The crucial doctrine of Jacob’s ladder

One way to picture the strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life is to view it as a ladder that goes from the earth all the way up to heaven. This was how it was shown to Jacob in vision. It is a very long ladder. There are three portions of that ladder, the highest portion is celestial, the middle portion terrestrial, and the lowest portion is telestial.

When we have faith, repent, and are baptized, we have placed our feet on the bottom rung of that ladder. We are then starting to learn to live by the laws of a glorified telestial kingdom, and consequently, we begin to gain the spiritual blessings available in a glorified telestial kingdom.

Now, that rubs most people the wrong way. It is perfectly correct, but we want to hear that when we were baptized we were ready for the celestial kingdom. After all, the telestial kingdom is for wicked people.

Yes, after the wicked repent and bow the knee, accepting Christ as their king, they will be resurrected with a telestial body and obtain a telestial kingdom for eternity. But it is called a “kingdom” because nobody enters it without accepting Christ as their king by covenant.

As members of the true church, God wants us to learn every law of his kingdom and obtain every blessing offered in it. But we must begin at the bottom. The bottom, the least and simplest laws of his kingdom, are the telestial law.

At baptism we begin to partake of the same blessings available in a glorified telestial kingdom. And what is available to those in a glorified telestial kingdom? Why principally, the gift of the Holy Ghost.

D&C 76:86 These [the telestial] are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial.

88 And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation.

Note that both these verses are about how those in the telestial kingdom learn to receive the Holy Ghost. When those people enter the telestial kingdom, they are given the same command that we are given when we entered the kingdom of God through baptism: “Receive the Holy Ghost”. The Holy Ghost is the great gift available in a glorified telestial kingdom, and it is the great gift given to us after baptism.

When we enter the kingdom of God and begin to learn his laws, we start at the bottom, because that is all we are prepared to handle when we first step in. We are given the gift of the Holy Ghost, but we have a long way to travel as we learn to “receive the Holy Ghost” in truth. We must enter the kingdom of God on the lowest rung. We can tell whether we are climbing from one rung to the next by whether we are beginning to receive the Holy Ghost more and more potently in our life, just as those in the telestial kingdom will need to.

Now let us assume that we climb this ladder from earth to heaven to the point where we reach the terrestrial portion of the ladder. This is the point that is depicted in Lehi’s dream as reaching the tree of life. If we get to that point in mortality, there will be a marked change in what we need to be about, and much greater joy, just as there was in Lehi’s dream. We will begin to learn a terrestrial law and begin to obtain the spiritual blessings available in a glorified terrestrial kingdom.

D&C 76:77 These [the terrestrial] are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father.

As the scripture states, those in a terrestrial kingdom can receive the ministrations of the celestial, including personal instruction from the Son himself. However, they cannot live in the presence of God. We must learn to live a terrestrial law and gain the blessings found in a terrestrial kingdom before we can move on.

We can think of any number of people in the scriptures who received direction from angels, or who the Lord directed by his own voice, or who the Lord even brought into his presence to teach. These were people who had progressed to points on the terrestrial portion of the ladder.

We need to progress from living a telestial to a terrestrial law. From the scriptures the principle law in the terrestrial kingdom is clearly “what the Lord says to you by vision, or by his own voice, or by his own presence, that thou shalt do”. Hardly enough emphasis can be placed on that final phrase “that thou shalt do”.

Think of the examples of such people in the scriptures.

Some were taught by angels, by the Lords voice, and some even enjoyed his presence. They were blessed with great joy. But the law “what the Lord says by vision or by his own voice, that thou shalt do” is a very serious matter. Jonah could hear the voice of the Lord. He disobeyed and the Lord was not satisfied to have him cast overboard, but also caused a great fish to swallow him, where he stayed for two days. Miriam could hear the voice of the Lord, as could Aaron. The Lord smote Miriam with leprosy for speaking against Moses. Could we endure Miram’s punishment for speaking against a Moses? Could we endure Jonah’s punishment for disobedience? No. We are not ready for a terrestrial law yet.

Think about it. When you or I disobey what happens to us? Mostly, not much. We aren’t disobeying visions, or disobeying the Lord’s own voice speaking to us. We lack both the magnitude of light that conveys, as well as the depth of obligation it carries.

