It has been some time since I published part 1 about The Kingdom of the Devil, but hopefully this has given you time to study that post and engage in your own research and study. Part 2 should also give you a lot to ponder and study. If you have not read part 1, I would recommend doing that first for context.
In this post, I will be citing mostly from the Book of Mormon. As Joseph Smith stated, it is “the most correct book on the earth” and it literally “contains the fullness of the gospel” (Introduction, Book of Mormon). I recommend that you reconcile with and anchor yourself to this truth. It is necessary for you to awaken to the true purpose of the Book of Mormon and not “remain under condemnation” any longer (D&C 84:43-58). (See also Do You Really Believe? The Right and Wrong of the Book of Mormon)
While I am laying out a lot of information, I do feel constrained to not lay out everything for you. The Lord has told me that if I were to spoon feed this information, people will outright refuse the message. So for those that are truly seeking for truth (with a humble, broken heart, contrite spirit), He will teach them through His Spirit, line upon line and precept upon precept. Your greatest realizations will be your own self-realizations—pure intelligence (words) speaking to your mind and the glory of God piercing your heart.
My objective in all of my posts, is to let you know that it is possible to experience Christ—not just the religious, scriptural, distant Jesus that we are most used to. You know—that unattainable Jesus who might commune with special people, but will only drop in occasionally, if at all, for the ordinary lay person. I and my wife will share some of our own experiences. We want you to come unto Him. To absorb his goodness, to experience his personality and his deep love, and his words to you. Personally. Intimately.
I realize that this post may challenge your own understanding. It’s ok—this is good. To help you, I have tried to demonstrate that these truths are founded on scripture—especially the Book of Mormon. The more time you can spend in the scriptural references I’ve cited in this post, the better. Please don’t just take my word for any of this information. This may take a few sittings to work through. You have to overcome certain false traditions that will enable the Lord to help you spiritually ascend. Anything that confronts your current beliefs is supposed to help you develop the right questions to take to the Lord for personal learning. Again, it requires you to become an individual seeker of truth—seek, knock, ask and you will surely receive.
The Kingdom of God (Kingdom of light)
The kingdom of God is part of the spiritual realms of light and stands opposite the kingdom of the devil in the spiritual realms of darkness (see Part 1). The kingdom of God is a place of order and purpose. There are many heavens, each populated with souls that resonate with various degrees of light and purpose. It is the origin, source, and even a repository (best word I can think of right now) of the glory of Godhood—light, truth, power.
It is a place of both eternal progression and ascension. Progression is the experiential evolution of your eternal soul. By choice you can participate in endless experiences. Ascension is moving from one spiritual estate to a higher one.
Yes, the kingdom of God is a house of order. Among the kingdom of God are Gods, Lords and orders of angels. When a soul is not in mortality, that soul can serve as one of God’s angels helping other souls on both sides of the veil to spiritually progress. This is the entire purpose of the kingdom of God, to facilitate the eternal progression and ascension of souls. In contrast to the kingdom of the devil and the realms of darkness, the kingdom of God offers personal liberation unlike anything else.
Within the kingdom of God is the House of Israel, who are souls that have covenanted with God. This is the Everlasting Covenant, which is to have the opportunity to spiritually ascend through the process of eternal progression. Earths are created for that very purpose. They provide unique experiences, which are probationary states in which souls can exercise saving principles that can enable their personal spiritual ascension (1 Nephi 15:31-32; 10:21; 2 Nephi 2:21,30; 9:27; 33:9; Mormon 9:28; Helaman 13:38; Alma 42:4,10,13; 12:24).
The House of Israel was established on earth by covenant and given the promise that covenant souls could be born into certain circumstances and granted opportunities to spiritually ascend. (Notice that this stands opposite the kingdom of the devil, where there are those who covenant to be born into certain circumstances and granted opportunities to grow into darkness.) The covenant established, and restored, with Abraham (head of a dispensation) is an example of this. With the House of Israel established on earth, these blood lines would serve as a means of establishing the fullness of the gospel (the true doctrine of Christ). It was designed to be a chance for the true doctrine of Christ to be properly taught throughout subsequent generations—enabling all covenanted souls to “come unto Christ” (ascend).
In the last days, the House of Israel would occur differently from previous dispensations—they would be scattered among all peoples of the earth. In a very individual way, the Lord accomplishes His great work “to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). It would be known as the day of the gentiles (3 Nephi 16:7,10; 2 Nephi 27:1). Also in the last days, the House of Israel has been given the promise of being gathered for the purpose of preparing for the second coming of Jesus Christ (3 Nephi 16:5-15; 20:1-46; 21:1-29; 2 Nephi 29:14; Mormon 8:11-15; 1 Nephi 19:16-24). Contrary to the tradition of some, the formal and grand version of this gathering has yet to occur and will be a marvelous work and a wonder. “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
The Lord, Jesus Christ
The most relevant representative of the Kingdom of God to each of us is your Lord, Jesus Christ. He stands opposite of the dark lord, Satan (see Part 1). Jesus Christ is the Lord of light and desires to grow His kingdom of light. It is His work and His glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man among those in the telestial world (Moses 1:39). What does this mean? It means to lift souls from a telestial spiritual estate to a terrestrial spiritual estate and beyond. The Lord spiritually progresses when individual souls ascend in this way “in and through” the doctrine of Christ.
The Lord is a glorified being (male) and he has an equal singular eternal companion (female). Together they are actively working within their current spiritual estate (level). Unified, they maintain divine characteristics—omniscience (all-knowing), omnipotence (all-powerful), omnibenevolence (all-loving), and perfectly just and merciful. What that boils down to is this: Christ-hood allows for each soul to be known perfectly. There is nothing that they haven’t seen or experienced. Nothing that will shock them. Nothing that will keep you from them, except for your own choice. It is all about relationship and love, giving and receiving, perfect balance, mentorship. I will focus on Jesus in his role of Redeemer since that is what scripture covers the most, but they want desperately for each of us to come to ourselves by entering in a relationship that will navigate through this telestial sphere of light and dark. Christ’s greatest desire is that you will believe Him when he tells you that you can become an heir of His kingdom—male and female. (A mystery.)
He balances his divine nature with each person’s own agency and offers “the children of men” personal redemption from the telestial world and eternal progression under His personal guidance (while in mortality and through the eternal realms). To facilitate this individual spiritual ascension, he offers his own doctrine—“the doctrine of Christ.”
Like any Lord, he has followers and servants (“angels of light”) that help accomplish and further his works of light. He has come into the telestial earth to fulfill a very specific mission:
21 And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. 22 And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day. 23 And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.—2 Nephi 9:1-54
Opposite “the captivity of the devil”, the Lord Jesus Christ offers spiritual freedom or liberation through a personal redemption/salvation. (More on this to come.)
The Doctrine of Jesus Christ
The doctrine of Christ stands opposite the doctrine of the devil (see Part 1). Because Jesus fulfilled the atonement, certain conditions have been established in order for a person to be personally “saved” (salvation) or “redeemed.” The Savior also becomes the personal judge for each person and has the ultimate authority and power to administrate each soul’s unique spiritual progression and ascension—time, place, manner, etc.
The conditions are a type of how-to process in which the Lord can lift you from a telestial spiritual estate to a terrestrial spiritual estate and beyond. This increase in spiritual estate is meant to occur while in mortality—your designated probation “to work out your salvation with the Lord” (Alma 34:37; Mormon 9:27). The path within the doctrine of Christ is the same for everyone; but the purpose of the doctrine of Christ is this: to lift souls spiritually in a personal journey that is 100% unique in every way—spiritual, emotional, physical. The Lord is absolutely capable of working with each person within the confines of one’s own relationship with the Lord (Mosiah 3:17-18; 16:13; 2 Nephi 2:6; 10:24; Alma 13:5; 38:9).
