The Lord bestows upon those who love Him and purify themselves before Him “knowledge” of Him. This knowledge is glory, it is intelligence. If it is received here it equips the recipient to endure His presence in a world of glory. Every one of us are invited to receive it. Every soul gains this knowledge in the same way, based on the same conditions.
During the life of Joseph Smith, if someone asked you about “The Vision”, what would they have been referring to?
D&C 76 - not the First Vision!
This vison was HUGE at the time of Joseph Smith.
The actual vision lasted approximately 1.5 hours and was received by Joseph Smith AND Sidney Rigdon during waking hours while at Johnson’s Farm in Ohio with others present.
The Lord Will Enlighten Those Who Serve Him
READ D&C 76:1-4
Why did the Lord give Joseph and Sidney this vision?
To witness to the world, with Heaven standing as a witness, of the greatness of God and the perfection of His plan.
The “world” was represented by twelve other individuals who were also present in the upper room of the Johnson Farm during the time of the vision but did not see it although Joseph and Sidney took turns describing out loud what they were seeing, with the other confirming that they were seeing the same things.
What does it mean that the “Lord is God” and “beside Him there is no Savior” – what about Christ?
It is Christ that is being spoken of here – Christ is God.
It means that He, Christ, is the Savior, and not to look for anyone else – including a church leader or a philosophy or some other spirit – to save you.
Why can none of us find out the extent of His doings?
Because we cannot comprehend them all – we lack the intelligence (light, truth, spirit, glory) to do so at this point in our existence.
What does the phrase “from eternity to eternity” imply?
That there is or has been more than one eternity.
That an eternity is a period of existence; which may or may not be a period of time, as we understand it here on earth.
That those eternities have some kind of relationship with each other – “from” one “to” another, as in “from the end of one to the beginning of another” or “from one to another”.
What does the phrase “from eternity to eternity” mean?
It can mean from the beginning of one eternity to the end of the next eternity.
It can mean from the beginning of one eternity, through mortal “time”, and to the end of that eternity.
It can mean from the beginning of all eternities to the end of all eternities, except this seems to contradict Joseph Smith’s teaching that God has always existed (see TPJS 396) and that we are co-existent with God, so neither God nor we can have a beginning or an end; it also contradicts Joseph’s teaching that God was once a man like us living on an earth (see TPJS 390), although it could be true if “eternities” refer to periods of “time” (in whatever way it happens to be measured) – if God exits outside of time but just “is”.
How can it be true that Christ was the same “from eternity to eternity” when D&C 93:12-17 says that He did not receive the Fullness of the Father at first?
Christ was the same “within” the eternity that we are all now in, meaning He was a god from before the foundation of the world; having attained to those blessings in the “first place” prior to this eternity (see Alma 13:2-6).
Having said that, He had not yet attained to the resurrection Himself, which He did during His mortal ministry in this eternity.
He received the fullness of the glory of the Father at the time of His resurrection (see TPJS 390-393).
However, there was an eternity when He had not yet progressed to the point He has now attained to, which was pointed out by Joseph Smith in the King Follett discourse (see TPJS 390-393) and applies both to Christ and the Father; this knowledge is intended to give us hope regarding the opportunities and challenges that still lie before each of US if we are to also be “saved” (see LoF7:9, 15-16).
READ D&C 76:5-10
What does it mean to “fear” the Lord?
The Hebrew definition of the word “fear” means reverence.
Reverence = veneration or submission; humble; regard with respect and affection (see 1828 Webster’s Dictionary).
What does it mean to “serve” the Lord?
Is to obtain and then do His will.
To be about His business or on His errand.
To be submissive to His will; to put one’s own will aside and do the will of one’s master – in this case, the Lord.
What is promised those who fear/reverence and serve the Lord and why?
Just as Christ was completely submissive to His Father’s will and became precisely like the Father; if we are completely submissive to Christ’s will, we can become precisely as Christ is.
And if that happens, we will receive the same glory or intelligence (including a knowledge and understanding of the mysteries and the wonders of eternity), or in other words, we will be enlightened or quickened or enlarged or added upon; we will become Gods ourselves…
Because that is what a god is… Gods have precisely the same character and attributes and share the same mind or holy spirit; they are one.
Vision of the Father and the Son
READ D&C 76:11-19
What does it mean to say their “eyes were opened” by the power of the Spirit?
It means to be able to see things as they truly are, without a veil of forgetfulness or ignorance over your eyes, mind and heart to blind you or constrict you to a narrow light band so that you cannot see what else is really there to see.
It means to be enlightened, to be able to see and comprehend the hidden mysteries of God, including what is to come, as all things are before God’s face – it is to see and understand the world as God sees it, with the past, present and future all in view (see D&C 88:41).
What does it mean to be “in the Spirit”?
It means to be filled with the element of the Holy Spirit, which enlightens the mind and quickens the understanding and emanates from God and connects us intimately with God to the degree that we can say we are one with God or that God is “in” us (see D&C 88:6-13; D&C 93:3-4, 12-14; 3 Nephi 19:20-21, 23).
