It has become apparent that this has changed in the last week from a teaching blog into a discussion blog. As a result, comments are now disabled. There won’t be any comments on this blog from now on. Existing comments will not be taken down; but no new ones will be added.
As the next few verses are discussed, it will become apparent that adding or deleting from the doctrine of Christ is forbidden. I cannot, in good conscience, violate the very doctrine I am expounding even as I expound upon it.
It is true that this blog has never vouched for the reliability or accuracy of comments made by others. It is also true that I have freely allowed criticism against me to be published without any defense or challenge to the critics. The decision has nothing to do with criticism of me. It has to do with the fact that the overall content of this blog has become primarily comments and distantly the things I have been interested in explaining or teaching. As the posts become dwarfed by the comments, the whole purpose of this blog is compromised.
“And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water.”
The purpose of baptism is to follow Christ’s example. (John 10: 27, John 14: 15.) It symbolizes the death of the old man of sin, and the resurrection into a new life in Christ. (Romans 6: 4.) That symbol cannot be mirrored by sprinkling. It must involve immersion.
In immersion we are placed below the surface of the water, in the same way as the dead are buried below ground.
In immersion the breath of life is cut off while under the water, and restored anew when you “come forth again out of the water.”
In the case of the officiator, they are the one who immerses and then brings the recipient up out of the water. Performing this ordinance puts the officiator in the role of the Lord who holds the keys of death (Rev. 1: 18) and resurrection (2 Nephi 2: 8).
Those who are baptized, and those who officiate, enact, by symbol, some eternal truths regarding the plan of salvation. In the very moment the ordinance is performed there is a renewal in symbol of life, innocence, forgiveness and resurrection. The earth itself is blessed by such things as baptism and other ordinances. The earth itself is defiled when the ordinances are not kept exactly as prescribed. (Isa. 24: 5; Moses 7: 28.)
The earth knows that God ordained the ordinances of heaven and earth. (Jeremiah 33: 25.) As regular and reliable as the movements of the sun and moon are, so too should the ordinances of the Lord be kept in their appointed ways. (Jeremiah 31: 35-36.)
The baptism ordinance, like all those that follow after, is intended not merely to fulfill an initiation rite. It is intended to communicate light and truth into the mind of the individual who is performing and receiving the ordinance. It is meant to enlighten.
I have discussed previously the meaning of “come forth” used by Christ in restoring life to Lazarus (John 11: 43) and therefore won’t repeat it again here. It is no accident the Lord employs the same meaning here as there. We are rising from the tomb of sin which imprisons us into the new life awaiting us in Christ.
The Lord is more than brilliant. He is filled with light and truth. The closer you draw to Him, the more light and truth you begin to receive from Him.
Christ prescribes the exact words to be used in the ordinance. However, the instruction we use today is slightly different in wording, but identical in meaning: Instead of: “Having authority given me of Jesus Christ” we say instead: “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.” (D&C 20: 73.)
The point at which the person’s journey is completed, and they may enter into the rest of the Lord is when the Lord declares by His own voice that the man’s offering has been accepted and they are sealed up to eternal life. I’ve explained this on the blog as to Joseph Smith. I’ve explained it for Enos and others in Beloved Enos. The Gospel is the same now, as always before. Therefore, no matter how you will receive blessings of the Lord in the afterlife, it will be through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and by the ordinances instituted for claiming blessings. These were established as law to govern man’s conduct here even before the world was. (D&C 130: 20-21.)
Does it matter if the full legal name is used? We do that in the church, of course. But does it matter? If the Lord called Joseph by name at the time of the First Vision (and He did, see JSH 1: 17), what name do you suppose was called? Was it “Joseph Smith, Jr.”? Or was it “Joseph”? Or was it that name used by his most intimate friend at the time?
The candidate for baptism must first qualify themselves by “repent[ing] of his sins.” That’s an interesting pre-condition in the Lord’s instruction. Until one has determined to abandon their sins, they are not fit for baptism. They first decide to lay things behind, move forward in following the Lord, determined to serve Him. This decision to make a change must come “through your words.” Meaning that before someone can repent, they must first learn the conditions for repentance and following the Lord.
Space was limited and the mechanics of writing was difficult for Mormon. Therefore, in his abridgement of the account, for all others “the Lord called,” and the ceremony was repeated for each. In the process, He “said likewise” unto each of them. Every individual person was acknowledged by the Lord as having conferred upon each of them “power to baptize” by the Lord.
