up to an exceedingly high place. From that vantage point I could see the curvature of the earth below. It was above, high and lifted up. In an instant I understood Nephi’s description of an exceeding high mountain. (1 Ne. 11: 1.) When I wrote The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil, I included a description of this. I was told by those who reviewed it before publication that the explanation seemed arrogant; as if I were comparing myself to Nephi. Therefore, it was removed from the book. There is always tension between the obligation to declare the truth of a matter on the one hand, and the mis-perception of motives on the other. The truth can be opposed either by lies or by questioning the speaker’s intention or motive. Either will do, because people are so easily removed from the truth.

To explain this subject, however, the remainder of the account needs to be told. Therefore, I include here what was removed from the text of The Second Comforter.

As I stood before this angel I noted that he was old, as tall as I am, with a beard, a full head of hair. It was long, but not quite to his shoulders. He spoke with authority, accustomed to declaring messages with efficiency and clarity. His demeanor was somber, as if the weight of eternity rested upon him. Although there was nothing vocal, he spoke with the clarity of a voice which settled deep within me as he said: “On the first day of the third month in nine years, your ministry will begin. And so you must prepare.” Nearly 40 years separate me from that moment, but I can close my eyes and see it still. When an angel speaks to you, you never forget. Through all that has come and gone since that day, I am still transfixed by that moment.

After he spoke to me, he stood and gazed at me saying nothing further. Thinking that was all he had for me, I began to look about. I was impressed by the blue curvature of the earth below. I noticed there were walls, but they were transparent. I wondered why walls would be built if they were transparent, because if you can see beyond them then there was no purpose. I noticed a painting on the wall and wondered why it was there. It made me curious as to why there would be any effort made to paint a portrait here in this setting. Though I had no idea why I recognized him, the painting was of Moses. I also wondered at his baldness since the High Priest could have no blemish and serve before the Lord (Lev. 21: 16-23) I assumed he would have a full head of hair. He did not.

As I stood there reflecting on the scene, I asked nothing. Eventually I was compelled to depart and I left this scene behind. It was some time before I wondered “what ministry?” “How was I to prepare?” These questions could have been asked, but I was so distracted by the circumstances that I gave them no thought at the time. When I later inquired in prayer to know these things, I received no answer. As I persisted in asking for many months, at length I was asked why I hadn’t inquired of the angel at the time I was told of the ministry. It was a hard lesson, but perhaps the only way I would learn it.

It was many months later that I heard the instruction about keeping a journal. By that time I had no way of knowing the date of the visit, and therefore assumed it reckoned from the year I was baptized in 1973. I wrote it down.

I lost track of time as the years came and went. I’d finished serving in the military, had graduated from law school, and had a family. When I remembered and reconstructed the events, I renewed my anticipation early in 1982, waiting for March 1st. That day came and went and nothing happened.

I concluded I hadn’t prepared for the ministry, and therefore lost the opportunity. I felt rejected and mourned at my failure. I tried to renew my devotion, and wondered what would have been given if I’d met the standard I was supposed to meet. But then again, I also thought that if the Lord had been more clear, perhaps I could have met the standard. I wanted to blame the Lord for my failure. He hadn’t answered the questions about what it was I needed to do. At a minimum, I wanted the Lord to share in the blame for my failure. I also wanted to conceal it. I went to my journal and took out the pages dealing with this and destroyed them. This is why the journal now begins on page 14. But with the passage of time, I let it go and gave it no further thought. There was so much to do in life with family responsibilities that unpleasant thoughts of personal failure can be abandoned if you want.

On March 1st of the following year I was visited by President Tolman (the Sunday School President and at the time a Seminary Teacher in the Pleasant Grove High School Seminary program) and Bishop Harris. They called me to be the Gospel Doctrine teacher. It was not until after they left that I remembered the significance of “the first day of the third month” and rehearsed it all again in my mind. I realized that the visit must have happened in 1974 and not 1973. I had the chronology wrong.

