Monday, January 27, 2020

"Endure to the End"

A while ago I sat in the sealing room of the Temple waiting for enough people to join the session so we could do sealings for the dead. As I waited quietly, two temple workers began excitedly commenting on each others watches. They were exactly the same! They both acknowledged they were Insitute teachers in the Church Educational System and had taught for much of their lives. The same gold watch was apparently given to all who serve for a specific length of time.

I was ecstatic. Between these two men I had in one room the cumulative knowledge of 60+ years experience in teaching the gospel. It was time to ask the ultimate question of all the questions that weighed on my mind daily:

How do I know if I will inherit eternal life?

Their agreed answer was this: 

"Be faithful and a good member of the church and endure to the end and you will inherit eternal life."

That was it. I sat there thinking, "I am 'enduring to the end'...I mean, I think I am. That's my problem, I don't know for sure. I am trying to do my best to be a good member. But how do I know if I am pleasing the Lord? Do I have to wait until I die to know? That seems risky. I might find out I failed to do something important. I feel like I'm living with my fingers crossed all the time hoping that my life is pleasing to God."

Have you ever wondered if your life was pleasing to God?
If you would inherit eternal life?

 "Rich Young Ruler"
by Liz Lemon Swindle

Joseph Smith said: 
"I want to ask this congregation, every man, woman and child, to answer the question in their own heart, what kind of a being God is? Ask yourselves; turn your thoughts into your hearts, and say if any of you have seen, heard, or communed with him. This is a question that may occupy your attention for a long time. I again repeat the question–What kind of a being is God? 
Does any man or woman know? Have any of you seen him, heard him, or communed with him? Here is the question that will, peradventure, from this time henceforth occupy your attention. The scriptures inform us that “This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” 

If any man does not know God, and inquires what kind of a being he is,–if he will search diligently his own heart–if the declaration of Jesus and the apostles be true, he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle." (TPJS, pp. 343-344)

What does "enduring to the end" mean?

D&C 93: 
1 Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am
D&C 101: 

38 And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life 

3 Nephi 9:
18: I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the END.

Jesus Christ IS the END. 

Isn't seeking to "see" Christ in this life a mystery? I think we are told not to seek after mysteries. 
Isn't that dangerous?
D&C 6: 
7 Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded to you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich. 

D&C 63: 
23 But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life. 

D&C 107 
19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and the church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.

Jesus Christ is the Mystery.

Isn't seeking to see the Lord and know Him personally "looking beyond the mark"?

Jacob 4:  
14 But behold, the Jews were a stiff-necked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hat done it, that they may stumble. 

Jesus Christ is the Mark.

Like the Jews in the verse above, are there any ordinances we do in the church today "which (we) cannot understand"? 

Do we know what each step in the Temple endowment actually means? 

What is "the end" for which the endowment was given?

Do you view the temple as mostly "work for the dead"?

D&C 84:
19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God (D&C 107:19). 
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof (ordinance means order, or process), the power of godliness is manifest. 
21 And without the ordinances thereof (without knowing the order, or process), and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; 
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. (D&C 93:1 shows the order, or process.)
23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify (D&C 88:68his people that they might behold the face of God; (D&C 93:1)
24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence (Jacob 4:14); 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. (D&C 76: 19-24; 107:19)
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; 
27 Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments...

Lectures on Faith 6: 7 says,

"...salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things (the "sacrifice" spoken of in this instance is: "consecration". Have you ever made a covenant or a promise to consecrate everything to the Lord and then, after leaving the place you made that promise, returned back to only giving 10% of everything you are and have to the Lord? Wouldn't 10% be living an Aaronic or, "prepatory" gospel as spoken above in verse 26-27?): it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life...When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has, for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do His will (This is what living consecration looks like. You seek His will in all things.), he does know most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain..."

Have you, like me, sought for things you could not understand (doing Temple work without truly understanding the work)? We have been plainly taught therein to sanctify ourselves and learn the order (ordinances) of the journey to return to the presence of the Father. 

Jesus Christ is the End. 
Jesus Christ is the Mystery. 
Jesus Christ is the Mark.