If the Lord’s instruction regarding the manner of baptism in this verse cannot be changed, even by one holding keys and authority to do so, then what about other ordinances? Can other ordinances be changed by one who holds keys if they choose to do them differently? Why not? What happens when the one in a recognized position to perform ordinances decides to make changes to the ordinances?
Assume for a moment the Lord instructs Nephi on how to perform baptism, but Nephi decides thereafter to make a change to it. How would that reflect on Nephi? How would that reflect on the Lord? How would it reflect on the Lord’s instruction? What about Joseph Smith’s statement: “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.” (TPJS p. 308) If the Lord gave Nephi the “power” to baptize, does that carry with it the “power” to change it as well?
Notice that it is “power” and not authority. It is the “power” to baptize “this people” which is granted Nephi. Why would “power” be required for a man to be able to baptize? What if the man possessed “authority” to baptize, but lacked any “power” in his priesthood? Is “authority” anything if it lacks “power?” What is the difference? Can a church spread about the “authority” to do ordinances if that church lacks “power” to do so?
Why are “that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven?” (D&C 121: 36.) If indeed all rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, can a man who has never felt, experienced or had any connection with heaven hold any power? Hold any priesthood? What connection did Nephi have with heaven the instant the Lord spoke to Nephi the words: “I give unto you power”?
Why is it that “the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness?” What about ambitious men who view holding an office in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as entitling them to direct, preside, control and dictate to others? What are the “principles of righteousness?”
Now, I ask those questions not to give people reason to rebel against those who preside over them. It is not for us to weigh, measure or respond with accusations against those in positions of authority. I feel a great sympathy and pray for them. However, I offer it as a self-governing, introspective question to anyone who has any calling, family position or power over another person. Whether it is in church, or at work, or in the family, or elsewhere, the way we deal with others ought to be informed by the same standards as use of priestly authority. But these things are for internal use, not as a measuring stick to be applied critically against others.
Often we are able to see clearly the errors of others, but are completely unable to see our own glaring errors. This is why I have said repeatedly that the Gospel is for internal application only, and not for external use in judging others.
In the case of Nephi, he already held power, did he not? He had preached the Gospel, used words having such power that listeners could not disbelieve them, raised his brother from the dead, and cast out devils. (3 Nephi 7: 17-19.) Despite all this, Nephi was called forward to receive from the Lord power to baptize? Why? Why if he already had such great power as to be able to raise the dead, did he need a new grant of power to baptize?
I have always wanted to do something with Christ’s sermons to the Nephites. It seems to me that we’ve been running through prophecies and warnings which serve one purpose, and leaving another one neglected. Balance requires us to return to another important purpose of the Book of Mormon. Namely, testifying that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of Israel and the whole world.
I’ve already dealt with what I have termed the “Ceremony of Recognition” involved in Christ’s initial appearance. That is covered in The Second Comforter and won’t be repeated here. So I’m going to skip to verses 3 Nephi 11: 18-20.
The gentiles love those who rule over and exploit them. (Matt. 20: 25.) But Christ’s true followers do not crave chief seats. They desire to serve. They will hold others up, even if it requires them to descend below to lift them. Nephi is not a gentile, nor one who would ever exercise unrighteous dominion over others. (D&C 121: 39.)
Through the swirling anxiety following the command, Nephi doesn’t have the strength to do so until the realization that “arising” is the Master’s will. It is the Master’s command. It can be done through faith in Him. For He gives no command without having prepared the means to accomplish it. (1 Nephi 3: 7.) It must be possible for Nephi to actually arise. Though a lifetime’s dread and remorse says to remain on your knees, it is the Master’s will that you nonetheless arise. And so you begin the dreadful effort, and your trembling knees respond. To your own surprise you find it possible to arise and look into the face of Him who is compassion itself. There can be no pride in this, for rising is by His command, and not by your own will. You may want to join in Moses’ chorus that “for this cause you know man is nothing!” (Moses 1: 10.) But it isn’t necessary to voice the thought. It is enough to understand the thought.
First, a slight detour because of comments or complaints. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the only church I have ever joined. I owe to that church my knowledge of the truth. If you’ve read my original explanation of this blog, you would know that already. If you’ve read the books I’ve written, you’d know that already. I haven’t changed my position. I’m still what I was all along – a faithful, active Latter-day Saint.
It is from the church I have received the ordinances of baptism and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Gentiles would be offered the fullness and would reject it. Then the gentiles would take the gospel to the remnant who would receive it. The remnant would then blossom with the gospel, ultimately establishing the New Jerusalem. When the New Jerusalem is built by the remnant, a few gentiles who had received the fullness would be able to “assist” in bringing again Zion. (3 Nephi 21: 23-24.)
