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Marlin Jensen’s Release

The church has released Marlin K. Jensen as the Church Historian. I knew him when he practiced law in Ogden, many years ago before he became a General Authority. He was an honorable man then, and has provided a long and honorable service to the church as the Church Historian. The policy of releasing General Authorities and making them emeritus is costing us a valuable resource. I hate to see him go.

Brother Steven Snow, an attorney from St. George and current member of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy will replace him. I wish him well in his new assignment. The Church Historian’s job is challenging, to say the least. It would be wonderful if there is a continuation of the Joseph Smith Papers project, a second volume of the Mountain Meadows Massacre work (which was promised when the first came out), and a more open-door policy about our history.

I do not think we have anything to fear by letting more information flow into the public arena from our history. The more the better, in my view. What may be viewed as an embarrassing revelation from one vantage point, may be a hopeful declaration that God’s work can be done despite human weaknesses by another. Some of our grandiose claims will necessarily become more modest, but that will only help, not hurt, people of faith.

Some of the greatest figures in the Bible are flawed, craven people. David’s triumphs and failures are exposed to full view and we are not the worse for it. Quite the opposite, we are the better for it. Solomon’s legendary wisdom sank into a mire of foolishness in old age, and we are blessed to read about it all.

Perhaps if we let our own heroic figures reveal themselves in more a complete and complex light, it would help us de-mythologize the way we treat our living leaders. They might be able to get more done if we let them make mistakes from time to time. When they are forced to defend every action as “truly inspired” we have a much harder time fixing our many problems.

Our history is great, even glorious. It doesn’t need to be fiction to be edifying. Scriptural characters like Sampson, Job and Jonah are as valuable to us as Elijah, Nephi and Christ. Who among us would want to hide Aaron’s golden-calf building? Who would eliminate Lot’s residency in Sodom? When we edit our history to remove the shadows, we lose more than contrast. Sometimes we lose context as well.

I’d like to see the church’s history become the thing of wonder it was meant to be, rather than the sometimes plastic imitation we’ve allowed it to become. It will still be more than enough, even if it is merely the truth.

Why Here?

I got an inquiry asking: “I am interested in any thought you would be willing to share about why we were willing to sacrifice to come to this earth. I don’t think that this earth is the only place in all of creation where one can learn to return to the presence of the Lord, so what is the purpose of the righteous in the preexistence coming here? Why not take an ‘easier’ route and go to a different terrestrial mortal state?”

Because we saw great benefit in coming. In fact, the opportunity was greeted with shouts of joy. (Job 38: 4-7.) Perspective from here is not the same as perspective from above. There is a required opposition in “all things.” (2 Ne. 2: 11.) To ascend you must first descend. The path to the highest state runs through the lowest. (See, e.g., Moses 1: 18-20; see also JS-H 1: 15-17.) You will not see the Father and Son (D&C 76: 20-21) without also seeing the fallen angel cast out for rebellion (D&C 76: 25-26).  Nor will you behold the Celestial Kingdom (D&C 76: 50-58) without also seeing the horror of outer darkness (D&C 76: 44-48).

To comprehend you must become acquainted with both glory and darkness. You cannot receive the one without also the other. Joseph put it this way: ” Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God.” (TPJS, p. 137.) You do not get to behold glory without also beholding the darkest abyss. There is a parallel to comprehension, a symmetry to understanding.

You came here to increase your understanding of truth, and to broaden your capacity to appreciate what is good. For that, you wanted and now are receiving, exposure to the brackets which allow your comprehension to expand.

You will eventually leave here. But you will depart with an expanded capacity which could come in no other way.

Read the perils through which Abraham passed, and know this was necessary for him to become the Father of the Righteous. There is no path back to heaven apart from walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Your understanding of eternal life will come from suffering death. Your appreciation of eternal glory will come from having been first composed of the decaying dust of this earth.

You wanted this. You shouted for joy when it was offered.

