"Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb."
If you understand these phrases, this verse clarifies the matter.
Being called into this holy order requires a person to be more than a church member, or a follower, or a believer. They need to be "sanctified."
"Their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb." No small feat!
To have white garments is to have the blood and sins of your generation removed from you. To be purified. To be sanctified by the Lamb - removing from you, and taking upon Himself the responsibility to answer for whatever failings you have.
This is not ritual purity. This is purity in fact.
The person described by this phrase is qualified to stand in the presence of God without sin. Clean of all blood and sin - righteous forever. He is Christ's, and Christ is the Father's, and all that each of them will be is the same; for we shall see Him as He is, because we will be like Him. To be like Him is to be sanctified.
I can use the words, but I am powerless beyond that. This is more than you think it is. Words are inadequate to explain it. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what great things the Lord has in mind by inheriting these promises. Indeed, to receive an understanding is to cease to be a man and become something else altogether. A stranger and sojourner here, but a resident with God in another condition altogether. It is written by the Lord concerning them: "These are they who are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all. These are they who have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn. These are they whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all. These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood." (D&C 76: 66-69.)
Such persons are still in this world, but they are also associated with innumerable others who are not present here. Although mortals associate with each other, these individuals obtain a higher order. They connect with a higher plane, because a more sure word has been spoken to them. As a result they belong to an order of holy priesthood. That priesthood is an order without beginning of days or end of years, from eternity to eternity. This new, higher order, when it occurs can be the spark through which heaven itself can return to the earth.
To others looking in from outside, these are words without meaning, or definition. To those who hold this priestly position, these words are a perfect fit. The gulf between the two positions is so great that even a common vocabulary won't make meanings connect.
We proclaim we "have the truth" but we do not preach it. We claim to have authority, but we have no power to redeem and exalt. We pretend it is unlawful to preach mysteries, yet Alma is preaching the deepest doctrines to the non-converted. If we preach the truth, it will attract those whose lives are empty. Why would they join us if what we offer is as trite and superficial as the false religions they already believe?
Is there no need to cry repentance to this generation with power and authority? With the tongue of an angel? To cry out as the Book of Mormon declares the message to the non-believing and skeptical?
It does raise some troubling concerns as we claim to be the "true church" but do not act the part as shown in these scriptures. How are we justified in masking the fullness, hiding the mysteries, putting away deep doctrine that will save, and still proclaim that we are the "only true and living church upon the earth?" Does "living" require us to create sons and daughters of God who are "come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn?" If so, why do we hear so little about it in our day?
I suppose our audacity springs from our history? If we have lost something vital that conflicts with our current understanding of the history that GUARANTEES us that we are perfect, and that we cannot be misled, then we wouldn't want to acknowledge that. Thank goodness for these guarantees. It does let us relax a bit, doesn't it? Broad and wide are the guarantees we have inherited. We don't need to worry about that narrow and strait fringe who rummage about in the mysteries.
I didn't want to put this in the above post, but I did want to put it up: When I wrote The Second Comforter, I was persuaded that the church's cautions about speaking of mysteries was well taken and I accepted their definitions. Now I am persuaded of the concept still, but I do not agree with their definitions. As a consequence, I believe The Second Comforter is a book which ought to be given to non-Mormon investigators. They ought to learn these truths as a part of investigating what our faith includes.ReplyDelete
I believe the idea that deep truths must not be taught or understood is a sign of atrophy in faith, loss of light, and rejection of the fullness intended to be ours. It is a damnable notion because it will damn people who might otherwise be brought to partake of eternal life. Therefore I reject it.
That is not to say that my idea is right. But it is in conformity with the Book of Mormon, a text which condemns us as a church for failing to accept and do what it teaches. I am always willing to be persuaded that I am wrong about this question involving teaching doctrine freely, openly and often. But to my core I do not think I am. I have seen apostates return to activity, inactives become reactivated, and non-Mormons convert as a result of hearing doctrine. I have also seen those who drift away, lose interest and become critical when they are malnourished by doctrinal trivia in church manuals, classes, conferences and talks. Therefore my experiences tell me I am right.
Thank you for showing the Light of Christ on a Hill. I know its not easy to be a target for others, as I am sure you are, but I know that the Lord places watchman on the tower to cry repentance and to warn of the coming Storm.
I LOVE Doctrine, I love The Truth, and feel the same regarding teaching doctrine. To often member use the Milk before meat principle to keep everyone on a diet of Milk. How slow do we need to go? I have learned its important to keep a grasp on the "Basic" principles, as they steady the mind in times of difficulty, but the Deep Doctrine gives me much Hope and Energy to go on to Higher Ground. Without the Deeper knowledge I have received I would be REALLY Depressed, thinking I have all that life and eternity has to offer.
