The opening of D&C 45 is an amazing place to be. First off, let us be perfectly clear who it is addressed to:
D&C 45:1 Hearken, O ye people of my church, to whom the kingdom has been given; hearken ye and give ear to him who laid the foundation of the earth, who made the heavens and all the hosts thereof, and by whom all things were made which live, and move, and have a being.
There we go, it is addressed to “the people of my church, to whom the kingdom has been given”. And from there it transitions into a cannon blast.
2 And again I say, hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you; in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved.
Wow. This is addressed to the members of the church. And what does the Lord say to them? He says they need to listen up to what he is going to say, or when they die, even though they were members of the church, they would find that they were not saved. Now THAT is quite the warning.
3 Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
4 Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
5 Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.
We then have a very tender portrayal of Christ pleading before the Father. From that we are not to understand that Christ and his Father are not perfectly one. This is not a disagreement between them. This is Christ come to “claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men”. But those rights of mercy were obtained by Christ because his Father commanded it.
Now these verses are usually badly misread. We read that Christ asked the Father to spare his brethren, but we usually think he means to spare them from hell, and thereby grant them salvation. But that is not the meaning of the verse. It doesn’t fit. The sentence is “spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life”. They are to be spared so that they may accomplish something. And what are they to accomplish? They are to come unto Christ and have everlasting life.
They are being spared so that they can come. This is not talking about being spared at the judgment bar.
Thus when we read “spare these my brethren” we need to hearken back to the warning “lest death shall overtake you; in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended”. Christ is asking the Father to spare the saints, to extend their mortality, so that they can accomplish something.
Looking at what Christ hopes for us to accomplish if his Father will spare him is also very interesting. For Christ says “spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life”.
Now this revelation is addressed to the members of the church. They have been baptized. But Christ says “spare these my brethren that they may come unto me and have everlasting life”. Thus while coming unto Christ begins with faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, that is not what it fully means to come unto Christ. In fact, if we stop there, then we will not obtain eternal life.
I expect that is what the saints were being warned about. They were thinking that they were done. Some number of them thought were good enough. And if they were to die in that state they would find that their souls were not saved. They would find that even though they had been baptized, they had not come unto Christ, and they would not obtain eternal life.
6 Hearken, O ye people of my church, and ye elders listen together, and hear my voice while it is called today, and harden not your hearts;
7 For verily I say unto you that I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the light and the life of the world—a light that shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
8 I came unto mine own, and mine own received me not; but unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life.
Here we get the Savior speaking to his saints in this day in the same way that he spoke to his disciples in his mortality. Peter walked on the water, but then feared, and Christ reproved Peter for his lack of faith. Christ reproved his twelve at various times for not understanding the deeper meaning of his words, or for not performing miracles. He even said that if they would have faith like a grain of mustard seed they would do miracles.
And here Christ teaches the modern church just as taught his ancient disciples. He says “but unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life”.
His message is the same to us as it was to his ancient twelve.
Let us be perfectly clear about what he is saying. He has warned the saints that they need to come unto him. Just being baptized wasn’t enough. Then he gives us a standard by which we can measure ourselves. He doesn’t say “some of those who came unto me were given power to do many miracles”. He says “unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles”. Just as the Savior’s perfectly accurate standard of when we have faith like a mustard seed is much different that the standard we want to set for ourselves, so also his standard of when he has received us is far different than the standard we want to set for ourselves. He gives us standards that are unalterable, and impossible to fool ourselves about. I KNOW that by his measure, he has not yet received me, because I know that he has not given me power to do many miracles. And that is important, because we want to set standards for ourselves that are easy to reach. We want to be perpetually feeling like we are mostly there. That is precisely the issue that Christ is warning about the Saints in this revelation. He is saying “Look, if you don’t listen to what I am telling you, you may find that you will die and discover that your soul is not saved, even though you are a member of my church. So I am going to give you some real standards to measure yourself against. Don’t be surprised. They are very similar to the standards to the one’s I set for my disciples and saints when I walked among them.”
Now no one expects us to be living to those standards tomorrow. But there is a world of difference between the effort we will expend if by the end of our life we want to have traveled down the block, as opposed to the effort we will expend if we know that we are actually trying to walk across the plains.
Christ’s message here is that we will know when he has received us because he will give us power to do many mighty miracles. That shouldn’t be a surprise. It goes right along with his standard for when we have faith like a mustard seed.
Luke 17:6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
It is like his standard for what he considers to be conversion. For certainly, none of us have made as many sacrifices for the faith as Peter had when the Lord said to him:
Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
There is a danger that we will not take his standards seriously. We will know they exist, but not actually use them to measure ourselves. Or maybe use them to measure ourselves, but not be concerned about the results. And thus he starts with the serious warning that if we don’t hearken and heed we may find after death than the harvest is over and our souls are not saved.
Now there is yet more in these verses to learn For the Lord says in this revelation “but unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life”. Thus if God has not given us power to do many miracles, then by God’s standards he has not yet received us. But what is more, he also says that if he has received us, then he will not only give us power to do many miracles, he will also give us power to become the sons of God, and power to obtain eternal life.
That is downright interesting. He doesn’t give them eternal life. He gives them power to obtain eternal life. He gives them power. And by exercising that power it becomes possible for them to obtain eternal life.
It is also very noticeable that he gives them power to become the sons of God. We are all spirit sons and daughters of our father in heaven. But this is a different sense. This is a sense that is beyond the sense of baptism. This is becoming part of the royal family. They don’t become so at first. They are given power. And through the exercise of that power, they can become the sons of God.
Now these first few verses are fairly clear, if quite profound.
We next read:
9 And even so I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it, and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me.
10 Wherefore, come ye unto it, and with him that cometh I will reason as with men in days of old, and I will show unto you my strong reasoning.
Here God is promising to “reason as with men in days of old”. He is offering to teach us, as God taught Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
11 Wherefore, hearken ye together and let me show unto you even my wisdom—the wisdom of him whom ye say is the God of Enoch, and his brethren,
12 Who were separated from the earth, and were received unto myself—a city reserved until a day of righteousness shall come—a day which was sought for by all holy men, and they found it not because of wickedness and abominations;
13 And confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth;
14 But obtained a promise that they should find it and see it in their flesh.
15 Wherefore, hearken and I will reason with you, and I will speak unto you and prophesy, as unto men in days of old.
These last verses are, I think, far beyond the ken of us mortals at this present time. They speak of Zion, which was sought by all righteous men. It is easy to misread the end of verse 12. The point is not that the millennium didn’t come during the days of ancient prophets on the earth because there were people who were wicked and committed abominations. The point is that many of the Holy Men of the past obtained not these promises because of their own wickedness and abominations. Now these are “wickedness and abominations” in the same sense that the doctrine and covenants call Martin Harris a “wicked man”. These are not the things that send a man to hell. These are wicked in the sense that it was wicked of Moses to disobey the Lord and smite the rock with a staff instead of speaking to it to bring forth water. These are the failings of some of the most righteous men that have been on the earth. The Lord is again offering us insight into a higher law, and into a better day, when much slighter misbehaviors than those common among us now are called “wickedness and abominations”.
And if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not receive these blessings and join Melchizedek and Enoch in Zion because of their “wickedness and abominations” then what can any of us hope to do? Certainly, we will need to be granted power in order to become the Sons of God. We will need to be granted power that will enable us to obtain eternal life. It is simply outside out scope otherwise. It is outside the abilities of man without some divine and miraculous power bestowed upon him .
But I am talking of calculus, while still struggling with multiplication. So best to leave off sooner rather than later.