How were their understandings enlightened?
They were able to comprehend those things because their brain function was “quickened” by a portion of the Spirit; they were filled with light and were vibrating at a higher frequency.
They were taught or saw things they didn’t know and had not conceived of – but they now comprehended them because of the light or knowledge or intelligence that they had received.
Possibly it means that what their spirits understand was brought to their “remembrance” in this mortal sphere.
What does it mean to say that the Son was “in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning”?
Bosom = the breast or chest of a person, as enclosing the heart; the receptacle of secrets; an enclosed place or interior; tender affections; implies intimacy; to conceal or hide from view (see 1828 Webster’s Dictionary).
It implies nurturing, as at a mother’s breast; which also infers a direct parental relationship.
The scriptures speak of the Father’s bosom where Christ was before the foundation of the world (see D&C 109:4; D&C 76:13, 25, 39) and Abraham’s bosom where righteous Lazarus was taken after His death (see Luke 16:22-31).
Enoch was “high and lifted up, even in the bosom of the Father and of the Son,” implying that to be in their “bosoms” is to be kept in their presence or to live with them, which requires being able to withstand their glory, which requires one to have a portion of it within themselves (see Moses 7:24, 30-31).
As He did with Enoch’s Zion, Christ will take “as many as have believed in His name” into His bosom (see D&C 38:4).
Christ had risen up in a “first place” (see Alma 13:2-6; D&C 93:12-14), before the foundation of this world to become a “Son of God” and was able to live in His presence because He had become like Him and was one with Him (see LoF 7:9, 15-16; D&C 93:3-4, 15-17), although Christ’s progression was not completed as He had not yet attained to the resurrection of the dead for Himself (see TPJS 390-393).
What does it mean that Joseph’s testimony of the reality of Jesus Christ is the fullness of the gospel?
It is exactly what it sounds like! The fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ IS the Son!
The fullness of the gospel IS the knowledge of the reality of Jesus Christ in the flesh – that He lived, suffered, died and resurrected, that He is the God of the whole earth (see John 17:3; 3 Nephi 11:14-15); that you can and must know this for yourself in this world if you are to be redeemed (see Ether 3:13) and saved (see D&C 132:21-25).
What caused the Lord to give this vision to Joseph and Sidney?
They were “translating” the Bible.
They were on the Lord’s errand, as He had commanded them to translate the Bible.
They were given questions to “marvel” at through the Spirit – things that they saw for the first time but did not fully understand – things that had not occurred to them previously.
They were searching the scriptures and truly pondering or thinking deeply about each passage and question – they were “meditating” on the concepts, trying to understand them deeply.
How and why does meditation upon the things of God present an opportunity for God to open the veil and communicate directly with people?
Meditation clears the mind of our own thoughts.
A clear mind, unobstructed from the distractions of the world, is one that the Lord can more easily commune with because it is open to His promptings, it is unconstrained by earthly concerns or precepts, and it is seeking for enlightenment not through study but through revelation from heaven – it has given up control of the content that it is prepared to receive, to God.
A mind that is reflecting or pondering deeply on knowledge or intelligence from God is “diligently seeking Him” or “drawn out towards Him” as it is focused upon understanding Him and comprehending His “mysteries” or the truths that can only be revealed from God to mankind (as people cannot discover them on their own).
Comprehending God and His mysteries requires the Holy Spirit to enlighten the mind of the person, so that they can understand what has been revealed to them; being drawn out in remembrance of God and His doctrine will fill the individual with light – particularly as they attempt to align their behavior and mind with those revelations and commandments, and as light cleaves or is attracted to light, one is also drawing or attracting the powers of heaven (God’s angels and the Lord Himself) to oneself.
When we meditate and are filled with light or knowledge from God, we can increase our “frequency” to a higher state, and align ourselves more fully with God’s frequency because as the light spectrum increases, the frequency of the light waves increases and the individual has an increased capacity to overtly recognize or comprehend those higher frequencies.
In verse 12 it says Joseph’s eyes were opened by the power of the Spirit and in verse 19 it says the Lord touched Joseph’s eyes and they were opened; what does this suggest?
Our eyes or understanding of spiritual things are opened in stages – first by the Spirit, then by the Lord, etc, depending upon how we reacted to what we’ve previously received.
When the Lord touched their eyes – most likely their “spiritual eyes” or the eyes of their spirits or “understandings” – He caused that His Spirit enlightened their minds so that they could both see and understand truth or things as they really were, are and will be.
Glory is intelligence or light and truth; being able to see God’s glory means or requires being filled with more intelligence or truth than one had before when one could not see or comprehend; this is also called being “quickened” by the Spirit.
One must be open to this intelligence or knowledge or truth – the hard hearted who reject truth when it is offered to them will eventually lose all of the light they have so far accumulated, if they continue to harden their hearts (see Alma 12:9-11).
