Revisiting the Second Comforter

jm_300_BOM2.p-P9.tiffMy purpose in writing this blog is not in any way to demean the soul-defining experience of seeing the face of our Lord and Savior in vision.  For most of us who have prayed to have such an experience, it still awaits – beckoning – a mighty hope that has, thus far, remained just that, a hope, perhaps even a promise, for the future.

Just today I received an e-mail from a dear friend describing how he received that experience for himself.  He shared it with a select few, his purpose being to confirm that such experiences are not a myth – that someone whom we know very well, someone who endures faults and imperfections like we all do, has actually been blessed in this glorious manner.

Among those of us who declare openly that we believe it is not only possible, but practically a commandment to seek the face of the Lord, we largely believe that this experience of receiving a visitation from the Lord, either in dream or waking vision, is the event whereby we receive the Second Comforter.  I’ve seen no scriptural support for that belief.  I suggest, instead, that there is much more for us to learn about this Second Comforter, and that it is not necessarily synonymous with “seeing the face of the Lord”, in vision or dream.  Allow me to explain.

Whether it was by coincidence, or as a result of shared interest between my friend and me, or by heavenly design, I had prayed about this very topic just before reading His e-mail this morning.  I was also seeking assurance that the experiences I had had over the past months were real; that I hadn’t “made them up” to satisfy my own lusts; and that they had indeed come from true heavenly messengers.  I had prayed that I only wanted to hear the voice of the Lord, and that, in the name of Jesus Christ, I rejected all other influences.  While I was praying, my mind was directed to the story of the brother of Jared, and I was reminded of the following:

  • The brother of Jared was already highly respected among his people as a man who, in a time of great impending calamity, could be asked to approach the Lord on their behalf. He was “a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord” (Ether 1:34).  Upon asking the Lord, he received revelation that the language of their family would not be confounded.  Then, at Jared’s request that his brother “Cry again unto the Lord”, this favored circle was enlarged to include friends of the family.
  • Through the brother of Jared, the Lord guided this chosen community to the Valley of Nimrod, with a promise that he would bless them and their seed…”and raise up unto me…a great nation. (Ether 1:43). And there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed upon all the face of the earth.  And thus I will do unto thee because this long time ye have cried unto me”.
  • Through the brother of Jared, this family was led toward a promised land, even building barges to cross a great inland sea – seemingly a dress rehearsal for an even greater miracle to come. The Lord went before them in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel, eventually leading them through lands where “never man had been” (Ether 2:5) to the shore of the great sea that divided the lands.
  • After 4 years, perhaps 4 years of rest, the Lord came again to the brother of Jared in a cloud and “chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord” for all those years (Ether 2:14). He forgave the brother of Jared and His family their sins, but warned that “my Spirit will not always strive with man” (Ether 2:15).  Nevertheless, he promised again a land for their inheritance which is “choice above all other lands”.
  • The Lord then proceeded to instruct the brother of Jared in how to build the barges that would take his people – now, I’m sure greatly enlarged after many years of traveling together in the wilderness – across the great sea to the promised land.

Here we have a picture of a man, the brother of Jared, which is very similar to that of Abraham, Moses and Lehi.  The brother of Jared clearly hears the Lord, receives instruction, great blessings, and promises on behalf of his people, and acts in every way as a designated prophet of God.  Yet – this all happened before he saw the Lord.  In Ether 3:15 the Lord says:

And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast.

Again, I do not mean to diminish anyone’s experience of receiving the Lord in vision or dream, of feeling his hands, perhaps touching His face, and feeling of His love.  The accounts seem to vary widely from a face of fiery glory to one that is accessible and welcoming.  The scriptures that speak to this are legion, whether directly or by implication.  I hope to have this experience myself, but let’s examine whether this experience is really synonymous with receiving the Second Comforter.

In the oft-quoted talk from the Prophet Joseph, he says:

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. (TJPS, pgs 149-151) (emphasis mine)

Notice, that Joseph does not describe how the second comforter is received, only that when any man does obtain “…this last comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time…”  Note again, that these are not presented a conditions of receiving the Second Comforter, but of events that will unfold in the future, as indicated by the usage of the phrase “…from time to time”.  These are clearly the results of receiving the Second Comforter – perhaps manifestations of having received it – but not so much the means by which the Second Comforter is received.

