It is impossible to re-establish the earliest form of the Gospel of Christ with its associated teachings, rites, ordinances, covenants and organization if we insist it fit into our current prejudices. We think so many things are necessary that are not, and we think many necessary things cannot possibly be required.
In the beginning, the Gospel was disseminated through a family. A church was added later. The church was an imitation of the family of Abraham. Abraham-Isaac-Jacob imitated by First Presidency. Twelve sons of Jacob imitated by the Twelve Apostles. Family of Israel entering Egypt (Exo. 1:5) imitated by the Seventy. Church is an imitation, not the real thing.
We think the “priesthood” must be organized into quorums and groups with presiding authorities, presidencies and then integrated into the church. But in the beginning there was a family, and the family had a father who was set at the head by covenant. (Moses 6:3-27; D&C 107:40-55.) The covenant required the father to teach and serve, with God’s approval and authority, in ways to bless his family and have it accepted by God. He taught as a father, mirroring the Father above, filled with the Spirit of His Son, as it was in the beginning. The order of the family is heavenly. God rules through a family structure in eternity. He established a family on earth through Adam. For the first ten generations, it remained intact as a family organization. It eventually ended in apostasy. Then Abraham sought to reconnect to that original priesthood belonging to the fathers, and succeeded in reuniting with the original family line despite generations of apostasy. (Abr. 1:2.) Abraham’s restoration lasted five generations before it was compromised. Moses was not able to bring any other than himself into the family. (D&C 84:19-25.) Moses was able to connect to himself Joshua, Caleb and his immediate family, but Israel did not benefit.
We think ordinances are required and everyone can receive them ad hoc and be saved. Heaven does not have unorganized crowds milling about, arriving fresh from receiving and accepting vicarious ordinances and claiming the right to be rewarded by entering Celestial glory. IF anyone enters the kingdom of God, she will be there as part of God’s family, not as a freelance believer. Those faithful who received the assurance before death that they would one day enjoy a glorious resurrection (D&C 138:14) were unable to leave the spirit world with Christ, but remained behind to minister to others there (D&C 138:30.)
We think the temples are primarily a place for work for the dead. It is required mainly to organize the living into a family. The organization cannot happen outside a temple. That is the only place God will allow the restoration, rites, ordinances, and covenant to be ministered. Heaven and earth will reunite and angels will attend to many of the required things when an acceptable temple is built. We think a temple can be built following a pattern based on current ordinances. There is no understanding of the ordinances necessary to organize the family of God again.
Trying to fit the original Gospel plan into our incomplete and corrupt model, and make it conform to our expectations will not work. There is not enough information to understand this Gospel, but that does not stop people from complaining and jarring one another with foolish reactions.
Hopefully people will realize there is something now moving forward which will become God’s family on earth. Something far greater than the apostate, fallen and corrupt systems of this world. But ambitious men and women want to mirror the corruption and power of earthly organizations with which they are familiar. Or they fear what is coming will be likewise corrupt and degrading of those who participate. Our fears and experiences become obstacles to what God offers.
We know almost nothing at this point. Even all that came through Joseph is but a glimpse. We are not worthy of the full view. (3 Ne. 26:9-11; Ether 4:4-7.) The question is whether we will become meek and humble enough to endure giving it a hearing before we corrupt it with a flood of errors based on unbelief.
Recall Joseph Smith predicted that although a return to the law of Moses would never happen, the Gospel as practiced before Moses (among the fathers) would return:
Thus we behold the keys of this Priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah that He talked with him [Noah] in a familiar and friendly manner, that He continued to him the keys, the covenants, the power and the glory, with which He blessed Adam at the beginning; and the offering of sacrifice, which also shall be continued at the last time; for all the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by the Priesthood, under the directions and commandments of the Almighty in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensation, therefore all things had under the authority of the Priesthood at any former period, shall be had again, bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all the Holy Prophets; then shall the sons of Levi offer an acceptable offering to the Lord….
It will be necessary here to make a few observations on the doctrine set forth in the above quotation, and it is generally supposed that sacrifice was entirely done away when the Great Sacrifice [i.e.,] the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was offered up, and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of sacrifice in future; but those who assert this are certainly not acquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the Priesthood, or with the Prophets.
The offering of sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the Priesthood. It began with the Priesthood, and will be continued until after the coming of Christ, from generation to generation. We frequently have mention made of the offering of sacrifice by the servants of the Most High in ancient days, prior to the law of Moses; which ordinances will be continued when the Priesthood is restored with all its authority, power and blessings…
These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the Holy Prophets be brought to pass? It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses’ day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.
It may be asked by some, what necessity for sacrifice, since the Great Sacrifice was offered? In answer to which, if repentance, baptism, and faith existed prior to the days of Christ, what necessity for them since that time? The Priesthood has descended in a regular line from father to son, through their succeeding generations. (October 5, 1840.) DHC 4:207-212; TPJS pp. 172-173.
Joseph only hinted at some of the remaining doctrines of the restoration that will be required to walk back to the beginning. We hardly yet comprehend the Lord’s plans. But to fulfill all that has been foretold, we or some future generation will need to build a temple acceptable to God in the boundary of the everlasting mountains, which will tremble at their presence, where all scattered Israel can return to receive an inheritance at the hands of Ephraim. (D&C 133:31-32.) The promised inheritance can only be received in a temple. It will include uses, layout, design and elements which will themselves testify of God and His Gospel in a way we do not presently have here on earth.
You can choose how much to receive or reject. You can walk away from the gathering by Christ – a hen gathering her chicks. This is not the first generation that has done that. But God has promised that some generation will receive what He offers, allow themselves to be gathered, and receive an inheritance as a part of His Covenant with the Fathers.
You may think this can be done in isolation as a faithful individual, but Zion will not be built by solitary souls. Nor will the required covenant be offered to an isolated individual. This is about God’s FAMILY.
This is why the jarring and contention, envying and strife of Joseph’s time was so toxic. Heaven weeps at us when it might instead rejoice over us.