187: Suffering, Part 4

This is part four 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.

You cannot endure a Terrestrial glory in a Telestial state. Lying, and stealing, and deceiving, and adultery, and whoremongering (all of the abominations that people prize in this generation), your lusts, your ambitions, your desires to lord it over one another (the common affliction of the Gentile)—all of those things are a level below what Zion requires. And so, if one happily strolls into Zion while profaning the conditions upon which it will be established, they subject themselves to the penalty of being where they should not be, in a condition in which they cannot endure. 

The destruction that occurred at Christ’s death on the Americas was the destruction of the wicked only. If you look at 3 Nephi chapter 10, verse 12 (see also 3 Nephi 4:8 RE), you find out that the more righteous were saved. Those who live a Telestial law will be destroyed.

Turn to Doctrine and Covenants section 76. I wanna begin at—well, I may as well back up. I was gonna begin a little later on. I want you to remember the chant, “Follow the Prophet, Follow the Prophet,” which we can drill in mindlessly to the youth with a drumbeat cadence that sounds rather like [Denver makes Native American chanting sounds]; you know, “Follow the Prophet, Follow the Prophet”—you do that. “Follow the Brethren, Follow the Brethren.”

The glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world; For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas. These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ, …some of John, …some of Moses, …some of Elias, …some of Esaias, …some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch; But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant [yet to be established]. Last of all [and this is a general description of those who have Telestial behavior], these…are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud. These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie. These are they who suffer the wrath of God on earth. These are they who suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. (D&C 76:98-105; see also T&C 69:26-27)

That is a broad description of those who can not be in Zion. And, notably, it begins with a list of those who “follow the prophets,” almost as if the Lord (in the revelation to Joseph Smith) anticipated your day and warned you: “Do not go thither! Do not partake of that! Receive the testimony of Jesus! Prepare when He offers the Everlasting Covenant! Do that!” To the extent that a church or an organization worships or trusts a man in lieu of Christ, it will lead you to Telestial destruction. It will not… Those who believe in it will not survive the destruction of the wicked that precedes the Lord’s return.

I’ll tell you what you get from a Strongman model. What you get from a Strongman model is a multibillion-dollar shopping mall. What you get from a Strongman model is a red Cadillac Escalade stopped on a back road in Nevada with $54,000 of cash in the back of the car when ‘the prophet’ is arrested for child abuse and child sexual exploitation (that’s Warren Jeffs). I’ll tell you what you get with a Strongman model: You get pretenders, and you get fools. You get people who hold onto their power (like the LeBaron’s did) by murdering one another so that they can claim that they have ‘the keys.’ I’ll tell you what you get with the Strongman model: You get Brigham Young who takes a woman who was already who takes women who were already married to another man (and not divorced), seals them to himself with keys,’ and then proceeds to father children with them (and Brigham Young condemned Parley Pratt for doing exactly the same thing—and even observed at Parley’s death that he probably deserved to be killed by the jealous husband because it was adultery for Parley to have done what he did). And what then is the distinction between the conduct of Brigham Young, on the one hand, and the exact same conduct by Parley Pratt, on the other hand? The difference lies in the fact that Brigham Young claimed to have the keys. If keys allow adultery, I want no such keys! If keys allow adultery, then I say, Damn me now, because I want nothing of it!

I don’t think that the pretenders in the Strongman model have any clue what it would take to bring again Zion, because they do not kneel down to serve and elevate the least. The only way to bring again Zion is if you—you—rise up; is if you come to know the Lord! Not me! The only way is if you comprehend the Gospel of Christ, accept the invitation, prepare your heart, prepare your mind, prepare your soul, clean yourself up, leave behind your sins, and come and face the Lord.

Zion is a level. It is an absolute level. Here’s a description of the level. This is Moses chapter 7, verse 18, And the Lord called his people ZION, because they were of one heart and of one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there were no poor among them (see also Genesis 4:14 RE, emphasis added). There were no poor among them because it’s intolerable for your sister to suffer in want if you have enough and to spare. There were no poor among them because you cannot dwell in righteousness if you find a need, and you’re unwilling to fulfill it.

