For the last five months or so, I’ve spent almost all of my spare time on writing an essay I hope to publish as a video, or maybe a series. It’s taken greater priority for me than posting anything on this blog, but every now and then I have moments of clarity that I feel would be worthwhile to stop and share with others along the way. I hope this is coherent enough to be helpful, and that I’m able to lay out the prerequisites clearly and succinctly.
It’s been said that people are aiming creatures. Everything we do has a purpose or a “why.” Behind every action, there is a target. Behind every target, there is a bigger target. You may be studying microbiology to pass tomorrow’s test, so that you can pass the course, so that you can graduate, so that you can become a dentist, etc. At any given moment, you can determine your motives and purpose in something by stopping and asking yourself, “why?”
When you follow those answers back as far as they go, you’ve discovered the higher ideals you’re attending to—in essence, the god (or gods) you worship. Worship and attention are tightly knit. This is why in Hebrew, “work” and “worship” are the same word. The thing all your work is “for,” whether it be comfort, or power, or money, or love—that is what you worship. The question is not “do you believe in God?”, only, “which god do you worship?”
Everyone has a hierarchy of values and attention. The higher you go in the hierarchy, the more it impacts the fundamental direction of your life. Becoming a dentist, for example, will dictate whether you go to school, what you go to school for, which classes you take, what you fill your time studying, and other sacrifices you will make along the way.
Wherever there is attention, there is sacrifice. As it’s been noted by psychologists, you can only ever think of one thing at a time. Giving your attention to one thing, whether in a single moment (like reading a book), or more generally (like pursuing a degree) means that you are not focusing on other things. You get to decide what you’re going to worship, or attend to. You get to decide what you’re going to think about—but you can only pick one thing at a time. Every decision in every moment is a sacrifice. Every decision in every moment is one of worship. “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (Psalm 16:8).
An Eye Single to His Glory
Many people who say they worship God do so in word only, drawing near with their lips, though their hearts are far from Him (Isaiah 29:13). “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). There are also people who don’t explicitly believe in God, or Christ, but whose every action can be traced back to love (albeit at a lower-resolution).
Passing through the strait gate is a matter of reconciling your entire value structure to Christ. This is what repentance is all about. It’s more than just feeling bad and wanting to do better (although those are important first steps). It’s considering everything you do, all of your habits, routines, and values, and cutting out those things that can’t be traced back to God. It’s consecrating everything you have to the end of bringing forth His kingdom on earth.
Like the brazen serpent Moses set up, setting our attention on Him alone is the only thing that will save us.
Additionally, this is why you cannot serve both God and mammon. Though it may be the Lord’s will that you become a dentist, you must do it for Him. Though you may make money at your job, you recognize that these are all things that are His, and must still be used for His purposes. This is why will it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. You cannot seek money and build the kingdom at the same time. Everything must be on the altar, all the time. This is the only way life can flow through us.
Expanding Our Vision
Yet frequently, it is the case that after passing through the strait gate, after giving our whole lives and wills over to God, there are moments that pull our attention away from Him. Like Peter walking out onto the water to Christ, being overcome with fear by the wind and the waves, we begin to sink. Circumstances in life may arise, a scenario calculated to distract us may unfold, and the moment our attention is pulled away from the Savior, we begin to sink.
Sin, by definition, is to “miss the mark.” It is what happens when we are distracted from our highest ideal. It is what happens when the winds of adversity push against us, and the waves of chaos shift under our feet. As was mentioned earlier, you can only look at and think about one thing at a time. This becomes difficult when we wade out into the world trying to focus on Christ, but are bombarded with a million other things that pull our attention away from Him—some smaller, some greater. How can we keep our attention on Him amidst this world’s persistent vicissitudes? How can we look to Him in every thought (D&C 6:36) and “pray always, that [we] may come off conqueror” (D&C 10:5), when our daily situations seem to distract us from this?
This brings us to an interesting truth.
We may only be able to think about one thing at a time, however, what happens when a collection of things are organized in such a way that we recognize them as one singular object? For example, when you see a couch, you see a variety of things. There are feet, cushions, perhaps a wooden structure holding it together. Not to mention, the cushions, legs, and structure are already a collection of several components and materials themselves. And yet, when you approach the couch, you don’t begin by examining each individual particle before doing the math and realizing it’s a couch. You perceive it all at once.
