Saturday, February 15, 2014

Not All Presidents are Created Equally

Back in the day when I was a little boy in school, we celebrated two birthdays of former US Presidents in February. On the 12th, everyone knew it was Abraham Lincoln's birthday, and the 22nd was George Washington's. For some reason this morning I was thinking about my 4th grade Social Studies class with Mrs. Baker. Her lessons about these two great men might be my earliest recollections of them and what they believed.

My teacher shared my enthusiasm for them. I remember her walls in the classroom were adorned with their portraits, and I mean all year long not just in February.

Last November, we were in Washington D.C. and visited the sites where Washington and Lincoln are enshrined. I have wondered again this morning what they would be thinking if they were alive in America today. There is a conversation going around America these days about "inequality". It is being framed by the current POTUS, a man defined only by his ideology founded in his need to make government the dispensing machine for righting all the societal wrongs and assuring economic "equality" for all Americans. As the first black POTUS, we all hoped for so much better than he has delivered. The hard fact is it is he alone who is defining all the terms. It is he alone who is dictating how laws will be applied and how they will be interpreted. It is he alone who seems willing and more than able to do whatever he wants in the execution of the duties of the government and all its branches, not merely confining himself to the duties of the executive branch.

The bastion of his false beliefs is stamped all over the Obamacare legislation known as the Affordable Care Act. The underlying premise is that it is a right for all Americans to have affordable health care coverage. He seems to be the only person who thinks his definition of "affordable" is accurate. The wrecking ball has swung wildly in all directions. So far there seems to be no distinction about whether or not one is an American citizen to qualify, only that you live here. I remember when George W. Bush was mocked as "King George" and was accused of operating an imperial presidency. Boy, those were the good old days in comparison, weren't they?

The redistribution of private wealth and capital, even private ownership of property, is being promoted as never before by this government. Our current POTUS would assert his definitions of "fairness" must mandate that all Americans be treated equally. If you fall below certain income levels, the government will be there to provide not only a social safety net, but will make the attempt to give you more than you might receive if you were gainfully employed. The net result of this attempt has been more inequality and more unfairness than ever before. Pitting the economic classes and the ethnic races against each other has been given new stature under this POTUS. We have a record number of Americans who are on food stamps. It has become a widely recognized entitlement program if your income drops below a certain annual level. The minimum wage has been given a boost and mandated at a higher rate for all government contracts, supposedly to "level the playing field". Access to health care through Obamacare and Medicare and Medicaid for all Americans equally has become a political mantra that will likely never be reversed. Instead, it will have to collapse under the weight of its towering false assumptions.

All these efforts hearken back to the "war on poverty" waged back in the sixties by the Johnson administration. Like the "war on drugs" and the previous attempts to level the economic conditions of Americans, Obamacare will fail to deliver its promised results because socialism as defined and administered by government is so badly flawed in all its attempts to equalize the worker with the owner.

Equality between the sexes is another area where public policy has run amok. There are those hailing the recent court rulings that essentially have left us with a "genderless" definition of marriage. I read yesterday of a college in America that gives people 56 different options for the "gender" question on admission forms. Really? 56? Hard to believe, but that's the silliness of men's wisdom on display for all to see. Back in 1996, in Power and Covenants: Men, Women and Priesthood, we attempted to thwart the onrushing wave of false doctrine on that issue, many would say to no avail. But we tried. Inequality in this life is a reality. Equality is a myth of man's making. How does one attempt to equate the LGBT agenda with marriage between a man and a woman? Only through suborned courts and judges. Only in the feeble attempts of men's reasoning.

In days gone by, and even today in some cases, Americans who are the risk takers have always been rewarded with success when they invest capital for the benefit of those whom they employ. I never worked for an impoverished employer. They have all been successful because their business risks were rewarded with success to the degree they had enough capital to employ others. The employees have it within their power to create the capital for their owners - work always precedes the acquisition of the capital. In countless countries around the world when the working class was dissatisfied with their condition they rose up in rebellion. It happened in Russia, it happened in France, and it happened in America. If they are dissatisfied with their daily wage, workers the world over are free to access the markets with their skills and talents and see if they can earn a better return for their labors.

History tells us Washington and Lincoln believed in these principles. For that reason they were singled out for recognition in our national celebration of their birthdays. I'm still of the mindset to single these two out above all the other generic Presidents. In a previous post entitled "A Calf's Tail" I highlighted many of their notable quotations along with several other occupants of the White House. Today, I add a few more gems to the collection.

President George Washington
Said Washington, warning about government's power:

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

With regard to the need to preserve and sustain the right to bear arms, Washington counselled:

"The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good."

Washington believed morality in the public square could not be imposed by government. It was solely dependent upon religion:

"Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

President Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln comes along over a hundred years later and offers this counsel to help us judge political sophistry unerringly:

"I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong."

No one believed more firmly than Lincoln that the American people were capable of making correct choices. The backbone that holds the skeleton of the Constitution together is the collective wisdom and judgment of the people:

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."

