Well, that’s a surprise

When people speak of the early leaders of the church in a derogatory tone, saying that now we have everything right but that the early church leaders did not, I have to laugh. Such people obviously haven’t spent any time reading the words of the early brethren. The talks we hear today are a little snack by comparison of the feasts they regularly offered.

And there are certainly things that the early leaders plainly taught that have simply been lost to us. We still have the quotes, but we don’t understand or believe them.

For example, we have replaced the way they used the phrase “keys of the priesthood” with a different notion that means “the right to lead the church”. That wouldn’t matter if we didn’t have revelations from God and instructions from Joseph Smith that used the word “keys”. But since we do, then we can no longer understand their instruction to us, since we have changed the meaning of the word key. Here is an example where you can plainly see that, with our modern understanding of the word keys we can no longer understand what Joseph Smith taught.

“He spoke of delivering the keys of the Priesthood to the Church, and said that the faithful members of the Relief Society should receive them with their husbands, that the Saints whose integrity has been tried and proved faithful, might know how to ask the Lord and receive an answer…” (TPJS page 226)

This is specifically talking about “the keys of the priesthood”. It is also clear that imparting those keys was supposed to grant them the knowledge of how to “ask the Lord and receive an answer”. This is certainly true doctrine Joseph taught, but it is also completely unfamiliar to us.

Another example is this statement by Joseph Smith.

“If a man gets a fullness of the priesthood of God he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord.” (TPJS 308).

Now I have heard multiple talks in my lifetime that state that when we are ordained to the priesthood then we have god all there is to get. But here we see that Christ received the ordinances of the house of the Lord, and that no man can receive the fullness of the priesthood without keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord.

That is no surprise. There are constantly scriptures that we have simply completely forgotten or lost the doctrine from. There are some we have actively rejected, such as the Father’s declaration to Eve (and Paul’s teaching of the same doctrine in Ephesians 5). You can’t quote that without making local leaders angry with you, and instigating feelings among them that they need to reach out and save you from your fallen apostate ways. Even though God the Father himself said it, it is still, apparently, heresy.

So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that many of the early leaders believed and openly taught things that have disappeared from our teachings. The fact that these have disappeared by no means renders them wrong, for they were given in a day of greater righteousness than currently exists among the saints.

Here is a collection of quotations that I found interesting. Many of them seem to have a very different notion of the resurrection than is common now.

They vary somewhat in exactly what they portray. That is fine. Christ himself spoke during his mortality of heaven and hell, not of three degrees of glory. There is no reason to assume in our vanity that we have the whole picture yet even with three degrees of glory, or with three orders or degrees in the celestial kingdom. We have enough to make our decisions by, just as those people that the Savior spoke of about heaven and hell knew enough to make their decisions by.

So if something runs against our traditions, lets not be unwise and start accusing those who probably knew a lot more than we did. They sacrificed far more than we, and learned privately from Joseph Smith for years, so it is wise to give pause to their wisdom and insight.

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“If death is not destroyed, and him that hath the power of it, and every man and woman who are not prepared to enjoy a kingdom where angels administer, then much of the Bible is exceedingly erroneous. Every kingdom will be blotted out of existence, except the one whose ruling spirit is the Holy Ghost; and whose king is the Lord. The Lord said to Jeremiah the Prophet, “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hands of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.” The clay that marred in the potter’s hands was thrown back into the unprepared portion, to be prepared over again. So it will be with every wicked man and woman, and every wicked nation, kingdom, and government upon earth, sooner or later; they will be thrown back to the native element from which they originated, to be worked over again, and be prepared to enjoy some sort of a kingdom.” – Brigham Young JD 2:124

Heber C. Kimball | 11/22/1857

Joseph always told us that we would have to pass by sentinels that are placed between us and our Father and God. Then, of course, we are conducted along from this probation to other probations, or from one dispensation to another, by those who conducted those dispensations. …

Will any man ever be redeemed upon any other principle than what we are redeemed upon? No. Men must abide the same law, or God Almighty will never redeem them. If they violate that law, they bring damnation upon themselves, and must suffer the consequences of it. Still, I believe the greater part of the inhabitants of the earth will be redeemed; yea, all will be finally redeemed, except those who have sinned against the Holy Ghost or shed innocent blood; and they never can be redeemed until that debt is paid. And I do not know any way for them to pay it, unless they are brought back again to a mortal existence, and pay the debt where they contracted it. God will make every man pay off the debt he contracts; for a restoration must take place, which has been spoken of by the mouth of all the holy Prophets since the world began. | JD 6:63, 67 |

