A discussion of obtaining the promise from God that one
SHALL inherit eternal life, also known as having one’s
calling and election made sure.
THE “MOST GLORIOUS PRINCIPLE” OF CALLING AND ELECTION
This is the third chapter on calling and election, the principle that Joseph Smith called “the most glorious principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” See pg. 27-5, infra. The other two are Chapter 17 “The Promise” and Chapter 18 “Rest”, each of those titles being synonyms for calling and election.
The Lord frequently uses synonyms. For example, there are in the scriptures more than one hundred different words, phrases, or names that refer to Jesus Christ, including such familiar ones as “Savior”, “Redeemer”, “Lamb of God”, etc. This work has identified approximately a couple of dozen different synonyms for the born again experience, such as “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost”, “having clean hands and a pure heart”, “converted”, “sanctified”, etc. Calling and election is yet another principle for which there are a number of synonyms in the scriptures.
The primary subject of this work has been the born again or baptism of fire experience. But, once one has received his or her remission of sins, the next major spiritual objective is to receive one’s calling and election, which is one’s own personal assurance of eternal life.
Our objectives in this Chapter include:
1. Showing that Calling and Election is an essential part of the restored Gospel and that many today have received and are currently receiving this most glorious blessing.
2. Presenting the best available information on it via key passages from both the scriptures and the Prophet Joseph Smith.
3. Explaining, to the best of our ability, HOW one obtains this blessing.
AWARENESS, SEEKING AND FINDING
One of the most important of all the principles governing spiritual growth is “ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” And how can one seek without an awareness of what to seek for? That is why we have sought to cover as thoroughly as we could what it really means to receive the Holy Ghost in the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost and thereby obtain one’s remission of sins. But, as the original Nephi so forcefully states in 2 Nephi 31:17-19, upon receiving one’s remissions of sins, one has only just entered in by the gate and just started upon the path that leads to eternal life.
Just as there is far more to receiving the Holy Ghost than is commonly understood, so also is there is much more to attaining the Celestial Kingdom than commonly thought. This is why we have added this Chapter on obtaining one’s calling and election. While this promise can be lost through such acts as committing the “unpardonable sin”, we are not going to delve into this negative aspect.
The process by which one progresses along the path to eternal life and then obtains that richest of all prizes (“Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.” D&C 6:7, 11:7) is to continue to ask, seek and knock, all the time listening for and obeying the personalized, individual directions of the spirit until at a point determined by the Lord, God grants the further endowment of a personal promise that you will have eternal life.
INDESCRIBABLY DREADFUL DISAPPOINTMENT AT THE RESURRECTION
We have observed among a great many church members a deeply held belief that one obtains the celestial kingdom by qualifying for and receiving all of the external ordinances, including baptism and temple marriage, and then simply “enduring to the end” by rendering such “good works” as faithfully attending meetings, fulfilling church callings, serving one or more missions, paying tithing, holding a temple recommend and regular temple attendance if possible, doing home/visiting teaching, having family home evening, keeping personal journals, doing genealogy & temple work for ancestors, reading the scriptures daily, having morning and evening personal and family prayers, having adequate food storage and emergency preparations, listening to the right kind of music, abiding by both the “dont’s” as well as the “do’s” of the word of wisdom, sustaining our priesthood leaders and following the brethren, keeping the Sabbath day holy, visiting and succoring the needy, etc., etc..
One of the fundamental messages we wish to convey is our understanding that “GOOD WORKS” ARE ESSENTIAL BUT ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR COMING COMPLETELY TO CHRIST! In fact, in one well known set of verses, the Lord even condemns good works as “iniquity” in these words:
3 Nephi 14:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them: I NEVER KNEW YOU; DEPART FROM ME, YE THAT WORK INIQUITY.