Politics

I’m not very political. Unlike the rabid who believe political salvation is possible for the United States, I believe if the “Elders of Israel” are going to have any effect on the Constitution, it will not be through litigation, legislation or elected office. It will be through preaching the Gospel and converting Americans to the truth. When people agree on fundamental principles, they will elect to office those who reflect those fundamental principles. But you don’t elect someone whose values are alien to a corrupt population and thereby “save” the population. If you want to have a lasting effect on the government, preach the truth and convert people. If you want to occupy your time in a temporary effort, then push a single candidate in an election.

I believe it is good for Mormonism to have two LDS candidates running for the Presidency who disagree with and criticize one another. It is good to have the leader of the US Senate be a Democrat. It is good to have radio personality Glen Beck criticize and disagree with Mitt Romney. One of the fears inspired in others by Mormonism is the apparent monolithic appearance of the faith. These public splits among the Saints shows there is intellectual flexibility on political matters, which gives hope to non-Mormons that an LDS leader can be persuaded by something other than their religious affiliation. I believe that is a good thing.

I also believe the church is subject to the government, and not the government subject to the church. Our scriptures declare: “We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man[.]” (D&C 134: 1.)  In the same section, “We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest[.]” (Id. v. 5.) 

Perhaps more importantly, we declare as a matter of scripture that government should not have religious influence mingled with political power, nor to benefit one religion over another: “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.” (Id. v. 9.)

Also, as an Article of Faith, the church has adopted the following statement: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” (12th Article of Faith.) This is so absolute a proposition that the church surrendered what it claimed to be a duty imposed by God once the law of the land required it. “Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.” (OD 1: Paragraph 4.) In other words, the rule of law required submission, even in the face of doctrine declaring otherwise. There is no question the US Government commands the LDS Church’s submission.

I believe the submission to government to be so doctrinally established, that if a Mormon were elected President of the United States, he would “preside” over the church’s President. This is not just a New Testament principle (Titus 3: 1), but also a matter of Latter-day revelation, as well. (D&C 58: 21-22.) This is so compelling a point that, if there were a General Conference at which a sitting LDS US President attended, correct doctrine would require the announcement that the US President was “presiding” at that Conference, rather than the church’s President. The church’s President is “sustained” by the members of the church alone; while the US President is “sustained” by the entire nation to which the church is subject.

Learning

I do not believe we are under any obligation to be bored in church. I do not believe there is any virtue in sitting in a class without being either edified or taught. Of all the terrible offenses under the claim it is done in Christ’s name, taking high school students and asking them to color pictures in a Sunday School class or seminary course seems to me to be a solemn offense to them and the Lord. When we have an audience of young people who are curious and eager to learn, we ought to capture their minds and hearts with the wonder and glory of Christ’s Gospel. We owe it to them and to God. It should delight them. I’ve told my kids it is their duty to leave and study their scriptures rather than waste time coloring, or engaging in any other activity that is a waste of their time. And I trust them to know the difference.

Creation and Death

Of all the powers given to mankind by God, the one most like God Himself is the power to create offspring. The sexual union of the man and woman resulting in children is a power so great it is called God’s reward. (See Psalms 127: 3.) God’s covenant with Abraham was based upon a numerous posterity. (Gen. 22: 17.)

Sex involves not only “knowing” (i.e., intercourse) between a man and woman (Gen. 4: 1), but also the woman “conceiving” a child (Id.). Sex also includes the woman bringing forth the child, and the father then naming the child (Matt. 1: 25.) It includes teaching the child the ways of God (Deu. 6: 6-7). It extends to a parent’s duty to provide care, food, clothing and shelter for the child as well. (1 Tim. 5: 8.)

When the child is raised, the child then is obligated to honor and care for the parent. (Deu. 5: 16.) The cycle binds together generations in care, nurture and honor, altogether a godlike process. (Enos 1: 1.)

In a word, sex is life. It is the entirety of life. It produces and provides for generation after generation in a godly connection between man, woman and God.

