An Actual Knowledge of Your Standing Before God
READ LoF 6:1-2
What is an “actual knowledge”?
Actual knowledge comes from having real experiences.
An actual knowledge means that one’s faith is dormant, in that specific area of knowledge (see Alma 32:33-34); you don’t need faith because you know the truth from your past experience.
What is the difference between having an “actual” knowledge that one’s course of life is according to the will of God and “having faith” that it is?
Having an actual knowledge from God that one’s life is acceptable to Him means you have received a declaration from God Himself that the course of your life is pleasing or according to His will; and since He is a god of truth and cannot lie or He will cease to be God, you can believe His statement to you.
“Having faith” that you know your course in life is according to God’s will is another way of saying you “believe” your life is in line with God’s will (but don’t know for a surety…) and based on that belief, and your understanding of the promises Christ makes in scripture to those whose lives are in accordance with His will, you “have faith” that you are acceptable to God and “have faith” that God will honor His promise; the problem is, that if you’re wrong about your standing, you are in big trouble because your assumption will not motivate you to the further repentance He requires of you to actually qualify for and receive that promise (see Matthew 7:21-23); and the other problem is that just because someone in the scriptures received a promise, and God wants to extend these promises to His children generally, doesn’t mean that you will receive such a promise; and until you have received such a promise from God Himself, you’ve really have nothing that will save you.
When Christ gives you an actual knowledge that the course of life you are pursuing is in accordance with His will, what is really happening?
In the context of this Lecture, it means that you have reached a definitive point in time where Christ makes you a promise of salvation, based on the course of your life.
He’s not just stopping by to tell you, face to face, that you’re “doing good, just keep it up…!”
This promise is what is referred to as having your calling and election made sure.
It is “made sure” (even though it has still not occurred in linear time) because He is a god of truth and cannot lie.
READ LoF 6:3-6
What happens after one has received this “actual knowledge” from God regarding their standing?
This promise or hope from Christ’s lips is an actual knowledge; however, it sets up the next trial of faith, which is to believe in and act in accordance with the actual knowledge that you will be saved, despite all your imperfections and current propensities for sin.
Your faith will be tested again – this time it will be your faith in the promise you received from God.
Satan will be allowed to really turn up the heat on you in direct opposition and magnitude to the promise you have received from God, up to and including death in its most horrid forms.
How do those who have received this actual knowledge from God react to the tribulations they are faced with?
Due to their knowledge from God regarding their standing before Him, they will suffer it all willingly, in fact, joyfully – because of the perspective this knowledge has given them; their paradigm of reality has shifted completely.
Like the character Neo in the movie “The Matrix”, they have finally seen through the “simulation” element of this probationary state and know it for what it is; while all of the effects of suffering and pain are real in this sphere, they are actually just an amazingly detailed live simulation; at the end of the simulation or probationary experience, Christ will dry the eyes of those who suffered and they will receive the light and rewards they have been blessed with through His mercy and grace; but if one were to “wake up” to the simulation while they were still in it (and this is what the ministry of Christ and His promise to you should do – the Second Comforter and having one’s calling and election made sure), any further trials or pain, although “real” in this sphere, are not “really “ real outside of this sphere, and this perspective should make it easier to abide with grace through the trials and pain you are called to go through – up to and especially including death, because that will be the absolute end of the simulation (but in a good way, for you because it means you have completed this level and are done with the trial).
What happens if we do not receive an actual knowledge from God regarding our standing before Him?
We will not be able to generate the faith necessary to receive salvation.
We will continue to be tested and tried – sometimes as a direct result of our sins, but many other times as a result of the use of others’ agency, and sometimes just an act of God to remind us to repent but we may lack the faith to trust God or repent; the more light we acquire, the more pointed and extreme the afflictions become at the hands of those who hate the light.
We will grow weary in our minds and faint.
We will be overcome by the world because we lacked the faith to face and see the world’s terrible persecutions for what they are – a “real simulation” bounded in time.
Why will the worldly always persecute those who know Christ personally and are filled with His light?
Light cleaves to light (D&C 88:40) but it repels darkness – darkness cannot abide where light is present, it must flee away.
Those who do not believe Christ have hard hearts and darkened minds; they will not let light or love penetrate their hearts.