READ D&C 137:1
Why can’t Joseph Smith tell if he is “in the body” or not when he has this revelation?
Implied in Joseph’s statement is that sometimes Joseph had visions when he had laid aside the flesh and other times he experienced visions when he was very much in his physical body but was seeing with his spiritual eyes or perhaps even his physical eyes which had been quickened (like the Vision in D&C 76 and the Sacred Grove).
The Holy Spirit communicates to your spirit, not your body, so by definition, any spiritual experience will be “out of body” in a way.
So, for Joseph, his physical eyes can only see a small light spectrum, so to see this vision or any visitation, for that matter, he would have to be “seeing” with the eyes of his spirit; is it possible for the eyes of his spirit to see while his physical eyes are also still working? Yes.
In this vision, he appeared to be touring the celestial kingdom, so the question is whether he was seeing it in vision or had actually ascended to be there in the spirit (astral projection); because others were with him during the vision we know that he had not actually ascended to be there as a soul (body + spirit).
The fact that he is unable to tell if he is in the body or not teaches us: a) it is difficult for the mortal to tell how s/he has come to see what they are seeing and b) the spirit world appears (and feels, if you are in the spirit) as real and tangible as this one.
When discerning the truth of revelation, does it matter whether Joseph was “in the body” or not?
No, truth is truth and can only be revealed from God; man is not capable of figuring it out on his own because it takes light from God to comprehend or value the things of God.
Truth or intelligence can be revealed from God to man through inspiration into one’s mind, in dreams, from the voice of God in your head, in visions, via visitations – seen and unseen, from out of body experiences, or when transfigured and standing before God – on earth or in heaven.
Because the spirit realm is just as tangibly real to those whose elements are quickened or refined or glorious enough to see and interact with them (without being destroyed by them), those who are transfigured sufficiently to see that world are very much seeing something that is “real” – it is as real but as invisible to the unprepared, as quantum wavicles are to the naked eye.
READ D&C 76:20-24
What is the first vision that Joseph and Sidney see?
Vision of the Father and the Son.
What is the significance of this portion of the vision and why is it first?
It is a “throne theophany” - they see exactly what Lehi saw in his second vision (see 1 Nephi 1:7-8, 14-15) and what John saw when he took the fiery path/portal/way to heaven (see Revelation 4:1-11).
They witness a ceremony of praise to God, taking place in the Throne Room or Center Place of Heaven.
This vision was meant to reveal truth and bear witness of it to the world; and preeminent above all things, they are first called to bear testimony to the reality of God and Christ, who rule and reign over everything else they are about to see.
What does it mean to say that this testimony is “last of all”?
After all of the testimonies that preceded Joseph Smith’s, this testimony of God and Christ is the latest or most recent or “last of all” the others chronologically, to date.
It was not Joseph Smith’s last testimony of Christ, as the appearance in the Kirtland temple in 1836 occurred after the Vision of Glory in 1832; it is also not the last testimony that others have given of Christ which include Joseph F Smith’s 1918 vision (see D&C 138) and Denver Snuffer’s testimony (see The Second Comforter in 2007), to name a couple.
Why is a testimony of the living Christ important?
The Father’s work and glory is our immortality and eternal life (Moses 1:39).
Eternal life is to know God and Christ (John 17:3).
So, the Father has a “curriculum” – we must know Him (3 Nephi 11:13-15) and become like Him (3 Nephi 12-14) to be saved (Lectures on Faith 7:9, 15-16).
A testimony of the living Christ is a witness that the individual has been ministered to by Christ and knows Him with a surety; it proves that the person has been forgiven and if they have not yet been sealed up to eternal life, the Lord has taken them under His wing and is helping them to do what is required to enter the presence of the Father and receive that sealing blessing (see 3 Nephi 10:6; 2 Nephi 32:6; Mosiah 5:15; D&C 88:75).
And without the testimony of people who know Christ, none of the rest of us would know that it was possible to know Him or even to realize that He existed at all, nor would we know the path to take to come unto Him and know Him for ourselves (see LoF 2:3-4, 18-20, 25, 30-35, 54-56).
What does it mean that Christ is the only begotten of the Father AND that the inhabitants of the worlds are begotten sons and daughters of God?
The scriptures do not say that Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of the Father “in the flesh” (although you will see that phrase in the LDS Bible Dictionary) but says that He was the Only Begotten of the Father and was made flesh or took upon Himself a mortal, Telestial tabernacle or body, to dwell among us so that He could perform the atonement (see John 1:14; 2 Nephi 25:12-13; Jacob 4:11; D&C 93:11).
Implied is that Christ was the only begotten of the Father before He was born on this earth.
For the rest of us, we have the opportunity to be begotten sons and daughters unto God through the merits (“by Him”) and grace (“through Him”) of Christ.