The doctrine of Christ is the pathway to personal redemption whereby you are sanctified through faith, even to receiving a complete remission of sins, enabling you to return to the presence of the Lord while in mortality to become a personal witness of the marks of His atonement, experience His glory, receive eternal life, and be taught by Him.
The path within the doctrine of Christ was plainly taught by the Lord in the Book of Mormon. It is a continuous personal sacrificial offering of a broken heart and contrite spirit throughout. It is a repetition of sufficient hope and faith in the Lord with an eye single to His glory. The doctrine also consists of ordinances, which include being baptized in the name of the Son, which is a complete baptism consisting of a baptism of water, and also a separate baptism of fire and Holy Ghost. I will not detail each of these here, because this is the purpose of doing your own study and learning of the doctrine of Christ in the Book of Mormon. The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide is provided to help point you in the right direction.
Do you believe the Lord when he revealed through Joseph Smith that the Book of Mormon contains “the fullness of the everlasting gospel” (D&C 27:5; 135:3; Introduction, Book of Mormon)? Do you believe that the Book of Mormon is “the most correct of any book on earth… and a that man [and woman] would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (Introduction, Book of Mormon)?
If these two things are true, then the doctrine of Christ contained in the Book of Mormon is the single means of personal redemption, and none other. This also means that the Book of Mormon is not just a historical record, but rather it is an ascension text detailing the means by which a person can receive personal redemption, and it stands as a witness of many people that did, in fact, receive.
The doctrine of Christ contained in the Book of Mormon has been made plain by the Lord, removing any confusion (3 Nephi 11-12). The doctrine of Christ is the plain and precious truths lost and then restored according to the Lord:
34 And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel—and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed of thy father—wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment, and smitten them by the hand of the Gentiles, and after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb—I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel [the doctrine of Christ], which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb. 35 For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb. 36 And in them shall be written my gospel [the doctrine of Christ], saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation. 37 And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be. —1 Nephi 13
Prophets in the Book of Mormon stand as additional witnesses to the Lord’s own witness of the truthfulness of the doctrine of Christ. We are told in this book that this doctrine is not only “the way” but that “there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen” (2 Nephi 31:21).
This doctrine has been made “plain” (2 Nephi 4:32; 26:33; 31:2-3; 32:7; 33:5-6). This doctrine is accompanied with a warning from the Lord to those that may claim or teach a different doctrine or vary, even slightly, from of it:
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. 40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.—3 Nephi 11
The world, including individual members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, remain under condemnation for not taking seriously the Book of Mormon and Christ’s doctrine that is contained in it:
46 And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. 47 And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father. 48 And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world. 49 And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin. 50 And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me. 51 For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin. 52 And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me. 53 And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now. 54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. 56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. 57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.—D&C 84
While it is true that Christ’s doctrine is supposed to draw you nearer to Christ, the reality is that it will seal you to Him. Through a personal redemption here in mortality, the Lord literally becomes your spiritual Father being the author and finisher of your faith. You literally become His spirit son or daughter. There is a mystery in this.
The Kingdom of God Built Up on the Earth
The kingdoms we are speaking about are first spiritual. In contrast to the kingdom of the devil in the spiritual realms of darkness (see Part 1), the kingdom of God exists in the spiritual realms of light. Each will assert their power to establish a presence in the telestial world. In the spiritual realms there is a delineation between the kingdoms of darkness and light. However, the telestial world is a place where darkness and light can coexist.
10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. 11 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. 12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw. 13 And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God. 14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb [one group of people], and upon the covenant people of the Lord [a different group of people], who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory. [You’ll see these two different groups of people discussed below]—1 Nephi 14
The Book of Mormon explains the establishment of this divine presence on the earth by using the phrase kingdoms that are “built up among the children of men, which kingdom is established among them which are in the flesh” (1 Nephi 22:22). So literally, the kingdoms of the light and the darkness from the spiritual realms use every means possible to establish either righteousness or darkness throughout the earth. The establishment of either righteousness or darkness is considered “a church.” This is why there are “save two churches only.”
The kingdom of God built up among the children of men goes by different yet similar names found in the Book of Mormon:
- “The church of God” (Mosiah 18:17; 27:2-13; 21:30; 25:18-22; 26:38; Alma 1:7-19; 2:4; 4:4-9; 5:3-5; 8:23; 27:27; 36:6-11; 46:10-14; 62:46; Helaman 3:26-33; 4:11; 5:35; 6:3; Mormon 8:38;
- “The church of the Lamb of God” (1 Nephi 14:10-14)
- “The church of Christ” (Mosiah 18:17; 3 Nephi 26:21; 28:23; 4 Nephi 1:1,26,29; Moroni 6:4)
For simplicity and the sake of this post going forward, we will refer to the telestial church that is established on the earth as “the church of God.”
Kingdom/Church Restored in Latter Days via Joseph Smith
As you read previously, the kingdom of God was prophesied to come forth in the latter days “which shall be built up among the children of men” (1 Nephi 22). Specifically, a record “shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb” (1 Nephi 13:34-37). It was the gentile, Joseph Smith, that would be called to bring forth this great record—The Book of Mormon. However, Joseph Smith verifies that this book was to be preserved to help build the kingdom of God on the earth:
“By this time, so deep were the impressions made on my mind, that sleep had fled from my eyes, and I lay overwhelmed in astonishment at what I had both seen and heard. But what was my surprise when again I beheld the same messenger at my bedside, and heard him rehearse or repeat over again to me the same things as before; and added a caution to me, telling me that Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the indigent circumstances of my father’s family), to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich. This he forbade me, saying that I must have no other object in view in getting the plates but to glorify God, and must not be influenced by any other motive than that of building his kingdom; otherwise I could not get them… “Accordingly, as I had been commanded, I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days. …”—Testimony of the Prophet, Joseph Smith; Book of Mormon
The purpose of the Book of Mormon (the plates) was to build his spiritual kingdom—to lift people from a fallen and lost state (telestial) to a holy and redeemed state (terrestrial and beyond).
The Breadth of the Church
In prior dispensations, the House of Israel had been born into family lines (the House of Israel being premortal covenant souls that come into mortality to progress spiritually, to fulfill their personal mission, to help others enter into and progress in the Everlasting Covenant). One purpose of the family lines method was to ensure that the gospel of Jesus Christ (the doctrine of Christ) would be taught from generation to generation. However, different from previous dispensations, in the latter day dispensation restored through Joseph Smith, the House of Israel would be born as Gentiles. They would be scattered throughout the earth to fulfill the Lord’s purposes in micro and macro ways. They would not even be necessarily born into families that are members of a particular religious institution, like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Gentiles would fulfill the Lord’s work in a variety of ways—everything from establishing a presence in the promised land, to establishing free governments in the promised land, to teaching Christianity and helping people “come unto Christ,” to playing minor and significant roles in preparing for the Lord’s second coming.
Nephi refers to this latter day period as “the days of the Gentiles” (2 Nephi 27:1). The Book of Mormon is a profound witness of who the Gentiles are in the latter days, their role and significance in history. But the Book of Mormon also explains much about the Gentiles, even breaking many false traditions and misunderstandings. Consider personally studying what the Book of Mormon reveals about the Gentiles (See: 1 Nephi 10; 13-15; 21-22; 2 Nephi 6; 10; 21; 26-33; 3 Nephi 15-16; 20-23; 26; 28-30; Mormon 3; 5; 7; Ether 2; 4; 8; 12):
- The Book of Mormon explains that the Gentiles are you and I (us).
- It does not delineate between religious institutions among the Gentiles.
- It explains that both the Bible and The Book of Mormon will be among the Gentiles.
- The Gentiles will seek for the gospel (true doctrine of Christ) and receive it in the latter days.
- It explains that the House of Israel will come through the bloodline of the Gentiles. Thus, among the Gentiles will be either House of Israel souls or Gentiles that have not yet covenanted with God (entered into the Everlasting Covenant).