Darkness hates the light because it is blinding to it; light vibrates at such a higher frequency than darkness, and heat warms up what was cold, “slow” darkness; if one prefers darkness and if they are composed of it, they will feel threatened by the light and heat; they will fear it, they will hate it, and they do not comprehend it; they will either fight it violently to try to stop it or “put it out” or they will flee from it to attempt to escape it; that fighting or fleeing from includes those who have that light within them – not just the light itself.
Christ and those who know Him are filled with this light, to one extent or another – and the world (which is a cold, dark place with people who are comfortable here) will persecute those who threaten them with light.
What does the Lord ask us to lay down?
Our “all” or whole soul (see Omni 1:26).
Our character, our reputation/good name, our honor and the applause of men; this is what happens when a nobody like you or me says to the world “I saw a light, and in that light I saw two personages, and they did in reality speak to me…”
Our material possessions – lands and houses and savings accounts.
Our family members and loved ones (this doesn’t mean to abandon them if they don’t share your beliefs – in fact, it means to serve them even more – but not to chose them over Christ; in fact we chose Christ by loving and serving them).
Our own lives.
We must lay down anything that we have placed between us and Christ; following anyone or anything but Christ Himself (His doctrine and His words to you – see 2 Nephi 31-32) cannot save you.
We ought to fear God more than we fear man – even if we are ostracized; we ought to love God more than we fear the loss of anything that is down here; we must know that when these sufferings are ended, we will enter into eternal rest – this requires more than mere belief or supposition but requires the same conditions be met for all who receive that knowledge.
Why is this the case?
In a way we do not fully understand now, none of those other things are important in the eternal scheme of things compared to coming unto Christ.
It is all just a “real simulation” – real, but a simulation that is all put right again by virtue of Christ’s atonement.
The fact that family members are on this list is a very interesting thing given the Church’s doctrine of sealed, eternal families.
Obtaining That Knowledge Through Sacrifice
READ LoF 6:7
How does one obtain the knowledge that the course s/he is pursuing in this life is according to the will of God?
ONLY by the sacrifice of all things (or all earthly things).
With this sacrifice you are trading the things of most value to you in this life (earthly things you have already gained or the “glory” you have obtained here) for blessings you might receive in the next life – you are exercising faith.
The sacrifice is also a show of your love for the Lord – you are trusting Him and showing Him that you believe He has your best interest at heart and loves you, so much so that you are willing to give up all earthly security and control and submit your whole soul completely to Him.
Once you have made this required sacrifice, you will acquire the desired knowledge, in the Lord’s time; if you have not yet received the knowledge, either you have not truly made the sacrifice or you are waiting patiently on the Lord.
Why is sacrifice required to obtain this knowledge or promise of eternal life from God?
God does not require pain – this is not about God saying “if you sacrifice all things and suffer, I will give you the promise of eternal life you seek”.
This level of sacrifice is required to produce the necessary magnitude of faith in the person making the sacrifice; it is like how Cortes burned his ships when he invaded Mexico, you have no way to escape or back down from your choice and can only go forward in your resolve; the message from the sacrifice is to YOU, not to God; you are trying to gain sufficient faith because you are the barrier to that faith! Sacrifice helps you to overcome your barrier.
The sacrifice of all things shows to God and to yourself that nothing is even close to being as important to you as He is; it also shows one’s extreme faith in God – that He truly does embody the character and attributes we’ve described in Lectures 3-4, including unconditional love for us, no respecter of persons or player of favorites, the omniscience to know how to save us, and the omnipotence to be able to save us – in the next life, for certain, and in this life if it is His will; this level of faith says “I am willing to lose my life if it is your will because I trust you, that you have my best interest first and foremost in your heart”.
Does the religion require this sacrifice?
In this case the word “religion” is being used to describe a system of beliefs, not an institution or organization.
In reality, it is the Lord who requires this sacrifice, because He knows it is only through this level of sacrifice that sufficient faith can be generated to rend the veil and obtain the audience with the Lord needed to receive the promise or knowledge of salvation from Him.
To the degree that your system of beliefs has been directly revealed to you from God, then it is fair to say that the religion, or revelations regarding what must be believed and accomplished to be saved, requires this sacrifice.
While it is possible that a religion of man also requires the sacrifice of all things (in the name of God but without His sanction), that sacrifice will not enable the necessary faith because it is, by definition, built on an incorrect or false understanding of God (i.e. that God cannot do His own work but has given His power to men to act as a mediator, see 2 Nephi 28:5-6).
