WHAT TO EXPECT
Based on our experience and our understanding of the scriptures, although there are some common elements, each person’s change or baptism of the spirit is unique, like snowflakes or gaining a testimony. Just as no two snowflakes are alike, I have never heard a story from either a convert or born in the church member that was identical to anyone else’s experience of how they came into the church or gained a testimony.
Of all the names by which this change is known throughout the scriptures the name “baptism of fire” most closely describes what it feels like for most. The experience apparently varies in intensity for each person and may last a few hours, days, or occasionally weeks. It may involve visitation(s) or vision(s). Apparently all receive the message that their sins are forgiven.
We do not know for certain why the experiences are unique to each person; however, we surmise, that, like a testimony, the Lord gives us what we need, in a way most meaningful to us, perhaps modified by what we are entitled to based on the strength of our faith and works, but this is speculation.
We do know that it is a discernible event or experience. You will definitely know that something has happened and that you are changed as a result of it.
We know of a few that have written of their personal experience of change and have included in the Appendix a few such accounts that have come to our attention. We would like to compile a collection of such experiences and make it available to others because of the extraordinary light and knowledge that usually accompanies such experiences. Whether or not that becomes possible depends on you, dear readers, specifically, whether you will write down and share such experiences with us and whether the Spirit will permit us to make them available to others.
WHAT IT IS NOT – NOT “PURIFICATION”
Although the scriptures are clear that one is sanctified through the baptism of the spirit, they also clearly indicate that this is not the end of the road. Although sin is apparently abhorrent, the possibility for straying off the path through sin is still very real for we are only at the beginning of the path rather than at its end. We quote again a couple of verses from 2 Nephi 31 previously quoted in Chapter 2 to emphasize the point that by experiencing this mighty change we have only just entered the gate into the strait and narrow path.
2 Nephi 31:17-18 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might KNOW ThE GATE by which ye should ENTER. For THE GATE by which ye should ENTER is repentance and baptism by water; that then cometh a remissions of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
18 And THEN are ye in this strait and narrow path which LEADS to eternal life; yea, ye have ENTERED IN BY THE GATE; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye ENTERED IN by the way ye should receive.
The end of the path is having one’s calling and election made sure. There are apparently three different ways in which this may occur. These appear to be (1) through the Spirit telling you that you shall inherit eternal life, (2) by the Savior personally appearing to you (also called the Second Comforter) and among other things telling you that you shall have eternal life, or (3) receiving with your companion the second anointing.
There is another term found in the scriptures referring to yet another and clearly more advanced spiritual state; that term is “purified.” Before launching into our effort to explain this we want to let you know that to us the words “pure”, “purified” etc. seem to be used in different scriptures in what clearly appears to be two different ways. When one receives their remission of sins through the baptism of fire or the Holy Ghost it is clear that all of their sins are forgiven which cleanses and purifies them. In fact, in some scriptures the terms “clean hands and a pure heart”, and “pure”, “clean”, “purified” are used as synonyms for this spiritual birth. But, remember that this is only the beginning of the path. We have just been born again or born anew spiritually, and, hence, are only little children spiritually. Like all children we then must grow and mature spiritually, just as we do physically.
The second use of the word “purified” refers to a much more spiritually mature state as found, for example, in the phrase “purified and cleansed from all sin.” It is this second use of the word “purified” that is discussed here. This state of “purification” may or may not be the same thing as transfiguration; although there are some obvious similarities with the very limited accounts of transfiguration that we have. The following account from 3 Nephi 19 is an excellent example where the Savior uses the word “purified” in this second way. This conclusion stems from the sequence of events, for after the twelve disciples received their baptism of fire, they then had another even more intense experience in which they became “as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus” after which Jesus refers to them in verse 28 as having been “purified”.
3 Nephi 19:25-28. And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof.
26 And Jesus said unto them: Pray on; nevertheless they did not cease to pray.
27 And he turned from them again, and went a little way off and bowed himself to the earth; and he prayed again unto the Father, saying:
28 Father, I thank thee that thou hast PURIFIED those whom I have chosen, because of their faith, and I pray for them, and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith on their words, even as they are purified in me.