I am teaching the lesson in EQ tomorrow on the Life of Christ, Any Suggestions?
Hope you have a wonderful wet weekend, and thanks again for sharing your Testimony and the Light.
When Joseph Smith told others of his vision and manifestations and visitations, could anyone silence the feeling of "if he could do it, why can't I?" It's taken us a century and a half to do it and we're doing a pretty good job, unfortunately.ReplyDelete
If you haven't read Come, Let Us Adore Him, then I'd suggest you look at it. There are many things in that book which ought to find their way to the attention of all the Elders.ReplyDelete
If we may discuss doctrine freely and openly, then I have a question about process that I would love to have answered: it is the meaning of the word "after" as used in the discussion of the Holy orders of the priesthood. For example:ReplyDelete
D & C 76: 56-58. "They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and his glory; And are high priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son. Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God-
It seems to me that there are two possible meanings of "after,"
1-in the manner of
2-following (in the sense of a sequence)
If the second definition is part of what is being communicated, then the order of Melchizedek, the order of Enoch, and the order of the Only Begotten Son seem to be a progression. Stations of purity along a continuum. And it strikes me that there are THREE orders, so perhaps each order is associated with a specific member of the Godhead.
Should we look for ministrations of the different members of the Godhead as we enter these holy orders of the priesthood? Should we look to become a king then a priest then a god?
Thanks for all you do.
Remember sometime back when I asked a question about whether you were being "schizophrenic" and you wrote a whole post on it? I see more and more clearly where the schizophrenia is lying and it's with us.ReplyDelete
There's a dichotomy, irony, and tragedy in the horror of the truth that we ARE the "true church" who (to whatever extent) are not doing what we are supposed to be doing and have thus been under condemnation for 178 years. We are the Children of Israel wandering in the wilderness still and not entering yet into the promised land, still going after strange gods and rejecting the Lord our God who made us.
We are lost in believing the lie that if we are the true church, then everything we are doing is true. We can't figure out that the pattern in the scriptures is that the "true church" has rarely been doing what is true, and the Lord in his infinitely kindness has always labored long and hard with His chosen people to get them to remember who they are, repent, work righteousness, enter into His rest, and then work for Him helping to bring others through the narrow gate so that they might also enter into His rest.
I'm thinking how glorious it could be to have all of this being taught openly and clearly -- at least as clearly as Alma taught it to the wicked people of Ammonihah. Alma 12 and 13 were actually Alma speaking to Zeezrom -- one of the top bad guys, and HE REPENTED and later preached with them to the Zoramites in Alma 31.
There's hope for us still, I believe. He's helping me to get unstuck, and if He can do that, He must be God.
DKD has left a new comment on your post "Alma 13:11":ReplyDelete
I don't know lots about ancient alchemists. I think about them when words like "purity" are mentioned. The ultimate goal (as I understand it) of the alchemist was to transform the human body into an eternal being. The first step in the process was to see if they could transform lead into gold.... to do that, it was essential that they make the lead as pure as possible.
My battery is running low... gotta go for now. :)
[Reposted by the comment moderator. I rejected it by mistake.]
Thank you. :)ReplyDelete
"The reason we do not have the secrets of the Lord revealed unto us, is because we do not keep them but reveal them; we do not keep our own secrets, but reveal our difficulties to the world, even to our enemies, then how would we keep the secrets of the Lord? I can keep a secret till Doomsday."ReplyDelete
I think we fall more under the blindness of Babylon culture than we realize. We yearn for signs, wonders, miracles and revelations, but at the same time we don't believe they are possible. Our skeptical Babylonian minds preclude the possibility of contact from a higher power in any way other than maybe the small allowance we give to whisperings. Anything more than that just doesn't seem possible.
I have often thought, and discussed this with a friend years ago before we both left on missions, that a knowledge of mysteries, not necessarily knowing them fully, but knowing something about their possibilities and meanings, helps to clarify all other aspects of the Gospel in a way that the basics alone don't do. Of course you have to learn about faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost first, but leaving those ideas in isolation doesn't bring the weight to them that they deserve.
I suppose we take, as you say, the above warning about sharing secrets so far to the extreme that we barely acknowledge that such secrets exist. I don't think that's what Joseph meant at all.
