Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baptism For The Dead Was Revealed A Little At A Time

The Prophet Brigham Young taught this about baptism for the dead,

Do you recollect that in about the year 1840-41, Joseph had a revelation concerning the dead? He had been asked the question a good many times: "What is the condition of the dead, those that lived and died without the Gospel?" It was a matter of inquiry with him. He considered this question for himself, and for the brethren and the Church, "What is the condition of the dead? What will be their fate? Is there no way today by which they can receive their blessings as there was in the days of the Apostles, and when the Gospel was preached upon the earth in ancient days?" When Joseph received the revelation that we have in our possession concerning the dead, the subject was opened to him, not in full, but in part, and he kept on receiving. When he had first received the knowledge by the spirit of revelation how the dead could be officiated for, there are brethren and sisters here, I can see quite a number here who were in Nauvoo, and you recollect that when this doctrine was first revealed, and in hurrying in the administration of baptism for the dead, that sisters were baptized for their male friends, were baptized for their fathers, their grandfathers, their mothers and their grandmothers, etc. I just mention this so that you will come to understanding, that as we knew nothing about this matter at first, the old Saints recollect, there was little by little given, and the subject was made plain, but little was given at once. Consequently, in the first place people were baptized for their friends and no record was kept. Joseph afterwards kept a record. Then women were baptized for men and men for women, etc. It would be very strange, you know, to the eyes of the wise and those that understood the things pertaining to eternity, if we were called upon to commence a work that we could not finish.     
This, therefore, was regulated and all set in order; for it was revealed that if a woman was baptized for a man, she could not be ordained for him, neither could she be made an Apostle or a Patriarch for the man, consequently the sisters are to be baptized for their own sex only.     
This doctrine of baptism for the dead is a great doctrine, one of the most glorious doctrines that was revealed to the human family; and there are light, power, glory, honor and immortality in it. 16:165.     
            (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe, p.398-399)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Important Historical Background to the writing of D&C 121, 122, 123

With her husband imprisoned in Liberty Jail, Emma Smith and her children were among the Latter-day Saints who made their way across northern Missouri to Quincy, Illinois, in the winter of 1839. This experience was vivid in her mind when she wrote to Joseph on March 7:

"I shall not attempt to write my feelings altogether, for the situation in which you are, the walls, bars, and bolts, rolling rivers, running streams, rising hills, sinking vallies and spreading prairies that separate us, and the cruel injustice that first cast you into prison and still holds you there, with many other considerations, places my feelings far beyond description. Was it not for conscious innocence, and the direct interposition of divine mercy, I am very sure I never should have been able to have endured the scenes of suffering that I have passed through, since what is called the Militia, came into Far West, under the ever to be remembered Governor's notable order. . . . We are all well at present, except Frederick, who is quite sick. Little Alexander who is now in my arms is one of the finest little fellows, you ever saw in your life, he is so strong that with the assistance of a chair he will run all round the room. . . . No one but God, knows the reflections of my mind and the feelings of my heart when I left our house and home, and allmost all of every thing that we possessed excepting our little children, and took my journey out of the State of Missouri, leaving you shut up in that lonesome prison. But the recollection is more than human nature ought to bear. . . . The daily sufferings of our brethren in travelling and camping out nights, and those on the other side of the river would beggar the most lively description. The people in this state are very kind indeed, they are doing much more than we ever anticipated they would; I have many more things I could like to write but have not time and you may be astonished at my bad writing and incoherent manner, but you will pardon all when you reflect how hard it would be for you to write, when your hands were stiffened with hard work, and your heart convulsed with intense anxiety. But I hope there is better days to come to us yet."
On March 19, less than two weeks after the failure of the second jailbreak attempt, Joseph Smith received his wife's letter, along with letters from his brothers Don Carlos and William, and from Bishop Edward Partridge. This correspondence called forth an immediate response. The following day Lyman Wight noted that the Prophet was "writing an epistle to the church, " and on March 21 Joseph wrote to Emma. The lengthy letter produced on March 20 was signed by all the prisoners in the Liberty Jail and contained sentiments that were later published as sections 121-123 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Although this epistle was addressed to the "church . . . scattered abroad and to Bishop Partridge in particular," Joseph sent it to his wife with instructions for his family to have the first reading and then convey it to the Church.
(Joseph Smith, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, compiled and edited by Dean C. Jessee, p.389-)

The full context of the Prophet Joseph Smith's letter can be found in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith by Joseph Fielding Smith, pp. 129-148.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Far West Missiouri Is Most Holy - Why? (D&C 115:7)

D&C  115:7
 7 Let the city, Far West, be a holy and consecrated land unto me; and it shall be called most holy, for the ground upon which thou standest is holy.