Brigham Young | 07/10/1853
To live as I am, without progress, is not life, in fact we may say that it is impossible. There is no such principle in existence, neither can there be. All organized existence is in progress, either to an endless advancement in eternal perfections, or back to dissolution. You may explore all the eternities that have been, were it possible, then come to that which we now understand according to the principles of natural philosophy, and where is there an element, an individual living thing, an organized body, of whatever nature that continues as it is? It cannot be found. All things that have come within the bounds of man’s limited knowledge – the things he naturally understands, teach him that there is no period in all the eternities, wherein organized existence will become stationary, that it cannot advance in knowledge, wisdom, power, and glory.

If a man could ever arrive at the point that would put an end to the accumulation of life – the point at which he could increase no more, and advance no further, we should naturally say he commenced to decrease at the same point. Again, when he has gained the zenith of knowledge, wisdom, and power, it is the point at which he begins to retrograde: his natural abilities will begin to contract, and so he will continue to decrease until all he knew is lost in the chaos of forgetfulness. As we understand naturally this is the conclusion we must come to, if a termination to the increase of life and the acquisition of knowledge is true.

Because of the weakness of human nature, it must crumble to the dust. But in all the revolutions and changes in the existence of men in the eternal world which they inhabit, and in the knowledge they have obtained as people on the earth, there is no such thing as principle, power, wisdom, knowledge, life, position, or anything that can be imagined, that remains stationary – they must increase or decrease …

Nothing less than the privilege of increasing eternally, in every sense of the word, can satisfy the immortal spirit. If the endless stream of knowledge from the eternal fountain could all be drunk in by organized intelligences, so sure immortality would come to an end, and all eternity be thrown upon the retrograde path.

Now understand, to choose life is to choose principles that will lead you to an eternal increase, and nothing short of them will produce life in the resurrection for the faithful. Those that choose death, make choice of the path which leads to the end of their organization. The one leads to endless increase and progression, the other to the destruction of the organized being, ending in its entire decomposition into the particles that compose the native elements. Is this so in all cases, you inquire? Yes, for aught I know. I shall not pretend to deny but what it is so in all cases ….

In consequence of some expressions of the ancient servants of God, has come the tradition of the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You hear some of them preach and teach that which I never taught: you hear them preach people into hell. Such a doctrine never entered into my heart: but you hear others preach, that people will go there to dwell throughout the endless ages of eternity. Such persons know no more about eternity, and are no more capable of instructing others upon the subject, than a little child. They tell about going to hell, “where the worms dieth not, and the fire is not quenched,” where you must dwell. How long? Why, I should say, just as long as you please. | JD 1:349‑53 |

Brigham Young | 08/03/1845
“We find that there is one eternal resurrection, one eternal change from one state to another, from one degree to another…”

| CDBY 1:91 (Ed. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Smith-Petit Foundation, Salt Lake City, 2009), Nauvoo, Illinois |

Orson Pratt | 10/06/1853
And thus, all the different portions of the earth have been and will be disposed of to the lawful heirs; while those who cannot prove their heirship to be legal, of who cannot prove that they have received any portion of the earth by promise, will be cast out into some other kingdom or world, where, if they ever get an inheritance, they will have to earn it by keeping the law of meekness during another probation. | JD 1:332-333 |

Heber C. Kimball | 10/05/1856
We have not as yet any durable location; we are merely probationers in this present state, and we shall always be so until we obtain a permanent exaltation, by following in the footsteps of our God. | JD 4:119 |

George Q. Cannon | 01/22/1898
There are different degrees of glory. Some attain to a more exalted glory. They must help those who are lower to rise up to their plane. Then there is another degree below them, and they must labor to lift those who are lower than they, progressing from one degree of glory to another, without end, because there is no end to eternity, no end to glory.” | Millennial Star No. 8 Vol. LXI page 117; published 02/23/1899 |

Hyrum Smith | 08/01/1843
Those of the Terrestrial Glory either advance to the Celestial or recede to the Telestial [or] else the moon could not be a type. it “waxes & wanes”. Also that br[other] George will be quickened by celestial glory having been ministered to by one of that Kingdom.