It was many years later that I remembered destroying those pages from my journal. I had to explain all these errors in a re-creation of the events. From this I have learned to leave all the failures, all the mistakes, and any hard lessons which I have had to endure and suffer complete and recorded. There can be no attempt to shield myself from criticism in these journals. The truth of matters should be left, and my pride should be abandoned. No man elevates himself by pretensions to being more than they are.

Once called as Gospel Doctrine teacher, I remained in that position in Pleasant Grove, Alpine and Sandy, Utah for over two decades, only moving to teach Priesthood lessons when not in Gospel Doctrine. After decades of this, I was called as the Ward Mission Leader for two years, then onto the Stake High Council, then to teach the Priests’ Quorum. I now do Temple Preparation for those Priests who are awaiting their mission calls.

These many years of teaching required me to study the scriptures daily, to be able to give lessons that would edify. There was not a day that went by when I did not study the scriptures for these decades.

This background is required for you to understand how I have come to my understanding on this subject. Not that I matter at all, but the doctrine does. It is the doctrine that will save you, not man. But you may want to understand better the background of the man who is writing about this doctrine.

If the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is viewed as conferring revelation and opening the scriptures to your mind (as Joseph and Oliver recount in the JS-H), then I have received this endowment. If it is viewed as requiring ministering of angels, then I affirm I have received this endowment, also; not to make any personal claim, but to testify and affirm these things are not ancient, or distant. They are intended to continue in our own day. They are meant for all – including you.

BFHG, Part 2

At the time Joseph and Oliver were baptized, they had no authority from heaven with which to confer the Holy Ghost. (JS-H 1: 70.) They had no ordinance available to them other than baptism. (JS-H 1: 70-71.) They performed the ordinance as instructed. But afterwards, without any authority to confer upon one another the Holy Ghost, they nevertheless had the gift of the Holy Ghost poured out upon them. (JS-H 1: 73.) This was not merely a temporary visit. It lingered thereafter with them so they could understand the scriptures in the manner they were intended to be understood when these scriptures were first inspired by the Holy Ghost in the minds of the prophets who wrote them. (JS-H 1: 74.)

The Holy Ghost can come and visit with a person, but not tarry with them. (D&C 130: 23.) If it comes and visits with them, then it is said the person has “received” the Holy Ghost. This kind of visit is conditional. It is dependent upon the worthiness and desire of the recipient. If they “grieve” the spirit by misbehavior, it will depart from them. If you read general conference talks discussing this issue, you will find this is the form of Holy Ghost received by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the Holy Ghost to become a constant companion which tarries, it is said to be “the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Because the one with this endowment has received a gift from God, and it is given to them by God to be theirs.

The ordinance given when converts are confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes these words: “And I say unto you, receive the Holy Ghost.” This is the formula given in the priesthood manuals of the church, and is included in the General Handbook of Instructions. It is an admonition from the church elder to the convert. The obligation to then search for and obtain a visit from the Holy Ghost is imposed on the convert.

When Christ was speaking of the Lamanites and their baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost (3 Ne. 9: 20), He was speaking not merely of the Holy Ghost descending and not tarrying with them (D&C 130: 23), but of their possession of the gift which endured thereafter. (Hel. 5: 48-50.)

I was baptized on September 9, 1973 at Kittery Point Beach on the Atlantic coast by Elder Brian Black. The service was presided over by Brother Jim Mortenson, a counselor in the Portsmouth, New Hampsire Ward. After baptism, as I knelt on the sand, the missionaries confirmed me a member of the church and admonished me to “receive the Holy Ghost.” The service was in the evening. Just prior to the laying on of hands, Elder Black spoke about the symbols in the sky. The sun was setting, but still visible. The moon was also out, and the first “stars” were also faintly visible. [The “stars” we could see included Venus, hence the quotation marks.] Elder Black remarked that “all the signs of heaven were visible; the sun, symbolizing the Celestial; the moon, symbolizing the Terrestrial; and the stars, symbolizing the Telestial.” His beautiful remarks affected my thinking so much I can still recall them nearly 40 years later.