While this same scripture is found in Matthew 7:21-23, we have used here the Book of Mormon version because it was written for those in the last dispensation. Now comes the hard, even for some the unthinkable question. Is it possible that the “many wonderful works” that the Lord here calls “iniquity” COULD include missions; temple marriages; service as a Scout master, Bishop, Stake or Mission President, Relief Society President, or General Authority; etc.; etc.; etc? Inasmuch as this particular scripture was written expressly for the Latter Day Saints, since we are the only ones who would receive and read the book, it seems to us that the very uncomfortable answer to this question can only be an unequivocal YES!
As we discussed in detail in Chapter 5 on Righteousness, one’s own reasons motivating the good works apparently govern how the Lord views such works. For example, works done to be seen of men or for personal glory are not righteousness to the Lord, while works done with an eye single to His glory and with a pure heart are far more righteous. However, we don’t want to bog down here in a detailed discussion on the relative merits of variously motivated works. The main point we wish to make is that no matter how well motivated, it simply is not possible to “casserole one’s way” into the Celestial Kingdom.
The Prophet Joseph supports this conclusion in a most disquieting statement on October 9, 1843 during his remarks on the demise of James Adams:
The disappointment of hopes and expectations at the resurrection would be indescribably dreadful. TPJS at top of pg. 325 & Documentary History of the Church, Vol 6, pp. 50-52.
On this same point Elder Marion G. Romney once said:
We might take a lesson from an account given by the Prophet of a vision of the resurrection in which he records that one of the saddest things he had ever witnessed was the sorrow of the members of the Church who came forth to a resurrection below that they had taken for granted they would receive. Improvement Era, #52, Dec. 1949, p. 754.
These two unequivocal statements of the Prophet Joseph and Elder Romney make it clear that for those who are members of the LDS Church, IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO EXCUSE! That is, unlike the Prophet’s brother Alvin, whom the Prophet saw in the Celestial Kingdom (See D&C 109) even though Alvin had died before the Church was organized, Church members appear to be required to fulfill the full requirements of the law which they have received in the scriptures. That law, of course, being to come all the way to Christ through a complete baptism of both water and the spirit and then to obtain the objective (“end”) of eternal life.
The Savior’s reference in verse 21 above to FAILING TO DO THE WILL OF MY FATHER IN HEAVEN recalls the message of Chapter 4 (“Condemnation – Why We Are Under It – And How To Remove It). There we focused on the condemnation scripture of D&C 84:49-58, a key verse of which is this:
57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, BUT TO DO ACCORDING TO THAT WHICH I HAVE WRITTEN.
We there concluded that we are individually and as a church under the condemnation and bondage of sin until we actually DO obtain our own remission of sins in the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost!
We offer these most uncomfortable thoughts for the purpose of making the point that such indescribably dreadful disappointment stems from failure to DO THAT WHICH THE LORD HAS COMMANDED. For those who want to avoid such unhappy results it would seem wise to fully learn what it is we have been commanded to DO!
Apparently the root cause of the misplaced expectations of those whom Joseph saw is a tragically wrong misunderstanding about the true qualifications for receiving the blessings of the celestial kingdom, including, quite likely, a misplaced faith in external ordinances and “good works.” In fact, it appears that those church members who will be so profoundly disappointed at the resurrection will be among those who drew near to the Lord with their lips but their hearts were far from him.
To us, the bottom line is that the true desires of one’s heart is really at the heart of cleansing the inner vessel through obtaining one’s remission of sins and thereafter seeking and receiving one’s calling and election.
JOSEPH SMITH ON “THE MOST GLORIOUS PRINCIPLE”
We have seen a number of different written presentations on “calling and election,” some of them quite voluminous. Some have even sought to gather every word ever recorded on the subject by every Apostle or Prophet from the beginning of the restoration to the present. We find no need to burden readers with such mind-numbing repetition, as the essentials are really quite simple.
Following is virtually everything that the Prophet Joseph said on calling and election as compiled in the “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.” We find it quite interesting that it was not until 1839 that Joseph first addressed the subject and then he did not return to the subject again for four more years. Most of his teaching on this subject was done in the last fourteen months of his life. His final words were given just six short weeks before his martyrdom. We are going to present his teachings chronologically and without highlighting so as not to impair your seeing and perceiving the full richness of the tapestry of truth Joseph wove for us on this most glorious principle.