29 Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them.
30 And when Jesus had spoken these words he came again unto his disciples; and behold they did pray steadfastly, without ceasing, unto him; and he did smile upon them again; and behold they were white, even as Jesus.
The following scriptures describe the spiritual power of those who are “purified and cleansed from all sin” as having the authority to “ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.”
D&C 50:26-30: He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all.
27 Wherefore, he is possessor of all things; for all things are subject unto him, both in heaven and on the earth, the life and the light, the Spirit and the power, sent forth by the will of the Father through Jesus Christ, his Son.
28 But no man is possessor of all things except he be PURIFIED and cleansed from all sin.
29 And if ye are PURIFIED and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.
30 But know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask; and as ye are appointed to the head, the spirits shall be subject unto you.
Helaman 10:4-5: Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
Note in the following verses about the Prophet Joseph that this spiritual authority is also associated with having one’s calling and election made sure, for in these verses we learn that Joseph received precisely that.
D&C 132:48-49. And again, verily I say unto you, my servant Joseph, that whatsoever you give on earth and to whomsoever you give anyone on earth, by my word and according to my law it shall be visited with blessings and not cursings, and with my power, saith the Lord and shall be without condemnation on earth and in heaven.
49 For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father with Abraham your father.
Thus, according to the scriptures “purification” is another clearly more advanced or higher spiritual condition which is another divinely bestowed blessing, gift or endowment. We think we can also safely say that the state of “purification” is either the same thing as or at the very least very similar to the end of the strait and narrow way of having one’s calling and election made sure and receiving the second anointing (administered by the Prophet, or his agent, either in the Holy of Holies in the Salt Lake Temple or in a similar room in other temples).
To reemphasize the difference between “sanctification” and “purification” notice the Prophet Joseph’s progression from his experience upon being baptized in May 1829 to 1831 (Sec. 132 was recorded in 1843 but first received in 1831) when the Lord told him that his calling and election was made sure.
Jos. Smith – History 73-74 Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost and rejoiced in the God of our salvation.
74 Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we could never attain to previously, nor ever before thought of.
D&C 132:48-50. And again, verily I say unto you, my servant Joseph, that whatsoever you give on earth, and to whomsoever you give anyone on earth, by my word and according to my law, it shall be visited with blessings and not cursings, and with my power, saith the Lord, and shall be without condemnation on earth and in heaven.
49 For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father with Abraham your father.
50 Behold, I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you.
How does one progress from sanctification to purification? As best as we can determine it is by doing more of the same and especially by obeying the commandments of the spirit that will tell you all things that ye should do. We also believe that it certainly involves being sufficiently faithful in the additional trials that surely will come as discussed in depth in Chapter 25.
The scriptures and the personal experiences of Joseph Smith suggest or indicate that the purifying effect of receiving the Holy Ghost apparently needs to occur more than once in order to become “purified.” The best illustration of this that we know of is the sequence of events in 3 Nephi 19.
The experiences of the Prophet Joseph are also instructive on the multiplicity of remissions. Even though in 1831 the Lord told Joseph that his calling and election was made sure, yet, in about a half dozen or so later sections of the D&C the Lord tells Joseph that his sins are forgiven, apparently meaning those sins occurring after the last remission. Did Joseph also experience a renewal or refreshing of the baptism of fire? Joseph was certainly filled with the spirit when receiving such revelations. One of our friends who first experienced his baptism of fire at the tender age of ten who is now in his mid 50’s has personally experienced from time to time, pursuant to fasting, prayer and seeking, what he calls renewals of his remission of sins complete with being filled with the fire of the spirit. Yet, we are unable to find in the scriptures, other than in 3 Nephi 19, specific references to or instances of what might be considered such renewals or refreshings. However, it is worth noting that the scriptures speak ONLY in terms of “retaining a remission of sins” and obeying the spirit.