If you believe the first, your religion is new, post-Correlation and will damn you. I do not intend to disassociate with you, and will gladly let you practice your faith if you will permit me to practice mine. If you believe the second, you are a Latter-day Saint who accepts accountability for what you believe and will work out your salvation with fear and trembling before God. You believe as I do, that Joseph was the means through which the Lord initiated a work for the salvation of mankind, and that work continues today. You believe in revelation and in God’s continuing hand with us still today. You accept such good things as come through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, rejoice in them, pay tithing to them, and are blessed by what things the church continues to preserve and practice. However, you are not deluded into worship of men.
“…unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles, which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel. And they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land. Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fullness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father.”
The reason the gentiles received access to the Holy Ghost was to fulfill the purposes of the Father. The remnant would reject the Gospel, and as a result merit judgment. Judgment would come through the gentiles. For that to occur, the Holy Ghost needed to inspire gentile successes.
The Spirit would be responsible for such great gentile success that they will be made “mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people.” That is, no other people will be able to prevail against the gentiles of North America while the Holy Ghost was with the gentiles. They will be a “scourge” upon the remnant as a result of the Father’s judgments implemented by Christ, using the Holy Ghost.
The Spirit will entitle the gentiles to be offered the fullness. They will qualify by their acts and obedience. When you receive light and stay true to it, you are offered more light. The gentiles will accept and pursue more light, and will merit an opportunity to receive the fullness of the Gospel.
Gentiles did have the fullness of the Gospel, which requires the fullness of the priesthood that was offered while Joseph Smith was here. It was given sometime between 1829 and 1832, and removed before 1841. (See prior post and 132: 45 and D&C 124: 28.)
When the gentiles were offered the fullness, they displayed little interest in it. Joseph remarked: ““I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen.” (DHC 6: 184-185; see also D&C 121: 40.)
When the Saints were given a final opportunity to receive the offered fullness extended to all, they needed to show their willingness to accept it by completing the Nauvoo Temple within a short time. They were given long enough to complete it, and if it was not completed in that appointed time, they would be rejected. (D&C 124: 32.) We have seen how the Saints proceeded to build Nauvoo and their own homes rather than the Nauvoo Temple from 1841 to June, 1844 when Joseph and Hyrum were killed. (See The Remnant Part VII.) When Joseph was taken, the Temple walls had not yet been completed to the second floor.
When the Twelve prayed in the Temple on February 8, 1846 that the Lord would bless the Saints to be able to complete the Temple, the Temple caught fire the next day.
Repairs and further work allowed a dedication to finally take place at the end of April, 1846, nearly two years after Joseph’s death. The dedicatory prayer petitioned the Lord to “take guardianship into Thy hands,” but by September the keys to the Temple doors were handed to a mob which had overrun Nauvoo. It was the position of Elder Hyde that the Saints performed as they were required “by the skin of our teeth,” thereby escaping rejection by the Lord. (This was discussed in The Remnant Part VII.)
The prophecy of Christ, as commanded by the Father, foretells that if the gentiles do reject the fullness, then the Father will “return their iniquities upon their own heads.” Meaning that the gentiles will, by reason of their rejection of what was offered them, merit condemnation for ingratitude. (D&C 88: 33-35.) They remain “filthy still” because that which would have cleansed them was not received in gratitude. It was rejected. When a people reject the Lord, the Lord, being governed by law, must reject them.
This is the reason the coming judgments are necessary. Where much is given (and we were offered everything) then much is expected. (Luke 12: 47-48.) When everything is rejected, then the punishment merited reflects complete rejection of the Lord. You must keep this in mind as you read the judgments Christ prophesies upon the gentiles.
And remember also that no matter what the collective gentile conduct may be (or fail to be), the Lord approaches each of us individually. The Book of Mormon is intended as the final opportunity for gentile salvation. The church is under condemnation for failing to remember its contents and take them seriously. (D&C 84: 54-58.) That scourge needn’t be applied to you, if you will “repent and remember the new covenant” offered to you. There is, for any gentile who will repent and take the covenants offered in the Book of Mormon, an opportunity to yet become associated with the remnant and an heir of the preservation and salvation offered to them.
As we survey the condition of the gentile church today, there seems to be less and less made of the Book of Mormon’s contents. The Correlation Department’s teachings are insubstantial and becoming even less so. However, you have the Book of Mormon in front of you. You don’t need anyone to prepare a manual for you. You have the text itself.
