185: Suffering, Part 2

This is part two of a series looking at the role of suffering in the life of the Savior, and how our own suffering brings us closer to Him.

From what, then, were your spirits organized? Light and truth. Okay… At your core, at your nub, at the very essence of what it is that constitutes you to be you, what is it that constitutes you to be you? Light and truth.

There’s another place where a description is given of the Lord—Christ—in the pre-existence: In the beginning was the Word (John 1:1; see also Testimony of St. John 1:1 RE). Now, that’s an interesting thought, that word. So, what you have at your core is light and truth or intelligence, which is…what? The glory of God—God the Father; you’re derivative from Him. He is the Creator or the Organizer. But what He created or organized you from is light and truth.

Okay. Now, this ought to become increasingly obvious to you as you look at what we were reading in section 93. Why is it necessary, therefore, for you to keep His commandments in order for you to receive truth and light? Why? Why is that the way it works? Why must you keep the commandments if you want to get more of this?

We’re trying to harmonize ourselves with Him. We’re trying to get back to Him. We’re trying to get ourselves aligned correctly so that when we resonate in the same way that He resonates, we can pick up on things that are not pick-up-able in the absence of that resonance. We’re trying to get in harmony with God.

So, what are the commandments? What use are they? Well, He’s giving us a blueprint. And some portions of the blueprint may appear altogether ridiculous. We’re supposed to do them anyway. And why are we supposed to do the things that may seem even ridiculous anyway? Because at your very core, you know… You know if it comes from Him, and you know when you’re getting light and truth from Him. There is never a futile act. You know when you pay tithing that you’re doing something He asked you to do. And you know what? If it involves a sacrifice, you know all the more by that sacrifice.

This is what Joseph was trying to get across in the Lectures on Faith. Would you like to know God? Then go inconvenience yourself by following what He asks of you, and you will unlock inside yourself resonance with the light and truth of God. And it’s an unfolding process.

It grows…

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. (D&C 50:24; see also T&C 36:4)

Proverbs 4:18 (Proverbs 1:18 RE) is a similar thought. But it’s a dynamic process. It involves your (again, you know, we’re victims of our time), your interface with God—another 500 years and the gospel will be perverted by computer terminology—but the way you link up to God (See? There it goes again!) is by this mechanism of obeying the commandments that He’s given you. And it’s never futile, and it’s never superfluous. It’s how you, as a being at your core made of light and truth, know that you’re pleasing God.

In the Lectures on Faith, Joseph said you had to know that the sacrifice that you are making was pleasing to God. How can you know that? You can know that because in your core you have light and truth, that’s why I read the quote a few minutes ago. The nearer you come to God and the more obedient you are—the more “heed and diligence” were the words he used in that statement—the more heed and diligence that you give, the more correct your understanding will be. Well, why is that the case? Because you are enlightened, because you are enlivened, because you are drawing closer to Him.

One of the great descriptions of how Christ did what He did—in addition to 93—is in section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants, beginning at verse 21:

I mean, we do not attain to perfection in this life. The visions that we read in Scripture all have a constant theme. And the constant theme is a wretch managed to make it into the presence of God, and then God fixes the wretch. What was the very first thing—not in our current version of the First Vision, but it is in the earlier versions that Joseph wrote—what is the very first thing God does when Joseph’s in His presence? He forgives his sins; He cleans the mess up. “Joseph, you know you’re a wretch; let’s fix that. Okay, now, now you can endure My presence.” Isaiah, in the temple:

Woe is me! …I am undone; …I am a man of unclean lips, …I dwell [among] a people of unclean lips. (Isaiah 6:5; see also Isaiah 2:2 RE)

Fetch the coal; fix the guy. Coals from the altar, touched to the lips—there; purged; you’re okay.