So powerful were these ideas in Lincoln's mind that he dared to state unequivocally:

"Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable - a most sacred right - a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world."

On this Presidents Day 2014, let us keep sacred and long remember the wisdom of these two great Presidents. It should be obvious their meaning of equality had little to do with the way the terms are being defined in America today.

And, sadly, it should be obvious we are not seeing men of their stature approaching "equality" with them either.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Joseph Smith and The Plan of Salvation

Joseph Smith restored the true knowledge associated with three basic truths: Where did we come from? What are we doing here? Where are we going? Embodied in those three questions is the knowledge he restored about the plan of salvation. This is the topic of February's correlated lesson materials in all the age groups throughout the Church worldwide. The goals of the Correlation Program have finally been realized and are now in full flower.

Those goals included bringing all the lesson materials into harmony under priesthood leadership and direction. Gone are the days when Relief Society and priesthood quorums are teaching something different on a Sunday than what their children are getting in Young Men and Young Women groups. Even the Sunday School lessons have been carefully correlated so that when a family sits down around their dinner table they can share what each age group learned that day in their three-hour block meetings.

Many years ago I spent some time looking at what Joseph Smith offered in his teachings about the plan of salvation. In Alma 42, we find "the plan" referred to as "the great plan of salvation", "the plan of happiness", and "the plan of mercy". All are synonyms, of course.

Implicit in our understanding of "a plan" is the obvious necessity and reality of a Planner. Joseph learned about the plan from the Planner. Nothing should be simpler to understand than that.

What follows are Joseph's teachings about the various topics under the broad topic of the plan of salvation. I hope it will serve as a handy reference guide to what the Prophet Joseph taught as you prepare your plan of salvation lessons this month (and beyond):


The spirits of men and women are eternal.

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (hereafter “TPJS”), 157-58:
Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days; he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael, he will call his children together and hold a council with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man.  He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council.  This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action.  The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion.  Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family.
 The spirit of man is not a created being; it existed from eternity, and will exist to eternity.  Anything created cannot be eternal; and earth, water, etc., had their existence in an elementary state, from eternity.  Our Savior speaks of children and says, Their angels always stand before my Father.  The Father called all spirits before Him at the creation of man, and organized them. He (Adam) is the head, and was told to multiply.  The keys were first given to him, and by him to others.  He will have to give an account of his stewardship, and they to him.

TPJS, 208:
Without attempting to describe this mysterious connection, and the laws that govern the body and the spirit of man, their relationship to each other, and the design of God in relation to the human body and spirit, I would just remark, that the spirits of men are eternal, that they are governed by the same Priesthood that Abraham, Melchizedek, and the Apostles were: that they are organized according to that Priesthood which is everlasting, "without beginning of days or end of years,"—that they all move in their respective spheres, and are governed by the law of God. . .


In the council of the Gods the plan of the Eternal Father was sustained.  It provided for the creation of an earth whereupon His children would receive physical bodies and would be tested according to His commandments.

TPJS, 348-49:
I shall comment on the very first Hebrew word in the Bible; I will make a comment on the very first sentence of the history of the creation in the Bible — Berosheit.  I want to analyze the word.  Baith — in, by, through, and everything else.  Rosh — the head.  Sheit — grammatical termination.  When the inspired man wrote it, he did not put the baith there.  An old Jew without any authority added the word; he thought it too bad to begin to talk about the head!  It read first, "The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods."  That is the true meaning of the words.  Baurau signifies to bring forth.  If you do not believe it, you do not believe the learned man of God.  Learned men can teach you no more than what I have told you.  Thus the head God brought forth the Gods in the grand council.
. . . The head God called together the Gods and sat in grand council to bring forth the world.  The grand councilors sat at the head in yonder heavens and contemplated the creation of the worlds which were created at the time. . . 
. . . I should not have introduced this testimony, were it not to back up the word rosh the head, the Father of the Gods.  I should not have brought it up, only to show that I am right.


A grand council in heaven was convened.

TPJS, 356-57:
I have a declaration to make as to the provisions which God hath made to suit the conditions of man — made from before the foundation of the world.  What has Jesus said?  All sin, and all blasphemies, and every transgression, except one, that man can be guilty of, may be forgiven; and there is a salvation for all men, either in this world or the world to come, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, there being a provision either in this world or the world of spirits.  Hence God hath made a provision that every spirit in the eternal world can be ferreted out and saved unless he has committed that unpardonable sin which cannot be remitted to him either in this world or the world of spirits.  God has wrought out a salvation for all men, unless they have committed a certain sin; and every man who has a friend in the eternal world can save him, unless he has committed the unpardonable sin.  And so you can see how far you can be a savior.  
A man cannot commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the body, and there is a way possible for escape.  Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge.  So long as a man will not give heed to the commandments, he must abide without salvation.  If a man has knowledge, he can be saved; although, if he has been guilty of great sins, he will be punished for them.  But when he consents to obey the Gospel, whether here or in the world of spirits, he is saved.
A man is his own tormenter and his own condemner.  Hence the saying, They shall go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.  The torment of disappointment in the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone.  I say, so is the torment of man.
I know the Scriptures and understand them.  I said, no man can commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the body, nor in this life, until he receives the Holy Ghost; but they must do it in this world.  Hence the salvation of Jesus Christ was wrought out for all men, in order to triumph over the devil; for if it did not catch him in one place, it would in another; for he stood up as a Savior.  All will suffer until they obey Christ himself.
The contention in heaven was — Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the devil said he could save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favor of Jesus Christ.  So the devil rose up in rebellion against God, and was cast down, with all who put up their heads for him.  (Book of Moses — Pearl of Great Price, Chap. 4:1-4; Book of Abraham, Chap. 3:23-28.)