But it does not say, “begotten sons and daughters unto the Father”; so this is ambiguous, as “God” could refer to the Father but it could also refer to Christ or even another God in the future (see D&C 132:29, 37); it is possible that Christ enables our progression through to a point that we are begotten by “God” on a future world in a future eternity; regardless, in this world, Christ becomes our “Father” and our “God” and we can become His Sons and Daughters if we come unto Him and take upon ourselves His name through adoption via covenant (see Psalms 2:7).
READ D&C 76:39-42
Who will be resurrected through the triumph and glory of Christ?
“All the rest” of the souls that had not become sons of perdition.
Implied is that the sons of perdition will NOT be resurrected and that “all the rest” will not endure a “second death” or separation from God (see v37); however, this is not what is currently taught as the doctrine of the Church.
What is the gospel that the voice out of heaven bore record of?
That Christ came into the world to bear the sins of the world and die for us.
That through His sacrifice, He would sanctify the world or make it holy and clean.
That through Him all might be saved whom the Father had put into His (Christ’s) power and made by Him (Christ); and that all will be “saved” except the sons of perdition.
What does it mean that the Father had put souls into Christ’s power?
The Father entrusted the salvation of some souls and/or spirits (“intelligences”) to Christ.
Christ will save all of them except the sons of perdition who openly rebel against Him and deny Him in full knowledge.
To be saved is to be precisely as Christ is (see LoF 7:9, 15-16), so the question is: did the Father put ALL of the spirits who He sent to earth “into Christ’s power” and He saved them ALL (which brings into question the meaning of “saved” – does it mean resurrected to any kingdom of glory or does it mean becoming precisely like Christ and God) or did the Father put a select group of spirits/souls from the much larger group who came to earth “into Christ’s power” and He “saved” all of them (made Himself known unto them with a surety and ministered to them regarding what they must become to be saved, extending unto them a promise or hope of salvation which they were valiant in exercising faith in) except those who turned against Him after He had made these things known unto them (see John 17:6-12; D&C 27:14; D&C 84:63), but to the rest of humanity, He did not minister in this way.
What does it mean that the Father “made” them (the souls) by Him (Christ)?
Christ was the instrument through which the Father created bodies for mankind, to house the spirits of His (the Father’s) children during their mortal probation on this earth.
Christ “owns” the elements and keeps this whole creation sustained from moment to moment (see Mosiah 2:20-25; Mosiah 3:2-12).
Vision of Satan and Those Who Merit Perdition
The Lord illustrates His plan using opposites...
READ D&C 76:25-38
What is implied by the fact that Satan was “an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God”?
In the “first place”, he had chosen good and had been rewarded for that (see Alma 13:3-5; D&C 130:18-21).
He possessed such light and glory (intelligence, knowledge, truth, spirit) that not only was he able to abide the presence of God but he had been given authority over others, in God’s presence.
It is very easy for him to appear as an angel of light because that is what he was.
But he now lacks the light or glory (knowledge/truth) that he once possessed which is manifested by the fact that his words take you into a dark and dreary waste (see 1 Nephi 8:5-8) instead of imparting intelligence which will save you.
But this is a major cautionary tale because Satan had progressed much farther up “Jacob’s Ladder” than any of us have but subsequently fell (see 1 Corinthians 15:30; D&C 20:32) by rebelling against Christ.
It is somewhat unclear if “who was in the bosom of the Father” in verse 25 refers to Jehovah or Lucifer; we’ve talked about it referring to Christ but if it also refers to Lucifer, what is implied?
It means that Lucifer had also risen up to the point that he, too, was a “Son of God” with a direct parental relationship to the Father.
That he also lived in God’s presence and was filled with such light, truth, intelligence and glory as to be able to withstand His presence;
That he had gained this glory through his faith in God and his good works (see Alma 13:3-6).
This is an extreme cautionary tale, as it is clear that Lucifer had progressed, from exaltation to exaltation (see TPJS 391), to a level of glory up Jacob’s ladder far beyond where most of us have thus far obtained, despite the fact that we all started on the same “standing” or with the same level of intelligence; we are in jeopardy every hour and no one is too “good” or filled with light to fall (see 1 Corinthians 15:30).
Why do you think Satan is called Lucifer, which means “morning star”, when Venus, the “morning star” is associated with Christ?
The Hebrew word for Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12 has a root meaning of “to be clear” or “to be shining”; but it can also be used to mean “to make a show,” “to boast,” to make a fool of oneself,” “to rave,” and “to stultify”.
Lucifer also means “bringer of dawn” or light bringer; as names are attained to through behavior (either accomplished or prophesied, i.e. “Christ” means anointed one), perhaps Lucifer received or earned this name in a prior eternity through his deeds.
Everything Lucifer does in this world is in an attempt to imitate and replace Christ as the object of worship and the one who reigns with power and authority; he wishes to be the “morning star” if it is at all associated with Christ, just as he did with the symbol of the wise serpent.
Why is Satan referred to as “that old serpent”?
The serpent was a symbol of Christ – a wise creature who is seen as a lowly thing of naught (see Numbers 21:9; 1 Nephi 17:41; Alma 33:18-22; Psalms 22:1-6; 1 Nephi 19:9; Helaman 8:14-15).