You do… Look, we really are comedic. Our religion promises the fantastic; it promises the perfection of us frail, messed-up, insecure human souls. We get hungry; we get thirsty; we get tired. We’re vulnerable; we’re subject to pain; we’re gonna ultimately die, every one of us. We have infirmities, and they progress over time. What about us can possibly be perfected? And you look at it and say, I can’t detect a thing. Oh, wait there is one thing. You can be perfect in your desire. You can hope for it. And for God, that’s enough. As long as you make the kind of sacrifice that He would like to have you make preliminarily. And we’re talking about that at this point. And we’re reading from verse 21 of D&C section 20, where it says:

Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him. He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them. He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day; And ascended into heaven(See also Joseph Smith History 16:6 RE)

See, “He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them.” Turn back to D&C section 130. Verse 19 in section 130 says,

If a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

That’s what Christ did. Christ gave no heed to the things that were pulling Him in the one direction, and He gave strict heed to the things that were enticing Him to the other direction. And He obtained (as section 93 explains) a fullness of that. So, if there is an increasing flow of light/an increasing flow of truth that comes to someone by their heed and diligence in following the commandments, then that seems like a fairly simple formula for someone to follow if they’re interested in obtaining further light and knowledge.

There was a time when all of these words crept into our language, and their usage in our common vernacular became popular when everyone simply assumed that we all were in contact with the mystic, with the mythic, with the forces that were around you. Everyone simply assumed that was the case. There was a way of describing the phenomenon, and the way that the idea was reduced to words was by using the concept of a third eye. Well, why that? It was because, physically, your eyes are the source that light gets into you. You perceive light through your eyes. So, if you’re gonna collect light from somewhere else, two things are essential: the first thing is you have to realize that it’s there, and then you have to be willing to see it. Well, it was a fairly common thing because people weren’t as well educated as they are now. They weren’t… Yeah, they weren’t schooled in naturalism and the philosophies of men, which we have so successfully commingled with Scripture that we have essentially supplanted, in all of Christendom, the gospel of Christ and replaced it with the doctrines of men and the precepts of men and the creeds of men. (And we’re beginning to develop our own set of creeds.)

You see, it’s hard. It’s hard to keep the commandments. It involves inconvenience and sacrifice. It’s hard. And for some folks, in a trial and error kind of way, it’s like riding a bicycle. And when you start riding a bicycle, you get bloodied elbows and bloodied knees, and you make mistakes, and it’s unhappy. But you know what? You can write a Ph.D. thesis on riding a bicycle without ever getting on a bike or ever suffering an injury. Well, isn’t that interesting? Because that’s essentially the trade-off that we’ve made. That’s the trade-off that Christendom made, and that’s the trade-off that is rapidly, rapidly advancing right now…

I… Why would Satan ever change his agenda? Why would he ever invent a new tool if the old one works perfectly well? If I can use the sexual appetite of men to destroy a David, well, why not just bust that thing out all the time and aim it at whoever happens to promiscuously get in front of me? (In that context, the word means “randomly,” and it was a pun.) In any event, why invent a new way of corrupting the truth when the old way has been so entirely serviceable?

When the Jews returned from the discipline of Babylon, they learned the wrong lesson. And they became sophisticates in the Babylonian system of thought—which, as Lehi would tell us, was necessary because they were the only people that would kill their God, and they had to be in the right frame of mind (which is to say, “screwed up”) in order to be willing to kill their God, because no one else would do it.

It takes a lot of learning to really be in hell, because the gospel of Christ beckons people to become childlike and to become simple. That’s not to say the gospel is simplistic, because it comprehends all truth, and it involves light, and it involves everything that is—everything that was, everything that is, and everything that will be. And there are enormous surprises along the way. The gospel of Christ ought to be a delightful process of discovering new things all the time.

