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D&C Section 93 – the Path to Truth, Light, Knowledge and Glory

Joseph Smith2 It was about 3 months ago that I read D&C 93 for the umpteenth time.  You know, this is the section of the Doctrine and Covenants that says:

Man was also in the beginning with God.  Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.

All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. (D&C 93:29-30)

If you’re like me, every time you read this you think to yourself “Wow!  That’s really profound!  I wonder what it means”.  Then you read on without really digesting or truly asking the Lord what He was trying to tell us.  At least, I did this umpteen times before this.  However, I’m reading the scriptures with more purpose these days; because the Lord has counseled me to stop relying on the interpretations of other men and to allow Him to teach me the things He wants me to know.  As a result, this was the time that this section started to come together and actually make sense.  This was the time that I was able to understand much more of the message that the Lord was giving to the Saints on this day, May 6th, 1833, in Kirtland, Ohio.  I hope you will indulge me as I share the things I think I have learned.  In order to do so, I propose to expound on specific verses, hopefully to bring them all together in a sweet, eternal explosion of truth and light.

The key, in my mind, to understanding the Lord’s message to us is contained in verses 18 thru 20, which say:

And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the fullness of the record of John.

I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.

For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.

This is the pivot point of the targeted portion of this revelation (verses 1-40).  Before this, He expounds on the nature of Christ, of His relationship with the Father, and how He received the fullness of the father, “grace by grace”.

The Light of Christ

The Lord starts this revelation off with a stunning declaration:

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)

Far too often, I have stopped there, saying “See?! See?! – The Lord promises us that we can see His face, and he doesn’t say anything about having to die first!  How cool is that?!”  Like me, many are so stricken by this declaration that verse two is lost in the shadow of our excitement.  It says:

And that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world (D&C 93:2)

This begs the question…”what, really, is light?”  I believe it is truly the “Light of Christ”, but I also believe that the Light of Christ is much more than our conscience.  I have concluded that it is actually the very life force, the force of goodness that activates us, spiritually as well as physically.  It is the very power that powers the universe; that drove its creation; that perpetuates its existence.  This light is Christ, or the Light of Christ.   Verses 8 and 9 say:

Therefore, in the beginning the Word was, for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation — The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him and in him was the life of men and the light of men.

This Word, as prominently mentioned in John, Chapter 1, is symbolic of the Lord “speaking” or taking action, turning His faith into action – perhaps even turning the spiritual creation into the physical creation.  It is His faith, nothing doubting, that enables Him to turn his desires into belief, his belief coupled with action into faith, and then that faith into knowledge (the creation).  I wrote of this process previously in Faith – The Cycle of Becoming.  He is the messenger of salvation because it is His light, the power of creation, that drives the world (the universe) towards its exalted destiny, its divine perfection, as opposed to leaving it to the ravages of entropy, or the slow, sure descent into chaos.  Lectures on Faith, Lesson 7, verse 2 says:

As we have seen in our former lectures that faith was the principle of action and of power in all intelligent beings, both in heaven and on earth, it will not be expected that we shall, inlectures on faith

a lecture of this description, attempt to unfold all its effects; neither is it necessary to our purpose so to do, for it would embrace all things in heaven and on earth, and encompass all the

creations of God, with all their endless varieties ; for no world has yet been framed that was not framed by faith, neither has there been an intelligent being on any of God’s creations who

did not get there by reason of faith as it existed in himself or in some other being ; nor has there been a change or a revolution in any of the creations of God, but it has been effected by faith;

neither will there be a change or a revolution, unless it is effected in the same way, in any of the vast creations of the Almighty, for it is by faith that the Deity works.

Further on, in verse 8, Joseph says:

From this we learn that the many exhortations which have been given by inspired men, to those who had received the word of the Lord to have faith in him, were not mere commonplace matters, but were for the best of all reasons, and that was because without it there was no salvation, neither in this world nor in that which is to come. When men begin to live by faith they begin to draw near to God ; and when faith is perfected they are like him ; and because he is saved they are saved also ; for they will be in the same situation he is in, because they have come to him ; and when he appears they shall be like him, for they will see him as he is. 

It is His force, His light, His perfect faith nurtured into perfect knowledge, that saves all things from the opposition that defines even the most basic existence.  (2 Nephi 2:11-14).  We become saved when become like Him, when we learn to exercise faith, to live by faith.

The Source of the Light? 

From whom did Christ receive it?  In verses 7-17, John is quoted as describing the answer to this – he received it “grace by grace”.

