Part 5 of 5 in a blog series entitled, “The Covenant Path Unveiled”. The purpose is to clarify what the covenant path is, to unveil the simplicity and beauty of the true covenant path so that it does not lose its meaning and that you know the true way to personal redemption. My witness is that anything else is the work of darkness to frustrate your personal journey “in and through” Jesus Christ.
I know, I know, “finally” the last of this series. To this point, we have discussed the doctrine of Christ (covenant path) in the words of Jesus Christ, found in 3 Nephi chapters 11-30. Based on what the Lord has taught, it becomes really important for each person to identify where they are on this path and to whom or what their loyalties, hope, and faith exist.
Modern Day Israel
I am a peaceful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It has been my personal experience that as members of the church, we don’t like to think we are anything like the children of Israel of the Old Testament. However, history does repeat itself creating patterns.
We might look at the children of Israel and find it confusing, strange, or just think it’s crazy for them to reject the Lord over and over again. So much so, that we might even think we are better than the children of Israel that chose not to have the Lord as their personal Prophet, Priest, King, and Judge. Instead, the children of Israel over and over again chose mankind (arm-of-flesh) as their judges, kings, priests, and prophets to lead them instead of having their own, individual and personal journey mentored by the Lord through His doctrine (covenant path).
Although the Mosaic Law was a “schoolmaster” and teacher using temporal symbols, the doctrine of Christ has always been a means of going from inward moving out. This is why the Lord says to become sanctified first before you become a servant. Today we are seeking to become servants without having yet been properly sanctified by receiving our baptism of fire and Holy Ghost.
“The Kingdom of God is within” (Luke 17:20-21). It is not a path that you physically walk or a kingdom that we physically dwell in. Our outward symbols (piety) are not always a true indication of what is happening inwardly. There were church presidents after the death of Joseph Smith that started to build a physical “kingdom” with all of its structure, organization, culture, and hierarchy. This is not the kingdom that Joseph Smith was restoring prior to his martyrdom (more on this in a future blog post). A physical or “temporal kingdom” is a religious institution. Whereas, the spiritual kingdom that Joseph was trying to restore in its fullness is within (spiritual kingdom).
So, in light of the creation of a temporal kingdom, herein lies a very critical question for you?
Is your soul searching for or expecting salvation in and through a “Church Path” (institution)
in and through the authentic “Covenant Path” (Christ and His doctrine)?
(See also Mosiah 3:17-18; 16:13; 2 Nephi 2:6; Alma 38:9)
The truth is that a person can go through all the major church/institutional rituals or cultural milestones and never receive the spiritual change of heart (baptism of fire and Holy Ghost) and receive eternal life. If a person is seeking for and expecting to receive salvation and eternal life from the church/institutional path, it will ultimately prove “fruitless.” On the other hand, the Lord invites all to embrace His true spiritual covenant path (doctrine of Christ) which will produce “fruit meet for the kingdom” (D&C 84:58).
Fruitless vs. Fruit Meet for the Kingdom
To determine which path your heart is invested in, a person just has to look inwardly and at their own fruits. A person need only ask themself:
From who or what do I honestly believe my personal redemption comes?
Consider your own heart, loyalty, and expectations in the following side-by-side comparison chart:
[Temporal; External; Church/Institutional path; Church culture; Dead works]
Fruit Meet For the Kingdom
[Fruitful; Spiritual; Internal; Covenant path; Doctrine of Christ; 3 Nephi 11-30; Life eternal]
|This path is focused first on self, then encourages ministering to others in hopes that you can find Christ. It is Pharisaical in nature, as there are many outward checklists and duties that may or may not someday lead you to Christ. In fact, instead, many of the checklist items become distractions from a personal relationship with Christ. Like the children of Israel, even the Jews and Jewish leadership at the time of Christ, this type of path with its temporal checklists includes believing that you can earn personal redemption through your church membership, rituals, personal acts, achievements, church programs, church membership status, temple recommend status or even the honors of men. It is the belief that these checklist items will somehow bring about personal redemption.
That “someday” is typically referred to as being received after death.
The fruits of this path are constant insecurity–silently wondering what our status is with God. It’s here that people are constantly trying to overcome their periodic insecurity with temporal “security” by focusing on the checklist. It’s a constant effort to maintain church membership status of “active” as opposed to “less-active,” “inactive,” or “excommunicated.” People do this because it is a short term fix to satisfy their silent insecurity in their standing with God. It is a false notion that “doing more” means that “I am more” or even “I am more righteous.” It’s as if doing more “in and through” what the church offers will make you feel better about yourself and your standing with God–“be more active in the church”, “more service”, “entrenched in more programs”, “more dedication to calling”, “more temple attendance”, etc.
