I was sitting in the Terrestrial room of the Salt Lake Temple this past November thinking about consecrating my life to the Lord. Suddenly, the thought came very clearly to me how imperative it is that I become a builder of God’s Kingdom. D’oh! you might say, but you know how sometimes you just get that shot of pure knowledge, of clear unadulterated understanding about something that you’ve “known” before, but you didn’t “know” it this way? Well, this was one of those times. It felt like I had been given new knowledge, even though there were no new thoughts. I’ve thought about that new knowledge a lot over the last couple of months, and I’d like to share some of these thoughts. You might even find that some of them apply to you.
My first thought: the building of Zion is going to be the result of thousands, even millions, of individual efforts. We must each be constantly looking within ourselves, examining the purity of our hearts, seeking the will of the Lord. I must commit myself to putting forth one of those individual efforts. I can no longer sit on the sideline, passively “enduring to the end”. I must passionately seek the Lord, even His face. (D&C 93:1) I must be willing to sacrifice all. I must keep my covenants with exactness, in thought and in deed. Finally, I must learn to trust in Him to the point where I lose my jealousies and fears (D&C 67:10)
Second, I must follow the spirit. Is this another Homer Simpson moment? Not for me. You see, for the first 15 years of my membership in the Lord’s church, I’ve always looked to others for guidance, counsel, even approval. But over the past couple of years, I’ve started sailing in uncharted waters. There have been those who pointed the way, but they all ultimately teach, “Go to the Lord for confirmation – only the Spirit can testify to you of truth”. For someone to do otherwise should be a big red flag. As I’ve sailed farther and farther out to sea, I’ve encountered fewer and fewer ships, and even these are not necessarily charting the same course. Some may have the same destination – Zion – but we don’t necessarily take the same path. That’s because we’re all coming from a different starting point, and we all have different things to learn during our journey. Some may never find Zion – I dare not follow them. By following the spirit, I can trust that the Lord will teach me what I need to know so that when I arrive at my destination, I will be prepared to carry out His will in the building of His kingdom. It is a perfect plan, but one that only the Lord Himself could carry out, and only if I trust Him enough to follow Him. Thus, if we are to be builders of Zion, we must learn to follow the spirit. Only in this way will we each be able to follow our own path and still arrive at the same destination.
Third……..I am a teacher, therefore I must teach. This is my calling – a calling that has been made manifest to me through prayer and personal revelation. My current calling in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is to teach among the souls who have strayed all the way to the Salt Lake County Jail, but I have another calling – a calling in another church. In D&C 10, the Lord reveals the plan of the evil one concerning the 116 lost pages of manuscript, but in the last half of this section, the Lord delivers a remarkable discourse on the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the promised blessings associated with the land of America, and the building up of His church. In verse 55, He says:
I credit my friend, Kristine, for prompting me to ask “which church is He talking about”? There are three churches mentioned in the latter-day scriptures: 1) the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Great and Abominable Church, and the Church of the Firstborn. I have come to the conclusion that this verse is referring to the latter. I specifically reference D&C 88:1-5, although there are other scriptures I could use (D&C 76:50-70, D&C 78:21, D&C 93:22).
Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you who have assembled yourselves together to receive his will concerning you:
Behold, this is pleasing unto your Lord, and the angels rejoice over you; the alms of your prayers have come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded in the book of the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world.
Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.
This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;
Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son…..
This clearly states that those who inherit the kingdom of heaven are the church of the Firstborn. The Bible Dictionary states:
Generally speaking, the kingdom of God on the earth is the Church. It is a preparation for the greater kingdom—the celestial or kingdom of heaven.
This, then, enables us to equate the “eternal glory” of the celestial kingdom as mentioned in D&C 10:55 to the Church of the Firstborn. As I read this scripture recently, I was struck that if the Church of the Firstborn is not the same as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and that if one must become a member of the Church of the Firstborn to receive celestial glory, then there must be many in the LDS Church who need to be led to the Church of the Firstborn. It was as I was coming to this realization that I received my calling…I must teach and I must lead “as many as will come” (D&C 77:11) to the Church of the Firstborn.
