Monday, August 30, 2010

2 Nephi 31: 21

2 Nephi 31: 21:

"And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen."

This is "the way" to salvation. Nephi adds: "and there is none other way." What does it mean there "is none other way?" Does that mean any religious system, institution, process, explanation or additional doctrine cannot save you? Is it true that you either enter in through this method or you cannot be saved? Is the purpose of the other rites, rituals, ordinances and teachings merely to bring you into this one true "way and there is none other way?" Or do you need to look for additional things, helps, ordinances, confirmations, and blessings to be conferred?

What of the other Gospel rites? They did come from God, didn't they? How are we to understand the relationship between other ordinances, even "higher ordinances" and this "doctrine of Christ" being explained by Nephi?

Clearly the "doctrine of Christ" is intended to give you the underlying basis for all salvation. There is no other "name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God" apart from Jesus Christ. He is the one who, by His obedience and sacrifice, put power into the plan of salvation. We know this to be true from everything declared by the prophets of God. But what about "this is the way; and there is none other way." What does that mean?  Does it exclude other ordinances or processes?  Does it make the Law of Moses no longer binding upon Nephi and his posterity?

Clearly following Nephi's ministry, his descendants did not abandon the Law of Moses.  (See, e.g., Jarom 1: 5; Alma 25: 15.) And so, if there is "none other way," it did not mean that the Nephites were to abandon practice of the ordinances then in effect. Nor does it mean that we abandon the ordinances now in effect in our day.

It is not that the ordinances are essential, but that the purpose of the ordinances are essential. The underlying meaning is essential. The "doctrine of Christ" becomes possible to understand, live and receive as you follow the ordinances. They are "helps" to bring you into this correct path. You will honor them, conform to them, seek for them, in order that you may inherit the blessings of the "doctrine of Christ."

Why are ordinances instituted? They are to bring you to the point where you inherit in your body and spirit these great blessings of the "doctrine of Christ." They prepare you.  Their effect is to qualify you, instruct you, advance you toward this goal of receiving the blessings found in the doctrine of Christ as expounded by Nephi in this chapter. Once ordinances have been adopted, it is then unlikely you can ignore them and receive what is promised by the "doctrine of Christ." How can you refuse what is offered and still accept the underlying gift? How can you mix ingratitude and gratitude?

Is it important, therefore, to keep the ordinances intact? If changed does some of the communication involved in preparing you to receive the "doctrine of Christ" lose something?

For example, without the shedding of blood there can be no covenant. Christ's blood is the culminating event which shed blood to activate a covenant between God and man. However, even after Christ's sacrifice, we are still required to offer sacrifice, and even the return of animal sacrifice will happen at some point in this final dispensation. The Law of Moses was fulfilled and will not return. However, the sacrifice of blood by animals which was before the Law of Moses will return. As Joseph Smith taught: "
“These [animal] sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of my the Holy Prophets be brought to pass. It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses’ day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.” (TPJS, p. 173, D.H.C 4:212)

When the penalties existed in the Temple ceremonies of our dispensation, we were reminded of the shedding of blood required for a covenant. When removed, we lose some of that memory. How would penalties involving the shedding of blood prepare people for the return of animal sacrifice? Would it help remind them that shedding blood is required to establish a covenant? Even this final Dispensation of the Fullness of Time could not be an effective covenant without the shedding of blood to seal the testament or covenant. (D&C 135: 3.)

Does the Gospel of Jesus Christ require the sacrifice of all things? (We've explained this before in relation to the Lectures on Faith.)  If so, then how do we obtain the blessings we desire from the hand of God without being willing to make a similar sacrifice? If it is required, then how do we qualify to receive this baptism of fire spoken of by Nephi that will purge us from all sin and permit us to speak with a new tongue? How is this sacrifice made apart from the irrevocable commitment made within yourself to "endure to the end" by laying upon the altar everything you have, even your own life if necessary, to build up His kingdom? How, in a fallen world filled with sin, in a day where there is no sacrifice or consecration being made by others; how do you do that? What does the "doctrine of Christ" allow you to do without regard to the sins and errors you find all around you? Even if all the world is content to remain Telestial, or some few encourage only a Terrestrial law be followed, can you still find and live the "doctrine of Christ?" Does Nephi's teachings require you to be anything or anyone special or noteworthy in this life? Can you do this in private, between you and God? Can you follow the "doctrine of Christ" by what you think, ponder, pray, say, do and believe?

This statement, which concludes the exposition on "the doctrine of Christ" is concluded using the names of "the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen." Although only a few will recognize this, it is a formula used when using the sealing authority. If you are aware of this, then you would realize what Nephi has done is declared that he possesses the Patriarchal Priesthood authority, which invariably includes the power to seal. He will mention "sealing" his testimony again before he concludes. But if you know this is a formula employed in connection with this authority, you will recognize it. Within the ordinances of the church, we use this formula when baptizing and again when sealing a marriage in the Temple.  All other intermediate ordinances are done "in the name of Jesus Christ."