June 27, 1839
The Doctrines of the Resurrection of the Dead and the Eternal Judgment are necessary to preach among the first principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Doctrine of Election. St. Paul exhorts us to make our calling and election sure. This is the sealing power spoken of by Paul in other places.
13. In whom ye also trusted, that after ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory, that we may be sealed up unto the day of redemption. Ephesians, 1st chapter
This principle ought (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest. How is this to be done: It is to be done by this sealing power, and the other Comforter spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation.
There are two Comforters spoken of. One is the Holy Ghost, the same as given on the day of Pentecost, and that all Saints receive after faith, repentance, and baptism. This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence. The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue on to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses. Note the 16, 17, 18, 21, 23 verses:
16 And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
17 Even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
23 If a man love me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions – Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn. TPJS, pp. 149-151.
May 14, 1843 Excerpts from “Remarks Of The Prophet On The Death of Lorenzo D. Barnes”
Now, there is some grand secret here, and keys to unlock the subject. Notwithstanding the apostle exhorts them to add to their faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, etc., yet he exhorts them to make their calling and election sure. And though they had heard an audible voice from heaven bearing testimony that Jesus was the Son of God, yet he says we have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place. Now, wherein could they have a more sure word of prophecy than to hear the voice of God saying, This is my beloved Son.
Now for the secret and grand key. Though they might hear the voice of God and know that Jesus was the Son of God, this would be no evidence that their election and calling was made sure, that they had part with Christ, and were joint heirs with Him. They then would want that more sure word of prophecy, that they were sealed in the heavens and had the promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God. Then, having this promise sealed unto them, it was an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Though the thunder might roll and lightnings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather thick around, yet this hope and knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble and tribulation. Then knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
Compare this principle once with Christendom at the present day, and where are they, with all their bloated religion, piety and sacredness while at the same time they are crying out against prophets, apostles, angels, revelations, prophesying and visions, etc. Why, they are just ripening for the damnation of hell. They will be damned, for they reject the most glorious principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and treat with disdain and trample under foot the key that unlocks the heavens and puts in our possession the glories of the celestial world. Yes, I say, such will be damned, with all their professed godliness. Then I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it, etc. TPJS, PP. 298-99
May 17, 1843
Salvation means a man’s being placed beyond the power of all his enemies.
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 priesthood. It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance. TPJS, p. 301.
The above statement, now D&C 131:5-6, is most often quoted to show the Lord’s approval of formal, worldly education, which may be one level of understanding for that scripture. However, we think another even more complete understanding of the above statement is that it is impossible to be ignorant of being sealed up unto eternal life because one will have absolute knowledge of that fact either through personal revelation or from receiving the second anointing. Also, in the same way it is impossible to be ignorant of whether or not one’s sins have been forgiven because one will know by personal revelation when such remission is obtained.
May 21, 1843 Excerpts from “The Prophet’s Discourse from II Peter, First Chapter – Reproof of Self-Righteousness”
I do not think there have been many good men on the earth since the days of Adam; but there was one good man and his name was Jesus. Many persons think a prophet must be a great deal better than anybody else. Suppose I would condescend – yes, I will call it condescend, to be a great deal better than any of you, I would be raised up to the highest heaven; and who should I have to accompany me?
I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the long, smooth-faced hypocrite.
I do not want you to think that I am very righteous, for I am not, God judges men according to the use they make of the light which He gives them.
“We have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto you do well to take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place. We were eyewitnesses of his majesty and heard the voice of excellent glory.” [2 Peter 1:19]
And what could be more sure? When He was transfigured on the mount, what could be more sure to them? Divines have been quarreling for ages about the meaning of this.
There are three grand secrets lying in this chapter [II Peter 1] which no man can dig out, unless by the light of revelation and which unlocks the whole chapter as the things that are written are only hints of things which existed in the prophet’s mind, which are not written concerning eternal glory.
