Posts Tagged 'Missionary Work'

Deuteronomy Chapter 4

The Law of Moses was given to the children of Israel, through the prophet, Moses, while they were in the area of Mount Sinai. Within that law, there were commandments and statutes, which they were to keep in order to turn their hearts more fully to the Lord and to live with one another in peace and happiness. At this point in the narrative of the Israelites, Moses was preparing them to have a new leader and to finally gain the promised land and rest from their journeys. He continues to instruct them in this chapter.

1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
3 Your eyes have seen what the Lord did because of Baal-peor: for all the men that followed Baal-peor, the Lord thy God hath destroyed them from among you.
4 But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day.
5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;
10 Specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.
11 And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness.
12 And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.
13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

Moses instructed the people, that they were not to alter the laws and ordinances of the Lord, whether to add or take away from them. In the book of Revelation we read a similar verse, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” (Revelation 22:18). No man has the right to alter the words of the Lord, found in any book of scripture. If they do, it is only done to mislead others into apathy and sin.

Moses reminded them that there were consequences if they turned to other gods, as some of the people had done previously. In the case of those who sinned by following Baal-peor, they were all killed by the Israelites, plus a plague was brought among the people. The law of Moses, was the law they were to live in the land of promise. When they lived this law, they would be seen by others, as a great nation, with wisdom, and understanding, because God would be with them. He told the Israelites to remember the things which they had witnessed, and to teach them to their children, especially those things they witnessed in Sinai, when the Lord spoke to the people from the mount. He told them to remember when the ten commandments had been given to them. In modern times, we have also been told to watch ourselves and remember those things we have in the scriptures and the words of our prophets. In Doctrine and Covenants 88 we read:

43 And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.
44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

When the word of the Lord is given to us, in scripture or by the prophets, we are going to be held accountable to our understanding of those things, and for how much we teach them to our children, just as the Israelites were held accountable in their day. We might think that we’ll never forget the feelings we have at one time, or the things that we have witnessed at another. But, it is easy to forget if we are not living and teaching those things that we have learned. In addition, our children will never know, if we do not teach them. When I think of how important this is, I am reminded that many in the world today do not know of the gospel of Christ. Many do not know that we have living prophets today, just as they had Moses of old. Many do not know that revelation continues today and that we can each receive personal revelation for ourselves. Many do not know that we can make sacred ordinances and covenants with God, which can bring us eternal blessings. There is great importance in the missionary work going forward in our day.

14 And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.
15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:
16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,
18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:
19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
20 But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.
21 Furthermore the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance:
22 But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land.
23 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee.
24 For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

Moses had been commanded by the Lord, to teach the laws (the law of Moses), which would be the laws of the land of inheritance. These laws would bring them peace and happiness as a people, just as the laws of God can do for us today. Moses told them to notice that there was no idol being worshipped on the day when they witnessed the voice of the Lord speaking to them. Moses taught them that they were not to make any images, like man or animal, or they might fall prey to worshipping that idol. They were the people of the Lord, chosen and delivered from Egypt. Because of the choices to fall away to worshipping other things, the Lord had not allowed Moses to enter the promised land. Moses pleads with the Israelites, to remember their covenants not to make false idols, because the Lord would be able to consume them with His fire.

25 When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to anger:
26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.
27 And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you.
28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
31 (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?
33 Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?
34 Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
35 Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him.
36 Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.
37 And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;
38 To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.
39 Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
40 Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever.

Moses taught the children of Israel, that if they should turn to worshipping idols after the generations have passed, judgement would be upon them and they would shortly be removed from the promise land and the nation of Israel would be destroyed. He promised them that they would be scattered among gentile nations. Those nations would lead them throughout the lands, serving their gods and idols, which are not real, but are made of wood and stone. He teaches us here, that the living God sees, hears, eats and smells. Moses also taught them, that if they would, instead, continue to seek the Lord with all their heart and soul, they would be blessed. He promised them that they would find the Lord and if they repented and were obedient through difficult times. The Lord would be merciful and remember the covenants of their fathers. Moses reminded them, that in all the time of the world, there had been nothing quite like the miracles and manifestations that they had witnessed. Never before had a people witnessed the glory of the Lord among them, as they had in the fire, or heard His voice speaking to them. Never before had a people been delivered from another nation, by such miracles and wonders. These things were a part of their lives, so that they would know the Lord was their God. They had been blessed and protected, because the Lord loved their fathers and had made promises to them. The Lord had made them a mighty nation, giving them the strength to drive the nations from before them, and giving them the promised land to inherit. Moses told the people to recognize that this had been the work of the only true God. They needed to be obedient to the commandments, in order to continue to receive the blessings of God and live a long life.

41 Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
42 That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:
43 Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.

The cities of refuge were then created (Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan), for those who might kill another without intention to do so.

44 And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel:
45 These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt,
46 On this side Jordan, in the valley over against Beth-peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, after they were come forth out of Egypt:
47 And they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, which were on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
48 From Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon, even unto mount Sion, which is Hermon,
49 And all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah.

Moses had concluded his teaching of the commandments and statutes of God, by bearing his testimony of the consequences of disobedience and repentance. Moses taught them of the causes for the eventual scattering of the Israelites, specifically the worship of false gods. Then he taught them of the gathering of Israel in the last days, when they would turn again to the Lord. He witnessed to them, of the goodness and mercy of the Lord and promised they would be blessed if they would remember the Lord.

We have the blessing of being able to look at these words in hindsight. The scriptures teach us, that the people inherited the land of promise, and then over time, they fell away to the worship of other things. Then, just as Moses said, they were scattered throughout all the nations of the world. It seems to me that today, there has got to be a bit of Israelite blood in all the nations. As the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, reaches all the nations of the world, there are some who are being drawn back into the house of Israel. The gathering is happening now, just as Moses promised them so long ago. This is not so much a physical moving back to Israel, but a spiritual gathering of hearts to the Lord. This is only possible through the goodness and mercy of the Lord. He made repentance possible to all people and His power is what moves the gospel forward now. We can all turn and find Him, if we will seek with all our heart and soul. The commandments are provided for us today, so that we may have the opportunity to obey and be blessed. The same great blessings that were given to the fathers of the Israelites, can be ours now, if we will turn away from the false gods of our day, and turn to the Lord.