Some were foreordained to be prophets.

TPJS, 365-66:
My enemies say that I have been a true prophet.  Why, I had rather be a fallen true prophet than a false prophet.  When a man goes about prophesying, and commands men to obey his teachings, he must either be a true or false prophet.  False prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones.
The doctrine of eternal judgments belongs to the first principles of the Gospel, in the last days.  In relation to the kingdom of God, the devil always sets up his kingdom at the very same time in opposition to God.  Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was.  I suppose I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council.  It is the testimony that I want that I am God's servant, and this people His people.  The ancient prophets declared that in the last days the God of heaven should set up a kingdom which should never be destroyed, nor left to other people; and the very time that was calculated on, this people were struggling to bring it out.  He that arms himself with gun, sword, or pistol, except in the defense of truth, will sometime be sorry for it.  I never carry any weapon with me bigger than my penknife.  When I was dragged before the cannon and muskets in Missouri, I was unarmed.  God will always protect me until my mission is fulfilled.
I calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world.  I once offered my life to the Missouri mob as a sacrifice for my people, and here I am.  It will not be by sword or gun that this kingdom will roll on: the power of truth is such that all nations will be under the necessity of obeying the Gospel.  The prediction is that army will be against army: it may be that the Saints will have to beat their ploughs into swords, for it will not do for men to sit down patiently and see their children destroyed.


Spiritual death occurred when we were separated from God at birth. To overcome its effects requires that we be obedient to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

TPJS, 48:
Who but those who have duly considered the condescension of the Father of our spirits, in providing a sacrifice for His creatures, a plan of redemption, a power of atonement, a scheme of salvation, having as its great objects, the bringing of men back into the presence of the King of heaven, crowning them in the celestial glory, and making them heirs with the Son to that inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away — who but such can realize the importance of a perfect walk before all men, and a diligence in calling upon all men to partake of these blessings?  How indescribably glorious are these things to mankind!  Of a truth they may be considered tidings of great joy to all people; and tidings, too, that ought to fill the earth and cheer the heart of every one when sounded in his ears.  The reflection that everyone is to receive according to his own diligence and perseverance while in the vineyard, ought to inspire everyone who is called to be a minister of these glad tidings, to so improve his talent that he may gain other talents, that when the Master sits down to take an account of the conduct of His servants, it may be said, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will now make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.


These principles and ordinances were instituted before the foundation of the world.  They are not to be altered or changed.  All must be saved by the same requirements.