Where did Christ come from? 93, beginning at verse 11, this is John (and I’m starting at verse 11, but we’ll back up in a minute):

And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us

K? This is Him; He came, and He dwelt here. “[But] I…” I’m talking about the pre-existence…

I saw that he received not…the fulness at first [He received not the fulness at first], but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness; …thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not…the fulness at the first. (D&C 93:11-14; see also T&C 93:3-4)

What did He do? One of this group/one of this family/one of this assortment of people/one of them went from grace to grace until He received a fullness. He proved it could be done. He showed the way. He was called the Only Begotten of the Father. He was called that because He embodied the word of God. Would you like to know what God the Father’s word was? Look at Him. Look at the Only Begotten. Did you make it without Him? No, you didn’t. You didn’t make it here without Him. Christ proved the word of the Father by the things which He didAs a consequence of Christ doing it, some few others, in turn, were also able to rise up. And they became “sons of the morning.”

You see, the picture that we get in D&C section 93 (coupled with Alma chapter 13) is different than the picture that you sometimes pick out or get described for you. Look at verse 30 of section 93:

All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. (See also T&C 93:10)

Did Christ exist? If Christ existed, He had to be free to choose for Himself. This had to be a voluntary act on His part. He had to be willing to receive the light and truth.

Believe it or not, we’re all just talking about the same thing. This is just about personal revelation. All of it is. And it’s about how you receive light and truth. Because we’re acting out again here what we acted out once before, and the process is the same here as the process was there—although here it’s coupled with a lot of illusions that are guaranteed to make you progress whether you want to or not—it’s coming.

So, when you look at the word of God, what you’re seeing in Christ is the embodiment or the fulfillment of what the Father said. When Christ defines Himself in 3rd Nephi chapter 11, and He tells you who He is, He can’t tell you who He is without referring to the Father three times in a very brief introduction: I…suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning (3 Nephi 11:11; see also 3 Nephi 5:4 RE), He tells us. He is the word of the Father. He is the embodiment of the things that the Father would like to have for us. So, why do we obey the commandments? Why do we follow the process? Why do we want to go from grace to grace, and how do we open the third eye to be able to resonate with and receive light and truth into ourselves from the Being who is defined as light and truth?

…You learn that the way to happiness does not consist in popularity or wealth or acclaim; it lies exclusively in consecrating yourself to the things of God. And when you have developed through that course, and you’ve come to the recognition that consecrating yourself is the only thing of value…the challenge you face in your life requires you, invariably, to lay aside those things that pull you away, and that you always turn and face the Lord. That’s what repentance means; it means to turn and face the Lord. And you know, when you face Him the first time, you’re just not going to be that good or that different than you were the moment before. But if you’ll face Him, He’ll work with you. It does not matter how badly damaged you are—that’s irrelevant. He fixed the Apostle Paul. If you don’t think the Apostle Paul suffered from pride, then you don’t understand the malignancy of pride. He fixed Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah, whose deliberate purpose was to overthrow the things of God. I don’t care what you’ve done; the malignancies of those men are highlighted in Scripture in order to assure you that you can all be reclaimed. Turn and face Him, and then walk with Him. He does all the guiding and most of the heavy lifting.

Well, when it comes to the idea of being true and faithful… By the way, I don’t care if you buy a quad; your Scriptures aren’t complete until you get the Lectures on Faith. They were voted in and sustained as Scripture, and then they were removed without a vote. In the Lectures on Faith… This is the seventh lecture; this is the 16th verse, talking about the Savior:

[The] teachings of the Savior most clearly show unto us the nature of salvation; and what he proposed unto the human family when he proposed to save them — That he proposed to make them like unto himself; and he was like the Father, the great prototype of all saved beings: And for any portion of the human family to be assimilated into their likeness is to be saved; and to be unlike them is to be destroyed: and on this hinge turns the door of salvation. (LoF 7:16, emphasis added)