The Millennium

To view the entire Gospel Principles lesson go here: The Millennium.

The Millennium is the time period of a thousand years, when the Savior will come to reign upon the earth. In Doctrine and Covenants 29:11 we read, “For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.” At His coming, all the wickedness in the world will be destroyed. Many people will remain to live through this time.

Who will be on the earth during the Millennium?

First of all, the Savior will be on the earth during the Millennium. In Daniel 7:14 we read, “And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” All the righteous will serve him. In addition, all those who are righteous, covenanted people, will be on the earth during the Millennium. They will be doing a great amount of missionary work and temple work to build up the kingdom of God. But they are not the only people who will remain in that day. All people who have lived good lives and did not go about working evil intentionally, will also be on the earth. They will have the opportunity to hear the gospel and choose if they will accept it or not. All righteous people, covenant or not, will have much that we have now. They will still build families and work to provide for them. They will still have to deal with the weaknesses of the mortal body, such as sickness and injury. But, they will live free of the whisperings of Satan and his followers. This will cause it to be a time of peace, which has not existed on the earth. There will be others on the earth, who are righteous beings who by that point have already been resurrected. They will be on the earth to do the work of the Lord along with the saints.

What are the two great works that will be done during the Millennium?

As I mentioned above, the saints will be doing missionary work and temple work. Through missionary work, the gospel will be taken to every soul on the earth and everyone will eventually know that Jesus is the Christ. In addition, missionary work will continue in the spirit world. Then, all people will have the opportunity to choose if they will become a member of Christ’s church and make sacred covenants with him, or to choose something else. (To read more about missionary work, see Gospel Principles: Missionary Work). Those who make covenants with him, will eventually have the opportunity to receive the blessings of the celestial kingdom, and those who do not will inherit the terrestrial kingdom. These covenants will include those of baptism, as well as those made in the temple. Temple work will be the second great work done during the Millennium. This work will be done for those living as well as for those who are dead. Only a small portion of this work is being accomplished now and there is so much left to do. Every soul will have the opportunity to have work done for them, and just like those who are living, they will have the chance to choose if they will accept it or not. (To read more about temple work, see Gospel Principles: Temple Work and Family History).

How can we prepare now for work in the Millennium?

We prepare for this work now, by gaining a testimony for ourselves. We must prepare by listening to the words of His holy prophets. In 1 Nephi 22:20 we read, “And the Lord will surely prepare a way for his people, unto the fulfilling of the words of Moses, which he spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.” Joseph Smith was raised to be this prophet, who brought the fullness of the gospel and leads the people of God through his work and testimony. We need to discover for ourselves the truth of that testimony, so that we can take it to all people. We become the saints of God, committing ourselves to building His kingdom on the earth. We need to live worthy of doing the work of the Lord, and learn how to do missionary and temple work now. We prepare by making the will of the Lord a priority in our lives, so that it will be a priority then.

In what ways will life during the Millennium be different from life on the earth now?

As I said above, there will be differences in life now and that life during the Millenium. One of the differences, is that there will be no more war or fighting. In Isaiah 2:4 we read, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” I can’t even imagine the peace that will exist because there will be no war. Another difference will be in the earth itself. The earth will be renewed to a garden of eden state. In Ezekiel 36:35 we read, “And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.” The land will be beautiful all over.

In addition, people will not be made to suffer the waiting period of death as they do now. When someone dies, they must wait until their time in the first resurrection. In that day, all who grow old and die, will be changed in a twinkling of an eye, or will become the resurrected being, ready to continue the work on the earth. In Doctrine and Covenants 63:51 we read, “Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old; old men shall die; but they shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye.” What an amazing promise of the resurrection. Those who were not righteous and died before the Second Coming of the Lord, will be made to wait until the end of the Millennium, before they will be resurrected and receive their reward.

As I reviewed the Topical Guide, I discovered something new. There is a line in the Lord’s prayer, which is directly related to time of the Millennium. In Matthew 6:10 it reads, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Not only will the kingdom of God be established on the earth in its fullness, with the Lord at its head, but the will of God will be accomplished on the earth, just as it is in heaven. I knew this was going to be the state of the Millennium, but I never realized that it was a part of the prayer which the Lord gave as an example to us of how we should pray.

When this kingdom is established, the people on earth will live righteously and Satan will not be able to influence the hearts of men. In 1 Nephi 22:26 we read, “And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth.” Therefore, people, who are naturally good people, who would have listened to the tempting whispering of Satan in moments of weakness, will not have those temptations from him. This is a huge difference in the world at that time. Part of the loss of power for Satan, will come from everyone having truths revealed to them. In Doctrine and Covenants 101:32 we read, “Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things—”. Everyone will know that he is the Christ, and that there is a God and an eternal purpose for us all. All things will be revealed and those who are willing, will be able to accept them.

What are your thoughts and feelings about the conditions that will exist during the Millennium?

I believe that the daily life will be much the same for us. We will still be working to provide for our bodies and spirits. We will still be building families, having children, building our homes, and dealing with the flaws of human bodies, but we will be doing all these things in righteousness. I look forward to this day with great anticipation and hope. I want to be there to experience it for myself. I know it will be a great blessing to live in the times of the Millennium. I also know that it will be a blessing to serve the Lord on the earth, wether in life or death.

What will be the final destiny of the earth?

The earth was created to be a resting place for all the righteous who inherit the glory of the Celestial kingdom. It’s destiny is of a celestial glory as well and it will be a paradise for those who deserving of it. In Doctrine and Covenants 29:23 we read, “And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.” The earth will be a new earth. This glory and rest will come to the earth, after the final battle between good and evil. Satan will be destroyed and cast into outer darkness, never to inflict his torment on the earth again. I have great hope in this promise that the prophets have given. I pray that many souls will find Christ and accept his gospel, so that they too can inherit the blessings of a Celestial earth.