If sex is separated from the entire scope of the Divine order, and redefined to be nothing more than orgasm, then it ceases to be life and becomes chaos and death. For example, if the ability of a homosexual union to produce physical gratification for the participants is regarded as the same thing, it not only fails to comply with the Divinely ordained order, it results in death. Homosexual unions produce no offspring and the participants go down to the grave childless. Their sexual powers have failed to result in creation, order, or fulfilling the pattern for life to continue.

If sex is separated from the entire scope, then children are born unwanted and are not raised with the care, love and sacrifice of the parents. They are not taught in the ways of God. They become less than what they were intended to be because they have inherited less than God intended for them to inherit.

Our society has largely confined its understanding of sex to nothing more than physical gratification. It is an orgasm and nothing more. Once we loose that single component from the Divine order, we have changed godlike creation into disorder and chaos. Ultimately it is the difference between life and death.

Follow-up Question

I got another follow-up from the same person asking:  “In your latest post there is some discussion on these two topics which imply that they are different.  My wife and I discussed this and what we came up with is that the first step is to have an audience with Christ (Second Comforter), from which point He will undertake to perfect you after which the Father will promise you eternal life (Calling and Election Made Sure).  Is that correct? If not could you shed some more light on this?”

These are two different topics. They are related, but are different. I’ve talked about the Second Comforter extensively. I’ve not said much about Calling and Election. I think focusing on that topic is a mistake. It will take care of itself if you can get the Second Comforter. Therefore I’ve remained largely silent on that topic.

There is a tremendous tendency to see things in a linear way and to impose an order into something which does not always follow the time-line pattern we live within. God has before Him information which, for us, remains yet future and hidden. Therefore we tend to want Him to conform to our time-sensitive perceptions, when in fact He does not. All the elements of the pattern will happen. But the order, time-line or sequence can be completely scrambled from our limited perspective inside of time.

If you look at the experience of Enoch, the Lord spoke to him about gifts and power his faith was to produce some time in Enoch’s future (Moses 6: 34) as an existing fact. The events which would display these powers were, however, hundreds of years in Enoch’s future (Moses 7: 13-17). Likewise Joseph Smith beheld the Father and Son in a vision while yet in his youth (JS-H 1: 17-20). He saw the Father. Therefore Joseph had at that very moment, while still a youth, possession of the highest order of priesthood (D&C 84: 21-22). Despite this, Joseph would be later ordained by John the Baptist to Aaronic Priesthood (JS-H 1: 68-70). The Aaronic Priesthood has the keys of ministering angels (D&C 84: 26). Yet before receiving this form of priesthood, Joseph had an angel minister to him (JS-H 1: 30-41). So before Joseph received “keys” from John the Baptist he was exercising the keys belonging to the priesthood he would receive. I could go on but these illustrate the point. Events involving God do not necessarily follow the same time-line as we would expect them to follow. When, however, Joseph received angels, you can know for certain he held priesthood. When he was visited by the Son, you can know he held priesthood and keys for that. When he was visited by the Father, Joseph Smith had priesthood. It was necessarily present and was in him. Don’t ever doubt that. Even if you don’t quite understand it at present, it is nevertheless true. So also you can receive things from God which are apparently out of sequence with the time-line we live in here.

God is not limited as we are. He lives in a place where all things, past, present and future, are before Him (D&C 130: 7). Time is not only irrelevant, it is non-existent with God.

So if you’re trying to prepare a list, the list can include all the ingredients, but it cannot be linear and progressive in a time-confined progression. God doesn’t conform to that kind of list. He will touch all the points, but in His own way. Our difficulties in understanding this kind of matter is further complicated by limitations on language and lack of faith. Therefore Joseph wisely confined his comments to what the Lord required him to say, and left the rest for each person to discover for themselves. To a great degree these things are not explainable in our language. We are two-dimensional, attempting to explain four-dimensional material. There is always a gap.