Satan co-opted the symbol because he wants to be the “god of this world” but God uses it derogatively by saying “that old serpent” in this verse.
We know that it was the Father’s plan that Christ volunteered to enable, being prepared from the foundation of the world; so why does it say that Satan rebelled against Christ and not the Father?
The plan would require all who would be saved to become the “children” of Christ, or in other words, Christ would become their Father in Heaven, and perhaps that was too much for Lucifer’s pride, as he felt that he was close in stature to, if not a peer of, Christ.
When the Father asked “whom shall I send” to be the Savior of mankind (in line with His plan), first Christ and then Lucifer volunteered, but the Father chose Jehovah; Christ was Lucifer’s perceived rival in the role of “Savior” (see Abraham 3:27).
Lucifer rebelled against the Father in that he suggested to the spirits in heaven an alternative plan that he felt he could execute against and that would give him the Father’s glory, and many followed after him (see Moses 4:1-4; Abraham 3:28).
What happens to those who rebel against God while in His presence and what does this imply?
To rebel in God’s presence is to acknowledge who He is – which one can’t help but do when in His presence – and yet still willfully rebel – calling into question His love or power or wisdom while it is on display before you in the form of the glory (which is light or intelligence) emanating from His person.
Questioning God’s attributes is to knowingly lie outright because He could not be who He is (a god) unless He had precisely the attributes He has; He is not a God who has certain attributes – He IS God BECAUSE He has THOSE certain attributes! (see LoF 7:9, 15-16); and when in His presence, you can’t help but know that truth.
When they are thrust out, these rebels, who are known as “Perdition”, are stripped of whatever physical bodies they had been given up to that point or are banned from receiving a physical body if they have not yet received one from a mortal probation – except to possess one belonging to another, in a telestial or fallen world, until they have been cast out of it.
Why are they “thrust down” from heaven?
Those who rebel against God in this way are choosing to descend from His presence (which is the epicenter of light) into darkness (away from His light) because they prefer it.
They are also thrust out because the only reason they would now want to stay would be to attempt to dethrone God all together.
Eternity is protected against abuse and ambition because God will not allow those with such weaknesses to reign in the afterlife; He protects eternity, His children and the plan for the development of souls by casting out those who have not qualified to be trusted by Him; newly organized spirits are created and raised by those who have become perfect, pure, holy and like God.
Why did the heavens weep over Lucifer and what does that teach us?
Father and Mother love Their children and do not want to lose even one of them.
Great is the joy in heaven with one soul who repents (see Luke 15:7) and great is the weeping in heaven over one soul who knowingly rebels.
The heavens do not weep over suffering if it is redemptive (see Moses 7:43-47), but they do weep over mans’ cruelty to man, knowing that it is to their damnation (see Moses 7:28-41).
Why was Lucifer’s name changed to “Satan” and why is he called the “devil”?
He earned these names through his behavior.
Satan means “accuser”.
Devil comes from the Greek word “diabolos” meaning “slanderer”.
He is the “accuser of the brethren”, meaning God and Christ and those who follow them – accusing them of putting forth a plan that would give them glory while putting at risk the eternal lives of billions of their children.
He is the slanderer or the one who makes false and damaging statements about someone because he called into question the love that God has for His children by putting them at risk.
Why is Satan called a “liar from the beginning” (see D&C 93:25) and a “murderer from the beginning” (see John 8:44) if he was an angel of light who had been rewarded for his obedience to God?
He is a murderer and liar from the beginning of this eternity or from before the foundation of this world.
He could not have been a liar and murderer “in his heart” while he was, through his obedience to God’s commandments, gaining light and knowledge such that he could reside in God’s presence and wield authority in His kingdom because God cannot be deceived; his heart had to have been right to have gained such glory and honor.
But sometime after having attained to such light, he succumbed to “murder” and became a liar.
Lying in the eternities is easier to comprehend than murder; but one who is the primary cause, through their direct actions, of ending the (eternal) life of another is a murderer (see D&C 132:24-25).
Satan committed these “murders” by convincing people to rebel against God while in full knowledge of His attributes and plan, by his lying about God’s intentions (slander) and attributes and creating doubt in people’s minds regarding God, fearfulness for himself and fear mongering with others regarding the very real (and true) possibility of losing the light that one had gained to that point by risking it in a mortal probation on a telestial sphere (see 1 Corinthians 15:30) with full agency in play against a standard of perfection, and finally through his pride in his own abilities and light and glory, and the ability he might have to save others, and the glory that he could obtain in the process without submitting to eternal law by accomplishing an infinite atonement and attaining to the resurrection himself.
What is Satan’s plan?
To topple God from His throne and take His glory for himself.
Not just to accuse God of lying but to actually make Him a liar by enticing Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge out of season, thereby becoming transgressors and sinners and earning the “wages” of sin, which is death (see Romans 6:23), but then getting them to partake of the fruit of the tree of life, so that they could not die! As God told them that they would surely die but then partaking of the tree of life prevented that death, God would be a liar and would cease to be God.
