Of Promises, Safety, and the Fullness of the Priesthood

3_nephitesI owe my receipt of the following insights into D&C section 89, commonly known as the Word of Wisdom, to my friend, Kaai Lincoln, although I know he would be very quick to say, “Well, I learned it from so-and-so”.  The last 4 verses read:

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

Well, if that doesn’t sound like a description of one who has been translated, ala the 3 Nephites, John the Beloved, and probably other scriptural heroes we are all familiar with…well, it certainly does to me. This post, however, is not about the Word of Wisdom or about translation.  It’s about being willing to take the Lord at His word and risk all in order to obtain all.The-Good-Ship-Zion-Blog-Photos-009-747x280 Most of us are aware of references in General Conference to “Stay in the Boat” and “The Old Ship Zion”, an analogy most recently raised by Elder Russell M. Ballard in the October, 2014 Conference.  A concerned friend recently encouraged me to be safe, and stay in the boat.  I responded, “But I can’t walk on the water if I stay in the boat!”jesus-walking-on-water-benjamin-mcpherson This, then, is the topic of this blog post – whether ‘tis better to stay in the boat and be safe, or to risk it all for greater glory. The above interpretation of the Word of Wisdom is merely one case in point.  One might think, concerning the doctrine of translation, “Well, that’s pretty risky.  What if it doesn’t mean that?”  My response is, “So, what if I’m wrong?  What do I have to lose?”  What I would lose is that perhaps, as a result of trying to diligently heed the principle, I would spend my life not enjoying some of the carnal things specified.  By my interpretation, not only does the Word of Wisdom proscribe the use of certain substances, it recommends a VERY healthy diet.  I repeat…the LORD recommended a very healthy diet as part of a “principle with promise” – a promise that could very well include being redeemed, both physically and spiritually, from the effects of the fall while in this life time; a promise that could very will result in my spending the millennium on this earth bring souls to Him.  The promise given to the 3 Nephites said:

Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall never taste of death; but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven.

And ye shall never endure the pains of death; but when I shall come in my glory ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality; and then shall ye be blessed in the kingdom of my Father.

And again, ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh, neither sorrow save it be for the sins of the world; and all this will I do because of the thing which ye have desired of me, for ye have desired that ye might bring the souls of men unto me, while the world shall stand.

And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one;

And the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and the Father giveth the Holy Ghost unto the children of men, because of me.

So, if I thought there was even an inkling of a chance that I might receive these blessings by simply following the principles in the Word of Wisdom with full purpose of heart, why would I not do so?  In my own self-examination – in my own attempt to answer this question, I came up with the following answers:

  • I like Carl’s Junior’s (or insert restaurant name here) hamburgers too much, and I fear that I might miss them.
  • I like Kentucky Fried Chicken too much, and I fear that I might not be able to resist.
  • I like bacon, especially the thick-sliced kind, too much and I fear living life without it.
  • I do not realize just exactly how pervasive and unsustainable and destructive to the earth and everyone on it the current cultural dietary patterns are.
  • I simply don’t have the willpower to overcome these satanically-generated desires and live and eat in a way that I know the Lord has recommended, and I fear that I might fail in my efforts to do so.
  • I simply don’t realize that these habits, desires, and fears are some of the bands that tie us down and prevent us from truly being free to serve the Lord with all that we are.

Now, I said this post was not about the Word of Wisdom, and it’s not.  It’s about trust and belief and a desire to receive the fullness offered in D&C 84.

 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;

 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;

 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;

 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.

 Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.

 But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.

 And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.

And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.

For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.

And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.

And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world.

And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.

And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me.

For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin.

And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me.

And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.

And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—

Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.

And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—

That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.

For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay.

Verily, verily, I say unto you who now hear my words, which are my voice, blessed are ye inasmuch as you receive these things;

For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you.

To list the promises in this oath and covenant – and I may miss some:

  • If we receive the fullness of this priesthood, we receive the Lord, and the Father, and all that He has
  • We can come unto God, even the Father
  • By coming unto Him, we can be freed from the bondage of sin; we receive forgiveness of sins
  • We may know the righteous from the wicked
  • We can avoid condemnation and a scourge and a judgment which shall be poured out upon the children of Zion

How do we receive these promises?  I repeat, “For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” I would also make a couple of other points here:

  • This priesthood has nothing to do with men or women. Its blessings and its power are unto all the children of Zion – even unto all the earth.
  • This priesthood, the one spoken of in D&C 84, is not an administrative priesthood. That is a lesser priesthood – a priesthood required by men who have not yet received the fullness.  The ordinances spoken of in 84:21 are invitations, representations of the real thing, pointing to the fullness.  This priesthood is the real thing.  This priesthood – the priesthood that includes the fullness – is the priesthood, or brotherhood, of man with God – a brotherhood whose bonds are born in honoring each other in love, respect, kindness, loyalty, and trust.  It is a brotherhood, a priesthood, of promises kept on both sides of the covenant.  This priesthood is glorious beyond anything yet revealed to mankind as a whole upon the earth, because they have refused to accept it.