- It explains that there will be covenant people established among the Gentiles and even defines the simple and plain qualification to be a covenant person. These covenant people among the Gentiles will be considered part of the church of God.
- It explains that servants will rise up from among the Gentiles.
- It explains the plainness of the doctrine of Christ that should exist among the Gentiles and the church of God.
- It explains that the covenant people will be established around and founded on the true doctrine of Christ.
- It explains that, contrary to the traditions of some, there will be an apostasy of the Church of God among the Gentiles after it is established among them. This apostasy would occur because of a loss to some degree of the true doctrine of Christ, and a false culture of equal proportion would follow.
Breadth—The Minimum Requirements to Join This Church of God
It is such a beautiful thing to study the Book of Mormon and realize the true simplicity in which a person would join this church. It includes a confession of sins, which is a personal acknowledgement of the shortcomings of one’s telestial self—realizing that there is nothing that a person can do to earn the Lord’s redemptive power (terrestrial) except he/she will exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by keeping His personal commands. It includes repentance which is a personal decision to turn away from the world and instead turn to a personal Savior. It includes a sincere desire to come unto Christ, which is a personal desire to be lifted from a telestial state to a terrestrial state and to prepare to become a personal witness of the Savior (second comforter experience). (See Mosiah 26:35-36; Alma 6:1-8; 3 Nephi 18:16; 4 Nephi 1:1; Moroni 6:2-7; D&C 10:46-70)
The baptism of water is an ordinance and symbol of one’s repentance—thus being called the baptism of repentance (See also 2 Nephi 31:4-17; Mosiah 26:22; Alma 5:62; 6:2; 7:14; 8:10; 48:19; Helaman 3:24; 5:17-19; 16:3-4; 3 Nephi 1:23; 7:26;). This is the first of two baptisms to fulfill a complete baptism known as a “baptism in the name of the Son.”
This baptism of water ordinance event is also a symbol of a person beginning their personal relationship with the Lord. It requires a person to be a minimum age having the mental awareness and capability of entering into this type of relationship (Moroni 8:9-11). This relationship is dependent upon a broken heart and contrite spirit, learning to hear the voice of the Lord, and keeping His commandments until the end (of that phase) in which that person is personally led to receive their second baptism—the baptism of fire and Holy Ghost.
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 [membership in the Kingdom of Heaven], 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—Moses 6
Breadth—Two Different Souls in the Church of the Lamb
As mentioned, there is a difference between membership in the kingdom of God and membership in the church on the earth.
If you understand the simple requirements to join this church, it will make it easier to understand the first type of souls. These are the souls that have begun their journey “in and through the Lord” with repentance, confession, and expressing their desire to come unto Christ—entering into the Everlasting Covenant [being “the covenant people” (1 Ne. 14:14)]. However, these souls have not yet received personal redemption (salvation) from the Lord. They are telestial, second estate souls. Their purpose is to prepare to receive the the fulness of the glory of the Lord by:
- Exercising hope, faith in the Lord, maintain a broken heart and contrite spirit
- Become a seeker (learning the doctrine of Christ and fulfilling it), knocking, asking
- Learn to exercise some of the gifts of the spirit—especially the gift of revelation (to hear the voice of the Lord)
- Keep the commandments of the Lord (Moses 6:60)—these are the personal commands that a person receives that guide him/her in their mortal journey and eventually to receive more of the glory of the Lord
The Book of Mormon uses another phrase or descriptor to describe this first type of soul:
These are they whose fruits are meet (sufficient) for repentance
Just as there are two types of souls in this church, the Book of Mormon explains that there are fruits that are meet (sufficient) for two different things. For the first type of soul, their fruit is meet only for repentance.
15 But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance.—Alma 12
In the next section you will see what the fruit from the second type of soul is meet for. (See also Alma 13:13; Moroni 6:1)
A little context—if you will remember from part one (The Captivity of the Devil), it was explained that each person is born into mortality, a “fallen” state (Alma 34:9). This “fallen” condition is our state being born into this world “by water, blood and spirit” (Moses 6:59). It means that we have a unique bond, chain or tie to this telestial world. Each soul remains in this captivity until they are “spiritually born again”—”by water, blood and spirit” (Moses 6:59).
The only way to break this captivity, bond, chain, or tie is through “power”—a power beyond your own capabilities. This sufficient power is only found in a divine being of a certain spiritual estate—a “Christ.”
6 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell? 7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them. 8 And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not. 9 And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved. 10 And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell? 11 Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? And was he not a holy prophet? Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them? 12 And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true. 13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.—Alma 5
This was a transformational event to Alma’s soul. It was done through a baptism of fire and Holy Ghost, which is the power of God to justify and sanctify (Moses 6:59-62). It was his personal redemption or salvation experience. This transformational event is available to each soul that seeks to “come unto Christ.”
The word “salvation” comes from the Latin salvare, “to save.” Spiritual salvation is possible through “a Savior”—one who saves. To some LDS, this might sound a bit too evangelical for their liking. However, the correct understanding is that the Book of Mormon is an ascension text. It is not merely a historical record of the Lord’s interactions with people that were called out of Jerusalem to a promised land in North America. Personal salvation is the means of ascension for the soul. The Book of Mormon was restored to help all souls to become “saved.”
“In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God. The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto Him and obey the laws and ordinances of His gospel may be saved.”Introduction, Book of Mormon
Starting with the introduction in the Book of Mormon, the invitation to “be saved” is the theme throughout this amazing book—from the book of Nephi to Moroni. (Every single one of these scriptures uses this exact same phraseology: 1 Nephi 6:4; 8:3; 13:37-40; 15:14; 22:17, 31; 2 Nephi 2:9; 9:23; 10:24; 25:13, 20, 23; 28:8; 31:15-16, 21; 33:12; Jacob 6:4; Omni 1:26; Mosiah 4:8; 12:33; 13:9, 32; 16:13; Alma 1:4; 5:9-10, 13, 20-21, 31; 9:17, 22; 11:37: 19;29; 20:17; 22:6, 18; 24:16, 26; 31:17; 32:13; 38:9; 41:8; 42:24; Helaman 5:9; 12:22-23, 25; 14:29; 3 Nephi 9:22; 11:33; 12:20; 23:5; 27:6; Mormon 7:3; 9:23; Ether 4:18; 8:26; 15:34; Moroni 7:26, 34, 36, 38; 8:10, 13; 9:22; 10:21, 26)
Thus, the second type of souls within the church are those that have received personal redemption (salvation) from the Lord. These souls have been personally lifted from a telestial second estate to a terrestrial third estate or even higher. This personal redemption means they have been as the Book of Mormon says, “born again” or “saved.” They have been “cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 6:4) through a baptism of fire and Holy Ghost experience. They have been justified by the Holy Spirit and sanctified through the blood of the lamb—”this is the plan of salvation”—the plan for being saved (Moses 6:59-62).
The Book of Mormon makes it plain that these souls within the telestial church of God that have been “saved” have an additional membership in “the kingdom of heaven (God).” This book uses very specific language, including that these souls have “membership in,” have been “saved in,” “sit down in,” “inherit,” “are received into,” “rest their souls in,” “shall dwell in,” or “are heirs of” the Kingdom of God (2 Nephi 9:18-23; 10:25; 25:13; 28:8; 31:21; Jacob 2:18: 6:4; Mosiah 4:18; 15:11; 18:18; 27:26; Alma 5:24; 7:19-21; 9:12; 12:8; 29:17; 39:9; 40:25-26; 41:4; 3 Nephi 9:22; 11:33-38; 13:33; 4 Nephi 1:17; Ether 5:5; 15:34; Moroni 9:6; 10:21-26). These are the souls that “shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb” (1 Nephi 13:37).