He has not given up trying to topple God.
How and when did Satan make war with the saints of God and encompass them around?
Both in heaven and on earth.
Encompass around means to encircle or surround or hold within.
Implied is that the encompasser has far superior numbers to the group being surrounded and held.
A “third of the hosts of heaven” is a symbolic number – it means a sizeable portion and not necessarily 33%; Satan has a “host” or very large number of followers or those he has entrapped (servants) but who do his bidding because he has power over them.
In heaven this is referring to the rebellion against God and Christ which Satan led; he and his followers had to be forcibly removed because of the threat he posed, which implies that it was not easy, and this is God we’re talking about.
To some degree, his encompassing of the saints of God in heaven speaks to his attempt to entice them to doubt God and/or themselves, and submit to fear and anger regarding God’s plan.
On earth, his numbers so far outnumber the true “saints” or sanctified ones of God, between his hosts of unseen spirits who were cast out of heaven with him, the disembodied spirits of evil people who have died in their wickedness and are now enslaved, and mortals who are in his power, that “encompassed” doesn’t begin to describe the siege the saints are under.
Why are they called “sons of perdition” and what does “perdition” mean?
Perdition means “utter loss or ruin”.
They are the “sons” of their father, who was an utter loss or ruin of what was once great.
And if sons, then they are heirs to his legacy, as they are nurtured at his knee to become like him – they, too, have denied the Christ after having known Him with a surety; they know what they are doing – ignorance is no excuse for them.
What do these verses teach us about the sons of perdition?
Satan fought against them and overcame them.
They were formerly the saints of God.
They suffered as a result of being overcome or defeated by Satan.
They suffered or allowed themselves to be overcome.
Those that are overcome deny the truth and defy God’s power.
What does it mean that it would have been better for these sons of perdition to have never been born?
It means that the possible rewards made available by coming to an earth to be proved and gain light is not worth the risk; they lost so much more light than they gained or could have gained.
This probation is a risk for everyone who has agreed to come here – which was likely part of Satan’s selling points to the hosts of heaven.
If they had stayed where they were at, with regards to their level of light in heaven before they had come down to earth, they would have had more light than they will end up with after failing in their probation and would not have to deal with the consequences of sinning against a greater amount of light which they had gained here (and then lost); but there is a catch…
Given the dangers of a probationary state, why would anyone, including the most spiritually advanced (of which Lucifer was one example), want to take the risk?
It is only in a probation, outside of God’s presence, that we can gain the light needed to become like God and experience a fullness of joy.
Failing to take the opportunity is no better than taking the opportunity and failing in it – the end result is the same: damnation.
In many respects, the more spiritually advanced you have become, the bigger the risk is to put it all on the line (again) to gain more – it is like doubling down on a bet by betting it all, after having just won a jackpot; as a result, some “angels” put up “stakes” or lines across which they will not go (see TPJS 362:2).
What would their states be if they had never been born and how would they be better off?
They would be damned or unable to progress and grow in light.
Falling short of becoming like God, after having been given the opportunity to have done so, is the flame of bitter self-induced torment talked about in scripture – it is hell, partly because of the damning nature of the state one finds oneself in (not able to continue to progress and grow) and partly because of the torture of knowing what could have been if one had taken the opportunity given to one by God.
So while it may have been better for those who rise up and then fall to have never been born (i.e. to have never taken the opportunity given them by God), it may be almost as bad (or perhaps is just as bad) for them had they never chosen to take the risk in the first place – as Satan’s legions decided; this is because they are ALL “perdition” or an utter loss and ruin anyway – they will not receive immortality and eternal life, which is God’s work to provide for them because of His love for them, but instead they let their doubts about His ability to provide it overcome them and drive out their faith; they are overcome with their fears of suffering and fears of failure – Christ’s and their own – not understanding or having faith in the fact that it is not about their merits but their submission, and while only Christ can accomplish the merits, any of us can offer our whole souls to Him in sacrifice, if we strip ourselves of pride and believe in Him.
What is a “vessel of wrath”?
Vessel = a cask or utensil for holding or containing something (see 1828 Webster’s Dictionary).
Wrath = violent anger; vehement exasperation; indignation; the just punishment of an offense or crime (see 1828 Webster’s Dictionary).
It is an individual who will receive and hold or endure the just but bitter punishment of an offended God, having spurned He who created him in full knowledge of what he was doing (see Romans 9:15-23).
What is the punishment of the devil and his angels?
They shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone – which is the torment of disappointment in their own minds as they understand again what they could have had but have spurned.
But unlike the Telestial souls, these will enjoy no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come because their rejection of Christ was done knowingly; they will not be redeemed or brought back into God’s presence in the due time of the Lord via the resurrection.
They will experience the second death.
How does one become a son of perdition?
You must first receive the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ.
Then you must openly and knowingly reject them by denying them and putting them to an open shame and “killing” them again for yourself.
