I feel the Spirit whisper:
Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
I feel the Spirit whisper:
Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
3. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
4. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5. Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6.Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11. If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
12. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
16. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
17. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
18. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19. Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
20. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
You and I share a love for the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Savior Jesus Christ. Although we may not agree on much else, I hope we can come to terms on the following issues.
But first a quick word: I would not present these issues publically if I were not inclined to do so. If you know me well, you know I love to discuss the Gospel and all things about it. However, trial and error has proven to me that I cannot be as open regarding the Gospel as I’d like to. I have since learned that this is wisdom in God because everyone is entitled to their own agency and therefore their own accountability before Him. With that said, I cannot sit on the sidelines as I witness such blatant misuse of the scriptures, supposed authority of men, and the Gospel restored by God through the Prophet Joseph Smith, in an attempt to correct the actions of others.
I say this as nicely as I possibly can: Since when is it OK to use tactics of the devil to coerce, subtly or otherwise, innocent church members into doing things a certain way despite what they feel is right? Since when is it OK to hinder ones personal growth, by robbing them of personal revelation and agency to choose? Since when is it OK to stop someone from practicing God-given principles, according to the scriptures, because it is not what Priesthood leaders approve of?
With that said, here is a list of things probably not approved of by your Priesthood leaders, but are certainly approved of by God Almighty, which others may feel free to participate in:
“After meeting closed the congregation again assembled upon the bank of the river & Joseph the seer went into the river & Baptized all that Came unto him & I considered it my privilege to be Baptized for the remission of my sins for I had not been since I first Joined the Church in 1833. I was then Baptized under the hands of Elder Zerah Pulsipher. Therefore I went forth into the river & was Baptized under the hands of JOSEPH THE SEER & likewise did Elder J Taylor & many others & Joseph.” (Wilford Woodruff Journal)
Oh, and by the way, one does not need a Bishop and two additional witnesses to preside over the ordinance. It can be done in private by one having authority from God’s own voice.
“The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves “in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth,” and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men.” – TPJS, p. 206
The same is true for their followers. Therefore, being an active member of the Church doesn’t amount to much, other than you have a greater opportunity to hear truth.
Since I have personally witnessed many active Church members label people participating in these activities as “dissenters”, due to their own cognitive dissonance, there’s really no need to go on with my list. Once they have seen one example, they have seen enough.
My purpose in writing this post is not to advocate any particular activity (although I do believe in them all), but rather to help out my “wayward” brothers and sisters. They deserve our friendship. I deserve your friendship. We can be “one”, without being the same. Sufficiently retain in your remembrance that they are loved by God equally to that of yourselves.
So friends, if you notice active member’s of the Church, even less active or used-to-be-members, participating in any of the aforementioned activities, please do not discredit their belief in God and/or the Restoration. We are all attempting to walk the path back to our Father in Heaven and partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life. Please do not use coercion, especially in the form of handbooks and presiding authority, to ‘warn’ them that they are on the wrong path. Please do not assume you are on the right path, and others who do things differently than you are on the wrong path. It seriously pains me to see stuff like this come from popular LDS Facebook groups:
Not only is this picture seriously inaccurate from the actual account recorded in 1 Nephi 8, but it’s the epitome of why people distance themselves from the Church. This is downright uncalled for. It hurts, it’s un-Christ like, and it’s the type of behavior that makes questioning members question their religion.
Instead, I urge us all to become the living embodiment of D&C 121: 34-44. I quote it in full:
“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson- That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; and the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile- Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.”
These are not just good ideas. This is the very heart of Christ Jesus.
The good news of Jesus Christ does not alleviate His followers from sacrifice.
Followers of the Great Shepard live a life of personal sacrifice unto Him for the progression of themselves and the benefit of mankind. It is the great tool used to conform the follower into His imagine: love.
As we choose to fulfill the tasks commissioned to us from Heaven, by inspiration of His Spirit, we walk the path of transformation. By surrendering our will daily to the Holy Spirit, or the mind of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, we:
” […] put off the natural man, and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” – Mosiah 3:19
These daily tasks build within us the necessary faith to eventually surrender all things to obtain life unto salvation. We must be proven to the point where we will hold nothing back from God. You will know the sacrifice being asked of you is from Him, because only He will require it of you.