As odd as it may sound, this is the glory of God.
Light organizes. It creates structure. It turns a sound into a word, words into a sentence, and sentences into paragraphs. It is the power by which the world was organized. When you possess light, you perceive the structure of things that before looked like independent particles. An ant cannot perceive a couch, but a dog can. A dog cannot perceive the complexities of language, but a child can. A child cannot perceive our economic and political structure, but someone of greater maturity can. The greater light you possess, the greater structure you can “see” or perceive in the world.
God is truth. He is the structure of reality. He framed the world, and the course of its history. Whereas we use sounds and pictures to convey who we are, He uses everything in the cosmos. He has organized all that has happened throughout time like words in a sentence, declaring His nature. Just as an ant cannot perceive a house as one thing, so the natural man cannot perceive all creation as one thing flowing out from Him. He does not readily see how all things are organized together to convey a higher meaning, and that reality is fundamentally good (Romans 8:28).
When you increase in light, you increase in your ability to encounter anything while still keeping your attention on the Savior, because you see how it is all organized around who He is. The winds and the waves do not deter you, because you recognize that they are an extension of Him. You see that He is in all things and through all things, the light of truth (D&C 88:6).
The reason we fall is because we cannot keep our aim and focus on Christ. We encounter things that seem outside of Him—that split our attention. We get lost in the details of our jobs, distracted by the things of this world, and overcome by suffering.
The solution is that we come to know Him better than we already do. We seek out greater revelations of His light and truth so that we see the higher order of things, and can keep our focus on Christ. The goal is that we see there is nothing we can encounter that is not part of Him.
To do this, we must turn to Him. Our attention cannot be on our weakness, but on His nature. We must soften our hearts and receive His light in greater degrees, and let it fill our mind and soul until all darkness is dispelled. We reconcile our hearts to what we have, and seek out more—greater revelations of His light and love.
Because He is truth, coming to know Him in any way is also a revelation about the structure of reality. The Spirit can expand our view via insights, connections, and new perspectives. At a higher resolution, visions also allow us to perceive multiplicity as unity. For example, when Nephi desired to understand his father’s dream about the tree of life, he was shown a vision of the Savior’s birth, which then allowed him to perceive its meaning. This expanded understanding then gave way to a vision of several other things, allowing him to perceive God in many things yet to unfold.
As the picture comes into view, there will eventually be nothing in this world that can deter our attention from Him, because we see how He is in all things and through all things. This is what Alma means by knowing the mysteries of God “in full” (Alma 12:10). You cannot perceive the fulness of His glory without perceiving how all creation is ordered and organized by God. Like Moses, we can be quickened by the Spirit such that we perceive the whole earth, not excepting one person or particle (Moses 1:27-29). Like the brother of Jared, we can behold everything that has been and shall be, “even unto the ends of the earth” (Ether 3:25).
“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).
The scriptures say that the fulness of His glory is glorious rest indeed (D&C 84:24; cf. Isaiah 11:10). Obtaining it (or rather, obtaining Him) is the only way we can overcome the world and find true rest. For this reason, the fulness of His glory is the law of the Celestial kingdom:
“They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory… Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. And they shall overcome all things. Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet. These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever” (D&C 76:55-62).
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 andtruth.
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.
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.
I came home from school one day in second grade and announced to my parents that I no longer had a need for school. With curious grins, they asked me why. I told them I had learned the life cycle of a bird, and the life cycle of a frog, and so I was pretty much set for the rest of my life. In my mind, I had hit the peak of human discovery – surely anything else at this point was irrelevant.
As humorous and innocent as this memory is, it actually represents an interesting tendency in human nature: when we learn something new, we assume we know everything – and when we assume we know everything, we prevent ourselves from learning further truth. It’s sort of a negative feedback loop that can stunt our growth.
Because this is human nature, it happens all the time. For years, astronomers believed the universe was geocentric. When further discoveries and evidence suggested the universe revolved around the sun, it was met with a lot of controversy (and this wasn’t a “science vs. religion” issue – scholars of the day generally rejected Galileo and Copernicus’ work).
In the scriptures, the Lord commented on how the Gentiles would react to the coming forth of further truth and scripture: “And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible” (2 Nephi 29:3).