Moses smote the rock with a staff instead of speaking to it as the Lord commanded, and was not allowed to enter the promised land. If we were in Moses’ shoes, after all we had done, could we endure such a punishment for disobedience? No. We know that even though Melchizedek quenched the violence of fire and stopped the mouth of lions while a child through his faith, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. We know that Zacharias didn’t believe an angel, and was dumb until the birth of his son, John. Could we endure that for simply disbelieving? No. We are not ready for a terrestrial law.

We are not ready for the intense joy and light of a terrestrial law for several reasons:

Firstly) We are not ready because we have not learned to be steady enough in our commitment to endure such punishment if we were to disobey something commanded by God himself in person or by vision.

Secondly) We are also not ready because we have not proven our strict obedience enough for God to have the needed confidence in our obedience in the first place.

Thirdly) Joseph Smith explained: “The reason we do not have the secrets of the Lord revealed unto us, is because we do not keep them but reveal them. We do not keep our own secrets, … then how would we keep the secrets of the Lord? I can keep a secret till Doomsday”. Joseph Fielding McConkie summarizes this with the quip “God does not reveal himself to blabbermouths”.

Joseph Smith asked the same question three times through the Urim and Thummim. What did he suffer? Notice there was no direct disobedience on Joseph’s part, he merely asked three times. But still he suffered great agony and uncertainty in spirit as the Lord took the Utim and Thummim from him for a time. Are we ready for that ourselves? No. We are not ready for a terrestrial law.

Adam and Eve lived a terrestrial law, for the Father and the Son could come and teach them from time to time. And what happened when they disobeyed a command God gave them by his own voice? The effects were tremendous.

Now this doctrine is all through the scriptures. God wants us to gain all the blessings of his kingdom and to obey the full law of his kingdom, but we have to start at the beginning. We are not ready for it all at once.

Now this is crucial doctrine because we all have the wrong idea. I think most members of the church have a sort of feeling that if they could be as good as their bishop, or their stake president, or some good member they know and admire personally, then that is all the Lord could want from them spiritually. I think we tacitly believe Zion is a place where everyone learns to live like some good member or other we know in our stake.

Ugh.

No.

That isn’t it at all.

The Lord wants us to live up to a terrestrial law. When we see and understand what that means we plainly see we aren’t there yet. We aren’t even close. But we MUST be striving toward that. We aren’t here to merely live a telestial law. We are here on probation to see what we will do. The Lord wants us to prove we are willing to serve him at all hazards, and that we will keep his manifestations strictly to ourselves. The Lord wants us to live up to a terrestrial law.

And THAT is what makes this doctrine crucial to understand.

This doctrine is crucial to help us move along the way we need to, instead of thinking we can coast into exaltation. It shows us that we are truly required to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. It is beautiful doctrine, and manifests itself all through the scriptures.

For example, we read these verses, but without understanding the doctrine we don’t realize that the way things work in the kingdom of God in the resurrection is the way they work here.

D&C 76:86 These [the telestrial] are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial;
87 And the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial.

What do we have here in mortality? Why we, who are learning the telestial law, are in need of learning from those who God could teach by the mouth of angels, or by his own voice, or in person. We need to feast daily on the scriptures to learn from such men. Thus here in mortality we see that we, who are learning the telestrial law are being ministered to by those who have come up to a terrestrial law. And those who have come up to a terrestrial law are being ministered to by those who have come up to a celestial law. It is the same principle here in mortality as in the resurrection.

In fact, in Jacob’s vision of the ladder he saw angels going up and down. They go down to minister to those beneath them, and doing so exalts themselves to a higher point. The terrestrial are glorified by ministering to the telestial. The celestial are glorified by ministering to the terrestrial. We progress upward by bringing those beneath us up to our level. As we gather sheaves, our dead, and our family we save our own soul.

Lehi’s dream depicts our situation, though it mostly leaves off at the transition from a telestial to a terrestrial law, simply hinting that there is a significant change that brings great joy, and that we are back at the tree of life, i.e. back in a terrestrial eden of sorts. It mostly just lets us know that if we reach the terrestrial portion it will be crucial that we fall down and feast on the joy available there because those who do not may wander away from the tree.

