92: Garments, Part 2

This is part 2 of a series about garments, where Denver discusses temple garments, wedding garments, and other clothing as mentioned in the scriptures.


One of the things that I was reminded about this week by a friend (I coined it, but he suggested the idea) is that it’s important that you not get the misimpression that before you wind up in the presence of the Lord, ​you ​have the responsibility of making yourself absolutely spick-and-span. In terms of connecting with the Lord, it is essentially a come-as- you-are party because you are never going to be able to do the heavy lifting required to be clean in His presence. He does that; you don’t. He extends the invitation; you accept it. It’s a come-as-you-are party.

There are two parables that the Lord told that I want to put together to help illustrate the point. One of them is in Matthew chapter 22. It’s a parable about a wedding feast. And the Lord, in that parable, talks about how the folks that were invited wouldn’t show up. And because the folks that were invited would not show up, an invitation was extended to, essentially, whoever was out on the streets. And the folks who were out on the streets were brought in. Begin at verse 8 of chapter 22: ​Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy ​(Matthew 8:22; see also Matthew 10:18 RE).

You know, he’s telling a story, largely about a condition that persists whenever you find a religious organization functioning, because institutions have a way of having their own cares. Joseph Smith was a disastrous businessman. He created financial debacle after financial debacle. The most notorious one was the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Group—​Anti​, because they couldn’t get the bank charter. But if you file for bankruptcy in the state of Utah, one of the things that they do at the discharge hearing, in order to help people feel better about themselves, is they remind people that at the time of his death, Joseph Smith had a pending petition in bankruptcy. And that is supposed to salve the conscience of those who find themselves in that extremity.

The fact is that Joseph was not a particularly good businessman because he didn’t care for business. He wound up giving away his inventory to the needy folks, rather than trying to profit off the needs of the Saints. There was some exasperation about that. Well, we fixed that. We have, managing the church and attending to the financial interests of the kingdom (as we call it now), those that are more than qualified financially. I suspect a profligate like Joseph Smith would be unsuitable for management today. But in any event, the parable starts with the Lord, who’s trying to get people to come to the wedding, telling the servants the wedding’s ready but those that I’ve asked are not worthy:

Go…into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid [them] to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways ​[always the servants, always angels do this work; they do the gathering], and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And…the king came in to see the guests, he saw there [was] a man which had not…a wedding garment…saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou…hither not having a wedding garment?…he was speechless…the king [said], Bind him hand and foot…take him away…cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping [and wailing] and gnashing of teeth. ​(Matthew 22:9-13; see also Matthew 10:18-19 RE)

So, I want to put that on the table, because in this part of this parable you have anyone who will come being invited, because the people that were targeted for attendance simply aren’t worthy to come. So anyone gets to come. And now you have among them someone who doesn’t have on a wedding garment. And for that I want to refer you to Luke chapter 15, because in Luke chapter 15 we run into the Lord talking about a robe being supplied. This is the son who found himself, having been in a far-off land, filling ​his belly with the husks that the swine did eat…no man gave unto him. ​[He comes] to himself​, ​[says​:​] How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! So when he goes back to see his father, look at what happens in verse 22 of Luke chapter 15: ​But the father said to his servants ​[again, it’s the angels that do this], ​Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him…put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet ​(Luke 15:16,17,22; see also Luke 9:13-14 RE).

You see, this, I think, has to be kept in mind whenever you’re looking at someone who has arrived at the feast, bidden from the highway, who arrives and doesn’t have on the robe. The Master is the one that wants you to wear it. The Master is the one that will furnish it. Don’t think that the purpose of the Lord is to judge. The purpose of the Lord is to redeem, and for that purpose He is infinitely patient and willing, if you will respond, with forgiveness of your sins, as He does consistently throughout the Book of Mormon. 

If we are going to begin again, it must be in conformity with the Doctrine of Christ, it must be taught by the spirit of truth, and it must follow the pattern and warnings given in Kirtland for us to follow.

Now, having said all that, let me read to you some things which the Lord said concerning this moment, because He is talking about an event that will happen.

This is from Matthew chapter 22, beginning at verse 2. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, [This marriage is how the Lord describes His Second Coming. Therefore this parable is about the very end times. They are now approaching.]