Except as discussed in the preceding paragraph, such “renewals or refreshings” are also beyond the scope of our experience. We simply do not have near enough experience beyond our own limited personal experiences to be able to make any other general statements Indeed, it seems to us that the scriptures are intended simply to bring us to the point where we become sanctified and from that point on we are expected to obey the promptings of the spirit. We have found very little in the scriptures on the subject of what one does after being sanctified. In fact, VIRTUALLY EVERYTHING that we have found on that subject is quoted in full later in this chapter under the heading “ENDURING TO THE END – OR RETAINING A REMISSION OF YOUR SINS.”
Remember, that where much is given much is expected and that he who sins against the greater light receives the greater condemnation. One of the reasons that receiving this blessing requires such commitment and focus is that the consequences of thereafter dropping out are so serious. Indeed, the risks or consequences of serious sins after being born again would appear to include now having had sufficient witness from the Holy Ghost to be in very serious trouble including the strong possibility, if not a certainty, of becoming a Son of Perdition if one should thereafter reject the Gospel. This observation is based on the following verses of scripture and the quoted statement of the Prophet Joseph.
2 Nephi 31:14-16. But behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would be better for you that ye had not known me.
15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.
16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.
D&C 82:1-4, 7, 10. Verily, verily, I say unto you, my servants, that inasmuch as you have forgiven one another your trespasses, even so I, the Lord, forgive you.
2 Nevertheless, there are those among you who have sinned exceedingly; yea, even all of you have sinned; but verily I say unto you, beware from henceforth, and refrain from sin, lest sore judgments fall upon your heads.
3 For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and HE WHO SINS AGAINST THE GREATER LIGHT SHALL RECEIVE THE GREATER CONDEMNATION.
4 Ye call upon my name for revelations, and I give them unto you; and inasmuch as ye keep not my sayings, which I give unto you, ye become transgressors; and justice and judgment are the penalty which is affixed unto my law.
7 And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.
10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.
TPJS All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against him. After a man has sinned against him, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened to him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it: and from that time he begins to be an enemy. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 358.
We mention this to make the point that one should not seek to receive the baptism of the spirit unless one’s central desire is to come unto Christ, because the scriptures and the Prophets agree that thereafter falling away FROM CHRIST can have very serious consequences indeed.
WHAT IT IS – ADDITIONAL ASPECTS
Qualify as a Candidate for the Church of the Firstborn.
The Church of the Firstborn is the name the Lord has given to the congregation of those who attain eternal life which is the glory of the celestial kingdom. According to the following scripture the “book of the names of the sanctified” is the record of those in this congregation.
D&C 88:1-5 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you who have assembled yourselves together to receive his will concerning you:
2 Behold, this is pleasing unto your Lord, and the angels rejoice over you; the alms of your prayers have come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded in the book of the names of sanctified, even them of the celestial world.
3 Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.
4 This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;
5 Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son –
We add the following additional important scriptures on the subject.
D&C 93:21-22 And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn;
22 And all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the Firstborn.
D&C 76:50-54 And again we bear record – for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just –
51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given –
52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
53 And who overcome by faith and are sealed by the Holy Spirit
of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
D&C 107:18-19 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchezedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church —
19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.
As we understand it, upon receiving one’s initial sanctification one becomes eligible for, or a candidate for, the Church of the Firstborn with permanent membership conditioned upon or subject to faithfully enduring to the end. Another way of looking at it is to consider that your name is written in the book of the names of the sanctified in pencil. Your membership in that congregation, which means your exaltation is sure, becomes permanent and your name is written in indelible ink in the book of the names of the sanctified either when your calling and election is made sure in this life or you have faithfully endured to the end.
Certain Additional Knowledge
Being sanctified is the primary requirement for receiving the things which the brother of Jared saw as recorded in the sealed portion of the plates according to the following from Ether 4.
Ether 4:4-7 Behold, I have written upon these plates the very things which the brother of Jared saw; and there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared.
5 Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them; and I have written them. And he commanded me that I should seal them up; and he also hath commanded that I should seal up the interpretation thereof; wherefore I have sealed up the interpreters, according to the commandment of the Lord.