Christ is the great prototype of this principle. He was sent by our Father to be the propitiation for our sins. His great work was accomplished by His great faith. His great faith birthed the greatest sacrifice of all time: His life.
Make no mistake about it, the process to giving His life for us all was not easy.
“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” – Doctrine and Covenants 19:18-19
And it will not be easy for us.
If we choose to follow the example of Christ by walking the path of transformation – the path of personal and ultimate sacrifice – we too must experience, in part, what He experienced. Something so painful, so bitter, so unique to us, that it will literally bring us to the place of a broken heart and contrite spirit. It’s been said that Joseph Smith taught the following:
“You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God. . . God will feel after you, and he will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.”
This is the way, and there is no other.
Here are a collection of sayings from true messengers of Christ:
“The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” – Peter
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” – Paul
“Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and contrite spirit,; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.” – Lehi
“And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved . . . . Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”- Nephi
“For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, requires more than mere belief, or supposition that he is 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.” – Joseph Smith
I’ll end with this: What think ye of Christ?
Will you walk this path of sacrifice like He did?
Will you trust Him while doing so?
Will you do it so you can be a vessel of love for mankind like He was?
Will you do it so that when He appears, you shall be like Him?
Tonight I want to share something that may come as a surprise to some, but certainly not to all. The interesting thing is, unlike the many times before when I have been constrained, I feel completely free in Christ to share what He has placed on my heart. The goodness of Christ compels me to be unashamed.
This past weekend was spent in the desert just south of Moab, Utah at what is known to some as “The Rock” or “Rockland Ranch.” The ranch is actually a unique community where some few families (diverse in religious nature) have come together to become a family of sorts. They take care of one another. They love one another. They grow together through good times and bad times. Simply put, they are a proto-Zion. A more detailed article of the ranch can be read here.
What exactly happened this weekend? Well, from Friday to Sunday, hundreds of like-minded people came together to fellowship. These people can be labeled, if you will, as seekers of truth and Jesus Christ (who is Truth itself) Diverse backgrounds were in attendance, to include: active, inactive, and excommunicated LDS, Fundamentalist’s Mormons, fathers, mothers, children, singles, couples, old, young, and I wouldn’t be too farfetched to say angels, too.
During this conference (that’s what these events are called), talks were given, prayers were lifted up, hymns were sung, and sacrament was partaken. I have to admit, I never know how these conferences are going to turn out, and this conference was no different. Nonetheless, as always, the main reason I attend is to fellowship and draw closer to my fellow seekers of truth and the Lord Jesus Christ. I can’t say I am surprised that that is exactly what happened.
The conference officially began on Saturday afternoon when a shofar horn was blasted for all to hear. Following the opening prayer and remarks, we heard from the daughter and son of Rockland Ranch founder, Bob Foster. The daughter, Anna, spoke first on the holy feasts of the Old Testament. I learned quite a bit. She was followed by her brother, Enoch, who talked about how the “two churches” in 1 Nephi 14 represent humility and pride. The Church of the Lamb of God is centered, in part, on humility. The church of the devil is centered, in part, on pride. I couldn’t agree more.
Both Anna and Enoch also gave us background on how the ranch came to be by their father. They shared the dreams, visions, and visitors which he encountered to make it all possible. We were left with the impression that the formation of this community was nothing short of inspiration of God.
On Sunday, among other things, we were blessed to hear from several others, to include an amazing woman named Kim, a power-house team Brian and Jennifer, and Denver Snuffer. My memory isn’t serving me well right now, but there were others as well.
Kim spoke about her journey with God and how she got to where she is today. It was inspiring. She is kind, hospitable, and funny! I can’t wait to see her and her husband again.
Brian and Jennifer’s talks were powerful. It needed to be heard. They are the embodiment of love, forgiveness, and second chances. They have had their struggles and victories (which they shared openly and freely) which inspired us all. I like to say the greatest advertisement for Jesus Christ is a changed life. The love that emanates from a once broken vessel is palpable. It’s the real thing. This is the best way I can describe their talks.