On June 1, 1966 President David O. McKay, President Joseph Fielding Smith, and President Alvin R. Dyer made a trip to Missouri to tour Church History site there.  After they left Adam-Ondi-Ahman they drove to the Far West temple site.

"At the site our car turned east so that the temple excavation baring the four cornerstones was to our immediate left and the site of the city square, now a cornfield, was to our immediate right. . . . Four of the brethren stood one each on the four cornerstones of the temple excavation. This enabled President McKay to judge the outline of the temple. . . .   
"Elder Dyer related to President McKay that the two counties, Caldwell, of which Far West was the center of gathering for the saints, and Daviess, of which Adam-ondi-Ahman was the center, had been created largely for the 'Mormon settlers' through the efforts of the Honorable Alexander W. Doniphan of the Missouri legislature. . . .   

"Caldwell County in 1836 was a wilderness. By the spring of 1838, it had a population of 5,000, 4,900 of whom were Mormons. The city of Far West at one time had 150 houses, four dry goods stores, three family groceries, half a dozen blacksmith shops, a printing establishment and two hotels. A large and comfortable school served as a church and courthouse. . . .   

"As President McKay gazed out at the temple site with thoughtful contemplation, President Smith got out of the car and walked the short distance to the temple site. Elder Dyer told of the persecution of the saints at that time, which reached a climax at Far West. To the right of the car, once the city square, is where the exterminating order of Governor Boggs was read. . . .   

"President Smith told of his father being born somewhere just west of the temple site. He lived to become the sixth president of the Church.   
"At Far West we all stood amazed at the fact that there remained nothing of Far West except the four stones of the temple excavation which at one time was dug and cleared by 500 brethren in preparation for a house of the Lord. President McKay seemed pleased and elated at the fact that the Church owns 80 acres at Far West, including the dedicated temple site. He seemed visibly affected in the reflections of that which transpired at this hallowed and sacred place designated by the Lord as most holy. . . .   
"It was a momentous and historically important trip. All marvelled at that which had been accomplished in just a little over one day. President McKay was in fine spirit and had been all during the trip. . . . President Smith too was feeling fine and enjoyed the visit, speaking of his happiness that President McKay had visited these historically sacred places in Missouri. . . ."   

Elder Dyer, whom President McKay subsequently ordained an apostle and later set apart as a counselor in the church presidency, offered some interesting after-thoughts on Far West:   
"In connection with President McKay's visit at Far West, it is to be noted that while there the President appeared somewhat overwhelmed. The place made a deep impression upon him; so much so that he referred to Far West a number of times in the ensuing days as a place of deep impression.   

"The feeling that President McKay had at Far West registered upon me once again, but now with greater impact. The events that transpired there are significant: (a) The Lord proclaimed Far West a holy and consecrated land unto him, declaring to Joseph Smith that the very ground he stood on there was holy. (b) The Prophet Joseph Smith contended with the devil face to face for some time, upon the occasion of the power of evil menacing one of his children in the Prophet's home just west of the temple site. Lucifer declared that Joseph had no right to be there, that this was his place. Whereupon the Prophet rebuked Satan in the name of the Lord, and he departed and did not touch the child again. (c) The overwhelming feeling that President McKay had when he visited this sacred place.   

"The Answer: I have often pondered the holy significance of Far West, and even more so since President McKay's visit. The sacredness of Far West, Missouri, is no doubt due to the understanding that the Prophet Joseph Smith conveyed to the brethren, at these early times, that Adam-ondi-Ahman, the place to which Adam and Eve fled when cast out of the Garden of Eden, is where Adam erected an altar unto God, and offered sacrifices, and that
Far West was the spot where Cain killed Abel.

"This information tends to explain why the Lord declared Far West to be a holy consecrated place; and no doubt explains why Satan claimed that place as his own, as it was here that he entered into a covenant with Cain, resulting in the death of Abel, the first of mortal existence [to die] upon this earth.   

