Seeing As We Are Seen: Discovering Who You Really Are

You are infinitely more than you think you are.

Because of the fall, we have been born into bodies cut off from the light and presence of God. Consequently, we have no recollection of our premortal (eternal) identity.

We say God is the Father of our spirits, and that is true enough. However, this sentiment takes on new meaning when we make some adjustments in our cultural understanding. To the Gentile mind, names and titles are like labels that cannot be changed. A “child” is the physical and genetic offspring of a man and woman. In Hebrew thinking, “father,” mother,” and child” are each defined by the role they play. A father is one who “gives strength to the family,” and the mother is one who “holds the family together.” A child submits to his/her parents, and willingly receives what they teach them.

In this sense, a person chooses whether or not they will be somebody’s child, based on who they are obedient to and receive from. Jesus told the Pharisees, “If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me… Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:42-44).

Of course, Christ’s point is not about who impregnated the woman that gave birth to them. Rather, it’s a question of who is “fathering” them; who are they being obedient to, learning from, and becoming like? Similarly, we read in the scriptures phrases like, “Love your enemies… that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45), and, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). In other words, being a child of God isn’t just an immutable label on our identity, but something we willingly choose (“willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father”); it is to be a son or daughter of light and truth.

Your Premortal Identity

That being said, consider how this adds value to the idea that we were sons and daughters of God before this life. When we read that at the creation of the earth, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7), we are not just reading about the offspring of God (though we are indeed His offspring), but of immensely powerful beings who were full of light and truth, willing to freely receive and obey God’s light without reservation.

Joseph Smith taught: “At the first organization in heaven we were all present and saw the Savior chosen and appointed and the plan of salvation made, and we sanctioned it.”

This alone says a lot about our premortal identity. We sanctioned the plan made and Savior chosen. Furthermore, to stand in God’s presence requires a greater deal of intelligence (light and truth) than the world presently has. Similarly, before this life we possessed greater intelligence than we have now. When we were in God’s presence, the truth of who and what we are flowed to us freely, and we thus lived in perfect awareness of our true identity.

As Adam and Eve were “cut off” from God’s presence after the fall, so too are we born into a body that is cut off from His light. Our bodies do not receive light freely as did our spirits, and thus we’re cut off from a knowledge of our true identity. This creates a vacuum in our identity as we seek to discover who we really are. I believe it’s akin to being submerged in water, suddenly cut off from air, and desperately trying to get it back. This creates a deep desire in us to discover purpose and meaning.

Without a knowledge of our true identity, we try to create one. However, being in a fallen, veiled, and darkened state, our new perception of ourselves is extremely limited. We base it on our birthplace, our heritage, the values and beliefs we’re raised with, the desires of our bodies, the new interests we’ve taken, our relatively short-life experience, our mistakes, our future dreams and goals, etc. But thinking these things determine who we really are would be like waking up with severe amnesia—in a foreign land—and basing our entire identity on what we did in the first few hours.

We are more eternal than we realize.

Two Natures

You do not have a spirit, you are a spirit. You have a body.

Because you have taken residence in a fallen tabernacle, you are cut off from God “in the body”—but because your spirit has a connection to heaven, you can still access God in the spirit.

We talk of the different voices that entice us to either keep God’s commandments or sin. We say it is the angels who deliver God’s word by the Holy Ghost (D&C 76:86-88; cf. 2 Nephi 32:3), and that it’s evil spirits who tempt us to sin (Ephesian 6:12), and that is true enough. However, there is also a part in each of us that is inclined to obey one or the other. As Jesus remarked, “the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Or as King Benjamin taught, “the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam” (Mosiah 3:19), which natural man Alma describes as “carnal, sensual, and devilish” (Alma 42:10). So in a sense, while outside forces can seek to influence us (either for good or for evil), they are only appealing to the internal forces inside of us.

You are a divided being. On the one hand you are your spirit-self, who is eternal, intelligent, perceptive, powerful, and already has a godly nature: “Ye are gods (and goddesses); and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalms 82:6). On the other hand, your body is broken, subject to death, mentally slow compared to your spirit, unaware of spiritual things, and weak in every possible way. It is blinded by the screaming demands of the flesh, full of questions, uncertainty, pride, corruption, and self-will: an enemy to God.

But know this: you are not your body. When you notice this division of will—as your conscience quietly prompts you to do one thing and the flesh screams you do another—know that your voice, and your will, is not the voice of the flesh. Though we might be in the habit of thinking to ourselves, “I’m so angry,” or “I really want to indulge in this,” or “I have no desire for spiritual things,” this is in fact the voice of the false-self.

You are so much more than your body. You’re more than its desires, its brokenness, and the experiences you’ve had while occupying it for this brief period of time. You are your spirit self, who is divine, eternal, and of a godly nature.