As a Gospel Dispensation is unfolded, the Lord will always violate rules we think exist involving timing and sequence. He will confer things which apparently belong long into the process, and will do it apparently independent of the established requirements. But His strange act is not ours. He will do as He wills. For us, once an order is established by Him, the order is followed. Joseph may have received the highest priesthood as a youth, but that still required the ministering of angels and conferral of progressive keys in the process of establishing the dispensation. It also required him to conform to ordinances, including baptism, as the order was re-established on the earth. [Jesus was tutored by angels before His baptism, as well. But He was still required to be baptized.] Through Joseph the Lord set a system in place which would teach and perpetuate the process, which then became linear and time-sensitive. Once established it respected the order of things in this dimension. But as soon as you begin to project our dimension onto God’s, you begin to make mistakes about God. He is not bound, as we are, by time or by timing. [This is a very great–meaning vast–topic. It can only be mentioned here, and not fully developed. But it is nevertheless a very real difference between “gazing into heaven for five minutes” on the one hand, and reading all that has ever been written on the subject on the other. It is only referenced in passing in the scriptures. Therefore don’t expect this to become a well developed subject by what some man writes. Look to God for understanding on this topic.] I’ve dealt with some of this in Beloved Enos. You might want to revisit that book with the question in mind because there’s information in there that helps. But it only “helps” and cannot say all on the topic.

Joseph Smith made a comment about a relationship between the Second Comforter and Calling and Election. I quote it early in The Second Comforter, and I think you can read it on the bottom of page 3. (It is a quote taken from TPJS p. 150.) Joseph’s description is linear. He talks about proving you’re determined to follow God at any cost, and then you have your Calling and Election made sure, and then the Second Comforter comes to you. It is a nice quote. It covers the topic. But any implication in Joseph’s statement about a linear progression is belied by Joseph’s own experience. For him the events did not take place in a linear way. He started at the top and worked backwards. But his quote suggests an order based upon this estate and our need for orientation here. So it’s a good quote and altogether accurate (from our perspective here).

Right now we are all in need of a new dispensation of the Gospel. Some lost (or never completed) components of the work need to be dispensed to us either anew or for the first time. Joseph promised more, and the scriptures predict more, will be given before the Lord’s return in glory. An obvious example is the establishment of the New Jerusalem and Zion. It hasn’t happened yet. Joseph wanted to see the Lord bring it again, but it didn’t happen in his day. When he crossed the river on June 23, 1844 he was headed west to the Rocky Mountains to try and find the remnant and the site of the New Jerusalem. Instead because of criticism about abandoning the flock when it was threatened (accusing him of being a “false shepherd”) he returned and surrendered and was killed. Now we all think the New Jerusalem is to be located in Jackson County Missouri. I suppose that’s a good thing we all think that. But it may not necessarily be true. There’s still some missing information on that topic, I believe.

Well, you proceed just as Joseph did. Inquire of God, who gives to all men liberally and does not upbraid. And if you ask in faith, nothing wavering, He will make the truth known to you. That is what this generation needs to hear. That is where it begins. Once it begins, all things get added thereto. God is patient and understanding of His children’s needs. He will never abandon the earnest seeker. So become one of those. Follow what He directs and you will find yourself in possession of life and light and hope and covenants. Not between you and another man, but between you and God. The full answer to your question should be given to you by angels, or the Lord or the Father, and not a man. When men interject themselves into that process they generally create distance between you and your God. They hinder, rather than help.

Having said that, here are the events: Angels minister to you and confer power, light and truth. They prepare you to receive the Lord. He ministers to you and confers promises, administers covenants, takes away your awful shame, and gives you promises. He prepares you to be introduced to the Father. The Father makes you a son by accepting you through His Only Begotten Son. Along the way you will know for yourself the things which occur on the other side of the veil, where God and Christ dwell in glory.