26 And they said unto me: What meaneth the river of water which our father saw? 27 And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water. 28 And I said unto them that it was an awful gulf, which separated the wicked [those that rejected the Lord and that have not been redeemed] from the tree of life, and also from the saints of God. [The gulf is separating two types of people. You’ll see this as you continue on.] 29 And I said unto them that it was a representation of that awful hell, which the angel said unto me was prepared for the wicked. 30 And I said unto them that our father also saw that the justice of God did also divide the wicked from the righteous; and the brightness thereof was like unto the brightness of a flaming fire, which ascendeth up unto God forever and ever, and hath no end. 31 And they said unto me: Doth this thing mean the torment of the body in the days of probation, or doth it mean the final state of the soul after the death of the temporal body, or doth it speak of the things which are temporal? 32 And it came to pass that I said unto them that it was a representation of things both temporal and spiritual; for the day should come that they must be judged of their works, yea, even the works which were done by the temporal body in their days of probation [their personal works within their relationship with the Lord—their works being works related to the doctrine of Christ]. 33 Wherefore, if they should die in their wickedness [not having been personally redeemed] they must be cast off also, as to the things which are spiritual, which are pertaining to righteousness; wherefore, they must be brought to stand before God, to be judged of their works; and if their works have been filthiness they must needs be filthy; and if they be filthy it must needs be that they cannot dwell in the kingdom of God; if so, the kingdom of God must be filthy also [there can be no unclean or un-redeemed soul in the kingdom of God. If so, then the kingdom of God would also be filthy.]. 34 But behold, I say unto you, the kingdom of God is not filthy [unredeemed; unsaved], and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God; wherefore there must needs be a place of filthiness prepared for that which is filthy. 35 And there is a place prepared, yea, even that awful hell of which I have spoken, and the devil is the preparator of it; wherefore [there is a divine purpose and intent that] the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God, or to be cast out because of that justice of which I have spoken. 36 Wherefore, the wicked [the unredeemed] are rejected [separated] from the righteous [the personally redeemed], and also from that tree of life, whose fruit is most precious and most desirable above all other fruits; yea, and it is the greatest of all the gifts of God. And thus I spake unto my brethren. Amen.—1 Nephi 15
There cannot be any middle ground in order to inherit the Kingdom of God. A person has either been personally redeemed (saved, born again) while in your mortal probation (“in the flesh”) or not. Do not misunderstand this. I encourage you to study this deeply and seek the Lord’s spirit for further understanding of this. This is such a plain teaching in the Book of Mormon.
This second type of soul has a new kind of relationship with the Lord where they are learning to become a servant by being mentored through the spiritual gift of the Holy Ghost and other new gifts of the spirit that are then made available. The purpose of this type of soul is:
- Be a personal witness and share with others what they have received from the Lord (personal redemption and even a second comforter experience). These are the powerful witnesses that offer other souls hope that they can also receive.
- Learn to exercise more gifts of the spirit—especially the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is how you will know the truth of all things (Moroni 10:5).
- Learn to open your spiritual eyes, which will prepare you to receive a personal witness of the Lord (Second Comforter experience).
The Book of Mormon uses other descriptors to describe this second type of soul:
These are they whose fruits are meet (sufficient) for the kingdom of God
In the case of the second type of soul, the Book of Mormon explains their fruits are not only meet for repentance but now they are uniquely meet for the kingdom of God.
17 And now may God grant unto these, my brethren, that they may sit down in the kingdom of God; yea, and also all those who are the fruit of their labors that they may go no more out [a mystery; something that will happen to those that have received personal redemption], but that they may praise him forever. And may God grant that it may be done according to my words, even as I have spoken. Amen.—Alma 29
15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.—3 Nephi 14
26 But behold, an awful death cometh upon the wicked; for they die as to things pertaining to things of righteousness; for they are unclean, and no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God; but they are cast out, and consigned to partake of the fruits of their labors or their works, which have been evil; and they drink the dregs of a bitter cup.—Alma 40
Likewise, just as personal redemption is a fruit of the kingdom of God, a person that has not received personal redemption is left to inherit “the fruits of their own labors or their works” which are not sufficient to receive the kingdom of God. Only the work, glory and power of God has power to lift, cleanse and redeem a person to qualify for the kingdom of God. (See also D&C 84:48-58)
These are they OF WHOM “God dwells in them”
What dwells in them is the greater portion of God’s Holy Spirit—the gift of the Holy Ghost. It “dwells” in them because they have been made holy—sanctified and justified by God (Moses 6:60). It is like a special transmitter and transponder that is directly connected to the heavens (the Kingdom of God). A spiritual mark is upon these souls which is an eternal claim by the Lord that these are His—a spiritual son or daughter (a mystery).
34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. 35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked. 36 And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous [the redeemed] doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb. 37 And now, my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should work out your salvation with fear before God, and that ye should no more deny the coming of Christ; 38 That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.—Alma 34
20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.—Luke 17
These are “the righteous” & “the holy ones of god”
The wicked are those that reject the invitation to come unto Christ by procrastinating the day of their repentance in mortality. On the other hand, “the righteous” are those that have received personal redemption while in mortality from the Lord and have the gift of the Holy Ghost with an eye single to the glory of God. To “become or be holy” is to receive personal redemption. These are they that have knowingly received and can no longer deny it and seek to serve the Lord.
22 And the righteous [see above definition] need not fear, for they are those who shall not be confounded. But it is the kingdom of the devil, which shall be built up among the children of men, which kingdom is established among them which are in the flesh—23 For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet. [The kingdom of the devil exists forever in the spiritual realms. However, Nephi knows that in the telestial worlds, these dark angels and dark Lords seek to establish or build up the spiritual kingdom of the devil among the children of men (those second estate souls that have not yet been redeemed, claimed and possessed by the Lord)]. 24 And the time cometh speedily that the righteous must be led up as calves of the stall, and the Holy One of Israel must reign in dominion, and might, and power, and great glory. 25 And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth his sheep [The Lord knows each one of the righteous in a more intimate way because they have shared an intimate spiritual experience.], and they know him [They know His voice because the gift lives within them. If they have yet to know Him personally in the flesh (second comforter), they will soon receive that.]; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd [This is the singular “Kingdom of God” that is led by a singular Lord (the Savior, Jesus Christ)].; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him [not in an institution] they shall find pasture. 26 And because of the righteousness [the personal glory that each has received as a result of being redeemed/saved] of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people [the glory of the Lord lives inside of a person through the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is an anchor for the Lord’s righteousness to dwell in a man/woman. This gift of the Holy Ghost is what tethers a person spiritually to the Lord.], for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth [and is the source of this glory]. 27 And now behold, I, Nephi, say unto you that all these things must come according to the flesh [has to be while in mortality]. 28 But, behold, all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people shall dwell safely [anchored] in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent [the eternal condition in which the doctrine of Christ is predicated and initiated]. 29 And now I, Nephi, make an end; for I durst not speak further as yet concerning these things. 30 Wherefore, my brethren, [Nephi’s witness and invitation now comes] I would that ye should consider that the things which have been written upon the plates of brass are true; and they testify that a man must be obedient to the commandments of God. 31 Wherefore, ye need not suppose that I and my father are the only ones that have testified, and also taught them. Wherefore, if ye shall be obedient to the commandments, and endure to the end [“in and through” the doctrine of Christ], ye shall be saved at the last day. And thus it is. Amen.—1 Nephi 22
Nephi connects “the righteous” to those that fulfill the doctrine of Christ. “The righteous” will inherit (receive and join) the Kingdom of God. But only on condition that they fulfill the doctrine of Christ as they receive personal redemption through a minimum of a complete baptism in the name of the Son (fire and Holy Ghost). (See also: 2 Nephi 9:13-14,18,40,46; 26:8; Jacob 3:4; Omni 1:7; Alma 5:57-58; 6:3-4; 10:16-18; 11:23-44; 34:1-31)
I also want to explain that “to be righteous” is different from “doing righteous things.” Righteousness, the way that Jesus sees it, is not a checklist of good things. Righteous works are through faith, fulfilling the personal commands of the Lord through personal revelation. In other words, only the Lord’s commands are righteous works. The act of doing these commands is what faith is. This is why the Book of Mormon makes it clear that you are saved by your faith and you are judged based on your righteous works—whether you hear and obey Jesus’s commands through personal revelation.
