“Or, Are They All Wrong Together?”

“He (the devil) always sends errors into the world in pairs—pairs of opposites.  And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worst. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.”
—C.S. Lewis

Chaos and Order

When something is created, raw materials are organized to work together in harmony for a greater purpose – like gathering wood, steel, and other materials to build a house.

When something dies, it’s de-created and disorganized – like an an old house that’s been weathered and is decaying. Where its various components worked together in harmony before, they now begin to fall apart.

God is a God of creation.

From the beginning, He has sought to create, order, and organize raw materials into greater and greater creations. He created the earth, and “re-created” it in a greater way on each successive “day.” Gradually, He took the matter at hand and organized it into higher orders of creation.

Because of the fall, death was introduced in the world. Things began decaying and falling apart with time. Even Adam’s own family splintered as Cain and doubtless others left to be on their own. The human family has essentially been divided and disorganized ever since.

When things begin to die and dissolve, they lose their collective sense of unity. This is just as true on a molecular level as it is on a cultural one. As a compound is the combination of various elements, so is a family a combination of various people. The laws of creation apply just the same, because everything in creation consists of some degree of intelligence.

Christ seeks for His people to be Zion: “of one heart and one mind” (Moses 7:18, cf. Mosiah 18:21). He exhorts us, “be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). As we obey Him, we are organized to work together in harmony for a greater purpose. Paul describes this principle using the analogy of a human body; not every member serves the same function, but they are all organized to work together as vital parts of a greater whole (1 Corinthians 12). They are one in purpose. Thus the Savior prayed, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21, cf. Ephesians 4:11-14). He seeks to create something of us collectively – “a kingdom of priests, a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6) – something after the order of the city of Enoch, where heaven dwelt on earth (Moses 7:69).

As we each individually align ourselves to Christ, we all in turn will be aligned to one another. Just as Christ is the head of the body, so must we all submit to Him so that He can use us together in harmony.

As we humble ourselves before Him, we increase in light, and knowledge of the truth. As we increase in light, we are re-created (or “born again”) in a higher way – first individually, then collectively. However, the same thing is true in the other direction. When we harden our hearts, we lose light, and our knowledge of the truth is obscured (Alma 12:9-11). As a result, we begin to fall apart – first collectively, then individually.

Jewish Division

On this wise, Israel was divided, broken up, and scattered (1 Nephi 22:3-5; 2 Nephi 25:14-15; Deut. 4:25-27).

Not only was this the case physically, but spiritually as well, as they divided into various religious parties (among which were the Pharisees and Sadducees). Jacob clearly taught, “the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble” (Jacob 4:14).

Following the initial scattering of Israel, during a period where there was no prophetic voice in Israel, the Jews who remained in the area splintered into dissenting factions and sects. Because they all gradually lost knowledge of the truth, seeds of division were sown. They disagreed on the meaning of the law God had given them, and how to live it. Maybe they spent years arguing in the first century equivalent of Facebook’s comments section. Perhaps people watched as they tried to decide which party they aligned with. Perhaps after picking one, they noticed the faults and hypocrisy of the other – and so it goes.

But who had the truth, the Pharisees or Sadducees? Neither. Though they both felt very strongly that they were right and the other was wrong, neither had retained the full picture. They spent their time passionately arguing about things that didn’t truly understand. When Christ (the living Law) came to dwell among them, they all agreed on one thing: He was a blasphemer whose offenses ought to be punished by death. As the ultimate litmus test, the Truth Himself came to dwell among them – yet none of them recognized it because there was no truth in them.

Only a fraction of the people – those who actually cared about truth in spite of their traditions – recognized Jesus for who He was.

Christian Division

The same thing happened among the gentiles who listed to follow Christ. As the centuries passed, they lost light and truth, which resulted in their increasing division (James 4:1; 1 Corinthians 11:18-19). Following the death of the apostles, there was no prophetic voice in the Church. There was actually such division in Christianity that when Emperor Constantine adopted it as the state religion, He called various church leaders together to debate it out and come to a consensus based on majority vote. That didn’t last, obviously, as people who suffered at the hands of the church’s corrupt practices and teachings began to protest. Most notably among these was Martin Luther, whose critical sparks lit the fire of the Protestant Reformation.

For several hundred more years, Christians were divided on Christianity. Revivalist camps in early America featured preachers of various sects and ideologies trying, quite passionately, to win over converts from one another. People came to listen and decide which party they aligned with. Truly such division was the effect of death, decay, and a gradual loss of light and truth.

When Joseph Smith arrived on the scene, he did something few others did. Sensing his own inadequacy as a youth to reason out who was right and who was wrong, he was impressed by James’ instruction to “ask of God” (James 1:5). And through revelation, by way of a divine visitation, He was informed that they were all wrong.

As the Lord revealed further truth to Joseph in the ensuing years, the various preachers who otherwise fought amongst themselves all took umbrage with Joseph’s claims and revelations. And so the pattern is the same. Those so passionately arguing about theological definitions and technicalities didn’t have the slightest idea of what game they were actually in. The answers to their round-and-round debates had little to do with the picture they had drawn in their heads.

The answer to the division among both the Jews and the Christians was the same: seek the revelation of heaven. Neither the Pharisees nor the Sadducees cared about seeking and obtaining truth from heaven, only to defend and prove their ideology. The same can be said of the Christians. As Catholicism lost light, and in place of truth sold dogma that did more harm than good, Luther and others raised some serious criticisms. We are extremely grateful today that they did so, but there is a reason the Lord appeared to Joseph and not them. Their criticisms of the Church’s beliefs/practices were warranted, but without the complete picture they were just as lost as their Catholic mother. Fortunately, it did foster an environment of questioning and searching for oneself – which would later lead to the restoration.

Seeking Unity in Truth

This principle applies on all levels of truth, religious, political, or otherwise. When we don’t seek truth for ourselves, we lose light. When we lose light, our understanding of revealed truth becomes low resolution or shallow. When its shallow, the truth we’ve received fails to do what it was designed to do. Some serious criticisms are raised – but if they are not raised in the spirit of seeking further light and knowledge from the Lord, they’re just our own flawed ideas.

While there is unity in the Lord’s truth, disharmony always accompanies our own way.