The temple goes further and fleshes out the story significantly. It shows Adam and Eve struggle through the telestial portion, but then further follows their progression through the terrestrial portion to the point where they have not only learned by angels who prepare them to behold of God’s glory, and have come up to the general assembly and the church of the first born, but they have learned to hear the Lord’s own voice teaching them, and preparing them to come into his presence. Just as Lehi’s dream essentially leaves off from telling us more at the transition from telestial to terrestrial (when they arrive at the tree), so the temple leaves off telling us more at the point where we can begin to learn in God’s own presence. That is fitting, because the temple presents the problem of being cast out of God’s presence, and lays out the path to follow to return to his presence during our mortal probationary time. The temple’s use of the words telestial, terrestrial, and celestial in laying out our mortal progression is quite intentional. We make real covenants in the temple, but they are also types and shadows of more serious covenants yet to come.

We are required to build Zion. Can we read the verse and finally understand it for the first time?

D&C 105:5 And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.

We are required to build Zion. Zion is not built on telestial law, or even terrestrial law.

Zion can only be built on celestial law.

Adam and Eve lived a terrestrial law in Eden. They could enjoy the presence of God to teach them from time to time. But they were not prepared to live in his presence. Just as we, who are living a telestial law, can plainly see we are not yet ready for a terrestrial law, so also those who are living a terrestrial law, can plainly see they are not yet ready for a celestial law. But they press forward to come up to a celestial law so they can enjoy the fulness of the Father and gain eternal life.

Christ said of Zion “Behold, mine abode forever”. Christ came and lived with the people of Zion. In reality, I severely understated when I said that the Lord wants us to learn to live a terrestrial law. To build Zion we must come up past a terrestrial law to a celestial law. That is why D&C 84 warns that not a single one of the saints was ready for the return of Zion.

If all we want in the end is the blessings of a telestial kingdom, I suppose then it doesn’t matter if we are satisfied with its blessings here in mortality. But our Father in heaven wants more for us.

If it is eternal life we are after, we must press forward toward being worthy of living a terrestrial law and gaining its blessings. We can gauge our progress by whether we are enjoying the Holy Ghost more potently in our lives over time, as that is the measure of how well we are keeping the command to “receive the Holy Ghost”. These days, we have cut him down to a trickle by filling our lives with media that offends him as well as by fostering men in their wickedness rather than warning them of their dire state. We cannot have the spirit in the homes of members today without requiring the same strict decency that was required even in the homes of nonmembers before the 1960s. If we will stop choking off the Holy Ghost by rationalizing indecency, then there is great power to be found in the three great spiritual powerhouses that bring the Holy Ghost into our lives like nothing else: missionary work, saving our dead, and saving our family.

 

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Joseph Smith teachings / the premortal life is nothing like we thought

Here are some excerpts from Sunday meeting notes of early saints where Joseph Smith spoke.

19 January 1841 meeting – Joseph said that before foundation of the Earth in the Grand-Counsel that the spirits of all men ware subject to opression & the express purpose of God in Giveing it a tabernicle was to arm it against the power of Darkness— for instance Jesus said get behind me Satan also the apostle said Resist the Devil & he will flee from you

9 Feb 1841 — Joseph said in answer to [Hosea] stout that adam Did Not Comit sin in [e]ating the fruit, for God had Dec[r]eed that he should Eat & fall— But in complyance with the Decree he should Die— only he should Die was the saying of the Lord therefore the Lord apointed us to fall & also Redeemed us— for where sin abounded Grace did Much More abound— for Paul says Rom.— 5— 10 for if— when were Enemys we were Reconciled to God by his Son, much more, being Reconciled, we shall be saved by his Life—

Meeting around 9 February, 1841, Joseph said a person ought always take his subject along— for instance Jesus in all his Doctrines & pariables set it forth Like a tree or mustard stock Comencing at the foundation & Root thence up to the first Branch & out along it then back to the body of the tree or subject & thence to the Next Branch & so-on Now as to Adam the Lord said in the day thou shalt Eat there of thou shalt shurely Die Now the Day the Lord has Refferance too is spoken of By Petter a thousand of our years is with the Lord as one Day &c at the time the Lord said this to adam there was No mode of Counting time By man, as man Now Counts time