Denver spoke on many things, to include priestcraft, Zion, servants, and patience. A transcript is coming soon which I might post if prompted.
Oh man, here’s where you get me. Over the course of the weekend, we sang songs collectively and also enjoyed hearing individual musical numbers. One song I particularly enjoyed was Hymn #6 “Redeemer of Israel.” The lyrics, which were oh so fitting for our current situation, are shown below:
1. Redeemer of Israel,
Our only delight,
On whom for a blessing we call,
Our shadow by day
And our pillar by night,
Our King, our Deliv’rer, our all!
2. We know he is coming
To gather his sheep
And lead them to Zion in love,
For why in the valley
Of death should they weep
Or in the lone wilderness rove?
3. How long we have wandered
As strangers in sin
And cried in the desert for thee!
Our foes have rejoiced
When our sorrows they’ve seen,
But Israel will shortly be free.
4. As children of Zion,
Good tidings for us.
The tokens already appear.
Fear not, and be just,
For the kingdom is ours.
The hour of redemption is near.
5. Restore, my dear Savior,
The light of thy face;
Thy soul-cheering comfort impart;
And let the sweet longing
For thy holy place
Bring hope to my desolate heart.
6. He looks! and ten thousands
Of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for his word;
He speaks! and eternity,
Filled with his voice,
Re-echoes the praise of the Lord.
I can’t explain the Spirit we felt. My friend Joe who sat next to me would testify of this. Needless to say, it was powerful. Heaven took notice . . . .
Aside from the several private sacrament meetings which took place among the people throughout the weekend, a main sacrament was conducted Sunday morning. We were happy and at peace with the way in which we partook: The way in which the Lord instructed.
Wine and fist sized bread were prepared for all to partake (or grape juice if you preferred that.) As the sacrament was blessed, we all kneeled together (DC 20: 76)
Unnoticed by most, baptisms (and rebaptisms) were preformed on top of The Rock. This picture is somewhat deceiving, but that water hole actually goes down quite a ways. It’s bigger than the picture suggests. The climbing of the mountain to be baptized was major symbolism in and of itself.
These baptisms were done unto the Lord alone as a sign of personal commitment to the Fathers will. I’ve been rebaptized myself. In the early days of this restoration, rebaptisms were more common than we think. If you notice in the Book of Mormon, baptisms and rebaptisms were done as the first fruit of repentance (Moroni 8: 25.) Do we not repent more than once? Do we not renew ourselves unto Christ many times throughout our lives? Something to think about . . . .
About this time last year I attended another large conference in Colorado. That conference specifically changed my life forever. The same things took place as this conference: talks, hymns, sacrament, et cetera. But that’s not what changed me. What changed me was encountering the amazing people who attended.
Most I only knew through Facebook, so it was a delight to finally meet in person. But, everyone I specifically got to know, were the most honest, genuine, courageous and loving people I have ever met in my life. I don’t say this to lift them up, but to be in awe of what God has done (and is doing) through his children upon this earth. These people were broken for the Lord. Their faces were a reflection of His evidential love in their lives. They craved raw truth, from whatever source it came from.
One specific night, I was at a certain fellows home where we all broke bread. Towards the end of the evening, I was talking with that guy for the first time one-on-one. Almost instantly, my heart connected with his and his with mine. We sensed the familiarity. It’s actually a gift God has given him, I believe.
As we talked, his testimony of Gods work in his life was exactly what I needed to hear at that time in my own life. I wept as I felt his pain and gratitude. I love that man. I love the Savior.
This weekend was a reflection of that wonderful night. My primary intention of attending, as I stated earlier, was to once again meet wonderful people and fellowship. As desired, I got to reconnect with old friends from Colorado and meet new friends in Utah. Love was present all throughout. No noticeable judgment was cast, hearts were softened, traditions were thrown down, and intelligence was gained.
I was fortunate to speak with men (now brothers) face to face, heart to heart. Some conversations lasted an hour or two, and they would have lasted much longer if not for interruptions. I believe hearts were knit and eternal bonds were formed. If these fellowships are even a sliver of what Zion will be like, then this is what I want in life.