6 For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.
7 And in the day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that THEY MAY BECOME SANCTIFIED IN ME, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.
New Insights Into The Scriptures
As one small illustration of expanded understandings, consider how you now understand the following scripture.
D&C 131:5-6 (May 17th, 1843) The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood.
6 It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.
D&C 39:17-18 Wherefore lay to with your might and call faithful laborers into my vinyard, that it may be pruned for the last time.
18 And inasmuch as they do repent and receive the fulness of my gospel, and become sanctified, I WILL STAY MINE HAND IN JUDGMENT.
ENDURING TO THE END – OR RETAINING A REMISSION OF YOUR SINS
“Enduring to the end” is one of the great catch-phrases in the church. One lady, who after learning of the steps of repentance, including confession of sins and that receiving the change was really only the beginning, wryly observed that “The real challenge was enduring to the beginning.” We find it hard to disagree with that observation.
Nonetheless, having experienced the change, what comes next? Are we “home free” and just able to coast? Are we now immunized against ever sinning again? As much as we may wish that to be true the scriptures tell us that much additional faith and works are required of those who embark on this path.
Consider what 4th Nephi tells us of the activities of their Zion Society.
4th Nephi 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 pray and to hear the word of the Lord.
Each, individually, (1) continued in fasting and prayer, and (2) strove to “walk after the commandments”. Presumably the commandments spoken of here are not only the written commandments applicable to all but the individual “commandments” via the promptings of the Spirit. Indeed, much of the benefit from this change is the ability to have the Spirit be one’s guide. It would be absurd in the extreme to not follow the spiritual guidance now available. And on top of that, if one ignores it what do you think the chances are that one would continue to enjoy the blessings of such guidance – to say nothing of the adverse consequences that would surely come from such disobedience?
And as a group they met “together oft to pray and to hear the word of the Lord.” Notice also the emphasis on immersing oneself in the word of the Lord. Nephi, also, in the following verses impressively emphasizes the importance of “feasting upon the word.”
2 Nephi 31:18-21: And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him,
relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under the 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.
In Chapter 32 of 2 Nephi verses 1-6 Nephi gives us his summation in the following words.
And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way. But, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts?
2 Do ye not remember that I said unto you that AFTER ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?
3 ANGELS SPEAK BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for, behold, THE WORDS OF CHRIST WILL TELL YOU ALL THINGS WHAT YE SHOULD DO.
4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ASK not, neither do ye KNOCK; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, BUT MUST PERISH IN THE DARK.
5 For behold, AGAIN I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, AND RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST, IT WILL SHOW UNTO YOU ALL THINGS WHAT YE SHOULD DO.
6 BEHOLD, THIS IS THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.
At this point we pause to digress for a moment to bring your attention to verse 7, which has a most mournful and sobering message for us. Remember that Nephi saw our day and was writing to those who would READ his record, in other words, THE MEMBERS OF THE LDS CHURCH and any others who accept the Book of Mormon as scripture.
7 And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the UNBELIEF, and the WICKEDNESS, and the IGNORANCE, and the STIFFNECKEDNESS of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, WHEN IT IS GIVEN UNTO THEM IN PLAINNESS, EVEN AS PLAIN AS WORD CAN BE.
ARE YOU DISTURBED BY THE MESSAGE IN THIS VERSE AND THE THOUGHT THAT IT APPLIES TO YOU?
We have added this verse and these few comments because ever since the time when each of us gained our understanding of the central message of this book, we each have sought to share it in the various quorums and classes that we have been called to teach over the years. Would you be surprised to learn that the message has almost without exception been ignored, and that we each have been rebuffed and even rebuked for teaching these principles?
We have chosen to focus on putting forth the message as clearly as possible rather than on the many scriptures addressed to those who will not hear this oh so vital message, such as portions of Chapters 32 and 33 of 2 Nephi. However, the consequences of not hearkening and obeying by seeking for and obtaining one’s own remission of sins and rebirth by the Holy Spirit certainly should be painfully obvious indeed.