Verses 3-5 say:

And that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one—

The Father because he gave me of his fulness, and the son because I was in the world and made flesh my tabernacle, and dwelt among the sons of men

I was in the world and received of my Father, and the works of him were plainly manifest

Verses 11-12 of John’s testimony then say:

And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.

And I, John, saw that he received not the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace.

This is where it starts to come together for me.  Christ is the “Only Begotten” because He received the light, the Spirit of Truth, directly from the father.  He is the firstborn (D&C 93:21) because He received of His light. However, John makes it clear that He did not receive of the fullness at first – He only received a part of it.  The rest came to Him “grace by grace” as He dwelt among the children of men, separated from the Father by the veil of having taken on a tabernacle of flesh.  John describes the outcome of this process in verses 16-17:

And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the father;

And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in Him.

lightThis is the same process we all must go through, only we receive our light, the spirit of truth, from Christ, not from the Father Himself.  We are begotten of Christ, not of the Father (D&C 93:22).  I am reminded again of the “cycle of becoming” mentioned above, and of Alma’s discourse on faith in Alma 32.  We all receive the seed, the Light of Christ.  Christ received grace on grace by nurturing the seed that He received from the father – the light, the spirit of truth – until He received of the fullness.  Our journey must of necessity be very similar.  He is our example, the prototype of the “saved man” (Lectures on Faith, Lecture 7, verse 9), whose faith became so perfect that he has received of the fullness of the Father, of His light – the Spirit of truth.  The only difference is that He received his seed directly from the Father as the only Begotten Son, whereas we receive our seed, the Light of Christ, from Christ, having been begotten of Him.  Our task is, as His was, to turn that seed, grace by grace, through the exercise of faith unto knowledge, into the fullness.  It is in this way that we become one with Him, and thus one with the Father. (John 17:20-23)

In verse, 22, the Lord then tells us that “…all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the Firstborn” – again, because we received our light through Him, the “Firstborn”.  In other words, all who, through a combination of their efforts – their exercise of faith – and His atonement receive of the fullness of the spirit of truth, constitute the “Church of the Firstborn”.  This church is first mentioned in D&C 76:51-54:church of the firstborn

They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and according to the commandment which he has given—

That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;

And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.

They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.

Now, let’s revisit verses D&C 93:18-20 mentioned above:

And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the fulness of the record of John.

I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.

For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.

Who do we worship? 

Among other things, we worship a being, the Christ, who, as the Only Begotten Son of the Father, received a seed of perfection directly from the Father and, through the perfect exercise of faith, in spite of the handicap of taking on a tabernacle of flesh, gained grace by grace the fullness of the father.  This same Christ then earned the authority to become our judge, our example, our advocate, our Savior by sacrificing all that he had gained on our behalf.

How do we worship?

By the same exercise of faith, the cycle of becoming, learning grace by grace until we have gained a fullness of the light – the spirit of truth – a seed of which we received from the Only Begotten of the Father.  Revisit verses 1-2:

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.

And that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world

It is even clearer to me now that man cannot be saved in ignorance, as stated by the prophet Joseph, (William Clayton diary, May 17, 1843, Ramus, Illinois).  We must come to know (by converting faith into knowledge via action – the process of receiving grace by grace) that He is, and that He is the “true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”  We must also come to know Him (John 17:3) – his mind, his spirit.  It is faith in God, converted into knowledge of Him, that saves us.

Before proceeding further, I would like to discuss the following key words that are used over and over in this section and in other places throughout the scriptures.  These words are light, truth, and glory.

Light

Verse 9 says, referring to “the Word” or Christ:

The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth…

I mentioned above my feeling that light is the driving and binding force behind all of creation.  It is truth.  It is goodness.  Early in my relationship with the Lord, I developed my own definition of love – that love is that force which builds up, constructs and makes things better.  The opposite, of course, is that which tears down or causes deterioration.  In this sense, then, light = love, because it is the force that creates.  There is a physical aspect to this that I believe is true, and which I understand spiritually but could not explain scientifically – that the actual physical properties of “light” as we know it, in all its frequencies – somehow constitute this binding force, this creative force.  I really believe there is a physical (as in the science of physics) explanation for this that would be in complete harmony with the scriptural references that we have, which are prominent in section 93.

Truth

Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;

And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.

The Spirit of truth is of God.  I am the spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yeah, even of all truth;

And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.

He that keepth his commandments receiveth truth and light until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things. (D&C 93:24-28)

Truth is gained by exercising faith unto knowledge.  Truth exists, but it is only known by faith.  The wicked one would have us learn truth by other means, which is necessarily “more or less”.  The only way we can know all truth is through the exercise of faith unto knowledge.