A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. As the prophet Jacob noted, “When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves” (2 Nephi 9:28).
Experience teaches us that one need not be a scholar to “think they are wise,” and suppose “they know of themselves.” This can apply to anyone who lets any amount of new information make them prideful – great or small. My observation is that we’re especially prone to this when learning something that doesn’t appear to be widely-known or understood.
I’ve seen this in atheists, Jews, Christians, Mormons, anti-Mormons, political activists, scholars, and more. They learn a thing and are quick to assume they have learned everything. It is the same pattern in all because it is the same natural man.
Like authority, as soon as they get a little knowledge (as they suppose), they immediately begin to lift themselves up. Like Priesthood authority, as soon as pride enters into their hearts “in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved,” and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the [light, knowledge, and understanding] of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God” (D&C 121:37-39).
The Nature of Condemnation
When our actions, beliefs, and values are aligned to the truth and light God shines on us, we live in the light. We submit our entire will to the Lord’s. This is a state of justification.
When we turn away from any degree of light, we cut off our connection to heaven. This is what happens when we ignore promptings, or try to “rationalize” them away. This is what happens when we’re proud, selfish, or act in any way contrary to what the Spirit tells us is good and right. This is what happens when we knowingly avoid repentance, because we fear the light. This is a state of condemnation.
The Savior observed to Nicodemus “And this is the [world’s] condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:19-21).
When we resist the Spirit, or gratify the natural man, we turn ourselves away from God’s light. Without God’s light, everything turns into chaos. We do not necessarily forget what we’ve previously learned, but our understanding becomes distorted with time.
Truth is information when it is properly structured by light. When we are in a state of justification, the Holy Ghost will begin to do the work of structuring all of the information we have.
Like all things, our knowledge is “created” as it’s ordered by God’s light. Like all things, our knowledge decays back into chaos as the light withdraws; we begin losing truth, and eventually end up with a bunch of puzzle pieces that we can’t seem to piece together.
Most people still try their best to piece things together without the Spirit, by their own strength and reasoning. This is generally a terrible idea. It’s why the world is divided by a million opinions. When we are not enlightened by the Spirit, our efforts to piece things together will always fail. This is why it is so deeply important that our hearts be set right before we pursue greater truth.
The Thoughts of the Heart
The scriptures frequently describe thoughts as coming from one’s heart. The reason for this is because ancient Israelites understood that the state of one’s heart will affect their thought patterns.
Consider, for example, how being angry or depressed influences your ability to reason. When we allow anger to overtake us, we can’t think as clearly. Our view becomes narrowed in that moment – hence the advice that sometimes it’s good to let things cool off before saying anything too severe, or making any major decisions. When we find ourselves overtaken by depression, our thought patterns will reflect those feelings back to us – we’ll highlight evidence to craft a narrative that supports those feelings. But in fact, Christ (who has suffered all), knows that things are not as hopeless as they seem.
These same principles come into play when pride, resentment, fear, etc., are in our hearts. If these things are present, they create conditions for self-deception. Fear could make us impatient, and impatience would cause us to focus and reason in a way that tended towards those things. Hatred might cause us to overlook the needs and inherent value of others, which would spiral into something much worse. People under the influence of any kind of drug or alcohol think they’re acting logically – until they’re sober and look back on the decisions they’ve made with regret.
The only way we can ensure our sense of justice is aligned with reality is if we ourselves are aligned with reality.
For years I believed the whole battle for truth was in the mind – that I simply needed to find (or have) the most logical and comprehensive argument, and it’d be settled. I’ve since learned that it’s not that simple, as one’s ability to even register and discern truth is inseparably connected to the degree that they live according to it. An unjust person cannot discern true justice (which is the heart of political corruption).
No, the battle for truth is not in fact in the mind, as I once supposed, but in the heart. When we seek to do good and be good above all else, truth distils upon our souls like the dews from heaven.
We must learn to observe and discern the spirit in all things, ideas, and people. This is why Christ taught us to test teachers by their fruits.
A lie might be cunning and compelling, but a lie nonetheless.