As the admonition was given to me, I felt a warmth begin at the top of my head where the hands were touching me. It proceeded downward through my entire person as if something was descending and filling me. The North Atlantic water was cold, particularly at that time of year, and the sand I knelt on was also cold. But I felt a warmth which came from within that filled my entire body.

When we finished at the beach, we all went to Jim and Monte Mortenson’s house for a gathering. It was dubbed a “birthday party” in reference to my baptism. When we arrived, Jim asked me to say the “opening prayer” before we ate. I was perfectly willing to say the prayer, but I hesitated for a few moments before doing so because I sensed the “spirit” wasn’t quite right yet. So rather than immediately interrupt the laughter and loud voices, I tried to bring the group spirit around to something more reverent. As I hesitated, I think Jim assumed I was not yet ready to pray in public (as many new converts are), and moved on to ask another to pray. She did, and we ate.

The boisterous spirit was still there after the prayer, and as the group of us sat in the Mortenson’s living room the spirit of the evening became more and more divisive. At a point there was contention between some of the group, and the evening was taking a turn downward, grieving the spirit altogether. At that moment I stood and got everyone’s attention. When silence settled in, I started with one end of the gathering, and spoke in turn to each person there. I began by saying, “whatever ambition the Adversary has for tonight, I intend to resist it.” I then spoke to their hearts, prophesied and let the love I felt within me pour out. The effect upon those who were there softened their demeanor, brought a spirit of friendship back into the gathering, and although none of them may remember it today, it is to me as clear as if it happened minutes ago. Jim Mortenson spoke up when I finished and said he was confident I would one day be a church patriarch– a remark that meant nothing at the time because I knew nothing about such a position.

You must remember that before conversion I was not even a likely candidate to become Mormon. When the elders were teaching me they asked that I read the Book of Mormon. I agreed.  After I had read some of it, they asked me what I thought of it. I replied: “It’s got to be scripture. It’s every bit as boring as the Bible.” I meant it. Neither the Book of Mormon or the Bible meant much to me. I couldn’t sense any Spirit or depth to it. Nothing in it thrilled me or touched my heart.

After baptism, however, it all changed. Like Joseph and Oliver I could say “my mind now being enlightened, I began to have the scriptures laid open to my understanding, and the true meaning of their more mysterious passages revealed to me in a manner which I never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.” (Compare JS-H 1: 74.) What I found was that the scriptures were now written for me. They were the means through which God could lay out His mind and His will and His voice in a way I had never dreamed possible before.

The journey back to Him begins with all He has provided and preserved of His word. It begins for each of us in the scriptures. One of the immediate effects of baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is to have the scriptures come alive; to have them overwhelm you with revelation, light and truth. It is not you doing this. It is you experiencing it, but the Holy Spirit opening and lighting them so the same Spirit which gave them at first now receives them in you.

This subject (baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost) is variegated. It is important to avoid reducing it to a single, simple explanation and ignore other important features of this great gift from God.

Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost

Last week’s discussion leads to this week’s. For the next few days we turn to the matter of “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost” as a doctrine. The discussion last week will help to set up the framework for understanding this topic. When I mentioned this before on this blog it was in response to a specific question, and did not attempt to lay the matter out.

The most interesting passage referring to this is in 3 Ne. 9. The Nephite destruction has happened, there is darkness covering the land, and Christ speaks to the survivors. He tells them many things, but this is the important statement: “And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.” (3 Ne. 9: 20.) This statement from the Lord clarifies that it is possible for the event to occur and those who receive it do not know what it is.

