This series was prompted by the following statement from a new friend:
“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.
Seeking the Second Comforter
In John 14:16-18,21,23 during the Last Supper, after Judas had left, but before the great intercessory prayer, Christ is recorded as saying to His apostles:
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
The Prophet Joseph said in reference to these verses:
The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.
Note the 16, 17, 18, 21, 23 verses: [quoted].
Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a prefect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions —Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Pgs 149-151)
Bruce R. McConkie, in answer to the question, “Is having one’s calling and election made sure the same as receiving the Second Comforter?” said:
It is the privilege of those who have their calling and election made sure, meaning those who are sealed up unto eternal life, meaning those who are “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13), to receive the Second Comforter. “There are two Comforters spoken of,” says the Prophet in one of his most profound and enlightening discourses. “One of these is the Holy Ghost, the same as given on the day of Pentecost, and that all saints receive after faith, repentance, and baptism. The first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. (Bruce R. McConkie , Doctrinal New Testament Commentary)
Elder McConkie further states in the chapter “Seek the Face of the Lord Always” of his book “The Promised Messiah” (pg 584):
It is the privilege of all those who have made their calling and election sure to see God; to talk with him face to face; to commune with him on a personal basis from time to time. These are the ones upon whom the Lord sends the Second Comforter. Their inheritance of exaltation and eternal life is assured, and so it becomes with them here and now in this life as it will be with all exalted beings in the life to come. They become the friends of God and converse with him on a friendly basis as one man speaks to another.
I was first introduced to the concept of the Second Comforter when I read the book, “The Second Comforter” by Denver Snuffer. I referred in part 2 of this series to the friend who told me to never ask for my calling and election to be made sure unless I was prepared to endure the trials. Denver Snuffer made a similar point – that the Lord will only grant the Second Comforter after your faith has been proven through trials:
You can’t get to heaven without passing through hell. (pg 80)
Because of these things the path to heaven runs through hell. You don’t get the epiphany without confronting Satan. There is always a balance, because agency and the right (or obligation) to choose is part of God’s plan. (pg 348)
Concerning the purpose of these trials:
In the end, Goliaths (trials) are merely opportunities for you to demonstrate your faith. They will be swept away when they no longer serve any purpose………
Take an inventory of your life. Look again at your challenges. Those Goliaths you face are opportunities and blessings, not difficulties. They are mere illusions; here to test your faith……
These things are not optional. They lie at the heart of this process. Faith and trust in God must precede development into the fully prepared man or woman of faith…..
Until your faith allows you to see things in this light, you are not prepared to see beyond the veil. (pgs 75-76)
The defining point for me was when, after reading this book, I decided that I wanted to receive this blessing so badly that I overcame the fears of any trials that may be required. I went before the Lord in prayer, and told Him, in effect, “I trust you. If I must undergo trials to come unto you, then so be it. I trust your judgment, wisdom, mercy and love”.
Shortly thereafter, while in the process of internalizing the possibility that I (yes, ME) could actually see the face of the Lord, I was reading with new eyes the story of the brother of Jared seeing first the finger of the Lord (Ether 3:6), then seeing the Lord Himself as recorded in verses 9, 13, and 15:
And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this? (verse 9)
And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you .(verse 13)
And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. (verse 15)
The faith of the brother of Jared was so great that the veil was rent! The record (verse 9) almost makes it seem that the Lord was surprised by the faith of the brother of Jared: ….”Sawest thou more than this?” Later scriptures confirm that the man’s faith was simply so great that he could not be kept from within the veil:
And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting. (Ether 3:19)
And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad. (Ether 12:19)
And after the brother of Jared had beheld the finger of the Lord, because of the promise which the brother of Jared had obtained by faith, the Lord could not withhold anything from his sight; wherefore he showed him all things, for he could no longer be kept without the veil. (Ether 12:21)
I had begun praying daily to receive this blessing. It became clear to me that the Lord was hearing my prayers, and that I was being prepared. Other scriptures began to take on new and added significance:
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. (Psalm 27:8)
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 93:1)
The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; nevertheless, the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him.
Then shall ye know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is in you, and that you are in me; otherwise ye could not abound. (D&C 88:49-50)
But there was one scripture that impacted me more than any other. D&C 67:10 says:
And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual. (emphasis added)
“…strip yourselves from jealousies and fears…” As I have pondered this simple phrase, it has taken on a significance and depth rivaled only by D&C 121:34-46. It has become even more obvious that the Lord is leading me in His path. As a result, I have recently come to the following realizations:
1) I have no tolerance for contention. The spirit leaves and I feel empty….empty!
2) I have to lose the selfishness that forms the pavilion (read President Eyring’s talk here) that stands between me and the Lord. I understand that I cannot do this myself – I can only be cleansed through the power of the atonement.
3) If I can truly strip myself of jealousies and fears, if I can develop a consuming gratitude, charity, and trust in the Lord, I will, like the brother of Jared, develop faith unto knowledge, to the point that the Lord cannot withhold me from within the veil.
4) It is not from the attainment of these 3 blessings, but from the passionate pursuit of them, that my life will be truly blessed.
In summary, my life has changed forever. Having knowledge of these principles, I can never look back; I can never again settle for “waiting for my exaltation”. I must continue seeking the gifts of the spirit, including but not limited to the revelations of the Comforter. I must continue to ask the Lord what I must do to have my calling and election made sure. I must learn to be more obedient, more humble and to become sanctified to the will of my Lord, that I may be blessed to see the face of the Lord. This is a life-long, completely fulfilling, and ultimately exalting endeavor;and I must be anxiously engaged in this good cause. “Waiting for exaltation” is no longer an option, and enduring to the end promises to be anything but “grim”.