Priesthood Book excerpt – Jacob’s ladder between heaven and earth

This is EXTREMELY Rough, so I will be revising it, but here is a first go. The point is that the ministrations described D&C 76 are a sort of “grand order” of priesthood (and family) ministration in mortality as well as after the resurrection. The celestial can receive the fullness of the Father. The celestial minister to the terrestrial, who can enjoy the presence of the Son. The terrestrial minister to the telestial, who cannot go where the father and the son are, so that the telestial can receive the presence of the member of the remaining member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost.

The point is also that we as progressively receive more, and more of the laws of God’s kingdoms, we also receive the corresponding spiritual blessings, precisely as they are laid out in D&C 76 (and elsewhere).

—————————————–

At baptism we do not receive the full celestial law. I realize that might sound surprising. After all, baptism is the gate onto the path of the celestial kingdom.

There is one route to answering this that I take in my book on the atonement. Here I will take a different route. It is that if we understand the terms by which we may gain a spiritual blessing here then we understand the terms by which we may gain that spiritual blessing before this life or after this life. Spiritual principles remain the same and any spiritual principle you understand here will be the same in the spirit world as well as in the post mortal spirit world.

Put differently,

D&C 130:18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

Now there is more to this.

The scriptures speak of a telestial law, and terrestrial law, and a celestial law.

And this can be a very confusing thing for people, because when they hear the term telestial law, they naturally assume that a telestial law is whatever remnants of goodness is found in those people that are living so badly that they will go to the telestial kingdom.

But that is not what the scriptures teach at all.

D&C 88:24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.

The telestial law is the law those people will be willing to live AFTER having repented of their sins, enduring the pains of a damned soul in hell during the millenium. The scriptures state that the telestial will all bow the knee before Christ, and will be his servants. They will no longer be rebellious. This will all be done BEFORE they enter the telestial kingdom. Thus the telestial law has nothing to do with the wicked behavior found in a fallen world. It is the law of a glorified telestial kingdom and to live it one has to repent, confess Christ, and become a servant of the Most High.

D&C 76: 109 But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore;
 110 And heard the voice of the Lord saying: These all shall bow the knee, and every tongue shall confess to him who sits upon the throne forever and ever;
 111 For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared;
 112 And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.

Those living a telestial law enjoy spiritual blessings for doing so.

D&C 76: 86 These 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.

Those living a telestial law can receive of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial, as well as through the administering of angels.

And now we come to the meat of the matter. The scriptures say the telestial can receive the Holy Ghost. On what terms? Why, on the same terms that we can receive the Holy Ghost. They must repent. They must accept Christ as their King and Savior. They must become his servant. These requirements of the telestial law allow them to enjoy spiritual cleanliness and spiritual gifts the same as such requirements allow us to enjoy spiritual cleanliness and spiritual gifts.

D&C 88:34 And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.

And now to the central point: We are not given the full celestial law at baptism. Rather, we start our climb from the bottom, and then slowly proceed to the top. When we are baptized, we are given some portion of the telestial law, and on the same terms as those who living in a glorified telestial kingdom, we can receive the Holy Ghost. We repent, we accept Christ as our Savior and King. We become his servant, and we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. Those were the same things that the telestial will all do before they can receive a telestial glory.

The strait and narrow path can be viewed as no different than a ladder that climbs through the kingdoms of glory from the very lowest to the fullness of the highest. We start at baptism on the lowest rung, the beginnings of the telestial law. Then we climb by learning to obey that portion we have received. In time, we are given more through the endowment, and sealing ordinances.

But that is a long ways from the full celestial law. When we are baptized, we do even receive the fullness of the telestial law, much less the full celestial law. We start at the bottom rung. You can enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost as soon as your are baptized. You are living the law, and can receive the blessing. But you probably didn’t receive the ministering of angels, or commune with the general assembly and church of the firstborn as soon as you were sealed or endowed. Nor did I. We have a long ways to go to climb our ladder and the full course won’t be finished in mortality. We just press forward along the strait and narrow path, knowing that is the correct route to our desired destination, and with a particular mind toward saving all we can.

As long as we have endured to the end, pressing forward, we expect that we will be able to continue our course in the spirit world  And there is much of this course that we may receive in mortality, or there would be no point in the Lord giving us scriptures like this one:

D&C 107: 18 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—

 19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.
 20 The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.

So lets us fill this path out some more. As we continue to progress, we receive more and more of the telestial law. Angels and terrestrial beings minister to us so we can live up to their standard and receive a greater measure of the Holy Ghost. They give us more and more of the telestial law (by covenant) until we have the fullness.