"It would appear that President McKay while there felt the spirit and significance of this holy place."   
One reason President McKay chose to tour the Missouri historic sites was to gain impressions helpful in making decisions in regard to further church expenditures for buildings and monuments in that area. He gave his approval to construction of a half million dollar visitor center near the temple lot site in Independence and to monuments and improvements at and near the Far West temple lot site. (emphasis added)  
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., and John J. Stewart, The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith, p.338-340,342)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How To Know The Truth Of The Restoration


TO the honorable searchers for truth, we, in a spirit of candor and meekness, are bound by every tie that makes man the friend of man, by every endowment of heaven, that renders intelligent beings seekers of happiness, to show you the way to salvation. In fact, we are not only bound to do thus for those that seek the riches of eternity, but, to walk in the tracks of our Savior, we must love our enemies; bless them that curse us; do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that dispitefully use us, and persecute us, or you and the world may know, that we are not the children of God. Therefore, to be obedient to the precepts of our divine master, we say unto you, Search the Scriptures—search the revelations which we publish, and ask your heavenly Father, in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to his glory, nothing doubting, he will answer you by the power of his Holy Spirit: You will then know for yourselves and not for another: You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation. No: for, when men receive their instruction from him that made them, they know how he will save them. Then again we say, Search the Scriptures; search the prophets, and learn what portion of them belongs to you, and the people of the nineteenth century. You, no doubt, will agree with us, and say, that you have no right to claim the promises of the inhabitants before the flood; that you cannot found your hopes of salvation upon the obedience of the children of Israel, when journeying in the wilderness; nor can you expect that the blessings which the apostles pronounced upon the churches of Christ, eighteen hundred years ago, were intended for you: Again, if others' blessings are not your blessings, others' curses are not your curses; you stand then in these last days, as all have stood before you, agents unto yourselves, to be judged according to your works.

(To the Honorable Men of the World., Evening and Morning Star, vol. 1 (June 1832-May 1833), Vol. I. August, 1832. No. 3. 22.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Concentration in Prayer

Brigham Young – Concentration in Prayer

Again, suppose a family wish to assemble for prayer, what would be orderly and proper? For the head of the family to call together his wife, . . . and children, except the children who are too small to be kept quiet, and when he prays aloud, all present, who are old enough to understand, should mentally repeat the words as they fall from his lips; and why so? That all may be one.

If the people will ask in faith, they will receive, and let all mentally ask precisely as does the one who is spokesman. Let all leave the cares of their work behind them; let the kitchens take care of themselves, and let the barns, the flocks and herds take care of themselves, and if they are destroyed while you are praying, be able to freely say, "Go, they are the Lord's; He gave them to me, and I will worship Him; I will assemble my family and call upon the name of my God."

By leaving business and the cares thereof where they belong, and attending strictly to worship in its season, if not at first, you soon will be united, and be able to bring every evil principle into subjection. If all are bound up in this manner, don't you see that it will make a mighty cord of faith?

I will now ask this congregation, how many of you thought of mentally repeating my prayer as the words came to your ears? Did you realize that the order of prayer required you to mentally follow the words of the person who was praying? With us every one should mentally repeat the same words and ask for the same things as does the one who leads vocally, and let all say, amen. There are times and places when all should vocally repeat the words spoken, but in our prayer meetings and in our family circles let every heart be united with the one who takes the lead by being mouth before the Lord, and let every person mentally repeat the prayers, and all unite in whatever is asked for, and the Lord will not withhold, but will give to such persons the things which they ask for and rightly need.

In some denominations the hearers are accustomed to cry out, "Amen, amen, amen, hallelujah, praise the Lord," &c., during the prayer service, and immediately let their minds wander to the ends of the earth. That is not the right way to pray, but let every one throw off care for their effects, for the Lord knows all about them; He protects them while we are with them; and He is equally able to protect them while we are absent; therefore, while engaged in worshipping Him, let every heart be concentrated upon the subject before them. If this congregation will take this course, I promise them that they will go to their dwellings satisfied that the Almighty has been with us to strengthen us; but if our minds are like the fool's eyes, we shall be profited but little.

(Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 3: 53.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Seven Common Mistakes When Applying the Atonement in Our Lives

Seven Common Mistakes When Applying the Atonement in Our Lives

(Taken from Elder Maxwell’s talk, “Glorify Christ”, to CES Personnel, 2 Feb. 2001)

“God leaves us free to make these very mistakes.” Each mistake reflects a greater need for our personal submissiveness!

1. We make a mistake when we think we own ourselves and blocks of time. Our faith in God includes faith in God’s timing, enough to be able to say in affect,”Thy timing be done” (see D&C 64:32)

2. We make another mistake in that we fail to realize how much of serious discipleship consists of downsizing our egos and diminishing our selfishness! The bloated natural man will resist any downsizing. But...meekness is what has to happen.

3. Another mistake we can make is that we maybe don’t take life’s little quizzes seriously enough. We think we will cram and pass the final exam! The infinite atonement is there for our finite mistakes, including the daily mistakes we tend to make.

4. We make another mistake when we fail to focus on and to develop patience as well as faith (see Mosiah 23:21). These two attributes are in tandem; they go together. By the way, if we are meek, being tried means being developed. We don’t look at impatience in terms of its downside. When we are impatient, in effect, we do not honor what is implied in the words “in process of time.” Impatience puts us at risk.

5. We may feel put upon by events and circumstances-another mistake we can make when approaching the Atonement in order to draw upon it. Yet “these things” that we feel put upon by actually constitute the customized curricula needed for personal development.

6. Another mistake we make is that we foolishly think we are free to choose but without wanting the consequences of those choices! (See Alma 29:4). Bainville, the French philosopher, said, “One must want the consequences of what one wants.”

7. Another mistake commonly made is that we play to the mortal galleries! We listen too much to the wrong peers. There is what I call the mystic “they,” who for some people are ascendant. In terms of the choices they make, they want to please the mystic “they.” Some people are so anxious, therefore, to be politically correct and to conform to the fashions of the world! What is worse, however, is when we see members of the Church try to conform eternal truths to the ways and thinking of the world, so that somehow they think they would please the world if they were so to do, but it won’t work!

Now these mistakes are but a few we make; they keep us from fully applying the Atonement to our lives. They are not worthy of Jesus and what He accomplished in Gethsemane and on Calvary! To understand and have faith, therefore, in the character and the purposes of God, it means instead of complaining, that we accept (more than we do) the menu of life and what is allotted to us.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Importance of April 3, 1836

The dedication of the Kirtland Temple in this last dispensation was one of the great milestones in preparing for the second coming of Christ.  The keys that were restored by Moses, Elias, and Elijah opened the way to proclaim the gospel into all the world, and then to perfect those who respond to the clarion call of the missionaries, and then to redeem them by the sealing powers which allows families to be together forever.  April 3, 1836 brought together several very important events.  It was a Sunday, it was the Jewish Passover, and the Christian Easter.  This only happens once in every several hundred years.  It may also have been the anniversary of the Savior's resurrection from the dead.

John P. Pratt wrote two successive article in the Ensign concerning the dating of the first Easter and its relationship to the resurrection.  Click here for the first articleClick here for the second article.

D&C 110:13–14 . The Coming of Elijah

President Joseph Fielding Smith noted:

“Edersheim in his work, The Temple, says: ‘To this day, in every Jewish home, at a certain part of the Paschal service [i.e. when they drink the “third cup”]—the door is opened to admit Elijah the prophet as forerunner of the Messiah, while appropriate passages are at the same time read which foretell the destruction of all heathen nations. It is a remarkable coincidence that, in instituting his own Supper, the Lord Jesus connected the symbol, not of judgment, but of his dying love, with his “third cup.”’

“It was, I am informed, on the third day of April, 1836, that the Jews, in their homes at the Paschal feast, opened their doors for Elijah to enter. On that very day Elijah did enter—not in the home of the Jews to partake of the Passover with them—but he appeared in the house of the Lord, erected to his name and received by the Lord in Kirtland, and there bestowed his keys to bring to pass the very things for which these Jews, assembled in their homes, were seeking.” ( Doctrines of Salvation, 2:100–101.)
(Doctrine and Covenants Institute Student Manual p. 276)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Temple as a place to receive promised blessings

Doctrine and Covenant section 109 is the revealed dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple.

