Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Ongoing Restoration

With General Conference approaching I've been contemplating the church talking frequently about the Ongoing Restoration - that things aren't fully restored and that the restoration will continue to be ongoing (reference). Which gets me thinking...what does that mean?

What was lost that needs to be restored?

I think a common response to that question is "to restore the priesthood and ordinances that we need for salvation." But for me - that response is vague. 

If the restoration was to restore the priesthood and ordinances...the Catholics claim the right to the Priesthood because Christ and the Apostles possessed it and they believe that it continued down to the present time through them.

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained:
We have not time to enter into the various abuses of the church of Rome, but will merely state that if they had continued pure, their priesthood would also have been pure; and their authority in the ordinances of the Priesthood would have been legal; NOT because they had a succession of popes, but in consequence of their adherance to the pure principles of the gospel, for the priesthood cannot continue when the gospel is perverted; . . . But as they have departed from his gospel, introduced the ordinances of men and neglected to teach the things that God commanded them, they have lost the authority, blessings and power of the Priesthood, their candlestick is removed out of its place, and Christ has ceased to be with them. (See Times and Seasons 4:9.)
From Joseph Smith we see that the priesthood and ordinances aren't kept pure by a succession of leaders, but as a consequence of keeping the pure principles of the gospel. 

Men in the church pass the priesthood to each other when they are interviewed and found to be worthy by specific church leadership. For example, 11 year old boys are ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood which priesthood holds the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel, the gospel of repentance, baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments (D&C 84:26-27). They advance from Deacon to Teacher to Elder throughout their teenage years. The requirement to advance is to be the right age and then to be found worthy by your priesthood leader. 

Later, when older men are found worthy they may be selected to be passed the Melchizedek Priesthood. Joseph Smith said: 
“Answer to the question, Was the Priesthood of Melchizedek taken away when Moses died? All Priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself.“ -TPJS, p. 180

Exploring Priesthood Authority

What if a young man is ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood or a man is ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood but then goes on to commit grevious sin? 

And what if they had repeatedly blessed the sacrament or given blessings to other people during their time of sin? 

Can (or could) one lose divine priesthood authority? 

There is an interesting paradox that answered part of this question. It pertains to the Roman Catholic vs. LDS position on Priesthood. The Roman Catholics claim to have an unbroken chain of priesthood authority. If the Catholics have retained the priesthood, there would be no reason to restore it. If the LDS had it restored to them, then it needed to return because the Catholics lost it.

Catholic claims to the priesthood are rejected by us (LDS members) because we believe it was lost to them millennia ago due to unrighteousness/apostasy. However...we seem to teach the same doctrine as the Roman Catholics, only we teach it cannot be lost to us because God is with us. 

If priesthood cannot be lost, then the Catholic claims are justified. If LDS claims are correct, it is necessary to recognize that it can be lost (D&C 121:37). 

We seem to want it both ways - It can be lost to others who are unrighteous, but won’t be lost to us if we are (2 Nephi 28:8). We see this when someone who is secretly sinning blesses the sacrament or gives a priesthood blessing. If we find out about it later, we say that God still blesses the ordinance regardless of the priest’s worthiness. This kind of thinking leads to a dangerous, prideful, and arrogant mindset. 

I've proposed this conundrum to many people to see their response. The answer is the exact same every time: If a male doesn't keep the priesthood pure through personal sin, etc. God will still honor the blessing (of the sacrament or other blessings). This is hard for me to understand because we teach that the Catholics didn't keep the priesthood because of sin, so they lost it, but the unspoken belief is that although we too sin and are frequently impure, we get to keep it.

Anciently the Catholic debate over this argument centered around whether or not the wickedness of a bishop or priest resulted in a loss of his priesthood authority and if the ordinances he performed were still valid. The winning side in that dispute decided priestly authority and the validity of priesthood ordinances was not dependent on the worthiness of the priesthood holder. They concluded that priesthood authority was permanent and endured beyond sin.

If this proposition is correct, then Catholics could not have forfeited priesthood. Wickedness, error, and foolishness would never be a reason to remove their authority. Once conferred, only death would remove the power to perform ordinances from a bishop or priest.