What if you “believe” you were called to make a specific sacrifice of this nature by God but you were mistaken?
You cannot merely believe – you must be sure; this must be a matter of direct, unmistakable revelation.
You must be called by God Himself to make the sacrifice; God will not just honor your sacrifices or consecrate them to your gain if He did not ask you for them.
As this sacrifice leads directly back into the presence of God, you must receive an invitation from Him; we have all received a general invitation via the scriptures, but the specifics of what the Lord will ask of each of us is up to Him alone to know and tell us, as is the timing (see 2 Nephi 32:6).
Proactively (steadying the ark) or mistakenly (a lack of discernment) making up your own sacrifices is frowned on by God (see Genesis 4:1-7; Moses 5:16-27; Isaiah 24:5-6); it shows either a lack of faith that God will speak to you, a lack of ability to receive His will, a lack of discernment regarding the source of a revelation, a lack of patience or putting your timetable, will and wisdom before God, or an ulterior motive where are trying to manipulate God or your fellow men to your own ends.
READ LoF 6:8-12
Why is it vain to fancy ourselves “safely dead” after this life because we have remained active in the Church, if we have not offered our all in sacrifice and know that the sacrifice was accepted by receiving the sure knowledge of our standing before God?
Because only God can promise us our salvation.
And each of us are on our own journey – we each come with an individual amount of light and must learn certain things to gain more, much less to be sealed up to eternal life.
While the scriptures explain God’s promises to mankind and detail the experiences of certain individuals who have obtained those promises from Him as examples, the promises given to another in an “old book” will not save you if God has not made a “new” and everlasting covenant with you, personally (see TPJS 79-80).
While God desires to save all mankind – as many as will come unto Christ – “odds are (NOT) that we will be exalted” if we do not have sufficient faith to rend the veil and enter into God’s presence and receive such a promise from Him during this mortal life, and that level of faith requires the sacrifice of all earthly things.
If you have not made such a sacrifice (which is not the same as promising to make such a sacrifice in the future, if called upon), it is vain (and dangerous) to assume that you will merit the same reward as those who have – you have no grounds upon which to assume it other than your own conjecture as to your standing before God, which is faulty.
What is the difference between making a covenant “to sacrifice” and making a covenant “by sacrifice”?
Making a covenant “to sacrifice” is the promise we make in the Temple endowment – that we will use everything God has given us to build up the Church and the Kingdom of God; it is to promise a sacrifice in the future, if called upon; these covenants are based on future faithfulness.
Making a covenant “by sacrifice” means to make a covenant at the time of the sacrifice; this is what the Lord requires as it is only through actually sacrificing that it is possible for the Lord to make a covenant with you; the sacrifice symbolizes the shedding of the blood of the Savior and that act sanctifies or makes holy or sets apart from the profane, the covenant that has been entered in to, and also seals that covenant or makes it efficacious or in effect (not to be confused with sealing the end result of the covenant because all of the terms have been met – this “sealing” means that the covenant is “live” or in effect; it is more than the promise of a future covenant).
What we sacrifice shows us where our true treasure lies; when we make that sacrifice holy through covenant by sacrificing whatever it is the Lord requires of us personally, that gives us faith unto salvation.
Who does God use to gather His saints unto Him?
He uses his angels.
This sacrifice (of all things) and knowledge is what the 144,000 High Priests after the Holy Order of the Son of God must offer in order to be gathered and sealed by His angels (see D&C 77:11).
Why will one who has not received an assurance or promise from God regarding their acceptance lack the faith to be saved?
Regardless of how righteous you think you are or how merciful you believe the Lord to be, unless you have made an acceptable sacrifice, which produced the faith necessary to hear from the Lord Himself of your standing before Him, it is still a matter of doubt in your mind.
And if there is even an ounce of doubt and fear, you cannot have unshaken confidence and your faith will be too weak to endure the opposition that you will encounter.
Where doubt, uncertainty and fear exist, faith cannot; it is like light and darkness in reverse; in a dark room, if you turn on the light, the dark flees; but with faith, if you have any uncertainty, doubts or fears, your faith will be reduced by that same degree.
This is why the Fullness of the Gospel begins with faith, repentance and a baptism of water and fire, and ends with receiving the Second Comforter and having Him make your calling and election sure – this is THE message of the Book of Mormon.