Continuing in this path, eventually we will come to the point where we are ready to receive a terrestrial law. When we are ready to receive a terrestrial law, then we are also ready to begin receiving the same spiritual benefits as those who live in the terrestrial kingdom. We will be able to receive the presence of the Son, but not the fullness of the Father.

As we receive and learn to live up to that higher law until we have lived up to the full terrestrial law, then we can begin to receive not only of the presence of the Son, but of the fullness of the Father, the full celestial law. Christ accomplished this in his mortality.

D&C 93: 16 And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;

 17 And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.

19 I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.
Thus we climb Jacob’s ladder from the lowest rung, the telestial law, which we start to receive at baptism, until we get to the highest rung, the full celestial law, and can receive all that the Father has.

The terms don’t change between mortality and the resurrection. After the resurrection those who are living a celestial law can receive all that the father has. Those who are living a terrestrial law can receive of the presence of the Son, but they are not able, from living a terrestrial law alone, to receive all that the Father has. The celestial can minister to the terrestrial. Those living a telestial law receive the Holy Ghost, and to that end they are ministered to by angels and by the terrestrial.

And it is the same in this life. We see the same thing described in this life in Moroni 7, even if in looser terms.

We see angels minister to those in the telestial so they can receive the Holy Ghost. We also see there are some who can begin to enjoy the presence of the son. (And why? Because they have progressed to the point where they are living a terrestrial law and can therefore begin to enjoy precisely the same spiritual blessings those in a terrestrial kingdom enjoy.)

Moroni 7:22 For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.
 23 And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come.

30 For behold, [angels] are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.
 31 And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.
 32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.

Advertisements

No really, we believe in the ministering of angels.

It has become popular to spiritualize the keys of the ministration of Angels into being nothing more than home teaching visits. But while teaching that we can serve as ministers to each other certainly has its place, the intention of that teaching can’t possibly be to put scriptures like these out of our hearts, nor to deny the plain meaning of D&C 13.

Moroni 7:27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?
 28 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.
 29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.
 30 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.

D&C 88:74 – We don’t believe in the protestant atonement

We believe in the real atonement, not in popularized ideas about the atonement, and therefore we believe that it only insofar as we sanctify ourselves, purify our hearts, and cleanse our hands and feet that Christ can make us clean. Put differently, through the atonement we can be forgiven of past mistakes, but our cleanliness through the atonement doesn’t walk ahead of our actual behavior, and therefore neither do our spiritual enjoyments.

D&C 88:74 And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean;
75 That I may testify unto your Father, and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood of this wicked generation; that I may fulfil this promise, this great and last promise, which I have made unto you, when I will.

Here the Lord requires us to “prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleans your hands and your feet before me”. Put differently, we need to change what we are doing, and do better.

And if we will do that, he will make us clean.

Note that this is the reversal of false protestant ideas about the atonement. Protestant ideas about the atonement that are being popularized among church members teach that we are made 100% clean, pure, and fully perfect baptism. But that is not the reality. We are made clean of our sins at baptism, because we repented of our sins before baptism. If baptism didn’t require us to repent of our sins, it could have no power to grant us forgiveness for them.

At baptism we didn’t suddenly become perfect, so there is greater cleanliness for us to enjoy above and beyond what we obtained at baptism as we continue to improve. We are made clean through the atonement at the level of goodness we are willing to live, but no cleaner than that.

And we see that in this verse in D&C 88. Christ requires us to make our actions clean, to prepare and to sanctify ourselves, to make our hands and feet clean before him. And THEN he will make us yet more clean through his atonement than we became at baptism, because we have come to a higher standard of living than we did initially at baptism.

Unlike false protestant ideas about the atonement, in the real atonement our cleanliness through the atonement never walks ahead of our actual behavior, and our spiritual enjoyments are always on a par with both of them.

Children are not an obstacle to real Christian service

It is sad to think of the men and women I have known who thought of their families as an awkward appendage to the church. An odd side job they had committed to, as it were, that stood as an unfortunate obstacle to giving their all to the church.

We knew a family that had no problem having children, but intentionally stopped because they thought it would interfere with their church service.

Another woman recently bore fervent public testimony that she was willing to give up her career and the nicer house they would get with that income in order for her husband to keep a prominent church position. But it was clear from her discussion that there was no question she wouldn’t have given it up to be home with their young children. In fact, she called their youngest an unexpected caboose. She finally expressed gratitude for the revelation she felt she had that she could keep her career without interfering with her husband’s calling.

Couldn’t we do better by remembering the example of the Savior?

Mark 9:33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,
 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

How can children be an obstacle to real Christian service? Who cannot read about Christ and the little children and not know better?

