Archive for December, 2012

The scriptures recite stories of both success and triumph as well as failure and futility. One such contrast is described in Matthew, chapter 17 where Peter, James and John are taken by Christ up a high mountain where Jesus was ‘transfigured before them.’ They were then presented with Moses and Elias conversing with the Savior and heard the testimony of the Father, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” (Matt. 17:5). I can only imagine what these men thought as this scene was rolled out before them. They fell down and were ‘sore afraid.’ To me, this kind of experience would bolster my faith and eradicate any fear yet upon their success, their return from the mountain, these disciples were presented with their own futility, as found in the same chapter

14  And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,

15  Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

16  And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

17  Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?  how long shall I suffer you?  bring him hither to me.

18  And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

19  Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

20  And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

21  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

The disciples, including Peter, James, and John,  found that their lack of faith prevented them from healing the child. That faith would give them the power to move mountains and make it possible for them to do anything. What is this faith and how does one obtain the power to be a conduit of heavenly power?

After the last supper, Christ told Peter that he was sought as a prize by Satan. He was given the assurance by the Lord in Luke, chapter 22,

31  And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

32  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Here again, the necessity of faith was brought to the forefront in the discussion between Christ and Peter, who was told that he had not yet been converted. We know, of course, that Peter still had to pass through the trial of denying his relationship with the Savior, one that caused him to weep. The question, in my mind, is how this conversion and the acquisition of faith to transpire? How does Peter become ‘converted?’

One can, of course, point to the day of Pentecost, where the disciples were baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost, as described in Acts, chapter 2,

3  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

4  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The narrative continues with the following statement, “And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” Of particular note, found at the beginning of Acts, chapter 3, was the following,

1  NOW Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

2  And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

3  Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

4  And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.

5  And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.

6  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

7  And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

8  And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

9  And all the people saw him walking and praising God:

As I pondered this specific miracle, among the many miracles done by the apostles, the questions were formed: How did the lack of faith demonstrated by these disciples of Christ give way to the faith and demonstration of priesthood power following their baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost? What is the linkage between the two? What did Peter’s baptism of fire unleash that then allowed him to be successful in healing the lame when before He could not heal the lunatik?

I would suggest that the conversion of Peter, the second baptism, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, unlocked his ability to exercise the priesthood power in healing the lame man. The remission of sins and the sanctification of that experience allowed Peter to become a conduit for the powers of heaven in strengthening his brethren. Likewise, it was the collective event of the baptism of fire that preceded the demonstration of ‘wonders and signs’ by the apostles documented in the description of the day of Pentecost.

This same baptism of fire was experienced by the disciples of Christ during His visit to the Nephites following his resurrection, as described in 3 Nephi chapter 19:

7  And the disciples did pray unto the Father also in the name of Jesus.  And it came to pass that they arose and ministered unto the people.

8  And when they had ministered those same words which Jesus had spoken—nothing varying from the words which Jesus had spoken—behold, they knelt again and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus.

9  And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.

10  And when they had thus prayed they went down unto the water’s edge, and the multitude followed them.

11  And it came to pass that Nephi went down into the water and was baptized.

12  And he came up out of the water and began to baptize.  And he baptized all those whom Jesus had chosen.

13  And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

14  And behold, they were encircled about as if it were by fire; and it came down from heaven, and the multitude did witness it, and did bear record; and angels did come down out of heaven and did minister unto them.

The disciples that Jesus had chosen were the first to be re-baptized with water and were then baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost. They were also part of the miracle of the sacrament where the multitude was filled by the few loaves brought by the disciples. These same disciples were responsible for greater works of God as described in 4 Nephi,

5  And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.

Did this baptism of fire unlock the disciples’ ability to perform the works of God? I would suggest that the answer is ‘yes.’ In some incomprehensible way, the second baptism was a prerequisite to the apostles’ ability to heal the sick and perform the other miracles recorded in the scriptures. The baptism of fire carries with it the sanctification of the body, all sins are put in remission, and the person is clean. It is then, in this sanctified condition, that the apostles were able to channel the powers of heaven in the performance of miracles.

In the meridian of time, both among the Jews and the Nephites, the twelve were shown to experience the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost prior to their miracles and healings. Could it be that, just as the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is the gate to the strait and narrow path (2 Nephi 31:17-18), that the same baptism of fire is the gate to the demonstration of the works of God by His apostles?

What does our modern leadership say about the second baptism? Here is one example from the general conference address by Boyd K. Packer in October 2007:

To my great surprise, I was called to meet with President David O. McKay. He took both of my hands in his and called me to be one of the General Authorities, an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

A few days later, I came to Salt Lake City to meet with the First Presidency to be set apart as one of the General Authorities of the Church. This was the first time I had met with the First Presidency—President David O. McKay and his counselors, President Hugh B. Brown and President Henry D. Moyle.

