Introductory Note on TPJS Lessons
The next set of posts are from a selection of discourses, letters and articles authored or presented by Joseph Smith between 1839 and 1844, in or around Nauvoo, Illinois, and compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith into the book entitled Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS). The edition of that book used in these lessons is titled Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and was published in 1993 by the Deseret Book Company. This newer edition contains the same content as the original version but with the addition of scriptural footnotes. I will also include the page numbers from the traditional edition of TPJS in the introduction to each lesson. The references contain the page number first, followed by the paragraph number on the page. In some cases, the paragraphs in TPJS are very small, but for consistency, I have counted all of them. If a paragraph continues from the previous page, I still start the count over on the next page – so when you look at the page, even if a paragraph is continued from the previous page, it still counts as “paragraph 1” for purposes of the reference. To aid you in your study while reading this blog, I’ve decided to also copy the text straight into the blog. Please see the following link for an electronic version of the STPJS.
This first discourse was given by Joseph Smith at a conference of the Twelve Apostles held at Commerce, Illinois on June 17, 1839. See TPJS standard edition pages 148-151 or 169-173, in my edition.
The second discourse used in this post was given by Joseph Smith in a Sunday sermon held at Yelrome (Tioga), Illinois on May 14th, 1843. See TPJS standard edition pages 297-399 or 331-334, in my edition.
The third discourse used in this post was given as a sermon on 2 Peter 1 by Joseph Smith at the unfinished Nauvoo Temple site on Sunday, May 21st, 1843, a week after the previous talk. See TPJS standard edition pages 303-306 or 338-342, in my edition. I have used material from each of these sermons throughout the lesson as it makes sense to understand the topic being taught, as opposed to addressing them strictly by chronology.
The First Principles of the Gospel
READ TPJS 169:3-6
“Faith comes by hearing the word of God, through the testimony of the servants of God; that testimony is always attended by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation. Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not that which is pleasing in the sight of God. Baptism is a holy ordinance preparatory to the reception of the Holy Ghost; it is the channel and key by which the Holy Ghost will be administered. The Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, cannot be received through the medium of any other principle than the principle of righteousness, for if the proposals are not complied with, it is of no use, but withdraws.”
Where does mankind’s faith originate?
From personal encounters some men and women have had with God.
The messages God gives these servants are then shared with others.
What if the testimony of these witnesses is not attended by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation?
Then the “witnesses” either never encountered God for themselves (which doesn’t mean they didn’t have an experience with an entity from the spiritual realm).
Or they had a legitimate experience with God but do not have a message from Him to others but are freelancing their own agenda.
Since repentance is the message of all true prophets (particularly in the Book of Mormon), why is daily repentance wrong?
Joseph says “daily transgression and daily repentance”; implied is that the transgressions are serial or the same sins over and over and that the daily repentance is premeditated or planned.
This kind of daily repentance sounds like the “ritual prodigalism” that Neal Maxwell taught about, which was premeditated sinning followed by preplanned “repentance”; this callous approach to repentance fundamentally undervalues the “broken heart and contrite spirit” or “godly sorrow” required for true repentance and reflects a “checklist” repentance mentality that will not merit forgiveness and cleansing from the Lord.
God has promised us that we won’t be tempted past our ability to resist and that we won’t be given any commandments we cannot keep (see 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Nephi 3:7), so daily transgression of the same sins day after day should not happen if one genuinely loves the Lord (see John 14:15), offers a broken heart and contrite spirit, and has faith that the Lord will help them overcome and resist the sin.
However, for a number of reasons, some sins are extremely difficult for individuals to overcome, due to the addictive qualities of the temptation, or a host of other reasons; the Lord will immediately forgive those who repent, whenever they repent, if they truly repent with their whole soul (see Alma 34:31); repentance is between the Lord and you.
How does Joseph describe the relationship between baptism by water and the Holy Ghost?
Baptism by water is the channel and key by which the Holy Ghost will be administered or unlocked.
Baptism by water, if it is valid (performed in living water by one given authority by Jesus Christ to administer it) forms a “portal” or connection between the individual’s spirit body and the Holy Spirit which proceeds from (and is part of) God Himself; it enables a clear conduit, as if it was a “well of living water springing up” within the person’s soul, between the alienated spirit living on earth in a tabernacle of clay, and the presence of God’s Spirit.
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery both received the gift of the Holy Ghost with its attendant spiritual gifts after they were baptized, before hands were laid on their heads, so what does it mean that the Gift is given by the “laying on of hands”?