The Lamanite conversion incident referred to by the Lord is not explained. Christ’s words begin in verse 2 of Chapter 9, and deal entirely with the events of that generation leading up to the destruction of the land. Among those who would have been living at the time of the destruction would have been the Lamanites who underwent a conversion to the Gospel through the missionary efforts of Lehi and Nephi. These two were put into prison for preaching (Hel. 5: 21), kept without food for many days (Hel. 5: 22), and when they came to kill them Nephi and Lehi were encircled about by fire (Hel. 5: 23). There was a great earthquake, similar to 3 Nephi when Christ’s voice was heard. There was a great darkness in the prison, similar to 3 Nephi when Christ’s voice was heard. (Hel. 5: 27-28.) These events involving Lehi and Nephi are a type of the events in 3 Nephi when Christ was speaking.

With Lehi and Nephi still in the prision, the Lamanites in the prison experienced the following:

-A voice speaks to them telling them to repent. (Hel. 5: 29; compare with 3 Ne. 11: 3.)
-The voice is not thunderous, but nevertheless pierced them to their core. (Hel. 5: 30; compare with 3 Ne. 11: 3.)
-The voice repeats again a second time. (Hel. 5: 32; compare with 3 Ne. 11: 4.)
-The voice repeats again a third time. (Hel. 5: 33; compare with 3 Ne. 11: 5-7.)
-The communication includes such marvelous information man is unable to communicate it. (Hel. 5: 33; compare with 3 Ne. 17: 16-17.)
-The Lamanite observers saw Lehi and Nephi in a pillar of fire with angels ministering to them. (Hel. 5: 36-37; compare with 3 Ne. 17: 23-25.)

These Lamanites asked how they could be delivered from the darkness and come into the redeeming light as Lehi and Nephi (Hel. 5: 40) and were told they must repent to be delivered (Hel. 5: 41). All of them cried out to the Lord, and were delivered from darkness (Hel. 5: 42-43). They then were filled with joy and found themselves likewise encircled with that same fire in which Lehi and Nephi previously stood (Hel. 5: 43-45.)

After last weeks’ posts, the following statement should now alert you to something: “And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words.” (Hel. 5: 45.) Once again, it is the “Holy Spirit” which causes the effect. The effect upon them is called the “Holy Ghost” by Christ (See 3 Ne. 9: 20).

The reason these recipients “did not know” it was “the Holy Ghost” now within them was because they did not know the vocabulary, nor understand the process. But there was an experience, and the result was conversion and a new life thereafter. (Hel. 5: 46-50.)

This is one instance of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.

Ill-Prepared Readers

It is apparent from comments there are many who have been studying their scriptures and who can benefit from this blog. Their diligence has prepared their minds and their hearts.

It is also apparent that some who read are ill-prepared for the content here. This material is more confusing than edifying. They should turn off their computers and take up their scriptures. They should spend their time studying the scriptures and not devote any more time to this blog. It will not do such readers any good at all.

If this edifies you, then you belong here. If you are confused, then study scripture and leave this site alone. The process of developing understanding begins with the scriptures. No matter how much you believe you understand, the scriptures will always have language that can be adapted to set out the truth. The difference between seeing what is there and being blind to the words of prophecy consists primarily in how diligent you have been in preparing your mind through study of scripture. Do that first.

For the ill-prepared, I apologize for being unclear. However, I cannot discuss some topics in any other way. Therefore, I cannot make it clear to you. You will have to search through these things yourself. But if you are sincere, the Lord will help you get there. You must take the scriptures seriously. They will tell you how to lay down your prejudices, ignorance, traditions and errors, and repent. Repenting is to turn and face God. Until you face Him, the direction you are headed will never bring you to understanding.

God’s Many Works, Conclusion

Perhaps what we have been discussing should be understood in a different context than the one we normally use. What if instead of viewing it as a description of something outside or external, you view it as something internal or inside you. Perhaps the kingdom of heaven is within us after all. (Luke 17: 21.)