I’m not a good news journalist, if you will, so forgive me if this write up was sorely inadequate. Maybe others who attended will chip in. Please do. But one thing is for sure: farewells are not easy.
I think most who attended this weekend would agree that we wished it went on longer than it did. It’s hard to leave when we had such a great time. It’s a tease, honestly. But that’s how it works. Until Zion blossoms, we are left with only drops of water on a thirsty tongue. We must press on. One day, I pray, we will live together everlastingly upon the earth with the Fountain of Water Himself.
Personally, just like the Colorado conference, I will soon forget all the talks, logistics, et cetera which were given and took place. Not that I am unappreciative (to be sure), but to me that wasn’t the most important thing. Again, just like the Colorado conference, I will never forget the way I felt. That was the most important thing, to me. Love is permanent. It’s an anchor of sorts.
I want to express appreciation to the family (you know who you are) who graciously hosted me this weekend. If not for them, I would not have been able to attend. My decision to attend was so last minute, and without hesitation or reservation, they took me in as one of their own. I am forever grateful. I love you.
I also wish to express appreciation to the Rockland Ranch residents who took us in onto their property. They did not originally expect so many people to attend, so I only wish the Lord to bless them double portion. God orchestrated this event and they were faithful to Him.
God is no respecter of persons. I know this. The only thing He longs for is faith unto a broken heart and contrite spirit. Not as punishment or amusement, but as a sign and token that we are ready to lay aside the world and embrace Him. For all of history, religion has been abused and used to take advantage of humanity. Slap God’s name on anything and it can be used for evil purposes.
Religion can be a source of pride and vanity. There IS, however, a pure religion with which God acknowledges, but it does not consist in what we think it does. Our best bet is to come unto Him in this mortal probation and receive promises concerning our salvation from His mouth directly. And with this knowledge, “go to” and bless your fellowman. Help them come unto the Lord as well.
This weekend was just what I needed. The fact that all kinds of faiths were present was a gift which helped enable us to cast off judgment and come together in Christ. You find this pattern in the Book of Mormon (4 Nephi 1: 1-3). This was pleasing to God, I believe.
We have just as much of an opportunity for Zion right now as has ever been presented to mankind. It’s hard to imagine that we are living in such a day, but nonetheless, it is true. We have a window of opportunity. Let us be broken for Him. Let us be faithful to Him. Let us connect to Christ so we can connect to others and become His Family together.
As a result of this past weekends conference, I feel more committed to Christ. I feel more committed to my fellowman. I feel more committed to my family. I am unashamed to practice Gods religion to the best of my current understanding.
I can’t wait for the next conference.
As my friend Nathan would say: Gratitude!
Many have written about Lehi’s vision and what it all means, so I will not being do that. This post consist of simple thoughts I had as I studied 1 Nephi 8 today.
8 “And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies.”
This verse is about the result of Lehi being led into a “dark and dreary waste.” Why would Lehi pray for the Lord to “have mercy” on him if he was led by a true angel? It seems here that he wasn’t. Lehi even identifies the supposed angel who led him as “a man.”
It is also important to note that Lehi did not stop moving in his darkness. He “traveled for the space of many hours. . .”
10 “And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.”
12 “And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.”
21 “And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.”
24 “And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.”
28 “And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.”
31 “And he also saw other multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building.”
38 “And after he had preached unto them, and also prophesied unto them of many things, he bade them to keep the commandments of the Lord; and he did cease speaking unto them.”
“Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am” – DC 93: 1
“He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.” – DC 93: 28
* EDIT: Someone brought up a really good alternative to view verse 8. Instead of Lehi being led by a “bad” angel into darkness/confusion, he could have been led by a true angel into his awakening/awful situation. Every true angel or messenger’s message is about repentance. Real, raw, repentance. Perhaps, Lehi repented and cried for mercy because he became aware of his nothingness. Hence, he prayed for mercy in the dark and dreary waste.