I am going to take up this subject by virtue of the knowledge of God in me, which I have received from heaven. The opinions of men, so far as I am concerned, are to me as the crackling of thorns under the pot, or the whistling of the wind. I break the ground; I lead the way like Columbus when he was invited to a banquet where he was assigned the most honorable place at the table, and served with the ceremonials which were observed towards sovereigns. A shallow courtier present, who was meanly jealous of him, abruptly asked him whether he thought that in case he had not discovered the Indies, there were not other men in Spain who would have been capable of the enterprise? Columbus made no reply, but took an egg and invited the company to make it stand on end. They all attempted it, but in vain; whereupon he struck it upon the table so as to break one end, and left it standing on the broken part, illustrating that when he had once shown the way to the new world nothing was easier than to follow it.
Paul ascended into the third heavens and he could understand the three principal rounds of Jacob’s ladder – the telestial, the terrestial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms, where Paul saw and heard things which were not lawful for him to utter. I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them.
The Lord deals with this people as a tender parent with a child, communicating light and intelligence and the knowledge of his ways as they can bear it. The inhabitants of the earth are asleep; they know not the day of their visitation. The Lord hath set the bow in the cloud for a sign that while it shall be seen, seed time and harvest, summer and winter shall not fail; but when it shall disappear, woe to that generation, for behold the end cometh quickly.
Contend earnestly for the like precious faith with the Apostle Peter, “and add to your faith virtue,” knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity; [2 Peter 1:5-7] “for if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 1:8] Another point, after having all these qualifications, he lays this injunction upon the people “to make your calling and election sure.” He is emphatic upon this subject – after adding all this virtue knowledge, etc., “Make your calling and election sure.” [2 Peter 1:10′] What is the secret – the starting point? “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” How did he obtain all things? Through the knowledge of Him who hath called him. There could not anything be given, pertaining to life and godliness, without knowledge. Woe! woe! woe to Christendom! – especially the divines and priests if this be true.
Salvation is for a man to be saved from all his enemies; for until a man can triumph over death he is not saved. A knowledge of the priesthood alone will do this.
The design of the great God in sending us into this world, and organizing us to prepare us for the eternal worlds, I shall keep in my own bosom at present.
We have no claim in our eternal compact, in relation to eternal things, unless our actions and contracts and all things tend to this. But after all this, you have got to make your calling and election sure. If this injunction would lie largely on those to whom it was spoken, how much more those of the present generation!
1st key: Knowledge is the power of salvation. 2nd Key: Make your calling and election sure. 3rd Key: It is one thing to be on the mount and hear the excellent voice, etc., and another to hear the voice declare to you, You have a part and lot in that Kingdom. TPJS, pp. 303-306.
August 13, 1843 Excerpts from “The prophet’s Remarks at the Funeral of Judge Higbee”
Four destroying angels holding power over the four quarters of the earth until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads, which signifies sealing the blessing upon their heads, meaning the everlasting covenant, thereby making their calling and election sure. When a seal is put upon the father and mother, it secures their posterity, that they cannot be lost, but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father and mother.
The speaker continued to teach the doctrine of election and the sealing powers and principles, and spoke of the doctrine of election with the seed of Abraham, and the sealing of blessings upon his posterity, and the fathers and children, according to the declarations of the prophets.
TPJS, P. 321
August 27, 1843
…The power of the Melchezedek Priesthood is to have the power of “endless lives”; for the everlasting covenant cannot be broken.
There are three grand orders of priesthood referred to here.
1st. The King of Shiloam (Salem) had power and authority over that of Abraham, holding the key and the power of endless life. Angels desire to look into it, but they have set up too many stakes. God cursed the children of Israel because they would not receive the last law from Moses.
The sacrifice required of Abraham in the offering up of Isaac, shows that if a man would attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life, he must sacrifice all things. When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned. The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law.
What is the power of Melchizedek? Twas not the Priesthood of Aaron which administers in outward ordinances, and the offering of sacrifices. Those holding the fulness of the Melchizidek Priesthood are kings and priests of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings. In fact, that Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and stands as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam.