And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. [This invitation is directed to a group the “King” first asked to come. But the first invited decline.]

Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: [The cares of this world overcome the first invited guests. They are busy with commerce and cannot be troubled to obey the Doctrine of Christ. They turn to their great commercial endeavors and decline the King’s invitation.]

And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. [All that remain in any dispensation is a “remnant.” The remnant was among the first invited, or in other words among the latter- day Gentiles, who were first invited; these will kill the servants. Both Joseph and Hyrum were killed by the conspiracy of the first invited Gentiles.]

But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. [Navuoo fell, the temple was destroyed, and the Gentiles driven into the wilderness to suffer, and many were destroyed.]

Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. [Another group will come from the highways, which are “both good and bad.” They are not the same as the first, but they will be the guests. Provided, however, they choose to accept the invitation and respond.]

And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Several things about this: This is one of those places in scripture where “remnant” is used in a negative way. The Gentile “remnant” from the first invitation are portrayed by Christ as capable of killing God’s servants. God invites all to come to the wedding feast of his Son. This is when the kingdom is going to be established in the last days. He invites all to come. From among all those people who had been invited there is a remnant of those who still hold onto the Restoration, and they are the worst of all. They have the hardest hearts. They are the ones who will not come.

After the Lord deals with them, He sends servants to invite everyone found on the highways to come. Everyone! Come in to the wedding feast! No matter your faith tradition, your religious identity, all are invited to come receive the Doctrine of Christ. Christ has now begun that. If you will carry the message to the highways, let all know that everyone is now invited.

Included among those who are invited in, are “as many as they found, both bad and good.” They are all to be invited to come in. There is no excluding the bad, speaking after the judgment of this world. Bad people get invited in to the wedding feast! But when they come it is not whether they are a bad person or a good person that determines if they get to stay. According to Christ, it is the presence or absence of a wedding garment that determines if they are allowed to stay. What is a “wedding garment?”

Well, turn to Luke chapter 18. This is Luke chapter 18, beginning at verse 10. ” Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

In this parable did not matter the publican was a “bad man.” It did not matter the Pharisee was a “good man.” I tell you at the wedding feast, it will be the publican who wears a “wedding garment.” The first wedding garment, if I can call it that, is the original garment given to Adam and Eve in the Garden to cover their nakedness, and to cover their shame before God. All of which is an allegory.

The covering of skins given our first parents required the sacrifice of an animal to teach them the principle of sacrifice. It was also to foreshadow the death of our Lord that would be required in order to restore us back to God’s presence. Therefore, the covering given to Adam and Eve in the Garden represented the sacrifice of our Lord. It was our Lord’s atoning sacrifice that makes it possible for us to be covered, so that our shame is no longer there. Instead of seeing our shame, God looks upon the righteousness of His Son represented by the covering of skins we have been clothed with, and not upon our own guilt, weakness, and shortcomings. He beholds the image of His Son in the garment that we have put on.

It is that garment, the atonement of Christ. Those who will remain in the wedding feast must obey the Doctrine of Christ. Exactly as Christ commanded. Exactly as outlined today. Remember, the first who were invited would not come. But even the bad ones who are out in the highways, if they will put on the wedding garment you can offer, they can come to the feast. There are about 13 million inactive Latter-day Saints. There are a lot of “bad ones” out there, who are only kept from the truth because they have not heard it yet.

If I had the financial means, I would buy an ad space in the Los Angeles Times and I would publish a full page add saying: “This is the Doctrine of Christ.” Then I would quote Christ’s language from 3 Nephi where He declares His doctrine. I would say below that, “If you believe this doctrine and you want to be baptized and get the Holy Ghost, meet me at…” and I would put a location and time. I would hope that included among those who came would be gang members, inner-city people who live lives of desperation and violence, who want a way out. Can you imagine what would happen if you sent someone back into an abusive neighborhood, clothed with the power of repentance and the Holy Ghost? I would hope ministers of other faiths would come to be baptized. I would invite everyone, from the high to the low, and hope as many as possible would come.

We can’t fix this world by legislating, but we can fix anything by changing hearts. Those Gentiles that were first invited ultimately will not come. They will even abuse those who try to take them in. But there are plenty of folks in the highways and byways who are only kept from the truth because they don’t know where to find it. This is your responsibility. This is your work to do. This is the day in which these things need to be done.

