Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Millennium

A few weeks back the Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society lessons were devoted to the Prophet Joseph's teachings about the Millennium.

Our son Steve, living in Chicago with his family, had some questions after his lesson:

Dad - A question came up on Sunday in regards to the children that are to be born during the millennium. The discussion ended with our ward expert, Pres Hansen (Mel's Mission Pres), stating that children born to resurrected beings during the millennium would be spirit children and would not possess a physical body. Everybody seemed to accept that as a suitable answer and considering the source, that ended the discussion. It hasn't quite settled with me however and I was hoping you could clarify...

I found McConkie's explanation in Mormon Doctrine enlightening and he references several scriptures addressing what life will be like in the millennium but there is only one passage about children - quoting from section 101 (I think, going from memory here) where it talks about that they will reach the age like the trees then be changed in the twinkling of an eye...

As I understand it, these children will not be mortal in the same way that we are - as they will not be subject to disease, sickness, pain etc. but they also will not be immortal in the same way a resurrected being is. There will be that "twinkling of an eye" change that will take place which means there would be a momentary separation of body and spirit (albeit a sliver of a moment or a micro-second) and that makes them unique to a resurrected immortal being. Right?

So, the questions: 1. What is the physical state of these beings? Mortal or spirit children? Something unique to either? 2. At what point will spirit children begin to be born to exalted couples? 3. What do we know about this group of spirits to be born in the millennium? How is it that they will have a 'mortal' experience (obtaining of a physical body) in a time like the millennium where Satan is bound and there is no sickness, pain, etc...

Any references you can give would be great or at least point me in the right direction. I also pulled out your Zion transcripts and was looking in there but got a bit distracted - there's so much to digest there... Forgot my other additional question: How will the raising of children who died prematurely in mortality - like Adrienne - work in the millennium? What will be the state of her body (resurrected or somehow mortal again)?

My answers follow:

June 10, 2009

Steve –

There is a ton of speculation about life in the Millennium. You will search a long, long time in the scriptures for validation of anything resembling the conclusion President Hansen (with all due respect) reached in your discussion on Sunday. I suspect he drew his conclusion from the written opinion (and that’s what it is, nothing more, nothing less) of Elder McConkie cited below. It would be helpful if, when expressing opinions, we would cite our sources if they are not in the scriptures, but I digress:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

During the Millennium there will, of course, be two kinds of people on earth. There will be those who are mortal, and those who are immortal. There will be those who have been changed or quickened or transfigured or translated (words fail us to describe their state), and those who have gone through a second change, in the twinkling of an eye, so as to become eternal in nature. There will be those who are on probation, for whom earth life is a probationary estate, and who are thus working out their own salvation, and those who have already overcome the world and have entered into a fulness of eternal joy. There will be those who will yet die in the sense of being changed from their quickened state to a state of immortality, and those who, having previously died, are then living in a resurrected state. There will be those who are subject to the kings and priests who rule forever in the house of Israel, and those who, as kings and priests, exercise power and dominion in the everlasting kingdom of Him whose we are. There will be those who, as mortals, provide bodies for the spirit children of the Father, for the spirits whose right it is to come to earth and gain houses for their eternal spirits, and those who, as immortals (Abraham is one), are already begetting spirit children of their own. There will be those for whom the fulness of eternal glory is ahead, and those who, again like Abraham, have already entered into their exaltation and sit upon their thrones and are not angels but are gods forever and ever. (The Millennial Messiah, pp. 644-45).

I will supply you with further citations about the Millennium from the scriptures, and some from General Authorities that are about as far as we can safely go in attempting to describe conditions generally in the Millennium. That said, with respect to your specific question about Adrienne, the answer is a big fat “it depends.” Here are all the “if” statements that must be in place to give a definitive answer:

If Mom and I die before the Millennium is ushered in;

If we have lived our lives in such a way as to merit the highest degree of Celestial glory;

If we come up out of the grave on the morning of the first resurrection at Christ’s coming;

If we receive the keys of the resurrection;

If our righteous progenitors in the patriarchal order above us delegate to me the privilege and blessing of resurrecting our posterity;

If the gospel is true and there is a literal resurrection of physical bodies that have died (and I hasten to add that I believe it is and there is);

Then (and only if all those conditions are met), Adrienne’s body will come forth from the grave as it went into the grave as an infant. Her resurrected body (spirit and body inseparably connected) will then grow and mature as it would have had she been permitted to tarry in mortality in a telestial state, but she will be in a glorious Celestial resurrected body during the Millennium that will continue to grow and mature until it reaches a state described as its “proper and perfect frame” (see Alma 40:23), whatever that means.