You must first be ministered to by Christ – knowing Him with a surety, and then reject and deny Him or openly rebel against Him, which is different from not being valiant in the testimony Christ has given you – it is becoming an enemy of Christ.
What does it mean to deny the Holy Spirit after receiving it?
It is to receive the mind of God and the constant stream of revelation from Him and then to deny that it is happening or that it is God whose mind you share.
It is to be ministered to by Christ in the flesh, which the Holy Spirit testifies of in full power to the mind and heart while the body is feeling the tactile proofs of Christ’s atonement and resurrection, and then to deny that Christ lives.
It leads to committing murder, both literally and spiritually, as the individual “kills” the mortal and/or spiritual life of an innocent individual as Cain did with Abel (literally) and again with his posterity who were cursed (spiritually).
How does a person crucify the Son of God unto themselves and put Him to open shame?
After having known Christ in the flesh with a surety (see 3 Nephi 11:14-15), they “fall away” by openly rebelling against Him in full knowledge of what He has done to save them or they deny His ability to save them (see Hebrews 6:4-6).
It is impossible for such a person to repent or come back from such a position – they know too much and have chosen to deny what they know.
Why would someone choose to deny the Lord, after having known Him?
Pride – knowing Him in the flesh and fully realizing the depths to which He went to save them and the submission now owed Him may be too much for the inherently self-righteous; although how they could come to know Him while being self-righteously prideful, I do not understand – except to say that God is no respecter of persons so if the terms are met, He will visit the individual with knowledge or light and glory.
Hate – those who love Christ want to keep His commandments, as poorly as they may actually perform them, so those who turn against Christ must either not love Him or did love Him but turned from Him for some reason.
Knowledge – in experiencing the Second Comforter, they learn something that turns them against Christ; it could be something about Christ or God and their motives or plan which offends them (i.e. justice can be seen as heartless and God is a god of justice and truth – not all will be saved, in fact, very few may end up being saved, although many who are not saved are “legitimately” good, wonderful and loved souls, as defined and judged by the world – think of how you would feel if your dearest family member was consigned to hell because they could not or would not live up to what was required and no mercy was shown them at the final judgement because the day of mercy and repentance had passed; or a God that would command Abraham to sacrifice his son; or kill billions of people in a Flood).
Fear - or it could be from fear of what is actually required of you going forward – a road you must complete once you have begun it – which is revealed to you when you receive the Lord but was not known before (see 2 Nephi 32:6) and which is promised to you by a Lord who cannot lie, but which scares you senseless with its enormity – because it tests your faith in Christ (i.e. how can I do this) or terrifies you regarding what is required of you (i.e. to put at risk all that has been gained thus far to condescend to perform an atonement and attain to the resurrection for oneself, as all Gods have done before, see LoF 7:9, 15-16; TPJS 390-393; Matthew 26:36-39; D&C 19:18; Mormon 9:27).
How can the sons of perdition be the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power when all, except those who inherit Celestial glory, will suffer the second death or the second separation from God?
First, let’s establish that spiritual death is to be cast out from the presence of God and Christ (see D&C 29:41); it happens as a result of transgression, sin or rebellion.
And to be redeemed from spiritual death is to enter again into God or Christ’s presence (see Ether 3:13).
Spiritual death is associated with being subject to the will of the devil and leads to more sin (see D&C 29:41; Mosiah 16:3-5; 2 Nephi 9:8-12).
And the wages (or deserved result) of sin is death - both spiritual and physical (see Alma 5:41-42; Romans 6:23).
Those who do not repent to the point that they are able to enter the rest of the Lord or fullness of His glory while they are in the flesh, remain unredeemed and spiritually dead (see Alma 12:16-18, 32-35) and after the judgement, they are cut off again from God’s presence (see Helaman 14:18-19; D&C 76:112; D&C 63:17).
But in the case of the sons of perdition, they HAVE entered the presence of the Lord and received the new and everlasting covenant from His lips but have subsequently denied Him (see D&C 132:27); they will also be cut off again from God’s presence and will not enter His rest to stay but shall be cast out and damned (see Jacob 3:11) with a second spiritual death.
So, it is clear that both the Telestial group and the Sons of Perdition experience the second death, or are cast out again from God’s presence after the judgement; what is less clear is whether the Telestial group may be redeemed in the due time of the Lord (v38) and given another opportunity to prove themselves or rise up in a future eternity and enter His rest during another mortal probation, while the Sons of Perdition will not have this opportunity but will be damned from eternity to all eternity – so that the second death will have power over them (Sons of Perdition) eternally but perhaps won’t with the Telestial, if they can later rise up.
What does it mean that the sons of perdition “shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord”?
First, to be redeemed is to be brought back into God’s presence and ministered to (see Ether 3:13, 18; 3 Nephi 11:14-15) or given a hope or promise of salvation.
