Archive for February, 2013

The strait and narrow path to eternal life has a gate. The scriptures attest that anyone who wishes to be found on that path must enter through this gate, which is “repentance and baptism by water; then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.”

Nephi asks the question: …after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? He answers his own question with the following found in 2 Nephi, chapter 31.

19  Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

20  Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.  Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

As we journey on this strait and narrow path, we are told that we must feast upon the words of Christ and endure to the end, after which we are promised we shall have eternal life.

In the next chapter, Nephi continues to provide additional information until the spirit stops him. Where do we find the words of Christ?

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.

What a tremendous promise, after receiving the baptism of fire, we can speak with the tongue of angels. I believe this could mean that, after our entry onto the strait and narrow way, we are able to understand the language of the heavenly beings. The Holy Ghost has given us the power to communicate with angels. These same heavenly beings are able to provide us with the words of Christ. It is this personal revelation that will service as our personal ‘iron rod.’ leading us to our goal.

As stated above, one must have unshaken faith in Christ; one must press forward; one must endure to the end.

As I read and reread these words, my thoughts were redirected to the definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ found in 3 Nephi, chapter 27:

16  And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

17  And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.

18  And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men.  And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.

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;

22  Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

In verse 16, Christ tells us that if we repent and are baptized, we shall be filled. I believe this is the reference to the baptism of fire that should be our first goal. Following reception of the Holy Ghost, when we are filled, we must now endure to the end; the message is consistent with what was described in the doctrine of Christ as expounded by Nephi.

What is at the ‘end?’ What is it that greets us if we endure? The fruits of this endurance, according to the gospel defined by Christ, is that we will be found guiltless at the last day. We are told that no unclean thing can be found in His kingdom. The only way to enter is to have our garments washed by the blood of Christ. The prize at the end of this path is sanctification.  We are sanctified by the Holy Ghost in order to be without sin. We have the atonement applied to our garments and are pronounced holy and without spot.

In Moses, chapter 6, we are told what we should be teaching our children:

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;

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

Before we can teach, we must learn for ourselves. We must be baptized of water, we must born again of the spirit, and finally we must  endure to the end and be cleansed by the blood of Christ.

Two gates are portrayed in this gospel, the first gate is the baptism of fire – justification, the second gate is the washing in the blood of Christ – sanctification.

But…. when is the end? Is it the end of our lives? Or is it when we have reached the point where we are fully immersed in the gospel? Is it when we have reached that point, because of our steadfast faith, where the Lord can say to us, as He did to Abraham in Genesis 18:19

For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment.

In Alma, chapter 13, we can read of men who were ordained to the priesthood.

8  Now they were ordained after this manner—being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end—

9  Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth.  And thus it is.  Amen.

10  Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;

11  Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.

12  Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.

13  And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.

These men were ordained high priests because of their exceeding faith and repentance. They were called and sanctified. Their garments were washed in the blood of Christ and were allowed to enter the ‘rest’ of God.

These men were not ordained as they passed from this life, rather they were ordained and received this sanctification in order to teach others how it must be done.

6  And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest—

We are told here in this chapter that there were an ‘exceedingly great many’ who were offered this great privilege.

What is it that restrains us in this day? Where are these high priests who have been sanctified and are tasked with teaching us how we can also enjoy the rest of God and how we can have our garments ‘washed white through the blood of the Lamb?

Why are these words not taught to the people who call themselves saints?

Or was it taught but has been lost? I would posit that this ‘sanctification’ is also known by other names including having one’s ‘calling and election’ made sure.

In summary, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is the gate by which we enter the strait and narrow path. This path allows us to open communications with the angels and, through steadfast faith and enduring to the end, we will be sanctified through the atonement of Christ. When we receive this second blessing, we are to teach others how to navigate to the rest of God.

What think ye?

In the header to chapter 16 of Third Nephi, we read that “In the latter days the gospel will go to the Gentiles and then to the house of Israel.” As the discussion around the characteristics of the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost has touched on the rejection of the gospel identified in this chapter, I would like to share what I came to understand from these words spoken to the Nephites by Jesus Christ.

After reviewing the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord turned the discussion to the Gentile in the latter day. They were to be the recipients of the restoration of the gospel and will be responsible for the carriage of these truths to the remnant as described starting in verse four

And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer.