Introduction into the secret councils of heaven has always been one of the chief goals of every dispensation. The first goal of Moses after leaving Egypt was to lead the children of Israel to the Temple of Mt. Sinai to enter the presence of the Lord, but they recoiled and refused.
I still think the institution of the church isn't as irretrievably lost as the posts/comments here sometimes like to say (I keep hearing the words of D&C 1:30 ring in my head, along with the 92 instances in the D&C where the Lord refers to "my Church"), but the ring of warning sounded in the Book of Mormon, and reflected on this blog carries too much truth to ignore. I guess I worry sometimes that the spirit of criticism of the institution might sometimes urge people too far over the line to think the problem is all "up there."
I prefer looking in the mirror for the reasons this dispensation seems to be floundering, and there I think lies the first lines of battle.
Thanks again for this series of posts.
One more thought from the Prophet:ReplyDelete
"Some people say I am a fallen Prophet, because I do not bring forth more of the word of the Lord, Why do I not do it? Are we able to receive it? No! Not one in this room. He then chastened the congregation for their wickedness and unbelief, 'for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son and daughter whom he receiveth,' and if we do not receive chastisements then we are bastards and not sons."
I don't believe for one second that the institution of the Church is perfect, or that the Prophets and Apostles are infallible. My point is that there is that there is precedence for the wickedness or unpreparedness of the Saints to shut up the mouths of the Lord's servants.
Thankfully, anyone who prepares themselves can receive from the Lord directly.
I'm thankful for deep water. It was the context I was dropped in when I found the gospel.ReplyDelete
The kind sister who shared the gospel with me didn't awaken me to the Spirit until she dropped the idea of our Heavenly Father having a spouse. That truth was the first truth that opened my mind to the validity of Christianity. It was the spirit and I'm glad she had the courage to follow it when she spoke with me. She also had a great deal of love for me and still does, what a blessing!
It was a fantastic way to come into the gospel for me. For since then my mind has sought to know who I am and REALLY where I can reach spiritually and though I have peace, I am still very hungry and thirsty. I am glad there is a fountain here from which to partake.
Ben I appreciate your thought, and feel what you feel to some extent.ReplyDelete
I chalk some of that feeling up to the cult of personality idea, and I clearly hear the wisdom from which those thoughts come, which is the scriptures.
I also reflect on how I am participating in maintain that (what I call) culture and I am seeking to transcend/repent where I am called to serve.
The great leaders I have had were not shy in teaching the these doctrines with purity and plainness.
Both of my mission presidents taught entering into the rest of the Lord EVERY TIME THEY SPOKE TO US. My one mission President blatantly invited us to seek the sacred grove experience.
I think the critiques here are to challenge the culture of spiritual limitation that exists at large in the church. This darkness has a great grasp on the Church and there is a great deal of spiritual inhibition toward deeper or greater spiritual heights in the Church, which is clearly the work of Satan.
To defend the context or the feedback away from spiritual damnation in the church I would point up that I have heard Denver speak generally in critique and specifically in praise of our church leadership.
Also to the degree that critique has felt uncomfortable for me I have seen a way in which I have been pray to culture and blind in doctrine or weak in faith.
This all being said, I seek to sustain all my fellow saints to the degree that I know they are in accordance with the Lord's will, which I seek to confirm often or which I often feel in the moment. To the degree I don't feel a conformation or don't bother to look for one their sin becomes my sin. What I know is these leaders, myself included, are mere men, with heavy mantels, incline to fall pray to the warnings in D&C 121.
I voice my opinion about error, when I feel spiritual inclined, which we were recently invited to do from one of the 12 in a recent conference talk. Actually we were told if WE DON"T follow the spirit and call a fellow man to repentance, IN LOVE AND HUMILITY AND FOR ME ALWAYS PRIVATELY WITHOUT GOSSIP, we are acting selfishly.
So I guess we can assume Brother Snuffer not selfish. :0)
I had a dream where I was standing in the rain. I had my arms outstreached and my face upturned so that I could feel the rain better. An angel came up behind me and said that I appeared to be enjoying myself. I said that this was the warmest rain I had ever felt and that it made me feel clean and pure. He said that it should because it was the blood of the Lamb that washes away the sins of the world. I smiled to know that I was clean. He then said that he had been sent from Father to give me a gift and that I could have anything I wanted. I said that I had a daughter in college and another going soon and that I could use some money. He frowned and truned away to prepare the gift. I touched him on the shoulder and said "Excure me. That isn't what I really want. I want Eternal Life for me and my family." He smiled and said, "That's what I thought you really wanted." He then prepared and gave me that gift. And the dream ended.ReplyDelete
It's served to remind me of priorities and how good it feels to be clean.