TPJS, 58-61:
But that man was not able himself to erect a system, or plan with power sufficient to free him from a destruction which awaited him is evident from the fact that God, as before remarked, prepared a sacrifice in the gift of His own Son who should be sent in due time, to prepare a way, or open a door through which man might enter into the Lord's presence, whence he had been cast out for disobedience.  From time to time these glad tidings were sounded in the ears of men in different ages of the world down to the time of Messiah's coming.  By faith in this atonement or plan of redemption, Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock.  Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith, he could have no faith, or could not exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven.  It must be shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man; for this was the plan of redemption; and without the shedding of blood was no remission; and as the sacrifice was instituted for a type, by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared; to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised, because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of atonement instituted after that order; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.  But Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God Himself testifying of his gifts.  Certainly, the shedding of the blood of a beast could be beneficial to no man, except it was done in imitation, or as a type, or explanation of what was to be offered through the gift of God Himself; and this performance done with an eye looking forward in faith on the power of that great Sacrifice for a remission of sins.  But however various may have been, and may be at the present time, the opinions of men respecting the conduct of Abel, and the knowledge which he had on the subject of atonement, it is evident in our minds, that he was instructed more fully in the plan than what the Bible speaks of, for how could he offer a sacrifice in faith, looking to God for a remission of his sins in the power of the great atonement, without having been previously instructed in that plan?  And further, if he was accepted of God, what were the ordinances performed further than the offering of the firstlings of the flock?
It is said by Paul in his letter to the Hebrew brethren, that Abel obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts.  To whom did God testify of the gifts of Abel, was it to Paul?  We have very little on this important subject in the forepart of the Bible.  But it is said that Abel himself obtained witness that he was righteous.  Then certainly God spoke to him: indeed, it is said that God talked with him; and if He did, would He not, seeing that Abel was righteous deliver to him the whole plan of the Gospel?  And is not the Gospel the news of the redemption?  How could Abel offer a sacrifice and look forward with faith on the Son of God for a remission of his sins, and not understand the Gospel?  The mere shedding of the blood of beasts or offering anything else in sacrifice, could not procure a remission of sins, except it were performed in faith of something to come; if it could, Cain's offering must have been as good as Abel's.  And if Abel was taught of the coming of the Son of God, was he not taught also of His ordinances?  We all admit that the Gospel has ordinances, and if so, had it not always ordinances, and were not its ordinances always the same?
Perhaps our friends will say that the Gospel and its ordinances were not known till the days of John, the son of Zacharias, in the days of Herod, the king of Judea.  But we will here look at this point: For our own part we cannot believe that the ancients in all ages were so ignorant of the system of heaven as many suppose, since all that were ever saved, were saved through the power of this great plan of redemption, as much before the coming of Christ as since; if not, God has had different plans in operation (if we may so express it), to bring men back to dwell with Himself; and this we cannot believe, since there has been no change in the constitution of man since he fell; and the ordinance or institution of offering blood in sacrifice, was only designed to be performed till Christ was offered up and shed His blood — as said before — that man might look forward in faith to that time.  It will be noticed that, according to Paul, (see Gal. 3:8) the Gospel was preached to Abraham.  We would like to be informed in what name the Gospel was then preached, whether it was in the name of Christ or some other name.  If in any other name, was it the Gospel?  And if it was the Gospel, and that preached in the name of Christ, had it any ordinances?  If not, was it the Gospel?  And if it had ordinances what were they?  Our friends may say, perhaps, that there were never any ordinances except those of offering sacrifices before the coming of Christ, and that it could not be possible before the Gospel to have been administered while the law of sacrifices of blood was in force.  But we will recollect that Abraham offered sacrifice, and notwithstanding this, had the Gospel preached to him.  That the offering of sacrifice was only to point the mind forward to Christ, we infer from these remarkable words of Jesus to the Jews: "Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad" (John 8:56).  So, then, because the ancients offered sacrifice it did not hinder their hearing the Gospel; but served, as we said before, to open their eyes, and enable them to look forward to the time of the coming of the Savior, and rejoice in His redemption.  We find also, that when the Israelites came out of Egypt they had the Gospel preached to them, according to Paul in his letter to the Hebrews, which says: "For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it" (see Heb. 4:2).  It is said again, in Gal. 3:19, that the law (of Moses, or the Levitical law) was "added" because of transgression.  What, we ask, was this law added to, if it was not added to the Gospel?  It must be plain that it was added to the Gospel, since we learn that they had the Gospel preached to them.  From these few facts, we conclude that whenever the Lord revealed Himself to men in ancient days, and commanded them to offer sacrifice to Him, that it was done that they might look forward in faith to the time of His coming, and rely upon the power of that atonement for a remission of their sins.  And this they have done, thousands who have gone before us, whose garments are spotless, and who are, like Job, waiting with an assurance like his, that they will see Him in the latter day upon the earth, even in their flesh.
We may conclude, that though there were different dispensations, yet all things which God communicated to His people were calculated to draw their minds to the great object, and to teach them to rely upon God alone as the author of their salvation, as contained in His law.

TPJS, 308:
It was the design of the councils of heaven before the world was, that the principles and laws of the priesthood should be predicated upon the gathering of the people in every age of the world.  Jesus did everything to gather the people, and they would not be gathered, and He therefore poured out curses upon them.  Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.  All must be saved on the same principles.
It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings and anointings, etc.  One of the ordinances of the house of the Lord is baptism for the dead.  God decreed before the foundation of the world that the ordinance should be administered in a font prepared for that purpose in the house of the Lord.  "This is only your opinion, sir," says the sectarian.* * *
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.
Where there is no change of priesthood, there is no change of ordinances, says Paul.  If God has not changed the ordinances and the priesthood, howl, ye sectarians!  If he has, when and where has He revealed it?  Have ye turned revelators?  Then why deny revelation?

TPJS, 367:
In regard to the law of the Priesthood, there should be a place where all nations shall come up from time to time to receive their endowments; and the Lord has said this shall be the place for the baptisms for the dead.  Every man that has been baptized and belongs to the kingdom has a right to be baptized for those who have gone before; and as soon as the law of the Gospel is obeyed here by their friends who act as proxy for them, the Lord has administrators there to set them free.  A man may act as proxy for his own relatives; the ordinances of the Gospel which were laid out before the foundations of the world have thus been fulfilled by them, and we may be baptized for those whom we have much friendship for; but it must first be revealed to the man of God, lest we should run too far.  "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive;" all shall be raised from the dead.  The Lamb of God hath brought to pass the resurrection, so that all shall rise from the dead.
God Almighty Himself dwells in eternal fire; flesh and blood cannot go there, for all corruption is devoured by the fire.  "Our God is a consuming fire."  When our flesh is quickened by the Spirit, there will be no blood in this tabernacle.  Some dwell in higher glory than others.
Those who have done wrong always have that wrong gnawing them.  Immortality dwells in everlasting burnings.  I will from time to time reveal to you the subjects that are revealed by the Holy Ghost to me.  All the lies that are now hatched up against me are of the devil, and the influence of the devil and his servants will be used against the kingdom of God.  The servants of God teach nothing but principles of eternal life, by their works ye shall know them.  A good man will speak good things and holy principles, and an evil man evil things.  I feel, in the name of the Lord, to rebuke all such bad principles, liars, &c., and I warn all of you to look out whom you are going after.  I exhort you to give heed to all the virtue and the teachings which I have given you.  All men who are immortal dwell in everlasting burnings.  You cannot go anywhere but where God can find you out.  All men are born to die, and all men must rise; all must enter eternity.