And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfil the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel.

These writings were indeed manifest unto the Gentiles through the Book of Mormon and then, through the Gentiles,  the remnant of the seed of those in Jerusalem is to come to a knowledge of the Savior. The Lord then goes on the praise the Gentiles and chastise the those of the house of Israel

And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father.

Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them.

The Gentiles will be blessed to receive a testimony through the Holy Ghost. This witness is found most predominately among those connected to the restoration of the Gospel.

There are also those among the Gentiles who are unbelieving:

But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles—for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them;

The unbelieving were, as described here, involved in the scattering of the house of Israel. While there are many tangents to this conversation around the house of Israel, I would like to focus on the fact that the Lord here described two groups:

The Gentiles

The Unbelieving of the Gentiles

As we see, the Gentiles were given a witness of the gospel through the Holy Ghost, the unbelieving of the Gentiles, obviously did not accept the gospel. I would suggest that the Lord was purposeful in how he described these two groups as He now informs us of the destiny of the Gentiles, in verse 10:

And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.

First, He did not specify the unbelieving of the Gentiles as the perpetrators, rather, He used the more general term that He applied to those who had received a witness through the Holy Ghost. It is the Gentiles collectively, I would suggest both the believing and the unbelieving that will commit these acts:

They will sin against my gospel

They will reject the fulness of my gospel

They will be lifted up in pride

They will be filled with all manner of evil acts

The Lord states that when, not if, the Gentiles do these things And reject the fulness of the gospel, He will remove the gospel from their midst.

What does it mean to reject the fulness of the gospel?

I have come to believe, based on my studies of the scriptures, that the fulness of the gospel is inherently linked to the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost which represents the entry point to the strait and narrow path to eternal life. I have recently referenced two definitions of the gospel found in the Doctrine and Covenants, first in Section 33, verses 11-13 and secondly in Section 39, verses 6. which clearly position the baptism of fire as core to the gospel that was restored to us.

As I see it, a plausible way for us to reject the fulness of the gospel is to reject the true meaning of the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.

I also have concern about what it may mean to have the fulness of the gospel taken from us. Could that mean that the ordinance of the second baptism could not be found among us? I think we are seeing the day when this is true for the general population of the church.

In verse 13 we read,

But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.

Here is the call for those who will listen. We must repent and return in order to be numbered with the people of God. To repent, we must understand how we have sinned.  We must feel the remorse that comes from offending Him and seriously humble ourselves. One other veiled reference we should pay attention to is found in verse 15.

But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.

How this treading down will occur, I have not pursued. The aspect of this verse that is important for this discussion is the reference to ‘salt that hath lost its savor.’ Another reference to consider is found in D&C 101:39

When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men;

Salt that has lost its savor could be considered as a reference to those who have rejected the call of the gospel and have not covenanted with God as a result of the gospel message.

As a summary, we are the Gentiles who received the fulness of the gospel, among the gentiles are the ones who have received a testimony of the gospel by and through the Holy Ghost. It is crucial for us to clearly understand the true meaning of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and apply it in our lives.

As a final thought, we are told to ‘liken the scriptures’ unto ourselves. I would ask you to consider the following thoughts. The Book of  Mormon estimates that this verse cataloged the events around 43 B.C in Helaman 3:25-26.

And so great was the prosperity of the church, and so many the blessings which were poured out upon the people, that even the high priests and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure.

And it came to pass that the work of the Lord did prosper unto the baptizing and uniting to the church of God, many souls, yea, even tens of thousands.

Yet it was only approximately thirteen years later when this was recorded  Helaman 4:23-24.

And because of their iniquity the church had begun to dwindle; and they began to disbelieve in the spirit of prophecy and in the spirit of revelation; and the judgments of God did stare them in the face.

And they saw that they had become weak, like unto their brethren, the Lamanites, and that the Spirit of the Lord did no more preserve them; yea, it had withdrawn from them because the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples—

How long does it take to move from astonishing growth to a having the spirit of the Lord withdrawn? If there is one central message to the dialogue of the Book of Mormon, it is that apostasy can occur in a short time. I believe it is fostered by an effort to become accepted of the world, to change the covenants to be more convenient, and by replacing the core principles of the gospel a set of items developed by man.