Let’s consider, also, what it means to have the Savior and the Father take up their abode with him – or to “abide with him”.  This abiding can certainly be manifested in multiple ways, but 1 John 3:24 says,

And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him and he in him.  And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

What are “his commandments”?  In their simplest, and purest form, they are “Love God” and “Love your neighbor”.  So, according to John, if we truly love God and love our neighbor, we can dwell in Him and He in us.  The Lord wants to be with us, and if we will purify ourselves by keeping His commandments, He will do just that.  The First Epistle of John is rich with understanding of this concept, and I highly recommend absorbing it (upcoming blog post).  This makes me wonder if a lot more of us might have received the Second Comforter than realize it – having received it “…by the spirit which he hath given us” through our obedience to His commandments.

There is clearly much we have to learn about obtaining this intimate relationship with Jesus Christ that we have come to call “Receiving the Second Comforter”, and how it manifests itself in our lives.  I have come to believe that we often conflate this blessing with that of “seeing His face” and receiving a personal visitation in dream or open vision.  Again, I do not desire to devalue that incredible experience.  I just hope that we don’t devalue ourselves, or our service, or our ability to exercise His priesthood power and/or authority, or His love for and trust in us simply because we haven’t yet seen His face.  The brother of Jared is an example of how a man who was clearly a prophet of God could hear His voice, follow His direction, and lead His chosen people without having seen His face.

Finally, I have been cautioned more than once not to compare my experiences with that of others – the implication being to be sure not to devalue the experiences I have had with the Lord just because they do not match that of others.  I think this is probably good advice for all of us – lest we fail to recognize and be grateful for what we have received because we are focusing on that which we think we should receive.

I love my Savior Jesus Christ so much.  He is so gentle and so merciful and so understanding and compassionate.  I long to see His face, to feel the prints of the nails in His hands and feet, and to lose myself in His embrace.  I cannot imagine not continuing to seek Him and His fullness.  Until that perfect day, however, I remain grateful for the ways in which He has come to me, taught me, comforted me, and lifted me.  I invite Him daily to abide with me.  I thank you, my Lord and my God for your love.

25 comments on “Revisiting the Second Comforter

  1. Hi Scott,
    I appreciate your call to the conflation we commonly suffer from regarding the second comforter, calling and election, and redemption from the fall experiences.

    Perhaps I am missing something, though, because to me the quote from Joseph Smith makes it very clear what the second comforter means.

    “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”

    I don’t know that Joseph could have said any plainer that the second comforter = the personal visible appearance of Jesus Christ, as well as Christ introducing the individual to the Father in an equally personal appearance. He makes clear that this includes the Lord teaching him face to face.

    Any who have not seen the Lord have not received the second comforter.

    My tendency is to be very cautious is ascribing spiritual milestones to myself that I have not yet attained. It is one thing to hear the voice of the Lord. It is another to see him face to face. It is another to touch him. It is another to be promised eternal life. It is another to be taken by the Lord into the presence of the Father. All of this are required milestones to obtain eternal life.

    • Rob, Joseph says, He will… and “from time to time”, clearly indicating an ongoing series of different manifestations, which to me seems to indicate the RESULT of receiving the second comforter, not the MEANS of receiving the second comforter.

      I agree with your tendency that you mention. Your comment seems to suggest that I am doing that. I hope not – because my main point was that the Lord can manifest Himself to us in many different ways, in many different sequences, and that we should simply be grateful for what we have received, even to the point of eschewing such labels. Your hard statement that any who have not seen the Lord have not received the second comforter does not ring true to me. If that is the case, how do you account for the many ways in which He manifests Himself. Some see him as flaming fire, others as a mild, loving face – some in dreams, some in open vision, some “whether in the body or out, I could not tell”. So, what does it mean to “see the Lord”. It is a sensual experience? Then what about dreams? I think He can manifest Himself in many ways, and extend the comfort of His spirit in any way He chooses.

      • “It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.” The second comforter IS the presence of the son. Whether it rings true to you or not, that is what Joseph said, and that is what John said, and that is what Jesus said. It is a visual experience, from what we’ve been told.

        However, hearing the voice of the Lord is not the second comforter. Angels speak by the Holy Ghost, and they speak the words of Christ. To hear the words of Christ, you only need the first comforter.

        Interestingly, you can hear the promise of eternal life (also known as calling and election made sure) through the voice of the Lord, even if he is unseen. However, receiving your calling and election does not indicate you have surpassed telestial glory, only that someday (perhaps after this life) you will. D&C 88 indicates that you have only achieved telestial glory when you enter into the presence of Christ, and celestial only when you’ve entered the presence of the father.

        Does any of this mean those with certain experiences have bragging rights over those who have not? No, of course not. I just means that the majority of us (including myself) have not yet achieved what we seek, and still stand in need of repentance to get there. Our garments are not yet white and we have not yet been redeemed from the fall.