The priesthood administers the ordinances of salvation.

TPJS, 158:
The spirit of man is not a created being; it existed from eternity, and will exist to eternity.  Anything created cannot be eternal; and earth, water, etc., had their existence in an elementary state, from eternity.  Our Savior speaks of children and says, Their angels always stand before my Father.  The Father called all spirits before Him at the creation of man, and organized them.  He (Adam) is the head, and was told to multiply.  The keys were first given to him, and by him to others.  He will have to give an account of his stewardship, and they to him.
The Priesthood is everlasting.  The Savior, Moses, and Elias, gave the keys to Peter, James and John, on the mount, when they were transfigured before him.  The Priesthood is everlasting — without beginning of days or end of years; without father, mother, etc.  If there is no change of ordinances there is no change of Priesthood.  Wherever the ordinances of the Gospel are administered, there is the Priesthood.
How have we come at the Priesthood in the last days?  It came down, down, in regular succession. Peter, James, and John had it given to them and they gave it to others.  Christ is the Great High Priest; Adam next.  Paul speaks of the Church coming to an innumerable company of angels — to God the Judge of all — the spirits of just men made perfect; to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant. (Hebrews 12:22-24.)
I saw Adam in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman.  He called together his children and blessed them with a patriarchal blessing.  The Lord appeared in their midst, and he (Adam) blessed them all, and foretold what should befall them to the latest generation.

TPJS, 157:
The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation.  He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed, as in Genesis 1:26, 27, 28.  He had dominion given him over every living creature.  He is Michael the Archangel, spoken of in the Scriptures.  Then to Noah, who is Gabriel: he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office, and was the father of all living in this day, and to him was given the dominion.  These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven.
The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years.  The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent.  When they are revealed from heaven, it is by Adam's authority.
Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days; he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael, he will call his children together and hold a council with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man.  He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council.  This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action.  The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion.  Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family.


When you die, you are introduced to the spirit world.

TPJS, 309-10:
All men who become heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ will have to receive the fulness of the ordinances of his kingdom; and those who will not receive all the ordinances will come short of the fullness of that glory, if they do not lose the whole.
I will say something about the spirits in prison.  There has been much said by modern divines about the words of Jesus (when on the cross) to the thief, saying, "This day shalt thou be with me in paradise." King James' translators make it out to say paradise.  But what is paradise?  It is a modern word: it does not answer at all to the original word that Jesus made use of.  Find the original of the word paradise.  You may as easily find a needle in a haymow.  Here is a chance for battle, ye learned men.  There is nothing in the original word in Greek from which this was taken that signifies paradise; but it was — This day thou shalt be with me in the world of spirits: then I will teach you all about it and answer your inquiries.  And Peter says he went and preached to the world of spirits (spirits in prison, 1 Peter, 3rd chap. 19th verse), so that they who would receive it could have it answered by proxy by those who live on the earth, etc.
The doctrine of baptism for the dead is clearly shown in the New Testament; and if the doctrine is not good, then throw the New Testament away; but if it is the word of God, then let the doctrine be acknowledged; and it was the reason why Jesus said unto the Jews, "How oft would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" — that they might attend to the ordinances of baptism for the dead as well as other ordinances of the priesthood, and receive revelations from heaven, and be perfected in the things of the kingdom of God — but they would not.  This was the case on the day of Pentecost: those blessings were poured out on the disciples on that occasion.  God ordained that He would save the dead, and would do it by gathering His people together.
It always has been when a man was sent of God with the priesthood and he began to preach the fullness of the gospel, that he was thrust out by his friends, who are already to butcher him if he teach things which they imagine to be wrong; and Jesus was crucified upon this principle.
I will now turn linguist.  There are many things in the Bible which do not, as they now stand, accord with the revelations of the Holy Ghost to me.
I will criticise [sic] a little further.  There has been much said about the word hell, and the sectarian world have preached much about it, describing it to be a burning lake of fire and brimstone.  But what is hell?  It is another modern term, and is taken from hades.  I'll hunt after hades as Pat did for the woodchuck.
Hades, the Greek, or Sheol, the Hebrew, these two significations mean a world of spirits.  Hades, Sheol, paradise, spirits in prison, are all one: it is a world of spirits.
The righteous and the wicked all go to the same world of spirits until the resurrection.