The division is not horizontal, trying to determine “which of all these parties is right,” but rather is vertical, separating those who seek the Lord and His truth from those who do not. This is what Joseph learned on a spring morning in 1820; the competing sects were in fact “all wrong together,” and the Lord had more to reveal to those willing to listen. On this wise was the Lord rejected by the various sects of the Jews, and Joseph Smith by the various sects of Christianity. Those who lose light take many forms as they descend into chaos and disorder; there are a million ways to be wrong, but only one path that leads to life and truth (Matthew 7:13-14).

Moses prophesied that in the last days, it would be those who sought the Lord with all their hearts who would find Him: 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. And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 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” (Deut. 4:27-29).

As has always been the case, if we want to live in harmony we must each submit to the Lord as our head, and let Him lead us wherever He will. We must be willing to lay aside all our preconceived views to learn from Him. If we require God to meet a doctrinal view, a political view, or a social view before we will follow Him, He will not open up to us. If we expect God to affirm our intellectual requirements, or our views on social justice, or our political perspectives – or if God has to prove to us that he is in the image we have made of him – he will not reveal to us His truth.

We must completely humble ourselves and hold nothing back from what the Lord may teach us – because it will likely require us to change. But if we humble ourselves, and are willing to do or change anything He asks of us, He will open up – and His truth will never disappoint.

The central issue is that people are not seeking truth from the Lord, but rather are hardening their hearts against Him. What does that mean, and are we guilty of it?

Hardening Our Hearts

When Lehi taught his family, his children reacted differently.

Nephi desired to know for himself the things his father knew, and by inquiring of the Lord was shown a glorious vision, and was taught by an angel firsthand. Upon returning to his father’s tent, he noticed his brothers had been arguing about what Lehi said:

“And it came to pass that I beheld my brethren, and they were disputing one with another concerning the things which my father had spoken unto them. For he truly spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought” (1 Nephi 15:2-3; emphasis added).

As per the pattern, because they didn’t look to the Lord for truth, they didn’t understand it. Because they didn’t understand, they disputed “one with another.” When Nephi asked about what was going on, they responded thus:

“Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the natural branches of the olive tree, and also concerning the Gentiles.
And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?
And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.
Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts? Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you” (1 Nephi 15:7-11; emphasis added).

Here, we learn the scriptural definition of hardening your heart, which is to essentially cut yourself off from God by not inquiring of Him directly. By failing to seek personal revelation, we deny the Spirit the opportunity to teach us.

Hardening our hearts is always linked to spiritual blindness (Alma 12:9-11; cf. 1 Nephi 12:17). When we harden our hearts against the Spirit by rejecting its gentle voice, it has no place in us (2 Nephi 33:2). Whenever we cling to our ideas, traditions, or manmade precepts in favor of the whisperings of the Spirit, we harden our hearts. Whenever we act in a way contrary to what we know is right, we harden our hearts. If we have unrepented sin or guilt that we allow to linger in our lives, it creates a veil of darkness; truth becomes more difficult to perceive because the Spirit has no place in us.

On the other hand, when we humble ourselves and are willing to receive whatever the Lord has to give us, we will be filled with light and truth (Matthew 6:22-23). As we obey His voice, we learn His truth. Jesus taught “If any man will do [God’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). Similarly, Adam humbly performed sacrifices for “many days” before an angel appeared to teach him its significance (Moses 5:6-7). With the doing comes the understanding.

Modern Division

As we consider the increasingly divided state of the world around us, let us look to God as the source of the truth, and not the arm of flesh (2 Nephi 4:34). Let us consider division for what it is: the fruit of a people losing light.

As will become increasingly the case before the Lord’s Second Coming, we are beginning to see great divisions in the Church (compare 3 Nephi 6:14-15). As was the case with the Nephites, our division is the fruit of hardening our hearts. This began in the Church as early as 1832 when the Lord declared that the whole Church had come under condemnation for treating lightly the things they had received (most notably, the Book of Mormon) (D&C 84:54-58). As noted by President Benson in 1984, this condemnation still rests upon the Church. For as long as such a condemnation remains, we are at risk of losing light and truth (both individually and collectively). Though we retain the scriptures, revelations, and teachings restored through Joseph Smith, our understanding of them has gradually waned over time. As per the pattern, it’s resulted in splintering opinions and perspectives.

If someone does not properly understand the truth, power, and meaning of a doctrine, they will have an easier time questioning its veracity. If said doctrine does not seem to ring true, they will want to replace it with something better (which is not inherently bad), but may be tempted to insert their own opinions, ideas, or ideology (which is dangerous).

For example, if someone does not understand the order of creation, they may conclude that teaching same-sex couples cannot be sealed in eternity is arbitrary, bigoted, and unfair. They may reason that cultures change and evolve, and that this doctrine is likely a manmade tradition in need of being updated (it may not be that extreme, as there are shades of calling things into question – but I digress). In response, there may be those who likewise do not understand the order of creation, but who react to questioning in fear. They double down on the “what” (marriage being between a man and a woman), but without a deeper understanding, still aren’t exactly sure why. They may even be tempted to insert their best guesses or opinions, but without the bigger picture risk missing the mark. The result is an increasingly hostile and polarized division between both parties.

Something should be made absolutely clear: it does not matter what side of an issue we fall on (political, religious, or otherwise), if we do not seek truth directly from the source, we will find ourselves sifted with the tares. The wheat and the tares are not “conservatives and liberals.” Neither the Pharisees nor Sadducees were correct. Neither the Catholics nor the Protestants had the full picture; they were “all wrong together.”

The ability to reason is divine, but wholly inadequate if not given over to the principle of revelation. What we think is far less valuable than God’s voice. The key is to align ourselves to God in thought and deed; then we will find that the doctrines of eternity distill upon our soul like the dews from heaven (D&C 121:45).

The key distinction between the wise and foolish virgins was a matter of who had oil in their lamps. As covenant people who wait upon the Lord’s return, the only hope we have to meet the bridegroom at His coming is to have oil in our lamps – in other words, to take the Spirit as our guide. If we are attuned to the voice of the Spirit, we have nothing to fear. If we harden our hearts by denying its influence in our hearts, it will have no place in us.