Jesus Christ is the prototype of all saved beings. So, what was our Savior if He’s the prototype? He was a blasphemer! He was a sinner! He worked on the Sabbath, and He encouraged his disciples to do so! He associated with the tax collectors and with the publicans and sinners and the harlots! And He let harlots toooouuuuch Hiiiim! This is the prototype of the saved man. This is the One who was rejected by His people. This is the One who was called “unclean.” This is the One who was rejected, persecuted, and ultimately killed by those who held religious rank and authority in His day. This is the prototype of the saved man. This is the example of Joseph Smith; this is Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Was Christ true and faithful in all things? If so, to what, to whom was He true and faithful? Was it the law? I mean, He never spoke ill against the law. The Sermon on the Mount is simply taking the law and showing what it really meant—He took it to another level. If he took it to the level in which He took it, Caiaphas would not have been sitting there in the robes of the priesthood, which by that time had been elevated to the status of wealth itself. If you had merely the attire that Caiaphas had on during the trial of Christ, just his attire, you would have been a wealthy man. Well…

The Lectures on Faith—this is lecture six… Yeah, it’s the sixth lecture:

A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; …from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. (LoF 6:7)

It’s through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. And then we get to this verse 8:

It isvain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they, in like manner, offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him. (LoF 6:8, emphasis added)

What did the Prototype of the saved man offer in sacrifice? I mean, we jump to the end of the story, and we point to Gethsemane, and we point to the cross, and we say, “There it is—His life.” But He was a living sacrifice for many more years than the week that was spent coming in, confronting them in the temple, celebrating and implementing the sacrament, going into Gethsemane and suffering, being tried and crucified, being laid in a grave, and three days and three nights later arising from the grave. He spent some 30+ years prior to that as the prototype of the saved man.

Our minds are skeptical. We have to open the door, because almost invariably the door that we configure to keep Him out from our construct is something that has come about as a consequence of what happened in your life—from the time you left that state of innocence as a child in the Garden until today. Every painful experience you’ve been through, every humiliation you’ve suffered, everything that has gone on in your life that has led to where you now construct a door—some of oak, some of iron—whatever it is that’s happened to you, you use that to keep Him out: “Well, if He really cared, He would….”

You know, the notion that He doesn’t care is the greatest lie of all. If you knew what He suffered, you would never say, “If He cared….” But if you’ll open the door, He says, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Ibid., emphasis added).

The purpose of the temple is not merely to inspire you with the conviction that it is possible to rend the veil, to pass through the veil to see and meet with our Lord—who has promised us repeatedly that the stories in the Book of Mormon are stories designed to tell you over

and over and over again about coming back into the presence of the Lord. Even wicked Lamanite converts, many of them have what we, in our scholarly language, would call a “throne theophany,” and they did so upon conversion because their conversion was with real intent. Therefore, the Book of Mormon is a text about the Second Comforter.

But what is being talked about in this verse in Moses chapter 6 is about dwelling in His presence. And when it comes in verse—again, this is Moses 6—verse 57, it says when it comes to dwelling there, no unclean thing can dwell there, because He’s the Man of Holiness (Moses 6:57, emphasis added; see also Genesis 4:9 RE). This presents the real message or the real meaning of what the temple is trying to convey to us in our day. And we’re just about running out of time to accomplish that in our day; and if we don’t, then, you know, He passes on and maybe starts this up with another people in another day—as He’s so often done before.

To come to the veil and to meet with the Savior, He can clean you up. He, through His grace, can give you all that you lack. To dwell in the presence of God requires something more, something different. It requires that you grow from where you are now to the place where the Lord intends to lead you. He intends to have you be true and faithful in all things. Because in the ceremony in the temple, once you go through the veil, you don’t come back; you stay there. And the purpose of going there, in this day, in this setting, is to enable the return of Zion.

We don’t need a profoundly new and far-reaching economic system to make us have all things in common in order to bring again Zion; and we don’t need possession of the real estate in Jackson County, Missouri to bring again Zion—we don’t need any of the implements or locations or infrastructure to have Zion return. We need one thing, and that’s youyou to be clean, you to be holy, to leave behind you not only the door but the house in which you dwell that you established that door to bar Him through. You need to come and live with Him. It is possible. These are not cunningly devised fables, as the Apostle Paul put it (2 Peter 1:16; see also 2 Peter 1:5 RE). This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Look at the definition that the Lord gives of salvation in Ether chapter 3. This is a definition that the Lord gives:

Behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you. (Ether 3:13; see also Ether 1:13 RE)

This is the meaning of salvation. This is the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is contained in the Book of Mormon, which has the fullness of Jesus Christ in it. “The Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.”