Glory

Glory is the fullness – to receive of the fulness.  Verse 20:glory

For if you keep my commandments, you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.

Glory must be received grace for grace.  Glory = knowledge = light and truth.

And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.  He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.  (Verse 28-29)

And finally:

The Glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth (Verse 36)

Per my own revelation (which understanding was simply given to me, and I can’t really point to any particular scripture), Glory is also to have perfect integrity in all things.  It is the power to create without violating agency. In other words, to have such perfect knowledge, love, truth and light that even the very elements acknowledge you and your righteous integrity, and obey your commandments.  Glory is that which has all power to overcome entropy, or to overcome the fall, which came by way of transgression. (D&C 20:20)

Intelligence…was not created nor made…

Verses 29-39 are where my mind has always glazed over in the past.  This is where one is likely to think, “Either Joseph is a true prophet, or he’s just plain crazy.”  Verse 29 says:

Man was also in the beginning with God.  Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.

This is consistent with the timeless self-existent “I AM” interpretation of “Yahweh”, or YHWH.  In other words, God simply IS.  I described above how Christ received a seed of God’s glory, of His integrity, of His truth and light, and was thus the Only Begotten.  Man, in turn, received His seed of glory from Christ.  Thus, that which makes up our spirit existed “in the beginning with God”.  Furthermore, this light of truth, this glory, simply exists.  It is self-existent.  It is because it is.  I received a personal revelation recently in which I was told “You Are!”  I still haven’t fully digested that.  It is mind-boggling, liberating, elevating, and sobering to think of oneself as self-existent, yet that is what I was told.  Obviously, if this is true of me, it is true of all of us.  However, it is our integrity, our glory, our light and truth that is self-existent.  It extends to its fullness – exaltation – through obedience, after the Lord’s atonement:

Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God (Verse 38)

Despite the fall, we are given purity.  WE ARE.  We are self-existent, just as Christ was.  We have the seed of His (Christ’s) glory, the glory that He gave so much to earn.  And then the other shoe drops.  Skipping ahead a few verses to 39, we read:

And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men and because of the tradition of their fathers.

See, we ARE light and truth!  We have it – it is given to us – but Satan comes to take it away (but he has to take it away because it was already given to us) if we are disobedient, largely because of the traditions of our fathers.  This is babylon.  This disobedience, these traditions of our fathers can be otherwise called “the philosophies of men”.  It is these lies of which Satan is the father.  It is by listening to these lies (read “The Great Lie and the Great Promise” here) that we bring about our own condemnation:

And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation (Verse 32) 

Light and truth forsake that evil one (Verse 37)

We are given it all.  It is up to us to choose or reject it. (D&C 84:35-38)

Our Body – The True Temple

The elements are the tabernacle of God…(Verse 35)

In other words, it is through the elements that God’s glory, intelligence, truth, integrity…even His faith (Lectures on Faith 1:10) are made manifest.

…yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples, and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.

This verse is preceded by:

For man is spirit.  The elements are eternal and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;

And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.(Verses 33-34)

Whoa!  Man, the body of man, inseparably connected with the spirit, receives a fullness of joy!  Man is the tabernacle of God – within which He manifests Himself!  Man is the temple to which God will come!  We build temples, yes, and I can feel His spirit there very clearly, but his favorite temple is ME!  And YOU!  WE are the true temples.  The granite temples built by hand are only buildings within which we are taught how to keep from defiling our temple – the one He gave us, filled with that seed of glory – that it will not be destroyed.  The granite temples are where we are taught how to receive the promised truth, light, intelligence and knowledge…the glory of God.  It is in our body, inseparably connected to the spirit, where God will truly manifest Himself.  If we are only spirit, He cannot manifest Himself through us.  The elements are His tabernacle.  We must keep our temple clean (read “A Temple Pure and White” here) so that He may manifest Himself in us, that we in turn might become one with Him.  These ordinances, by themselves, are dead.  It is by our obedience, but our constant seeking of light and truth, and forsaking that evil one, that we give them life.

All Truth is Independent…

sphere of truthI have always struggled with verse 30:

All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

I now realize that this takes us back to the discussion earlier on being self-existent.  Not only are we self-existent, but all truth is self-existent.  It just is, and it is to “act for itself”.  Furthermore, the truth defines the sphere within which it is placed.   There may be other spheres in God’s creation, as is implied, but we have been placed in this one.  The truth is self-existent.  We are self-existent.  We become one with God when we know all truth, are filled with the light of truth, and are thus our own sphere?