D&C 109:10–60 . Securing the Promises Given in Revelation

The Prophet Joseph Smith asked the Lord that the Saints receive the blessings promised to them in various revelations already given:

1. That God’s glory would rest upon His people and upon the Kirtland Temple (see D&C 109:12–13 ).

2. That those who worship in the temple would be taught properly (see v. 14 ).

3. That the people would “grow up” in the Lord, receiving a fulness of the Holy Ghost ( v. 15 ).

4. That the house of God would be all it was meant to be with no unclean thing permitted therein (see vv. 16–20 , which are paraphrased from D&C 88:119–20 ).

5. That when the Saints transgressed, they would return quickly to the Lord (see v. 21 ).

6. That His servants could go forth armed with power and protected by the angels to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth (see vv. 22–23 ).

7. That He would establish His people forever against all the enemies who fight against them (see vv. 24–33 ).

8. That their sins would be forgiven (see v. 34 ).

9. That the powers of Pentecost would come upon them (see vv. 35–37 ).

10. That the servants of God would have the power of the covenant and bear testimony of it throughout the world (see vv. 38–44 ).

11. That the servants of God would be delivered from the calamity of the wicked and the judgments that are promised (see vv. 45–49 ).

12. That the Lord would have mercy on the nations of the earth, softening their hearts to prepare them for the gospel message (see vv. 54–58 ).

13. That stakes of Zion would be appointed so the gathering might roll forth (see v. 59 ). (Adapted from Sperry, Compendium, pp. 593–96.)

(Doctrine and Covenants Institute Student Manual pp. 271-272)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Classic Talk on the Temple and the Endowment

What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children about the Temple

By President Ezra Taft Benson
of the Quorum of the Twelve

Ezra Taft Benson, “What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children about the Temple,” Ensign, Aug 1985, 6

From an address given at the Logan Temple Centennial, 17 May 1984.

* * *
I would like to direct my remarks to you parents and grandparents. I would like to share with you what I would hope you would teach your children about the temple.

The temple is a sacred place, and the ordinances in the temple are of a sacred character. Because of its sacredness we are sometimes reluctant to say anything about the temple to our children and grandchildren.

As a consequence, many do not develop a real desire to go to the temple, or when they go there, they do so without much background to prepare them for the obligations and covenants they enter into.

I believe a proper understanding or background will immeasurably help prepare our youth for the temple. This understanding, I believe, will foster within them a desire to seek their priesthood blessings just as Abraham sought his.

When our Heavenly Father placed Adam and Eve on this earth, He did so with the purpose in mind of teaching them how to regain His presence. Our Father promised a Savior to redeem them from their fallen condition. He gave to them the plan of salvation and told them to teach their children faith in Jesus Christ and repentance. Further, Adam and his posterity were commanded by God to be baptized, to receive the Holy Ghost, and to enter into the order of the Son of God.

To enter into the order of the Son of God is the equivalent today of entering into the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is only received in the house of the Lord.

Because Adam and Eve had complied with these requirements, God said to them, “Thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity.” (Moses 6:67.)

Three years before Adam’s death, a great event occurred. He took his son Seth, his grandson Enos, and other high priests who were his direct-line descendants, with others of his righteous posterity, into a valley called Adam-ondi-Ahman. There Adam gave to these righteous descendants his last blessing.

The Lord then appeared to them.

The vast congregation rose up and blessed Adam and called him Michael, the prince and archangel. The Lord himself declared Adam to be a prince forever over his own posterity.

Then Adam in his aged condition rose up and, being filled with the spirit of prophecy, predicted “whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation.” All this is recorded in section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants (verses 53–56) [D&C 107:53–56].

The Prophet Joseph Smith said that Adam blessed his posterity because “he wanted to bring them into the presence of God.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 159.)

Here is an illuminating passage from Section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants which tells us how Adam was able to bring himself and his righteous posterity into God’s presence:

“The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and tightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.

“This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in [order] … that his posterity should be the chosen of the Lord, and that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth.” (D&C 107:40–42; italics added.)

How did Adam bring his descendants into the presence of the Lord?

The answer: Adam and his descendants entered into the priesthood order of God. Today we would say they went to the House of the Lord and received their blessings.

The order of priesthood spoken of in the scriptures is sometimes referred to as the patriarchal order because it came down from father to son.