  1. Denver said:
    For example, without the shedding of blood there can be no covenant.

    I wonder what this says about the loss of the penalties. Without the penalties and at least the promise of shed blood, are there no covenants made in the endowment?

    Similarly, without the anointings in the initiatories, are there no true ordinances performed there?

    Sad. I live in sad days. I hope for hope to return.

  2. That's what the Book of Mormon allows. And that is why the Church was under condemnation: for not remembering the covenant found in the Book of Mormon. So, really, if you awaken to this opportunity (which few gentiles are going to do) the opportunity is yours.

    We'll keep going and see what glories the Book of Mormon is able to bestow. :)

  3. As the upward spiral was mentioned before, here is where the complexity of the Gospel boils down to the simplicity mentioned in Denver's post:

    The Egyptian Endowment (Hugh Nibley) symbolized the whole teachings at every separate ritual as the drama unfolded. To distinguish where one was at in the procession of the path, the symbol for the doctrine connected to that point of the path was emphasized above the other, lesser "reminder" or "foreshadowing" symbols. But to have one piece represented without it being connected to the whole picture is an ugly thing (we call that missing the mark).

    Do our ordinances do similar? Consider the elements used in the ordinances and whether you are sprinkled or immersed. Small use of an element serves as a reminder or foreshadowing. Immersion in an element highlights the doctrine being focused on at that level.

    No matter how complex our system of ordinances is, there are still only a handful of elements used and repeated over and over with more or less depth shown, agreeing with what Denver says about the doctrine of Christ.

    They are: earth, water, fire (blood), wind (or spirit). Spirit may be a fifth and separate element.

    First we are baptized in the dust of the earth. That has already happened, yet we can learn something about it which will help us now.

    Then we must be baptized in water. This is the doctrine of Christ. Since God does the next two, this is the stage we focus on. The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost have useful ordinance symbols to help us recognize if we have or haven't received these last two baptisms. And, if we haven't, there are clues as to why not represented at those levels. We must learn to be brutally honest with ourselves to gain the interpretations of these ordinances.

    At each level of symbolism focusing on the immersion in question, the other three (or four) baptisms are referenced with a smaller gesture.

    One example: bread is of this earth. We eat only a small part. This is not the immersion in the dust that happened in the past. Therefore, bread is a token symbol of this earlier immersion, connected to Christ because His dust was holy and we ought to make our dust holy by partaking of His.

  4. The baptism of the Holy Ghost, in my opinion, has the most complex and inclusive set of ordinances connected with it because of the following:

    If you are seeking to understand why you haven't attained to the fulness of the baptism of the Holy Ghost yet, and haven't succeeded in finding your God in simple sincerity as Joseph Smith did that day in the Sacred Grove (without any of these ordinances restored, by the way), then you can go through every minute detail of the Gospel and search your soul for the missing virtue to assist you in your repentance.

    If your life is complex because of sin, then the ordinances meet the need of that complexity, but through repentance, it is the childlike simplicity, response, and plea that prevails. Shall a man not open the door to his son who stands without knocking?

  5. Zang family,
    You have lost me! I am really intersted in what you are saying though. What do you mean here?

    "The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost have useful ordinance symbols to help us recognize if we have or haven't received these last two baptisms. And, if we haven't, there are clues as to why not represented at those levels. We must learn to be brutally honest with ourselves to gain the interpretations of these ordinances."

    What do you mean by 'ordinace symbols'?

  6. So Denver,

    If we remember the blood of the martyrs who sealed the covenant made to us through the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon, can we then partake of the blessings of that covenant, removing the curse from us as individuals?


  7. CS- nothing special, perhaps only to help illustrate that any ceremonial gesture COULD be fair game as to be included as a symbol. The richness of the temple includes many slight passing references to things that the Spirit can and does highlight for those who need the healing balm of the doctrine represented. 2 seconds and a flash on the screen can be enough to hold depth and meaning. As is being shown in this blog, some of those shortened highlights may've been more elaborate in the past. Hence the all important need to be alert and attentive as opposed to asleep ;-)

  8. I have a comment about our changed endowment and watered down manuals etc. The Lord said the gospel is administered "according to the conditions of the children of men." (D&C 46:15) In addition, in the time of the prophet Samuel, the Lord gave the people a king because they wanted it even though it wasn't what the Lordwanted. I believe that what is happening is not because of uninspired prophets but because it is what the people want/deserve. People wanted changed garments--they got them. People got tired of hearing President Benson talk about the world-wide conspiracy etc. in the 50's and 60's and he quit talking about it for the most part. Now we have a church population that is basically clueless of the "awful situation" (see Ether 8) that we are in. We were told to feast upon the Book of Mormon to get out from condemnation and we ignored it. We are getting what we deserve. The only thing that gives me hope is we can choose ourselves if the condemnation will be lifted in our personal lives. Will we rend the veil of unbelief and participate in "the greater things"? (Ether 4:13-15.) Let's choose to do so.