Those who have hands laid upon their heads by the elders of the Church are told to “receive the Holy Ghost”; this is a charge to the person who was baptized, it is not a way of conjuring the Spirit (or forcing the Holy Ghost to come).
The “confirmation” rite is a confirmation of membership into a Church but the mortal “laying on of hands” is advice – “receive the Holy Ghost”; the message could also be summarized in this way: “now that you have been baptized and are also an official member of the Church (“member” was originally a church office, like deacon, teacher or priest), we admonish you to seek after and receive the Holy Ghost”.
The “laying on of hands” speaks to the hands of the Lord as He touches you and fills you with His Spirit, casting out that old heart or disposition or “natural” spirit and giving you an endowment (a gift that continues to give) of light and knowledge; the Lord Himself is the Holy Spirit of Promise – it is He who seals all ordinances or makes them efficacious in this world and the next.
READ TPJS 170:2-6
“The Doctrines of the Resurrection of the Dead and the Eternal Judgment are necessary to preach among the first principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Doctrine of Election. Peter exhorts us to make our calling and election sure. This is the sealing power spoken of by Paul in other places. “Ephesians 1:13-14. In whom ye also trusted, that after ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory, that we may be sealed up unto the day of redemption.” This principle ought (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest. How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power, and the other Comforter spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation.”
What additional “first principles” did Joseph Smith include and why?
The doctrine of the resurrection and eternal judgement.
The doctrine of election.
Both of these doctrines are about becoming as God is; it is interesting that Theosis or mankind’s becoming Gods is part of the “first principles” that Joseph would teach.
Joseph will teach more about the doctrine of resurrection in the King Follett Discourse – that in addition to the gift of resurrection given to us through Christ’s merits and mercy, we must also attain to the resurrection ourselves in some distant eternity.
Election, or knowing by the voice of God Himself that you will be saved, is not a doctrine taught in the correlated Church today, despite being prominently taught in the Book of Mormon and Joseph’s revelations and sermons; but according to Joseph, it is part of the “first principles” of the gospel and is the climax or conclusion of the doctrine of Christ (see 2 Nephi 32:6) and constitutes the “fullness” of the gospel; and in the Lectures on Faith (LoF 6), Joseph teaches that without this actual knowledge, you will not be able to exercise faith unto salvation but will “grow weary in your mind and faint” in the face of your doubts and fears on the subject.
What is Joseph Smith saying that God will make known to even the least Saint?
Everything that God revealed to Joseph Smith, including all doctrines, visions and visitations.
Specifically, the doctrine of the calling and election of mankind by God Himself; to know from God Himself that the path of life you are pursuing is according to His will and to receive a promise or hope of salvation that you can exercise faith in.
The revelation of Christ Himself to each person, so that all will know Him personally and with a surety, which is eternal life (see John 17:3; Jerimiah 31:34; 3 Nephi 11:14-17).
What are the implications from this statement by Joseph regarding God’s willingness to reveal all things to anyone?
Callings in the Church have nothing to do with the ability of God to reveal, or you to receive, ALL things; He is no respecter of persons (see LoF 3:17, 23).
God will actually reveal ALL THINGS to YOU, as soon as you are able to bear them; this is an invitation, so do whatever is needful, as quickly as possible, to build the capacity to bear them.
God wants to reveal to you all things; these revelations and a personal knowledge of Christ are not a spiritual luxury treat for the “righteous” or for the religious leaders; it is required of all who hope to live in Zion and welcome Him when He comes again – it is a prerequisite for Zion and for surviving the great and dreadful day of the Lord – the language suggests that “all shall know Him” before He comes again – those who remain, are still alive because they knew Him as the “Lamb” and so were able to endure His presence when He comes in the fullness of His glory as the “Lion”; those who cannot abide His glory will be utterly wasted at His coming.
How are we to receive this calling and election?
The “other Comforter” or “Second Comforter” will reveal Himself to you and administer this ordinance or make this promise to you, through the sealing power of His priesthood, as He is the Holy Spirit of Promise.
The First Comforter
READ TPJS 170:7-171:1
“There are two Comforters spoken of. One is the Holy Ghost, the same as given on the day of Pentecost, and that all Saints receive after faith, repentance, and baptism. This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence.”
What is the First Comforter?
The Holy Ghost.
It is a comfort because before receiving it, you are separated and alienated from God; you are a natural man and an enemy to God (see Mosiah 3:19); if you were to enter His presence again as you are now, you would wish to flee or become extinct (see Mormon 9:3-5; Alma 36:12-16) while also feeling a massive loss which burns like fire and brimstone for the lack of His presence, knowing you had lived your life in rejection of Him and the salvation He freely offered (see Alma 42:27; TPJS 401:1).