Oddly enough, in our own day, the Lord tells a slightly different version of exactly the same story, prophesying how it is going to happen among us in our day.

Go to Doctrine and Covenants section 58, beginning in verse 7. ” And also that you might be honored in laying the foundation, and in bearing record of the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand.”

I am going to put this into the footnotes when I finally get around to publishing in book form the talk given in Grand Junction. I will add it here because we have now encountered the words, “the land upon which the Zion of God shall stand.” I pointed out in Grand Junction all the historical reasons why Zion could exist somewhere other than on property owned in Jackson County, Missouri, and could in fact, be constructed elsewhere.

Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, in their first trip to Jackson County, Missouri, came to confirm and ratify that was the place where Zion would be built. There, a revelation said this was “the land of Zion.” And so everyone since then until now, relies on that language to say, ‘it is going to be Jackson County, Missouri.’ That same month, Sidney Rigdon gave an explanation of the meaning of “the land of Zion.” He said it began Kirtland, Ohio and it ran to the Pacific Ocean. So the land of Zion is rather flexible in where the Lord might choose ultimately to locate it.

So there’s going to be some land where Zion will stand. “And also that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor.”[so the feast to be prepared has a highly specific audience in mind in the revelation, it is “the poor.”]

Yea, a feast of fat things, of wine on the lees well refined, that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail; Yea, a supper of the house of the Lord, well prepared, unto which all nations shall be invited. First, the rich and the learned, the wise and the noble; And after that cometh the day of my power; then shall the poor, the lame, and the blind, and the deaf, come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, and partake of the supper of the Lord, prepared for the great day to come. Behold, I, the Lord, have spoken it.”

Did you get that? First they invite “the rich” and then “the learned,” and the “wise” and the “noble” and then the nations shall all be invited. It does not say, however, that any of them will enter in for the feast. It does not say any of them will partake. It was prepared after all for “the poor,” and the people who will enter in, who do finally make it into Zion will get to partake.

“Then shall the poor [that is who it was prepared for after all] the lame, and the blind, and the deaf, come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, and partake of the supper of the Lord, prepared for the great day to come.”

Every time you partake of the Sacrament it is a reminder of the promise there will at last be some great wedding feast. It is not just in remembrance of the blood and of the body, but it is also a preliminary to the final feast the Lord intends to offer in which His blood and His body achieve success in redeeming some few! His atonement was to redeem. The wedding feast is a celebration of the Lord’s triumph. But His triumph produces saved souls. The redeemed are His great trophy!

Well, ask yourselves, who are “the rich?” Who are “the learned?” Who are those that are presently considered “wise?” And who are those who make the claim that they are “the noble,” the elect, the royal priesthood? Whoever they are, they do not enter into the wedding feast in Zion.

And who are “the poor?” Who are derided, even in today’s vocabulary, and accused of being “lame”? Who are considered “blind” and misled? Who are “deaf” because they cannot hear and respect all the great wisdom that pours forth from these empty cisterns, having nothing but drivel to offer? Quoting one another endlessly, as if one misled man on a false path can offer light to a fool following after him.

I hope we are “the poor.” I hope I am speaking to “the lame.” I hope you are counted among those that are considered “blind,” and I hope that you have ears not for what any man has to say, but for what the Spirit alone has to confirm to you. I hope that you are “deaf” to everything in this world, but have ears for what our Lord has to say. 

Mormonism is so compelling a religion that the original great light given by God through Joseph Smith has supplied the energy to keep it going. All the many sects that sprang from the original ministry of Joseph have been able to survive because of it. The great work needed before God’s return requires more light to be given. God will not give it until we are grateful enough to remember what He gave before. We have been foolish stewards for three and four generations. God is speaking again.