These are “the saints”
They are considered “saints” because they have been made holy by the Lord. Being holy, they can now house the gift of the Holy Ghost, and being holy they can stand in the presence of the Lord.
12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth [scattered among the Gentiles in the latter days]; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw. 13 And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God. 14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb [second type of people in the church], and upon the covenant people of the Lord [first type of people in the church], who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness [the Lord’s commands] and with the power of God [gifts of the spirit] in great glory.—1 Nephi 14
17 O the greatness and the justice of our God! For he executeth all his words, and they have gone forth out of his mouth, and his law must be fulfilled. 18 But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever. 19 O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel! For he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment [delivers them from damnation if they are not redeemed]... 41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. 42 And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them. 43 But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever—yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints.—2 Nephi 9
3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.—Enos 1 (See also The Covenant Path Unveiled in the Book of Mormon: The Witness of Enos)
19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord [be personally redeemed], and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.—Mosiah 3
(See also: 1 Nephi 13:5-9; 15:28-38; 3 Nephi 10:12; 23:9-11; Mormon 9:36; Ether 8:22; Moroni 8:26)
These are they who are “blameless” or “spotless” or “cleansed” before God
3 And behold, I have come having great hopes and much desire that I should find that ye had humbled yourselves before God, and that ye had continued in the supplicating of his grace [redemption], that I should find that ye were blameless before him [having experienced His redemption], that I should find that ye were not in the awful dilemma [state of unbelief] that our brethren were in at Zarahemla… 14 Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness… 21 And he doth not dwell in unholy temples; neither can filthiness or anything which is unclean be received into the kingdom of God; therefore I say unto you the time shall come, yea, and it shall be at the last day, that he who is filthy shall remain in his filthiness. 22 And now my beloved brethren, I have said these things unto you that I might awaken you to a sense of your duty to God, that ye may walk blameless before him, that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received. 25 And may the Lord bless you, and keep your garments spotless, that ye may at last be brought to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the holy prophets who have been ever since the world began, having your garments spotless even as their garments are spotless, in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out [a mystery].—Alma 7
21 I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins. 22 And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? Behold, what will these things testify against you? 23 Behold will they not testify that ye are murderers, yea, and also that ye are guilty of all manner of wickedness? 24 Behold, my brethren, do ye suppose that such an one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white? 25 I say unto you, Nay; except ye make our Creator a liar from the beginning, or suppose that he is a liar from the beginning, ye cannot suppose that such can have place in the kingdom of heaven; but they shall be cast out for they are the children of the kingdom of the devil.—Alma 5
6 I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell. 7 I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat. 8 I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came. 9 I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ [redeemed by Him], and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.—2 Nephi 33
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.—Alma 13
(See also 3 Nephi 27:20; Mormon 9:6)
These are they who are have been “born again” or “born of God” or “born of the spirit”
Most notably, Alma the Younger not only openly professed he had received personal redemption but taught it and encouraged others to receive theirs also.
4 And I would not that ye think that I know of myself—not of the temporal but of the spiritual, not of the carnal mind but of God. 5 Now, behold, I say unto you, if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things; but God has, by the mouth of his holy angel, made these things known unto me, not of any worthiness of myself; 23 But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God. 24 Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 25 Yea, and now behold, O my son, the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors; 26 For because of the word which he has imparted unto me, behold, many have been born of God, and have tasted as I have tasted, and have seen eye to eye as I have seen; therefore they do know of these things of which I have spoken, as I do know; and the knowledge which I have is of God.—Alma 36
22 And he caused that the priests should assemble themselves together; and they began to fast, and to pray to the Lord their God that he would open the mouth of Alma, that he might speak, and also that his limbs might receive their strength—that the eyes of the people might be opened to see and know of the goodness and glory of God. 23 And it came to pass after they had fasted and prayed for the space of two days and two nights, the limbs of Alma received their strength, and he stood up and began to speak unto them, bidding them to be of good comfort: 24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit [Baptism of fire and Holy Ghost]. 25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness [spiritually redeemed], being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; 26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. 27 I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off. 28 Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God. 29 My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity [redeemed from the telestial bond that comes upon each person when they are separated from God and born into this world by water, blood and spirit (Moses 6:59)]. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more. 30 I rejected my Redeemer, and denied that which had been spoken of by our fathers; but now that they may foresee that he will come, and that he remembereth every creature of his creating, he will make himself manifest unto all.—Mosiah 27
(See also Mosiah 5:7; Alma 5:14-49; 7:14; 22:15; 38:6)
False Traditions—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the Kingdom of God upon the earth
If you have read and studied the scriptures cited to this point, it should be self-evident that the kingdom of God is not any particular telestial institution on the earth (including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). Instead the kingdom of God on the earth is an informal association or even a collection of redeemed souls that live around the world. The Lord knows each one intimately. Each has their own unique relationship with the Lord. Each is preparing to be a servant and to fulfill their unique mission. Some have even received their second comforter experience. For those that have, it is necessary for them in order to fulfill their unique mission. However, others will receive the Lord (second comforter) in a future time.
The Book of Mormon makes it clear that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not the kingdom of God on the earth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints could be considered the church of God so long as it embraces the pure, correct doctrine of Christ, teaches it openly to its members, and aligns with certain characteristics outlined below (see The Purpose and Culture of the Church). If it is the church of God, then it can be a stepping stone or part of one’s journey to the kingdom of God so long as that person is focused on Jesus Christ and seeking personal redemption from Him.
“There is a distinction between the Church of God and the kingdom of God. The laws of the kingdom are not designed to affect our salvation hereafter. It is an entire, distinct and separate government.”
Joseph Smith, 18 Apr 1844, Joseph Smith Papers
Unfortunately, this false tradition does not align with the scriptures—especially the Book of Mormon—even though some have misunderstood the scriptures to still claim such. The natural man/woman wants to be on the winning team. The natural man/woman fears being alone, outnumbered, in the minority, and even being wrong. Thus, they turn to and are converted to telestial institutions that validate them in exchange for offering emotional safety and security. This is especially true when religious institutions pander to their members and indulge them by convincing them that they “have received and need no more.” They pacify their members and claim “all is well” and lull them down into a false sense of security. All this while keeping them from the true source of redemption—Jesus Christ—which ultimately is how a person can become a member of the kingdom of God.
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.—2 Nephi 28
In contrast to the natural man/woman, a soul that has been personally redeemed (saved) through a baptism of fire and Holy Ghost is converted to the Lord. In contrast to fear, these souls have faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and do not fear the road ahead, even if it means being alone or part of an extreme minority, because of their relationship with and confidence in the Lord. They also know that if the Lord can redeem their own unworthy souls, then the Lord can do the same for anyone else that seeks Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit. They know firsthand the power of the Lord to transform their soul. Thus, these souls know the Lord is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, full of glory and that He is perfectly just and merciful. They are, in fact, members of the kingdom of God.
I realize that this short comment may be incomplete or unsatisfactory for some. However, if you study the scriptures given, the Lord will teach you and witness to you personally of this false tradition. It is critical to your personal relationship with the Lord. Why? Because believing this false tradition will keep you from a personal relationship with the Lord which ultimately keeps you from your personal redemption. It will supplant Jesus with an idol—an institution, a person, people, or other telestial things that offer you false security. Moses dealt with the same issue as he tried to prepare and was unsuccessful at leading the children of Israel directly to the Lord. They would rather have Moses do the heavy lifting, and so their relationship with Jesus was halted (D&C 84:23-25).