This path has a heavy reliance upon the words of modern leaders. On this path many lack confidence (fear) in their own gift of revelation and gift of discernment. Gifts of the spirit may or may not ever be part of this path including the gift of personal revelation because of their dependence upon other mortals (arm-of-flesh).
It may or may not require true repentance.
Consider the following example checklist that a person on this path may believe offers them personal redemption:
Realize that receiving a phone call for an appointment at the temple for a second anointing ritual is a pretty exclusive list mostly offered to those having had significant leadership experience and resumés like Stake Presidents, Patriarchs, Mission Presidents, General Authorities, and the like. Keep in mind, the presence of Jesus Christ, the sure witness, is also not part of the symbolic ritual experience. Also, consider who determines which persons are able to receive this second anointing ritual on this institutional path.
|This path focuses entirely on Christ, which through Him we can be transformed and enables us to see ourselves as Christ sees us (love yourself), love as He loves by serving others the way that the Lord would have us serve in each and every unique situation. The focus is the personal relationship with the goal of trying to develop a Master-Apprentice relationship with the Lord.
This path prioritizes the two greatest commandments by loving God first.
As taught by the Lord and His prophets in scripture, this path focuses on receiving while in the flesh (mortality).
The fruits of this path are all the gifts of the spirit–including the gift of personal revelation but ultimately charity also, the greatest gift of God. It is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, and is dependent on following the voice of God, not any arm of flesh. Personal revelation is the only means of success on this path.
It has everything to do with motive and the purity of your heart. It depends upon true repentance.
As discussed in previous posts in this series, and in contrast to the “church path” this covenant path is completely rooted in a spiritual transformation authored by the Lord–who is the “Author and Finisher of your faith.” Note the simplicity and spiritual transformation to receive personal and complete redemption through this path:
Step 1: Sufficient Hope; Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; Keeping commandments which are living by personal revelation; Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit (spiritual altar offering)
Step 2: Repentance
Step 3a: Baptism in the name of the Son part one—Baptism of Repentance (Water)—Witnessing your repentance and willingness to follow the Savior; This baptism is the “fruit meet for repentance” (Alma 12:15; Alma 13:13; Moroni 6:1)
Step 3b: Baptism in the name of the Son part two—Baptism of Fire (Blood) & Holy Ghost (Spirit)–Salvation; Personal redemption/Remission of sins
Step 4: Starting a new personal relationship with the Savior by receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost; Learn to be a servant by using the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the gifts of the spirit–which is to “Endure to the End”; Keep His commandments continually
Step 5: Receive the promise of eternal life, even to be received into the presence of the Lord—Exaltation
It is important to note that this path, the Lord’s path, is accessible to ALL men, women, and children regardless of sex, age, race, title, social status, church resumé, church membership status, etc. (2 Nephi 2)–God truly is “no respecter of persons.” Because the Lord is the source of all power and glory, the Lord, through your personal relationship with Him, determines who and when you are prepared to receive an increase portion of God’s glory–which is the necessary transformation power for your soul.
Again, a person need only ask themself:
From who or what do I honestly believe my personal redemption comes?
Clarification: Before anyone assumes that I am in any way suggesting that a person should disassociate themselves with any particular church/institution, I want to clarify boldly that is not what I am saying. It is not the purpose of sharing these contrasting paths. My purpose is simply to help you identify where your own heart and efforts are today. And today is not a final destination–each day is a choice.
Additional Points to Consider About the “Church Path”
- Seeking to maintain status in the “church path” is often interpreted as “enduring to the end.” The scriptures teach otherwise.
- Per family history work, we can be so consumed with checking boxes for those that are dead and yet we have not personally received for ourselves. This was the admonition of Joseph Smith to the early members of the church to seek to receive for themselves their baptism of fire and Holy Ghost prior to going on a mission so they could testify with power or be “endowed with power from on high” so their witness would be greater. This is why Alma the Younger was so successful in his missions (Zarahemla, Melek, Gideon, Ammonihah, etc), because he was a personal witness to everything he had taught about the doctrine of Christ.
- The “church path” is like wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. It is not until you can find Christ that you can begin to receive the promised destination (the spiritual “promised land”)—“the promise” of personal redemption. So you can continue to wander in the wilderness if you wish, but you will never arrive in the promised land. You will not find it by investing your heart in and through the church path.
- Rituals in the temple are not actually bestowing anything upon a person. Each ritual has conditional phrases incorporated into their wording making everything, at best, future tense, not present tense. If it is not present tense you are not receiving anything other than knowledge, symbols, or spiritual learning. Through that spiritual learning, it should become evident that the ritual is only a teaching mechanism. It should create a desire within you to receive the real thing from the Lord. (more on temples and saving ordinances in a future post)
- Just like the hard lessons learned by the children of Israel, these outward things (checklists) cannot change you in and of themselves. They can possibly influence you along the way or even be a catalyst for change, but if we never turn to Christ with a broken heart and a contrite spirit (putting everything on the altar), the Lord cannot bring about the necessary inward change to our souls. What you may have to put on the altar is your own dependence upon other mortals for truth and direction.