Well, enough said on this sobering and most uncomfortable (both for us and, presumably, for you) point. Now back to the main theme of what one who has entered into the way must do thereafter.
Moroni emphasizes the importance of retaining the pure love of Christ in one’s heart through prayer.
Moroni 8:26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.
Moroni 7:46-48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail –
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath BESTOWED upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen
Finally, King Benjamin, in his heavenly message, for it was given to him by an angel, gives us direction on practical applications on day to day a basis. We have done enough commenting. Perhaps you will wish to make your own highlighting and commenting on these special verses.
Mosiah 4:11-30: And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth you such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.
12 And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.
13 And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.
14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another and to serve one another.
16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just –
18 But I say unto you, 0 man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, 0 then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.
23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.
24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.
25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.
26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you – that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God – I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.
27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.
28 And I would that ye should remember, that whosoever among you borroweth of his neighbor should return the thing that he borroweth, according as he doth agree, or else thou shalt commit sin; and perhaps thou shalt cause thy neighbor to commit sin also.
29 And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.
30 But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of your Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, 0 man, remember, and perish not.
THE ONLY WAY – KEEPING AND FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD
Long before I understood what receiving the Holy Ghost actually means I was aware of the following incidents. Now that I truly understand what they really signify, I can not think of a more fitting summation than the final words of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young from beyond the grave and the words of President Benson.
Several years after the death of the Prophet Joseph, Joseph visited President Brigham Young who recorded that experience as follows.
Joseph stepped toward me and looking very earnestly, yet pleasantly, said: “Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the Kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the spirit of the Lord from all spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife, and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the spirit of the Lord, they will go right. Be sure to tell the people to keep the spirit of the Lord; and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. Our Father in heaven organized the human family, but they are all disorganized and in great confusion.” (Journal History of the Church, 23 Feb. 1847)
After the death of Brigham Young, President Wilford Woodruff had a similar encounter with President Young:
On one occasion, I saw Brother Brigham and Brother Heber ride in a carriage ahead of the carriage in which I rode when I was on my way to attend conference; and they were dressed in the most priestly robes. When we arrived at our destination I asked Prest. Young if he would preach to us. He said, “No, I have finished my testimony in the flesh I shall not talk to this people anymore. But (said he) I have come to see you; I have come to watch over you, and to see what the people are doing. Then (said he) I want you to teach the people – and I want you to follow this counsel yourself – that they must labor and so live as to obtain the Holy Spirit, for without this you cannot build up the kingdom; without the spirit of God you are in danger of walking in the dark, and in danger of failing to accomplish your calling as apostles and elders in the church and kingdom of God.” (Journal of Discourses, 21:318)
As we started with the words of President Benson, we think it appropriate to also conclude with these words from his October ’85 Conference address entitled “Born of God”. (We encourage you to carefully reread the entire address.)
The “change of heart” and “born again” processes are best described in the keystone of our religion, the Book of Mormon.
Those who had been born of God after hearing King Benjamin’s address had a mighty change in their hearts. They had “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”
(See Mosiah 5:2, 7.)
The fourth chapter of Alma describes a period in Nephite history when “the church began to fail in its progress.” (Alma 4:10) Alma met this challenge by resigning his seat as a chief judge in government “and confined himself wholly to the high priesthood” responsibility which was his. (Alma 4:20.)
He bore “down in pure testimony” against the people (see Alma 4:19), and in the fifth chapter of Alma he asks over forty crucial questions.
Speaking frankly to the members of the Church, he declared, “I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts.” (Alma 5:14.)
He continued, “If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26.)
Would not the progress of the Church increase dramatically today with an increasing number of those who are spiritually reborn? Can you imagine what would happen in our homes? Can you imagine what would happen with an increasing number of copies of the Book of Mormon in the hands of an increasing number of missionaries who know how to use it and have been born of God? When this happens, we will get the harvest President Kimball envisions. It was the “born of God” Alma who as a missionary was so able to impart the word that many others were also born of God. (See Alma 36:23-26.)
The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but CHRIST CAN CHANGE HUMAN NATURE. Ensign, Nov. ’85, P. 6