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:
- To be “sealed” we must obtain the Holy Spirit of Promise.
- The phrase “Testimony of Jesus” means we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.
- We obtain the Holy Spirit of Promise when we make our Calling and Election sure.
- Our Calling and Election is made sure when God tells you, by His own voice, that you will have eternal life.
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.