The day of salvation appears tenuously, almost as gossamer as a spider web. And if you don’t lay hold of it, it is lost. And generations can come and go and sing hymns to the pride of their ancestry and the greatness of their religion—and go to Hell. Because when the Lord sets His hand, He sets it exactly the same way every time. And it requires faith to come aboard, and it requires faith to believe. 

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe. [Slow of heart to believe] all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? (Ibid, vs. 25-26)

You don’t understand. You don’t understand, because the prophets have said this is exactly what our Lord would do. Shouldn’t He have suffered? Shouldn’t He have come in apparent weakness and vulnerability? Shouldn’t He have come in the very manner in which He appeared and to have suffered? 

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Ibid, vs. 27)

Right here—right here—is how the New Testament got framed. When you go to Matthew, when you go to Mark, Luke, and John, you are seeing an echo in each of them what the Lord did on the road to Emmaus with these disciples. He proved that Christ came and suffered as He ought to had done, because all that the prophets have spoken were fulfilled in Him. Therefore, He opened unto them the scriptures that they might understand.

Our Lord, who could’ve borne testimony of Himself, revealing 10,000 new truths—our Lord, who could’ve disclosed and preached and delivered practically any new content He chose to deliver—our Lord expounded the scriptures concerning Himself. That should tell you something.

John 5:19, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise (see also John 5:4 RE). And the Father went before, and the Son follows after. And if you think that you can, at some point, like Him, attain to the status of godhood, then you’re going to have to do precisely what it is that the Gods do. Therefore, to understand Christ is to understand the challenging destiny about which Joseph Smith is speaking in this last Conference talk given in 1844. 

Until you attain to the resurrection of the dead and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. (TPJS, pg. 347)

Even what we envision as the highest heaven is a condescension for those who sit enthroned, able to dwell in everlasting burnings. Else why in section 132 [130] would you be given a white stone that reveals things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms (D&C 130:10) when you are in the Celestial Kingdom! It’s because where you are now (at this moment, in this meeting, hearing my voice in this room today) is about halfway to where you need to grow (and it’s been almost infinite in getting you here—today) in order to arrive at the point that you might be able to be as Christ. And where Christ arises to, in everlasting burnings, is about halfway to where things ultimately can go. You say it’s necessary in this condition to have a physical body in order to come down here and perform, and you say that rightly. But there are other places beyond. 

I want you to know that God, in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming his name, is not trifling with you or me. (TPJS, pg. 347) 

That’s Joseph talking. We preach, and we exhort; and largely we do so vainly, having not power—not having been asked and not teaching what ought to be. 

But “to attain to the resurrection of the dead” means you have the power to resurrect—and not yourself, but those who are dependent upon you. It’s a ways off yet. 

Now Joseph says something in 1844 that’s remarkable:

These are the first principles of consolation. How consoling to the mourners when they are called to part with a husband, wife, [daughter], mother, child, or dear relative, to know that, although the earthly tabernacle is laid down and dissolved, they shall rise again to dwell in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer, or die anymore; but they shall be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory and same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before. What did Jesus do? Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when the worlds come rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall also present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of his Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all his children. It is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the Gospel… (TPJS, pg. 347-348, emphasis added)

You heard that right. 

It is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the Gospel, about which so much hath been said. (Ibid)

Now, the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: faith, repentance, baptism, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. We know that, because Joseph wrote that in The Wentworth Letter. We lifted it out of there, we put it in the back of The Pearl of Great Price, and it’s now The Articles of Faith, right? The first principles and ordinances of the Gospel. Now he’s talking about “about which so much [has] been said.” That’s because in the Restorationist environment in which the Gospel was restored, everyone was talking about the first principles of the Gospel. “The first principles of the Gospel are…”—and you could’ve gone to Sidney Rigdon long before Sidney was baptized a member of the Church of Christ (when that was what it was called in Joseph’s beginning era), and Sidney Rigdon would’ve told you that the Restorationist movement all believed that the first principles of the Gospel are faith, repentance, and baptism. That was a mantra. Parley Pratt, who was also one of the Restorationist Campbellite ministers, would’ve told you the same thing. That was a rallying cry for people that said that “the New Testament needs to be restored; the New Testament church needs to be returned; it needs to be revitalized; it needs to be restored and reconstituted. And the first principles, as we find in the New Testament church, are these…” And so Mormons, largely, were drawn out of the same environment, and they’re talking about it, and Joseph conceded the point, and he used that. That’s what he put into The Wentworth Letter when he sent The Wentworth Letter off. 