Abraham says to Melchizedek, I believe all that thou hast taught me concerning the priesthood and the coming of the Son of Man; so Melchizedek ordained Abraham and sent him away. Abraham rejoiced, saying, Now I have a priesthood.
Salvation could not come to the world without the mediation of Jesus Christ.
How shall God come to the rescue of this generation? He will send Elijah the prophet. The law revealed to Moses in Horeb never was revealed to the children of Israel as a nation. Elijah shall reveal the covenants to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers.
The anointing and sealing is to be called, elected and made sure. TPJS, pp. 322-23.
May 2, 1844 Excerpts from Joseph Smith’s Address
The Savior has the words of eternal life. Nothing else can profit us. There is no salvation in believing an evil report against our neighbor. I advise all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness. A man can do nothing for himself unless God directs him in the right way; and the Priesthood is for that purpose.
The last time I spoke on this stand it was on the resurrection of the dead, when I promised to continue my remarks upon that subject. I still feel a desire to say something on this subject. Le us this very day begin anew, and now say, with all our hearts, we will forsake our sins and be righteous.
My text is on the resurrection of the dead, which you will find in the 14th chapter of John – “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” It should be – “In my Father’s kingdom are many kingdoms,” in order that ye may be heirs of God and joint-heirs with me. …
There are mansions for those who obey a celestial law, and there are other mansions for those who come short of the law every man in his own order.
I am going on in my progress for eternal life. It is not only necessary that you should be baptized for your dead, but you will have to go through all the ordinances for them, the same as you have gone through to save yourselves. There will be 144,000 saviors on Mount Zion, and with them an innumerable host that no man can number. Oh! I beseech you to go forward, go forward and make your calling and your election sure; and if any man preach any other Gospel than that which I have preached, he shall be cursed; and some of you who now hear me shall see it, and know that I testify the truth concerning them. TPJS, pp. 364-367
The preceding were his last words on the subject just weeks before his martyrdom. Next are several key scriptures from the Doctrine & Covenants on the subject of seeing God. The first two selections, from Section 67 & 93, speak of seeing the face of God. Seeing the face of God can be a synonym for receiving one’s calling and election because that is one of the things that often happens then, but that is not always the case. We present these scriptures without highlighting or other emphasis in order to encourage careful, contemplative reading of these divinely given words that you might draw more deeply from the fountain of heaven into your understanding.
D&C 67:10-14 10 And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am – not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.
11 For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God.
12 Neither can any natural man abide the presence of God, neither after the carnal mind.
13 Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.
14 Let not your minds turn back; and when ye are worthy, in mine own due time, ye shall see and know that which was conferred upon you by the hands of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun. Amen.
D&C 93:1-4 1 verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;
2 And that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;
3 And that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one –
4 The Father because he gave me of his fulness, and the Son because I was in the world and made flesh my tabernacle, and dwelt among the sons of men.
The next two quotes from Sections 84 & 107 make it abundantly clear that the ultimate purpose of the Melchizedek Priesthood is to bring us into the presence of and face to face with God, an objective also portrayed so beautifully and so profoundly in the temple endowment.
D&C 84:14, 19-27
14 Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah;
19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
25 Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also;
26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;
27 Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb.
We have found ourselves pondering why the Lord included in Section 84 a review of the children of Israel’s ancient refusal to come up and behold the face of God. We have wondered whether there might be a parallel to the attitudes and actions of some in the Church in our day? What do you think?
D&C 107:18-19 18 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek 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.
HOW TO HAVE ONE’S CALLING AND ELECTION MADE SURE
In the LDS church one does not seek for positions or callings. While that is a proper, even necessary practice in the church, that is certainly not the way that the Lord wants us to behave towards Him. Throughout the scriptures, in more than 50 different places and ways, time and time and time again we are told to come to Him, to ask, seek and knock. The Lord desires, appreciates and profoundly blesses those who earnestly and aggressively seek Him.
One of the earliest scriptural examples of an extremely determined, aggressive seeker was Abraham. Read again Abraham’s words:
Abraham 1:2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I SOUGHT FOR THE BLESSING OF THE FATHERS, AND THE RIGHT WHEREUNTO I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, DESIRING also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and DESIRING to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.