How does it work?
When the Holy Ghost “falls upon” someone, what is happening is that their soul (not just their spirit but the body too, as is evidenced by Joseph’s comment about the change in the physical appearance of a Gentile) is immersed in God’s Holy Spirit to the degree that s/he is “exercised by” or animated by that Spirit; and the darkness that was inherent in their spirit (and in their actual mortal, telestial cells) previously is burned out by the light.
They are sanctified or made holy.
The “first comforter” is also called receiving the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, being born again, experiencing the birth of the spirit, and receiving a mighty change of heart.
They receive a greater portion of pure intelligence or the “pure spirit of intelligence” to the end that their mind is expanded and enlightened – their actual cognitive abilities are significantly improved, to the degree that they can understand things of light that they could not comprehend before (see Moses 1:4-9; D&C 88:7-13; Alma 12:10-11) and the revelations of God or truths (things are they really were, are and will be) are given to them in much more abundance than before.
This gift actually “purges” the physical and spiritual dross from a soul, making their spirit “holy” or a “new creation” that has been “born” (the person having been “reborn” with this “birth of the spirit”) – a Holy Ghost living in a telestial world; this is what actually makes you “clean” when you are baptized - it is not the water but the actual spiritual fire which does the cleansing.
It is interesting that it works relative to the amount of light or intelligence that the individual already has accumulated and brought to earth; what is implied is that this birth of the spirit moves all who receive it to a certain level of “fullness” or light, because those who came with less (Gentiles like me) are truly transformed while Israelites don’t have as far to go and were “far before” their Gentile friends in pure intelligence before each received this comforter.
READ TPJS 172:6-173:1
“The Spirit of Revelation is in connection with these blessings. A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.”
How can you tell if you are “feeling the Spirit of God”?
You will have sudden strokes of ideas or revelations (we might call this “inspiration” if “revelation” is defined as being received via visitation or vision) from the pure intelligence flowing into you from outside of yourself.
You will receive prophetic impressions, which if you notice them or pay attention to them, you will find come to pass; this implies that they are not big things, at first, and could easily not be noticed.
It is something that you “grow” into; implying that your ability to recognize the Spirit and the Spirit’s effect on your decisions and actions grows as you listen for it (like a sentinel), acknowledge it as coming from God and not yourself, and act on it; until you become “perfect” in Christ, which is to have become precisely like Him.
This doesn’t mean that in some cases (in my experience, many cases), the process which leads finally to receiving this pure intelligence requires much studying it out in my mind and reflection – over months or even years – before the revelation comes. I also will “check” with the Lord to confirm that the ideas that are occurring to me are from Him and not from myself or another source. Sometimes this checking takes a while, too. In some cases, it requires me “experimenting on the word” or trying out the guidance and being very mindful about the results.
Knowledge is the Key to Salvation
READ TPJS 331:1-3
“It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it. President Smith then read the 2nd Epistle of Peter, 1st chapter, 16th to last verses, and dwelt upon the 19th verse with some remarks. Add to your faith knowledge, etc. The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Salvation is nothing more nor less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them under our feet. And when we have power to put all enemies under our feet in this world, and a knowledge to triumph over all evil spirits in the world to come, then we are saved, as in the case of Jesus, who was to reign until He had put all enemies under His feet, and the last enemy was death.”
Why is it not wise for us to have all knowledge presented to us at once – wouldn’t it help us to have context and really understand what God is trying to teach us?
Unless we have become precisely as Christ is, we cannot comprehend all knowledge anyway, much less, all at once.
It is a mercy, because the only ones who are given all knowledge are those who have been faithful and diligent to the Lord’s word and have obtained sufficient light to understand what is being revealed; and even then, they are not permitted to remain on the earth after they’ve reached a certain level of knowledge and light (see Moses 1:4-5).
All others would be damned by their lack of ability to comprehend the knowledge based on their wickedness (see Alma 12:11-12), but it would be amplified by their pride in looking beyond the mark and seeking for things they could not understand, because they refused to live aligned to the laws of light (see Jacob 4:14). Even if they understood some of the knowledge, there would be a temptation to use it for purposes other than those aligned with God’s will (i.e. for you Star Wars fans: Anakin saving Padme when he was told via dreams that she would die; in other words, our misuse of light and power doesn’t have to be “evil” on the face of it).
In addition, if the Lord were to appear to you without acclimating you to His presence, so that He could reveal all knowledge to you, you would be consumed; even if the Lord appears without glory, you will be overwhelmed until you are prepared for it (see Exodus 24:15-18).