But now, we’re far along in the process. Now, we’re in 1844, and Joseph will be dead about 60 or 90 days after this talk is given. This is the end of his ministry. This is not the beginning of his ministry. And so, now, he’s talking to people that had been aboard for awhile. They’ve heard him preach. They know something more about what God intended. They had the Book of Mormon—they’d been converted through it. They had more revelations that had rolled forth. They’d been taught for awhile. And so, he returns now, and he says that… that “first principles about which so much has been said,” now let me tell you what they really are. They really are this:

Resurrection from the dead.

Becoming Gods.

Walking in the same path as our Lord walked.

This is the first principles of the Gospel! That’s why he wished he had the trumpet of an archangel with which to declare it. He didn’t have that. But I read his words as if they came from an archangel.

You thus learn some of the first principles of the Gospel, about which so much hath been said. When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you’ve learned them [all]. It’s not all to be comprehended in this world; it’ll be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave. (TPJS, pg. 348, emphasis added)

Wilford Woodruff recorded the same talk. And in the Wilford Woodruff account: 

You’ve got to learn how to make yourselves God, king and priest by going from a small capacity to a great capacity, to the resurrection of the dead, to dwelling in everlasting burnings. I want you to know the first principle of this law, how consoling to the mourner when they part with a friend to know that though they lay down this [he misspells “body”], it will rise and dwell with everlasting burnings to be an heir with God and joint-heir with Jesus Christ and join the same rise, exaltation, [and] glory until you arrive at the station of a God. What did Jesus Christ do? The same thing as I see the Father do. See the Father do what? Work out a kingdom. When I do so too, I will give the Father which will add to His glory, He will take a higher exaltation, I will take His place, and am also exalted. These are the first principles of the Gospel. It will take a long time after the grave to understand the whole. If I should say anything but what was in the Bible, the cry of treason will be heard. 

Thomas Bullock Report—he also says:

This is eternal life to know the only wise and true God. You’ve got to learn how to be Gods yourself, and to be king and priest to God, the same as all have done by going from a small capacity to another, from grace to grace until the resurrection and sit in everlasting power as they who have gone before. And God in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming His name is not trifling with us. All earthly tabernacles should be dissolved, that they shall be heirs of God and joint-heirs of Jesus Christ to inherit the same power and exaltation until you ascend the throne of eternal power the same as those who have gone before. You thus learn the first principles of the Gospel. When you climb a ladder you must begin at the bottom.

This is the basics of the Gospel. This is the foundation upon which salvation itself rests. This is the way through which you must tread in order for you to be like Him. If you understand Christ, you understand salvation. He’s the prototype, and therefore, you must be like that prototype in order for you to be saved. 

This is in Mosiah chapter 15, verses 2-5— 

Now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth. And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people. (Mosiah 15:1-5; see also Mosiah 8:5 RE)

Abinadi knew these things. And he testified of these things to a wicked group of men that would ultimately kill him. But he declared what it was and how it was. 

If you read the Lectures on Faith and the definition of the Holy Ghost, what you read is that the Holy Ghost represents the mind of the Father and the Son, and They together are one. And this mind of God—this Spirit that emanates from Them—fills the immensity of space; it is part of God too. And that is as accessible to you, if you will receive it, as it was accessible to Christ—which is how you can become one with Them. Father, I pray…for [these] whom thou hast given me…that [they] may be one [as thou and I art one] (3 Nephi 19:29; see also 3 Nephi 19:23 and 3 Nephi 9:3-4 RE). “They may be ‘one,’ like us because They share the same mind.” And you likewise can do so.

Christ said of Himself (and I’m reading from Ether chapter 3, verse 14)—Christ said of Himself: 

Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and…daughters… (see also Ether 1:13 RE)

…so that you also might become a son of God, as the One who redeems you becomes your Father, so that He who is the Only Begotten of the Father might in turn beget many sons and daughters Himself.