4 I SOUGHT FOR MINE APPOINTMENT unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.
Abraham was certainly not bashful or retiring about what he wanted and what he was willing to do to get it. In fact, in light of the greatness of the blessings he sought, how serious do you think he was about his quest? And, he was so successful in his quest that he is remembered with extraordinary honor, even reverence, as one of a handful of the most righteous and godly men that have ever lived on the earth and was rewarded accordingly.
So also are each of us to ask, seek, and knock until obtaining the twin prizes of, first, the remission of sins, and, second, the “end” objective of the personal assurance of eternal life (calling and election made sure).
While we do not know personally the individual in this story, his story has impressed us deeply. A man had been praying for some time to meet one of the three Nephites. The Spirit spoke to him and said in substance, “Why pray to meet one of them? Why not pray to meet the Savior?” So he began to pray to meet the Savior. Not long thereafter his new prayer was answered at which time his calling and election was also made sure. This man subsequently explained to my friend who told me this story that the Savior loves us so much, it’s like a child who wants a new bike that costs $150 but the child only has $1. Simply by putting forth a sincere effort and putting up the $1, the Savior then makes up the difference. We think it also worth noting that the Lord did not simply appear to him, HE HAD TO ASK FOR IT before the Lord appeared.
The best scriptural statement of this process of seeking for and obeying the personalized directions of the Lord is found in Chapter 32 of 2 Nephi verses 1-6, more specifically in verses 3 and 5:
1 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.
A friend who has reached this higher point in her spiritual growth shared with us quite an interesting insight into the real meaning of the phrase “manifest himself unto you in the flesh” in verse 6 above. Her explanation was that the manifestation referred to is the personal manifestation of the Second Comforter, or Christ himself. We had always assumed it was referring to the Savior’s appearance to the Nephites as recorded in 3 Nephi. However, as soon as we heard her explanation we knew it was true because the sum and substance of the Savior’s teachings recorded in the 9th through the 27th Chapter of 3 Nephi is EXACTLY THE SAME DOCTRINE as the DOCTRINE in 2 Nephi 31:17 through 32:6; namely faith, repentance, baptism by water and then receiving a “remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Nephi 31:17 Thus, since there is no difference in the doctrine that the Savior delivered in person to the Nephites, the phrase “manifest himself unto you in the flesh” must mean something else, and that something else is exactly what it says, A PERSONAL, INDIVIDUAL MANIFESTATION.
She also explained that receiving one’s calling and election is not the end. It is, instead, the beginning of a much accelerated, extremely personalized, spiritual learning and development program for that is the purpose of communing with the Savior, Heavenly Father and the members of the Church of the Firstborn.
In the last year and a half we have met a few who have had their calling and election made sure. Until then, we had assumed that such a blessing was available only to those who had reached the end of their lives and had thus “endured to the end” and more particularly those who had served in the more responsible leadership positions in the Church, such as Bishop, Stake or Mission Presidents, etc We have learned that that assumption is completely wrong. In fact, most of those whom we have met are middle aged or younger and none of them has ever yet served in any such leadership positions.
ENDURE TO THE END (OBJECTIVE) OF OBTAINING ETERNAL LIFE
Now we’d like to share some scriptures that indicate that the word “end” as used in the oft used phrase “endure to the end” does not mean the end of one’s life. Instead, it means “the end of the road that leads to eternal life” or “the end of one’s testing and proving of being faithful at all hazards”, which is in fact the actual receipt of the blessing of eternal life by having one’s calling and election made sure. The first scripture is perhaps the clearest example of this meaning.
2 Nephi 33:4 And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end which is life eternal.
2 Nephi 31:20 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.
Jacob 6:11 0 then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life.
Omni 26 And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye shall be saved.
3 Nephi 15:9
(Christ speaking) Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.