Joseph Smith answered this question about losing priesthood power in D&C 121:

34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? 
35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson— 
36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. 
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, 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 priesthood or the authority of that man.

Since the Priesthood’s rights are “inseparably connected with the powers of heaven,” there can be no such thing as priesthood that functions outside of heaven. The priesthood is truly an association with the other side of the veil moving from an association with Angels who stand as sentinels 
(a Telestial association), to an association with the Son (Terrestrial association), to then the fulness of the priesthood (a Celestial association which is the fulness of the Father). If the holder loses his connection to heaven, he loses priesthood.

As Joseph Smith revealed, priesthood cannot be controlled or handled unless the person holding it is “righteous”. According to D&C 121, a man’s authority in the the priesthood is voided upon:

(1) the covering of sins rather than sincere repentance; 
(2) pride; 
(3) ambition 
(4) unacceptable usage of the priesthood to control, coerce, or compel others. 

When any of these things happen, “the heavens withdraw themselves” and the priesthood authority is lost.

This presents a problem, because how can we know of a priest’s worthiness to bless the sacrament? How can we know of an Elder’s worthiness to bless the sick and afflicted? How can we know of a High Priest’s worthiness to preside over a congregation? etc. This is the same dilemma Catholics faced centuries ago.

Mormonism is not Catholicism. Despite how the Catholics d
ecided to answer the question of priesthood, for the restored Gospel, revealed doctrine makes it clear that the power or authority of priesthood is inseparably connected with heaven and can only be handled on the principles of righteousness (D&C 121). Authority can be lost.

So then what?

The punishment for Adam and Eve when th
ey partook of the forbidden fruit was that the presence of God was blocked. By partaking of the fruit they chose another path to be like the God's (Genesis 3:22). This act would bar them from God's presence and the only way to return would be to give up everything to find Him again. They would have to prove they loved Him more than anyone or anything else. If they obeyed and sacrificed, they would increase in their priesthood, or to put it another way, increase in their association with angels (Aaronic priesthood), who would instruct them on how to be brought back into God's presence (Melchizedek priesthood).

Their your test.

This is "the restoration" taught by all Prophets since the beginning of time.  

The definition of restoration is: 
"To bring back to a former position or condition. A restitution of something that was taken away or lost."
God's presence is what was lost. 

Nowhere in the church or Temple teachings does it say that death will restore you to God's presence. 

The work for the dead spoken of in the temple is first and foremost for the spiritually dead, those who, like Adam and Eve, are cut off from God's presence. In other words: You are the work for the dead that needs to be done first. 
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. -1 Corinthians 15:22
In the story of Adam and Eve they lived in the Garden where they had an intimate relationship with their Father. He made a place for them where they could grow in their knowledge among the 'trees' or put another way, among the "noble and great ones" (Abraham 3:22). They could partake of the "fruit," or put another way, the knowledge each "tree" offered

In Eden they were ever abiding in His Glory. And then...they chose another way. They partook of that which was forbidden and they fell out of God's immediate glory and presence. 

The rest of their lives were spent in obedience and sacrifice, calling on God to hear the words of their prayers to send angels to minister to them so they could pass through the flaming sword (be born again) and return again to the presence of the Father "in the flesh" (Moses 5:10).

Their story is your story. 

This is the restoration spoken of in scripture. 

The restoration to the Father from your fallen state is the "ongoing restoration" which must occupy the heart and mind. Consider yourselves as if you were, respectively, Adam and Eve - fallen and cut off from the presence of the Lord. Your whole mortal experience and purpose is to reverse that state. Any ongoing restoration won't be about new doctrine, policies, programs, or procedures. Christ told us: 
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine...And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me...that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me...And whoso believeth in me, and is baptizedthe same shall be savedand they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God...this is my doctrine...and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also...for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost (be born again)...Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them...And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
The restoration has always been about being born again, being visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost which will enable you to be able to pass the angels, or in other words: the cherubim, who stand as sentinels in your personal journey to be restored to the Father. 