If you will receive it, faith in Him comes by hearing the word of God—not by a pretender, not by someone guessing, not by someone offering up their theory of how this stuff ought to be understood, not by someone citing you a bibliography—but hearing the word of God delivered as He would have it delivered, by whomever it is that He may choose to deliver it.

If you receive it, then you might have faith and that, too, in the Son of God that you might receive Him. But if you will not, if you will harden your hearts, if you will blind your minds, if you will not receive what He offers from His mouth in your day, then you don’t have faith in Him. And you will fall short of that faith which will bring you to become His son and His daughter. It is that way; it has always been that way; it will always be that way. There is no other test.

He (Christ) was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. And why did the world not know Him? The world did not know Him because—the same reason why people would not know a messenger if one were sent today—because our Lord was so very ordinary. For all the world he was just another itinerant preacher. There had been so many pretenders in the days before then. The Maccabean rebellion… The family of David had fallen into great disrepute by the time the Lord arrived. When the census was taken and everyone had to go to their own city and he went to the city of David to be enumerated, there was no room for them in the inn. It was… It was in His day as it is in ours. 

The Lord Omnipotent who [reigns], who was, and is from all eternity…shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay…(Mosiah 3:5; see also Mosiah 1:14 RE). Father is a tabernacle of Spirit and Glory. The Son descended to be among us in a tabernacle of clay. To the extent that you can receive our Lord (though He was here, like you are), the only way you could tell the difference was He declared things that were filled with light.

How was the Lord able to accomplish all that He did? Abraham 3:19, the Lord tells you. He says, I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all (see also Abraham 5:4 RE). Why is the Lord able to say that He is more intelligent than they all? Because our Lord went from grace to grace to the point in which He understood all things because He had been through all things; He had descended below all things, and He had risen above all things—therefore, He comprehends all things. He’s more intelligent than us all, because He’s more experienced than us all. He has arrived at a state in which He is worthy, holy, sanctified. Having been left to choose between good and evil, He has chosen good. He declared who He was when He introduced Himself to the Nephites, and He said He suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.

From what beginning? For you, why can that not be a beginning that starts now? For you, why can you not, from this beginning—at this moment, in this place—go forward saying that you will follow the will of the Father in all things, from this beginning? Why will you refuse to rise up and to receive grace for grace?

This is how you worship who you worship, because He was the Word of God, the embodiment of what the Father’s will was. The Father declares what is true, and the Son does it. And thus the Son became the Word of God because He did what the Father bid Him do. Would you be a son or daughter of God? Do what He bids you do. This is how the Son worshipped. This is what you must do if you will worship Him also.

I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all (Ibid). D&C 93:36, The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth (see also T&C 93:11).

The light [shines] in darkness and the darkness [comprehends] it not (D&C 88:49; see also T&C 86:8) because in the darkness, there are things that are forgotten; but in the light, there are things that are exposed and seen. Light and Truth: because you see things as they really are, because you judge things as they really are (not after the manner of men but according to the light that God shines upon it)—so that you can see and you can feel that the heart that is speaking to you is pure; that the words that are being spoken are given by the grace of God; that it doesn’t matter how flawed a vessel the Lord chooses, He can cleanse any of you, every whit; that He has such power as that—so that He can take what is broken and mend it; and He can take what is unclean, even scarlet in color, and make it white as snow by His word, which is the word of the Father—because the two of Them are One.

And so comes this sobering verse two verses in D&C 130, verses 18 and 19: Whatever principle of intelligence… 

Remember, I’m the Lord thy God, [I’m] more intelligent than the[m] all (Abraham 3:19). The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth (D&C 93:36). 

So now you: Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And 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 (D&C 130:18-19, emphasis added)

How will you gain intelligence? How will you gain knowledge? It says right here: you gain knowledge and you gain intelligence by your diligence and obedience. The words that are spoken are intended to cause action. When that answer came to me in the barracks, if I’d done nothing, my life would’ve continued as it began. And there would’ve been no difference the next day. And today I would be in a far different place than I am at this moment.