The scriptures speak of a time when the latter-day Gentiles who have received the Gospel will begin to harden their hearts against God, and go their own way: “And [the gentiles] shall be a scourge unto the people of this land. Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fulness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father” (3 Nephi 20:28; cf. 3 Nephi 16:10). The Lord states that such will be “cut off” from among His covenant people (3 Nephi 21:11), having become “as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people” (3 Nephi 16:15; cf. D&C 101:39-40).

Notice the progression of woes (curses) that Nephi declares regarding the latter-day Gentiles in Zion – members of the Church who have received the fulness of the gospel. They walk a path from being “at ease in Zion” (not searching truth for themselves) to ultimately denying the Lord. Each wo represents a step down the staircase of hardening our hearts:

  1. Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!
  2. Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!
  3. Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!
  4. Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!
  5. And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall.
  6. Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough! For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have. Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.
  7. Wo be unto the Gentiles, saith the Lord God of Hosts! For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.
    (2 Nephi 28:24-32)

This seven-fold wo describes the trajectory of Latter-day Saints who, like Laman and Lemuel, harden their hearts by not inquiring of the Lord for themselves. Like Alma described, “they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell” (Alma 12:11).

Light is receding from the world; as it does, chaos and division will increase (including within the Church). Let us not be among those who harden their hearts in these last days. Let us seek to become one with Christ, as He is one with the Father, that we may be full of light and truth. Should we all take up the attitudes of Nephi, Joseph Smith, and other notable prophets who sought the Lord diligently, we would see the divisions within the Church (and the world) heal.


Moving forward, can we identify ways we’ve been guilty of hardening our hearts? I don’t know that any of us can say we have not hardened our hearts at some point in our lives; we almost have a propensity to continually turn away from God’s way and do things on our own terms. We are still under condemnation for treating lightly the things we have received.

If you have not already, begin to inquire of Him. Set aside time each day to meditate on the things of God. You can start by simply calling His name and letting the Spirit guide your thoughts; it becomes a time to “remember” Christ. It starts a dialogue which allows the Spirit to begin teaching you. When it become a habit, that divine connection will feed and empower you.

Even though many Latter-day Saints will be cut off from among the Lord’s people, the Savior never closes the door to those who repent. They will unite and labor with the remnant of Jacob to build Zion, the New Jerusalem, and the Lord will come to dwell in their midst as He did anciently. He will create of them the people He has always sought to establish:

“But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them,
And they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;
And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.
And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst” (3 Nephi 21:22-25).

Life and Death

I want to expand on some of the ideas covered in Seeking the Order of Heaven. This post will make more sense if you’ve read that one first.

Because all of creation is governed by the same law, all of creation follows the same pattern. This is why Alma noted that “all things denote there is a God… the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it… its motion… and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44; emphasis added). The fact that all creation follows a pattern means it follows a law, which law is given by God.

There is an eternal pattern in all things (D&C 52:14). Nothing in the eternities is without its earthly precedent or type. Just as creation here is never ex nihilo (out of nothing), neither is it there. Creation is always the process of taking raw materials and fashioning them after a certain pattern. Whether you’re building a machine, a house, or a business, it is the same: you gather the available resources and organize them to work together. When something is created, it’s organized; when it dies, it’s disorganized back into chaos.

Without getting into more detail than is necessary, God did the same when He created the earth and all things in it. Consequently, Adam and Eve were ordered after a certain pattern, and would have eternally remained so had they not rebelled. As they were created by law, so would they have remained by law. The scriptures describe this concept using the imagery of a tree. While a branch is attached to a living tree, it lives, grows, and brings forth fruit. If the branch is cut off, it immediately begins to decay and will eventually turn to dust.

When Adam and Eve deviated from God, they effectively “cut themselves off” from the tree of life. God informed Adam that he would decay as a result, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19). Raw material is organized by its obedience to God, and disordered by its disobedience.

Because of the fall, this world is a world of death. Everything ultimately dies: People, marriages, organizations, civilizations, nations, etc. As a matter of fact, were it not for God’s direct intervention, the whole earth would ultimately be wasted (D&C 2:3; cf. Malachi 4:5-6). Everything would end in a downward spiral until it had been reduced to its most basic element. Everything.

There are lesser (telestial) orders of creation that we participate in to stay alive. We eat, we take care of our bodies, etc. If we didn’t do these things, we’d atrophy at a faster rate. We’d start losing weight, strength, and basic bodily functions until our bodies were not sufficiently organized to hold our spirits. When we do things like eat, we prevent death for a longer time, though these things are always temporary.

While we’re alive, we also create our “worlds” as we build family, home, work, etc. Just like us, everything we create is subject to atrophy. Just as people can create many things before they die, so can organizations, and civilizations. This is the principle of “they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire” (3 Nephi 27:11). As mentioned earlier, eventually all civilizations and the world itself would expire. Once Adam fell, all creation was cut off from the tree of life, and would continue to fall forever.

As Alma taught his son, “But behold, it was appointed unto man to die—therefore, as they were cut off from the tree of life they should be cut off from the face of the earth—and man became lost forever, yea, they became fallen man. And now, ye see by this that our first parents were cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord; and thus we see they became subjects to follow after their own will.” (Alma 42:6-7)

Cut Off

The imagery of a branch being cut from its mother tree is employed all throughout holy writ. As Lehi taught, “And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever. Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth” (2 Nephi 2:5-6).

As discussed last time, Christ’s is the only name (manner) given whereby we can be reconciled to God and life (John 14:6, 15:5). 2 Nephi 9 is a beautiful chapter about Christ rescuing us a from an endless state of death, and how vital keeping the commandments is to retain life. Jacob is very clear: the wages of sin are death: “Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal” (2 Nephi 9:16, 27-39; cf. Romans 6:23).

Because we have been cut off from the tree of life, we would be endlessly lost were it not for Christ’s redemption (Mosiah 16:4). Fortunately, we have not been left to decay forever, both body and spirit. Through the Word of God, both by revelation and embodiment (John 1:14), we can be reclaimed from death. Hence, Alma said “God did call on men, in the name of his Son” (Alma 12:33).

The covenant God extends through His Word is a lifeline whereby we can be reconciled to Him. However, if those with whom He covenants don’t obey, they are similarly “cut off.”

