Joseph Smith asks some soul searching questions, “I want to ask this congregation, every man, woman and child, to answer the question in their own heart, what kind of a being God is? Ask yourselves; turn your thought into your hearts, and say if any of you have seen, heard, or communed with him. This is a question that may occupy your attention for a long time. I again repeat the question--What kind of a being is God? Does any man or woman know? Have any of you seen him, heard him, or communed with him? Here is the question that will, peradventure, from this time henceforth occupy your attention. The Scriptures inform us that "This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
“If any man does not know God, and inquires what kind of a being he is,--if he will search diligently his own heart--if the declaration of Jesus and the apostles be true, he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle.” TPJS pages 343-344
I am realizing that if I want eternal life, then I need to rend the veil, connect to heaven, and receive the Father and the Son.
Even if the fullness of the priesthood was taken from the saints and all that remains is the lesser priesthood, there is still a wonderful opportunity to connect with heaven. The Aaronic priesthood holds the keys of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel. D&C 13:1
Angels are connected with heaven and can help us connect too. Christ sends angels to minister to those who have strong faith and a firm mind. Angels are sent to declare the conditions of repentance. They declare the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him Moroni 7:30-31. Angels can teach us His doctrine and point us to Jesus Christ, who is our Redeemer. Then Christ will tell us what to do next. 2 Nephi 32:3,6
It is only through Christ, not men or organizations, that we are able to obtain forgiveness and be saved Mosiah 16:13, Helaman 5:9. He is the keeper of the gate and employs no servant there as a doorman 2 Nephi 9:41. It is reassuring and comforting that I can trust the One who completely knows my heart. The keeper of the gate cannot be deceived.
Religious leaders cannot subordinate God and dictate the salvation or damnation of another. They may declare judgment of men and claim the authority of God to do so, but heaven does not respect or honor men exercising priestcrafts. D&C 33:4, D&C 121:37 “And I want you to know that God, in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming his name, is not trifling with you or me.” TPJS page 347
No earthly authority, whether Pope, Priest, or Prophet, can stand between God and man. True messengers do not “set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world” 2 Nephi 26:29. A messenger from God never claims authority to save but points others to Christ. They come with a message, but will not allow you to worship or honor them. Revelation 22:8-9, 1 Nephi 17:55
Jesus has his own testimony. We must receive the testimony of Jesus to obtain salvation D&C 76:51-70. What is the testimony of Jesus? It is His testimony declaring to us that our sins are forgiven, declaring that we have been blessed with the promise of eternal life Enos 1:5-6.This is the more sure word of prophecy and only Christ provides it. D&C 131:5, Revelation 19:10
“Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to minister without it. No man is a minister of Jesus Christ without being a Prophet. No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy. Whenever salvation has been administered, it has been by testimony. Men of the present time testify of heaven and hell, and have never seen either; and I will say that no man knows these things without this.” TPJS page 160
Whether or not you think the institutional church lost the fulness of the priesthood is for you to decide. Either way, it’s not going to hold you back. The fulness is still available to all. It cannot and does not come from men. It comes directly from God to an individual.
Many eternal truths and keys to salvation have been preserved through temple ordinances. After they were revealed through the prophet Joseph Smith, some of the temple ceremonies were altered. Even during my own lifetime, I have witnessed changes made to the ordinances. Isaiah 24:5
Nevertheless, the ceremonies still capture much light, portray a walk back into the presence of God, and preserve eternal truths. The ceremonies are presented in symbols and testify of the actual return to Him. They are not the real thing, just a blueprint, pattern, and model of the process. It’s a dry run. The temple ordinances are designed to invite the participants to come unto God.
The ordinances that many are familiar with today are performed by men and not performed by God. You are invited to experience the real thing. This happens when the veil of unbelief is parted, the heavens open, you actually converse with the Lord through the veil, and enter into His presence.
As we obey His commandments, make necessary sacrifices, follow the gospel of Jesus Christ, keep the law of chastity, and consecrate our lives to Him, further instruction and light will surely come. It can be anticipated and expected. “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” D&C 50:24 As we receive and embrace light, we will naturally receive more sacred light and knowledge from true messengers. They come from the presence of God, bring His message, and invite us to come unto Christ.
Now if your daughter were to ask you these questions, how would you answer? “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 does God really require of me to obtain salvation? How do I know if I have the promise of eternal life?”
It’s important that we connect with heaven and know God. “Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer. When we understand the character of God, and how to come to him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us.” TPJS pages 349-350