      • Rob, I don’t know what to say except that I’m reading the same scriptures, and the same words of Joseph, but I don’t interpret them the same way. Some of that difference in interpretation is, no doubt, because I have had different experiences than you have. Let me re-state the purpose of the blog post – it is to encourage people to accept their experiences for what they are, rather than to rely on someone else’s interpretation of what they should be. I know – you might say, “But that’s the Lord’s interpretation”. As I said, I read it differently. I can certainly see where you are coming from. Apparently you cannot see why I interpret these same words they way I do. I have been told to allow the Lord to come to me as He will, and to receive from Him as He will. I want to encourage others to do the same. As I said earlier, there are so many different experiences with BOF, C&E, 2nd Comforter, Seeing the Lord, introduction to the Father, etc. No two accounts are the same. What exactly is a “Visual experience?” What about someone who experiences Him in a dream? is that invalid? What about someone who experiences him admittedly in that state of half-sleep and half-awake? I don’t see how you can force this experience into such a small box – when by all accounts it varies dramatically from person to person.

        Here, I intended just short, acknowledgement, “agree to disagree” response, but I guess I rambled a bit.

  2. I also believe the Second Comforter is not necessarily a physical visitation from the Lord. I think seeing the physical risen Lord is a spiritual milestone but I don’t believe it is always the reception of the Second Comforter or that receiving the Second Comforter requires a physical visitation. That is what I have been impressed with via the Spirit. To me, Joseph’s words do not require a physical visitation either.

  3. it makes me happy when people agree with me, Meili! Whoopee!

  4. This makes a lot of sense Scoot, I was thinking about some of these ideas just before I saw this post.
    D&C 88 talks about “another Comforter.”
    “3 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.
    4 This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;
    5 Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son—”

    It sounds like the second comforter could be simply the PROMISE of eternal life. (as in Mosiah 26:19-20, etc.) The pattern is that the promise of eternal life comes after someone prays “with all their heart” in behalf of, first themselves, then their kin, then those who are enemies against them.(See Enos, Both Alma’s, and others.) Then they have become made, like Christ, “in the express image and likeness of the Father – a Mediator for man -“(Lecture 5:2 LoF)

    Somewhere along this process is a full recovery from the fall. In other words, we are redeemed from all the effects of the fall, and enjoy the same condition that Adam and Eve enjoyed, except coupled with all we have learned and became from our mortal condescension.

    Adam and Eve enjoyed the occasional appearances of the Son of God, and could withstand His presence without fear. Once we have been redeemed from the fall, we can enjoy the same conditions and privileges to visit with Christ from time to time.

  5. 2 Nephi 32:6 Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.

  6. Interesting reading.
    It helps me, to look at the different time periods of Jesus and His interaction with man.
    The first….His pre-earth life. How did He ‘interact’ with man?
    His earth life…..
    Then, His life after the resurrection. I see three different ways that Christ has interacted with man. Before a body, in a body, and now, with a resurrected body.
    When Jesus was about to be crucified, He told the disciples that when He was gone, they were to now pray to the Father, in His(jesus’s) name. That he would give/send the comforter..the Holy Ghost to teach them all things.
    His relationship with them and man, was about to change.
    Jesus steps aside, and now we are able to go right to the Father….thru Him.
    Then He becomes the second comforter
    I’m still trying to get a grasp on how to have a relationship with Jesus. We don’t pray to Him…..we utilize His atonment…..but the personal relationship???……where is it? When do we interact with Him now?
    What is our personal relationship with the Savior?
    How do we access Him? We pray to the father and none else. We listen to the voice of the HG, which speaks the words of the Father unto us.
    I asked these questions recently in Sunday School when the lesson was given about the above time period…pray unto the father….I got back he’s the mediator. Yep I get that….but i feel like a part is missing in the teachings to us…of what next?….with Jesus.
    Any thoughts? Greatly appreciated.
    (I think it’s this second comforter role, just need to understand it more. Both individually and church wide)
    I’m far from a scriptorian, but I slowly add line upon line in my spiritual walk.

    • Sue, I had not considered the difference between his interactions with the brother of Jared – being before His earthly manifestation – and later interactions with man. Now I’m even more confused. Jules mentioned below (or above – whichever way it’s presented) Nephi saying in 2 Nephi 32 that prior to His manifestation to us in the flesh, interactions are by the Holy Ghost, which I take to suggest that He cannot abide in us until after we have seen Him in the flesh. Yet, John (Christ)says in John:14 that Christ will send another comforter that he may abide in you forever and ever – even the SPIRIT of truth…I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you. Then, to add to the confusion are my own experiences where the Savior has “come” to me, but not if a vision of the flesh. This happens with increasing frequency – as if He “abides” in me.

      It sounds like you’re suggesting, and maybe Jules is, too, that the Holy Ghost is our “comforter” with the Savior – our conduit to the Savior – until He manifests Himself to us in the flesh, and then Christ becomes our conduit, advocate, or “comforter” with the Father.

      Like you, I don’t consider myself even close to being “studied”, and more and more – what with all the questioning even of the D&C and, of course, the Bible itself – and not being able to accept the “doctrines”, which are far too often the philosophies of men, that we have been taught in the church – that the ONLY place I can go for truth is the Lord Himself. Obviously, that’s the way it is ultimately supposed to be.

      • Ok Scott. I had to think and pray and study and listen….the beauty of the process.
        I hope this comes out the way I feel it…..

        In my experience with the HG and the Savior. I need each part. I can access the Father because of the Savior, who stands as the atoning sacrifice. HF accesses me, through the Savior, to the Holy Ghost, which speaks to me. The Holy Ghost speaks the words of the Father, as does the Savior. HF cannot look upon me, because I am sin, therefore the role of the savior. Thankyou Jesus.
        the godhead is interacting with me on different levels of my need and my faith And my ‘doing’. Just as the levels of the kingdoms will exist for the different levels of spirituality…I believe that is how the comforter thing works. The level of one’s faith and drive to follow the Savior, and ask and do the will of the father will determine who can abide with me.
        The Holy spirit….light of Christ, we all come to earth with it…we have it to see and feel truth. Here we don’t do anything but tap,in, pay attention. It is a part of us.
        The Holy Ghost, initial comforter. Given to us to teach, testify…etc. we need to live a certain way so the HG can dwell ‘in’? With? Us. (Tellestial level)
        The Savior….the second comforter…this requires a different level of spiritual connection and doing on my part. He can actually visit…dreams, verbal, touch, while one is meditating, etc… (The terrestial spiritual level on earth). The father would allow the savior to come to me, and abide with me. I do think that one can ask the father, to allow the savior to come and he can, as needed. Like angels etc…
        Then the celestial spirit level….the father as well

        Now, As far as ‘having one’s calling and election made sure’. (First, why are people in such a tizz about this happening? I, personally never think about it. But some are so obsessed with it. It’s a great step in the progression of spirit, but the mere fact that people are struggling over it, says to me, they don’t get the concept….too much contention. The focus on the prize not on their journey. This would be a peaceful thing. Not something to brag about, or compare with. How about first, asking HF in the name of the Savior what His will is for you, on a regular basis, and doing it. Personal revelation. Counsel with the Lord in all they doings…..come follow me….i do nothing save it be the will of my father which sent me. Line upon line.). Ok, done with that part.

        I feel that this ‘calling and election’ thing happens, just as we are told. The Savior will tell you, and the Father will be there as well. That being said….i don’t believe that you have to have your calling made sure, in order for the savior to abide with you, or for the savior to come to you, or for the savior to come and the Father as well. Two separate things. Abiding or visiting one thing, calling made sure another. I don’t see anywhere that you can’t have the savior abide with you UNTIL your calling is made sure. If anything, that concept would keep people from believing that they can have the beautiful gift of the second comforter. Seems very limiting. Only people who want to control you would want you to believe that…it would limit your spiritual walk and progress, and put them in the driver’s seat for your spiritual experiences….which would be limited to their words and guidance only. Yeah for personal revelation. People really need to see and feel this wonderful channel of communication.

        Anyway…Hey, Joseph Smith saw both the Father and the Son, and that was well before any ‘calling and elections’.

        Bible dictionary: two comforters…second comforter is the lord jesus himself. “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 of the Father unto him”. Personage….definition…a distinguished person; important. Manifest…show, make evident by showing

        D&C 93:1. Who will see jesus’s face? “Every soul that: 1. forsakes his sins and comes unto christ 2. He who calls on christ’s name, obeys his voice, and keeps his commandments.

        D&c 67:10. jesus…”the veil shall be rent, you shall see me….not with carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.”

        Doesn’t say ‘after calling and election’

        It’s a spiritual journey….

    • Sue – sorry to be so long replying to your comment. We’ve been without internet until last night. You know what the most wonderful thing is about the things you said? It’s simply the fact that you are inquiring, knocking, seeking. You really WANT to know and understand!