After all have been dealt with equally, a judgment will be rendered.

TPJS, 219:
The situation of the Christian nations after death, is a subject that has called forth all the wisdom and talent of the philosopher and the divine, and it is an opinion which is generally received, that the destiny of man is irretrievably fixed at his death, and that he is made either eternally happy, or eternally miserable; that if a man dies without a knowledge of God, he must be eternally damned, without any mitigation of his punishment, alleviation of his pain, or the most latent hope of a deliverance while endless ages shall roll along.  However orthodox this principle may be, we shall find that it is at variance with the testimony of Holy Writ, for our Savior says, that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men wherewith they shall blaspheme; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come, evidently showing that there are sins which may be forgiven in the world to come, although the sin of blasphemy [against the Holy Ghost] cannot be forgiven.  Peter, also, in speaking concerning our Savior, says, that "He went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah" (1 Peter 3:19, 20).  Here then we have an account of our Savior preaching to the spirits in prison, to spirits that had been imprisoned from the days of Noah; and what did He preach to them?  That they were to stay there?  Certainly not!  Let His own declaration testify.  "He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight of the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." (Luke 4:18.) Isaiah has it — "To bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness from the prison house."  (Isaiah 42:7.)  It is very evident from this that he not only went to preach to them, but to deliver, or bring them out of the prison house.  Isaiah, in testifying concerning the calamities that will overtake the inhabitants of the earth, says, "The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall and not rise again.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.  And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited."  Thus we find that God will deal with all the human family equally, and that as the antediluvians had their day of visitation, so will those characters referred to by Isaiah, have their time of visitation and deliverance; after having been many days in prison.

TPJS, 257:
Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive; and, at the same time, is more terrible to the workers of iniquity, more awful in the executions of His punishments, and more ready to detect every false way, than we are apt to suppose Him to be. He will be inquired of by His children. He says, "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find;" but, if you will take that which is not your own, or which I have not given you, you shall be rewarded according to your deeds; but no good thing will I withhold from them who walk uprightly before me, and do my will in all things — who will listen to my voice and to the voice of my servant whom I have sent; for I delight in those who seek diligently to know my precepts, and abide by the law of my kingdom; for all things shall be made known unto them in mine own due time, and in the end they shall have joy.  (Aug. 27, 1842.)

TPJS, 217-18:
The great designs of God in relation to the salvation of the human family, are very little understood by the professedly wise and intelligent generation in which we live.  Various and conflicting are the opinions of men concerning the plan of salvation, the requisitions of the Almighty, the necessary preparations for heaven, the state and condition of departed spirits, and the happiness or misery that is consequent upon the practice of righteousness and iniquity according to their several notions of virtue and vice.
The Mussulman condemns the heathen, the Jew, and the Christian, and the whole world of mankind that reject his Koran, as infidels, and consigns the whole of them to perdition.  The Jew believes that the whole world that rejects his faith and are not circumcised, are Gentile dogs, and will be damned.  The heathen is equally as tenacious about his principles, and the Christian consigns all to perdition who cannot bow to his creed, and submit to his ipse dixit.
But while one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes "His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."  He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, "according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil," or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India.  He will judge them, "not according to what they have not, but according to what they have," those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law. We need not doubt the wisdom and intelligence of the Great Jehovah; He will award judgment or mercy to all nations according to their several deserts, their means of obtaining intelligence, the laws by which they are governed, the facilities afforded them of obtaining correct information, and His inscrutable designs in relation to the human family; and when the designs of God shall be made manifest, and the curtain of futurity be withdrawn, we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right.


Those who have become pure, through repentance, will obtain eternal life and return to the presence of God.  They will be exalted as heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.

TPJS, 374-75:
I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief.
They found fault with Jesus Christ because He said He was the Son of God, and made Himself equal with God.  They say of me, like they did of the Apostles of old, that I must be put down.  What did Jesus say?  "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are Gods?  If He called them Gods unto whom the word of God came, and the Scriptures cannot be broken, say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said I am the Son of God?"  It was through Him that they drank of the spiritual rock.  Of course He would take the honor to Himself.  Jesus, if they were called Gods unto whom the word of God came, why should it be thought blasphemy that I should say I am the Son of God?
Go and read the vision [D&C 76] in the Book of Covenants.  There is clearly illustrated glory upon glory — one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and a glory of the stars; and as one star differeth from another star in glory, even so do they of the telestial world differ in glory, and every man who reigns in celestial glory is a God to his dominions.  By the apostates admitting the testimony of the Doctrine and Covenants they damn themselves.  Paul, what do you say?  They impeached Paul and all went and left him.  Paul had seven churches, and they drove him off from among them; and yet they cannot do it by me.  I rejoice in that.  My testimony is good.
Paul says, "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory.  So also is the resurrection of the dead."  They who obtain a glorious resurrection from the dead, are exalted far above principalities, powers, thrones, dominions and angels, and are expressly declared to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, all having eternal power.