President McKay explained that one of the responsibilities of an Assistant to the Twelve was to stand with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as a special witness and to bear testimony that Jesus is the Christ. What he said next overwhelmed me: “Before we proceed to set you apart, I ask you to bear your testimony to us. We want to know if you have that witness.”

I did the best I could. I bore my testimony the same as I might have in a fast and testimony meeting in my ward. To my surprise, the Brethren of the Presidency seemed pleased and proceeded to confer the office upon me.

That puzzled me greatly, for I had supposed that someone called to such an office would have an unusual, different, and greatly enlarged testimony and spiritual power.

It puzzled me for a long time until finally I could see that I already had what was required: an abiding testimony in my heart of the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith, that we have a Heavenly Father, and that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. I may not have known all about it, but I did have a testimony, and I was willing to learn.

I was perhaps no different from those spoken of in the Book of Mormon: “And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Nephi 9:20; emphasis added).

Over the years, I have come to see how powerfully important that simple testimony is. I have come to understand that our Heavenly Father is the Father of our spirits (see Numbers 16:22; Hebrews 12:9; D&C 93:29). He is a father with all the tender love of a father. Jesus said, “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God” (John 16:27).

Next year, in the General Conference held in April 2008, Christofferson added this clarification:

You should remember that the remarkable examples of King Benjamin’s people, Alma, and some others in scripture are just that—remarkable and not typical.  For most of us, the changes are more gradual and occur over time. Being born again, unlike our physical birth, is more a process than an event. And engaging in that process is the central purpose of mortality.

As I read and re-read these recitation of the church’s apostles experience, I came away with several points of his presentation. One, a simple testimony is all that Packer believes is needed to be an apostle. Apostles shouldn’t expect any great, unusual, or different spiritual power. Two, Packer has wrested the scriptures in 3 Nephi to support an incorrect conclusion. The 300 Lamanites, as referenced in 3 Nephi 9:20, weren’t the recipients of some long term imperceptible change as suggested by Packer and Cristofferson, rather they could not understand what was happening around them and had to be instructed as to what they were experiencing. The event is recorded in Helaman, chapter five. I would note that in the footnotes associated with verse 45, there is a pointer to 3 Nephi 9:20. This reinforces the point that the idea that “they knew it not” should not be used to support the idea that the baptism of fire is a process rather than event. Rather, they needed to be ‘coached’ as to what was happening. They knew it not because they understood it not.

If our modern apostles don’t believe that the baptism of fire is integral to the gospel, and what I would consider a prerequisite to extending the power of the priesthood, how can we expect them to perform the miracles attendant to this position? If the church is a ‘true’ restoration of the past organization, should we not expect the apostles to exhibit the same attributes as those twelve selected by Christ among the Jews and the Nephites? Should they not be the conduit through which the powers of heaven rain down miracles upon the members?

I believe that we all can have faith work in our lives. We each can be the recipient of miracles based on our individual faith. However, I believe that the scriptures puts a specific emphasis on the performance of miracles by those twelve who are called to serve in the position of apostle. They are to demonstrate the works of God rather than the works of men.

Following His exposition of the gospel in 3 Nephi, chapter 27, verse 21,  Christ told the twelve what should be done in His church:

…ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;

What works was Christ referring to? According to 3 Nephi 26, verse 15, He ”healed all their sick, and their lame, and opened the eyes of their blind and unstopped the ears of the deaf, and even had done all manner of cures among them, and raised a man from the dead, and had shown forth his power unto them…”

These are the works of God. These are the miracles and wonders performed by Peter and the apostles among the Jews. These are the healings performed by the twelve apostles among the Nephites. These are the works of God that should be demonstrated by those who are called to the same position in the modern church.

Why is it not happening? It is because the church is in apostasy. It is because the leadership of the church has changed the everlasting covenant which is the fulness of the gospel (D&C 66:2). Without a correct understanding of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, the gospel is not that which was defined by Christ, and the works of God cannot be demonstrated in His church. This is the message of the 27th chapter of 3 Nephi.

We are all called upon to repent and return. I suggest we get moving in that direction.

What think ye?

For this post, I have chosen to return to one of my favorite themes – the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. While I have, in the past, cited a number of examples from the scriptures and have provided a forum for testimonies of this sacred spiritual rebirth, I have not presented all the examples of this event from the scriptures. This post is a feeble attempt to identify additional scriptural evidence as to the consistent example of the second baptism as an event rather than a undescernable process. What better place to start than with the first man – Adam…

The baptism of Adam is not found in the Old Testament. To gain an understanding of the performance of the ordinance for Adam, one must go to the Pearl of Great Price.