Hearing without heed and diligence, obedience to the things that God asks you… I mean, what good does it do you to know more about the scriptures than another person if it does not affect your behavior? What good does your knowledge give you if your knowledge is not employed to bring you and others who hear you closer to the Lord? Knowledge can be used as a point of vanity. It can be used to make you seem bigger, better, brighter. It can be a point of pride. It is power. And wielded in the wrong hands, it abuses; it subjugates; it humiliates.

The Lord is not like that. He lifts. He raises. He elevates. He endows you. He blesses your lives. If you will receive it and act upon it, if you will soften your heart, if you will allow His Spirit to enter in, if you will receive the light that comes from Him, you will receive grace, and you will be more like Him, and you will be more gracious and patient with others—and you’ll view them in their fallen state, and you’ll hope for them better. And to the extent that you’re able to do so, you will offer them better.

Joseph Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet [Joseph Smith]: 

Knowledge saves a man; …in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge… So it is with the principles of the Gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on [until] you learn all the principles of exaltation… A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power. 

I read those to you on the very first day that we began these series of talks in Boise, Idaho. Now that we’ve come to the subject of our Lord, we get back to the topic of intelligence: “A man is saved no quicker than he gains knowledge,” but knowledge requires you to act because it doesn’t become part of you until you have lived it. Therefore, unless you’re willing to live it, you can’t receive it.

Our religion is centered in Christ. Therefore, our religion is centered in intelligence. It is not enough to know what Christ knows; we must also be loving or charitable as He is. He not only created this world, He also suffered to save it.

Turn to Isaiah chapter 53, and let’s look at some old familiar verses. This is Isaiah writing long before the event, but the context is almost an echo of the quizzical nature of Christ on the road to Emmaus saying, “What are you talking about?” And they’re saying, “Are you dumb? Are you ignorant? Are you oblivious to what’s been happening?” Isaiah in 53: Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? (Isaiah 53:1).

See, it always gets delivered in a manner that it is possible to absolutely dismiss it. There needs to be an entire chorus of people who are yelling in opposition. There needs to be smooth arguments. There needs to be opponents who are standing there. There needs to be institutional opposition. There needs to be rejection. There needs to be an entire augmented army of skepticism opposed to whenever the Lord is doing anything so that it can always be equal. 

Who’s gonna believe the report? And who’s gonna see the arm of the Lord? For Christ is gonna grow up before [God] as a tender plant, …as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there’s] no beauty that we should desire him (Ibid, vs. 2). I really dislike the way in which that’s been translated—because those meanings are possible with those words, but that is absolutely not how I would render them.

Chamad [חָמַד, Strong’s Concordance 2530]… All Hebrew is based on…  Well, almost the entirety of the Hebrew vocabulary is based upon a three-letter root. And the root of the word that gets used for “beauty” really is talking about something to be coveted, desired; some kind of precious thing that you want.  Hadar [הָדָר, Strong’s Concordance 1926]: ornament, honor, splendor, majesty. If I were rendering a translation on this… 

I went and I looked this morning to see how Gileadi rendered this in his Apocalyptic Book of Isaiah. And Gileadi rendered it: “He had no distinguished appearance that we should notice him, no pleasing aspect that we should find him attractive.” I would render it differently still. I would say, “He had no bona fide authority that we should submit to it; He had no standing, credibility, bona fides. He had no position that we should acknowledge Him.” 

Because you can throw around the words, and you can go to the third and the fourth and the fifth and the sixth definition, and you can mess with it. But when you miss the fact that we’re talking about Christ; we’re talking about Him growing up in a place that is essentially barren, devoid of the knowledge of God; and we’re talking about Him coming along, and those that are in this barren wasteland looking at Him and saying, “Why should we believe you!?” Then you have to go to the definitions that let you say, “authority, majesty.” I mean, “majesty” or “a desirable thing”? What do men covet more than a position of rank and authority? And Christ didn’t come that way. He came “beneath all things.” He came as someone that was considered renegade, an outsider; someone that was easy to dismiss; someone that it was easy to look at and say, “For that, I’m having none of it. It’s too great a risk to believe this stuff.”