These Scriptures are a mixture of very strange doctrines to the Christian world, who are blindly led by the blind.  I will refer to another Scripture.  "Now," says God, when He visited Moses in the bush, (Moses was a stammering sort of a boy like me) God said, "Thou shalt be a God unto the children of Israel."  God said, "Thou shalt be a God unto Aaron, and he shall be thy spokesman."  I believe those Gods that God reveals as Gods to be sons of God, and all can cry, "Abba, Father!"  Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods, even from before the foundation of the world, and are the only Gods I have a reverence for.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Without Joseph Smith

This afternoon I was searching in my e-mail history for something else, and I stumbled over an e-mail I sent to a dear friend summarizing my appreciation for the Prophet Joseph Smith. It's worth sharing again:

Joseph Smith (1805 - 1844)
April 16, 2005

Tomorrow, I’m speaking in Francis 1st Ward.   The topic they assigned me was the Prophet Joseph Smith.   The bishop had heard me speak in the stake fireside in January to kick off the year of celebration [2005 was the 200th anniversary of Joseph's birth in 1805] and wanted me to reprise what I had done before.   While it's impossible to do that, because it all came by the Spirit while I was on my feet, my mind took me in this direction.

I thought about, “What would my life be like without Joseph Smith?”   It reduces to truth, defined by the Lord as "knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come."   (D&C 93:24)   It's the knowledge from God through Joseph that I can't live without.

Without Joseph, we would never understand the true nature of the Godhead.   The concept of God would be a nebulous spirit essence whose center is nowhere and whose circumference is everywhere.   Just read the Nicean Creed sometime for an example of what man, left to his own wisdom, comes up with when trying to describe God.   With Joseph, however, we have this simple declaration:   “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. . .”   (D&C 130:22).   Either Joseph saw them and spoke with them, or he didn’t.   Everything this Church teaches and represents stands on that simple declaration based upon an early Spring morning’s encounter with Diety in 1820.   I would never know, without Joseph, that my Father in Heaven once lived on an earth like I do, and that I may someday become just like him.   (See King Follett funeral address, TPJS, 342).   Read it again to remind yourself just how stunning his knowledge at the pinnacle of his life really was.

Without Joseph, we would never have received the true priesthood.   It came to him from those ancient prophet worthies who held the power and authority they held during their mortal lives, namely John the Baptist and Peter, James and John.   Authority came from heaven itself in the form of resurrected beings.   Recently, Pope John Paul II was laid to rest, they claim, only feet away from the “first Pope,” Peter the ancient Apostle.   Imagine this most recent Pope’s surprise upon entering the spirit world to be greeted by a resurrected Peter whose body long ago arose from the earthly tomb that held it bound.   I wonder how long it will take the last Pope to accept the fullness of the gospel from the "first Pope" upon hearing it for the first time.  Imagine the conversation when Peter explains his bones were never buried under St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Rome.

Without Joseph, we would have no knowledge of the organization of the only true Church authorized by our Father in Heaven and named for his Son Jesus Christ.   Imagine an organization revealed from heaven to living prophets that is able to accommodate rapid growth and constant change without missing a beat.   It is a constant source of amazement to me that changes in leadership every week across the world happen seamlessly without conflict or rebellion.   Its ability to expand its leadership infinitely as needed is equally amazing.   Beginning in 1975, the 1st Quorum of the Seventy was established, followed soon thereafter by the 2nd Quorum.   Members of these two quorums were designated as full-time General Authorities.   In April 1997, there came part-time Area Authority Seventies comprising the 3rd, 4th and 5th Quorums of Seventy.   In July 2004, the 6th Quorum was established.   All this is in fulfillment of a stunning pronouncement by Joseph in 1835:   “If the first Seventy are all employed, and there is a call for more laborers, it will be the duty of the seven presidents of the first Seventy to call and ordain other Seventy and send them forth to labor in the vineyard, until, if needs be, they set apart seven times seventy, and even until there are one hundred and forty-four thousand thus set apart for the ministry.”   (TPJS, 75).   Read about the 144,000 high priests (all today’s Seventies are ordained high priests) in Revelation 6-7, and D&C 77:11, then ask yourself how Joseph knew so much about organizing a worldwide Church when all the ordained priesthood brethren in Kirtland could fit in a little room.   Reported by Wilford Woodruff who was there, Joseph said:   “You know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap.   You don’t comprehend it. . . It is only a little handfull [sic] of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America –  it will fill the world” (as quoted by Wilford Woodruff, in Conference Report, April 1898, 57).