Genesis Chapter 11

Noah and his family spread across nations of the earth. This chapter begins:

1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

Having all come directly from Noah and his sons, all of the people on the earth at this time spoke the same language and could communicate with one another. Ham’s descendants included Nimrod, who was of the land of Shinar. The people there began to build in the land. They wanted to build a tower to heaven and to come up with a name for themselves to identify themselves if they were scattered. This was the tower of Babel. My understanding here is that the people were at a point where they were trusting too much in their own abilities and no longer depending on the Lord like they should have been. Because of the building of the tower, the Lord confounded the language of the people, meaning they could no longer communicate with one another plainly. I can imagine just how frustrating this change would be. This caused the people to become scattered across the earth.

I think part of the wisdom in the miracle of confounding the language of people at that time, was to cause them (or rather us now) to rely more on the spirit. Part of what has allowed the gospel to spread today, is missionaries relying on the gifts of the spirit, specifically the gift of tongues, to communicate properly the teachings. This reliance on the spirit, allows the spirit to teach both the missionaries as well as those who are hearing the messages. I am sure that throughout the history of the world, people have been touched by this gift of the spirit to communicate the messages of the gospel, and that their testimonies have been strengthened in ways that they would not have been had everyone continued to speak the same language.

In addition, the scattering of people due to this confounding has been a blessing because the knowledge of gospel truths, even in their smallest form, has been taken to all the areas of the earth. In some places they may have been forgotten over time, but the influence of good has been able to touch many souls. This scattering makes the gathering of people back together again, an exciting thing to come.

A Family Tree

10 These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:
11 And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
12 And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah:
13 And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
14 And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber:
15 And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
16 And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg:
17 And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.
18 And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu:
19 And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.
20 And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug:
21 And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters.
22 And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor:
23 And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
24 And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah:
25 And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters.
26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Abram, who we later know as the great prophet Abraham. We learn from these verses that he was a descendant of Noah through the line of Shem.

27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.
30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

Abram (Abraham) married Sarai and they lived in Ur. Sarai was not able to have any children. They left with their family and went to the Haran in the land of Canaan. We learn from the book of Abraham, that they left because of the famine in the land of Ur, which had been so bad that it had caused his brother Haran to die. Part of the reason for leaving was also because Abraham was commanded of the Lord to leave and go to Cannan to leave the traditions of his fathers. I think that this move was a preparation for the great prophet that Abraham would become.

The Gathering of the House of Israel

To view the entire lesson go here: The Gathering of the House of Israel

This week in our Relief Society lesson we are studying the gathering of the house of Israel. I think to understand this, we have to understand that the house of Israel was scattered. The house of Israel are the descendants of Jacob, who was later called Israel because of his righteousness. He had twelve sons who became the tribes of Israel. They were the covenant people of God during biblical times. In Deuteronomy 28:64 we read, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.” The scattering was promised long before it actually occurred. The people fought amongst themselves and divided into two. This led to more fighting and eventually caused the scattering that had been promised to them. In 1 Kings 22:17 we read, “And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.” The descendants of Israel were scattered to all the world because of unrighteousness. In Romans 11:20, we read, “. . . because of unbelief they were broken off . . .”. The promises of the prophets of old, are only available to those who keep their covenants with the Lord. As latter-day saints, we believe that those who become covenant people of the Lord now, are in a sense adopted into the house of Israel.

What responsibilities do God’s covenant people have to the nations of the world?

In Matthew 28:19-20 we read the following:

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

God’s covenant people have made covenants with the Lord, to be a light to the world. This means that they are to be an example of righteousness and have the duty to teach the gospel to all people and to bring them closer to God. In order for the world to be blessed as a whole, the covenant people of the God, must keep the commandments and stand for truth and righteousness.

What benefits have come to God’s children because His covenant people have been scattered throughout the earth?

Some of those who were scattered, such as Lehi’s family, brought the gospel with them to other parts of the world. Because of the scattering, much of the world has been able to learn of some portions of the gospel. The blessings of the house of Israel are not for only those who live where ancient Israel once was, so many people all over the world have the blessings available to them if they choose it.

Why does the Lord want His people to be gathered?

The Lord made a covenant with the house of Israel, that they would be gathered again. In 3 Nephi 20:29 we read, “And I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people; and I have covenanted with them that I would gather them together in mine own due time, that I would give unto them again the land of their fathers for their inheritance, which is the land of Jerusalem, which is the promised land unto them forever, saith the Father.” The Lord wants to keep his covenant with his people. There has always been strength in numbers. We are constantly in a world-wide war against Satan and his angels. When we gather together as covenant people, we have the strength to overcome. In Jeremiah 12:15 we read, “And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.” The tribes of Israel need to be gathered so that the inheritance that God has promised them, can be received. It can only be received when they willing accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, and so part of the reason for the gathering is to bring the people to Christ so that they can have salvation.

How will the house of Israel be gathered?

The gathering, which began with the restoration of the gospel, is done through missionary work. In 1 Nephi 15:1 we read, “And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed—”. As people are brought into the fold of God through baptism, they are gathered into the house of Israel. This gathering started with the gentiles when Joseph Smith was instructed to organize the church. It will continue until the second coming of the Lord, when all will be made aware of Christ.

In what ways have you been gathered spiritually as one of the Lord’s covenant people?

I made the choice to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as a member I have made covenants with the Lord. Through these covenants, I have been spiritually gathered with other saints who are all striving to live righteous lives and become more like Christ. As I draw closer to him, through my choices and understandings of the gospel, I am gathering closer with the saints. I have been able to make more covenants because of living worthy to enter the temple of the Lord. These covenants and blessings are eternal and sacred to me.