From that vantage point can it be said:
-If you ignore the presence of this Spirit you still receive the Holy Spirit, or Light of Christ because that is what allows you to live, move, breathe and exist. It is a gift from God to everyone.
-If you allow this Spirit to enter into your thoughts from time to time you “receive” the Holy Ghost within you. It has affected your thoughts. It has been “received” into your conscience.
-If you allow this Spirit to continually guide you, then you have the “gift” of the Holy Ghost. It has become your companion.
-If you open yourself to receive the visions of heaven, and behold the Father and Son, then you have received the Holy Spirit of Promise.

This last Holy Spirit of Promise is given its name because when you have received the Father and the Son you become Their child of Promise, the inheritor of all the Father has, a member of His family. To reject this, as Joseph described it, is to deny the sun at noon day. For to have been given the Holy Spirit of Promise you have seen God and received from Him a Promise. [There is always more to a subject, but for the present, I’ll leave it there.]

If God sustains everything through His Holy Spirit, which is also sometimes called the Light of Christ, then is it not already within you? If it is already within you, then you can decide to “receive” it by opening yourself up to its influence. If you decide to “receive” it by opening yourself up to its influence, then you may be able to take it into yourself as a gift from God? If that gift becomes a permanent source of influence within you, then have you received the “gift of the Holy Ghost?” If this is within you, then is it your own? If your own, then do you have the Holy Ghost as your constant companion?

When you have received this, are you in touch with God? If you are in touch with God, are you also able to become “one” with Him? Is this what Christ was teaching in John 17: 20-23?

With this in mind, consider what this passage from Deuteronomy tells us:
9 And the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:

 10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
 11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
 12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
 14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. (Deut. 30: 9-14.)
If your spirit has become sanctified, and you have received the presence of both the Father and the Son such that you (as Joseph described it) stand in the “noon day sun” in your understanding, then you have received the Holy Spirit of Promise. Does this mean that your own spirit reflects the promise of eternal life? Are you then a Spirit of Promise, assured of eternal life? If so, then does “denying the Holy Ghost,” as Joseph described it, actually involve taking what has become sacred within you and polluting it with deliberate rejection of the God you have received and who now dwells within you?

Related to this are many questions that have come in from readers during this week. One of the greatest impediments for some people is that they rely on the explanation given by Cleon Skousen about “intelligences” and how the universe is organized using this building block. You cannot reconcile his views with scripture. Therefore, if you choose to accept Skousen’s definition of “intelligences” as the building blocks of all creation, you will not understand the subject. If that is your framework, you will need to discard what the scriptures teach.

[Please understand I am not condemning Cleon Skousen. He was a good man. But I believe he erred in this subject. He confuses “intelligenceS” in the plural with the “intelligence” in the singular, from which man was organized. The plural of the word refers to organized spirits. They, organized spirits, have been created and exist as beings. (Abr. 3: 22-23.) Man (or the spirit within him) was organized from “intelligence” which is singular. It is co-eternal with God. It is called “intelligence” and also “light and truth.” (D&C 93: 29.) It is also called “the glory of God.” (D&C 93: 36.) Cleon Skousen supposed that man was made from something else called “intelligences” when, in fact, once intelligence or light and truth is organized into a being and assumes a separate existence it is called “intelligences” which is plural and refers to spirits. Until then, it is only “intelligence” which is singular. Read the beginning of Beloved Enos where I have tried to explain this subject. I think it will help.]

The scriptures have a lot to say about this matter. I’ve only put together a sketch. Look at the scriptures and sort through it. I’ve tried to give only a skeleton. The whole picture can be hung on that skeleton. You need to do the work of finishing the search. I don’t want to rob you of that wonderful experience. Let the scriptures speak to you without you bringing an interpretation with you in advance.

Christ said His words were “Spirit.” (John 6: 63.) What does this mean? How can Christ’s words, whether spoken by Him or given to another to speak on His behalf, be “Spirit?” If you can answer that you are in possession of a great truth.