Back to the Point It may seem as if I’ve gone down a rabbit hole here, but let me bring us back.  The Word of Wisdom is a “principle with promise”.  There’s that word again – “promise”.  In one case – the oath and covenant of the priesthood – the Lord promises that if we truly love Him, we can receive all that the Father has.  In the second, we receive a promise that I choose to interpret as being redeemed from both the physical and spiritual aspects of the fall.  Let me repeat with emphasis added:

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

Now, let’s view a couple of other familiar scriptures in this context.  First 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;

This verse doesn’t use the word promise, but neither does the Lord hedge in His declaration, and a declaration it most certainly is.  He says, “every soul” and “shall see my face”.  In D&C 67:10, however, He does use the word, “promise”:

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.

I have written in depth (at least, it was “in depth” for me) previously about this particular scripture, so I’m not going to go further into it.  Suffice it to say, however, that this promise, that we may see His face and “know that I am” is clear and is given unto all those who will fulfill the requirements to receive this promise.  Again, concerned friends have suggested that this is a gospel hobby, or that I shouldn’t be so arrogant as to presume that this promise is available to me.  My response is mutli-fold:

  • How will I ever know if I don’t seek, ask, and knock?
  • How can I honor – as in a priesthood of honor and trust – my Savior, even the Father, if I simply dismiss selected promises as “too risky” or “reserved for only certain men”? Who ever said that, anyway.  It’s certainly not in the scriptures!
  • How can I ever expect to receive the fullness, even all that the Father has, if I am not willing to risk all to receive it.
  • Do not forget, that the requirements for receiving these blessings are righteous in the extreme (if that’s even possible) and I will most certainly be a better man for seeking to fulfill them.

No, I cannot accept that, as long as I am willing to pay the price set forth in these covenant promises, these blessings – all of them…in their fullness – are not available to me. Big Finish Okay, this has gone on long enough.  When I started writing this morning, the message I had in mind had nothing to do with promises.  The promises theme in this essay was given by the Lord Himself as I was writing.  To summarize:

  • The Lord makes and keeps promises. He does not break them.  These promises – the ones in the scriptures – are unto all of us.  He is no respecter of persons.
  • While He does promise that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, he does not promise a smooth road. The road to Zion will not be one of comfort or safety.  We must be willing to risk all if we are to obtain all the promised blessings of the priesthood.
  • These promises include translation, as described in Section 89.
  • They include introductions to the Savior and to the Father.
  • They absolutely include the power to move mountains, change the course of rivers, heal the sick, and raise the dead, because these are the Father’s powers, and we have been promised all that the Lord has. Only through unbelief are these promises unavailable to us (Mormon 9:20)
  • If we are not actively seeking after the mysteries, if we are not constantly asking for more light and truth, even if we are not asking Him to strengthen us, sanctify us, cleanse us, and prepare us to serve Him in His fullness, we cannot ever expect to receive all that He has promised.

The fullness of the priesthood – the oneness with Christ and with the Father – is an extraordinary goal that requires extraordinary effort.  It requires extraordinary faith, trust, and sacrifice.  We can hold nothing back in the hopes of being safe or comfortable.  Most of us are trying very hard to receive these things.  My hope is to open the door just a little wider and perhaps provide a further glimpse into the Glory that awaits those who are willing to risk the cost.

3 comments on “Of Promises, Safety, and the Fullness of the Priesthood

  1. I have been learning the same thing. It is great seeing how the Lord can use us to be his vessels when we allow him. To see you grow and continue in further light and knowledge is wonderful to behold. I believe we have both grown a lot these past few years. It has been full of growing pains.

    Yesterday I failed a pop quiz from the Lord concerning Charity. It came in the form of traveling with my nieces and nephews and daughter, Driving in the van with them for 10 hours. Pulled over twice due to frustration, said unkind words, raised my voice, ect. It has been years since I have behaved in such a manner. I reacted instead of acting with love and understanding.

    But today is a new day. A new beginning, a new start. Love, Sister Sally

    • You’re so kind, Sally. Yes, we do fail those “pop quizzes” sometimes, don’t we? But every one makes us stronger. You have been under a lot of stress, and you were there for those kids. That’s a long drive, and a great sacrifice for you. I’m sure the Lord is pleased.

      • Thanks Scott! I needed to hear that. I have them till Thursday night. We will be more prepared for the car trip back to my sisters. Then they will have a day with her before she drives them back the rest of the way to Virginia. I’m going to be sending you a private e-mail soon. So be on the look out for it. This time I won’t forget to send it to you 😉

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