UPDATE: The more I thought about this, I realized that even though I was raised in the church and baptized at age 8, I have since had the opportunity to be gathered spiritually. There were many things that I took for granted about the gospel, when I was young. Then, when I was 19 years old, I went out with a friend and we sat looking at the temple. We talked about the choices we had made personally and how we felt about our own levels of righteousness. He challenged me to be a better person than I was at the time and I challenged him to do the same. We made a pact to work on it together. In that very moment, I had a change of heart and I started my own personal gathering with the saints.

In what ways have you participated in the gathering of others?

In one way, I have tried to share my testimony with others. This is done both in word and in my actions. When we live a righteous life, firm in the truth of the gospel, we have a joy and a light that is an example to those around us. I am striving daily to be a light to others so that they will want to find the joy that comes through this gospel. In another way, I am helping to gather others, by going to do temple work. Those who are dead, are hearing the gospel through the missionary efforts going on beyond the grave. These people need people like me, to go and do the physical work for them in the temple, so that they can be baptized and make additional covenants. I am so glad to have the opportunity to share my testimony and to do work for those who have died. I know that these things bring me great blessings in this life and I have a great hope in the blessings that this will bring after this life as well.

UPDATE: I think it would be interesting to hear from Jews, who have a lineage of living as practicing Jews, about their feelings about the gathering of Israel. I am sure these promises are discussed for them today. This should be a source of great anticipation and excitement for those who are devout. I would love to know how they feel, so that I could understand even more, the blessings that will be when the gathering has been finished.

The Postmortal Spirit World

Read the entire lesson here: The Postmortal Spirit World.

There are three big questions of life, where did we come from, why are we here, and where are we going? One of the best things about the gospel found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is that the answers are there. I’ve never had to wonder about these things, because the scriptures tell me exactly what I need to know. This lesson discusses that which happens after our mortal life.

What happens to us after we die?

When we die, our bodies and spirit separate from one another. The body is left in the mortal sphere, or the grave, while our spirits move on to the spirit world. We will each have the opportunity to work and learn in the spirit world. Those who did not have the chance to learn of the gospel in this life, will have that chance. Those who were covenant people of Christ in this life, will have the opportunity to serve and to teach others. At some point, we will all have the opportunity to be reunited with our bodies through the power and gift of the resurrection, which has been provided to all men by the Savior, Jesus Christ. When we are resurrected, we will never experience a physical death or a separation of our body and spirit again. In addition to experiencing resurrection, we will also be judged for our works in this life. Each of us will be brought before the judgement seat, to determine what glory we have earned for our choices in life. Then we will receive the reward that we have gained. We learn of life after death throughout the scriptures. In Alma 11 we read the following:

42 Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.
43 The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.

There will be nothing unknown by God or ourselves and I believe that we will be completely reconciled with the reward we receive and will find our greatest joy no matter what that reward may be.

What comfort do you receive from your knowledge that there is life after death? How can we use our understanding of the postmortal spirit world to comfort others?

I think that the passing of our loved ones would be unbearable if we did not have a hope in life after death. Having the knowledge that there will be work to do, lessons to learn, blessings received, and mostly forever families, gives me the hope to live life the best I can. I know how to live here because I know what is in store for me there. There can be great comfort in the trials, hardships and losses of this life, when we know these things. Those of us who have an understanding of these things, can help bring comfort to others by teaching them. We can honestly support and love others through their difficult times even if they do not understand. Our hope and happiness can help to lift the most burdened souls if we are willing to share it. It is the duty of all people who have made the covenant of baptism with the Lord, to comfort those who are in need. In Mosiah 18 we read the following about this:

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

We have the light and knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and we should share that with others.

Where Is the Postmortal Spirit World?

It may be difficult for some to understand, but I believe that the spirit world is very near to us. There are countless experiences of people feeling the presence of their loved ones, and I believe that these experiences are real. I think that at times the veil which covers our minds and separates us from the truths of an eternal nature, can be very thin. I think that our loved ones are truly near us, and that even though they are probably hard at work, they are watching over us and even guiding us at times.

What Is the Nature of Our Spirits?

One of the understandings that I have gained about the nature of our spirits, is that we will continue to have the same appetites and desires after this life, as we have during this life. In Alma 34:34 we read, “Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” For example, if we seek to gain power in this life and that is the desire which drives our actions, we will continue to seek that after this life. The difference is that everyone will have a full knowledge and those desires will not be able to be acted upon. I think that our own desires will bring our own torment and so we must attain to have righteous desires, which will be completely realized after this life.

Why is it important to know that our spirits will have the same attitudes in the spirit world that they have now?

This knowledge should lead us to live a righteous life. Our state in eternity, depends upon the attitudes that we gain here. If we have a knowledge given to us in this life, about what types of attitudes we should have, then we need to seek to gain those attitudes now.

What Are the Conditions in the Postmortal Spirit World?

Before we receive our reward, we will either go to spirit prison or spirit paradise. In Alma 40 we read:

11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
13 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.
14 Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.

Paradise is a state of happiness. I think it comes from having an understanding of the plan of salvation which all will have at that point. The righteous will know that they have been seeking for those things that were right and good. In paradise, they will have happiness and find joy in working and serving God. This service will come through teaching others the gospel. Meanwhile, the unrighteous, will know that they have been living a life of little worth and will feel the torment of that in darkness. There is a difference between outer darkness and spirit prison. Spirit prison is for those who are damned because they did not accept Christ in this life, but who have the opportunity in the spirit world to hear the gospel and choose if they will accept him as their personal savior. In Moses 7:57 we read, “And as many of the spirits as were in prison came forth, and stood on the right hand of God; and the remainder were reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.” The wisdom and mercy of God, is that we will continue to have the opportunity to progress after this life, as long as a physical being has performed the necessary ordinances in the flesh. Those who are not cast to outer darkness, may learn of the gospel and with the full truth in front of them, choose for themselves if they will accept it.

How are conditions in the spirit world similar to conditions in this life?