Truth is light.  Truth and light are intelligence, or the Glory of God.  When we begin to define ourselves in the light of other beings (think “Jealousies and Fears – D&C 67:10”) we are surrendering ourselves to be acted upon, and we are denying the nature of who we are – who we were “organized” to be (Lessons from the Jail – I am a Child of God).  When we take that glory that Christ planted in us, and defile it by submitting it to the opposition that is the very definition of the fall (2 Nephi 2:11); when we submit to the enticings of the evil one (think agency); we in turn defile our temple – that body and spirit inseparably connected.  Having been given all of this by a kind and loving Heavenly Father, through His Only Begotten Son, how can we…I say, HOW CAN WE, turn away?

But I have commanded you…

Verse 40, which leads to a pretty scathing dressing down of Frederick G. Williams, says:

But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.

Fourteen words.  Nothing cryptic here.  Yet, in light of what we were given in the first 39 verses of this chapter, there may not be 14 more important words in all the scriptures.  This is a vibrant meaning of Malachi 4:6 and many derivative verses in the scriptures:

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

…Into One Great Whole or “I Stand all Amazed”

As I have digested this passage of scripture and written this study, I am decidedly impressed with the extent to which all truth really can be circumscribed into one great whole.  It is amazing to me how these 40 verses sum up so much.  Every one of the hyperlinks in this piece represents either a very familiar scripture or a blog post from the last 3 years.  Every one of them represents a piece of the puzzle that I had been given over the years, but somehow they all came together – sucked into the brilliant sun of truth and light that is Doctrine and Covenants Section 93.  I truly stand all amazed.

Finally, let’s not forget the opening verse, which, all by itself, is one of the most powerful verses – even the greatest promise – in all of scripture:

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)

I pray that we will each live our lives in such a way that we will redeem this promise, receive of the fullness of John, see the face of the Lord, and truly know that He is – the Christ, the redeemer of all mankind and our personal Savior and friend.

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6 comments on “D&C Section 93 – the Path to Truth, Light, Knowledge and Glory

  1. Scott! I love this! I have thought this through similarly, and you have also solidified some things for me. The thing I was thinking about just today, is the fact that God is absolutely amazing and honorable. He was the one who figured EVERYTHING out! HE IS the ONE who started all knowledge! We existed, but not really, until He unfolded the universe to us. He could have been a tyrant. He could have been selfish. He could have been so many things, but He isn’t. He is love, He is light, He is honor, He is truth, He is giving, He is willing to share ALL of it with ALL intelligences that prove their worth. We have to show Him that we are honorable. We have to show Him that we can be trusted with such knowledge, and then He freely gives! He FREELY GIVES ALL that HE figured out. All things are taught to us grace upon grace and soon as we are ready. As soon as we are prepared for the next step in our learning, He gives. That is all He does, he loves, he directs, he prepares. He GIVES GIVES GIVES. The thing you said in here that was the biggest revelatory thing to me, was how we would receive the rest of the book of John. We receive it ourselves through revelation. As WE are ready. Not as a book unveiled to the whole church at once or something like that. That rings true to me and is an amazing thought to me. Thank you for sharing. ❤

    Liesl

  2. Thank you Scott, that was quite masterful!
    Dear Lies,
    Might I suggest that when Lorenzo Snow stated “As man now is, God once
    was; as God now is, man may be”, or in other words God became God by going through a similar experience as we are, and by doing so He honored His father by living the same eternal commandments that we are required to! Truth and Light are eternal and as far as I can understand never change. He learned to live by eternal laws during the eternity that provided the way for Him to become a God, just as we dwell in this eternity as His offspring by living the same eternal laws. This is why I believe the scriptures speak of eternities and not only eternity! So in my feeble mind Our (Father) God did not “figure” anything out, He simply did the same thing we are required to do to become like Him, as He did for His (Father) God?

    Just a little rambling here, sincerely,

    Greg

  3. Liesl – beautiful. You have added even more to the understanding that I tried to share in the post. Greg – likewise. I continue to stand amazed at how these 40 verses seem to open the knowledge of the heavens to us.

  4. […] Furthermore, He’s my hero because His “glory” is actually the result of His integrity, an integrity so perfect that even the very elements willingly obey his every […]

  5. Question: Why is Christ the one to receive light from the Father, as opposed to anybody else? Do we at some point ever in the future, receive light directly from the Father as opposed to receiving it through Christ?

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