Through the door, I could hear her slowly walking away, no verbal response. Immediately, I felt heaven speaking to me as God gave me a clear message. A very simple sensation went through my body, and a voice (not audible, but it just as well have been) basically said, “John, get yourself out of the chair, stop thinking about yourself, and pay attention to your daughter’s request. She needs to talk to you!”
I got up, opened the door, and saw her walking away down the dark hallway. I called to her, “Hey, actually, I have some time, and I’d really like to talk with you.” I invited her in, and she returned a big smile. We sat down, and she proceeded to explain what was on her mind. She wiped a tear from her eye, and I could tell that she had been thinking about something. She wanted to talk about some questions that had been on her mind for a while.
A question was recently asked in one of her youth classes, “How many of you are excited to prepare for and be married in the temple of God?” She said, “At first, I raised my hand, but then I put it back down because I don’t know for sure if I want to or not.”
She then asked a series of questions and in essence said, “Dad, I wonder if the temple ordinances are real and legitimate. Are they? What about baptisms for the dead? Are they valid? How about endowments? Marriages? Family sealings? I am told that if I am married in the temple, then I will be with my husband and family forever. Is that true? Am I guaranteed eternal life and happiness just by going to the temple, being married there, and remaining a faithful member of the church? Is that all I need to do or is there something more that comes from God?”
“What about others who are really good people? What about people who seem much more righteous than me but for one reason or another choose not to be sealed in the temple? Does that mean that I am saved and they are not? What does God really require of me to obtain salvation? How do I know if I have the promise of eternal life?”
As she put forth these sincere and very important questions, I realized she was searching for truth, and she wanted to know the answers. She wanted to know true doctrine, not just what others say and believe. She’s realizing that people, religious institutions, and organizations almost always hold opposing views and conflicting doctrines. Putting our salvation in the hands of men, or in the “arm of flesh” is unwise, unreliable, and out of order. When we trust in men instead of God, we bring a curse upon us 2 Nephi 4:34, 2 Nephi 28:31. My daughter, like many others in all walks of life, wants to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
With this on my mind, I had the impression to share the Lord’s words with our family during “family devotional”. I trusted that this would answer some of my daughter’s questions. This also provided the opportunity for the rest of the family to “tune in” and benefit from her questions. Here’s some of what we talked about.
In November 1831, the Lord revealed, “And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually— ” D&C 1:30
Within just a year, their status as a church had already changed. In September 1832, the Lord revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith the following concerning the updated status of the church:
“And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. 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—That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. D&C 84:54-58
One hundred and fifty four years later during general conference, President Benson said, “We have felt that scourge and judgment . . . The Book of Mormon has not been, nor is it yet, the center of our personal study, family teaching, preaching, and missionary work. Of this we must repent.” President Ezra Taft Benson
The church is currently still under condemnation for failing to take the message of the Book of Mormon seriously. Most members of the church have not removed this condemnation. That scourge doesn’t have to be applied to us as individuals, if we will "repent and remember the new covenant" offered. To qualify, each person must bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom.
The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel D&C 20:9. Anyone who repents and receives the covenants offered in the Book of Mormon will be numbered with the house of Israel and the remnant of Lehi’s seed, be part of Zion, and receive from heaven a promise of eternal life. 3 Nephi 16:13-15, Ether 13:1-12, Mosiah 26:20.
In January 1841, Section 124 of the Doctrine and Covenants was revealed. The church had been under condemnation for about nine years and the fullness of the priesthood had also been taken away D&C 124:28. The saints had lost the opportunity, collectively, to possess the fullness of the priesthood. “For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.” D&C 84:22 Joseph plainly taught truth to the saints and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God. Joseph was much like Moses in leading the people.
Moses also plainly taught truth to the children of Israel and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God. “And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.” Exodus 19:17
“And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18-21
Remember how the children of Israel hardened their hearts, rejected the fullness and were driven into the wilderness? The Lord took Moses out of their midst and the Holy Priesthood also. They were left with the lesser priesthood, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel. D&C 84:23-27
Joseph Smith, the chosen head of this dispensation, sought to open the heavens to the people and establish Zion. Joseph made an intercession for his people and made the necessary sacrifice and offering that was sufficient before the Lord. I believe Joseph’s very life was the offering made. He pled before the Lord in behalf of his people that they might have another chance to receive the fullness of the priesthood and thereby obtain the gifts from heaven that are required to make claim on eternal life. The Lord was well pleased with his offering and acknowledgements. D&C 124:1
The Lord then proceeded to make an oath and promise with Joseph in behalf of the group. The Lord laid out the requirements. God revealed what He promised to do if the people exercised faith, built a temple, and fulfilled the requirements He set forth. A new opportunity to claim the fulness of the priesthood was open and available for a period of time. What joy! What kindness! What mercy! What compassion! What love and charity demonstrated by Deity! It must also be remembered that with every blessing there is an associated curse or penalty for failure to abide the terms of the covenant. Here are the terms of this oath and promise D&C 124:25-48.
To be continued . . .