Your true (eternal) self is reflected in the voice of your conscience. Promptings to do good and yield to the light of God are your deepest yearnings and desires. The voice that tries to dissuade you from obeying your conscience is always derived from fear. It is always a fear of something. The fear your body won’t get what it wants; the fear that the false-self is in danger of being erased; the fear that people will think less of you. Fundamentally, the desire for validation stems from our need to be aligned with God and truth, but because we are so steeped in fear we look to others to fill that need.

These fears are the essence of the false-self. They are the result of being cut off from God—not integrated to the light.

The false-self is a recent innovation for each of us as eternal beings—one that is the sum of our bodies’ fears.

I find I have a distaste for movements that emphasize ideas like “self-care,” “self-esteem,” and “self-compassion,” because they tend to cater to the wrong “self.” They spend a lot of time trying to soothe the fears of the false self, but never get to the root of the problem: it is altogether a false self. It’s not loving to only soothe those enchained in lies and deception—we ought to set them free. As it lies that make up the chains of hell (D&C 123:7-8), it is the light and truth of God flowing through us again that will dispel all darkness: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

The only role the self plays in this equation is the one prescribed by Christ: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).

This is what it means to have faith in Christ. When we have the faith to let go of who we think we are, we will begin to find who we truly are.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Our real selves are waiting for us in Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and natural desires… it is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”

Yielding to Light

The purpose of this life is to yield your body to the enticings of the Holy Spirit so that light and truth flow through your body as freely as they did your spirit (Mosiah 3:19; cf. Matthew 6:22). This “yielding” requires we voluntarily give up our false-selves— our desires, beliefs, and identity—placing our entire will on the altar of sacrifice.

As you yield yourself to the voice of your conscience, your body will come in alignment with your spirit. Consequently, you will begin to feel more like yourself—your true and eternal self. Whenever you act on spiritual promptings, you are acting according to your true nature.

When your body then undergoes the trials and experiences necessary for its refinement, it will be upgraded, changed, and sanctified sufficient to again be in God’s presence. It will be brought into full alignment with your spirit, and you will at last be you in the flesh; a son or daughter of God, freely receiving the light and truth that flows from His presence.

We must rend the veil created by the fall to reclaim our true identity. Concerning this transition, Paul wrote, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12; cf. D&C 88:67-68). In D&C 76, we read that those who dwell in God’s presence in Celestial glory are “gods, even the sons of God,” and also that they “see as they are seen, and know as they are known (D&C 76:58, 94). In other words, as the truth of God flows through them freely in His presence, they live in perfect awareness and clarity of who they really are—and whose they are.

And the world is in desperate need of who you really are, and what you really have to offer. Your light will make the world a truer place. To the extent that you yield your heart to God’s light it will flow through you and from you, and your presence will give those around you the opportunity to do the same.

The Light of the World

One aspect of Christ’s atoning role is that He descended into this world of darkness and lies, and was exactly who He is (Mosiah 15:1-2). The “Word became flesh” because His body was full of light and truth. His light made the world a truer place, lifting and inspiring those around Him to do the same:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not…

“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 4-5, 9-14; emphasis added).

Our Savior is the light of the world. To those who turn to His light, and believe on His name, He empowers to become the sons of God (in the flesh, as He is; 1 John 3:2). To “abide in Christ” is to surrender your whole being to His will. It is a state or condition of being, wherein we freely receive and live in the light He shines. This is how He redeems the world—freeing us from the lies that fetter our eternal soul.

Christ Himself taught: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

Christ sees us and knows us as we truly are. When we are in His presence, we see as we are seen, and know as we are known—and are otherwise guided by His increasing light until we arrive at that perfect day.

Christ is inviting us into an order. It is properly called the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God, because those who come into it are also made “sons” (and daughters) of God (D&C 76:56-58; cf. John 1:12).

When Christ turns our hearts, we are then inspired to turn the hearts of others. We invite them to awake, arise and abide in the light with us. When we forgive others, or respond charitably to evil, we are not just absorbing the effects of sin, but are lovingly inviting them to shake off the chains and lies that bind them, and to live in the truth of who they really are.

Charity is, in essence, to be so full of truth that we see through the lies of this fallen condition to who people really are—even (and especially) when they do not see it themselves. This is why we must pray with all the energy of heart in order to be filled with charity. By giving diligence unto prayer, we are filled with the mind of God—with light and truth—and can then see things as they really are, and people for who they really are. That is the essence of what it means to be like Christ, and to take His name upon us. It is to live in the light, and to be a light, while surrounded by a world of fear and darkness.

Charity will change the world; perfect love casts out all fear, light dispels darkness, and the truth sets us free. As we come to live in the truth of who we really are, we will bring heaven down to earth.

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?