This is the day in which, at long last, what God promised would happen before His return is now actually beginning. The Gospel does not consist merely of a record of how God dealt with another people at another time. Joseph Smith talked about how we must have our own covenant: “Search the Scriptures, search the Prophets and learn what portion of them belongs to you and the people of the nineteenth century. You, no doubt, will agree with us, and say, that you have no right to claim the promises of the inhabitants before the flood; that you cannot found your hopes of salvation upon the obedience of the children of Israel when journeying in the wilderness, nor can you expect that the blessings which the apostles pronounced upon the churches of Christ eighteen hundred years ago, were intended for you. Again, if others’ blessings are not your blessings, others’ curses are not your curses; you stand then in these last days, as all have stood before you, agents unto yourselves, to be judged according to your works.” The Gospel must live with us, or we have no hope. Joseph also said: “[W]e cannot claim these promises which were made to the ancients for they are not our property, merely because they were made to the ancient Saints, yet if we are the children of the Most High, and are called with the same calling with which they were called, and embrace the same covenant that they embraced, and are faithful to the testimony of our Lord as they were, we can approach the Father in the name of Christ as they approached Him, and for ourselves obtain the same promises. These promises, when obtained, if ever by us, will not be because Peter, John and the other Apostles, with the churches as Sardis, Pergamos, Philadelphia, and elsewhere walked in the fear of God, and had power and faith to reveal and obtain them; but it will be because we, ourselves, have faith and approach God in the name of His Son Jesus Christ; even as they did; and when these promises are obtained, they will be promises directly to us, or they will do us no good.”78 This is as true of words and promises given through Joseph as the words and promises made in the New Testament. We cannot rely on the sacrifices of Joseph and Hyrum to save us, nor claim a covenant long since changed and broken by all of the sects arising from Joseph’s covenant as ours. We must, like them, have the faith to renew and then keep a covenant given to us by God.

This is really apparent when you read the revelations given to Joseph in their original transcripts. In our scriptures there are headings, footnotes, cross references and additional insertions advocating we read those revelations as ours. But when you read them as they were written in the Joseph Smith Papers, it really becomes clear that when God was talking about how the church was “living” and “alive” and “approved,” it was because He was talking to Joseph Smith. At the time the church was listening to what Joseph Smith revealed. The declaration that the work was “rolling forth” was voice of God in that day to those people. Joseph Smith was called to lead those people to go and take it to the world. They took it and they went out and preached it, and when they preached it, others were converted. People who were converted by them actually had experiences and came to know God. That was because God empowered it and set it in motion through His servant Joseph Smith. Joseph had a covenant given to him by God. Therefore, Joseph could testify to these words, and they were true, and God owned them. People who follow them received the wages of those who follow God. It worked! We cannot mimic that and have the same effect. We must do the work, seek God’s voice to us, and when we have His word to proceed.

God has to say to us, “This is what I want you to do.” If no one else will say it to you, I am saying it to you. Everything that has been said in this talk, which began in Boise and concludes here today, everything that has been said is, in fact, exactly what happened when God offered something to an earlier generation through Joseph. He, God, is offering something again, right now, in our day, to you, to any that will hear, to any that will listen. The work is beginning again.

I suppose it was necessary that what began in Joseph’s time had to run down to the condition it is in at present. It had to become a leaky ruin of a farm, that Joseph himself no longer even wanted, before it was possible for the Lord to say, “At this moment we turn a new leaf.” Can’t you see the signs of the times? Can’t you look about and see the whole world is waxing old like a garment? Can’t you see there is now a balance of things kept at bay only to preserve the possibility of a remnant being claimed by God? God promised He would do this. If this can bear fruit, the Lord may give more time and keep the angels from beginning the harvest. That will depend on what we do. 

Well, all things testify of what is currently getting, at last, underway. And make no mistake about it, it is getting underway. And I don’t care where you look; I don’t care what society you look at; I don’t care what economy you observe, what culture you observe—the earth and all of the people on her are waxing old like a garment. And do you know what they do with garments that are old? They are burned. The way to preserve yourself consists in having faith in God. And the conditions upon which faith in God is obtained are exactly the same for you as they were for Moses, and Abraham, and all of those who have ever had faith; Joseph Smith being the latest, great example of that.


The foregoing are excerpts taken from:

  • Denver’s 40 Years in Mormonism Series, Talk #2 entitled “Faith” given in Idaho Falls, ID on September 28th, 2013; and
  • Denver’s 40 Years in Mormonism Series, Talk #10 entitled “Preserving the Restoration” given in Mesa, AZ on September 9th, 2014

Today’s podcast addresses important questions about garments, but is only an introduction to ideas that listeners of any denomination may find important and relevant. These topics are more fully addressed in Denver’s blog, including but not limited to these entries: