Experiencing the Mighty Change
“It takes a Zion people to make a Zion Society,
and we must prepare for that.
We don’t need changed programs now
as much as we need changed people.”
Pres. Ezra Taft Benson April 5, 1986, in “Cleansing The Inner Vessel”
Foothill Publishing Prairie Village, KS
An introduction that gives an overview of the change required to become a Zion people; the many scriptural terms used to refer to the change; the many ways that the change is vital to spiritual growth; and the need to get about doing it – NOW.
CHAPTER 1 THE KEY TO ESTABLISHING A ZION SOCIETY
On April 5, 1986 President Ezra Taft Benson made many striking statements of a number of powerful principles in “Cleansing the Inner Vessel”, during his first conference as President of the church. Two of those statements that form the central theme of this work are highlighted at the conclusion of the following excerpts from that address. Today, In February, 1999, as we revise this chapter, we see these statements as far more significant than when they were first given in 1986 or in 1992 when we originally wrote this chapter.
As I have sought direction from the Lord, I have had reaffirmed in my mind and heart the declaration of the Lord to “say nothing but repentance unto this generation.” (D&C 6:9, 11:9) This has been a theme of every latter day prophet, along with their testimony that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. … Watchmen–what of the night? WE MUST RESPOND BY SAYING THAT ALL IS NOT WELL IN ZION. As Moroni counseled, we must cleanse the inner vessel (see Alma 60:23), beginning first with ourselves, then with our families, and finally with the Church. A prophet of God stated, “Ye shall clear away the bad according as the good shall grow … until the good shall overcome the bad.” (Jacob 5:66) IT TAKES A ZION PEOPLE TO MAKE A ZION SOCIETY, AND WE MUST PREPARE FOR THAT. … WE DON’T NEED CHANGED PROGRAMS NOW AS MUCH AS WE NEED A CHANGED PEOPLE. Ensign, May ’86, p. 4.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS WORK IS TO EXPLORE WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY ABOUT EXACTLY WHAT THIS CHANGE IS AND WHAT THOSE WHO DESIRE THIS CHANGE MUST DO TO EXPERIENCE THAT CHANGE AND THEREAFTER REMAIN CHANGED ONCE THE CHANGE OCCURS.
In this chapter we will focus on those few scriptures that reveal that this change is the foundation to establishing a Zion society. The balance of this work will discuss (1) many aspects of this change and (2) that the process of true repentance is something more than what is commonly understood. True and complete repentance culminates in a clearly discernible experience or event of change that fills one with the pure love of Christ thus eliminating the basis for the attitudes from which flow the entire range of non-loving, selfish, prideful, and other divisive behaviors that from the beginning of the restoration to now have prevented establishing a Zion society.
However, before commencing this discussion we think it would be helpful to briefly explain two things. First, that the scriptures refer to this change in many different, well known words and phrases that include the following: “converted”, “born again”, “born of God”, “born of the spirit”, “baptism of spirit”, “baptism of fire”, “mighty change of heart”, “sanctified”, “having clean hands and a pure heart”, “remission of sins”, “becoming a son (or daughter) of God”, “hope”, and even “come unto Christ.” The scriptures supporting this summary statement will be quoted throughout this work. As you read these many quotations, notice, among other things, the many different words and phrases used to describe this change and its effects. Second, once one understands what the change is, its effects, and that it is referred to in so many different ways throughout the scriptures , the scriptures open up in marvelous ways and one can begin to see and comprehend a wide array of new depths and truths including the two central themes of this work, namely: (1) the central importance of the change to one’s personal spiritual growth and development, including eligibility for the Celestial Kingdom, and (2) that Zion cannot be established and maintained until people individually and collectively experience this change and then remain changed. Now back to the objective of this chapter which is to show that this change was THE KEY to the establishment of the two previous Zion societies.
The restoration scriptures provide in Moses 6 & 7 and 4 Nephi the most complete accounts of the only two Zion societies that we know of. For many years after we joined the church in 1961 we considered these to be at best bare bones accounts and for years wished that we had much fuller accounts with a more complete explanation of how to reestablish Zion. But, as our eyes have opened we were amazed to see that what we thought to be insubstantial, bare bones accounts are instead astonishingly meaty and, in fact, clearly contain all the fundamentals necessary to know about establishing and maintaining a Zion society.
We begin with the account of Enoch’s original Zion. In Moses 6 we find a rich, precious record of the teachings of both father Adam and Enoch. Moses 7 recounts the establishment of Zion and then we find in verse 27 an incredible pearl in a clear statement of the key that made Zion possible. In order that we might put this pearl in its proper setting we quote some of the preceding verses:
21 And it came to pass that the Lord showed unto Enoch all the inhabitants of the earth; and he beheld, and lo, Zion, in the process of time, was taken up into heaven. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Behold mine abode forever …. 23 And after that Zion was taken up into heaven, Enoch beheld, and, lo, all the nations of the earth were before him; 24 And there came generation upon generation; and Enoch was high and lifted up, even in the bosom of the Father, and of the Son of man; and behold, the power of Satan was upon all the face of the earth. 25 And he saw angels descending out of heaven; and he heard a loud voice saying: Wo, wo be unto the inhabitants of the earth. 26 And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced. 27 And Enoch beheld angels descending out of heaven, bearing testimony of the Father and Son; and the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion.
The incredible pearl is the bold portion in which it is clear that the one single thing that qualified individuals to live in Enoch’s Zion was the change brought about by the Holy Ghost falling upon them. This is also the only scripture that we know of that so clearly establishes this point. Was this news to Adam and Enoch? Of course not!
Let us now examine the precious record of their teachings that the Lord has seen fit to give us as found in Moses 6. In our view the record of Enoch’s reply to the question of Mahijah from Moses 6:41 through Moses 7:1 ranks among the greatest verses in the scriptures. Following are a few relevant excerpts beginning with verse 51 in which Enoch is quoting from the record and teachings of father Adam, who was then still alive and living somewhere among them:
51 And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh.
52 And he also said unto him: If thou will TURN UNTO ME and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and REPENT of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in His name and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you. … 58 Therefore I give unto you (Adam) a commandment to teach these things freely unto your children saying: 59 That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so become 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 might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; 60 For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified: … 64 And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water. 65 And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man. 66 And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying: thou art baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost. This is the record of the Father, and the Son, from henceforth and forever; 67 And thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days and end of years, from all eternity to all eternity. 68 Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons. Amen.
Let us now go to the record of the only other Zion society known to us as found in Fourth Nephi. We found it interesting that in accord with the law of witnesses that in the mouths of two or three witnesses all things shall be established, we have records (or witnesses) of two such societies. We find it remarkable that in the entirety of 4th Nephi there are only two verses, 1 & 12, that tell of the things that they did that enabled them to enjoy the blessings of such a society. (We wonder if there are only two because the Lord wants to make sure that we will be sure to see and comprehend the worth of these verses.) The rest of 4th Nephi tells of the blessings they enjoyed and what happened that caused them to lose these greatest of earthly blessings. Let us now consider these two verses:
I And it came to pass that the thirty and fourth year passed away, and also the thirty and fifth, and behold the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about. And as many as did come unto them and did truly repent of their sins, were baptized in the name of Jesus; and they did also receive the Holy Ghost. … 12 And they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft to and to hear the word of the Lord.
Until we understood more fully what it meant to receive the Holy Ghost we did not appreciate the significance of the verses we have quoted here about the importance of this change in establishing Zion societies. Finally we understood that maintaining the change wrought by the Holy Ghost is precisely what enabled both the people of the Enoch’s Zion and in Fourth Nephi to establish and maintain their Zion societies. Now, having gained some measure of understanding of the effects of this mighty change, we could more fully appreciate the overwhelming importance of President Benson’s message about the need to become a changed people in order to establish Zion.
The rest of this work is devoted to considering a number of aspects of exactly how one goes about doing just that, including the vital role of fasting and prayer. We will also consider in some detail the effects and consequences of this marvelous, God given gift or endowment that
at the present time for most does not come easily or spontaneously and does not yet appear to be well understood or enjoyed by more than a very small percentage of the Saints. This work is a modest effort to help change that. As our own eyes opened and we became aware of the necessity of becoming changed, we began to ponder why are so very many living without this life-changing blessing that the Lord clearly wants us each to receive? We learned that part of the answer is that one of the key principles of spiritual learning and growth is “ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find.” WITHOUT KNOWING THAT SUCH A BLESSING IS AVAILABLE AND A FULLER UNDERSTANDING OF JUST WHAT IT IS, WHY IT IS IMPORTANT, AND WHAT ONE MUST DO TO RECEIVE IT, HOW CAN ONE ASK AND SEEK FOR IT? This work is a modest effort to increase understanding and thereby encourage the seeking and obtaining of this vital divine blessing. ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES ON THE REALITY AND IMPORTANCE OF THE CHANGE For those who either know nothing about or seriously question whether this change, also known as the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, is correct doctrine or important to the Lord, we offer the following scriptures and some excerpts from “Mormon Doctrine” as an introduction to the wealth of scriptures discussed throughout that instruct us about this absolutely essential “mighty change, which is brought about through repentance. We say again that the process of repentance culminates, as a general rule, in a clearly discernible experience or event of change known by many different well known words or phrases including the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.
Now we’d like to introduce a series of scriptures about repentance and the baptism of fire, given very early in the restoration even before the formal organization of the Church. The first scriptures in this series are from D&C 5, given in March, 1829, almost a year before the Book of Mormon was first published early in 1830.
8 Oh, this unbelieving and stiffnecked generation – mine anger is kindled against them, 9 Behold, verily I say unto you, I have reserved those things which I have entrusted unto you, my servant Joseph, for a wise purpose in me, and it shall be made known unto FUTURE generations; 10 But this generation shall have my word through you; … 15 And the testimony of three witnesses will I send forth of my word. 16 And behold, WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH ON MY WORDS, THEM WILL I VISIT WITH THE MANIFESTATION OF MY SPIRIT; AND THEY SHALL BE BORN OF ME, EVEN OF WATER AND OF THE SPIRIT –
“SAY NOTHING BUT REPENTANCE” FINALLY CLEARLY EXPLAINED In April 1829 in D&C 6:9 the Lord first gave the commandment to “Say nothing but repentance unto this generation.” The next month, May, He repeated this same commandment in the same words in D&C 11:9. In June, 1829 the Lord again gave the same message in three separate revelations and in slightly different words. First, he told David Whitmer to “declare repentance unto this generation.” D&C 14:8. Then in D&C 15:6 John Whitmer is directed that “the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people,…” Finally, in D&C 18:10-15 He instructed Joseph, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer that,
10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; 11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, THAT ALL MEN MIGHT REPENT AND COME UNTO HIM.
12 And he hath risen again from the dead, THAT HE MIGHT BRING ALL MEN UNTO HIM, ON CONDITIONS OF REPENTANCE. 13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! 14 WHEREFORE, YOU ARE CALLED TO CRY REPENTANCE UNTO THIS PEOPLE. 15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, AND BRING, SAVE IT BE ONE SOUL UNTO ME, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! 16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have BROUGHT UNTO ME into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring MANY SOULS UNTO ME. 17 Behold, YOU HAVE MY GOSPEL BEFORE YOU, AND MY ROCK, AND MY SALVATION. 18 Ask the Father in my name, in faith believing that you shall receive, AND YOU SHALL HAVE THE HOLY GHOST, WHICH MANIFESTETH ALL THINGS WHICH ARE EXPEDIENT UNTO THE CHILDREN OF MEN
The Lord in verses 15-16 above emphasizes that THE PURPOSE OF REPENTANCE IS TO BRING SOULS UNTO HIM. NO OTHER DESTINATION OR STOPPING PLACE, such as church membership, IS ACCEPTABLE TO THE LORD! THE LORD COMMANDS EACH OF US TO HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM. And in verse 18 He again describes the benefits of coming unto Him as receiving the Holy Ghost “which manifesteth all things.”
Then nine months later, in March 1830, Joseph receives D&C 19, which we have now come to understand as perhaps the single most significant revelation on repentance in all scripture. This section is usually quoted to show the consequences of not repenting; however, TO US IT IS FAR MORE VALUABLE BECAUSE OF THE LORD’S CLEAR EXPLANATION OF WHAT TRUE REPENTANCE IS. In the first four verses, the Lord gives several reasons why we should listen to what He has to say, concluding with this reminder that He retains,
“all power, even to the destroying of Satan and his works at the end of the world, and the last great day of judgment, which I shall pass upon the inhabitants thereof, judging every man according to his works and the deeds which he hath done. Vs 3
Then, beginning in verse 4 He presents the fundamental theme of man’s eternal choice to either “repent or suffer:” 4 And SURELY EVERY MAN MUST REPENT OR SUFFER, for I, God, am endless. In verses 5 through 18 He explains for the first time exactly how severe such suffering will be for all those who will not repent and come unto Him. Beginning with verse 13 He three times directly commands Martin Harris, and indirectly each one of us, to repent, again emphasizing the repent or suffer theme thus:
13 WHEREFORE, I COMMAND YOU TO REPENT, and keep the commandments which you have received by the hand of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., in my name; … 15 THEREFORE, I COMMAND YOU TO REPENT — repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore — how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. … 20 WHEREFORE, I COMMAND YOU AGAIN TO REPENT, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you CONFESS YOUR SINS, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit. The command to “confess your sins” in verse 20 is a fundamental element of true repentance, as we shall clearly show in later chapters.
Next the Lord again commands: 21 AND I COMMAND YOU THAT YOU PREACH NAUGHT BUT REPENTANCE. Finally, the Lord explains exactly what He means when He commands us to “preach repentance” in the following clear and powerful verse: 31 And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but THOU SHALT DECLARE REPENTANCE AND FAITH ON THE SAVIOR, AND REMISSION OF SINS BY BAPTISM AND BY FIRE YEA EVEN THE HOLY GHOST.
I’m going to pause for a moment to explain just how significant the above scripture is. This is new information that you won’t likely find anywhere else. Since I joined the LDS church in 1961 as a senior in college, I have read extensively and also heard a lot of talks from the President of the LDS church, his counselors, apostles, other General Authorities, Stake Presidents, Bishops, and others on repentance: NO ONE has ever quoted the above verse 31. NO ONE has ever explained that the Lord was NOT in verse 31 contradicting the commandment He had just given in verse 21 to “preach naught but repentance.” NO ONE has ever explained that the Lord in verse 31 is simply giving a more specific explanation of what “teaching repentance” means. I have NEVER heard or READ ANY talk or any article by ANYONE specifically and clearly on the importance of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. At the end of this chapter I’ll offer a few thoughts on why this doctrine is so little known and understood. The next two verses emphasize just how profoundly important and just how serious the Lord is about the COMMANDMENT He has just given. 32 Behold, THIS IS A GREAT AND THE LAST COMMANDMENT which I shall give unto you concerning this matter; for this shall suffice for thy daily walk even unto the end of thy life. 33 And misery thou shalt receive if thou wilt slight these Counsels, yea, even the destruction of thyself and property.
The remaining verses of this remarkable revelation on repentance contain some very specific directions to Martin Harris and then conclude with these strong words of hope and encouragement from our divine Coach: 39 Behold, canst thou read this without rejoicing and lifting up thy heart for gladness? 40 Or canst thou run about longer as a blind guide? (He has just explained great truths to Martin, including what repentance is, so Martin no longer has to walk in the darkness of not understanding.) 41 Or canst thou be humble and meek, (one result of true repentance) and conduct thyself wisely before me? (by obeying the commandments and counsel given. Then this final statement which sums up the entire objective and consequence of true repentance) YEA, COME UNTO ME THY SAVIOR. AMEN.
THE “FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL” AS DEFINED BY THE LORD Now, shifting our focus to what the Savior describes as “his Gospel” and the “fulness of my gospel”, we find in D&C 39:5-6 given on January 5, 1831 the shortest scripture we know of in which He defines His Gospel. Incidentally, this is another scripture that I’ve NEVER heard quoted in church or anywhere else.
D&C 39:5-6 And verily, verily, I say unto you, HE THAT RECEIVETH MY GOSPEL RECEIVETH ME; AND HE THAT RECEIVETH NOT MY GOSPEL RECEIVETH NOT ME.
6 And THIS IS MY GOSPEL – repentance and baptism by water, and THEN COMETH THE BAPTISM OF FIRE AND THE HOLY GHOST, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom.
There are three important points we’d like to make about the message of these verses. The first one is obviously the significance of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost as a vital component of the gospel. The second is not quite as obvious, but equally important. It is the Lord’s own statement that until one receives each and every one of the elements He has just identified, including the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, one has NOT received Christ. The third point, which is clearly implied in the first two points, is that those who reject His Gospel or any part of His Gospel actually reject Jesus Christ.
The reason this is true is that ONE’S REMISSION OF SINS COMES ONLY IN AND THROUGH THE BAPTISM OF FIRE. In other words, it is through the baptism of fire that Christ’s Atonement becomes fully effective in one’s life. So, what Jesus is telling us in these two verses is that those who reject His Gospel are actually rejecting His Atonement, which is the same thing as personally rejecting Jesus Christ. We’re explaining this now to impress upon you that the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is the heart, the soul, and the center core of the Gospel so that you’ll continue to read on. The abundance of scriptures evidencing the correctness of this explanation will be discussed in chapter 2 and other chapters throughout this work.
The rest of Section 39 is quite profound and bears reading and pondering in light of the new understanding presented here. For instance, in verses 11 and 18 the Lord refers to the gospel as He has just defined it in verse 6 as the “FULNESS of my gospel”. How many classes have you sat in while the class speculated about what exactly constituted the “FULNESS” of the gospel and the teacher made of list on the chalkboard of these speculations? Well, that question is forever answered by these few verses. By simply following a few references in the footnotes on the phrase “fulness of the gospel”, one can also quickly see that the gospel definition as the Savior gives it in D&C 39:6 is also referred to as the “everlasting covenant.” D&C 66:2; 133:57 By using this same technique you can also identify yet more names for it in the scriptures, such as the “new and everlasting covenant.” Heb. 7:8-13 EXCERPTS FROM “MORMON DOCTRINE” BY BRUCE R. McCONKIE We’ll conclude this introduction to the baptism of fire with two excerpts from the 2nd edition of Bruce R. McConkie’s “Mormon Doctrine”:
BAPTISM OF FIRE See Baptism, Born Again, Gift of the Holy Ghost, Holy Ghost, Sanctification, Sanctifier. To gain salvation every accountable person must receive two baptisms. They are baptism of water and of spirit. (John 3:3-5) The baptism of the Spirit is called the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16; 2 Ne. 31:13-14; 3 Ne. 11:35, 12-2; Morm. 7:10; D&C 20:41; 33:11; 39:6) By the power of the Holy Ghost, who is the sanctifier (3 Ne. 27:19-21), dross, iniquity, carnality, sensuality, and every evil thing is burned out of the repentant soul as if by fire; the cleansed person becomes literally a new creature of the Holy Ghost. (Mos. 27:24-26) He is born again. The baptism of fire is not something in addition to the receipt of the Holy Ghost; rather, it is the actual enjoyment of the gift which is offered by the laying on of hands at the time of baptism. “Remission of sins,” the Lord says, comes “by baptism and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.” (D&C 19:31; 2 Ne. 31:17.) Those who receive the baptism are “filled as if with fire.” (Hela. 5:45)
Mormon Doctrine p. 73
See Baptism, Baptism of Fire, Birth, Conversion, Gifts of The Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit of Promise, Sons of God, Spiritual Death, Spiritual Life. To gain salvation in the celestial kingdom
men must be born again (Alma 7:14); born of water and of the Spirit (John 3:1-13); born of God, so that they are changed from their “carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness,” becoming new creatures of the Holy Ghost. (Mosiah 27:24-29.) They must become newborn babes in Christ (I Pet. 2:2); they must be “spiritually begotten” of God, be born of Christ, thus becoming his sons and daughters. (Mosiah 5:7.) The first birth takes place when spirits pass from their preexistent first estate into mortality; the second birth or birth “into the kingdom of heaven” takes place when mortal men are born again and become alive to the things of the Spirit and of righteousness. The elements of water, blood, and Spirit are present in both births. (Moses 6:59-60.) The second birth begins when men are baptized in water by a legal administrator; it is completed when they actually receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost, becoming new creatures by the cleansing power of that member of the Godhead. Mere compliance with the formality of the ordinance of baptism does not mean that a person has been born again. No one can be born again without baptism, but the immersion in water and the laying on of hands to confer the Holy Ghost do not of themselves guarantee that a person has been or will be born again. The new birth takes place only for those who actually enjoy the gift or companionship of the Holy Ghost, only for those who are fully converted, who have given themselves without restraint to the Lord. Thus Alma addressed himself to his “brethren of the church” and pointedly asked them if they had “spiritually been born of God,” received the Lord’s image in their countenances, and had the “mighty change” in their hearts which always attends the birth of the spirit. (see Alma 5:14-31) Those members of the Church who have actually been born again are in a blessed and favored state. They have attained their position, not merely by joining the Church, but through faith (1 John 5:1), righteousness (I John 2:29), love (I John 4:7), and overcoming the world, (I John 5:4). “Whosoever is born of God doth not continue in sin; for the Spirit of God remaineth in him; and he cannot continue to sin, because he is born of God, having received that holy Spirit of promise.” (Inspired Version, 1 John 3:9.) Mormon Doctrine, p. 101-102.
The need for this change, while not well understood or widely taught, is not a complete secret. Indeed, President Benson has on occasion spoken of this change. Two prominent instances were his 1985 October Conference address (his last as President of the Quorum of the Twelve) entitled “Born of God”, Ensign, Nov. ’85 pp. 5-7 and the First Presidency Message in the October 1989 Ensign entitled “A Mighty Change of Heart”, at pp. 3-5. Indeed, Pres. Benson closes his extraordinarily powerful last talk “Beware of Pride” with an admonition to “cleanse the inner vessel” and be born of the Spirit. In our view, President Benson in his three years of conference addresses as Prophet clearly and powerfully taught the steps leading to this change, especially in the following addresses: 4 April ’86, “The Power of the Word”, Ensign, May 1986, pp. 79-82 5 April ’86, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel”, Ensign, May 1986 pp. 4-7 6 April ’86, “A Sacred Responsibility”, Ensign, May 1986, pp. 77-78 4 Oct. ’86, “The Book of Mormon-Keystone of Our Religion”, Ensign, Nov. 1986 pp. 4-7 4 Oct. ’86, “Godly Characteristics of the Master”, Ensign, Nov ’86 pp. 4-7 5 Oct. ’86, “The Gift of Modern Revelation”, Ensign, Nov. ’86, pp. 78-80 4 April ’87, “The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants”, Ensign, May ’87 pp. 83-85 5 April ’87, “The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants”, Ensign, May ’87 pp. 83-85 4 Oct. ’87, “Come Unto Christ”, Ensign, Nov. ’87, pp. 83-85. 2 April ’88, “The Great Commandment-Love The Lord”, Ensign, May ’88 pp. 4-6 3 April ’88, “Come Unto Christ, and be Perfected in Him”, Ensign, May ’88 pp. 84-85 1 Oct. ’88, “Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon”, Ensign, Nov. ’88 pp. 4-6 2 Oct. ’88, “I Testify”, Ensign, Nov. ’88 pp. 86-87 1 April ’89, “Beware of Pride”, Ensign, May ’89 pp. 4-7
In our view, there is great benefit to be gained from reading, studying and pondering every one of these extraordinary and singularly powerful messages as well as his other messages to fathers, mothers, youth, children, singles, and the elderly. We have all gotten the Prophet’s message to read the Book of Mormon, but the Lord has given us so much more in
these marvelous messages of His Prophet that seems to have been largely overlooked and is so vitally important, especially considering the time and season. We sometimes wonder if the Lord is not profoundly exasperated by our lack of attention.
THE MAIN THEME OF THIS WORK IS TO SHOW THAT THE MIGHTY CHANGE BRINGS ONE TO CHRIST. THIS IS ALSO THE CENTRAL MESSAGE OF THE BOOK OF MORMON. In our view, THE PRIMARY REASON that the Lord through President Benson exhorted us so frequently and forcefully to read the Book of Mormon is so that many more will finally see and understand that BECOMING CHANGED IS THE CENTRAL MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. We show this by quoting many of the passages from the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price which plainly express the overwhelming importance of becoming changed. WE PRAY THAT THIS MESSAGE WILL TOUCH YOUR HEART AS IT HAS PRO-FOUNDLY TOUCHED OURS. THE ADVERSARY HATES THE BAPTISM OF FIRE DOCTRINE
As you continue to read you are probably going to wrestle with the question of why you have not previously heard much about the central importance of the change known as the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost? Earlier we mentioned that we’d offer some thoughts as to why this is so. We have concluded that of all of the many aspects of the restoration which the adversary has so vigorously and virulently fought against, the single truth which he most wants to destroy is the doctrine of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. We say this because there are only a few remnants of the doctrine left in the New Testament. The few remnants include John the Baptists’s statement that while he, John, baptized with water, the Messiah would baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost; the account in the third chapter of the gospel of John of the Savior’s night discussion with Nicodemus during which Christ said “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”; the events on the day of Pentecost; the encounter with Simon the sorcerer; and assorted other references to being “filled with the Spirit” or the “Holy Ghost.” That the doctrine was apparently still in the scriptures which the Jews had at the time of Christ is indicated by the Lord’s rebuke to Nicodemus in John 3 that as Master in Israel he should have known of the baptism of the Spirit. That plus the restored account of Adam’s baptism by water and then fire and the Holy Ghost in Moses chapter 6 clearly show that this doctrine was removed from the Hebrew (Old Testament) scriptures.
The current problem with these various tidbits of information remaining in the Bible is that there is not enough to gain a correct understanding of what is really happening, although it is obvious that something observable and discernible did happen when people actually received the baptism of fire. There is also virtually no way anyone can recognize the multitude of different words and phrases, like “converted”, “sanctified”, and so on, used throughout all the scriptures to refer to the same experience. Because of this absence of information about what the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost really is and what are true, bonafide manifestations of the Holy Spirit, the adversary has for centuries enjoyed the ability to deceive and delude many with a wide variety of false manifestations including jumping, shoutings, rolling about – hence the name “holy roller”, meaningless utterances of gibberish or “glossolalia”, and so on. And we say that the adversary hates this doctrine the most, because even with a profound abundance of information in the three modern scriptures restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the collective capacity to comprehend these vital verses has been severely diminished by a variety of methods.
The end result is the current situation of this doctrine and experience being essentially “hidden” or “lost” to those who have in their hands the wealth of vital, restored information about it. And, finally, we say this because of our understanding that by destroying understanding of this doctrine the adversary prevents many from seeking for and receiving their own complete remission of sins in the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, which, thus, profoundly diminishes the effectiveness of the Savior’s Atonement.
WE VENTURE TO TELL YOU OF THESE THINGS AT THE BEGINNING IN ORDER TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO SUSPEND ANY DISBELIEF YOU MAY HAVE ABOUT THE CENTRAL IMPORTANCE OF THE BAPTISM OF FIRE DOCTRINE AND EXPERIENCE AND TO CONTINUE TO READ ON WHILE PRAYERFULLY SEEKING THE CONFIRMATION OF THE SPIRIT ON THE TRUTHFULNESS OF THE THINGS TAUGHT. If you would like to read some modern accounts of some who have received their baptism of fire and remission of sins, there are several such accounts in the APPENDIX.