At the borders of the promised land Israel sent 12 men sent to spy out the land that the Lord was offering to them.
Ten of those men came back telling Israel that the land was very desirable, but would be impossible for them to conquer. Israel hearkened to them, wished they were back in Egypt, and started picking out a captain to lead them all back to the slavery of Egypt.
But the two other spies, Joshua and Caleb, rent their clothes when they saw this and told Israel “The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us”.
And so it is today.
We stand as members of the true church of Jesus Christ. We have, presumably, left the sinful world of Egypt, and we stand at the gates of the promised land. We have been told as plainly as word can be what lies beyond those gates: the privileges of the saints of all dispensations.
In case we have forgotten, here are some reminders of what lies beyond those gates.
Joseph Smith said “God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them”
We have been told that:
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.
We have been told that:
Alma 12:10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
We have been told many times that we live far beneath our privileges.
We have been told that:
“If the world itself was created by the power of the priesthood, surely that same power can move mountains and control the elements. If one-third of the hosts of heaven were cast down to earth by the power of the priesthood, surely that same power can put at defiance the armies of nations or stay the fall of atomic bombs.” (Elder Bruce R McConkie, “The Doctrine of the Priesthood”, April 1982 General Conference)
We have been told that:
D&C 76:114 But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion;
115 Which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful for man to utter;
116 Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him;
117 To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves;
We have been told these and many other things. We are like Israel at the borders of the promised land, wondering whether we can truly go forth and claim all that it has to offer.
And we have many members now who preach like the 10 spys of ancient days. They preach, one way or another, that the last thing in the world we should do is to march into the promised land with the intention of making it our own.
They have different ways of doing this. One that has done the most harm is preaching that we are saved by easy grace and there is no need to deny ourselves of all ungodliness, or to sanctify ourselves, and that no man can keep all the commandments of God. They teach, and we almost all believe it, that we cannot live up to our privileges. Far worse, they also preach that we do not need to, for they insist Christ loves us just as we are. These teachings are some of the most poisonous among us.
Others preach to us that we already have a prophet, what need is there for us to learn to prophesy? They claim that the book of revelation is closed and stamped with a seal that reads “OFFICIAL CHURCH DOCTRINE” and we have no need for the Holy Ghost or revelation ourselves as individuals. They teach that doctrine is cataloged and pinned like a collection of beautiful butterflies. But their butterflies are all dead, stabbed with their own pins, because they do not understand that the only way to understand existing revelation is by obtaining additional revelation. They fail to understand that God desires that every saint would follow the prophet and the scriptures to the point where we would all become prophets, seers, and revelators over our own domains and stewardships. They fail to understand that James 1:5 is not a verse for Joseph Smith, but a verse for each of us.
Others actually endorse false prophets publishing books of false revelations among us. These members reject the scriptures which teach that revelation from God to his whole church comes through those he has appointed in proper order and by common consent. The effect of these people is quite destructive, as it dissuades the more righteous part of the people from having any interest in the real gifts of dreams, visions, and prophesy the Lord has designed for his people. It makes them seem embarrassing, by parading counterfeits which truly are embarrassing among the Saints.
And there are hosts of others striving one way or another to keep us from changing our lives in earnest and striving to live up to our privileges.
But our cry needs to be like that of Joshua and Caleb. It needs to be a cry for us to live, as a people, so that our young men will dream dreams and our old men will see visions, for we are to be ushering in Zion and preparing for the second coming.
And it needs to be a cry for the Saints to live up to their privileges as a people. And to live up to them we must change. We must drop our rationalizations, particularly with our media of all sorts, and press forward as a people toward far greater righteousness, receiving the Holy Ghost in greater measure and truly feasting on the word of Christ, until the Lord determines we have traveled the necessary distance and sees fit to bestow them. As we live far beneath our privileges, we must change so much that we leave our current rationalizations and compromises in the distance far behind us. As we live far beneath our privileges now, we do not expect to gain them quickly. It will likely take many years of pressing forward and feasting on the word of Christ. Conquering the promised land took many years, and our task will take many years as well. We must make dramatic changes if we are going to find the God of heaven so delighted with us as a people that he begins to impart to us as a people the gifts he desires for his saints in earnest.
There are many who, one way or another, preach that we cannot, or should not, or do not need to live up to our privileges and claim the promised land God has always offered his saints.
We can listen to them, or we can join with Joshua and Calab who, in great distress at such folly cried out to their our brethren: “it is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us”.