It is up to you to complete your restoration to the Father. This is the fulness of the Gospel spoken of in scripture. This is the work of every prophet who has ever lived. Theirs is the duty to cry faith (trust in God) and repentance (teach others to turn to God) and be born again (the fiery death of self which allows you to pass the angels that stand as sentinels) which will then endow you with the ability to receive the Son and then finally be brought into the presence of the Father

Look at what Jacob has to say about restoration:

Jacob 1: 7 Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter in, as in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness.

Entering into the Lord's rest and receiving the fulness of His glory is the restoration. It is the work of God among all His people since the beginning of time. All who desire salvation must return to God and partake of His goodness. This is what it means to be restored. This is what was offered to the children of Israel when the Lord bid them to come up the Holy Mount and meet Him face to face, but they shrank from the offer and bid Moses, the prophet, to go instead of them. And the fulness was taken from them, which fulness is God's presence.
D&C 84: 
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. 
23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; 
24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory. 
25 Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; 
26 And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;

Consider the brother of Jared's experience: 
Ether 3:  
11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak? 12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie. 13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showedhimself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall (born again); therefore ye are brought back into my presence (Restoration); therefore I show myself unto you.

In this last part I want to share things that John Eldredge has said about restoration with God.

Intimacy with God is what we were made for. Not simply to believe in Him, though that is a good beginning. Not only to obey Him, though that is a higher life still. God created us for intimate fellowship with Himself, and in doing so he established the goal of our existence -- to know Him, love Him, and live our lives in an intimate relationship with him. Jesus says that eternal life is to know God (John 17:3). Not just "know about" Him like you know about the ozone layer or George Washington. He means to know as two people know each other, know as Jesus knows the Father -- intimately.

But does God speak to his people? Personally?

Can you imagine any relationship where there is no regular communication?

What would you think if you met two good friends for lunch, and you knew they'd been at the restaurant an hour before you arrived, but as soon as you sat down and asked, "So, what have you been talking about?" they said, "Nothing." "Nothing?" "Nothing. We don't talk to each other. But we're really good friends."

Jesus calls us his Friends:

"I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father" (John 15:15 MSG).

Or what would you think about a father if you asked him, "What have you been talking to your children about lately?" and he said, "Nothing. I don't talk to them. But I love them very much." Or if he said, "I only talk to one of my children (i.e. a prophet) nowadays." Wouldn't' you say the relationship was missing something? And aren't you God's son or daughter? 

"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12)
It isn't uncommon for people to believe that God primarily speaks to us through scriptures or the prophet. The irony of that belief is that's not what the scriptures say. The scriptures are filled with stories of God talking to His people.

Abraham, who is called the friend of God, said, "The Lord the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father's household and my native land and who spoke to me..." (Genesis 24:7). God spoke to Moses "as a man speaks with his friend" (Exodus 33:11). He spoke to Aaron too: "Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites" (Exodus 6:13). The Lord spoke to David. The Lord spoke to Noah. The Lord spoke to Gideon. The Lord spoke to Samuel. The list goes on and on. 
"But," you may object, "...that was different. Those were special people called to special tasks." And we are not special people called to special tasks? I don't believe that. And I doubt you believe it either in your heart of hearts.
Look at "less important" characters in the Bible. God spoke to Hagar, the servant girl of Sarah, as she was running away. "She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me,' for she said, 'I have now seen the One who sees me'" (Genesis 16:13). The God who sees even me. Or what about Ananias who plays a small role in seven verses in Acts 9: 10-25?

If God doesn't also speak and reveal His thoughts directly to us, why would He have given us all these stories him speaking to others or only to the really important people? Why would God give us books of scripture filled with exceptions? This is how I used to relate to my people, but I don't do that anymore. What good would a book of exceptions do to you? That's like giving you the owner's manual for a Dodge even though you drive a Mitsubishi. No, the scriptures are books of examples of what it looks like to have intimacy and restoration with God. 
"God is distant" kind of thinking keeps a lot of people trapped in "the letter of the law" level of faith rather than knowing Jesus as He was meant to be known. We can sit in meetings where there are just enough "Jesus words" in there to make it feel like you're experiencing Christ, but often they are not preaching the gospel Jesus preached. Sometimes Christian religions can be more concerned about issues of conservative values than it does drawing people into intimacy with God and thus they neglect to make intimacy with God the goal.