But this order is otherwise described in modern revelation as an order of family government where a man and woman enter into a covenant with God—just as did Adam and Eve—to be sealed for eternity, to have posterity, and to do the will and work of God throughout their mortality.

If a couple are true to their covenants, they are entitled to the blessing of the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. These covenants today can only be entered into by going to the House of the Lord.

Adam followed this order and brought his posterity into the presence of God. He is the great example for us to follow.

Enoch followed this pattern and brought the Saints of his day into the presence of God.

Noah and his son Shem likewise followed the same pattern after the flood.

Abraham, a righteous servant of God, desiring as he said, “to be a greater follower of righteousness,” sought for these same blessings. Speaking of the order of the priesthood, he said: “It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time … even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, our first father, through the fathers unto me.” (Abr. 1:2–3.)

So Abraham declared: “I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers.” (Abr. 1:4.)

Moses taught this order of priesthood to his people and “sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;

“But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.

“Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also.” (D&C 84:23–25.)

We learn through the Joseph Smith Translation that the Lord further instructed Moses: “I will take away the priesthood out of their midst; therefore my holy order, and the ordinances thereof.” (JST, Ex. 34:1; italics added.)

This higher priesthood, with its attendant ordinances, was taken from Israel till the time of Jesus Christ.

My purpose in citing this background is to illustrate that this order of priesthood has been on the earth since the beginning, and it is the only means by which we can one day see the face of God and live. (See D&C 84:22.)

Between Moses and Christ only certain prophets possessed the right to the higher priesthood and the blessings that could bring men into the presence of God. One of these prophets was Elijah.

Elijah held the keys of the sealing power and did many mighty miracles in his day. He had power to seal the heavens, raise the dead, relieve the drought-stricken land, and call down fire from heaven.

He was the last prophet to hold the keys of the priesthood, according to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was subsequently translated and taken up into heaven without tasting death.

He, as a translated being, restored the keys of this priesthood to the Savior’s chief Apostles—Peter, James, and John—on the Mount of Transfiguration. But within a generation, the Church was destroyed by a major apostasy, and the blessings of the priesthood were removed from the earth.

It took a new dispensation from heaven to restore this blessing to our day.

It is significant that the first revelation given in 1823, recorded as section 2 of the Doctrine and Covenants, gave this promise about the priesthood:

“Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

“And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.

“If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” (D&C 2:1–3.)

What priesthood was Elijah to reveal? John the Baptist restored the keys to the Aaronic Priesthood. Peter, James, and John restored the keys of the kingdom of God. Why send Elijah?

“Because he holds the keys of the authority to administer in all the ordinances of the priesthood,” or the sealing power. (Teachings, p. 172; italics added.) So said the Prophet Joseph Smith!

The Prophet Joseph said further that these keys were “the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth.” (Teachings, p. 337; italics added.)

Even though the Aaronic Priesthood and Melchizedek Priesthood had been restored to the earth, the Lord urged the Saints to build a temple to receive the keys by which this order of priesthood could be administered on the earth again, “for there [was] not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost … even the fulness of the priesthood.” (D&C 124:28; italics added.)

Again the Prophet Joseph said: “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.” (Teachings, p. 308.)

So the Kirtland Temple was completed at great sacrifice to the Saints.

Then, on 3 April 1836, the Lord Jesus Christ and three other heavenly beings appeared in this holy edifice. One of these heavenly messengers was Elijah, to whom the Lord said he had “committed the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, that the whole earth may not be smitten with a curse.” (D&C 27:9.)

Elijah brought the keys of sealing powers—that power which seals a man to a woman and seals their posterity to them endlessly, that which seals their forefathers to them all the way back to Adam. This is the power and order that Elijah revealed—that same order of priesthood which God gave to Adam and to all the ancient patriarchs which followed after him.

And this is why the Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “For verily I say unto you, the keys of the dispensation, which ye have received, have come down from the fathers, and last of all, being sent down from heaven unto you.” (D&C 112:32.)

In a later revelation the Lord explained:

“In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

“And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

“And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.

“He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.” (D&C 131:1–4; italics added.)

When our children obey the Lord and go to the temple to receive their blessings and enter into the marriage covenant, they enter into the same order of the priesthood that God instituted in the very beginning with father Adam.

This order entitles them to the same blessings of Abraham, of whom the Lord said that he “hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.” (D&C 132:29.)