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In response to several questions, I’ll add the following to conclude this week’s posts:

At one time the Father was called “a Spirit” by Joseph, and at another time He was said to “have a body as tangible as man’s.” Similarly, Jesus Christ was resurrected and unquestionably had a tabernacle consisting of “flesh and bone” which could be handled. (Luke 24: 39-40.) He ate fish and broke bread with His disciples. (Luke 24: 42-43; John 21: 9-14.) These were physical acts. Yet He also appeared in the upper room on the day of His resurrection without entering through the shut door. (John 20: 26.) He ascended into heaven (Acts 1: 9-11) and then descended from heaven in the sight of a multitude (3 Ne. 11: 8). These are not typical of physical bodies as we encounter them. When it comes to resurrected and glorified beings, the bodies are not the same as our own physical, coarse constitutions. Nevertheless, God is composed of matter: “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see it is all matter.” (D&C 131: 7-8.) Therefore, it is equally true that God is a Spirit, and that He also possesses a body “as tangible as man’s.” How “quickened” is the body when He shows Himself? Or, in this coarse environment, how great a glory has He set aside to show Himself here?

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God’s glory exceeds man’s comprehension. We can see Him in His glory only if we are transfigured. (Moses 1: 14.) Even then we cannot behold all of His glory unless we become like Him.  (Moses 1: 4-5.) Therefore, to behold Him in His glory while we are mortal, we must be transfigured, but the full measure of God is not given for mortal man to behold.

God’s Many Works, Part 5

The power of God and His many methods of accomplishing His will are not conveniently reduced to a simple vocabulary. The Father and the Son are clearly able to accomplish all their works using the power which originates from the Father, in the midst of eternity, to build all creation. Not only to build, but to sustain all creation. It is the power which causes creation to exist in an organized and functioning order.

But when it comes to identifying something by the title of “the Holy Ghost” or “the Holy Spirit” or “the Holy Spirit of Promise” there are underlying concepts associated with each of these. Titles and proper nouns are inadequate.

For example, look at the following statement from Alma as he recounts the many blessings the Nephites had received in their generations: “Having been visited by the Spirit of God; having conversed with angels, and having been spoken unto by the voice of the Lord; and having the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and also many gifts, the gift of speaking with tongues, and the gift of preaching, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of translation.” (Alma 9: 21.) According to Alma, these many blessings come from “the Spirit of God” and include “the gift of the Holy Ghost.” What are these two different blessings? Why does Alma see them as distinct enough to mention them separately and by different names? Is the “Holy Ghost” a function or part of “the Spirit of God?” Can Alma accurately describe it in this manner? If he can, then what is the underlying truth that connects them together?

Why is the “Holy Spirit of Promise” the topic Joseph Smith had in mind as he described the sin of “denying the Holy Ghost?” Is there a relationship between the Holy Spirit of Promise and the Holy Ghost? Are they the same? Are they different? Do they both come from the Holy Spirit of God? If so, then are they different in nature or only different in degree? Can something be different in degree and be called by a different name?

It should be clear to you that the use of the terms are in some respects inexact, even in scripture. They are referring to ideas. You need to understand the underlying concepts rather than to focus on just the words. If you are going to understand exactly what is being discussed, then relying only on vocabulary will be insufficient.

What, then, does “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost” consist of? The effect (fire purges and removes sin) is to permit you to speak with the “tongue of angels.” (2 Ne. 31: 13.) But Nephi also cautions that once this gift has been conferred, if you then “deny Christ” you would be better off having never known Him. (2 Ne. 31: 14.) This process will come to you after repentance, baptism, and comes to “show all things” and to “teach the peaceable things of the kingdom.” (D&C 39: 6. Compare to Moses 6: 61.) These scriptures, baptism of “fire and the Holy Ghost” teach you and show you things, just like Joseph’s remark that the Holy Ghost is a revelator and you cannot receive it without also receiving revelations. But to “speak with the tongue of angels” means you are elevated, your knowledge and your inspiration reckons from heaven itself. You have been elevated by “fire” which purges sins and purifies. In effect, you receive holiness through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. This in turn makes your own spirit holy. Your spirit or your ghost is within you, connected to heaven to such a degree through this process that you are in possession of a “holy spirit” or a “holy ghost” within you.