Fullness of Priesthood

I received the following in an email:

“As I’m re-reading The Second Comforter I’m trying to clarify in my mind the issue of power in the priesthood and ordination under God’s hand. Our first trip to the veil is when we have our Calling & Election made sure. Nephi’s example (son of Helaman) indicates that at that time we are given power in the priesthood – sealing power. This is included in the fullness of the priesthood. But you have also made the clear arguments that (1) we do not see the Lord at this time – that is part of receiving the Second Comforter; (2) the fullness of the priesthood and its inherent powers are only received of God, under His hand. I’m sure it’s possible to be ordained under the hand of the Lord without seeing Him, but nowhere do I find an indication that this is what happens at one’s C&E – only that you hear a voice from heaven covenanting and promising. Are you able to share anything that could clarify this for me? I’m happy to read it on your blog if you wish.”
 
This is a topic I’ve never attempted to straighten out. It is marred by many errors in traditional understanding, and almost impossible to recover because of the vocabulary we use now. We have become accustomed to speaking about priesthood using terms we think we understand. Therefore, when the topic arises the first problem is that we speak about something not well developed, using terms we think we understand, but employing incorrect meanings.
The result is that I’ve used the term but haven’t bothered defining it. The closest I’ve come to providing anything is the Tenth Parable in Ten Parables. I’ve also used the concluding chapters of :Beloved Enos to give an overview, without changing the terms we are all accustomed to using.
In the “big picture” there are three levels of priesthood discussed by Joseph Smith. He uses the terms “Aaronic” (which includes Levitical) for one, Melchizedek for another, and Patriarchal for the third. In the D&C there is a revelation stating the church has two priesthoods. (D&C 107: 1.) Since the church claims to possess these two because of Section 107, and since Joseph used the term “Patriarchal Priesthood” to identify a third, I have used this category to explain what is set out in Beloved Enos; then used it further to develop the topics in Passing the Heavenly Gift.
Forget the nomenclature for a moment (because it is not as important as the underlying reality), and no matter what term you use, recognize there are three levels of priesthood. There are three members of the Godhead. There is a different member of the Godhead associated with three levels of salvation, three levels of Divine ministration, and correspondingly three levels of priesthood. There is a priesthood that belongs to the Telestial order, or the world where we presently live. There is a priesthood that belongs to the Terrestrial order, or this world in its Paradisaical state during the Millennium. There is a priesthood that belongs to the Celestial order, or the final redeemed state which men hope to inherit in the Father’s Kingdom. Read Section 76 and you will see these set out as conditions of glory. Then take the conditions and associate a priesthood with each. If you do that, you have a better grasp of the idea of “fullness of the priesthood.”
There are many problems with how we discuss this topic. I have made no attempt to challenge our current vocabulary, or the definitions we use with it. I’ve just accepted it and tried to set out the things I know to be true using the limited and accepted definitions we currently employ.
The Patriarchal Priesthood is not defined in scripture. We think the office of Patriarch in the church is what is meant by that. Or, alternatively, we teach that when you are sealed in the temple you acquire the Patriarchal Priesthood because you become a father within your family and that is kind of the meaning. Joseph made a remark which referred to finishing the Nauvoo Temple, and then going into the Temple and receiving the Patriarchal Priesthood. I’ve found it useful to refer to this most poorly understood form of priesthood to name and define it the third level of priesthood. I can make a persuasive argument to do so. I think it offers a rather elegant solution to our current vocabulary problems. But I won’t do that in this post.