16 Mar 1841 meeting – Joseph Said that they wi[c]ked will Not all be Destroyed at the Coming of Christ & also there will be wiked During the Melenum [Millennium]— for instance Isaiah says the Days of an infant shall be as the age of a tree also Zaich. [Zechariah] says all who Does Not Come up year by year with their Gifts to the feasts of the tabernicle that No Rain shall fall upon them— & that Jesus will be a Resident on the Earth a thousand [years?] with the Saints is Not the Case but will Raign over the saints & come Down & instruct as he Did the 5 hundred Brethern (1st Cor.— 15) & those of the first Resurerection will also Raign with him over the saints— then after the Little season is expired & the Earth underGoes its Last Change & is Gloryfyed then will all the meek inherit the Earth wherein Dwelleth Righteous— he says satan cannot seduce us By his enticements unless we in our h[e]arts Consent & yeald [yield]— our organization such that we can Resist the Devil If we were Not organized so we would Not be free agents

21 Mar 1841 Sabath Meeting— Joseph Read the 2 & 3d. Chapters of Malichi & stated that there was a priestHood Confered upon all the sons of Levi throughout the Jeneration of the Jews & he also said they beCome heirs to that pristHood By Linage or Decent [descent] & held the Keys of the first principles of the Gospel— for this— he quoted concerning Jesus coming to John to be Baptized of John that he (Jesus) might Enter into the Kingdom as John held the Keys suffer it to be so now &c he also Brought up Zacharias pleading with the Lord in the temple that he might have seed so that the preistHood might be presurved he also prophesyed that all those that made Light of the Revelations that was Given and him & his words— would are [ere] Long Cry & Lement (when the servent of God would be imprizened) say O!! that we had harkened to the words of God & the Revelattions Given But all opertunity is Cut of[f] from them

28 March 1841 meeting – Next Meeting Meeting on sunday Joseph Reads the 38th. Ch— of Job. in the book he says is a great Display of human Nature— it is very Natureal for a man when he sees his fellow man afflicted his Natureal conclusion is that he is suffering the Rath of an angry God & turn from him in haste not knowing the purposes of God he says the spirit or the inteligence of men are self Existant principles before the foundation this Earth— & quotes the Lords question to Job “where wast thou when I [p. [17]] Laid the foundation of the Earth” Evedencing that Job was Existing somewhere at that time he says God is Good & all his acts is for the benefit of infereir [inferior] inteligences— God saw that those inteligences had Not power to Defend themselves against those that had a tabernicle therefore the Lord Calls them together in Counsel & agrees to form them tabernicles so that he might Gender the spirit & the tabernicle togather so as to create sympathy for their fellow man— for it is a Natureal thing with those spirits that has the most power to bore down on those of Lesser power so we see the Devil is without a tabernicle & the Lord has set bands to all Spirits.— & hence came the saying Jesus thou son of David why art thou come to torment us before the time, & Jesus Comanded him to Come out of the Man & the Devil besought him that he might enter in a herd of swine Near by (for the Devil knew they were a Coveitous people & if he could Kill their Hogs that would Drive Jesus out of their coasts & he then have tabernicle enough) & Jesus permitted him to Enter into the swine

30 Mar 1841 Meeting – Next Meeting Lecyum 1st.—st[e]ward an Equality in property & in knoledge Joseph said that an Equality would Not answer for he says if we would equel in property at present in six months we would be worse than ever for there is too many dis[h]onest men amongst us who has more injenity [ingenuity] to cheat the Rest &c [p. [18]]
E[benezer] Robinson spoke on the other Co[m]forter in the 14 & 16 of John & that to all man kind for he shall prove the world of sin & Righteou[s] & of Judgment &c Joseph said he would corect in the translation it ought to Read thus & he shall Remind the world of sin & of Righteous & of Judgmen[t] & this Comforter Reminds of the these things through the servents of the Lord— But the other Comforter spoken of By John is Jesus himself that is to come & take up his aboad with them [p. [19]]

We don’t really have any idea who Joseph Smith is. It was more pressing to gather in his day because such a man could be found here on earth. He is just so outside the bounds of even the best of humanity. Brigham Young, Heber C Kimball, John Taylor were spiritual giants. You can listen to Russell M Nielson and know he is speaking as a prophet. But Joseph Smith is simply not like almost any of the other good characters this earth has to offer. Elijah went out to speak with his face wrapped in his mantle, lest his eyes see the Lord. Moses spoke with the Lord face to face. But God the Father introduced the Savior to Joseph when he was only 14. We don’t comprehend who Joseph Smith was, or what he was. His regular sermons are greater than most of what we account as scripture. Nevertheless, his words do not compare to his revelations, for they are the words of Jesus Christ himself.