The final scripture gives us the understanding of what it is that we should endure in doing, namely following Christ’s example:
2 Nephi 31:16 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.
In our view, the example of the Savior to be followed is not so much that of His individual acts and teachings, but, rather, following the same principle that Christ followed. And we are told specifically that Christ did only what His Father directed Him to do.
John 5:19 …, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
John 8:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
John 8:28 … I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
If the entire message of this book could be summarized into one statement, it would be “Seek the guidance of the Spirit and then do it.”
The idea that “enduring to the end” means obtaining the end (or objective) of having one’s calling and election made sure is in fact clearly shown by Joseph Smith who had his calling and election made sure perhaps as early as 1831, as recorded in D&C 132:49:
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.
It is also shown by those prophets who have explicitly told us that they had obtained their calling and election, some early in their ministry: Enos in Enos 1:27; Alma in Mosiah 26:20; 9 of the twelve Nephite disciples in 3 Nephi 28:1-3; Moroni in Ether 12:37; and Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-8.
Heber C. Kimball was sealed up to eternal life in 1839. On April 6th of that year he recorded the following in his journal:
My family having been gone about two months, during which time I heard nothing from them, our brethren being in prison; death and destruction following us everywhere we went; I felt very sorrowful and lonely. The following words came to mind, and the Spirit said unto me, “write” which I did by taking a piece of paper and writing on my knee as follows: “Verily I say unto my servant Heber, thou art my son, in whom I am well pleased; for thou art careful to hearken to my words, and not transgress my law, nor rebel against my servant Joseph Smith, for thou hast a respect to the words of mine anointed, even from the least to the greatest of them; therefore thy name is written in heaven, no more to be blotted out for ever.” “The Life of Heber C. Kimball,” Orson F. Whitney, p. 241.
WAYS IN WHICH CALLING AND ELECTION MAY INITIALLY BE RECEIVED
From the foregoing material it appears that the ways in which one may first learn that his or her calling and election is made sure are:
1. By revelation from God, known as “the more sure word of prophecy”, which can come in either of two ways:
A. By the spirit as in the example of the Heber C. Kimball, or
B. By the personal appearance of the Savior who is the Second Comforter as Joseph described.
2. By receiving the second anointing which “anointing and sealing is to be called, elected and made sure.” TPJS, p. 323 (supra, p. 27-8) Joseph also said that this anointing and sealing bestowed the fulness of the priesthood. TPJS, pp. 322-23 (supra, p. 27-8)
A friend who has already walked this way gave us further insights as she explained that for her and others she knows there was a progression of events. First came the impression or message of the spirit that their calling and election was made sure. Then, as she had faith in that message and continued to seek, came the Second Comforter. She also explained the role of the second anointing as being essential, but that for one who has had either or both of the experiences described in 1., above, that person enjoys all of the blessings associated with this state even though that one has not not yet received the second anointing. In other words, the actual anointing, while necessary, is more of a formality which sooner or later will be done, but there is no delay in one’s enjoyment of all the blessings associated with this state.
While it is obviously advantageous to obtain one’s calling and election in this life, the opportunity is not lost by death and may continue to be sought for in the spirit world. Those who enter the spirit world without that promise can be given that promise and are then called “just men made perfect.” Such are those “who are not resurrected, but inherit the same [celestial] glory.” D&C 129:3 & 76:69-70.
Wilford Woodruff wrote of proxy administrations of this blessing. After the usual temple work had been done in the Saint George Temple for Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, Benjamin Franklin appeared to him seeking yet further blessings. Of that meeting he wrote:
I spent several hours with him (Benjamin Franklin) and talked over our endowments. He wanted some more work done for him than had been done which I promised him he should have. … I made up my mind to get 2d anointing for Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. “Wilford Woodruff, History of His Life and Labors”, Matthias F. Cowley, Bookcraft, 1965, p. 586.
144,000 TO BRING ETERNAL LIFE TO ALL WHO WILL COME
The mission of the 144,000 is seldom spoken of in depth, primarily because not much is known about the subject. About all that we know of the 144,000 is their priesthood authority and their mission, which is clearly explained in D&C 77:11 thusly:
11 Q. What are we to understand by sealing the one hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel – twelve thousand out of every tribe?