As the Lord told Nephi, “Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence” (2 Nephi 4:4). The Lamanites were initially cut off from the Lord’s presence because they removed themselves from His law, covenant, and people. They did not prosper, their lives were not full. In the end, the Nephites were cut off from the same covenant, which resulted in their being permanently cut off from the earth.

Many ancient prophets taught that if the people rejected the name of Christ, they would be cut off before His second coming – both spiritually from His covenant/people, and physically from the earth (1 Nephi 22:19-20). When the Savior appeared to the Nephites following His resurrection, He melded several prophecies together to depict an endtime servant declaring the words (name/way/order) of Christ to the Gentiles, and all disbelievers being cut off:

“For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them. But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them, yet I will heal him. For I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.

“Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.

“And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off.

“Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father,
that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee,
and I will destroy thy chariots;
and I will cut off the cities of thy land,
and throw down all thy strongholds;
and I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land,
and thou shalt have no more soothsayers;
thy graven images I will also cut off,
and thy standing images out of the midst of thee,
and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands;
and I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee;
so will I destroy thy cities.

“And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away. For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel; and I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard” (3 Nephi 21:9-21).

In any age when God seeks to establish and build a people, He does so by a covenant and law. When the people turn away from the law, they begin to atrophy back into chaos. This happens on an individual level as people begin to lose light, as well collectively when they apostatize and are eventually scattered. It was upon this principle that Israel was broken up and scattered. This is also why Joseph Smith said in his day, “my only trouble at the present time is concerning ourselves, that the Saints will be divided, broken up, and scattered, before we get our salvation secure; for there are so many fools in the world for the devil to operate upon, it gives him the advantage oftentimes” (TPJS p. 331).

It follows the same pattern: creation is to order, death is to disorder.

John the Beloved calls the fate of those who continue to cut themselves off from God “the bottomless pit,” due to the never ending de-creation of its subjects. Isaiah similarly calls it the “pit of dissolution,” and Joseph Smith frequently referred to it as “outer darkness.” Everything outside of the the light and love of God will continue to be disordered and broken down until it’s reached its most primordial state.

Eternal Lives

In contrast to death, decay, and atrophy, salvation through the name of Christ offers eternal life, progression, and increase. Life necessarily implies growth. This means not only are we immune to entropy, but we also continue to grow, learn, and progress beyond what we currently know here.

Furthermore, we increase through an endless posterity. Life begets life. Just as a branch will have smaller branches shoot off of it, and will bear fruit/seed to begin another tree, so will those reconciled to God and life. In this sense, the tree of life is also a family tree wherein light is passed down from father to son generation after generation forever.

Joseph Smith's Kingdom of God: The Council of Fifty and the Mormon  Challenge to American Democratic Politics | Church History | Cambridge Core
Orson Pratt described the Kingdom of God using this diagram

It’s humorous to me that multi-level marketing models and pyramid schemes follow this pattern. It’s actually just a false priesthood. The true order is an eternal family, generation after generation in which you have vested interest.

This is why Abraham introduces himself as “having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers” (Abraham 1:2). It’s why God’s promises to him included an endless posterity (Genesis 12:2-3; 15:5; 22:17).

Isaiah prophesied Immanuel would be called “Wonderful Counsellor, One Mighty in Valor, a father forever, a Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). You may note the similarities to Abraham; these are the attributes and patterns of a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek/the Son of God/heaven and life itself. This is the pattern of being plugged into the tree of life and bringing forth fruit/life.

The blessing of eternal posterity stands in direct contrast with those who are cut off from the tree of life. As the Lord said to Malachi, “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (Malachi 4:1). Those cut off from the tree are left with neither root (a claim to ancestry) nor branch (posterity). Like a branch loosed from the tree, all they can do is decay into dust.

The order of heaven (or life), always intended for eternal increase. That’s what life does. Hence, Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, male and female. Not only does this teach us something about the image of God (that it is comprised of both male and female), but the eternal nature of mankind.

The scriptures teach that it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). In contrast to the prior days of creation which ended in God’s calling them “good,” the man without the woman was something He deemed “not good.” It was not until He created a female companion for the man that He called it “very good” (Genesis 1:31 [26-31]). Thus we read from Paul, “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11). The image of God – as well as life and creation – is incomplete in a single, separate state.

Adam and Eve were created according to the order of life, and were thus intended to live forever in their union as “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). God called His creation this day “very good.” This union would have continued on forever (according to the order of creation) had it not been interrupted by the fall and death.

If you’re going to become “a father (or mother) forever” with numberless posterity, you will only do so in the context of marriage. There is no “exaltation” without posterity, and there is no posterity without marriage. Hence the prophet Joseph Smith taught, “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase” (D&C 131:1-4).

This order of the priesthood is also called the “gospel of Abraham,” whereby we ourselves can obtain the promise that “in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed” (D&C 110:12; cf. D&C 124:58). As the Lord declared through Isaiah, “And as the new heavens and the new earth which I make shall endure before me, says Jehovah, so shall your offspring and name endure” (Isaiah 66:22; cf. Isaiah 44:3; 54:13-14; 56:3-5; 61:9; Ezekiel 37:25-27).

This doctrine is most explicitly and plainly revealed in D&C 132. Those married and living according to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage become ordered after the image of God; they receive the promise of an endless posterity, and become parents forever. As such an innumerable posterity resembles God’s own, moreover, it constitutes a promise of godhood. As the Lord declared

“And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise… [it] shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

“Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory. …

“Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne. Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins—from whose loins ye are, namely, my servant Joseph—which were to continue so long as they were in the world; and as touching Abraham and his seed, out of the world they should continue; both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them.

“This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself. Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved. But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham” (D&C 132:19-21, 29-33).

Life continues eternally; as it was before, so shall it be forever. Can anything be plainer than this? Does anything in nature testify to the contrary? Though the wicked will be cut off both root and branch, yet the righteous will continue forever – both root and branch. On what other principle does life operate? There is none.

Seeking the Order of Heaven

What exactly is heaven, and how do we experience it? What is it that makes heaven, heaven?