In addition, you may have to ponder more on the real purpose and power of the Book of Mormon. It may challenge your current understanding of the Book of Mormon—questioning whether you really believe “it contains the fulness of the gospel” and that “it is the most correct of any book on the face of the earth” (Introduction, Book of Mormon). (See also Do You Really Believe? The Right and Wrong of the Book of Mormon)
This false tradition is related to many other false traditions that will be discussed in part 3.
The Depth of the Church of God
By now you should have a deeper context for what the church is and even what it is not. What we often don’t appreciate is the depth of the church and its availability to each soul.
It’s depth is the kingdom of light in the heavenly realms. Thus, you need to know that the forces of light will spare no expense in helping those that seek Jesus with a broken heart and contrite spirit. After all, the purpose of the House of Israel on earth is to help lift the other members of the House of Israel and to invite others to enter into the Everlasting Covenant.
The House of Israel behind the veil is assisting in the Lord’s work on full throttle. Each soul has direct access to the ministering of angels, direct access to the divine through the Holy Spirit, and direct access to the Lord.
There is nothing the Lord and the forces of light aren’t capable of doing for each soul. The primary stumbling block that keeps souls from accessing this help is “unbelief.” From Nephi to Moroni in the Book of Mormon, unbelief is spoken of repeatedly. It is what I call, “the spiritual plague of our day.” [See Because of Unbelief (p.166) in The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide]
The Purpose & Culture of the Church of God
I encourage you to study the Book of Mormon and learn the true purpose of the church of God on the earth. Unfortunately, modern day religious cultures have added to and even taken away from the simplicity and pure worship that was experienced in the Book of Mormon.
Now that we know which types of souls abide within the church, we can more easily understand the purposes of the church. The overall purpose of the church is to build up the Kingdom of God—the spiritual kingdom—which is to help the Lord lift souls from one spiritual estate to a higher one by supporting each person’s journey “in and through the Lord.” This is to assist the Lord in His work—”to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
Note that I am not saying that the Lord has handed it all over to us and we now are the replacements for the Lord within His church. That, too, is a false tradition. Instead, we support the Lord in His work. There is a huge difference.
How is the church supposed to build up the Lord’s Kingdom? By maintaining & teaching the true doctrine of Christ without an apostasy from the truth. Cultures are developed around doctrine, so if the true doctrine of Christ is taught and fostered, then a culture of personal relationship with the Lord is established and encouraged. This would teach that God is no respecter of persons. It would teach the correct divine nature of the Lord. It would promote faith in the Lord. It would teach people to repent and invite people to start their relationship with the Lord through a baptism of water. It would encourage all to receive their baptism of fire and Holy Ghost. It would encourage all to seek the face of the Lord and become personal witnesses of Him. The role of the church with the true doctrine of Christ is to be vigilant in rooting out any false cultures by teaching and witnessing the true doctrine. This would be done by promoting first-hand witnesses of the power of God’s redeeming glory and even the witnesses of Christ personally.
However, if doctrine deviates from its pure form and is then perpetuated among mankind, a false culture will arise. A culture of priestcrafts will arise. A new generation of Pharisees and Sadducees will arise. The teachings for doctrine the commandments of men will arise. Attempts to intervene and administrate people’s relationship with Deity will arise. Fear will replace faith in the Lord. People will believe that God is a respecter of persons. Unbelief that is prophesied in The Book of Mormon will abound. Pride will take over. People will believe they are the favored of God and they have received and need no more. In extreme cases, people might not even see a need for a personal Savior altogether, because their association or membership with other presumed chosen people means they don’t need one.
Both of these scenarios are exemplified and played out in The Book of Mormon.
In every dispensation, when the doctrine of Christ was restored, there was also a restoration of the church of God (Christ) to just simply support the individual journeys of each soul. The church of God was restored in the latter days through Joseph Smith.
1 The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April... 11 Proving to the world that the holy scriptures are true, and that God does inspire men and call them to his holy work in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old; 12 Thereby showing that he is the same God yesterday, today, and forever. Amen.—D&C 20
Like the church of God (Christ) in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was taught by the Lord to establish the church of God (Christ) with the same doctrine and pure worship:
19 And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him [not any other arm of flesh], the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship [any other expression of loyalty to any person or telestial institution would be in vain]. 20 But by the transgression of these holy laws man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man. 21 Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him. 22 He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them. 23 He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day; 24 And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father; 25 That as many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name [complete baptism—by water, fire and Holy Ghost] , and endure in faith to the end [not choosing the devil], should be saved [have and maintain their personal redemption and salvation]—26 Not only those who believed after he came in the meridian of time, in the flesh, but all those from the beginning, even as many as were before he came, who believed in the words [doctrine of Christ taught] of the holy prophets, who spake as they were inspired by the gift of the Holy Ghost, who truly testified of him in all things, should have eternal life, 27 As well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and of the Son; 28 Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen. 29 And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. 30 And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true [Justification and Sanctification come through a baptism of fire and Holy Ghost (Moses 6:59-62)]; 31 And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength. [become servants] 32 But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God [the possibility that a redeemed soul my choose the devil afterward]; 33 Therefore let the church take heed and pray always [take the Lord as your personal guide in all things], lest they fall into temptation [and corrupt the pure doctrine of Christ and take power unto themselves in pursuit of their own salvation—not the salvation of the Lord]—D&C 20
The Lord taught and revealed to Joseph the great efforts of servants in the Book of Mormon to teach the doctrine of Christ and include them in the church of Christ:
45 Behold, there are many things engraven upon the plates of Nephi which do throw greater views upon my gospel; therefore, it is wisdom in me that you should translate this first part of the engravings of Nephi, and send forth in this work. 46 And, behold, all the remainder of this work does contain all those parts of my gospel [Christ’s pure doctrine] which my holy prophets, yea, and also my disciples, desired in their prayers should come forth unto this people. 47 And I said unto them, that it should be granted unto them according to their faith in their prayers; 48 Yea, and this was their faith—that my gospel, which I gave unto them that they might preach in their days, might come unto their brethren the Lamanites, and also all that had become Lamanites because of their dissensions. 49 Now, this is not all—their faith in their prayers was that this gospel should be made known also, if it were possible that other nations should possess this land; 50 And thus they did leave a blessing upon this land in their prayers, that whosoever should believe in this gospel in this land might have eternal life; 51 Yea, that it might be free unto all of whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue, or people they may be. 52 And now, behold, according to their faith in their prayers will I bring this part of my gospel to the knowledge of my people. Behold, I do not bring it to destroy that which they have received, but to build it up. 53 And for this cause have I said: If this generation harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them [the church being the repository of Christ’s restored, pure doctrine]. 54 Now I do not say this to destroy my church, but I say this to build up my church; 55 Therefore, whosoever belongeth to my church need not fear, for such shall inherit the kingdom of heaven [the second type of soul in the church]. 56 But it is they who do not fear me, neither keep my commandments but build up churches unto themselves [for their own benefit—personal gain, praises and honors of men, and more] to get gain, yea, and all those that do wickedly and build up the kingdom of the devil—yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the center. [This is a deep discussion. Suffice it to say that any church that teaches not the pure doctrine of Christ is building up the kingdom of the devil, whether by ignorance or by intention (3 Nephi 11:39-40).] 57 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I came unto mine own, and mine own received me not. 58 I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. 59 I am he who said—Other sheep have I which are not of this fold—unto my disciples, and many there were that understood me not. 60 And I will show unto this people that I had other sheep, and that they were a branch of the house of Jacob; 61 And I will bring to light their marvelous works, which they did in my name [with the Lord’s direction and permission]; 62 Yea, and I will also bring to light my gospel [His pure doctrine] which was ministered unto them, and, behold, they shall not deny that which you have received, but they shall build it up, and shall bring to light the true points of my doctrine, yea, and the only doctrine which is in me. 63 And this I do that I may establish my gospel, that there may not be so much contention; yea, Satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do err, for they do wrest the scriptures and do not understand them. [Do not think of this as institutional knowledge, but personal.] 64 Therefore, I will unfold unto them this great mystery; 65 For, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts; 66 Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely. 67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. [These are the same requirements as were revealed in the Book of Mormon.] 68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church. [A warning given by the Lord] 69 And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock [any person can become a servant by simply developing their relationship with the Lord and exercising gifts of the spirit], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. 70 And now, remember the words of him who is the life and light of the world, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Amen.—D&C 10
Other purposes of the church taught in the Book of Mormon include:
- Call mankind to repentance, which is to point people to Jesus for a personal and intimate relationship with Him.