| “Words of the Prophet”, p. 24 (“Scriptural Items”; a small booklet of the statements made by Joseph and Hyrum Smith kept by Franklin D. Richards); CHO [Church Historian’s Office – put in abbreviations page] ?Ms/d/4409/Misc Minutes Collection as cited in Progression Between Kingdoms by Richard Ware |

Brigham Young | 08/05/1855
I attended a prayer circle in the evening. … In conversing upon various principles, President Young thought none would inherit this earth when it became celestial and translated into the presence of God but those who would be croowned as Gods and able to endure the fulness of the presence of God except they might be permitted to take with them some servants for whom they would be held responsible. All others would have to inherit another kingdom, even that kingdom agreeing with the law which they had kept. He thought they would eventually have the privilege of proving themselves worthy and advancing to a celestial kingdom but it would be a slow progress. ( WWJ )

Franklin D. Richards | 05/17/1884
Let me remind you of another interesting feature in this allegory, and that is this: The Savior tells us that the terrestrial glory or kingdom, is likened unto the glory of the moon, which is not of the brightness of the sun, neither of the smallness nor dimness of the stars. But those others who have no part in marrying or giving of marriage in the last resurrection, they become as stars, and even differ from each other in glory; but those in the terrestrial kingdom are those who will come forth at the time when Enoch comes back, when the Savior comes again to dwell upon the earth. When Father Abraham will be there with the Urim and Thummin to look after every son and daughter of his race; to make known all things that are needed to be known, and with them enter into their promised inheritance. Thus the people of God will go forward. They will go forward, like unto the new moon, increasing in knowledge and brightness and glory, until they come to a fullness of celestial glory. During the Millennium multitudes of people who have not heard the gospel will hear and receive it and go forward into this glory, while those who will not go forward to a fullness will go back to that lesser glory which is likened unto the stars of heaven. ( JD 25:235b-36a )

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We have learned to be men of corrupt lips

We have learned to secularize our language and our discussions with other people. We grew up with this as being a cardinal rule of dealing with other people, even from the time we were children. But this is not right. It is not what God wants from his people. Children who know to live according to the commandments of God will have no qualms about applying those principles when dealing with other people without fear or hesitation. Yet we are shocked when we hear them speak things, saying that they should know better.

If someone swears and our child says “he said a bad word” we want to hush our child. We want to hush them for having said what we ourselves should have said instead.

If someone is doing something wrong our children will speak about it plainly. They don’t speak with railing accusations. They observe the reality. Where we have been taught to pretend around others that we have no opinions about such matters, or taught that our opinions about such matters should be kept secret.

We read that things will be revealed in the last days out of the mouth of babes which have been hidden from before the foundation of the world. Why should babes reveal things that their elders do not know? Because their speech of those babes is pure whereas we have learned to defile ours, keeping truth locked as a tight secret, never mentioning our God in conversation with our neighbor, afraid to even acknowledge that something other people is doing is wrong, even when they do it boldly and publicly.

How can truths that have never been revealed proceed from our mouths. Our mouths have learned corruption.

We must become as little children and be plain.

We must drop our verbal filters. We have learned to filter our words. We are like politicians in our speech, who speak to please instead of saying what is in their hearts. Surely the Lord can expect better of us.

We can plainly identify corruption, and plainly speak of God, and plainly speak of all that is in our hearts, and then perhaps pure speech and inspiration can come out of our lips the way that it will come from the mouths of babes one day, even those things which have been hid from before the foundation of the world.

That is why we have such a hard time teaching the gospel. Because it is in unrighteousness that we filter our speech and do not speak our hearts and thoughts plainly with others if they touch of matters of good and evil. When we meet a new person, we do not speak what is in our hearts, we have learned to guard that and lock it tightly away when dealing with others. But we have learned that from the wicked, for it is not the way the children of God should speak. And consequently, when we want to teach the gospel we find our tongues bound. The adversary can fill us with fear. Somehow God and our religion, which we covenants we would devote all our time and talents to has never entered the conversation with them. Apparently, it isn’t that big a part of our life. Or if it is, it is kept so secret when we talk with others that the subject is never broached.

And so the adversary has a measure of power to exercise against us when we go to teach them the gospel, and we find ourselves filled with fear. And if we do anything it becomes a momentary expression, or a one time invitation we make to them, rather than the plainness of who we really are.

We wonder that Isaiah cried out “Wo is me, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips”. We are a people of unclean lips. If we will repent, and burn such traditions from us as with a live coal, then we will not feel our words burn when we stand at the fulfillement of Christ’s warning that every idle word men shall speak they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement.