It is one thing to have faith and another thing to have knowledge. We are a religion of knowledge. By this I mean we are not a “faith only” religion. We seek the opening of the heavens and the fullest blessings God can bestow upon a mortal. We, like the ancients, can arrive to a state of having “faith no longer, for [we] knew, nothing doubting.” (Ether 3: 19)
Is this arrogant and/or unrealistic? Absolutely not. Will we never have to exercise faith again? Nope, that’s not the case either. The purpose of being a religion of knowledge is to draw closer to God by knowing what He knows. Joseph said:
“If a man learns nothing more than to eat, drink and sleep, and does not comprehend any of the designs of God, the beast comprehends the same things. It eats, drinks, sleeps, and knows nothing more about God; yet it knows as much as we, unless we are able to comprehend by the inspiration of Almighty God. If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves. I want to go back to the beginning, and so lift your minds into more lofty spheres and a more exalted understanding than what the human mind generally aspires to” – WOJS, p.349
Eternal life is to KNOW God and Jesus Christ (John 17: 3). In order to know Them, there are some things we need to have happen in this life. Don’t think of it like a check list. Rather, think of it like check points.
Below are a couple quotes from the Prophet Joseph which reveal some of those check points. I left all spelling and punctuation in the original, with the exception of my comments in the brackets.
“First to be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise that is the testimony of Jesus” – WOJS, p.209
“To obtain this sealing [the Holy Spirit of promise] is to make our calling and election sure which we ought to give all diligence to accomplish.” – WOJS, p.335
“Make your calling and election sure go on from grace to grace untill you obtain a promise from God for yourselves that you shall have eternal life, this is eternal life to know God and his son Jesus Christ, it is to be sealed up unto eternal life and obtain a promise for our posterity.” – WOJS, p. 334
“It is one thing to receive knowledge by the voice of God, (this is my beloved Son &c.) & another to Know that you yourself will be saved, to have a positive promise of your own Salvation is making your Calling and Election sure, viz the voice of Jesus saying my beloved thou shalt have eternal life.” – WOJS, p.208
“After a person hath faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands,) which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted, etc. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.” – TPJS, pp. 150-151
From the above quotes we realize the following connections:
It kind of all sounds like the same thing, huh? Well, it’s not. But they certainly are all connected. Maybe one day I will break it all down and post about it. Others have, and they have done a better job than I ever will. So check them out!
But I do want to make one clarification.
When we read D&C 76: 51, we see the phrase “They are they who received the testimony of Jesus.” This is speaking about those who receive the Celestial Kingdom. Usually, we think this means having a testimony OF Jesus. I want to suggest that this is not the case. Having a “testimony of Jesus” is not the same things as having THE “Testimony of Jesus.”
Look again at the quotes from Joseph. When we first received A testimony of Jesus, did we receive the Holy Spirit of Promise? Our Calling and Election made sure by the voice of God saying we will have eternal life? If not, then we did not receive the Testimony of Jesus.
But, we are to receive it in this life. In fact, Joseph (and Paul) also said this:
“And if any man has not the testimony of Jesus or the spirit of God he is none of his Christ’s namely And if not his he must be damn’d” – WOJS, p. 230
That’s a pretty hard kick in the nuts! (Forgive my humor) But, nonetheless, that statement is true.
If we continue reading in D&C 76, we find further evidence that receiving the Testimony of Jesus must happen in this life. Speaking of the those who receive the Terrestrial Kingdom:
“And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial . . . who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.” – D&C 76: 71-74
From the scriptures, the mouths of Joseph, Paul (and every true prophet for that matter), we see the importance of this matter. It is not meant to cause us fear, but instead it is to humble us. We need Jesus.
On my way into work this morning, I saw this beautiful artistry from our Creator in the sky.
The horizontal line was a cloud. The vertical line was a single sunbeam arising from the sun. Although this picture doesn’t show it well, the vertical sunbeam appeared to be rising up endlessly. It had no end.
I again say we NEED Jesus. He is our endless light towards the Father, as this picture depicts. We need His grace, Atonement, and mercy. It is only in Him and through Him can any of our hopes of the afterlife be ratified. It comes from His voice. It comes by receiving the Testimony of Jesus.