Look at Doctrine and Covenants section 76, in which a description is given of those who inherit the Celestial Kingdom or those who have Celestial glory. And I’m not gonna go through all of it and parse it—it’s really interesting; it’s worth doing. But included among the definition of those who are Celestial are descriptions of the present tense—now, here. I mean, there’s past tense in here, and there’s future tense in here, but this is the present tense. And I believe that this was wittingly done because this is a transcript from Heaven. Joseph Smith would recite the words of the vision; Sidney Rigdon, when it was read back, would say, “That is correct.” Therefore, the tenses of this language were given by Heaven and not by the person dictating. So, in verse 54 of D&C section 76:

They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—
They are they who 
are priests and kings, who have received of his fullness, and of his glory;
are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.
Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—
Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. 
(D&C 76:54-59, emphasis added; see also T&C 69:11-13)

Now, if that sounds a lot like the language that’s contained in the Oath and the Covenant of the Priesthood, it’s because it mirrors the language that you find in the Oath and the Covenant of the Priesthood; where, once again, it talks about the priesthood being connected to God Himself—the “Powers of Heaven,” if you will.

Well, if the temple is designed to lead you to the presence of the Lord, the presence of the Lord is intended to bring you to the presence of the Father, and the purpose of bringing you to the presence of the Father is to have you clean every whit—because when there is a group of people with whom it is possible for the angels to dwell, there will no longer be any reason for angels to stay aloof. There will be no reason for the Lord to delay the bringing of Zion because the Lord is going to dwell there. One of the definitions of Zion, when you get past having all things in common, is the fact that the Lord will dwell there. And we all know that to dwell in the presence of the Lord, if you are not prepared to do so:

[You] would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before Him, than [you] would to dwell with the damned souls in hell. (Mormon 9:4; see also Mormon 4:6 RE)

That’s Mormon chapter 9, verse 4. Really, you ought to read 2-4…well, 5 too. See, 5 talks about your nakedness before God.

You know, the Lord suffered the things that He suffered so that He could redeem us by leading us back. But there isn’t any magic fairy dust to that process; it is by the things that He knows that He fixes us. There is no defect in any of you that the Lord did not experience and heal from. He knows the way back to the Father—because He found His way back to the Father by the things that He suffered in the agony of Gethsemane. He learned what it was to be sin. There is nothing you have, however malignant or deeply hidden, that He hasn’t experienced, and then healed from and found His way back to peace and justification and holiness before His Father. The way in which He works the atonement is to teach you—if you will receive it—what you need in order to overcome what your flaws are.

On the 13th of February 2003, after a long search for the Lord (which I had almost forgotten about because I was so busy with other things in my life), the Lord made Himself known to me.

And I thought I had received everything the Lord had to offer by the time we got to the Christmas season of 2008. But just before Christmas of 2008, I had some serious medical issues—compounded by the fact that I’d had a hernia fixed some (I don’t know) 18 years before, and I had a problem that had grown into an infection of that site. And it required surgery, which they were going to do laparoscopically—which meant nothing to me then and probably means little to you now, but that involves puncturing and sending in robotic arms to fix things. But it didn’t work out that way, and after they’d had a lot of fun exploring with robotic arms, they pulled all that out, and they simply opened me up from the navel to the pelvic bone.

I… When they got done (boy, I probably shouldn’t say this)… Okay, I was on the high council at the time. And this goes back to what I was telling you at the beginning about a wicked, even despicable, sense of humor. They removed, like, eight inches. It’s a circulatory loop. They have to take the entire loop and then pull it together. They removed the loop; they took approximately eight inches of the colon out. And when I got back—I was on the high council—I sent an email to the other members of the high council in the stake presidency saying, “I’ve been through surgery. They removed eight inches of my colon. I’m recovering, but on the bright side, I’m less of an asshole than I’ve ever been before.”