Some of those teachings take everything we ever invented about the premortal spirit world and tears it into little pieces. We think the premortal life was an enormous peaceful garden where everyone went about wearing white and being kind to each other.

“Joseph said that before foundation of the Earth in the Grand-Counsel that the spirits of all men ware subject to opression & the express purpose of God in Giveing it a tabernicle was to arm it against the power of Darkness”

“God saw that those inteligences had Not power to Defend themselves against those that had a tabernicle therefore the Lord Calls them together in Counsel & agrees to form them tabernicles so that he might Gender the spirit & the tabernicle togather so as to create sympathy for their fellow man— for it is a Natureal thing with those spirits that has the most power to bore down on those of Lesser power so we see the Devil is without a tabernicle & the Lord has set bands to all Spirits.”

Whoa! The express purpose of God in giving the spirits a tabernacle was “to arm it against the power of darkness” ????? Also, “it is a natrueal thing with those spirits that has the most power to bore down on those of lesser power”. “God saw that those inteligences had Not power to Defend themselves against those that had a tabernicle”. Who was it that had a tabernacle that we needed to be defended against??!???! Who was it hat had a tabernacle that we needed to be defended against????? He wanted to gender the spirit and the tabernacle together so as to “create sympathy for their fellow men”????

Anyway. Wow. Just wow. Joseph Smith KNEW stuff, and the rest of us know nothing.

One more note: I wonder whether what I sent quoting Joseph Smith on the premortal life isn’t closely related to these words:

2 Nephi 9:8 O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. 9 And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God ….

I think that phrase “to rise no more” means “to never gain a body again”. I think it is interesting that that would be added on. As if others have lost their body, but have gained one again. There is that interesting verse in D&C 93 that the body is the temple of God, and whatsoever temple is defiled, that will God destroy. Also, the ax is laid at the root of every tree, and whatsoever tree bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire.

Fantasy fiction has its place

One of the better behaved groups within the church these days is against reading fantasy fiction stories.

Why read fantasy stories? Because we know so little and as soon as we think we know anything we almost immediately become rigid in the belief that we know it all and that nothing can be added or taken away from what we think we know. Fantasy tends to oil the hinges of our uncertainty, and allow us to be more open to learning those eternal truths that we would shatter ourselves on without a little grease on the hinge.

Christ came to redeem if we are willing to return from our fallen state to the ways found in heaven.

Christ came to redeem us from the fall. It means he gives us a chance to come back to the state before the fall, where mankind lived in obedience to God. His redemption is not a change of what is required in Eden, but is an opportunity to return there. His redemption is not a change in the requirements of heaven, but a means by which those who have been cast out once for disobedience may find their way back, if they are willing to abide by everything that is required there.
The Son of God was willing to submit his will to his Father’s will in every thing. By that, he showed us the doctrine of heaven. If we are willing to abide that, submitting our will to the will of the Father in everything, then we may go there. It will be a heaven to us indeed if we do, and we will learn there that while the Father desires such as to worship him who will worship him in spirit and truth, that eye hath not seen nor ear heard nor entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared for those that love him.

We are not saints if we have not the Holy Ghost sufficient to obtain revelation for ourselves, independently

Joseph Smith told Brigham Young in vision “Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord, and it will lead them right.”

But we don’t have the Holy Ghost as a people well enough for that to work. So instead we have to follow the counsel of leaders one upon another hoping that they have the Holy Ghost instead.

What does it mean to be saints but to not have the Holy Ghost sufficient to obtain revelation? It doesn’t mean a thing, for then we are not saints. We are the natural man until we become Saints by yielding to the enticings of the Holy Ghost. If God cannot direct us himself, then we are servants to servants and not sons.

We are not saints if we have not the Holy Ghost sufficiently to obtain revelation for ourselves, independently.