Sealing the scriptures to our souls through our belief and obedience

We must search the scriptures for eternal life. We must search those things written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and particularly those words spoken by God himself found in the old testament, in the new testament, in the Book of Mormon, in the pearl of great price, and in the doctrine and covenants, which has more of the words of God than all the other books taken together.

If we will search those words most perfectly inspired by God, and then seal those words upon us by our obedience to them, then they will become part of us, and we can begin to speak by the same voice and by the same spirit of inspiration that those words were written by, in time, as we continue our quest of searching and obedience.

We will be judged by the books which are written, whether we have searched them and sealed their truths upon ourselves by our obedience to them, and by our willingness to believe every truth that is found there.

The scriptures can only be read by the power of the Holy Ghost. For to read them that way is to be taught, hearing the voice of God, and to read them by any other spirit is food without substance, water which does not quench thirst. Evil men have spent their lives searching the scriptures to no avail because they would not submit their will to the great commandments of God, and because of pride.

We read of the gift of prophecy, that Paul commends the saints to seek. We do not realize that the bread has been put before us that if we would dine on we would be prophets every one. Can we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ and not be prophets every one of us?

Paul exhorts the saints to attain the gift of prophesy, and we have not the faintest idea where we would begin to obtain it. But that is only because we have not dined as we ought to on the words he has already given. When we learn to read the scriptures so that we may discern truth independently from them through the light of Christ, or through the Holy Ghost, then there is absolutely no reason that we cannot also have the Holy Ghost whisper to us of things that have been in the past or of things that will come in the future just as plainly as it can convey meaning of truth to us through the scriptures.

Searching the scriptures by the Holy Ghost is the gateway that leads to the gift of prophesy, for truth about the scriptures is conveyed to the soul precisely the same way that truth about the present, the past, or the future is conveyed. They are no different. To read the scriptures by the Holy Ghost, and to have the Holy Ghost convey truth about the past, the present, or the future are no different. They are the same gift, indistinguishable. The scriptures themselves are the gateway to prophesy, being written by the light of the Holy Ghost, which is the light of prophesy.

Can we pretend we rightly approach to eat the sacramental flesh and blood of Christ, while we do not diligently feast on his words, that they may be part of us? If we do not care much for his words, can that peice of bread we eat really symbolize that we have partaken of his flesh and of his blood?

No. It cannot.

The outward symbol has no life in itself except it represent the inward quest of the soul.

Is Christ divided, that we can love him, but not love his word?

Beware the teaching that a man can follow Christ yet not love his words. Such teachings are lies. Christ is not divided. We cannot love him simply by serving others. No, that will never, never be enough. It might be enough to be counted terrestrial at the judgment bar, to be counted among the honorable men of the earth. How can we be clean from the blood and sins of this generation by a means different than declaring the plain truth? We cannot. We will have to seek to obtain his word, and then we will have to declare his words, determined in our hearts to save those around us both member and nonmember alike. Service alone simply will not do. It can never clean us from the blood and sins of this particularly wicked generation.

And are we yet clean while their blood is upon us? We cannot be.

We cannot love Christ while we love the greetings in the marketplace more than we love his truth.

We cannot love Christ while we do not know him. And we will never know him if we will not gain the Holy Ghost. And we have not learned to live after his manner without searching his words with all diligence.

What man can you say that you love with all your heart, might, mind, and soul, who you have not so much as met and spoken with. We hear, with dread, of people who get engaged without ever meeting in person. Their love isn’t demonstrated. They haven’t known each other in the realities of life. They have seen each other only through a glass, darkly.

Yet we say we love God, who we have never met, without searching the only thing we do have which is purely from him, namely his word.

Sure, we can pray. But until we live so that the scriptures are plain to us, an open book, opened to us by the Holy Ghost, we should realize that we do not understand our prayers either. We do not understand the answers to our prayers any better than we understand the scriptures. The means by which God conveys to us is the same for both.

And the adversary often fools us into believing we have God’s approbation for that which is not worthy of him.

And the adversary always will have our ear in part, until we come to know God through the scriptures, reading them by the power of the Holy Ghost, coming to know who he is by sealing their truths upon us by our belief and obedience. Until that day, our minds will be forever darkened, until we cease to take lightly the things which we have received, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments, not only to say, but to do according to that which is written.