Now, extrapolating further, let’s suppose there will be those who will in due course inherit the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, and such a judgment may be rendered prior to the Millennium being ushered in (having had their “calling and election made sure”). At Christ’s coming, we are informed by revelation that there is a specific order to resurrection – it’s referred to most comprehensively in D&C 88 where all the sounding of the trumps are heard. It’s really pretty cool and pretty specific, beginning with verse 96.

· First, those who are alive on the earth at the time of His coming “shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him.”

· Then the “first fruits” – those who are asleep in the grave – come forth from the grave, the faithful saints since the time of Christ.

· The second trump sounds through the seventh, and there is order to how resurrection takes place. It would be a shame if the unrepentant were to be resurrected too soon, so many of them remain “unresurrected” throughout the Millennium until they have every chance possible to repent.

· Then beginning in verse 108 we get another series of trumps sounding, which is the final judgment.

There are many, many things going on during the Millennium on many, many levels of human development and progression, not unlike conditions within the Church and in the world at large right now. It’s impossible to make a blanket statement about life in the Millennium that generalizes everything for everyone. But know this – there is order in the Lord’s house, in the way things are done, how, to whom, and when. Always best to be in the front of the line when it comes to obedience. That’s the bottom line.

Now some additional citations, including conditions in the “run-up” to the Millennium:

The time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned. For the time soon cometh that the fulness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous. Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire. (1 Nephi 22:15-17); compare Malachi 4:1).

The time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble. (1 Nephi 22:23).

They that come [meaning the Lord and his destroying angels] shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (JS-H 1:37).

Elder Orson Pratt:

All the inhabitants who are spared from this fire — those who are not proud, and who do not do wickedly, will be cleansed more fully and filled with the glory of God. A partial change will be wrought upon them [a type of translation] not a change to immortality, like that which all the Saints will undergo when they are changed in the twinkling of an eye, from mortality to immortality; but so great will be the change then wrought that the children who are born into the world will grow up without sin unto salvation [see D&C 45:58]. Why will this be so? Because that fallen nature, introduced by the fall, and transferred from parents to children, from generation to generation, will be, in a measure, eradicated by this change. (JD 16:319).

There’s a lot going on here, Steve, with few simple explanations. Don’t forget, the “first resurrection” began with the resurrection of Christ in the meridian of time. All of the prophets and those who gave heed to the words of the prophets, from the days of Adam to Christ — and, we can assume, all those who never had an opportunity to receive the gospel but would have received it if they had been given the privilege (D&C 137:7-9) — came forth from the grave some time after the rise of the Savior to immortal glory (see Mosiah 15:21-25; Alma 40:20).

We have no indication that there has been a “wholesale resurrection” of faithful saints since the resurrection of the Savior, but President Ezra Taft Benson at least held the door open for a few special exceptions. He said: "There are some who feel that the resurrection is going on continually and has been since that time. This is not scripturally true, but we do know that it is possible for our Father to call from the graves those whom He needs to perform special missions and special service. For example, we know of at least three [Peter, James, and Moroni] who have been called up since the resurrection of the Master and since that first mass resurrection when the graves were opened and many of the Saints arose." (TETB, 18).

Don’t forget that when the Master returns in glory to take charge of affairs on this earth, coming with Him will be “a host” of the righteous dead. The “first resurrection” will on that day generally be resumed, what we would call “the morning of the first resurrection,” even though technically it is merely a continuation of what started when Christ was resurrected. Those who have died true to the faith, those who were valiant in the testimony of Jesus, who have kept the celestial law, shall return to earth with resurrected, immortal bodies. (See D&C 88:97-98). Paul said "they who are alive" [when the Lord comes] "shall be caught up together into the clouds with them who remain, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the Lord" (JST 1 Thessalonians 4:17). The Lord of the living and the dead "will come with ten thousands of his saints, all of them resurrected persons from ages past. He will call forth from their graves and from the watery deep ten thousands of his other saints, all of them righteous persons who have lived since his mortal ministry. Those among his saints on earth who are faithful will be caught up to meet him in the clouds of glory, and they will then return to earth with him to live out their appointed days on the new earth with its new heavens." (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, 627).

In addition, with Christ will come the hosts of persons who were translated before the resurrection of Christ, those who were taken into terrestrial glory without tasting death. They would include Enoch and Melchizedek with their cities, Elijah and Moses and Alma and Nephi, and, surely, congregations and communities of the pure in heart of which we have no knowledge, shall return as resurrected personages. These were with Christ in His resurrection (see D&C 133:54-55). (See Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 807-8; The Millennial Messiah, 628, 636, 647; A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 588). Those who have been translated since the resurrection of Christ — John the Beloved, the three Nephites, and other holy men or women that we know not of (D&C 49:8) — shall undergo the change equivalent to death and be transformed instantaneously from their translated mortal state to resurrected immortality at the time of our Savior's return in glory (see 3 Nephi 28:8). (TPJS, 172-3).