Does this “baptism of fire” come from a personage, or from the “mind of God the Father and Christ,” or from the “light of Christ,” or the “Holy Spirit” or some source you can clearly define or describe. Or does it come from God, sitting in the midst of eternity as He sustains all His creations through His power? And if that is the source, can it be described in a specific term? What is the name of that term?

What do these terms mean:
-Holy (Who provides this to man?)
-Spirit (Whose? Yours? God’s? Both?)
-Promise (What promise? Given by Whom? Who recieves this promise?)

We need to consider language and terms, but more importantly we need to think about concepts that words alone can never convey adequately. Move beyond the limits of vocabulary and try to find a connection to the underlying concepts these words are attempting to convey. For in these are found connections which run from inside you back to the presence of God Himself. Or, more correctly, the Gods Themselves, for the Father and the Son are two distinct beings. They are sustaining you from moment to moment right now. You are more directly connected with Them than you can imagine. You are borrowing their power to exist at present.

God’s Many Works, Part 4

Peter explained the means by which Old Testament prophets received messages from God: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1: 21.) This Holy Ghost has been with mankind since the time of Adam: “And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.” (Moses 5: 9.)

Adam prophesied that the same Priesthood which he received from God in the beginning of the world would again return to the earth at the end of the world. (Moses 6: 7.) This prophecy was given through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moses 6: 8.)

From Adam till Christ, the Holy Ghost was the primary voice by which revelation was delivered from God to mankind. It is active and has been active in delivering the words of prophecy to “holy men” throughout history.

Then what is this voice of truth? Joseph Smith said, “No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator.” (TPJS, p. 328.)

He also said “The Holy Ghost is a personage, and is in the form of a personage.” (TPJS, p. 276.) He also said “the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” (D&C 130: 22.)

He also taught that “All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against Him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy.” (TPJS, p. 358.)

This last quote is very helpful to understand the concept of the Holy Ghost. It equates this kind of knowledge and experience with having the heavens opened, knowing God, and seeing the sun shine with the Holy Ghost. In another place Joseph’s revelation explained that heirs of Celestial glory will be sealed up to eternal life “by the Holy Spirit of Promise.” (D&C 76: 53.) These individuals who receive this “seal” are those who received from Jesus the testimony that He has saved them. (D&C 76: 51.) They have become part of “the Church of the Firstborn” as a consequence of promises given to them by the Father and the Son. (D&C 76: 54-57.) They have become “sons of God” by the decree of the Father. (D&C 76: 58-59.)

These individuals have received the testimony of Jesus, and the promise of eternal life which is the Holy Spirit of Promise. (D&C 88: 3.)

So we now have several different concepts found in scripture and Joseph’s teachings:
-A power which sustains all of creation.
-A “light of Christ” which is given to all mankind.
-A power which animates the sun, stars and even this earth.
-A power which lets man live, breathe and move, which sustains man from moment to moment.
-A source of revelation.
-An open vision of God the Father and His Son, which includes the promise of eternal life.
-A light or intelligence which proceeds from God’s Throne.

These are two distinct beings who are responsible for these various sources affecting mankind for the good: Christ, who has descended and then ascended throughout all of creation to bring the light to everything and everyone. The Father, who is the source from whom flows the power which Christ has brought into creation.

In addition to these two distinct beings, we also have something that can be called:
-“the record of heaven;”
-“the Comforter;”
-“the peaceable things of immortal glory;”
-“the truth of all things;”
-“that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things;”
-“that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment.”
(Moses 6: 61.)

Therefore, it can be truly said, just as Joseph Smith taught in the Lectures on Faith, that the Holy Ghost represents the “mind of the Father and the Son.”

I had hoped to finish this tomorrow. However comments have made it apparent I will need to take two more days to complete this. So there are two more installments left in which we will draw together some of these various truths found in scripture.