Humbly, yet emphatically, I testify that a heart that is infatuated with and dependent upon the church path is one of “dead works.” The Lord, in revelation to Joseph Smith restored the correct teaching (D&C 22):
1 Behold, I say unto you that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.
2 Wherefore, although a man should be baptized an hundred times it availeth him nothing, for you cannot enter in at the strait gate (doctrine of Christ) by the law of Moses, neither by your dead works.
3 For it is because of your dead works that I have caused this last covenant and this church (the original purpose of the church under Joseph Smith) to be built up unto me, even as in days of old.
4 Wherefore, enter ye in at the gate (doctrine of Christ), as I have commanded, and seek not to counsel your God. Amen.
And from Hebrews:
“Therefore not leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God” (JST, Hebrews 6:1).
They Denieth the Power of God In the Last Days
Contrast the church path with the true covenant path (doctrine of Christ). Everything in the doctrine of Christ is an invitation to receive inwardly. In this situation, the only way for you to know whether a person has received this inward change is by their fruits—exercising the gifts of the spirit. The gifts of the spirit are the only means of receiving anything and everything from the Lord, God.
In the church path, the gifts of the spirit are not required. A person could easily go through the motions and do all the things on that list and never experience the gifts of the spirit. Because many do not ever experience or develop the gifts of the spirit for themselves, this is one reason that people leave the church. Or, they do experience the gifts of the spirit, but they do not seek for more of the gifts and develop the gifts they have.
Only in the covenant path (doctrine of Christ) can a person become born again, a new creature (Mosiah 27:24-27). According to the Lord’s own words (3 Nephi 11-30), the checklist itself or even obedience to the checklist of the church path has no power to change or save you, unfortunately. The power to save is “the power of God” (2 Nephi 28:5, 26; Alma 12:15; 2 Nephi 11:5).
Consider the words of a prophet, seer, and revelator in the Book of Mormon that saw our day (through gifts of the spirit) and he foretold of the attitude and spiritual condition of church members in the last days:
2 Nephi 28:5 And they deny the power of God [power comes only through exercising the gifts of the spirit freely], the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;
6 Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.
7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.
8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.
9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.
10 And the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.
11 Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted.
12 Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up.
13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.
14 They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.
15 O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!
21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
24 Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!
25 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!
26 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!
27 Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!
28 And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.
29 Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!
30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.
32 Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.
Jacob 6:8 Behold, will ye reject these words? Will ye reject the words of the prophets; and will ye reject all the words which have been spoken concerning Christ, after so many have spoken concerning him; and deny the good word of Christ [personal revelation], and the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and quench the Holy Spirit, and make a mock of the great plan of redemption, which hath been laid for you?
Moroni 8:28 Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.
The covenant path is “in and through” Jesus Christ only—no other person, group, or institution can offer it. The doctrine of Christ (covenant path) is not a group effort to group salvation. Other souls can be encouraging to our own personal journey but salvation has been, is, and always will be personal or individual.
I invite you to ponder your personal relationship with the Lord. I invite you to discern which path your heart is tied to right now. If it is not firmly rooted in only Christ for personal redemption, I invite you to counsel with the Lord and determine how to remove any idolatry in your life. Then, do everything within your power to come unto Christ with a broken heart and contrite spirit so that the kingdom of God can dwell within you, even so, that you can receive the promise of eternal life while in mortality.
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This concludes this 5-part series (The “Covenant Path” Unveiled). For more understanding of this covenant path and its milestones taught throughout the scriptures, you are welcome to begin your personal study and your own journey in and through the doctrine of Christ through The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide. Also, to help you increase your confidence in personal revelation and develop your own gift of discernment, I invite you to study The 3 Voices of Personal Revelation Study Guide.
Part 4 | – |
JourneyDoctrineOfChrist.org is based on free, online study guides to help you learn, believe, live and teach the Doctrine of Christ. The Study Guides invite any and all to see and know this truth for themselves that the Savior, Jesus Christ, has, in fact, introduced His doctrine and He personally invites all to receive personal redemption and literally receive Him while in the flesh (mortality).
Blog posts are only intended to supplement the Study Guides. Per all blog posts, seek the understanding and confirmations from the Lord in your own personal revelation. Study guides are intended to point you to both the Lord’s written word and His voice (personal revelation). These study guides will help you uncover what the Doctrine of Christ is and other essential topics that will help you in your journey to literally “come unto Christ” while in mortality. All study guides are available at JourneyDoctrineOfChrist.org.