Although men and women who are alive at the time of Christ's second coming will be changed and quickened, they will yet continue to live as mortals. That is, for them death and immortality lie ahead. The mortal Saints shall live to "the age of man" (D&C 63:50) during the Millennium, what Isaiah explained to be one hundred years (Isaiah 65:20). At that point they will pass from mortality through death into resurrected immortality instantly, "in the twinkling of an eye." For these there will be no time for the body in the grave, no sojourn in the postmortal world of spirits, for they will be received into glory immediately after their death: "Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old; old men shall die; but they shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye" (D&C 63:51).

For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand. (D&C 29:11).

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

Joseph Smith:

[C]hrist and the resurrected Saints will reign over the earth during the thousand years. They will not probably dwell upon the earth, but will visit it when they please or when it is necessary to govern it. There will be wicked men on the earth during the thousand years. The heathen nations who will not come up to worship will be visited with the judgments of God, and must eventually be destroyed from the earth. (TPJS, 268-9).

For in mine own due time will I come upon the earth in judgment, and my people shall be redeemed and shall reign with me on earth. For the great Millennium, of which I have spoken by the mouth of my servants, shall come. For Satan shall be bound, and when he is loosed again he shall only reign for a little season, and then cometh the end of the earth. And he that liveth in righteousness shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and the earth shall pass away so as by fire. And the wicked shall go away into unquenchable fire, and their end no man knoweth on earth, nor ever shall know, until they come before me in judgment. (D&C 43:29-33).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

What does it mean to bind Satan? How is he bound? Our revelation says: "And in that day Satan shall not have power to tempt any man." (D&C 101:28). Does this mean that power is withdrawn from Satan so that he can no longer entice men to do evil? Or does it mean that men no longer succumb to his enticements because their hearts are so set on righteousness that they refuse to forsake that which is good to follow him who is evil? Clearly it means the latter. Satan was not bound in heaven, in the very presence of God, in the sense that he was denied the right and power to preach false doctrine and to invite men to walk away from that God whose children they were: nay, in this sense, he could not have been bound in heaven, for even he must have his agency. How, then, will Satan be bound during the Millennium? It will be by the righteousness of the people. . . Thus Satan is bound because he "shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more, for a long time." (2 Nephi 30:18). Thus the probationary nature of man's second estate is preserved even during the Millennium. It is not that men cannot sin, for the power is in them to do so – they have their agency – but it is that they do not sin because Satan is subject to them, and they are not enticed by his evil whisperings. (The Millennial Messiah, pp. 668-69).

And Satan shall be bound, that he shall have no place in the hearts of the children of men. (D&C 45:55).

For behold, saith the prophet, the time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned. . . And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth. (1 Nephi 22:15, 26).

Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more, for a long time. And now, my beloved brethren, I make an end of my sayings. (2 Nephi 30:18).

. . .Satan shall be bound, that old serpent, who is called the devil, and shall not be loosed for the space of a thousand years. And then he shall be loosed for a little season, that he may gather together his armies. And Michael, the seventh angel, even the archangel, shall gather together his armies, even the hosts of heaven. And the devil shall gather together his armies; even the hosts of hell, and shall come up to battle against Michael and his armies. And then cometh the battle of the great God; and the devil and his armies shall be cast away into their own place, that they shall not have power over the saints any more at all. (D&C 88:110-14).

And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:7-10).

Joseph Smith:

The battle of Gog and Magog will be after the millennium. The remnant of all the nations that fight against Jerusalem were commanded to go up to Jerusalem to worship in the millennium. (TPJS, 280).

And behold, Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh; and his soul rejoiced, saying: The Righteous is lifted up, and the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world; and through faith I am in the bosom of the Father, and behold, Zion is with me. And it came to pass that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face? . . . And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest. And it came to pass that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years; (Moses 7:47-48, 64-65).

The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. (Isaiah 14:7).

Here are three statements from President Brigham Young:

In the millennium men will have the privilege of being Presbyterians, Methodists or Infidels, but they will not have the privilege of treating the name and character of Deity as they have done heretofore. No, but every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God the Father that Jesus is the Christ. (JD 12:274).