First of all, we will continue to have our agency. We will choose for ourselves, the reward which will bring us happiness knowing fully our own flaws and mistakes. Agency is an eternal principal and it will continue forever. Second, we will continue to learn and progress. In this life, we are constantly learning new things. These things are both religious and secular. Both are important in our overall knowledge. Our learning will continue after this life. The difference there is that truth will be plain. Something I read while studying said that our spirits will still have the ability to be persuaded towards good or evil, so that is also a condition that will continue which we know well today.

I am so grateful for the knowledge of what is to come after this life. I am glad that death of those I love, does not cripple me. I find joy in my loved ones moving on to work for the Lord on the other side of the veil. I know that death is a welcome part of our eternal life and the eternal plan of God. I look forward to meeting many who have gone before me and sharing my testimony and understanding of the gospel with them. I love knowing that God is so kind and merciful, and yet that he is consistent and stable in his plan. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I hope that I can live my life in a way that will make me a worthy spirit in the life to come, so that I can help further the work of the Lord.

The Articles of Faith

What are the Articles of Faith? The gospel of Jesus Christ is one of those things in life, that has very simple concepts, but if you look closer, you will find there are countless deeper concepts to be learned as well. The Articles of Faith simply explain the basic concepts of the gospel that we believe as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Before we can get to the real meat of the gospel, we must first understand the basic principles of belief. They only touch on some of the beliefs, but I think they are the ones that tell most about the things we believe.

A friend asked a man named John Wentworth, and editor of a newspaper, to find out about the history of the mormon church and what the members believed, which was to be included in a history of the state of New Hampshire. Mister Wentworth went to Joseph Smith and asked for this information. In response Joseph wrote the Wentworth Letter, which included an account of the restoration a lot like that found in Joseph Smith-History, a description of how the Book of Mormon came to be, the establishment and growth of the church, and the Articles of Faith. He wrote them to let people outside of the church, know of our basic beliefs and what may be different about us from other churches. As far as I know, these were never published for Mister Wentworth or his friend, but they were published for the church and have been included as scripture for over a hundred years.

I think that all members of the LDS church would benefit from memorizing these 13 statements of our beliefs. Several Years ago, a talk was given by President Monson, in which he shared a story about a man he once worked with. This man had told him how he gained his testimony. He said that he was on a long road trip across the United States, and that a little primary-aged girl got on the bus in Salt Lake City, Utah, and sat next to him. He made some conversation with her that had to do with a lot of people in Utah being mormon and she said that she was. He asked her what they believed and she shared all the articles of faith with him and what they meant to her. Because of this little girl, the first thing he did when he reached his destination, was ask for missionaries to come to his home and teach him more about the gospel. He was baptized, along with all of his family. This story struck me deeply, and I made a decision then that when my children were young, we would work together as a family to memorize the articles of faith so that we could share them with others. We have been working on them pretty consistently for a long time now, and most of our family is able to recite 12 of the 13 articles of faith easily, with one more to learn.

Learning the articles of faith does more than just give us a missionary tool. When we learn and even more, study these articles, our testimony is strengthened. Every time I have the opportunity to explain to my children why we believe these things, I am confirming to myself that I know these things are true. It is so important to have a strong foundation in our beliefs, so that we can build upon it and grow in our knowledge of the gospel.

NOTE: I will be writing about each of the 13 articles in the upcoming posts.

More on the Teachings of Paul

I know that we are all sinners. We cannot be with God if we are unpure because of sin. If we do not repent or become justified (made righteous in the sight of God) through the redemption of Jesus Christ, we will remain in our sins at the last day. We are justified through our faith. Or rather we are forgiven of our sins when we act in faith and repent. The atonement has made this possible to all mankind.

I know that simply going through the motions of partaking of the sacrament does not bring us a renewal of our covenants that we made at baptism. It is the faith we act in repentance of the things we have done wrong, which allow our partaking of the sacrament to work as a renewal of those covenants. We will not grow in our testimony or in knowledge if we live the law without faith in Christ and His gospel.

I know that there is no value to sin when their is no law. The commandments clarify what is sin. Once we know the commandments we are held accountable for any sins against that commandment. If we do not have a commandment for something, we cannot sin against it. Therefore, there is no judgement held against us for that things and we have no need to be justified for it.


I know that baptism, after the pattern of the Savior, is like putting the natural man within us to rest and rising again as a new person who has made a covenant and promise to live a righteous life. We are able to start fresh and focus our lives on God’s will for us.

I know that I am a child of God and I have the ability to progress to become more like Him. I know that if I am doing the things that are right, that my trials and adversity will be for my benefit and learning. If, however, I am knowingly committing sin, my trials will not have the benefit until I have changed my ways. If we are righteous, we will continue to turn to Christ and feel his love and support through any difficult times that come our way.

I know that missionary work is so important to the salvation of all the children of God. Without missionary work, those who are accepting are not able to hear the gospel. Without hearing the gospel, they cannot choose if they will believe it or not. Without believing it, they cannot fully repent of the things they do wrong or make a change of heart. Without repentance they cannot be baptized. Without baptism they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. I am so grateful for missionaries and for the opportunity that I have to share my own testimony with you out there in the world and do my own little piece of the Lord’s missionary work.

Here are some of the things I know I need to work on being, in order to become like Jesus Christ and return to live with Him and our Father in Heaven some day (according to a scripture chain for the qualities of a Saint):

  • Be worthy and dedicated to your callings
  • Be submissive, lowly and meek – humble, quiet and gentle
  • Be patient and enduring well through difficulties and trials
  • Be restrained in our emotions to others – temper your emotions
  • Be loving and charitable
  • Be unified in the Spirit
  • Be peaceful
  • Be refined, courteous, and polite
  • Be faithful
  • Be honest in your feelings and love others
  • Be disgusted by evil and cling to those things that are good
  • Be kind and affectionate
  • Be respectful of others
  • Be a good worker, diligent, active, productive, and involved
  • Be passionate in spiritual things
  • Be hopeful
  • Be patient through adversity – be a thriver
  • Be prayerful and fast
  • Be generous and giving, especially to those in need, and even to those who are our enemies
  • Be hospitable and welcoming
  • Be forgiving of those who do you wrong, pray for them, bless them, and do not try to get back at them
  • Be happy for others when things go well for them
  • Be there for those who are suffering
  • Be thoughtful of those who have less
  • Be smart, knowledgable, and wise
  • Be real, genuine, and modest in your knowledge
  • Be honest in all things at all times
  • Be righteous and overcome evil with good
  • Be open to the promptings of the spirit and follow them
  • Be a partaker of the atonement, through repentance and a change of heart
  • Be better than what comes naturally
  • Be dedicated to the work of the Lord and willing to submit yourself to His will – consecrate and sanctify yourself
  • Be virtuous, clean and pure
  • Be a member of God’s church and attend your meetings
  • Be organized and prepared
  • Be a teacher of all that is good, especially the gospel – testify to others and preach repentance when appropriate
  • Be like God
  • Missionary Work