Certain things affect us in certain ways. There’s a relationship between vibration, sound, frequency, light, and spirit, which influences our thoughts, feelings, and actions. This is an eternal spiritual truth.

Take music for instance. Music is all vibration. Different songs vibrate at different frequencies. They make us feel differently. Next time you’re skipping songs in Spotify, or are changing a playlist because it’s not “the mood,” you’ll be able to identify this principle. Certain songs will clash with the way you feel because you also vibrate at a certain frequency. When the external frequency doesn’t match your own internal frequency, it can feel uncomfortable, like two notes that don’t harmonize. Sometimes, you’ll find a song that seems to match exactly how you feel; that’s a point of harmony or alignment.

Feelings and emotions are captured in music and re-expressed every time the song is played. Have you ever noticed music change your mood, for better or for worse? If you were bothered about something, perhaps certain songs which matched your feelings amplified that bother into out-right anger. Or perhaps, you found something that distracted you, changed your mood, calmed you down, etc.

There’s certain music we say “invites the Spirit.” There’s certain music that does not. I’ve been in situations void of the Spirit where the right music changed the whole ambience and feeling in the the room. I’ve also been in situations where the Spirit was present, but certain music or conversation gradually made it feel more casual, like everything else – or even directly offended the Spirit.

For this reason, listening to certain music on a regular basis will affect not only the way you feel, but the aura all about you.

The Visual Patterns of Audio Frequencies Seen through Vibrating Sand |  Colossal

There have been some fascinating studies about how sound can affect the way something is ordered or organized. The picture to the left here shows grains of sand on a vibrating table, each at a different frequency. When the frequency of the table changed, so did the patterns of sand.

There are some Jewish traditions that maintain God sang creation into existence. I really like that idea. He ordered chaos by the sound of His voice. “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear” (Genesis 1:9). With this visual above, you can almost imagine it. As God speaks, creation obeys. His voice vibrates, and matter follows suit. We read in the scriptures that all things are governed by law, as it is declared by the Lord (D&C 88:13; cf. D&C 133:21-24, Isaiah 2:3). In this sense, you can visualize how His “word” or voice literally is the law by which all things are governed.

In a similar vein, we have been created and ordered according to a certain vibrational frequency (or law). Now, that doesn’t mean you could accidentally listen to a song that would melt you like Raiders of the Lost Ark, but there is an important principle to be learned here. Because everything is governed by law, there is an order (or pattern) to creation (think of the picture above). When we sin against God’s word, we deviate from that order. Once we’re dislodged from the order we immediately start to decay and atrophy – like a branch cutting itself off from the rest of the tree. That was the effect of the fall, for example (hence they were cut off from the tree of life). That’s why the Savior says “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). As we align ourselves back to the word of God through Christ, we rejoin the order of creation and life.

The order of creation and the order of Heaven are one and the same.

Because of sin, we are all by default in a state of atrophy and death. Even spiritually, people are born without a knowledge of who they are, or who God is. Hence, we’re all dying. We do things to fight it, like eat, work, take medicine, undergo surgery, etc., but eventually it gets most of us. This is not the state of those who are aligned to the order of creation, hence resurrected and translated beings don’t need any of those things.

There’s a point to all this, I promise.

Our realignment to creation must take place spiritually before it manifests physically. The spiritual portion of this will happen by degrees as we repent and are sanctified by the gift of the Holy Ghost. As we continue to repent, we receive a greater and greater portion of the Spirit. The more Spirit we have, the more life we have (and consequently priesthood power, but that deserves its own post). The less we have, the further we are drifting into chaos and spiritual death.

The Great Search and Quest of Religion

I once woke up to this impression: “As spirit sons and daughters of God, we all crave light.” We want to feel that we are being ordered according to creation. We want to fulfill our purpose, even if we don’t know what the means. Religious or not, we all sense we are in a state of death, and crave life (both physical and spiritual). Not only do people want to live, they want to feel happy and deeply fulfilled.

Thus begins the great search for life. Every religion, ideology, philosophy, social cause, idea, etc., is an attempt to discover and live the order of heaven. Whether or not people even realize it, this is what motivates everything they do. Some people try to find it through various philosophical considerations, meditation, yoga, religious ceremony, or the wisdom of ancient and modern sages. Others through politics, excessive academic achievements, building their own empire/business, or self-development. Others through alcohol, sex, video games, beauty, dieting, food, status, adrenaline, idolizing a celebrity – you name it. Everybody has a religion, and they’re living it.

Unfortunately, none of the things we come up with accord with the order of creation, and will always leave us wanting. We inevitably realize that our “religion” is lacking. It leaves us feeling empty, incomplete, and unfulfilled – which is to realize that we are in a state of atrophy and death (both physical and spiritual). Some people will move on to a new “religion” that they hope will give them what they didn’t have before. Some people will deny that what they have is insufficient for fear of death being the only other option. Some people will unfortunately give up altogether and embrace death.

How do we get heaven on earth? Whether or not they realize it, this is the question everyone asks themselves every morning. The course they choose to pursue throughout the day is their answer back to themselves. I think once most people realize this is the game they’re in, they start aiming higher. But even for all of our best efforts, the world today is evidence that heaven is not on earth; the world is not living after the order of life.

To circle back to the principles outlined above, every religion, idea, and activity has a certain vibration about it. When you accept, internalize, and act out a certain belief system, it has a certain effect on you – the same way music does. The scriptures frequently refer to this effect as the “fruit” an idea bears in your life. Whether it’s a worldview like Marxism or Buddhism, or simply a belief as small as “I must be the best at everything,” it will bear fruit in your life. It will cause you to “vibrate” on a certain frequency. Fruits can be tasted when you internalize and act out a certain belief system firsthand. They can also be observed by noticing them in the lives of others.

If a belief or idea is in accord with the order of creation, it will bring forth life. This is what we’d consider “good fruit.” If it is not in accord with creation, it may stand for a season, but will always result in death. This is what we’d consider bad fruit. As John the Baptist warned, “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matthew 3:8-10); and as the Savior commented to the Nephites, if someone is “built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire” (3 Nephi 27:11). If a “religion” is not aligned with creation, it will ultimately perish.