The most important point is that there is priesthood which exists, but is not contained within or conferred by the church. It comes from one source – the Father. To receive that, read the Tenth Parable and you will have a description of how it unfolds. The Son is necessarily involved. He is the gatekeeper, who alone decides if the person is going to qualify. Then the Son takes it as His work, or His ministry, to bring a person before the Father. However, the ministry of the Son can take many years, and is designed to cure what is wrong, fix all that is broken, remove all that is impure, in the candidate. Only when the Son can vouch for the individual is he brought before the Father. It is the Father who confers and ordains a man to the highest priesthood.
I’ve left these topics alone because there is something much more important than having me write about them. The first step along the path is to make it through the veil. Not the veil in a Temple, or in a rite offered by men to one another. We must be brought through the veil back into the Lord’s presence. That is the step which stops most of our progress. By and large we don’t believe it possible. We make no attempt because we think it is not available, or we should not be trying to become more than our leaders, or we are not qualified, or some other false teaching which hedges up our progress. I’ve focused on that topic alone. If I can bring a person to have faith to approach the Lord, the Lord will tell them all things they need to do thereafter. He will work with them to bring them into possession of all they need for Eternal Lives. That is His ministry. Mine is but to point to Him.
I can testify the Lord continues to have a ministry. I can also testify it includes bringing you to a point of understanding that enables you to repent of your generation’s sins and come before the Father. It is happening today, just as anciently.
Joseph Smith’s ministry offered mankind an opportunity to have the ancient order restored. Not just a New Testament church. In the beginning there was one, unified priesthood. There were not three. There was one. It was called the Holy Order. Later it got several additive descriptors, including the Holy Order after the Son of God; or Holy Order after the Order of Enoch; or Holy Order after the Order of Melchizedek. We think we have that in the church today. We think that is what we give to Elders when we first ordain them. But Joseph Smith could not confer that on another person. It requires God. Through Joseph we were offered an opportunity to receive it, but we were more interested in having a church than the original Holy Order.
It was always necessary to restore the Holy Order– the original fullness. That must be here before the Second Coming. As soon, however, as the matter is fully set out, men will immediately begin to imitate and pretend to things because of pride, ignorance or vanity. In fact, the more readily it is explained in detail, the more often there will be those who falsely claim to have power they were never given by God. So I have confined what I’ve written to the first leg of the journey, and testified to the possible return to the presence of the Son. That is a precaution, and is designed to keep the message focused on saving souls. For the rest, I leave it to the Lord’s ministry to inform the disciple of what then must occur.
I believe at some point there will be a more public declaration of the fullness of the priesthood. But at the present, I think the greatest problem lies in connecting men back to angels, then to the Lord. When they have reached that point, the Lord will take them further.
Sealing power is part of higher priesthood, but men suppose God’s word alone is enough. No power comes from heaven without faith. There is always an apprenticeship. There is always further sacrifice required of the student. No one comes to the point in an instant, but increases by degrees in their trust with our God. You will find that in every prophet’s life.
Show me a man who has entered into the Father’s presence and I will testify that he has a fullness. But show me any man, no matter what position or keys he claims to possess, who has not entered into the Father’s presence, and I will testify he has not yet received a fullness. No matter what keys he has, he cannot possess the fullness. For that, the Father has a role He is required to fulfill. Hence the saying by Joseph that no man has seen the Father but He has born record of the Son. The question to ponder is what it means for the Father to bear record of the Son. Therein lies a great key.