Zion is defined as “the pure in heart” (D&C 97:21). What exactly does it mean to be pure in heart? I’ve discussed this to some extent here. However, over the past few months, the importance of obedience has become more and more apparent to me. We are surrounded by evil. It’s unavoidable in our day to day lives. But through obedience to the Lord’s commandments, we can be protected. We can be assured of having his spirit with us to guide, to protect, and to testify of truth. Through obedience we can not only earn His trust, but we learn to trust Him, because we will be showered with blessings (Mosiah 2:24, D&C 82:10). That trust, and the obedience required to develop it, is necessary if we are to be among those who will build Zion – if we are to be “pure in heart”.
The actual establishment of Zion is prophesied to take place prior to the second coming, during the time of the proverbial “tribulations” (D&C 45). Zion will be…a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God;…(D&C 45:70) “A city of refuge, a place of safety”…that implies independence from the powers that be, or from the chaos that will arise in the absence of order. The builders of Zion cannot be dependent upon “the man”. We cannot accept the mark of the beast (Revelations 13:17-18). I’m personally convinced that the Lord is actively teaching me some of these principles and preparing me for what is to come. Last March, I had a personal prompting to eliminate refined sugar from my diet. I allow myself a chocolate once or twice a week, and the occasional 64 oz root beer at the movies (I know, I know!), but donuts, cookies, cakes, etc are gone. The Lord gave me the power to do that. My health improved, and I lost weight. A couple of months ago, I received a similar prompting to dramatically reduce meat from my diet. He gave me the strength to do that. I lost weight. We must learn to be healthy on our own and become less dependent upon the pharma-med establishment. We must learn to grow food, to exist on less, and to enjoy it. We must learn to depend on the Lord and each other, and not on the arm of flesh – both temporally and spiritually. D&C 78:5-7 says:
That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things.
For if ye are not equal in earthly things, ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;
For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.
If we continue to rely on possessions, weapons, entertainment (what’s the score in the Jazz game? Have you seen “The Hobbit”), or “comfort food” for security, protection, and fulfillment, we will never be able to stand independent from these things enough to sacrifice earthly things for the benefit of others. If we cannot sacrifice the earthly things, how can we ever be strong enough to sacrifice the spiritual things? Only if we can learn to trust the Lord, and not mammon, will we ever become qualified to be a builder of Zion.
Lastly, there are two ways that I can see Zion being built. One is that the “pure in heart” will be simply “whisked away” (I again credit Kristine for this concept) to Zion before things really start going south. There is no scriptural support for this theory that I’m aware of except Matthew 24:20:
Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Still, it sounds good, and God is capable of anything, but I suspect that we will actually build Zion in one way or another. To that end, Zion will probably have (I eschew the word “need”, because the Lord doesn’t “need” anything, and can “do” anything he wishes – remember the manna from heaven) dwelling places, and people to build and maintain them. Zion will have farms and orchards, and a distribution system to spread the wealth. Zion will have organization to coordinate the peoples’ activities – even if we are pure in heart and highly tuned to the spirit. Zion will have manufacturing and power, publishing and communication, and commercial interests (shopping, of course!). I understand that I am speculating in this way from the limited perspective of my own experience, but in considering this structure, a funny thing comes to mind……..the LDS Church already has all of these things in place! So, is it possible that, when it comes time for Zion to be established, the current church organization will be the core of Zion, and those that are not pure in heart will be “left behind”?
In conclusion, many think the builders of Zion will be specifically called by a priesthood leader. How many times have we heard something like, “…when we are called to walk back to Jackson County”? In my opinion, this is a particularly insidious myth propagated by Satan himself. We must prepare constantly – we must be constantly doing what the Lord commands us. The time to “build Zion” is now! The building of Zion begins in our hearts. Zion will be built one prayer, one lesson, one covenant, one heart at a time. Zion will be built as we become “pure in heart”. I pray that you and I will build it together.