Social cues and exaltation

We have common sense concerning one another that we do not have about God. If a girl invites a boy over to her house many times, and he always has a polite excuse to be elsewhere, and if she knows that he certainly COULD have come had he wanted to, then in this world she recognizes that he does not come because he actually doesn’t WANT to come.

But we don’t have that much sense when it comes to God. We think that he doesn’t visit us because he cannot.

But he could do so at any time he desired to. He could do so tonight. He could appear and teach us each day.

We have clever excuses we invent for him. We say we are here to be tested, and so he forbears to come, even though he wants to. We say this even though we know he has visited men from time to time, and even came and dwelt in Enoch’s Zion as their God. We are not as wise as the girl who realizes that the boy she keeps inviting doesn’t actually WANT to come.

God is God. If he wanted to give me a great big hug, he would appear and do so. Nothing could prevent him.

We don’t want to understand the words of the angel, warning us that the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been and will be forever unless he BECOMES a saint.

We think we will suddenly find ourselves living with God at some future point, without understanding the warning that if we do not search the scriptures in earnest as we ought, which we have not yet done, then we would be pollutions in his holy land.

When God WANTS to be around us, he will be so.

Until then, he will not. He is God. He can do what he wants. In fact, he takes nothing into his heart save he will do it.

We will not get into heaven AFTER this life, to dwell with God there, unless he wants to dwell with us.

We really should learn to recognize such obvious social cues. The same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there. If the girl finds that the boys never comes over no matter how she tries, she should wake up and realize that he doesn’t WANT to come.

Saul would not slay Amalek, and the Lord would not answer him, and took the kingdom from him. Shall we fair better?

Saul sought for a woman with a familiar spirit, but ended up at the home of a wife sealed to Samuel who had great power with God.
We read:

1 Samuel 28:15 And these are the words of Samuel unto Saul: Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams; therefore, I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
16 The said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, is and become thine enemy?
17 And the Lord hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the Lord hath rend the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbor, even to David:
18 Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the Lord, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the Lord done this thing unto thee this day.

We live in a day when the body of the church refuses to bear the shame of the world. They will stand against something until it become uncomfortable, and then they will not bear it.

Would we be willing to slay Amalek if the Lord commanded? I think not. We will not even allow ourselves to look bad to the world. We will not bear the shame of it. We will stand firmly against feminism until it becomes shameful. We will stand against evolution until it becomes shameful. We will stand against homosexuality until it becomes shameful. We taught many things concerning the home and posterity until it became shameful.

And I think in consequence unless we repent in sackcloth and ashes, then just as the Lord took the kingdom from Saul because he would not obey the voice of the Lord, nor execute his fierce wrath upon Amalek, so also the kingdom will be rent from us gentiles and given back to Israel. We would not obey and slay Amalek if the Lord commanded us. We are too unwilling to endure the shame of the world. When we will not obey the Lords plain stated revelations, then his revelations will become scare among us, and he will not answer us.

Saul would not slay Amalek, and the Lord would not answer him, and took the kingdom from him. Shall we fair better unless we repent?

Make your calling and election sure rather than focusing on following your traditions of who Christ is

Christ is the way the truth and the life. But what good will it do for us to be “focused on Christ” when what we ought to be doing instead is striving to become worthy to come into his presence and to make our calling and election sure?

When we “focus on Christ” in the modern church, we focus on our imagination of who he is. But eternal life is to know him. We do not have eternal life yet, and we do not know him. He is known only by revelation. Thus we must instead strive to please him, that we may come into his presence, and then we will know him, and will learn from him how to obtain eternal life.

And how can we know whether we please him? By the potency with which we enjoy the Holy Ghost, for the Holy Ghost is the testator who knows the truth of all things. We cannot please the Holy Ghost without pleasing Christ.

If we just had to find our way into the presence of God we could never make it. The distance is too great and our rationalizations too strong and we have no knowledge of how to please him.

But if we will deny ourselves of all ungodliness, engage in sacred work and search the scriptures to find eternal life, then we may find the holy Ghost coming into our life more and more. That is then like a compass to us. The more we have the Holy Ghost, the more we know we are pleasing God.

But we must not fool ourselves. We must measure as Joseph Smith taught: “No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator.” Hence, we do not have the Holy Ghost if we do not enjoy revelation from him. And we fool ourselves if we think otherwise.