This is the seventh of ten talks I’m going to give. I’m bearing testimony of the truth. There’s no reason to think that this endeavor is anything other than some person trying to call attention to themselves, unless what I’m declaring to you is truth and is light. And if I am, then how you respond to that… 

You do not need to respond to me. You don’t need to like me, and you don’t ever need to mention my name again. But what I’m saying, you need to respond to—between you and God, between how you live your life from this day forward and the Lord who is going to come to judge the quick and the dead. You need to get right with Him. I’m not going to be your leader. I’m not going to form a church. I’m not gonna do that. It wouldn’t work anyway. But you can be healed. And you can come to the Lord. And you can live your life differently. And you can look at these same scriptures in a new light, and let His Spirit to fill you. And you can make a difference in the lives of others.

I don’t trust myself to do anything other than to say what I’ve been told. I fear my weakness, my inadequacy. I fear offering up my own ideas. I don’t wanna rely on me; don’t you do that, when I’m asking you not to. You rely on Him.

But just remember, when He speaks, this is how He came! He’s not gonna do it differently. He’s not gonna make it easy for you. He’s not gonna tell you: “I’m gonna put my thumb print on this, and here’s the hall pass. Who wants the hall pass? That guys got the hall pass! Follow him! He can never lead you astray. And if he were to do so, I will remove him! I am the great and powerful” [laughter]. Now I’m borrowing both from Cecil B. DeMille and The Ten Commandments and The Wizard of Oz, and I’m mingling those to present to you false doctrine offered by institutions who claim they possess keys of salvation that will redeem you. 

I offer you no such keys. I offer you a Lord, and I would have you give heed to Him. And I’ll tell that no man can be trusted. Even Peter (the night of the Lord’s trial) was a broken reed. If you put your weight on that, it would pierce your hand. That’s what men are—but not our Lord.

[He’s] despised and rejected of men… (Isaiah 53:3), and that will be true. That will be true of whomever; they will be despised and rejected of men.

He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief… (ibid). It’s necessary for Him to be so, so that He might know how to understand us. He grieved because of the things He knew He had to offer, and none would receive it. It was necessary for Him to experience sorrow and be acquainted with grief.

We hid as it were our faces from Him… (ibid); that is, we turned from Him. We would not give heed to what it was He offered.

He was despised, …we esteemed Him not (ibid)—the only person who’s ever lived who deserved to have respect given to Him, and we esteemed Him not. 

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted (ibid, vs. 4). See, smitten of God, smitten of God—He was cast out of the synagogue. They were looking to stone Him. I mean, why would you expect that God would honor a man who’d been cast out of the synagogue? Smitten of God; afflicted. 

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; …with his stripes we are healed (ibid, vs. 5). You know, don’t think you’re going to follow that Master and then be spared. He’s gonna let you understand what it means to follow Him. And that understanding is gonna come by the experiences that help you relate to and understand our Lord in a way that you don’t understand Him at present. If you’re comfortable, He will make you uncomfortable. If you’re certain, He will make you uncertain. If you think you’ve got it all figured out, He will offer up a contradiction, and then He’ll leave you to struggle with it. And then when you can bear the contradiction no more, and in the agony and anguish of your uncertainty, He’ll delay the answer a little further still, until your heart is finally soft enough to come to Him in meekness. And then He’ll speak to you the words that you need to hear. Sometimes only just in time.

All we like sheep have gone astray; [we’ve] turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (ibid, vs. 6). All of those variances from the path, He bore that.

He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: [he’s] brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. …he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him…. (ibid, vs. 7-10)

You know, that statement, it pleased the Lord to bruise him. Can you imagine? 

In the Enoch account (I wasn’t going to do this, but I think it’s an appropriate juxtaposition), Enoch is in heaven, and he’s being shown in vision this last days’ event. And Enoch is talking in the bitterness of his heart as he’s looking at it. This is Moses chapter 7, verses 44, 

…Enoch saw this, he had bitterness of soul, …wept over his brethren, and said unto the heavens: I will refuse to be comforted; but the Lord said unto Enoch: Lift up your heart, and be glad; and look. And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the Righteous be shed, that all they that mourn may be sanctified and have eternal life? And the Lord said: It shall be in the meridian of time, in the days of wickedness and vengeance. And behold, Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh; and his soul rejoiced, saying: The Righteous is lifted up, …the Lamb is slain. (emphasis added; see also Genesis 4:19 RE)

Weeping in the bitterness of his heart: I will refuse to be comforted. All this loss, all this waste, all this death, all this wickedness! So much reason to mourn: I will refuse to be comforted.