    One of the biggest themes throughout the scriptures is the importance of missionary work. Throughout this blog so far, I have tagged 54 posts with it, and that is just those that seem to plainly talk about it. You can read about the call from God to preach to the people, in all of the standard works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants). In Doctrine and Covenants 1:18 and 23, we read the following:

    And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets (v. 18)— . . . That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers (v. 23).

    As a commandment and as something so common throughout the scriptures, it is surely part of God’s plan for us, His children.

    In what ways is missionary work part of God’s plan for His children?

    Isaiah 52:7 reads, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” The plan of God involves all His children having the opportunity to come unto Him, learn of Him, follow Him, make covenants with Him, and eventually return to live with Him. None of this can happen, unless each child of God has the opportunity to hear the gospel from someone else. All those who have come to know Christ, have the duty to God to help others to know the truth and have that same opportunity to choose to follow Him. None of us would be able to return to live with God again, if we did not have missionary work. When we tell others about the gospel, we are publishers of salvation.

    What are some different ways the Lord has prepared for us to share the gospel?

    My experience has been that when I learn a gospel truth, I become filled with excitement and the immediate desire to share it with those I love. I think that the Lord prepares us to share the gospel, through the revelation that brings this happiness. In this day, we have great access to His word, which means that we can easily study the gospel and be prepared with a knowledge and testimony of our own. We are prepared when we are given opportunities to serve others. Our actions are a great missionary tool, and allow for the chances to share the gospel, without any uncomfortable interactions. Most callings in the church, allow us to share our beliefs with others within the church, which in turn will prepare us to share with those we associate with outside of church.

    Personally, creating this blog and sharing my testimony and the gospel with anyone who happens upon it through searching the internet, has been a pretty awesome way to prepare for the times when I want and need to share with those I see. This amount of study, and the act of constantly developing and sharing what I learn and know to be true, strengthens my ability to share, my comfort level in sharing, and my testimony. This has been an amazing blessing in my life.

    In what ways have you seen technology used effectively to share the gospel?

    I am absolutely amazed at the number of people who are using the internet specifically, to share the gospel. The church has so much to offer through it’s site, and also through many other sites such as and the mormon messages on youtube. The development of sites such as facebook and twitter, give enormous amounts of opportunities for saints to share what they believe and I am sure that many have been brought closer to Christ through these sites. Technology is something that I am truly grateful for, specifically for the benefits that are gospel related.

    Why is it important for each person to hear and understand the gospel?

    Like I wrote above, none of us could return to live with God again if it were not for missionary work and the spreading of the gospel because of it. We cannot return to live with God again if we do not understand and accept the gospel. Our eternal salvation depends on hearing the gospel. We cannot know that we need to turn to Christ and the saving power of His atonement, if we do not hear of it and the amazing blessings of repentance. We will not come to know Christ, if no one shares his life and missions with us. We will not be able to be together with our families after this life, if we are not told of the priesthood and the sacred temple ordinances which can seal us to our families forever.

    In what ways can we actively seek opportunities to share the gospel with others? In what ways can we prepare ourselves for such opportunities?

    I know that one of the best ways to seek for these opportunities, is to pray for them. When we show God that we are willing to share with others, He will guide those who are ready, to us. We should show others with our actions, how to live a Christ-like lives and then there will be times when they will want to know why we behave the way we do. In our constant striving to live righteously, the opportunities will come.

    Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles related an experience in his talk during the October 2010 conference.

    Many years ago two colleagues of mine—a nurse and her doctor husband—asked me why I lived the way I did. I answered, “Because I know the Book of Mormon is true.” I let them borrow my copy of the book, inviting them to read it. A week later they returned my book with a polite “thanks a lot.”

    I responded, “What do you mean, thanks a lot? That’s a totally inappropriate response for one who has read this book. You didn’t read it, did you! Please take it back and read it; then I would like my book back.”

    Admitting that they had only turned its pages, they accepted my invitation. When they returned, they said tearfully, “We have read the Book of Mormon. We know it is true! We want to know more.” They learned more, and it was my privilege to baptize both of them.

    This type of experience can be our own experience. We can prepare ourselves by being open and friendly with others. We can prepare ourselves by learning how to serve others. We can prepare ourselves by learning to love the gospel and by not being ashamed of it. In Doctrine and Covenants 60:2 we read, “But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them.” We all have the opportunity to be given this same talent to share the gospel with others. If we are ashamed, we cannot do what the Lord wants for us.

    Most of all, I think we can prepare ourselves by learning to love others. This means forgiving, being merciful, doing away with unrighteous judgments, and feeling a deep compassion for all people. The Savior taught His disciples that we show our love for Him, by teaching others His gospel. In John 21:17 we read, “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”

    When have you experienced the joy of missionary work?

    My greatest joy of missionary work has been experienced in my own home. I believe that this is the most important place for it to start. When I have shared with my children what I sincerely believe and hope for, and then they have turned around and expressed their own beliefs and understanding, I have been filled with great joy. When my everyday actions have inspired friends to ask questions about the gospel, I have been blessed to share with them. Most of the time it does not immediately turn into a change of heart for my friends, by I know that a seed is planted and someday, they will have a desire to know more. I know that blessings will come for the work I make the effort to do. In Doctrine and Covenants 18:15 we read, “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”

    I have thought a lot of the joy that we are promised for this. I have had some moments of that great overwhelming joy in my life, and no other experience compares to those. I believe that the joy we will feel after this life will be incomparable to anything else. There is no way to comprehend just how great our joy will be if we can be with the Lord again. I know that if we can serve to help others get there as well, our joy will be greater still. What an amazing thing to look forward to, and so worth every effort in this life.