We need not live in fear that someone will come along with an argument we haven’t heard or considered, collapsing everything we thought was true. If our desire is to be good, then we will recognize those with truth are those who bear good fruit, are filled with light and the Spirit, and whose works evidence such. We will desire what they have, and seek to learn more.
By the same token, we will know that those who carry a spirit of pride, hatred, or cynicism, are not inspired by a spirit of truth. It may not be that they are entirely wrong – Satan’s greatest deceptions typically consist of some portion of truth mingled with error – but if the spirit that animates their conclusions is not one of love, but resentment, pride, or fear, we can know it is not structured by the Spirit of Truth, and therefore is a well-crafted lie.
If it bears bad fruit, it is a bad tree – and all bad trees are eventually “hewn down and cast into the fire” (3 Nephi 27:11).
We must learn to pay attention to whether teachings and ideas enliven us, or cause us to decay. Do they set us free, or shackle us in the chains of hell? Do they expand our world, or make it more narrow? Do they deepen our love for others, or cause us to think less of them? Do they fill us with spiritual light, or merely stimulate our intellect?
We must learn to think about things spiritually rather than only logically. Reason has a place in the revelatory process, but it is wholly inadequate if not given over to the principles of discernment, repentance, and revelation. If you can discern a lie spiritually, but can’t yet break it down logically, wait upon the Lord for further light and knowledge. Continue to trust Him more than yourself, and in time, His light will shine upon your life so as to expel all darkness.
The heart matters above all else in these matters. The search for truth is a pursuit fit for our whole souls, not just our minds. Any number of distractions can serve as obstacles on the path God has ordained for us to receive greater truth. As we turn to Him with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy, He will teach us greater and greater truths for the purpose of our personal sanctification, development, and joy.
The Lord Himself instructed us on this matter in these words: “Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained? To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth.
“And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified? Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong.
“Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God.
“And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? If it be some other way it is not of God.
“Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.
“And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:13-24, emphasis added; see also 2 Nephi 9:42; Alma 12:9-10; Alma 26:21-22).
Have you ever wondered why people become cynical, bitter, or resentful? It happens quite frequently, and I think understanding its cause (whether in others or ourselves) will help us know how to best approach it.
Here’s my best estimation:
As I covered in a previous video, we can overlay each spiritual journey in 2 or 3 major phases, mirroring the “three pillars of eternity”: Creation, Fall, and Atonement.
The first phase is akin to the Garden of Eden, or childhood. We exist inside the circle, where everything we’re aware of makes sense (as we understand it). We feel safe inside our bubble, not generally aware of all the evil and complexity of the outside world. This is Simba as a cub at Pride Rock, or Luke Skywalker living a casual life on Tatooine. It’s care free, and perhaps a bit naïve.
This first phase does not last forever, and at some point (sooner or later), every person is forced out of the Garden. Within Adam and Eve’s context, they partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and their eyes were “opened.” Increased knowledge opened their eyes, or made them aware, to the fact that their world is not all they thought it was. Mufassa is killed in a conspiracy more complex than Simba could even comprehend, and Luke similarly finds himself in the middle of something he wasn’t prepared for. Because their eyes have been opened, they can no longer remain in Eden; their world is spinning, everything seems like chaos.
The journey is essentially complete when the hero conquers the new chaos. Simba defeats Scar and reclaims Pride Rock; Luke defeats the Emperor and frees the galaxy, etc. Greater peace and prosperity is enjoyed by all as the hero connects with his true identity.
Whether or not people directly involve God, this process is always spiritual at its core. Peace of mind, security, order, chaos, and reconciliation are all spiritual concerns. We enjoy movies and books for the same reason the ancients were enthralled by myths – something about them resonates with the deep truths of our soul.
This three-act pattern can be found on many different levels. On perhaps the most general scale, these three states represent our pre-mortality, morality, and resurrection. Our imperfect, mortal, bodies separate us from God. As we submit the flesh to the Spirit, we are reconciled to Him and will come forth triumphant in the first resurrection.
On a smaller scale, this can happen when a child enters adolescence and becomes “self-conscious” about how they look to their peers, or when someone encounters the pain of a personal trial, like betrayal, or losing a loved one. It can happen when someone encounters information that causes them to question their faith, or even when receiving a commandment they don’t want to keep. Whatever it is, the result is the same: we become aware of something that we didn’t know, and it temporarily separates us from God.