And the Lord says, “No, no, no! Be happy! Be happy!” (That song, you know.) “Be happy! See? The Lamb is slaughtered!” 

It pleased the Lord to bruise him. Is there no other way? No, there’s no other way. 

He hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see…the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities (Isaiah 53:10-11; see also Isaiah 19:2-3 RE). 

He gains the knowledge by which redemption comes through the things that He suffers. Because in suffering for sin, He overcomes and finds the path back from sin. So far as He is cast out, that is how far He knows the path back, to return. There is no burden you bear that He does not know how to solve. There is no dilemma that you confront that He has not already found the way to resolve and come back to peace with God.

Christ’s suffering was redemptive. It lifted the Creation as a result of what He was able to do. And if you think about it in physical terms, if you’re going to use a fulcrum to lift an object, it’s necessary to put the fulcrum underneath the whole thing. You can’t lift it unless you put the fulcrum beneath. Christ is, in effect, the fulcrum which lifted the entirety of Creation. So, in lifting the entirety of the Creation, it’s necessary for you to appreciate the extent to which Christ is bonded to all of this and, therefore, all of you.

Go to Doctrine and Covenants section 88. This is a marvelous transcript. This is a description that you need to keep in mind when you’re trying to understand who our Lord is. Beginning in verse 6: 

He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made; As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made; And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand. And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things. Now, verily I say unto you, that through the redemption which is made for you is brought to pass the resurrection from the dead. And the spirit and the body are the soul of man. And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul. And the redemption of the soul is through him that quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it. (D&C 88:6-17, emphasis added; see also T&C 86:1-2)

Between verse 6 and verse 13, rather like bookends, the connection of Christ to all things appears seven times. It appears at the beginning and appears again at the end. Christ is in all things. Everything that you’re acquainted with in this creation is sustained by the light of Christ. He occupies, He brings the light into, He is more intelligent than it all, and He keeps its organization together by the light that emanates from Him. This is why it is possible for redemption to come through Him. Because when He descended below it all, including death, He has the power then to bring it all with Him back into life. He is the fulcrum. He is the one which must permeate all things, in order for Him to be able to lay hold upon all things and in order, therefore, to bring you back from the grave—which means, at this very moment, you are in contact with Him through His Spirit. He is giving you the life which you are presently living.

He is not a distant God. He is an immediate and an intimate God. You say He knows your thoughts, and that is true enough! Because He is giving you the ability and the freedom to entertain the thoughts. Therefore, He knows how to judge you—because everything that you have done, you have done using the power and the light He lends to you. You have the illusion of privacy. You have the actuality of agency, but that agency is being employed by you, using an instrumentality that belongs to Him.

And the scriptures make it abundantly apparent that that is in fact the case. Mosiah chapter 2, verse 21:

I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say [unto you] if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants… 

…because the energy being used at present to power this life that you’re living is borrowed from Him; it is His light. It is His light; it is His truth; it is His intelligence. He is sustaining you from moment to moment.

Verse 25: 

Now I ask [you], can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you. (See also Mosiah 1:8-9 RE)

So, this mortal frame that you’re walking about in temporarily, belongs to Him. And ultimately, He’s gonna take it back, and reduce it back to dust, and re-form it in something else, and do something else with it. And someday He will resurrect you, but when He does that, that’s Him also—because it will be a long time before you “attain to the resurrection of the dead” (TPJS, pg. 346). You’re gonna borrow this from Him for yet some time. 