Questions:

When a new day dawns, should not a man awaken?

What does it profit a man to awaken if he does not arise?

Does a man awaken only then to boast in his own conceit that he no longer slumbers, while all around him remain asleep; yet the man arise not from his bed? Where is the benefit in that?

The coming day will burn with heat, and those who remain in their beds, either asleep or awake, will be burned. If shade is offered but not taken, there is no benefit to awakening.

If His servant comes alone, he is rejected for the lack of witnesses. If with a company, he is rejected for having followers. Clothed with the spirit and filled with light, he is rejected as innovating. If he mourns, he is too sorrowful; and if rejoicing, he is too merry. You need only ask, and the Lord will tell you what you need to know.

The Whole Not the Parts

There are a few important ideas that define my understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as restored by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith. These are the ideas that make the Gospel whole, and not just a group of disconnected thoughts. Until these were part of the core of my understanding, I was left with disconnected dots and no overall harmony from which to orient myself.

First and foremost is that we are not to follow any man or men. No man is worthy of discipleship. Not me, not another. There is only one who is worth following. He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14: 16). Beside Him there is no other person who can save you (Mosiah 3: 17).

This first principle is what has motivated all I have written. It is a mistake to think there is a departure in Passing the Heavenly Gift from the topic begun in The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil. They are both necessary. They do not reflect a change in my testimony or commitment to the truth, only an elaboration on the essential core principle that we are not going to be saved by following men. Rather, you will become “darkened in your mind” if you do so. (TPJS p. 237.)

Second and equally important, it is not the depth of your study that matters, but the quality of your connection with heaven that matters. Expounding doctrine is not only insufficient, it is oftentimes a distraction from what matters. We go from unbelief to belief when we learn truth. Not every source, including institutional sources, can be trusted to tell you the truth. Only the light of Christ, followed by the Holy Ghost is a reliable guide to distinguish between unbelief and belief. We go from belief to faith as we take action consistent with belief in truth. Faith is a principle of power. It will lead you to receive angels who still minister to those of a sound mind, not given to flights of fantasy or unstable behavior (Moroni 7: 30). We are brought from faith to knowledge as angels prepare us through their ministry. (Moroni 7: 31; Moroni 7: 25; Alma 32: 23.) Knowledge comes from contact with Jesus Christ. (Ether 3: 19.) This is the knowledge that saves, and nothing else. (John 17: 3.) The idea that knowledge of Christ through His personal appearance to you is now unavailable is an old sectarian notion and is false. (John 14: 23; D&C 130: 3.)

Third, there is no written record, including the scriptures, which are able to tell you all you must know. You can only know the truth by having it revealed to you from heaven itself. (D&C 76: 114-118.) This is the reason Joseph said if you could gaze into heaven for five minutes you would know more than you would by reading everything that has ever been written on the subject. (TPJS p. 324.) Either you do as James says, and ask of God, or you will forever remain ignorant of the only knowledge which can save a man. (JS-H 1: 13, referring to James 1: 5.)

Fourth, the truth is intended to save us. We should welcome corrections. Too often, however, we are offended and think the truth is a hard thing to endure. (1 Ne. 16: 1-3.) That is a product of pride and arrogance. It is impossible to learn what must be learned unless we are willing to be corrected. (Mosiah 3: 19.) Therefore, only the qualified will arrive at the gates, because the rest are unwilling to take the trip required of them.

Fifth, this is a personal journey which each must take for themselves. It cannot be shared. You must approach the Throne yourself. Joseph was alone when he met the Father and Son. Moses was alone when he ascended the Mount to meet the Lord. Enoch was alone when he was caught up to heaven. Elijah was alone on the mountain when the whirlwind, lightning and earthquake preceded the Lord’s own voice. Daniel alone saw the vision of the Lord. Paul alone saw the light. Nephi alone saw his father’s vision. Enos was alone in the wilderness in his encounter with God. Abraham was alone when the Lord spoke to him. Jacob slept alone when the ladder to heaven descended for him. You will also be alone should the Lord come to visit you. This cannot be borrowed from another.

These are the core. This core is what faith, repentance, baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost are meant to bring about. The religion of heaven always involves heaven. It does not involve men and administration and popularity. It is solitary, between you and God. The proud, however, are content to proclaim their righteousness and sit in judgment of others. They live without God in the world (Mormon 5: 16), and their end will be destruction. They think their own imagination is revelation, and they foolishly value only their conceit. (Proverbs 26: 11-12.)

I will never flatter you. But I will never lie to you, either. My faith in the Gospel is stronger now than the day I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My fidelity to the church is greater now than it has ever been. It offered me baptism and I gladly accepted. If offered me scriptures, and I gladly accepted. It offered me ordination, laying on hands, washings, anointings, covenants and sacraments, and I gladly accepted them all. It gives me fellowship, and I value it. But my faith is in Christ alone.