    D&C Section 138 (Part 2)

    This post is a continuation of the previous post on this section (D&C Section 138 Part 1).

    In the previous post on this section, we learned that President Joseph F. Smith received a vision regarding the souls who the Savior taught in the spirit world (see 1 Peter 34). We learn about the process of revelation and understanding from pondering over the scriptures. We learn about the organization of the work of sharing the gospel in the spirit world. This section continues:

    38 Among the great and mighty ones who were assembled in this vast congregation of the righteous were Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all,
    39 And our glorious Mother Eve, with many of her faithful daughters who had lived through the ages and worshiped the true and living God.
    40 Abel, the first martyr, was there, and his brother Seth, one of the mighty ones, who was in the express image of his father, Adam.
    41 Noah, who gave warning of the flood; Shem, the great high priest; Abraham, the father of the faithful; Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, the great law-giver of Israel;
    42 And Isaiah, who declared by prophecy that the Redeemer was anointed to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that were bound, were also there.
    43 Moreover, Ezekiel, who was shown in vision the great valley of dry bones, which were to be clothed upon with flesh, to come forth again in the resurrection of the dead, living souls;
    44 Daniel, who foresaw and foretold the establishment of the kingdom of God in the latter days, never again to be destroyed nor given to other people;
    45 Elias, who was with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration;
    46 And Malachi, the prophet who testified of the coming of Elijah—of whom also Moroni spake to the Prophet Joseph Smith, declaring that he should come before the ushering in of the great and dreadful day of the Lord—were also there.
    47 The Prophet Elijah was to plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to their fathers,
    48 Foreshadowing the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fulness of times, for the redemption of the dead, and the sealing of the children to their parents, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted at his coming.
    49 All these and many more, even the prophets who dwelt among the Nephites and testified of the coming of the Son of God, mingled in the vast assembly and waited for their deliverance,
    50 For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage.
    51 These the Lord taught, and gave them power to come forth, after his resurrection from the dead, to enter into his Father’s kingdom, there to be crowned with immortality and eternal life,
    52 And continue thenceforth their labor as had been promised by the Lord, and be partakers of all blessings which were held in reserve for them that love him.

    President Smith saw many of the prophets of old, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. They were in the spirit world waiting in bondage for the redemption and salvation that was to come through Jesus Christ. All the righteous had to wait for the resurrection of the Savior, before they could be resurrected. Some of those who have gone before us have been resurrected already and are doing the work that they have been asked to do. I believe that others are still waiting for the time of the Second Coming when the righteous will be resurrected and will have the opportunity to serve the Lord as he rules on this earth. Until the resurrection, all spirits will remain in bondage. Meaning that they will not be able to progress and work to their fulness, until they are once again reunited with their bodies.

    I strongly believe in the words of Elijah. There is much work to be done, and the righteous have a responsibility to do this work for those who no longer are able to do it for themselves. In doing this work, the hearts of those who serve are turned towards their ancestors. And likewise, their ancestors are turning and relying on them for their salvation. This work is only possible because we have holy temples on the earth, in which we can perform saving ordinances for others. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve in the temple.

    53 The Prophet Joseph Smith, and my father, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work,
    54 Including the building of the temples and the performance of ordinances therein for the redemption of the dead, were also in the spirit world.
    55 I observed that they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God.
    56 Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.
    57 I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.
    58 The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,
    59 And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.
    60 Thus was the vision of the redemption of the dead revealed to me, and I bear record, and I know that this record is true, through the blessing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, even so. Amen.

    I love the lesson here that we will have the opportunity after this life, to pay for the transgressions that we do now. No matter how hard I try, I know that I do things I should not do, that I may not think to repent for. Those things do not go away with time, but remain as a stain on our souls until we are washed clean of them. I know there will be mercy through repentance in this life, which takes away our burden of suffering for specific sins, but it is good to know that we all will be able to pay for what we have done that we have not repented for, and then we will move on to gain whatever reward we deserve.

    There were modern day prophets, which he saw, and other righteous saints in the spirit world with the prophets of old. He saw that all of these had been prepared for their great work, before they came to the earth in life. He saw that missionary work, or the work of teaching the gospel and saving souls, continues on after this life. These verses confirm to me the thought that work is an eternal principle. This life is in preparation for even greater work after this life. This stresses to me the importance of being productive and serving in this life. If we live a life of laziness and dependence on others, we will not be willing to work after this life. If we are not willing to work, I am certain that we will not be able to progress and receive all the blessings that eternity has to offer to us.

    I am so glad to have scriptures which teach us what is to come after this life. There are multiple witnesses of heaven and who and what will be there. I believe these things are true. I hope to live a life that is worthy to be among these great righteous leaders and to work and learn from them. I am glad to be given opportunities to serve and work in this life. I have grown a lot through the service that I have had the chance to give and my life has been greatly blessed for it. This chapter is one of those that causes me to look forward to life after death, and all the wonderful things that will happen there. It is such a blessing to have this gospel and to have the confirming power of the spirit with me, to know these things are true.

    D&C Section 138 (Part One)

    In 1918, President Joseph F. Smith received a vision regarding the spirit world, which was unanimously accepted by the First Presidency, the Twelve Apostles, and the Patriarch. It was published for the saints at that time, then later it was added to the pearl of great price, and has since been added to the book of Doctrine and Covenants.