So, not being redeemed in the due time of the Lord means that they will never again be given an opportunity to enter God’s presence and be redeemed – they are forever cut off from the light; their eternal “trajectory” has been forever changed and there is no opportunity for them to impact it; implied is that others (i.e. Telestial) may have that chance.
If the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, does this mean that the sons of perdition will not be resurrected?
It is not completely clear in this verse whether they will be resurrected or not.
The implication from this verse is that redemption is enabled by the resurrection of the dead (see D&C 88:16) and since the Sons of Perdition are not redeemed in the due time of the Lord, they will, by this implication, not be resurrected.
This is true for those who were not already redeemed in this life (see Ether 3:13) because it is through the resurrection that they will be able to reenter God’s presence for the judgement and redemption from spiritual death happens when one is brought back into God’s presence.
But the heirs to the Celestial Kingdom must have already received the testimony of Jesus in the flesh (see D&C 76:51, 74, 82; D&C 88:75) which means that the Sons of Perdition, by definition, have already entered into God’s presence in the flesh but then rejected Him.
So it appears that the Sons of Perdition are actually redeemed from spiritual death, by definition, when they enter into God’s presence initially on earth to receive the testimony of Jesus and qualify as heirs to the Celestial Kingdom; obviously they are not resurrected at that time; they later, also in the flesh, reject and deny the Lord, which qualifies them as Sons of Perdition; they are then sentenced to receive the second spiritual death or are cast out again from God’s presence, presumably forever because they are not “redeemed in the due time of the Lord” like the Telestial will be and they will not be forgiven in this world or the world to come; and while the Telestial will be redeemed or brought back into the presence of God by the resurrection, it is implied that the Sons of Perdition will not receive the same blessing but will go away into everlasting punishment to reign with the devil (not over the devil…) in eternity (see v 44), who does not have a resurrected body himself (or no longer has one…); bottom line is that it is inconclusive but seems to imply that the Sons of Perdition will not be resurrected.
If this is true, it may be why it is said that it would have been better for them not to have been born (see D&C 76:32), especially if they were already souls (body + spirit) before they came to earth (see Abraham 3:23-26) having already chosen righteousness in some “first place” (see Alma 13:2-6), which would make sense to some degree because otherwise they would have been too inherently wicked to have qualified for the Celestial Kingdom on this earth – their natural inclination would be to engage in all kinds of Telestial behaviors while on earth, rather than the Celestial ones which they must do to even qualify for becoming a son of perdition – meaning that they would have lost the body of glory that they had gained before agreeing to come to earth so it would have been better for them to have never agreed to being born here.
What kingdom do we merit without the atonement of Christ?
Perdition - we would be “angels to a devil”.
READ D&C 76:43-49
Since Christ did suffer the atonement, what must one do to be thrust into Outer Darkness?
First, qualify for the Celestial Kingdom by having the Father reveal the Son to you, which by definition (as one cannot fall from grace once you are dead), must happen in the flesh; then deny the Son with full knowledge of who He is and what He has done.
“What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against Him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy.” (Joseph Smith; TPJS).
In other words, you can’t “fall out of the bottom of the Telestial Kingdom” - it’s another trajectory entirely.
What is everlasting or endless punishment (see D&C 19:4-12)?
Punishment given from the hand of God.
God’s punishment or the punishment that a God can comprehend because they have experienced it.
The punishment that is required by eternal law for breaking that law.
As God is infinite, immortal and eternal, it is infinite punishment or all the punishment a God can endure; the formula is: an infinite, endless and eternal God minus infinite or endless or eternal punishment equals what is required to redeem a creation from death and hell by eternal law.
But it does not last forever in “time”; it can be “accomplished” or “finished” to the “dregs”.
Why would the Lord show the vision of the torment of perdition to “many” and yet the full extent of the torment is not revealed to man?
Perhaps He shows it to those that are qualifying to receive Him, as a warning of what will happen if they betray Him – in other words, they have been sealed up to eternal life or are about to be, and this vision is a cautionary tale to help them understand the seriousness of the covenant they are about to participate in, as this is the punishment for breaking it.
As in all things pertaining to godhood, this torment must be experienced to be understood; what is interesting is that the Lord seems to understand it, which begs the question of the relationship between this punishment and what He experienced in Gethsemane to redeem all mankind – perhaps this is part of what is meant by those who are “ordained” unto this condemnation.
What is implied by the statement “and the end thereof”…”no man knows”?
That perhaps there is an end to the torment for them in another eternity.
But the only ones who will know this are those who are “ordained” to experience or partake in it – one way or another.
Why did God show Joseph Smith the vision of hell and outer darkness before He showed him the vision of celestial glory?
Because the path to heaven passes through hell.
You must persist through discouragement in faith in the promises He has either a) given you or b) you believe He will give you if you persist, from your reading of the scriptures where you see what He has done for others, knowing He is no respecter of persons.
There is opposition in all things (see 2 Nephi 2:11) and you can’t develop the required faith without the necessary opposition; you must choose between the apparent failure of faith and your desire to persist because of your love for the Lord and belief in His promises or hope.