Christ taught us to test prophets – and by extension, religions, ideas, and practices, by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). What kind of spirit is about them? What kind of fruit is born in the lives of those who embrace their ideas? What kind of vibration do they carry? Is it the Spirit of life? Do you experience a sensation of pure light? Does it enlarge your soul? Does it cause your heart to burn within you (Luke 24:32, 3 Nephi 11:3, D&C 9:8)? Is it a vibration of heavenly peace? Does it bring you into harmony with creation? Does it fill you with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians 5:22-24)? Does it urge you to set in order your own life? Does it inspire you to turn outward and desire the well being of others? Does it enlighten your understanding? Do their ideas expand into eternity, or are they finite and limited? In other words, do they fit inside a larger pattern of life and creation? Do you see fractals of those principles on smaller and larger scales, or are they limited to one arbitrary explanation? Therein lies the difference between life and death, creation and decay.

Good fruit is the essence of heaven, life, and creation. It is a feeling and vibration of the highest order and frequency. It’s unparalleled by anything else this world has to offer.

Knowing how to identify it is one thing – but at this point we’re still left to wonder how we get into our lives, and eventually into the world. Every form of religion and ideology is an attempt to discover the order of heaven. While almost every religion/ideology has fragments of light and truth (which is what usually draws in its adherents), almost all have failed to establish the order of heaven here upon the earth in its fulness.

The Superiority of the Name of Christ

Throughout history, God has worked through a select portion of the human family to establish the order of heaven on earth. It began with Adam, though many of his children turned against him. It continued down through Seth, to Enoch, to Noah, to Melchizedek, to Abraham, to Israel (skipping a few generations). With each passing generation, more and more of the family of Adam drifted away from this call and invitation. The family of Israel delayed this invitation for several hundred years before receiving the law from God through Moses. The Jews today revere the law as the word of God, and blueprint to the order of heaven. Unfortunately, they failed to rise up and keep it. Because they would not adhere to light and law, they were disorganized and scattered. God promised that in a future day, He would write His law upon their very hearts, and that the order of heaven would be established in all the world:

“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:26-28).

“And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live” (Deuteronomy 30:5-6).

These changes were to be brought about by a future Messiah-king who would gather and restore Israel, and elevate them to their intended glory as heaven-on-earth, the light of the world. From thence, the law would go forth, and eventually cover all the earth (Isaiah 2:3, Isaiah 11:9).

Jesus is called “the Word” (John 1:14) because he perfectly embodied the word of God. He’s similarly called “the law” (3 Nephi 15:9) because He perfectly embodied the law of God. If ever there was a living person who lived the order of heaven on earth, it was Jesus Christ. For this reason, we can be reconciled to the word of God through Christ. He is exactly what He said He was: “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). No man or woman will align themselves back to God, heaven, or the tree of life, except by Him. There is no other way than the way Christ showed: by living the law of God. Because He suffered more than any person can or will suffer, descending below all things, His victory in keeping the law caused Him to rise above all things. He then became the law and the end to which we look – the very object of our faith. No longer was the order of heaven just a written law, but now a living person. Because He suffered the cosmic price to redeem all creation, all creation becomes subject to Him. He commands us to love God with all our hearts, and to keep His commandments (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; cf. John 14:15). As we obey Him we are filled with His light, which is a frequency in tune with all life and creation.

To believe Jesus is the Messiah is to believe that He is the way, truth, and life. It is to believe that His way, His life, and His teachings highlight the order of heaven. It means, after considering all of the various ways listed above people attempt to get heaven on earth, we accept that His example and teachings are the only path that will lead us to life. His “name” (a Hebrew idea meaning his manner, mode of being, etc.) is the only name whereby we can be reconciled to creation. He is the great prototype of heaven on earth (John 3:13), and in order for any of us to experience heaven here we must live the way He showed. In essence, we must be like Him. Now, while no person will ever amount to being all that Christ was, there is a way we can perfectly aligned to creation in Christ, and this by obedience to His voice. As we do so, He promises to change our very natures, the vibration of our beings, into something inclined towards living the law of heaven. We gradually begin to feel life flowing back into us, as our state of being grows into harmony with creation.

The process of being grafted back into the tree of life is the process of becoming one with Christ. He is the vine, we are the branches. As we “abide” in Him by aligning ourselves to His will and command, we bring forth good fruit (John 15:5, cf. John 5:24-30). For this reason, Christ prayed to the Father that His disciples would become one with Him: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:17-21).

The essence of the Savior’s mission was to reconcile all who would come to Him to God and life. Whether or not we realize it, our deepest need is for the joy that comes from being in a state of oneness with God. The dissatisfaction and insufficiency we sense in everything else is evidence enough that we are not fulfilling our deepest purpose or desires; the things our soul craves and thirsts. The Savior promised, “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

All of these ideas and concepts fit together to form a beautiful mosaic. What’s even greater: these are more than just ideas or abstract concepts, they are real. Incorporating these things into your life will actually yield the fruits of life – at first spiritually, and eventually physically.

How Do We Align Ourselves to His Order?

So how do we obtain these things? The order of heaven is the order, manner, and pattern of the Son of God. Another scripture labels Jesus as a “priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:6), which is another way of expressing the same idea. This is an order Christ invites His followers to participate in – this is where heaven can be had on earth. Little (if anything) is understood about the order of Melchizedek by mainstream Christianity. Apart from three verses that make reference to Melchizedek in the Bible, the true nature of this order is otherwise shrouded in mystery. Perhaps more would have been preserved by the early Christian church had they not suffered persecution at the hands of Rome, a pagan distortion of Christ’s doctrine, and an internal corruption among their own ranks.