    1 On the third of October, in the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, I sat in my room pondering over the scriptures;
    2 And reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world;
    3 And the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son in the coming of the Redeemer into the world;
    4 That through his atonement, and by obedience to the principles of the gospel, mankind might be saved.
    5 While I was thus engaged, my mind reverted to the writings of the apostle Peter, to the primitive saints scattered abroad throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and other parts of Asia, where the gospel had been preached after the crucifixion of the Lord.
    6 I opened the Bible and read the third and fourth chapters of the first epistle of Peter, and as I read I was greatly impressed, more than I had ever been before, with the following passages:
    7 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
    8 “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
    9 “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1 Peter 3:18–20.)
    10 “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4:6.)

    President Smith was another example of how we can learn and have revelations from reading the scriptures. When we take time to sincerely ponder over principles of the gospel, and we use the scriptures to study about that particular topic, we give the spirit the opportunity to teach us great and wonderful things. Because of seriously pondering over the scriptures and the atonement of the Savior, he was led to consider scriptures about those spirits that the Savior visited. As I have studied these verses, and read from other sources, I have gained a greater understanding of the need to have an open mind when studying the scriptures. What I mean by an open mind, is more of having our thoughts free of the other things in our lives. If we are consumed with thoughts on other things, the spirit cannot find a way in to reveal things to us. An open mind and a teachable heart, are the things we need to get the most from our study and pondering.

    As I consider how this vision came about, I wonder what it would be like for the Savior to have suffered such great pain for all of mankind, and then for so many to not have the opportunity to know the gospel and know how to repent and use the atonement. It seems like that would make so much of what He did, an act of so much effort in vain. It would serve no purpose. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the spirits would have the same opportunities to learn the gospel as we have in this life. The Savior himself, went to the spirits who were already waiting, and preached to them. We learn of this because Peter wrote of it to the saints who lived in the days after the Savior was crucified. These spirits needed to hear the gospel and then choose not to accept or to accept, in order to be judged the same way that all men would be judged.

    11 As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great.
    12 And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality;
    13 And who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and had suffered tribulation in their Redeemer’s name.
    14 All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
    15 I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand.
    16 They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death.
    17 Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fulness of joy.
    18 While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful;
    19 And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance.
    20 But unto the wicked he did not go, and among the ungodly and the unrepentant who had defiled themselves while in the flesh, his voice was not raised;
    21 Neither did the rebellious who rejected the testimonies and the warnings of the ancient prophets behold his presence, nor look upon his face.
    22 Where these were, darkness reigned, but among the righteous there was peace;
    23 And the saints rejoiced in their redemption, and bowed the knee and acknowledged the Son of God as their Redeemer and Deliverer from death and the chains of hell.
    24 Their countenances shone, and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them, and they sang praises unto his holy name.

    As President Smith pondered over the scriptures he read, the understanding became clear to him. When I have had moments of understanding, it feels like I can finally see something that was there all along and I realize that it makes perfect sense. Saying that the mind is opened is a great way to explain it. It is as if there are parts of our brains that are closed or turned off, and all of the sudden they are open and active. In the church we often refer to the veil that has been placed over our minds in mortality. I think in these moments of understanding, portions of the veil become thinner or are removed. I know however, that it is possible for us to make choices which close our minds again, even after we have great understanding. We need to be continually striving for knowledge and for the companionship of the spirit, so that we do not loose the knowledge that we have gained.

    In this moment of understanding, the righteous spirits were seen waiting for Christ to come and deliver them from the prison which held them. They waited for their own resurrections, which would follow the resurrection of the Savior. The Savior came to them, taught them, and redeemed them. We do not know or understand the way time works outside of the life we are living, but I know what it feels like when I am anxiously waiting for something. There are times when minutes seem like hours and the expected moment seems like it takes forever to arrive. I am sure that these spirits were so excited and anxiously waiting that moment to come. They had been halted in their progression. I think it is probably a lot like being ‘stuck in a rut’ in life, but in this case the only hope of getting out of it, is the arrival of the Savior of God. I can only imagine what a glorious celebration it was for those who were there.

    25 I marveled, for I understood that the Savior spent about three years in his ministry among the Jews and those of the house of Israel, endeavoring to teach them the everlasting gospel and call them unto repentance;
    26 And yet, notwithstanding his mighty works, and miracles, and proclamation of the truth, in great power and authority, there were but few who hearkened to his voice, and rejoiced in his presence, and received salvation at his hands.
    27 But his ministry among those who were dead was limited to the brief time intervening between the crucifixion and his resurrection;
    28 And I wondered at the words of Peter—wherein he said that the Son of God preached unto the spirits in prison, who sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah—and how it was possible for him to preach to those spirits and perform the necessary labor among them in so short a time.
    29 And as I wondered, my eyes were opened, and my understanding quickened, and I perceived that the Lord went not in person among the wicked and the disobedient who had rejected the truth, to teach them;
    30 But behold, from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead.
    31 And the chosen messengers went forth to declare the acceptable day of the Lord and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel.
    32 Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets.
    33 These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands,
    34 And all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
    35 And so it was made known among the dead, both small and great, the unrighteous as well as the faithful, that redemption had been wrought through the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross.
    36 Thus was it made known that our Redeemer spent his time during his sojourn in the world of spirits, instructing and preparing the faithful spirits of the prophets who had testified of him in the flesh;
    37 That they might carry the message of redemption unto all the dead, unto whom he could not go personally, because of their rebellion and transgression, that they through the ministration of his servants might also hear his words.

    President Smith wondered at how the Savior could preach to all the souls in such a short amount of time, and he received understanding about this. We often say that God created the earth, and it is true, but He did it through the work of His Son. In the same sense, the Lord visited with all the spirits in spirit prison through the work of His servants. This organization is the same as we it is in life. The prophet is given direct revelation from God, then he turns to his counselors and the twelve and delegates certain responsibilities. This delegation continues down to the individuals in each ward and branch around the world, so that the work can be accomplished. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the prophet to report the work, his work, to the Lord directly. The Savior could not go into certain portions of the spirit world to preach, because he could not dwell in the presence of wickedness, but his servants could do it for him.

    This section will be continued.

    About My Scripture Study Buddy

    I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.


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