- Gather, partake of the sacrament to focus/refocus your life on the Savior and your personal relationship with Him.
- Teach the gifts of the Spirit and encourage all to exercise them freely in their personal relationship with the Lord. (see also Gifts of the Spirit Part 1 and Part 2)
- Support one another’s journey while respecting their own individual relationship with the Lord. Support would be given through encouragement, blessings, prayer together, fasting, exercising gifts of the spirit (prophecy, tongues, healing, etc.), and other forms of personal and group worship.
The Book of Mormon is also a witness of what the church should never be:
- An intermediary between the Lord and each soul. Each can, should, and must have their own personal relationship with him. This is priestcraft and is condemned throughout the Book of Mormon.
- An administrator of any soul’s personal salvation by dictating how each person should or should not worship Jesus in their personal relationship with Him. Each person should be discerning and work out their own salvation with the Lord (Alma 34:37; Mormon 9:27).
- A keeper or arbitrator of the gifts of the spirit. Each should seek to receive all the gifts of the spirit and exercise them freely. (see also Gifts of the Spirit Part 1 and Part 2)
Leadership and Their Purpose in the Church of God
Again, knowing what we know about the construct of the church and its purposes, it is easier to see the simplicity of the role of any leaders within it. The key is to understand that any title, appointment, or office itself does not change a man/woman. (More on divine authority vs. organizational authority will come in part 3.) Transformational power can only come from Jesus. And He personally administrates the relationship between that person.
The Book of Mormon outlines many great qualities of leaders and things they can do to assist the Lord in His work. These include:
- Seek for their own personal redemption from the Lord—This reminds me of flying on a plane and the steward reminds everyone that in the event of an inflight emergency, you should secure your own mask first and then attempt to help another person.
- Learn, know, maintain and teach the doctrine of Christ. The Lord’s true servants know “the way” and know that there is none other way (2 Nephi 31:21). They will point a person to the Lord for personal redemption and teach loyalty to Jesus Christ—”relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith (Moroni 6:4). If they point a person to a church/institution/mankind for personal redemption and teach loyalty to it/them, then it is instead the teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Pharisees). They teach the pure doctrine of Christ and the literal interpretation as taught in the Book of Mormon, to “come unto Christ”:
- Hope (in the divine nature of God—at a minimum—Omniscient, Omnipotent, Glorious, Perfectly just and merciful, Omnibenevolent)
- Faith—seeking for the commands of the Lord and acting on them
- Repentance, confession
- Baptism of Repentance
- Personal redemption/salvation through a baptism of Fire & Holy Ghost experience
- Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost
- Receive the Lord, Jesus Christ (while in mortality) and become a personal witness of Him (second comforter)
The Lord’s true servants know the Lord’s warnings of teaching something other than this simple doctrine (3 Nephi 11:39-40). They know that if they were ever to teach more or less than this then “the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them” (3 Nephi 11:40).
- Be first-hand witnesses of the Lord’s transformational power that is available within the doctrine of Christ. This should include one’s own baptism of fire and Holy Ghost event and one’s second comforter experience if they have received it. Certainly there should be caution and discernment to not share pearls among the swine. However, the swine are not general members of the church and certainly not those who are faithfully seeking to fulfill the Lord’s invitation in the Book of Mormon to “come unto Christ.” The purpose of these types of witnesses is to increase hope among others and help individuals overcome unbelief.
- Rebuke and despise priestcrafts. They should point people to the Lord to receive all things needed in their own journey. They should not be “the light” that administrates another’s relationship with the Lord. Leadership should rebuke those that offer their personal praises to them and treat them in such ways. The interaction between Peter and Cornelius is an appropriate example (Acts 10). They refuse paid ministry at any level. They teach and practice that God is no respecter of persons and anything they have received is available to any other person.
- Teach and exercise the gifts of the spirit and witness of their experiences. Others can and should use discernment to determine whether they are of God and whether there is any personal application. (see also Gifts of the Spirit Part 1 and Part 2)
- Learn to become “a servant” of the Lord by distinguishing between divine authority and organizational authority. (More on this in part 3 to come.)
- Teaches that Jesus Christ is an exalted being that condescended into mortality to demonstrate “the way” (doctrine of Christ) and fulfill the requirements of an eternal atonement
- Teaches to love God first and then love your neighbor. One’s relationship with God is preeminent and loyalty to the Lord has precedence. (Moroni 10:32; 3 Nephi 12:43)
- Encourages each person to work out their own salvation with the Lord.
- Exercises great hope (belief, trust, confidence) and faith in the Lord by allowing each person to administrate their own relationship with the Lord.
- Teaches that God is the same, yesterday, today and forever—eternal invitation to “come unto Christ” which is the Everlasting Covenant that despite apostasy has been restored in every major dispensation.
But how will one be able to discern whether Lord’s true servants from those that just profess to have titles, offices or appointments in a telestial church? By “their fruits,” of course.
More on this topic will be addressed in a series of false tradition discussions to come in part 3.
The Book of Mormon demonstrates a very simple leadership structure comprised of High Priests, Priests, and Teachers. Please understand that it does not mean that today’s structure in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is incorrect. The additional church offices can accomplish the same purposes.
- High Priest—The Lord’s chosen servant that is responsible for (a) calling all those to repentance and inviting people to “come unto Christ”, and (b) establishing and maintaining the pure doctrine of Christ that would lead them personally to the Savior.
- Priests & Teachers—The Priest role was to facilitate rituals and rites related to the Law of Moses and ministration of the sacrament. This role along with the role of a Teacher is to teach the pure doctrine of Christ—the means by which each soul could receive personal redemption (Moroni 3:1-4).
Now, I realize there is way more information here than can be digested in one setting, and it is a lot of head knowledge, so I want to end by bringing it all down to earth and getting it into your heart by sharing with you a portion of my personal witness of this “change of heart” experience and also that of my wife.
I am a personal witness to this transformational experience. It is not philosophical. It is tangible. It is physical and even physiological. It is not even something reserved for the spiritual elite because, believe me, I am no one of any secular significance or no one of any religious institutional significance.
For a long time I was content with being on “Team LDS”—thinking that it was “the winning team” and believing that “I had received and that I need no more” (2 Nephi 28). I had succumbed to the downfalls of 2 Nephi 28 and even 2 Nephi 4 having placed so much of my trust in the arm of flesh. I was nothing like the magnificence of the soul of Nephi, though I wanted to be. You could say I was deeply religious and hardly spiritual—at least nothing like the spiritual-minded creature I am now. I was living a checklist-religion with the belief it was going to save me someday, somehow. I was idolatrous. I had modeled my religious life after others while taking no ownership for my own spirituality. You could say that I was outsourcing my spirituality—handing over my free will, my faith, and yes, even my salvation to others, including my religious institution.