Loss of a knowledge regarding the order of Christ resulted in the atrophy of the early Christian church. Though they did not dwindle in numbers, they strayed from the extraordinary power that came from living after the manner of Christ. Reformer John Wesley (1703-1791), founder of the Methodist sect observed,

“It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were common in the Church for more than two or three centuries. We seldom hear of them after that fatal period when the emperor Constantine called himself a Christian and, from a vain imagination of promoting the Christian cause, heaped riches and power and honor on the Christians in general, but in particular on the Christian clergy. From this time, the extraordinary gifts almost totally ceased; very few instances of the kind were found. The cause of this was not (as has been vulgarly supposed) ‘because there was no more occasion for them,’ because all the world had become Christian. This is a miserable mistake; not a twentieth part of the world was then even nominally Christian. The real cause was that the love of many, almost all Christians, so called, had grown cold. The Christians had no more the Spirit of Christ than the other heathens. The Son of Man, when He came to examine His Church, could hardly find faith on the earth. This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were no longer to be found in the Christian Church: because the Christians were turned heathens again, and had only a dead form left.” (Sermon 89, “The More Excellent Way”)

As they slowly turned away from Christ’s order, they lost the divine power that comes from living it. With no power, they degenerated in knowledge regarding the fulness of His gospel. Without a knowledge of the fulness to pass on to future generations, Christianity at large was left with a partial picture regarding Christ’s mission and ministry. Because neither Jew nor Gentile kept God’s law, what came of their religions was death and atrophy. They gradually lost the truths and divine power God intended for them to have. For over a thousand years, history moved on, and the world remained seemingly unredeemed; Jews and Christians alike had failed to rise up to God’s invitation to bring down heaven on earth.

In an opportune season, when Christians of early America were seeking a return to original Christianity, God responded to their faith by calling a prophet to restore lost knowledge of Christ’s gospel – especially the Holy Order. The revelations that came through Joseph Smith largely expanded on these things. If you want to learn more about that, I highly suggest reading the series linked here.

Through Joseph Smith, the order of Christ was revealed anew, and God restored the covenant from which the world had strayed. The invitation to enter in and participate in this Holy Order has been renewed. You will not find the knowledge or the spiritual power of Christ’s gospel anywhere else. By accepting the invitation God has restored, and by learning and living the pattern of Christ revealed anew, you will be filled with life and light. You will begin to bring forth the good fruit of the tree of life in a way otherwise impossible. I invite and implore you to accept the invitation Christ has renewed in our day. Your soul will be enlarged. You will be filled with a greater love for God, others, and all creation. Your mind will be expanded and enlightened. You will see and understand existence with greater clarity. You will feel your own spirit renewed by the very essence of the universe – by Life itself. You will bring forth good fruit.

Now as a quick sidenote, I’m not saying that other forms of Christianity (or even other religions) won’t ever do any of these things for you – but what we’re after is the order of heaven in its purity. Inasmuch as a religion or idea contains truth, it will have this uplifting effect. However, inasmuch as truths and principles are not ordered to fit inside the larger pattern of creation, they are limited. What the restored Gospel has to offer is the pure word of Christ, which is capable of totally and completely aligning you to the order of heaven, and filling you with eternal life in every sense; it is the entire map as opposed to a distorted one.

Test These Things

I urge you to employ the test of Christ for yourself. If Joseph Smith was a false prophet, his ideas, teachings, and practices will produce evil fruit as you begin to believe them. They will produce death and damnation, and drag you downward rather than heavenward. Observe the fruits of this “restored” gospel in the lives of those who actually live it. Read the Book of Mormon with the intention of identifying the spirit about it. Like music, or other ideas, what kind of “vibration” does it carry? Is it high and holy? Is it pure? Is it light? What kind of effect does it have in your life as you act out what it says? Does it cause you to love more? To have greater faith and trust in God? Does it motivate you to be a better person? Does it bring you closer to God?

I assure you any honest seeker of light and truth will sense about it the spirit of life, creation, and heaven – the Spirit of Christ.

American Historian Richard Bushman once commented that a religion that works must be taken seriously. I love that sentiment, because not only is the restored Gospel true, but it works. It works as much today as any time it was upon the earth in generations past. It brings forth life, good fruit, and all of the blessings, gifts, and miracles had among the ancients.

I can tell you from my own experience, and the experience of many others, that it truly offers access to life, light, clarity, purpose, faith, love, and heaven itself to anyone who will try it. As the Savior organized His church among the Nephites in the Americas, he counseled them, “if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it” (3 Nephi 27:10). The same is true for us today; inasmuch as we are built upon Christ’s gospel, as its been restored in its purity, the Father will show forth His works in us. The signs and gifts that followed those who believed Christ’s pure gospel in His day accompany all those who believe it in our day (Mark 16:15-18). Not only will we be filled with new life, love, and purity as we live after the order of heaven, but we will experience miracles, revelations, visions, dreams, healing, divine visitations, and every form of spiritual power available to those in harmony with the light and truth of God. Any person who today abides the law that is kept in heaven will receive, here and now, the spirit and blessings of heaven in their life, even though they are surrounded by a world of sin and evil.


To get back to where we started, what is heaven? Simply put, it is to live after the eternal order of the universe. It is to obey the word and law of God, as does the rest of creation. There’s a Christian worship song that captures this sentiment that I enjoy:

It is to live in harmony with the holiest and highest vibrations. It is to live after the order of Christ; to be full of grace and truth, as He was. It’s to be connected to the source of life, no longer to decay. It is to find fulfillment, satisfaction and joy. It is such an attainment for which every living person seeks, but only few find (Matthew 7:13-14). Though many religions, belief systems, ideologies, etc. strive to achieve heaven on earth, it is only to be found in the pure word and order of Jesus Christ. The word of God is law, and it is truth. Truth is reality (Jacob 4:13). If we live according to anything other than truth, or things as they really are, it will result in spiritual death.

Whatever it is you seek, the pure, restored, gospel of Jesus Christ will give it to you, and more.

God bless.

Understanding Melchizedek Priesthood

A friend of mine recently authored a number of essays on the Melchizedek priesthood. In my mind, they are absolutely required reading for Latter-day Saints. Before we can establish Zion, we must understand this order of the priesthood. The priesthood after the order of Melchizedek has also been called the priesthood after the order of Enoch (D&C 76:57). These were both spiritual giants who established Zion among their respective people (JST Genesis 14:33-34). Their “order,” or in other words, their manner, pattern, culture, attitude, mode of being, etc., is the essence of Zion. It is the order of heaven itself.