If the Latter-day Saints think, when the kingdom of God is established on the earth, that all the inhabitants of the earth will join the Church called Latter-day Saints, they are egregiously mistaken. I presume there will be as many sects and parties then as now. Still, when the kingdom of God triumphs, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, to the glory of the Father. Even the Jews will do it then, but will the Jews and Gentiles be obliged to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? No; not by any means. . . They will cease their persecutions against the Church of Jesus Christ, and they will be willing to acknowledge that the Lord is God and that Jesus is the Savior of the world. (JD 11:275).

When all nations are so subdued to Jesus that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess, there will still be millions on the earth who will not believe in him; but they will be obliged to acknowledge his kingly government. (JD 7:142).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

The prophetic word that sets forth what is to be during the Millennium speaks of "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (2 Peter 3:13). It says that every corruptible thing shall be consumed when the vineyard is burned. And yet the Prophet Joseph Smith said: "There will be wicked men on the earth during the thousand years. The heathen nations who will not come up to worship will be visited with the judgments of God, and must eventually be destroyed from the earth." (TPJS, 268-69). Taken together, these concepts mean that wickedness that is telestial in nature, wickedness that consists of living after the manner of the world, that wickedness which is carnal, sensual, and devilish by nature-all such shall cease. Those who so live will be destroyed. They are the tares of the earth.
But wickedness is a matter of degree, and even those who are upright and decent by worldly standards but who reject the gospel and do not worship the true God are considered to be wicked by gospel standards. They are "under the bondage of sin." They do not accept the message of the restoration and gain a remission of their sins in the waters of baptism. "And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now." (D&C 84:49-53). . . There will be many churches on earth when the Millennium begins. False worship will continue among those whose desires are good, "who are honorable men of the earth," but who have been "blinded by the rest upon them until they repent and believe the gospel or are destroyed," as the Prophet said. It follows that missionary work will continue into the Millennium until all who remain are converted. Then "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:9). Then every living soul on earth will belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (The Millennial Messiah, pp. 651-52).

And in that day the enmity of man, and the enmity of beasts, yea, the enmity of all flesh, shall cease from before my face. (D&C 101:26).

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4).

And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:5-9; see also JS-H 1:40).

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 65:25).

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4).

And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. (Isaiah 65:19).

And in that day Satan shall not have power to tempt any man. And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death. In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree; and when he dies he shall not sleep, that is to say in the earth, but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and shall be caught up, and his rest shall be glorious. (D&C 101:28-31).

President Joseph Fielding Smith:

[M]en shall live free from sin and free from the ravages of disease and death until they reach the age of 100 years. Infants shall not die, they shall live until they have filled the measure of their mortal creation. In fact, mortality shall be reduced to a minimum. (Doctrines of Salvation 3:58).

In the course of the thousand years all men will either come into the Church, or kingdom of God, or they will die and pass away. In that day there will be no death until men are old. Children will not die but will live to the age of a tree. Isaiah says this is 100 years. When the time comes for men to die, they will be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and there will be no graves. (Doctrines of Salvation 1:86-87).

President Brigham Young:

Do you know what the Millennium is for, and what work will have to be done during that period? Suppose the Christian world were now one in heart, faith, sentiment and works, so that the Lord could commence the Millennium in power and glory, do you know what would be done? Would you sit and sing yourselves away to everlasting bliss? No, I reckon not. I think there is a work to be done then which the whole world seems determined we shall not do. What is it? To build temples. . . . What are we going to do in these temples? . . . In these temples we will officiate in the ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for our friends, for no man can enter the kingdom of God without being born of the water and of the Spirit. We will officiate for them who are in the spirit world, where Jesus went to preach to the spirits, as Peter has written in the third chapter, verses 18, 19, and 20, of his first epistle. . . We will also have hands laid on us for the reception of the Holy Ghost; and then we will receive the washing and anointings for and in their behalf, preparatory to their becoming heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. (JD 13:329-30).

To accomplish this work there will have to be not only one temple but thousands of them, and thousands and tens of thousands of men and women will go into those temples and officiate for people who have lived as far back as the Lord shall reveal. (JD 3:372).

Here’s the ponderous question (among many) that remain unanswered in the revelations we have thus far received: Why it is that certain persons, surely billions of our brothers and sisters, will be sent to earth to gain their mortal and then immortal bodies during this glorious Millennial era? It will be an era during which they will not be tested, at least in the same ways we are now. Is that fair? Why does Adrienne die in infancy, and we all live on in mortality? What makes her so special, and all of us such fallen mortals that we must continue on in this telestial and fallen existence?