I am glad some of us still understand the relationship between family and the gospel to one degree or another. I do not understand it fully myself. But I do know there are a great number of members who know, to one degree or another, the proper relationship between church and family. However, I am concerned about whether that great number is also a great percentage. And it appears that misbehavior regarding family, children and chastity is ebbing away at the percentage that does.

Guest Writer – Spencer W Kimball – Crimes against nature

I just thought it would be interesting to provide a quick sense of the way Spencer W Kimball spoke and wrote about serious sin. No, I didn’t search long and hard through Spencer W Kimball’s writing to find this. I flipped five or so times. One of the times he was talking about a vacation he took, so I skipped it. This is apparently from a section entitled “Crimes against nature”. I didn’t look for his sharpest words, I just flipped a few times to find what I know from reading his talks was typical of the way he spoke out against serious sin. It is the same way Christ spoke. When speaking to the the rebellious he was downright fierce at times. When speaking to the penitent, he was very personal and tender, warning them to sin no more and continue in the path. When speaking to his followers, he taught the very highest of standards, but there were many times he reproved as well, sometimes quite sharply.

So here are some words from Spencer W Kimball:

It is serious to attempt to justify oneself in the perversion of homosexuality. Many have been misinformed that they are powerless in the matter, not responsible for the tendency, and that “God made them that way.” This is as untrue as any other of the diabolical lies Satan has concocted. It is blasphemy. Man is made in the image of God. Does the pervert think God to be “that way”?


To those weaklings who argue this way, James answers:

Blessed is the man that endureth [i.e. resisteth] temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that Love him.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempted the any man:


But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

Then when lust hath concieved, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, which it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Do not err, my beloved brethren. (James 1:12-16)

Sometimes not heavenly but earthly parents get the blame. Granted that certain conditions make it easier for one to become a pervert, the second Article of Faith teaches that a man will be punished for his own sins. He can, if normal, rise above the frustrations of childhood and stand on his own feet.

The soul the sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son…(Ezekial 18:20)

A man may rationalize and excuse himself till the pit is so deep he cannot get out without great difficulty. But temptations come to all people. The difference between the reprobate and the worthy person is generally that one yeilded and the other resisted. And if the yielding person continues to give way he may finally reach the point of “no return.” The Spirit will “not always strive with man.” (D&C 1:33)

Principles of Conscience

This is a follow up to something that was posted at:

http://www.mormonwomenstand.com/need-conscience/

In that article the need for all people to heed conscience, as imparted by the light of Christ, was pointed out.

Principles of Conscience

For those that don’t have the gospel, maybe not even Christianity, according to the scriptures there are principles of conscience God still expects them to live by. He blesses them when they live by them. In the scriptures he has stated that has destroyed some heathen societies for not living by these principles.
As God has held even the heathens who had no notion of Christianity accountable for violating these principles of conscience in the scriptures, then we must recognize that these are fundamental expectations the Lord holds for all mankind.
Sadly, some of these principles are actively taught against in our own society. When we face decisions about what a society can fairly expect of someone who is not a member of the church, let us give way from our own wisdom to God’s about what every person can know and be expected to live by simply by nature of having the light of Christ. Every human born has that much light and knowledge.
To start, consider a case where the Lord blesses people whose parents have rejected the gospel. He does so based on their obedience to truth that, even without the gospel, the light of Christ alone is sufficient to understand.
In Jacob 2-3 we read of the Lamanites:
Jacob 3:5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.
6 And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.

Here we see the Lamanites being blessed for obedience to chastity, despite the fact that they have completely rejected the gospel. This is a principle of conscience. Even having rejected the gospel, the light of Christ alone is sufficient to inspire mankind to live the law of chastity. Because the Lamanites obeyed that principle, the Lord would bless their posterity.

On the other side of things, there have been many societies which the Lord has destroyed for their wickedness. Some of them did not have the gospel, for example Babylon, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the nations in the promised land that were destroyed by the Israelites. Would the Lord have destroyed them if they were not accountable for their wicked behavior? No, of course not. We know Christ well enough to know that he doesn’t destroy a people for something they don’t know any better than to do. Being destroyed was, itself, holding them accountable. They were not accountable for the full light of the gospel, which they didn’t have, but they were accountable for principles of conscience. These nations violated these principles. Even without the gospel, they knew better by nature of having the light of Christ and were destroyed for their disobedience. 

What are principles the Lord condemned these people for? What are the kinds of principles that people can have and be blessed for obeying, or be destroyed for violating, simply because they have enough light to know better because they have the light of Christ?

In Leviticus 20 we read that the people who had the promised land before the Israelites were being destroyed because of these sorts of practices: adultery, homosexuality, incest, bestiality, and sacrificing of children. We won’t recite all of it, but an example of the verses is:

Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Of such practices the Lord stated:

Leviticus 20:23 And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.