Okay, so now you know a little more about… When… In any event, when they do surgery that radical, and when they remove and flush because there was infection, they had to tease apart a lot of internal stuff. The repair doesn’t get stitched up; they just put staples in. And I had staples which required time to heal, and it required me to take off and replace bandages and change the dressing two or three times a day. During that time period, I was still speaking in Sacrament Meetings, and I was going in the office on occasion. And I would wear a suit coat, but I had pajama bottoms on, so I was sort of a curious looking fellow. But you couldn’t put on…you really couldn’t put on a belt.

Well, I bled, and I bled. I kept track of it, but it was months later when I went back and looked at it. I bled for 40 days, and after the 40 days, I learned yet more from the Lord. And I can tell you that covenants traditionally involve cutting, and covenants in the Old Testament involve the shedding of blood. And covenants with our Lord—at some point, in some contexts with some reaches—require that we suffer.

Now, I tell that as background because I recently had another experience in which I spent, as it turned out once again, 40 days in pain. And while in a great agony, I could not take pity on myself—I couldn’t. What I thought about was the suffering of our Lord in Gethsemane. And I found myself measuring my own physical misery against what I know our Lord went through there, and I lay in bed praying and thanking the Lord for what He had done on our behalf—thanking the Father for sending His Son and standing down to permit it to go forward.

I don’t care what the cost is that you count up. Knowledge of God is worth whatever price you pay, no matter when, no matter what, no matter how often. If He takes away your family and He gives you a new family, and then He takes that family away again, it is a small price to pay. God will ask of you whatever He will ask of you. The only thing I can say is no price you pay, while tabernacled here, is so great that you should withhold it from the altar. Give what He asks. Because it’s only by giving what He asks of you that you can have faith in Him unto life and salvation.

You have to know—this is verse 2 of Lecture 6—you have to have An actual knowledge…that the course of life which he pursues is according to the will of God, is essentially necessary to enable him to have that confidence in God without which no person can obtain eternal life (Lectures on Faith 6:2).

You simply can’t do it. Because the place in which you find God will always be, as to this world, lonely. You are necessarily going to become a stranger and a sojourner here. But you take up residency somewhere else, and you’re not left without comfort. It’s just that that comfort consists in something that is more refined and more pure. And you’re left here, muddling through with people who will not understand you and who will think you are eccentric. They’ll misjudge your motives. They’ll misjudge your heart. They’ll misjudge your ambition. They’ll misjudge everything there is about you. And Christ said, Rejoice and be exceedingly happy, for so persecuted they the prophets before you (see Matthew 5:12; see also Matthew 3:14 RE).

If you’re hoping to be understood in this world… It really helps if you are a trial attorney because everything I say in court is opposed. Everything I write has an opposition. Every proposition that I advance, someone else is saying, “No, no, no! He’s wrong, he’s wrong, he’s wrong!” And so I live in that world, and I frankly don’t care what people want to offer as an argument against anything I advance. The only thing that is necessary for me to do is to declare in plainness the things that I believe and the things that I know to be true. And then the burden shifts to you. You judge the matter. You decide it. And if you decide it right, and it doesn’t… Forget about me. Decide the matter right. You will be saved. And if you decide the matter wrong, you will be damned. It’s the matter and not me. So, you have to arise. In verse 3 it talks about:

Having the assurance that they were pursuing a course which was agreeable to the will of God, they were enabled to take, not only the spoiling of their goods, and the wasting of their substance, joyfully, but also to suffer death in its most horrid forms; knowing (not merely believing) that when this earthly house of their tabernacle was dissolved, they had a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (Lectures on Faith 6:3)

That’s why Joseph could say, as he did, that he left with a conscience void of offense against God or any man—going as a sheep to the slaughter (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 379). But he was okay with it. He was okay with it: Such was, and always will be, the situation of the saints of God, that unless they have an actual knowledge that the course they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds, and faint (Lectures on Faith 6:4).