The horrible lds.org article on race and priesthood and the old testament

It is completely ridiculous that we are so politically correct that the lds website topics article on race and priesthood calls almost all the prophets of this dispensation racists for withholding the priesthood from blacks. It uses polite language, but still clearly lays down that accusation. It plainly comes out and accuses them of acting against the will of God due to racism.
Yet we have an entire book of scripture, the old testament, in which throughout almost the whole book the priesthood is limited to the Levites.
Shall we come to Moses with accusations for his revelation limiting the priesthood to the Levites?
How can we all know the story of Saul doing the sacrifice instead of Samuel, but then turn and accuse our beloved prophets of this dispensation of being unwilling to hear the voice of God? If Saul had been of the proper lineage, by which he had the right, he could have done the sacrifice.
Another king of Judah did a sacrifice in the temple and was smitten with leprousy. But had he been of a different lineage, he would not have been smitten, for he was otherwise a righteous king.
Our political correctness has overwhelmed our righteousness. If our hearts were right, we would not accuse the brethren. We would be willing to suffer the shame of the world in order to uphold their names.
But, as I said, our political correctness has overwhelmed our righteousness. You know that it has, for we would rather accuse our prophets than suffer the shame of the world and stand by them.

A testimony of Christ is a testimony of who he is and what he requires

Sitting here in sacrament meeting. So many testimonies that Jesus Christ lives. Not one testimony of what he lived like and of what he expects of mankind to follow him.

If you didn’t tell people what Jesus Christ is like, then you didn’t bear testimony of him. All you did was to reinforce their own misconceptions of who he is by saying that you believe in the same thing that they do.

Women get up to the pulpit wearing short skirts, thinking that by saying that “Jesus lives” they are bearing testimony of him. But what they are actually testifying is that his commandments do not need to reach into our lives for him to be willing to save us. No, not even within his own church building. No, not even while invoking his name. No, not even while teaching of him and partaking of his flesh and blood.

And that is not a testimony of Christ. It invokes his name, but not his doctrine. If you stand up and testify of a Savior who will save us in our sins, then you have testified of a false Christ, even while invoking the name of God.

Exaltation and becoming

We know so very little, but we think we know it all. We have, for all practical purposes, made it our official doctrine that we know it all. A group of circles up on the chalk board and that is a whole complete perfect account of salvation.
That is ridiculous. We think that if we leave this life having become worthy of making temple covenants than we will become gods like our heavenly father.
No. No. No.
That isn’t the point at all.
Our temple covenants, if we strictly keep them, set out the path we would need to start down if we were to become like our father in heaven.
They set us on the proper course.
And if we do not set that course then certainly, at the judgement we will not receive it.
But we may still act after this life, and we may still act after the judgement, and after the resurrection. Our ability to act, one of our most defining abilities, remains. We are awake, meaning we are conscious, and we can act. Those are two of our most defining traits.
And if you are short of being the sort of character God is when you die, then you don’t get magically poofed into being a God at the judgement bar. Rather, you get to continue on the path that you chose to abide.
But make no mistake, the only guarantees are your own choices and actions, and the promises God is willing to make based on those choices and actions. Not only here, but in all eternity.
You will continue to be able to act after this life, and thereby to choose. You will be perfectly able to apostatize, or to disobey, or to obey, or to do whatsoever thing you want.
Therefore no, you will not be a God. At least, you will not be like God the Father.
You may be given great power, but God is more than a being with power. There is also the matter of character. Is Abraham’s character yet equal with Christ’s? With God the Father’s?
Now there are some who so proved themselves that they are already entered into their exaltation.
D&C 132:37 Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.
They are Gods. But they are not like Heavenly Father is yet. That is going to take a long, long time. They are gods, they are exalted, in the sense that they are part of the family. They are sons of God. They are growing up to be gods.
How far one must go to become like the Father?
We only have the barest hints. But to give at least a definitive proof that Abraham is not yet of the same character as the Father is, let us recall this teaching of Joseph Smith given 27 August 1843 that Franklin D Richards recorded.
“Joseph also said that the Holy Ghost is now in a state of Probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same on a similar course of things that the son has”.
Thus the Holy Ghost may become, in time, a Jehovah over a world. A god who reigns as Jehovah did, who was God before he had a physical body.
But there is no fixed irresolute guarantee about the matter. The Holy Ghost is god. He knows all things and has power over all things. Yet his position is still probationary. For he has the capacity to act and choose for himself.