This is all I know for sure – God is perfectly just. He is perfectly merciful. He is impartial. He is no respecter of persons and delights in the development and ultimate salvation of all His sons and daughters. He is all-wise and all-knowing, and thus we would assume that He would arrange and orchestrate the times and seasons and events of our lives in such a way as to maximize our growth and further our spirituality. The saints in our current situation in these last days of turmoil and trouble ought to glory in the knowledge that so many could come to the earth and be born, nurtured in an Edenic atmosphere, and grow up without sin unto salvation. That of course, assumes we are charitable and loving in our natures instead of fallen and natural. It’s what believing in God is all about.

I heard a character (a nun being treated in the hospital by the infamous TV Dr. House) make a pretty good argument for the existence of God. She asked, “By expressing your anger at God, who is permitting tragedy and evil to exist in the world, aren’t you really just acknowledging His very existence? If He doesn’t exist you can’t be angry with Him, can you? If He doesn’t exist it can’t be His fault.”

I remember another expression that has stuck with me through all the years: “To believe in God is to believe that He will be fair, and that there will be some wonderful surprises.”

I was thinking the other day about those who are destroyed at His coming. Even in their destruction there is infinite mercy extended. They are taken directly into the spirit world, where every sin except blasphemy against the Holy Ghost may be forgiven, and they are put in a situation where they can hear the gospel, embrace its teachings, repent of their sins, and heal all the wounds of mortality that attached to their telestial existence. It may take a thousand years for some of them to repent, but the vast majority will, and they will put themselves in line to receive the ultimate blessings afforded to all God's children. It’s such a marvelous and mercifully perfect plan! I don’t think I would have ever grasped this view of eternity without having experienced the trauma and the extremities through which my brother has passed. His situation in mortality has confirmed to me again and again that there will be ample opportunity given to him either in this life or the next to repent of his sins, and to be put in a situation where he can be exalted in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom.

That’s why the atonement and the eternal plan of our Father in Heaven is so much more expansive and grand than anyone can comprehend!

Now I have done what we should all do in discussing or writing about any gospel subject. I have cited the scriptures and documented the statements of others in every particular. Rather than express vague generalities when we offer our opinions in classes we attend in the Church, we must discipline ourselves to cite authoritative sources to help strengthen one another and assist in bringing to pass the day when "every man shall speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world; that faith also might increase in the earth; that mine everlasting covenant might be established; that mine everlasting gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world and before kings and rulers." (D&C 1:20-23).

Thanks, Steve, for giving me a chance to think about it in light of your questions.

I cited President Wilford Woodruff in yesterday's post, and it reminded me of another occasion when he gave a blessing to a missionary about to depart, and it was recorded. In due time President Woodruff saw to it that it was published because said he: "This blessing doesn't just apply to Elder [so and so] but generally to the youth of Zion." In their later years, filled with wisdom and experience, several of our presidents were so grateful, impressed with their blessings and their fulfillment, that they made them public knowledge.

I am paraphrasing slightly, but this is the paragraph from his blessing:

"The Lord has reserved a number of choice spirits out of all the creations of God [I remind you that the creations of God are extensive and even, by our reckoning, numberless] . . .Out of all those creations he has selected a group of choice spirits and has kept them in the Spirit World for 6000 years [which I take it means since the time of Adam or approximately] in order for them to come into the Church and the world in this last dispensation. [Now listen to his summary of why.] That they may receive the testimony of Jesus Christ; that they may receive the eternal and everlasting priesthood and its blessings; that they may build up the kingdom of God unto him and prepare themselves and the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ." (President Wilford W. Woodruff, "Our Lineage," Topical Outline to The Way to Perfection, (Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1932), 4).

My testimony to you, Steve, and to all my growing posterity who are living on the earth today is this: You are among that group of "choice spirits." You are in the time when the very most valiant will be needed in the final struggle; and, not only that, you are marvelously equipped with light and knowledge in the midst of those who are untried and who are faltering and failing and who have not even comprehended the beginnings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Recognize the power with which you are all endowed.

I bear you my witness that the Lord Jesus Christ lives; that He loves you; and that your patriarchal blessings are His message to you in His time, even if those blessings seem "iffy" sometimes when you read them. The fulfillment of your blessings depends upon your faithfulness. He will fulfill them in every particular. He will never fail you in the covenants you make with Him. He wants you to serve Him and give your very best. He wants you to rise to the majesty of your privileges which always involve responsibilities.

But He will magnify even your most meager efforts. He wants you to avoid the pits of sin that are in the world today and to live close to Him and the spirit of the Holy Ghost. And He promises that He will always be with you and "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" in the unfolding of your life leading up to that glorious Millennial day that looms expectantly ahead. (See D&C 49:26-28; 84:88).

Since March 1831, we have been told repeatly, "Behold, I am Jesus Christ, and I come quickly." That's what Mormon eschatology is all about.

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