That’s the problem with many of us. We grow weary in our minds and faint because we don’t know that the course we’re pursuing is according to God. Don’t grow weary. Stay on that course. I have the absolute conviction that much of the stuff that we plague ourselves with, and think is such a heavy burden of sin, is because our minds are occupied with the wrong stuff. Study the things of God and fill yourself with light—and how quickly it is that all the rest of that stuff will simply dissolve away and evaporate. President Boyd Packer said you can fix behavior a lot more quickly by studying doctrine than you can by studying behavior (see ‘Little Children,’ Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17).

You know, I have this… It’s that, it’s really that first parable where the busy young man who was on his way winds up braiding rope and doing that for years on end; braiding rope, occupying his hands. And then tying the net with the Master. And during the course of that apprenticeship, he came to know who the Master was. So that when, finally, the Master asks him if he knows who He is—and he did—and the Master asks him, “What would you want of Me?” The response comes, “Well, there was a time when I would’ve asked a lot. But now, I’m just content.” Because it’s enough. Well, it’s enough and to spare (see Ten Parables, Denver C. Snuffer, Jr.). Having an actual knowledge that the course that you are pursuing is according to the will of God is enough and to spare.

[Paragraph] 4 (towards the bottom of that):

…nothing short of an actual knowledge of their being the favorites of heaven, and of their having embraced [the] order of things which God has established for the redemption of man, will enable them to exercise that confidence in him, necessary for them to overcome the world, and obtain that crown of glory which is laid up for them that fear God. (Lectures on Faith 6:4)

Because we ought to fear God more than we fear man. We ought to fear God more than we fear the loss of anything that is down here. We ought to fear God more than we fear the approval or disapproval, the criticism, the ostracism. We ought to love God and fear Him because it’s our relationship to Him, and Him alone, that matters. This requires more than mere belief or supposition that he’s doing the will of God, but actual knowledge. Realizing that when these sufferings are ended, he will enter into eternal rest and be a partaker of the glory of God. It does require more than mere belief or supposition. But it’s obtained in accordance with this set of principles. And it is purchased by the same price, paid by each of us in turn, on the same conditions. And no one gets it on any other condition.

Your life may be uniquely situated. You may be inside an environment, a group of friends, a family, a neighborhood, an association that is completely unique to you, and has nothing in common with anyone else in this room. Inside of that, whatever the sacrifices are that are required, it will be exactly the same as it was for Moses—who gave up everything, and then gave up everything again. It will be the same as for Abraham—who gave up everything, and then gave up everything again. It will be the same. And you’ll be called upon to make a sacrifice, because knowing God requires obedience to Him and sacrifice to Him—and not to some man; certainly not to me, but not to a pope, not to a president, not to a priest—to Him. You’re not trying to get to know me. Or if you are, you’re a damn fool. You’re supposed to be getting to know the Lord. You’re not supposed to be getting to know some local presiding authority.

So, paragraph 6:

For unless a person does know that he is walking according to the will of God, it would be offering an insult to the dignity of the Creator were he to say that he would be a partaker of [the] glory when he should be done with the things of this life. But when he has this knowledge, and most assuredly knows that he is doing the will of God, his confidence can be equally strong that he will be a partaker of the glory of God. Let us here observe, that a religion [not an institution, not an organization, not a club, not a fraternity—a religion] that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. [But I’ll tell you what is vain:] It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they, in like manner, offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him. (Lectures on Faith 6:6-8)

The foregoing excerpts were taken from:

  • Denver’s talk titled “Personal Revelation”, given in Sandy, UT on August 16, 2008
  • Denver’s fireside talk on “The Temple”, given in Ogden, UT on October 28th, 2012
  • Denver’s 40 Years in Mormonism Series, Talk #2 titled “Faith” given in Idaho Falls, ID on September 28th, 2013