There are, in reality, only two states of being: harmony with God, and disharmony with God. In a “Fall” stage we’re in disharmony, cut off from His presence (spiritually and physically), and in a state of death. When we are reconciled to His light, we are in a state of life. The end of one cycle is the beginning of another (note the similarity between “Creation” and “Re-Creation”).
Bitterness, Arrogance, and Resentment
The reason anyone becomes bitter or resentful is because they learn something that they don’t know how to reconcile. In other words, they get stuck in a fall state, which causes them to gradually lose greater and greater light.
Sometimes this happens because someone is exposed to too much chaos at a young age. Before they can even get their bearings in the world, their parents get divorced, a family member dies, or they suffer abuse from the very people they’re counting on for security.
Sometimes it happens because, even later in life, they don’t know how to reconcile severe trials. Sometimes they discover cracks in the foundations of their values and beliefs. Their eyes are opened. In some sense, they learn that Eden isn’t everything they thought it was; there are snakes in the garden.
Our response to greater knowledge and awareness is crucial. We must not allow the chaos to make us bitter or arrogant. Many people who do become cynical grow in hatred for those who seem happy and full of faith. They see them as naïve, and believe that the only reason they’re not miserable is because they’re ignorant of reality. They want to pop everyone’s “bubble,” and sometimes make it their life mission to do so. Like Satan, they seek that “all men might be miserable like unto [themselves]” (2 Nephi 2:27). This hatred for life and faith is the spirit of the Devil.
If you find that new knowledge (or awareness) has made you resentful to people who don’t have it in any way, you are being influenced by an evil spirit. If you allow that knowledge to lift you up in pride, or to cause you to think you are better than others, you are under an influence contrary to life. In short, if you use that knowledge for anything other than increasing your faith in Christ, it will work against you.
To those who increase in learning, Jacob warns: “O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish” (2 Nephi 9:28).
We must at all times maintain a spirit of humility and love. It is often our tendency to judge or criticize ourselves or others when we learn we have erred in something. This can be good if our criticism drives us to repentance, but we must guard against the temptation to use our new knowledge as sledgehammer to condemn those who have not learned what we have; to play the role of accuser is to play the part of Satan.
It is often the case that until we repent and reconcile our hearts back to light, love, and the Spirit, that we cannot even properly understand what we have been made aware of. As is depicted in the “Fall” diagram above, just because our awareness expands does not mean that we have made sense of it all. Only when we surrender to the light will everything be put in order.
The Savior descended below it all so that He could stand as a witness and comforter for every single person, no matter how severe their pain. He experienced all of these things in the flesh so that we could have faith in His ability to heal us. He has overcome the world.
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11-12; cf. D&C 88:6).
We can have perfect faith in Him knowing that He knows the depth of our pain and alienation, and can bring us back into a state of reconciliation.
As time passes in a “Fall” state, our alienation from life and love grows from a smaller degree to a greater one. Time can make many people bitter and resentful: we get set in our ways, become hardened, and lose the joy and inspiration of childhood. The Savior’s injunction to become as a little child becomes especially meaningful in this context (Mosiah 3:19; 3 Nephi 9:22). He invites us to return to that place of childlike trust, assuring us that He has all of the light and truth pertinent to our reality. There is nothing He has not experienced and conquered. He has put all things under His feet, emanating love and life still. He is worthy and deserving of all of our faith.
The only real remedial course in these situations is to come unto Him with our whole heart and soul, in light of the things we’ve learned/experienced. He is the one that puts us into these situations, precisely so that we may learn to align ourselves with Him, and from Him become empowered to overcome the world. As we surrender all things to His will, His greater light will heal that which is broken in us, be it heartache, confusion, fear, doubt, cynicism, anger, or pride. He will order our chaos.
As we repeat this cycle with intentionality, we will find that the interval between each “Fall” and subsequent “Re-Creation” phase gets shorter and shorter, until at we arrive at the point where there is nothing God can reveal that would cause our faith to waiver; we will be immediately reconciled to His light. When we arrive at this point, our faith is perfect, and we are prepared to inherit the kingdom of God (or, all that He has) (2 Nephi 9:23; cf. D&C 84:38).
Nephi so testified: “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20).
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.
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 becomeone 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.