Thanks, JR, for the comments.ReplyDelete
I too have heard this general doctrine (seeking the face of Christ in this life) taught many times, although these were very rarely in the standard 3-hour block.
Here's something, a bit in reply to myself, that causes me much pause, coming from D&C 84 regarding the condemnation of the church:
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.
This has been mentioned a number of times here on this blog, but tonight was the first time I really saw and started to understand the words whole church.
Amazing what you can see when you look at the actual words.
Interesting to me is that this condemnation follows a charge from the Lord to, "live by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God" and "every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.
I actually had an insight today in Sunday School (amazing, eh?) as we discussed Samuel, Eli and the beginning of kings in Israel. God's program for the Jews during Samuel's day had no room in it for the rule of kings, He was to be their king. But, because of the insistence of the people, he granted them their desire to have a king.
Fast forward one generation, Saul is a disaster of a king, and Samuel is directed by the Lord to choose the next king, which the Lord hand picks by revelation.
If you went to a testimony meeting during King David's rule, you could hear that you know David was chosen by God to rule, and you'd be right, but you'd also be wrong. The Lord continued to lead Israel, but the nation wasn't with the program the Lord had for them. He humored them in their wicked desires for a king, picked a king out for them, but all along he would have much preferred if they had never gone the route of the kings.
I guess the point is that even when on the surface a revelation or direction from the Lord would make it appear that he approves of our whole way of doing things, its really not the case. Programs, manuals, etc. might indeed be "inspired" as we might normally say, just as David was the inspired king, but it seems that if we look deeper, the Lord has a much different program in mind for us.
Well said Ben and confirmed by the events of Joseph Smith's day and the Lord intention that He laid out as we read the revelations in D&C.ReplyDelete
Ben and JR, I agree. I believe that critical moment came when Joseph F. Smith was battling the seating of Senator Reed Smoot. The Church relinquished formal practices but had nothing to say about people using their priesthood on their own to continue supporting the doctrine. But, the rising generation in the Church became critical of this back-seat administering as they had no interest in the doctrines, and thus Joseph F. Smith saw that we had no power to continue and restructured the whole Church. David O. McKay was the first prophet with only one wife and he championed the new approach and we had our Prophet-king. Pres. McKay eventually had visions, but we as a people got what we wanted and there was no going back for a while, and back-seat administering became cause for loss of membership. We have swallowed wholesale the loss of light and are calling it holier than what we used to have, because its easier. Some people on the other hand get angry about that, and have trouble finding rest. That just means they're hypocrites. The strait and narrow path cuts a road in between two extremes, I believe.ReplyDelete
I heard Pres. Hinckley in conference once say they tried tearing down the whole Church's structure and putting it back together again brand new and just couldn't let go of the old ways. They programs were like children to them, he said. At the time, I didn't know they could do that, thinking the Lord set everything up just the way He wanted. Now I see it differently and wonder if he should've said "gods" instead of "children" for some instances of programs. The fact that he tried to have an open mind and start with a clean slate is a good sign, and hopefully for him he had a vision of what the Lord wanted instead, and maybe the people and administrators wouldn't let their President do it.ReplyDelete
I remember that too, Zang. It seemed that for a while President Hinckley would make some new announcement just about every conference: conference center, smaller temples, perpetual education fund, etc. After he talked about tearing down the structure and reevaluating it all I thought we'd continue to have such announcements and restructuring, but nothing ever happened.ReplyDelete
The only thing we ended up with from that (as I recall) were 2 year temple recommends.
It seems to me the Lord inspires Prophets to propose changes like this from time to time and when we finally are ready, they may actually go ahead.
The Parable of the African SaintsReplyDelete
Two years ago, I was blessed to spend two days with one of the apostles. During that time, I asked him about just this subject -- if all the programs, all the auxiliaries, all the...everything...just diverts us from what the real focus needs to be.
His answer was illuminating. He told me that in the early 70s, the church had to pull out of a country because of unrest (it might have been Uganda, but I don't remember which country). He said that the saints' final instructions were to find 5 things, and if they were to find those 5 things, the church would continue.
Those 5 things were:
* Priesthood Authority
* A clerk (to keep track of the members)
* A peach tree (somewhere to meet)
* The scriptures
* The members
When the church returned to that country over a decade later, the leaders were shocked: the church had multiplied and grown at a rate they had never dreamed.
Sometimes the greatest progress the gospel makes is based on a foundation of simplicity, not complexity.