Seeking Exaltation – Part 2: Calling and Election

In the previous episode:

I return now to my new friend’s statement – “I’ve been endowed, I’ve been married in the temple. What now?…Enduring to the end sounds so grim!” I think far too many of us – good, faithful members of the church – kind of go into a spiritual holding pattern after we’ve been sealed in the Temple. If we’re not careful, we can slip into a pattern of waiting for our exaltation. In doing so, I believe we are shutting ourselves off from the greatest blessings that the gospel offers.

Let me offer a quote from George Q. Cannon (Millennial Star, Apr. 1894, pp. 260–61.):

……….we find, even among those who have embraced the Gospel, hearts of unbelief. How many of you, my brethren and sisters, are seeking for these gifts that God has promised to bestow? How many of you, when you bow before your Heavenly Father in your family circle or in your secret places, contend for these gifts to be bestowed upon you? How many of you ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, to manifest Himself to you through these powers and these gifts? Or do you go along day by day like a door turning on its hinges, without having any feeling upon the subject, without exercising any faith whatever; content to be baptized and be members of the Church, and to rest there, thinking that your salvation is secure because you have done this?

………I say to you that it is our duty to avail ourselves of the privileges which God has placed within our reach.

Our Duty!!!! That sounds an awful lot like a commandment!

There are three things that I have learned of recently that serve as beacons, as goals, for my own spiritual progression. I speak specifically of:

Receiving the Holy Ghost / Baptism by Fire
Seeking and receiving our Calling and Election
Seeking and receiving the Second Comforter

I propose to discuss these separately in 3 articles.
Read part 1 here:

Since I began discovering the true depth of these doctrines, my spiritual progression has increased exponentially. I have personally experienced things that I thought were reserved only for others, or for the next life. I know the Lord is leading me step by step toward the realization of these blessings. I hope they bring as much joy and wonder to your life as they are bringing to mine.

Seeking and Receiving our Calling and Election

A man once told me “Never ask for your calling and election to be made sure; the trials may be unbearable”. Another friend spoke once of seeing lists of people who years ago had their calling and election made sure. A bishop said it was something that rarely happened, but had to happen eventually in order to receive exaltation…. just not in this life. Many believe one must be recommended by the stake president for the ordinance to be performed in the temple. The ideas of what it means to have one’s calling and election and what it entails are all over the map. What is the truth?

2 Peter, 1:10-11 says:

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, ye shall never fall;
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The prophet Joseph said in reference to 2 Peter, Chapter 1 (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Pages 297-298:

Now, there is some grand secret here, and keys to unlock the subject. Notwithstanding the apostle exhorts them to add to their faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, etc., yet he exhorts them to make their calling and election sure.
We have no claim in our eternal compact, in relation to eternal things, unless our actions and contracts and all things tend to this. But after all this, you have got to make your calling and election sure. If this injunction would lie largely on those to whom it was spoken, how much more those of the present generation!

Bruce R. McConkie, in his Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, offers the following:

It is little wonder then that the Prophet Joseph Smith, particularly during the latter and crowning years of his mortal ministry, repeatedly exhorted the saints to press forward with that steadfastness in Christ which would enable them to make their calling and election sure. “I am going on in my progress for eternal life,” he said of himself; and then in fervent pleading to all the saints, he exclaimed: “Oh! I beseech you to go forward, go forward and make your calling and your election sure.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 366).

Here, then, are three prophetic or apostolic witnesses of the most respected kind, referencing each other and exhorting us as individuals to make our calling and election sure.

So, what does it mean to have one’s Calling and Election made sure? Let us refer to an article from the July 1976 Ensign by BYU professor of religion Roy W. Doxey:

What, then, is the calling and election made sure? The following scripture gives the definition:
“The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood.” (D&C 131:5.)

As expressed by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“To have one’s calling and election made sure is to be sealed up unto eternal life; it is to have the unconditional guarantee of exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world; it is to receive the assurance of godhood; it is, in effect, to have the day of judgment advanced, so that an inheritance of all the glory and honor of the Father’s kingdom is assured prior to the day when the faithful actually enter into the divine presence to sit with Christ in his throne, even as he is ‘set down’ with his ‘Father in his throne.’ (Rev. 3:21.) (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Bookcraft, 1973, 3:330–31.)