Look in Alma chapter 7, beginning at verse 11. This is Him descending below all things. Alma 7:11, 

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. …he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; …he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me. Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if [you’re] not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness. (Alma 7:11-14; see also Alma 5:3-4 RE)

He did this stuff precisely so that whatever it is that is infirm in you, He can blot it out. Whatever it is that you need to have “succor” to remedy, He has the knowledge required to do that. He is not experimenting when He deals with us. He knows what He is doing. He has descended below it all in order to acquire the capacity to lift it all. And the things that He intends to lift back include all of you. He intends to save everything—and by saving everything, allow it to continue on in its course. 

Those who will receive less, will continue on in a lesser course. Those who will receive more, will continue on in a greater course. But all will continue on, freely using what God freely gives to both the righteous and the wicked. He makes the sun to shine on the righteous and the wicked. He makes the rain to fall on both the righteous and the wicked. And He does so while merely asking you to repent and turn to Him. He does not demand obedience. He offers you, if you will obey, grace for grace, that you too might receive more of Him in you, and that you might be better animated by a higher source than the one that animates you at the moment. No matter where you are situated, He continuously offers you more.

I bear witness of Christ. I have seen Him! I know He lives! I know He is coming in judgment. And I know that before His coming, He has wanted some things to be declared. I have been as faithful as I can be in declaring the things that I’ve been asked to declare. I sense keenly my own inadequacy. I beg you to overlook all that. Look at the scriptures. Look at the words of Christ. Look at the explanations we got from Joseph. Look at the things that are true, and go to Him in faith believing.

When I started out, I gave you a description of Him. I wanna repeat that: 

The Lord is affable, but He is not gregarious. He is approachable. He is not aloof. He is patient, and He is willing to guide, and He’s willing to teach. He is intelligent, but He is not overbearing. He is humble and approachable in His demeanor, even though His power is absolutely undeniable. Therefore, He is both a Lamb and a Lion. And if you come to Him in the day that He offers redemption, you will be coming to the Lamb. But if you wait for His coming in judgment, you are waiting on the Lion, and you will not like what it is that you will see.

I asked you to remember: He is quick to forgive sin. He allows all to come to Him. He is no respecter of persons. I said that when I began; I’m saying it again as we end today.

He is real! He lives! His work of redemption continues right now, just as it continued throughout His mortal life, just as it continued as He hung on the cross, just as it continued in His resurrection in Palestine and as He came to visit with the Nephites. He ministered to other sheep. And for the life of me I can’t understand why the Nephites didn’t ask Him about those other sheep. It’s one of the things about which mankind has had absolutely no curiosity, for some reason. He’s ministered to other sheep. He’s called other people. And there are, in fact, holy men [whom] ye know not of (D&C 49:8; see also T&C 35:3) that still remain.

If there was anything more I could do or say that I thought would convince or persuade you to believe in Him, I would do it, or I would say it. But despite it all, I realize some of you are gonna walk out of here thinking that I’m just another one of these latter-day blowhards. And that’s all good and well. Please, however, give heed to the scriptures I’ve read, the words of Joseph I’ve quoted, and the fact that I do have a witness that He’s approachable, and that He’s every bit as much alive today as He was when He walked on the road to Emmaus. And He’s every bit as much willing to come and redeem you from the Fall as He is willing to redeem anyone. His work and His glory is culminated in you. His success is redeeming you. 

If you think that, “Well, He’s aloof; He’s distant; and this is an impossibly high thing to achieve,” the fact of the matter is, it is a greater achievement on His end to redeem you than it is at your end to be redeemed. There’s more anxiety, there’s more desire, there’s more rejoicing in heaven when He redeems someone from the Fall than there is here.

He came. He suffered. He lived. He died. He did what He did in order to lift all of Creation, and you are inextricably connected to Him. Therefore, trust that. Receive Him. It may start very slow, very small, very distant. Act on that! Hearken to that! It gets louder. You will never wind up in the company of Gods and angels, if you’re not willing to have faith in those preliminary things that you receive that ask you to go and to do.


The foregoing excerpts were taken from:

  • Denver’s 40 Years in Mormonism Series, Talk #6 titled “Zion” given in Grand Junction, CO on April 12th, 2014
  • Denver’s 40 Years in Mormonism Series, Talk #7 titled “Christ, Prototype of the Saved Man” given in Ephraim, UT on June 28, 2014