There you see it. The Lord stated that he “abhorred” these heathen nations because such things were among them. These were heathen nations. They didn’t have the gospel. But these are matters of conscience. These are things that the light of Christ is sufficient light for people to know better than to do.

If the light of Christ weren’t sufficient for these nations to know better, than the Lord would not have abhorred them for these practices. The Lord only holds us accountable for what we know better than. These were people who worshiped idols and sacrificed children. The Lord knew they knew better, or he would not have punished them for it. But it wasn’t their religious leaders that had taught them better. It was the light of Christ. These are principles of conscience all mankind are expected to obey.


From these scriptures we see that it is not necessary for a people to be taught that adultery is wrong, that homosexuality is wrong, that child sacrifice is wrong, that bestiality is wrong for the Lord to hold them accountable for violating these principles. The Lord knows what things a person should be able to recognize as wrong by their conscience alone, and for such things we see in the scriptures that the Lord holds men accountable no matter what their religion approves of.

So there are two sides of the matter. There are principles of conscience that all mankind is accountable for. That accountability can bring them blessings, as it did for the Lamanites, or it can bring them sorrow and destruction, as it did for some nations in ancient days.

It should be mentioned that it is no surprise if people who are violating principles of conscience will not admit that they really know better. Those who are involved in misbehavior rarely want to admit that they are misbehaving. Christ taught:

John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

There are principles of conscience, basic truths which the Lord imparts to people through the light of Christ. These basic truths include a knowledge that husbands and wives should love each other and love their children. Husbands and wives should be faithful to each other. Adultery is wrong. Homosexuality is wrong. Bestiality is wrong. Killing children is wrong. These are basic truths that any society can require of its people, because all mankind has sufficient light and knowledge to know and to follow them. These are things that God holds all people accountable for, because he has given the light of Christ to all mankind.


Husbands and wives

One feminist author crows that a 2013 Ensign article written by Mormon social scientists teaches that the gospel truth about husbands and wives is, in every point, the opposite of what was taught in a 1973 Ensign article based on the teachings of Joseph F Smith.

What the scriptures say is so shocking to us, even though true, that we just can’t really even read them with a level head.

Honestly, anyone who reads these verses like they mean something may as well brand the word “heretic” across their forehead. By definition, such a person is the worst possible husband in the church. However, I’ve never been one to worry about whether believing the scriptures had consequences.

Ephesians 5: 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Holy cow. It is hard for us to even parse such language. It says (take a deep breath) for wives to submit themselves to their husbands even as the church submits itself to Christ.

Yes, there is also striking counsel to husbands here to love their wives as their own flesh, to love their wives as Christ loved the church. But that counsel isn’t why nobody ever reads these verses.

Nobody reads them because they imply that husbands should be the head of the home.

The temple offers some important clarification on this teaching. The teaching is given on the assumption that the husband is, himself, following the Lord. Spencer W Kimball, who quoted these scriptures boldly, taught that clarification clearly. The obligation on the wife is contingent on the husband following the Lord.

Joseph Smith takes the teaching quite seriously, as seen, for instance, in teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith pages 86-88 where one sees it illustrated in some practical matters. Part of the consequences of such a teaching are that the husband bears a much greater accountability for his own family. Prompted by the claim of the feminist author, I have been looking over Joseph F Smith’s teachings on this.

From what I have read, here is a quote that stood out. It hits a number of topics so beautifully that I couldn’t refrain from including the extra. It doesn’t alter the teaching in the scriptures, but greatly clarifies it. But it doesn’t alter it.

Joseph F Smith – Gospel Doctrine page 273
—————————————————-
And no man holding the Priesthood who is worthy and of age should remain unmarried. [The Church authorities and the teachers of our associations] should also teach that the law of chastity is one of the most vital importance, both to children, and to men and to women. It is a vitally important principle to the children of God in all their lives, from the cradle to the grave. God has fixed dreadful penalties against the transgression of his law of chastity, of virtue, of purity. When the law of God shall be in force among men, they will be cut off who are not absolutely pure and unsoiled and spotless both men and women. We expect the women to be pure, we expect them to be spotless and without blemish, and it is as necessary and important for man to be pure and virtuous as for woman; indeed, no woman would ever be other than pure if men were so. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the law of love, and love of God with the whole heart and mind is the greatest commandment, and the next is like unto it: love thy neighbor as thyself. This also should be remembered in the marriage relation, for, while it is said that the desires of the woman shall be to her husband, and he shall rule over her, it is intended that that rule shall be in love and not in tyranny. God never rules tyrannically, except when men so corrupt themselves that they are unfit to live. Then, and under such conditions, it is the story of all his dealings with mankind, that he sends judgment upon them and wipes them out and destroys them.