As Elder McConkie goes on to indicate, the “unconditional guarantee” means that a person’s actions have been fully approved, that “there are no more conditions to be met by the obedient person.” (P. 335.) When one has been thus sealed up unto eternal life, he is “sealed up against all manner of sin except blasphemy against the Holy Ghost and the shedding of innocent blood.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:46.)
As before mentioned, many claim that one must have the ordinance of the second anointing before their calling and election is made sure. By the study I have done, I have concluded that while one may indeed have one’s Calling and Election confirmed in the temple through the Ordinance of the Second Anointing, this ordinance is not necessary for one to be sealed up unto eternal life by the Holy Spirit of Promise. As an example, the above article by Dr. Doxey never mentions such an ordinance at all. Elder McConkie also does not, as far as I have been able to discern, mention it.
So, how does one receive their calling and election? What are the requirements to receive this blessing, this assurance of eternal life? There are many scriptures that describe the requirements of receiving eternal life. They include requirements such as baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, obeying the commandments, enduring to the end. But these all seem to refer to the promise of eternal life being received after the resurrection.   What so many don’t realize is that this consummate blessing can be received in this life! This promise can be sealed upon you when the Lord knows that you will endure to the end, and that you will never stray from the path to eternal life. Only the Lord can know this, and the testimony of this knowledge can only come from the Holy Ghost.
Still, what can WE do? Peter, in the verses prior to his exhortation to seek our Calling and Election, says:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness charity
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You’re probably familiar with John 17:3:
And this is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
Joseph Smith said in reference to Calling and Election and 2 Peter chapter 1:

Another point, after having all these qualifications, he lays this injunction upon the people “to make your calling and election sure.” He is emphatic upon this subject — after adding all this virtue, knowledge, etc., “Make your calling and election sure.” What is the secret — the starting point? “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” How did he obtain all things? Through the knowledge of Him who hath called him. There could not anything be given, pertaining to life and godliness, without knowledge.

So, it appears that knowledge of the savior is key. Elder McConkie, answering the question, “How many of the Saints have or shall have their calling and election made sure?” said,

“There is no more an answer to this question than there was to the query put to Jesus: “Lord, are there few that be saved?” to which he answered: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:23-24)….It is in this sense that Jesus used the enigmatic expression “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14)…….

Which leads us to my favorite scripture of all:

“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? 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 — 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. 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 authority 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. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.” (D&C 121:34-40.)

So, in order to be chosen, we must forsake pride, vain ambition, and any desire to exercise unrighteous dominion. There is so much that could be said… to know the savior, and to forsake pride and ambition clearly implies purity of heart, obedience and humility. It is plain that we must live our lives in such a way, not only through our actions but also through our thoughts and motives, that the Lord knows that we will obey Him, that we will not stray. We must become a person that the Lord knows is willing to accept and live the Celestial law.

Let me offer two more principles that are essential in order to seek and receive our calling and election. First – we must be prepared for any trials that are required that the Lord can be sure of us. We must trust the Lord – love the Lord – so much that we are willing to endure whatever he might ask of us. We must endure in faith, with patience, and with charity. Second – we must seek, ask, and knock. We must approach the Lord. The act of approaching Him in itself demonstrates great faith and trust. I promise you that if you will seek after this blessing – any blessing for that matter – in humility and with a sincere heart, the Lord will hear your prayer. Everyone’s path toward this will be different, but it will be yours, and the Lord will guide you, prepare you and mold you.

6 comments on “Seeking Exaltation – Part 2: Calling and Election

  1. Scott,
    Thank you again for you insight and willingness to share what you have learned. My desire to stand and be counted is increased, and I feel blessed and the spirit when I read your words.

  2. Thank YOU!, Gregor801. 3rd Installment Thanksgiving weekend!

  3. Thank you for a great post!

    What’s your take on Moses 6:59 and the phrase “enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory”? To me the first part could refer to this Calling and Election, while the second part relates to the realization of the word of eternal life.

    Any thoughts?

    • Wow, Chris – I never even noticed that! It’s like this summary of the entire gospel in one verse. Moroni 10 is a summary in one chapter, and this is a summary in one verse. Thanks for pointing this out! It seems to my (now that you point it out) that it describes Baptism, baptism by fire (to be sanctified from all sin), calling and election (the “words” of eternal life in this world) and exaltation (eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory). Again – thank you!

  4. […] 1 dealt with receiving the Holy Ghost. Part 2 discussed seeking one’s Calling and Election In part 3, I wish to discuss seeking the second comforter – even the face of the Lord […]

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