They don't restore the whole person.

Loyalty should not be to a church or a movement, but to Jesus Christ and His words spoken to you personally.

This can be risky though. There are many people who have followed what they thought was revelation from the Lord and have done some really wild things, myself included. There is always risk involved when a church encourages others to walk personally with God. People have done a lot of really crazy things in the name of following Jesus. For that reason there are people in Christian churches, including our own, who don't want to encourage this sort of risk of "walking with God."

Over the centuries many Christian churches have tried to eliminate the messiness of personal relationship with Jesus by instituting rules, programs, formulas, methods, and procedures. Those things may have eliminated some of the goofy things that happen when people are encouraged to follow God for themselves. But they also eliminated the very intimacy God calls us to. 
Slowly what creeps in is our affection for temple work, genealogical work, teaching, obeying the letter of the law, ministering, magnifying callings, service, etc. which can crowd our affection for God. The result can be that you have the feeling that you are with God, but what you are engaged in is activity for God, and that is very, very different from intimacy with God
And it shall come to pass that the Lord god shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth...for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea..." (2 Nephi 30: 15)
If you're honest with yourself, have you been waiting until Heaven aka, "the next life," to finally enter into the rest/presence of the Lord? To walk with Him? To have intimacy with Him?

What is heaven like? Does anyone know what we will do all day? Do you hold out hope for "the next life" with little comprehension what it must be to be God's "Friend" here an now? To talk with Him as one man speaks with another right now (Exodus 33:11)? 
D&C 130:
When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves. 
And that same sociality which exists among us here (intimacy with God) will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.
Do you enjoy intimacy, or sociality, with God here and now?

In the life of Jesus, when He touched the blind, they could see...When he touched the deaf, they were able to hear...He touched the lame and they jumped to their feet and began to dance. He called the dead back to life and gave them to their families. Do you believe that ended upon His death?

Jesus said, "...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

Isaiah prophesied and Jesus proclaimed that the purpose for His coming was to preach good tidings to the meek...bind up the broken hearted, to free the captive, to open the prisons to those that are bound, to proclaim the Lord, to comfort those that mourn, to give beauty for ashes...oil of joy for our mourning, garments of praise for our heaviness, that we might be called "trees of righteousness," the planting of the Lord - that HE may be glorified! (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Jesus came to restore us!

When Jesus walked the earth during His mortal mission, wherever humanity was broken, He restored it. He is giving us an illustration of intimacy with God. He whispers restoration to us through creation itself - ever since we left the Garden. The death that comes during Autumn. Winter...the world forever cold, silent, bleak. And after months of winter, the thaw of spring until we are fully restored to summer - sunshine, warmth, color, and the long days of adventure together. The restoration of the world played out each spring and summer is precisely what God is promising us about our lives. Every miracle Jesus ever did was pointing to this Restoration - the day He makes all things new in us.

In Romans 8, Paul reminds us of the Great Restoration. "The glory that will be revealed in us...the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed" (18-19). Only when we have been restored can we take our place again as kings and queens, priests and priestesses of creation. The day when Christ will appoint you as one of his regents over his great and beautiful universe. 

This has been His plan all along.
Intimacy with God it is central to Jesus’ mission. Notice that it requires restoration. “The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored" (Romans 8:29). That’s the purpose of the restoration of the gospel in the latter days.
We are made for intimacy and restoration with God. Oh, we might turn to him for our salvation...for a ticket to heaven when we die...we might turn to him even in the form of Christ-like service, regular church attendance, or a moral life. But inside, our hearts remain broken and captive and far from the One who can help us to be fully restored in Him.
To enter the journey toward restoration with God, all it requires is a simple turning of the heart. We let desire speak to us again...we let our hearts have a voice, and what the voice usually says is, This isn’t working. My life is a disaster. Jesus—I’m sorry. Forgive me. Please come for me. We begin to cooperate with God in our restoration. We seek out those things we need to do in order to receive it. There is a process, and the results are breathtaking.
Apart from being restored to Him, Christianity is just…religion.

Heal Our Land
Kari Jobe


  1. I love reading your thoughts. Truly uplifting. Thank you for your time and efforts.