  9. I'm not sure this is related, but in 3 Ne Chapters 20 and 21, (Christ talking about the remnant and the Gentiles), CUT is used 10 times and covenant is used 15.

    It's possible there is a chiasmus going on here too. Will have to look further.


  10. Isaiah 24:5 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.

    I have heard the Samuel principle used to justify different things. I do believe that sometimes the Lord commands His leaders to do things that the latter would rather not do. However, based upon the above scriptures and what Joseph said about not changing the ordinances, I would guess that such application would be in error in the case of changing ordinances.

    Regardless I am glad that Denver points out that there is an individual solution to this problem.

  11. You are assuming the ordinances were revealed as a whole, with everything specified and perfectly worded and ordered, that is not what happened.

    The temple ordinances in Nauvoo were done in an ad-hoc manner. It wasn't until Salt Lake that Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff systematized what we now have as the Endowment.

    Yes, the ordinances have changed. Joseph told Brigham that the endowment wasn't right and said it was his job to get it arranged properly (ie. "change" them). Ordinances are to teach us, not every teaching method can be used with every people. The Lord tries speak to us on our level, in our own language, which leaves room, in my opinion, for adjustments.

    Joseph Smith was the great prophet of the restoration, but even he acknowledged that he was only building a foundation, it was left to others to raise the superstructure.

    Sometimes it seems that our thoughts here are a knee-jerk reaction against anything current prophets do in favor of what the safely dead ones did. Seems to me Jesus himself warned against this. We aren't immune.

    Just to make clear, I am a post-1990 endowed member, and I wish I had more knowledge of what came before. A point I need to remember is that the earthly temple, as Denver has taught, is only a practice, a shadow of the Heavenly temple. Its my job figure out how to get in touch with the infinite. He can fill in any gaps of things that have been lost that I need to know.

  12. Denver:
    The baptismal ordinance done in the name of the. Father, Son and Holy Ghost is virtually always done by one not holding the sealing authority.Notwithstanding you say using the name/titles of the Godhead indicates one who holds the sealing power. I am perplexed.

  13. Baptism has been specifically authorized to be performed "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." That authorization came from the Lord, by revelation. (D&C 20: 73.) That authorization is important and allows the formula to be used. Then, in the Temple, it is once again prescribed for use. I point it out deliberately, and knowing that the authorization of the formula is deliberate, noteworthy and important to consider as a matter of meaning.

  14. Ben, you bring up a good point. It seems then that having the Holy Ghost is essential so the Lord can instruct one as to which changes were revelation, and which were mistakes, although well intentioned.

    It may be a hard thing to force the Lord to go in a round about way of teaching us a doctrine if we doggedly think everything is an advancement and a guaranteed revelatory adjustment just as it is wrong to throw the baby out with the bath-water upon the discovery of one mistake.

    Wouldn't you agree?

  15. Both baptism and sealing are "gates".... baptism is a gate to the LDS church. Sealing/Celestial Marriage is a gate to the Church of the Firstborn? In one case the kingdom of the Son? and the other the kingdom of the Father? Why the Trinity formula?.... I'm not sure. I would like to know. I would be grateful to hear other opinions.

  16. Denver, I'm confused by what you are saying.... are you suggesting our covenants are not valid unless there is a blood oath of some sort? I am a pre-1990 temple person. I believed the penalties were to impress upon us the sacred nature of the signs/tokens being revealed to us and to never reveal them. I'd wish we could speak more freely... I just don't know where.

  17. One Eternal God:
    Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.
    (Book of Mormon | Alma 11:44)

    One God, Infinite and Eternal Without End:
    Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen.
    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 20:28)

  18. Denver, I am with out a clear understanding I was endowed after 1990. The only reason I know of the penalties is because my Father shared their existance with me in the temple. I have never seen them performed. Sounds to me like this puts me at a great disadvantage. What am I to do with this lack of knowledge? Is it left to me to seek it by revalation or is it only symbolic to help prepare my mind for the future when animal sacrifice is brought back?
    Something in my gut tells me it is more important than just a preperation. This must have changed the true order of prayer. If so, is it complete enough to part the veil? What am I to do? I have not read all your books yet, so if the answers are there I can search it out. Since it is my salvation I will start to ask God, maybe the spirit will have you answer.
    Thanks, Dave

  19. David,

    Can you tell me how any law has the power to bless but does not have the power to curse as the counterpart?

    So if you want the blessing part of TOP, must you not also acknowledge the cursing part as well?

  20. David,

    I believe that the Lord can show a willing soul what he needs to be saved and exalted. Even today. Even when the gate is apparently locked.



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