      I wonder – to me abide with and visit are not the same. You seemed to say they are one and the same. To me, to “abide” in or with me is like companionship – I guess like the companionship of the Holy Ghost, only it’s he Savior.

      I also love that you’re willing to figure out how things work without relying on how other people “having authority” have said it supposed to be. That was probably the point of the whole post. The Second Comforter was partially a vehicle to illustrate.

      Thanks for reading and sharing!

  7. I am sure many will eventually receive this no matter in what way it comes!

  8. And, my friend, although none of us can truly be “deserving”, none are more deserving than you. I pray that your service will one day be sanctified by this greatest of manifestations.

  9. Greg you’re a good man. Courageous, principled, honorable. The Lord loves you very much.

  10. What a fantastic post. I’ve just recently come across your blog and your ideas are very interesting! Thank you for sharing!
    I am curious, do you believe the ordinances are a requirement for receiving the second comforter? Are baptism, gift of the holy ghost, endowment, necessary at some point before one can receive that gift?

    • Thank you, Alex. I hope it makes a difference in our thinking – opening the heavens to us, so to speak.

      Concerning the ordinances – they have always been a mystery to me. On the one hand, baptism is clearly necessary for salvation, but that appears to be the only one that is required according to the scriptures. I think ordinances are invitations, and that they are typically misinterpreted in the LDS church. The Second Comforter? The Lord can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, and I’ve never seen anything in the scriptures that says these ordinances, other than baptism and receiving of the Holy Ghost, are required.

    • I read Denver’s post this morning, Chris. Of course, I’ve read the Second Comforter. It changed my life. Denver’s comments about how the church has basically denied this glorious doctrine seem to be right on. I was commenting to some friend this morning that this transition by the church is further evidence that satan himself is heavily influencing. The web of false doctrine, ignored doctrine, the philosophies of men mingled with scripture, and unrighteous dominion in the name of love is so masterfully and insidiously constructed that it could only be the work of the master of lies.

      I’ve not tried to push Denver on this idea that the Second Comforter can only be received as the result of a personal visit. I don’t know how he would respond. The point I’m making in this post is that, just from the scriptures and the words of Joseph, I’m not so sure it is an absolutely certain interpretation. Now that you mention it, maybe I’ll send this to him and see what he says. Of course, HIS experience involved a personal visit, but is that necessarily true for all? It might be interesting to get his response.

      • Perhaps. It seems, though, that if we read the scriptures as a little child would(perhaps you have some grandchildren that you could have read Joseph’s quote), then the interpretation is pretty clear. I would not give them any options before hand. I would just have them read it then ask what they think it means with no preconceived ideas.

  11. Chris…grandchildren? GRANDCHILDREN???!!! what gives you the idea I’m old enough to have grandchildren? LOL!

    You’re clearly suggesting that I’m wresting Joseph’s words – perhaps twisting them to support my hypothesis. Please be assured that your suggestion is fine, and I’m not offended at all. I think one thing to point out is that it is just that – a hypothesis – in an attempt to correlate what I’ve read with what I’ve experienced. I think I presented it as an alternative point of view – not as a statement of fact.

    I suspect that if I did what you suggest I would receive the same answer I, myself, received when I first read it – although when I read it it was clearly in support of the idea that the Second Comforter and seeing the face of the Lord were one and the same.

    I’m going to fall back on the point I made to simply receive our experiences for what they are, as the Lord wisely bestows them, and not force them into everyone else’s labels and categories. In my case, I have a personal relationship with the Lord, and He has given me comfort on multiple occasions, but He has yet to manifest Himself in the flesh.

    I guess if I’m honest with myself and you, I have to admit that I view “receiving the Second Comforter” as a status symbol or a confirmation of my personal status with the Lord. This is a horrible thing that I, personally, really need to reject, and then take my own advice – simply accept what He gives without comparing to the experience of others.

  12. Haha I don’t know, you seem to write with the experience of an aged man – bad assumption on my part. Assumptions are no good anyways.

    Maybe we ought to compare our experiences with others. It is the testimony of the servants of God that gives us faith, after all(TPJS 148). Without the testimony of Adam, who began in the presence of God, non after would know what to do to become redeemed(Lectures on Faith, Lecture Second) or how they might exercise faith Him.

    It is all just interesting to be sure.

  13. Well, Chris – you sure dug yourself out of that one! Your assumption is fine. I have 10 grandchildren. My challenge personally is to not dismiss what I’m given because it doesn’t meet the criteria that other people have set. Maybe I’m experienced, but I can still be confused. 🙂

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