A. We are to understand that those who are sealed are high priests, ordained unto the holy order of God, to administer the everlasting gospel; for they are they who are ordained out of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, by the angels to whom is given power over the nations of the earth, TO BRING AS MANY AS WILL COME TO THE CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN.
In Chapter 24 at pages 24-6 & 24-7 we set forth many of the scriptures from the D&C which clearly tell us that THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH OF THE FIRST BORN ARE THOSE WHO ARE SEALED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE. In other words, they are those who have had their calling and election made sure.
On the infrequent occasions when the subject of the 144,000 has come up in a Sunday School class, we have often heard comments to the effect that, “Well, they are missionaries to the world who will go forth to bring people into the gospel and into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” This is, of course, a half truth which leads to a gross misunderstanding.
Yes, the 144,000 are in a sense missionaries. But their mission is to bring “all who will come” to receive their callings and elections, which is the same as bringing them directly to Christ and Heavenly Father. Thus, the “missionary work” of the 144,000 is most likely to be among those who already are members of “the outer Church” or The LDS Church, but their mission is to bring “all who will come” to “the inner Church” or The Church Of The Firstborn.
One final thought. If we are anywhere near being correct on our views on how close we are to the Savior’s actual return in glory (see Chapter 3 “What time Is It?”), then if the actual work of the 144,000 has not already begun such work will likely commence perhaps very soon.
Is there likely to be any public announcement that the work of the 144,000 has begun? We know of no scriptures that speak to that subject. However, our own personal view, based on the quiet way with which the Lord almost always does the more sacred things, is that it is likely to be a very low-key, quiet, neighbor-to-neighbor undertaking (as in “when you have been warned then warn your neighbor”).
THE SAVIOR IS THE ONLY WAY BACK TO HEAVENLY FATHER
Receiving the Second Comforter, which is Christ Himself, is not the highest of one’s privileges in this life. It is our opportunity and privilege to return all the way to our Heavenly Father, not just to the Son. From a few scriptures it seems clear to us that once you receive the Savior, the Savior then takes you to the Father. Consider carefully the meaning and the implications of the following verses:
D&C 75:74 And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, AND SANCTIFY YOURSELVES; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, THAT I MAY MAKE YOU CLEAN.
75 THAT I MAY TESTIFY UNTO YOUR FATHER, AND YOUR GOD, AND MY GOD, THAT YOU ARE CLEAN FROM THE BLOOD OF THIS WICKED GENERATION; that I may fulfill this promise, that great and last promise, which I have made unto you, when I will.
D&C 76:107 When He shall deliver up the kingdom, and PRESENT IT UNTO THE FATHER, SPOTLESS, saying: I have overcome and have trodden the wine-press alone, even the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of the Almighty God.
D&C 110:4 I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I AM YOUR ADVOCATE WITH THE FATHER.
D&C 93:1, 19 Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;
19 I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, THAT YOU MAY COME UNTO THE FATHER IN MY NAME, and in due time receive of HIS FULNESS.
D&C 132:12 I am the Lord thy God; and I give unto you this commandment -that no man shall come UNTO THE FATHER BUT BY ME OR BY MY WORD, which is my law, saith the Lord.
PEOPLE ARE RECEIVING THIS BLESSING TODAY
As we mentioned earlier, since January 1993 when we began distributing this book, we have met something like half a dozen people who we know have had their calling and election made sure. We have also heard of many others. Only one or two of those we know of are at the end of their lives. Most are middle aged or younger and most have yet to serve in any major leadership position, such as Bishop, etc. Most will not say a word about what they have received, but once in a while, by listening very carefully to what is said, one can put the pieces together. Those that we are certain about we have known well enough that they have been more open with us.
The real lesson is not only that this blessing is real and available, but that it is happening to people right now, today, all around us. And the number of those receiving it will only increase as events proceed ever more rapidly to the divinely decreed crescendo that seems to be so very near, even at the door. So for those who truly and earnestly desire these blessings, there is no better time to begin the quest than right now.