Then He significantly added: “This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham.” (D&C 132:31.)

So again I emphasize: This order of priesthood can only be entered into when we comply with all the commandments of God and seek the blessings of the fathers as did Abraham by going to our Father’s house. They are received in no other place on this earth!

I hope you would teach this truth about the temple to your children and your grandchildren. Go to the temple—our Father’s house—to receive the blessings of your fathers that you may be entitled to the highest blessings of the priesthood. “For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.” (D&C 84:22.)

Our Father’s house is a house of order. We go to His house to enter into that order of priesthood which will entitle us to all that the Father hath, if we are faithful. For as the Lord has revealed in modern times, Abraham’s seed are “lawful heirs” to the priesthood. (See D&C 86:8–11.)

Now let me say something else to all who can worthily go to the House of the Lord. When you attend the temple and perform the ordinances that pertain to the House of the Lord, certain blessings will come to you:

• You will receive the spirit of Elijah, which will turn your hearts to your spouse, to your children, and to your forebears.

• You will love your family with a deeper love than you have loved before.

• Your hearts will be turned to your fathers and theirs to you.

• You will be endowed with power from on high as the Lord has promised.

• You will receive the key of the knowledge of God. (See D&C 84:19.) You will learn how you can be like Him. Even the power of godliness will be manifest to you. (See D&C 84:20.)

• You will be doing a great service to those who have passed to the other side of the veil in order that they might be “judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (D&C 138:34.)

Such are the blessings of the temple and the blessings of frequently attending the temple.

So I say at this centennial commemoration of the Logan Temple: God bless Israel! God bless those of our forebears who constructed this holy edifice. God bless us to teach our children and our grandchildren what great blessings await them by going to the temple. God bless us to receive all the blessings revealed by Elijah the prophet so that our callings and election will be made sure.

I testify with all my soul to the truth of this message and pray that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will bless modern Israel with the compelling desire to seek all the blessings of the fathers in the House of our Heavenly Father.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Transition Into The Millennium

 In our Thursday night Doctrine and Covenants class we will be covering D&C 101.  In this revelation the Lord describes the transition into the Millennium in verses 23-34.  The Institute Student Manual of the Doctrine and Covenants has some excellent material on Millennial life:

What Will Millennial Conditions Be Like?

Five features of the Millennium, the thousand-year personal reign of Christ on earth, are as follows:

1. “The enmity of all flesh, shall cease” ( D&C 101:26 ). Elder Orson Pratt said that “the enmity of the beasts of the field as well as that of all flesh will cease; no more one beast of prey devouring and feasting upon another that is more harmless in its nature; no more will this enmity be found in the fish of the sea, or in the birds of the air. This change will be wrought upon all flesh when Jesus comes; not a change to immortality, but a change sufficient to alter the ferocious nature of beasts, birds and fishes. . . . gentleness, will characterize all the wild and ferocious animals, as well as the venomous serpents, so much so that the little child might lead them and play with them, and nothing shall hurt or destroy in all the holy mountain of the Lord, all things becoming, in some measure, as when they were first created.” (Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 20:18.)

2. “Whatsoever any man shall ask, it shall be given unto him” ( D&C 101:27 ). People sometimes pray for things they should not have. The Millennium will change that. People will ask only for righteous things, and all requests will be honored by Heavenly Father.

3. “Satan shall not have power to tempt any man” ( v. 28 ). See Notes and Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 43:31 for an explanation of how Satan’s power to tempt will be limited.

4. “Death will vanish from the earth” ( D&C 101:29–31 ). During the Millennium, death will cease among the righteous inhabitants of the earth. They will live to be very old, and when the time for the change known as death arrives, they will “be changed in the twinkling of an eye” from mortality to immortality and their “rest shall be glorious” ( v. 31 ). Among those that have “kept the faith” ( D&C 63:50 ), there will not be a separation of the spirit and body where the spirit passes into the spirit world and the body is laid in the ground to await the Resurrection. Instead, at the appropriate time, there will be an instantaneous change from a mortal to a resurrected, immortal condition.

Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “When Christ comes the saints who are on the earth will be quickened and caught up to meet him. This does not mean that those who are living in mortality at that time will be changed and pass through the resurrection, for mortals must remain on the earth until after the thousand years are ended. A change, nevertheless, will come over all who remain on the earth; they will be quickened so that they will not be subject unto death until they are old. Men shall die when they are one hundred years of age, and the change shall be made suddenly to the immortal state. Graves will not be made during this thousand years. . . . death shall come as a peaceful transition from the mortal to the immortal state.” ( Way to Perfection, pp. 298–99, 311.)

The scriptures and the writings of the prophets indicate that during the Millennium people living a terrestrial level of righteousness will be on the earth, but eventually all will have the opportunity to receive the gospel (see Isaiah 11:9 ; Habakkuk 2:14 ; Jeremiah 31:34 ). Those who do not receive the gospel will be swept off the earth (see Isaiah 65:20 ).

Isaiah taught that during the Millennium “the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” ( Isaiah 65:20 ). Zechariah taught that at that time the heathen nations who will not come to worship in Jerusalem will be visited with the Lord’s judgments and eventually destroyed from the earth (see Zechariah 14:16–19 ; see also Smith, Teachings, pp. 268–69).

The contrast between these statements and those of the Lord in Doctrine and Covenants 101:30–31 and 63:50–51 indicates a difference between the condition of the righteous and the condition of the unrighteous during the early period of the Millennium. Elder Erastus Snow said that during the Millennium “the children that shall grow up unto the Lord shall not taste of death; that is, they shall not sleep in the earth, but they shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and they shall be caught up, and their rest shall be glorious” (in Journal of Discourses, 7:355–56; italics added).

5. “In that day . . . the Lord . . . shall reveal all things” ( D&C 101:32 ). The Millennium is the time when the Savior will personally work with the faithful, obedient members of His Church who have lived on the earth since the days of Adam. One can only imagine the blessings that are in store for those who have been faithful. For example, the first ten chapters (about fifteen pages) in the book of Genesis cover approximately two thousand years of history. The amount of knowledge that has been lost concerning just this period is astounding. In the Millennium all that knowledge, and more, will be restored. It is of little wonder, then, that Saints have longed for the day when Christ would be in their midst, a day in which He will make all things known.
D&C 101:35–38 . “In Patience . . . Possess Your Souls, and Ye Shall Have Eternal Life”

The Lord urged the Saints in these verses to place more attention on eternal life than on the pursuits of mortal life. He indicates that those who had lost their lives in Jackson County (there were some), and those who would do so in future persecutions (six thousand lost their lives while crossing the plains to Utah) need not fear. Those who are faithful have the hope of a glorious resurrection and the blessings of eternal life with God.

President Heber C. Kimball said: “Have I not told you often that the separation of body and spirit makes no difference in the moral and intellectual condition of the spirit? When a person, who has always been good and faithful to his God, lays down his body in the dust, his spirit will remain the same in the spirit world. It is not the body that has control over the spirit, as to its disposition, but it is the spirit that controls the body. When the spirit leaves the body the body becomes lifeless. The spirit has not changed one single particle of itself by leaving the body.” (In Journal of Discourses, 3:108.) 
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (Religion 324-325) pp. 241-242.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

President Lorenzo Snow and the building of the Temple in Missouri

Matt  5:8
 8 Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.  (emphasis added)

D&C  97:15-16
 15 And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;
 16 Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.  (emphasis added)

D&C  101:18-20
 18 They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion--
 19 And all these things that the prophets might be fulfilled.
 20 And, behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed; neither shall there be any other place appointed than that which I have appointed, for the work of the gathering of my saints--  (emphasis added)

President Lorenzo Snow

I can tell you what I think: Many of you will be living in Jackson County, and there you will be assisting in building the temple; and if you will not have seen the Lord Jesus at that time you may expect Him very soon, to see Him, to eat and drink with Him, to shake hands with Him and to invite Him to your houses as He was invited when He was here before. I am saying things to you now of which I know something of the truth of them. (15 June 1901, DN, p. 1.) 
(Lorenzo Snow, The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, edited by Clyde J. Williams, p.186)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Impact of the Gift of the Holy Ghost

 In harmony with some of the great talks at General Conference here is a quote from Elder Parley P. Pratt and the impact of the Holy Ghost:

The gift of the Holy Spirit adapts itself to all these organs or attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation and social feeling. It develops and invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, invigorates, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.

(Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology/A Voice of Warning [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1965], 101.)