After Adam and Eve were put out into the lone and dreary world, the Lord gave them commandments. They dutifully fulfilled the dictates of the Lord, they bore children, they offered the first of their flocks as a sacrifice.

6  And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?  And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.

7  And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.

8  Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.

9  And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.

10  And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

The first man was called upon to repent. He was told to pray in the name of the Son of God. I have found two aspects of this scripture reference that are interesting but not necessarily pertinent to the topic at hand. First, the Holy Ghost, in bearing record, spoke as if they were Christ. I don’t think I have come across a similar representation. Second, I like the idea that Adam blessed God and was then filled. How often do we ‘turn the tables’ and bless our Father?

Adam received the Holy Ghost and bore record that all mankind may be redeemed through the sacrifice of the Son of God. The experience of Adam and the Holy Ghost is expanded in the later description of the preaching of Enoch.

When Enoch received his call to preach unto the people, he bore record of the word of God; he was commanded to teach the people to repent and be cleansed. Here is the quote from Moses, chapter 6:

57  Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.

58  Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying:

59  That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;

We are to be born again of water and of the Spirit through the ordinance of baptism. The final piece is that we must be cleansed by the blood of Christ – this is how we are to be sanctified. This passage is consistent with the definition of the gospel found in 3 Nephi, chapter 27:

19  And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

20  Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

21  Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;

In some marvelous and miraculous fashion, the reception of the Holy Ghost purges all the shame from our being. It cleanses us spiritually. I find it interesting that this scripture reference in Moses suggests that we must be sanctified in order to ‘enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.’ I find this consistent with the guidance given in 2 Nephi 32 regarding the baptism of fire being a prerequisite to speaking the words of angels.

2  Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels?  And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?

3  Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.  Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

 This is reinforced in the next verses again from Moses, chapter 6:

60  For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;

61  Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.

Once we have been sanctified, we have the opportunity to have the Comforter, the truth of all things to abide with us. We can have the mysteries of the kingdom brought to us. Was Adam unique in the receipt of these great gifts? Does he alone receive the record of heaven? Did he alone receive all power? I would suggest we each ponder these questions. I think, many times, we sell ourselves short by not comprehending what the Lord would give us if we humbled ourselves and asked.

We then read that Adam fulfilled this commandment:

64  And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water.

65  And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man.

66  And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying: Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost.  This is the record of the Father, and the Son, from henceforth and forever;

67  And thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity.

68  Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons.  Amen.

Adam was carried into the water by the Spirit of the Lord to receive the first baptism. He then had the Spirit of God come upon him and was born of the Spirit – the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. One could suggest, based on the content of verse 67, that Adam was then a recipient of the priesthood after the order of the Son of God. This baptism of water and spirit was also a prerequisite to being called a son of God.

We may all become sons and daughters of God by following this example. One must be baptized by water, receive the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost and be sanctified.

After the people of King Benjamin received a remission of their sins by the baptism of  fire and the Holy Ghost, the desired to enter into the covenant with the Lord and received the same blessing as Adam from Mosiah, chapter 5:

5  And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.

6  And now, these are the words which king Benjamin desired of them; and therefore he said unto them: Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant.

7  And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

We all have the right and the opportunity to become sanctified, to be presented with ‘great views of that which is to come,’ to prophesy as did Adam, to see the whole history of the world as was presented to Adam, to Enoch, to Lehi, and Nephi. It is through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit that we are able to become the sons and daughters of God.

The first man, Adam, provides an example to each of us that we must be born of water and of the spirit, we must be sanctified before we can gain entrance to his kingdom.

17  Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter.  For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

18  And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive. (2 Nephi 31)

The gospel as presented to Adam is consistent to the gospel presented to us in the Book of Mormon. It is the definition of the gate that we must enter to be on the strait and narrow path to eternal life. Adam provides that example and adds to the testament of the purpose of the gospel, to bring us back into the presence of the Father. That this path requires baptism, first by water, then by spirit.

One can choose to believe that this blessing of the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost is the imperceptible change which is the result of a life of service and sacrifice. Or, one could choose to seek that gift today and enjoy the fruits of the spirit throughout the rest of one’s life. Which one is would be the most fulfilling? Adam has given us an example of what we can receive if we prepare ourselves and seek this baptism of fire today. There are sufficient examples in the scriptures to warrant a test. Would God honor us with this necessary blessing if we humble ourselves, as did the people of King Benjamin, and ask for it?

What think ye?