I am hoping what I’ve written, particularly in The Second Comforter, will show you how the Book of Mormon teaches you the return to the fullness. Nephi’s Isaiah informs you of the Book of Mormon’s prophecies of our days and our failures. Eighteen Verses shows how Book of Mormon doctrinal teachings address every major dilemma of our day. Beloved Enos shows what the fullness will confer upon you. I believe whatever merit the Lord has conferred upon me arises out of my serious study of the Book of Mormon. Though everyone may treat this covenant lightly, I have not. I would encourage you, therefore, to do the same, and prayerfully study the most correct volume of scripture we possess. It is a lifeline extended by the Lord to us. However, it cannot do you any good if you fail to act on its contents. Do the works, and you will know the doctrine. I suspect our universal failure to know doctrine today is because we do not live as we should. Understanding doctrine is tied to living it. The more you live it, the more you will comprehend it. (John 7: 16-17.) The less you live it, the more elusive it becomes to you. Until at last, you become like Deseret Book, incapable of offering anything other than romance novels, “inspirational” mush, and historical fiction, all with a veneer of Mormon vocabulary. Kitsch and superficiality, more distracting to the reader than edifying to their soul. Making one think there is some good being accomplished by participating, all the while forfeiting the days which might have been better spent.
These verses connect a single doctrine. That doctrine is at the heart of “turning of the hearts of the children to the fathers,” which is the result of any restoration of the Gospel. The definition of “children of the prophets” is that one has accepted, believed, and followed the Lord’s true messengers. They become children of Abraham and receive priestly authority sealing them into the family of God, joining the “fathers.” From the time of Abraham until today, all who are redeemed have become a part of his household.
The phrase “turning the hearts of the children to the fathers” is a reference to the restoration of sealing authority, allowing a connection between man living on the earth, and the fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). In this dispensation, that restoration occurred when Joseph Smith was given the sealing authority and priesthood whereby he could ask and receive answers. (D&C 132: 45-47.) As discussed earlier, this was sometime between 1829 and 1833, though I think it was more likely the earlier date as I have explained. Coincident with receiving this authority, Joseph’s calling and election was made sure. (D&C 132: 49.) I have explained this in Beloved Enos. This priesthood, having the hearts of the recipients turned to the fathers, and the promise of exaltation, are interconnected.
Abraham not only held this authority, but received the promise that all who received the Gospel after him would become his descendants. From the time of Abraham to the present, every saved soul has had their heart turned to him, become his son or daughter, and receive that same priesthood. (Abraham 2: 10-11.) When Joseph received this, he was not merely sealed up to eternal life, but he became part of the family of Abraham. If you remember the diagram of the celestial kingdom referred to earlier on this blog, you know Joseph became one of those who was grafted into the family tree, and would then in turn preside over others who were sealed up to eternal life thereafter.
The sealing authority used by Joseph in December, 1832, was to seal others up to eternal life. (See D&C 88: 2-4.) This promise had been previously conferred upon Joseph in that portion of Section 132 referred to above. In fact, Joseph’s use of that authority in December, 1832 on behalf of others is evidence that the promise to him recorded in Section 132 was necessarily received earlier than December, 1832. If it had not been received earlier, there would have been no need to make the statement in D&C 132: 49 to Joseph, because of what is in Section 88. Why tell Joseph his calling and election was sure in 1843 if it had happened already in 1832? This is another reason you can know Section 132, although recorded in 1843, was in fact a revelation received by Joseph much earlier. It was reduced to writing in 1843 at Hyrum’s request.
In Christ’s statement to the Nephite audience, He confirmed that they were “the children of the prophets” because they followed the prophets’ teachings. Therefore, because of their obedience they were “of the house of Israel” and had realized that status because “of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers.” That covenant was given “unto Abraham” promising to Abraham: “And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.” All those after the day of Abraham who received this priesthood and sealing would become the seed of Abraham. They become heirs of the promise, and children of Abraham. They are sealed up to eternal life and therefore their hearts have turned to the fathers.
Christ was sent to these Nephites because, “The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant.” Realizing the promises, and being visited by the Lord are also connected. When enough are ready to enter into this order, have their hearts turned to the fathers, receive the covenant, then the Lord will bring again Zion.
In the middle of this prophecy of remnant return and gentile holocaust, comes the reminder again of the Lord’s primacy. Look to Him. Him alone. He is the one raised up to save mankind. He is the gentile hope.
“And it shall come to pass that I will establish my people, O house of Israel. And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you.”
The Lord will establish His people, including all of the “house of Israel.” The plan is global. But when it comes to the Americas, His people are those in the audience at the moment He was speaking to “this people.” And the land of promise for them is “this land.” Meaning that wherever it was that Christ was speaking involved two things: The ancestors of the remnant, and the land of promise.