It’s additionally referred to as the Order after the Son of God, not only because Christ is the exemplar of this order, but because all who live after this order become “sons of God” in their own right. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). The Hebrew idea of a “name” also implies the concept of an order or likeness. When we act “in the name of Jesus Christ,” we’re told that what we’re doing should reflect exactly what Christ Himself would do if He were there. When we give blessings, bear testimony, pray, or take upon ourselves His name, what we’re doing ought to reflect His way of doing things. By believing in His name, we exercise faith that His example, manner, or “order” is the order of heaven, and that which will bring Zion upon the earth. We trust that His manner really is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). And as John bears witness, to those who believed on His name He gave power to become “the sons of God” – the title belonging to citizens of heaven (Job 1:6, 2:1).

Through the Temple endowment we are all invited to participate in this Holy Order, whereby we are invited into heaven. Men and women alike have a role to play in the priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, though they fulfill separate functions. For a better understanding of this topic, I highly recommend reading the series linked below. God bless.

The Holy Order

Three Degrees of Melchizedek Priesthood and The Holy Order

Three Degrees of Melchizedek Priesthood and the Holy Order: Part II

Melchizedek Priesthood and the Holy Order Part III: The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood

Melchizedek Priesthood and the Holy Order Part IV: The Keys of the Priesthood

How Do We Build Zion?

The Calling of the Priesthood

The Great Calling of the Priesthood: Coming Clean From the Blood and Sins of this Generation

The Patterns of Coming Clean From the Blood and Sins of Others

What Does it Mean to Magnify Your Calling?

A Primer to Understanding Women and the Priesthood

What is Priesthood Power?

Catalog of Blessings

There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

D&C 130:20-21

One principle of the gospel that should give us faith and confidence in the Lord’s goodness is that He works by eternal law, and is no respecter of persons. Consequently, any of the blessings, miracles, or revelations that we read about in the scriptures are just as accessible to us as they were anciently. All blessings are obtained by the fulfillment of certain laws and conditions. If we learn and fulfill the conditions, we will have a right to the same blessings. Furthermore, God does not love Enoch, Moses, or Nephi more than He loves you or me, and anything He was willing to do for them, He is willing to do for us.

As the Lord told Moroni, “And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are” (Ether 4:7).

What is the key phrase on which these blessings hinge? “Faith… even as the brother of Jared.” Notice it is not predicated on what calling you hold, your marital status, age, occupation, or anything else. All these things may be affected by whether or not you exercise great faith, but the only condition upon which these blessings flow is having the same degree of faith that the brother of Jared had. The individual circumstances of our lives will vary from person to person, depending on the course the Lord takes to get us there – but when we fulfill the law, we will receive the blessing as did Enoch, Moses, Mahonri, and many others.

This principle of equal privilege is made clear in the Lectures on Faith:

“But it is equally as necessary that men should have the idea that he is a God who changes not, in order to have faith in him, as it is to have the idea that he is gracious and long suffering. For without the idea of unchangeableness in the character of the Deity, doubt would take the place of faith. But with the idea that he changes not, faith lays hold upon the excellencies in his character with unshaken confidence, believing he is the same yesterday, today and forever, and that his course is one eternal round.

“But it is also necessary that men should have an idea that he is no respecter of persons; for with the idea of all the other excellencies in his character, and this one wanting, men could not exercise faith in him, because if he were a respecter of persons, they could not tell what their privileges were, nor how far they were authorized to exercise faith in him, or whether they were authorized to do it at all, but all must be confusion; but no sooner are the minds of men made acquainted with the truth on this point, that he is no respecter of persons, than they see that they have authority by faith to lay hold on eternal life the richest boon of heaven, because God is no respecter of persons, and that every man in every nation has an equal privilege.”
(Lectures on Faith 3:21, 23)

Should we find ourselves in need, pleading with God for certain blessings or revelations, it’s our duty and privilege to seek out what the Lord has done for His people in times past, and by meeting the same requirements, reap the same blessings.

There is a price associated with every blessing. When the Savior instructs us to ask, seek, and knock (Matt. 7:7-8), He is doing more than suggesting we make passive wishes to a genie. He is inviting us into a process whereby our desires lead us to become the kind of person who can receive what we’re asking for. For example, those who seek the blessing of making their calling and election sure must first learn the conditions upon which that blessing is given. Upon studying what those conditions are, they will learn that they must have unconditional faith; an unrelenting obedience to everything God reveals to them. What they then are truly seeking is to become the kind of person willing to serve God at all hazards, no matter the cost. Their prayers will not be fleeting wishes for a place in God’s kingdom, but rather for humility, faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. They will ask the Lord to take them through whatever kinds of experiences are necessary to obtain those things, and will willingly submit to whatever He asks of them. They will seek His grace for strength, perspective, and understanding. They will knock by humbly petitioning the Lord for that grace, and learning the laws whereby they obtain it.

When viewed in this light, the scriptures become a catalog of blessings. God blesses His children by eternal law. If we will therefore study out the price associated with each blessing, we will be empowered to obtain them. Whether we seek divine for intervention for physical protection of our families (like Helaman and the stripling warriors), to reclaim wayward children (like Alma, Mosiah, or Lehi), to heal sickness and disease, to entertain angels, or to obtain revelation and personal guidance—all these blessings and more have conditions that can be discovered by studying the experiences of others.

From Bruce R. McConkie:

“Unless we enjoy the same gifts and work the same miracles that marked the lives of those who have gone before, we are not the Lord’s people. The Lord our King is the same yesterday, today, and forever. A soul is just as precious in his sight now as it ever was. He is no respecter of persons, and anytime any of us exercise the same faith that moved the ancients in their pursuit of righteousness, we will enjoy the same gifts and blessings that attended their ministries.

“It is an eternal law that ‘these signs shall follow them that believe.’ (Mark 16:17.) They ‘never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.’ (Moro. 10:19.) At any moment when we have the faith of the ancients, we shall also enjoy the same gifts and blessings that they possessed.

“I think the proper course for us to pursue is to turn to the holy scriptures and learn what the Lord has done for the people of his church in days of old. The more we know about the way an unchangeable God has operated in days past, the greater surety we will have that he will repeat himself in days present.

“The faith-promoting stories in the scriptures will accomplish their purpose if we will let them, and that purpose is to create faith in our hearts so that we will trust in the same Lord who blessed our forebears and thereby inherit the same blessings that he poured out upon them.” (McConkie, The How and Why of Faith-promoting Stories, 1978)