Then the Lord introduced me to the true doctrine of Christ. It came unexpectedly. I was actually searching for something else, and instead the Lord had been using all of my efforts to lead me to His doctrine. It was majestic, and yet so customized for me and my journey. But the truth is that His doctrine had been there all along and I never knew it. Certain people were used in my journey by the Lord in my awakening process. But it was His doctrine that destroyed my pride like one punch to the gut after another until I could no longer deny the power of the Book of Mormon. It was so plain, how could I deny it? It was through all these guided experiences that the Lord awakened me to my awful and fallen state. It was so humbling. This doctrine was key to awakening my soul and arousing my faculties (Alma 32:27) to the point in which I awakened from my slumber to start exercising faith in Jesus. The Lord took me on an uncomfortable journey. Brick by brick my false traditions crumbled one after another. In so many ways it was like watching myself die, only to have the Lord rebuild my soul one new brick after another except this time my foundation was cemented in Him. The Lord is definitely “the Lord of uncomfortable.”
It was late in the evening. I was on my knees. I was both crying out to the Lord both vocally and within myself. I was not willing to settle for an ordinary spiritual impression or physical manifestation of my soul. Instead, my heart was begging for something extraordinarily divine. I mean, I wanted lightning to pierce my soul and purge the telestial waste within me. With my hands raised I felt an energy come upon me. It was filling, uplifting and encompassing of my physical body; yet, I cried like a baby. Pure intelligence entered into me and spoke to my soul. The spirit of truth spoke to my soul like a soft intimate conversation but with extraordinary light and power. This was my personal baptism of fire and Holy Ghost experience. For days my physical body was pained with a piercing feeling in my chest. It did not go away. The best way to express it for me in words is to say I was “filled with the divine.” This telestial man was purged. My heart was changed. It was the sweet taste of personal redemption. But I know that it only happened through a divine power—nothing of the telestial world and nothing I could conjure within myself. This transformational experience alone is just part of my undeniable witness of the power of God. I assure you that there is nothing He cannot do.
I have a very intimate and original relationship with Jesus. I have no other desire than to be a servant of the Lord. There is only one team now—”Team Jesus,” or it could even be called “Team Israel” (as in House of Israel.) Since my baptism of fire and Holy Ghost experience, I have felt to sing the song of redeeming love (Alma 5:26) all the time. Through this experience and others with the Lord, I know I am supposed to share the doctrine of Christ as plain and simple as I can. I feel the urge to say what the Lord said, “Let there be no more disputations among you” and even let there be no more disputations within you (3 Nephi 11). I also feel the spirit of Mormon and Moroni as if to say, “Be ye no more unbelieving.” Brothers and sisters, God is absolutely no respecter of persons. If He can lift me from captivity, then He can and will do the same for you.
[My wife’s witness]
A desire had been placed in my heart a few years ago to truly repent after I had learned of the Doctrine of Christ from the Book of Mormon and others who had received. While I had never really done anything terrible, there had been a few things in my life that the Lord had been pressing on my mind that I needed to take care of–people I needed to reach out to and reconcile with. Things that were embarrassing, but that I knew needed to be taken care of if I was ever going to know Jesus better. So, with lots of prayer, I made a list and worked my way down through it. It took awhile. Sometimes I had to be a detective to find the people. It took a lot of faith and courage, but it was a beautiful exercise in learning to follow the voice of Jesus as he would tell me who to go to next and what to say. I found people who were warm and forgiving and the relief I felt afterwards was a weight lifted off my shoulders.
One morning sometime after that, I decided to set aside some holy time to pray and meditate in my bedroom while the rest of my family was asleep. I sat in a chair, found some meditation music and put on headphones.
I closed my eyes, and began praying. I started to visualize Jesus sitting next to me on the edge of a cliff looking off into the clear midnight sky full of millions of stars. Everything was calm and peaceful, and I could sense him next to me, but he didn’t say anything. I asked him to tell me what we were looking at and if there was anything I should be taking in from this scene, but he didn’t really say anything.
“Just wait,” he seemed to say through my impatience.
Some time passed, and just stars–nothing else, so I began again.
“What should I learn from this Lord?”
Again, he said nothing. So I just took in the sky for a bit more. I tried to imagine galaxies and clusters of solar systems spinning in spirals around spirals with a glowing central light, and began again: “What does it all mean Lord?”
“Just be patient.”
So my mind began to wander a little, and I had a hard time focusing. I’d realized I was off thinking about something else, but then, when I came back, there was the Savior—still, sitting on the ledge of a rock cliff, with me next to him, staring off into the starry sky.
Then, I asked, “Is there anything more I need to do to come to you?” The thought came that I needed to forgive some people, that I was still holding on to things in the past. I felt I should come to each one in spirit and apologize and ask for forgiveness. I began with my parents and told them that I forgive them and asked if they would forgive me for any and all things that I might have done that I should’nt have. I came to each of my siblings and their spouses, one by one, and did the same. I went to a few others, though I dont really remember who, because soon after that, I felt the vision open up and the scene changed into something completely different.
I saw light, billowy clouds in a bright sky above with the clouds seeming very real, like they were passing around me as I was traveling through the air. Everything was bright and full of light. I looked around, but could see no one, until all of the sudden, Jesus appeared in white with his arms outstretched, floating in the clouds with blue sky in the background. I could see the scars on his hands and feet.
He said nothing, just stood in the clouds and was a little far off. Before I could come closer, my eyes were diverted to my left. I saw more clouds, but then I saw three angels coming forward. They were a little hazy, and didn’t really come into focus, but I could see their outlines and feel their presence. Im not sure what they were even dressed in because the scene was hazy and unfocused.
I felt this amazing rush of the spirit that came over me from behind like a wave…from head to foot, warm and embracing and all encompassing and so full of love. The first came to me and gave me a warm and familiar hug. I knew right away that it was my grandmother, whom I have never met in this life. She didn’t really introduce herself. I just knew who she was. It was almost like her face was veiled from me, but she communicated a personal message to me—something I needed to do for a relative.
She told me some other things to tell this person. Tears streamed down my face as I tried to take all of this in. It was all so beautiful–nothing at all like I had ever experienced– and I felt such overwhelming love and joy and peace, and such gratitude. Words can’t even express it.
I then thought of my husband’s mother who had just passed away, wondering if she were there, too. Just as I did, I was patted on the shoulder by the other angel that was there, and I realized it was she. It was also like her face was veiled and I couldn’t see her very clearly either. She gave me a message to tell my husband. She said she has a calling now and that she is busy. Then she stepped aside, and I saw the other angel that was with her—her father, who had also passed several years before. I could make out his face clearly, however, which I thought was strange. He looked humble and at peace and he had a glow about him. He didn’t say anything, just stood behind her off to the side.
At that moment, my son came into the room and so it was hard to keep the vision, and it closed soon after, but I was really in awe, and thankful and so full of gratitude for what I had just witnessed. I just sat and cried for quite some time. I looked at the clock and I couldn’t believe the time had passed so quickly. It had been almost two hours.
The effect of this experience has changed my life. Throughout the experience I felt a wash of love and forgiveness I had never experienced before. I felt known not only by Jesus, but by those who had gone before. I came away a changed person and that the heavens were open to me in a very real and personal way. It took me several weeks to even realize what had happened, and had even asked Jesus many times since then if that experience was my baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost experience. He always smiles and tells me yes. I not only felt loved by him, but my guilt has been swept away. He is much more accessible than I have ever imagined possible.
Forward beginning in part 3, we will untangle False Traditions: Power in the Priesthood and explain false traditions are keeping each of us from a very intimate relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ.
To increase your understanding of the doctrine of Christ you are invited to study the Book of Mormon more carefully and more intimately with the Lord’s guiding Holy Spirit. For additional help, The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide is available for free. As a supplement to the study guide, you can also study alongside a couple of blog series that unveils the doctrine of Christ in the Book of Mormon (ASSIGNMENT SERIES: The Covenant Path Unveiled in the Book of Mormon) and another that celebrates the bicentennial anniversary of the First Vision (2020—The Bicentennial Anniversary Celebration). See also The Doctrine of Christ, A Proclamation to the World
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 to even 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.