Without Joseph, we would know nothing about the establishment of Zion, pointing to the day when the earthly priesthood would unite with the heavenly priesthood.   Joseph taught that those who make their calling and election sure have the privilege of communing with "an innumerable company of angels." (HC 1:283).   He observed that "Paul [the Apostle] speaks of the Church coming to an innumerable company of angels."   (HC 3:388; 4:51; Hebrews 12:23).   The Prophet also explained: The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed.   The mustard seed is small, but brings forth a large tree, and the fowls lodge in the branches.   The fowls are the angels. . .   We may come to an innumerable company of angels, have communion with and receive instruction from them. . .   Paul had these things, and we may have the fowls of heaven lodge in the branches, etc.   (HC 3:389).   All that describes a condition of the heart, and is expanded in Joseph’s revelation and subsequent teachings about the church of the Firstborn (D&C 76:50-70).   But the thing that always amazes me is that the Lord revealed to Joseph that Independence, Missouri, was the geographical center of the United States in 1831, and the exact location of the New Jerusalem that would come down out of heaven to be joined to the earthly Zion.   He called it the “center place” and the “center stake of Zion.”   (D&C 57:1-5; 84:1-5; and this stunning promise in 101:16-18).   We know all of that because of Joseph.   I seem to use that word "stunning" a lot when I speak of Joseph.

Without Joseph, what hope do we have for salvation, meaning exaltation in the highest degree of celestial glory?   Through Joseph came the marvelous flood of light that shines brightly on the Father’s plan of happiness for his children.   We, who have suffered the loss of loved ones through death, have the hope of a glorious reunion with them.   We know we will be resurrected with them.   We know we may be exalted if we are faithful.   We know the sting of death is temporary, only swallowed up in the eternal life that awaits the sanctified.

Without Joseph, we would never know what we do about the atonement of Jesus Christ, and how to apply its purifying power to our lives.   Think what your life would be like to never have the knowledge that you could find peace in this life through the cleansing power of repentance.   Think what your life would be like without the knowledge that your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, if acted upon the way Joseph Smith outlines in the Restoration, could become the dominating force for good in your life.   Imagine not knowing that the old man of sin could be laid away in that watery grave of baptism, and rise renewed in the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost who will walk with us daily in our mortal journey.   Imagine not having the Articles of Faith to shed light on the atonement's power in our individual lives.   Said Joseph:   "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things [I take that to mean "programs of the Church," sorry just couldn't resist] which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it."   (TPJS, 121).   Joseph said, commenting upon this statement, "I published the foregoing answers to save myself the trouble of repeating the same a thousand times over and over again."

Without Joseph, we have no modern scripture to be added to the canon of the Bible.   Without Joseph, there is no Book of Mormon, no Pearl of Great Price, no Doctrine and Covenants, no Lectures on Faith, no Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.   Without Joseph we are left to interpret and debate the meanings of doctrine endlessly with our Christian neighbors.   We are shrouded without Joseph in the darkness of uncertainty and doubt about the meaning of our existence here in mortality.

Without Joseph, we have no knowledge about the role of prophets, ancient and modern.   Chosen by the God of heaven, they are appointed in a completely foreign way to the ways of men –  God chooses them, rather than a body of believers who elect them to lead.   I was interested recently to hear Susan Easton Black recount the history of how the Reorganized Church approached Joseph Smith III repeatedly and begged him to assume what they determined to be his rightful position in succession to his father.   After many attempts and many years later, he finally relented to their persistent pleas.   He was never sure that he was called of God thereafter, and made no such claim.   Contrast that with revelation from God to living prophets who exercise sacred priesthood keys.

Without Joseph, we know nothing of how to prepare ourselves spiritually for the Second Coming of Christ.   The Book of Mormon supplies us with a handbook, written through the spirit of prophecy by prophets who witnessed our day in vision.   It is remarkable that the bulk of its pages centers on conditions immediately preceding the Savior’s ministry among the Nephites and the aftermath of his ministry.   Said President Ezra Taft Benson: “The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior's visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior's second coming.   The Nephite civilization had reached great heights.   They were prosperous and industrious.   They had built many cities with great highways connecting them.   They engaged in shipping and trade.   They built temples and palaces.   But, as so often happens, the people rejected the Lord.   Pride became commonplace.   Dishonesty and immorality were widespread.   Secret combinations flourished because, as Helaman tells us, the Gadianton robbers ‘had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils.’   (Helaman 6:38).   ‘The people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning.’   (3 Nephi 6:12).   And ‘Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world,’ even as today.”   (3 Nephi 6:15).   (See Ensign, May 1987, 4).

Without Joseph, we know nothing about the purpose of temples.   We would never know about sealing families together forever, nothing of the ritual cleansing ordinances that symbolize spiritual realities for the pure in heart.   We would never know how to link our ancestors and our posterity together in an unbroken chain forged back to Father Adam and Mother Eve.   We would never have the 119 sanctuaries we do dotting the globe today, where the faithful may go to find peace in a chaotic world and may commune directly with their Father in Heaven.   Those temples with the words "Holiness to the Lord" written upon them only symbolize our temples.   God will put his seal upon our temple someday if we are faithful to our temple covenants.   In the temple we learn of the path to celestial life, and we must choose here and now to get on that path:   Obedience, sacrifice, gospel, chastity and consecration.   Five laws, five covenants, five stepping stones to eternal life.   Without Joseph, how would we ever know?

With Joseph, we have it all.   How grateful I am to him for his generosity of spirit!