Why is the principle of knowledge THE principle of salvation?
To know God is eternal life; and according to the LoF, eternal life (becoming like God or exaltation) is salvation (see LoF 7:9).
Knowledge is truth and intelligence; it is also light and glory and spirit; so to be saved, you must attain to the same level of knowledge or light or glory or intelligence as God has attained to.
What does it mean that salvation is to triumph over your enemies?
As Christ is the prototype of the saved being, Christ’s life and being teaches us about the nature of salvation.
To be saved we must be precisely like Christ and nothing else; to attain to this, one must do the works of Christ (which is why He is always telling us that He is our example and to “come follow” Him).
Christ lived a perfect life, filled with charity, mercy and grace (triumphing over weakness and corruption inherent in telestial mortality, over mortal enemies who sought to stop His mission, and over the devils who tempted Him to sin).
Christ suffered an infinite and eternal sacrifice by atoning for the sins of mankind (triumphing over all sin and every facet of this fallen world that is not Celestial).
Christ submitted to death and then attained to the resurrection (triumphing over death itself).
How is knowledge gained?
Knowledge = intelligence = light = glory.
It is gained line by line as we obey God’s commandments or align our behavior with eternal law (see D&C 130:18-21).
It is gained in a mortal tabernacle or body, out of God’s immediate presence, so that His glory won’t overwhelm the agency of the individual but that there will be obvious opposition in all things.
What does it mean that everyone who does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned?
You are either saved or damned based on the attention you paid to God’s Spirit which was given to you at your birth (the light of Christ), see Alma 42:27; Alma 12:10-11); to be saved is to continue to progress to eventually become like God while to be damned is to stop in one’s progression; to be damned is to be condemned.
Implied is that everyone, through the light of Christ, has a full and fair chance to listen to that Spirit and follow it, regardless of the amount of light or darkness that surrounds them or the “priesthood authority” that is present during their life on earth; the atonement and vicarious work for the dead can fix anything that has been left undone – although one has to wonder about the reverse – if one had ordinances for the dead (or even during their life) but did not follow the Spirit back to God’s presence – what of their state…will they be condemned?
READ TPJS 331:4-5-332:1
“Perhaps there are principles here that few men have thought of. No person can have this salvation except through a tabernacle. Now, in this world, mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above another; yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves. So in the other world there are a variety of spirits. Some seek to excel. And this was the case with Lucifer when he fell. He sought for things which were unlawful. Hence he was sent down, and it is said he drew many away with him; and the greatness of his punishment is that he shall not have a tabernacle. This is his punishment. So the devil, thinking to thwart the decree of God, by going up and down in the earth, seeking whom he may destroy—any person that he can find that will yield to him, he will bind him, and take possession of the body and reign there, glorying in it mightily, not caring that he had got merely a stolen body; and by and by someone having authority will come along and cast him out and restore the tabernacle to its rightful owner. The devil steals a tabernacle because he has not one of his own: but if he steals one, he is always liable to be turned out of doors.”
How does Satan take possession of a body in this world?
He must find someone who will yield to him; someone who has less “knowledge” or intelligence than he has (see TPJS 246:1); remember he was once in authority in the presence of God; he was and is a powerful being.
Then he binds them and enters their body (see TPJS 341:3).
Until he is cast out by someone with more glory (knowledge, intelligence, light) than he has – someone with a direct connection to God who has “recharged” their “spiritual batteries” through communion, fasting and prayer (see Matthew 17:14-21) sufficient to be able to force him to leave.
READ TPJS 338:5-339:3
I do not want you to think that I am very righteous, for I am not, God judges men according to the use they make of the light which He gives them. We have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto you do well to take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place. We were eyewitnesses of his majesty and heard the voice of his excellent glory. And what could be more sure? When He was transfigured on the mount, what could be more sure to them? Divines have been quarreling for ages about the meaning of this.
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women—all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, who will give me dominion over all and every one of them, when their refuge of lies shall fail, and their hiding place shall be destroyed, while these smooth-polished stones with which I come in contact become marred.”
What is Joseph teaching us regarding outward behavior versus inner light?
Outward “religious” behavior is nothing compared to being true to the inner light or Spirit that dwells within you from God.
None of us are very righteous when held to the standard of God – which is the only standard that matters.
Even Joseph Smith, who was revered in his day (and should not have been, see TPJS 266:1), is as a “rough stone” rolling down a high mountain; this life is designed to knock off the “corners” through experience with opposition and the consequences of ours (and others’) agency, making us a smooth and useful tool in God’s hands.
What God knows is right is not (usually) what the world feels is right – God’s righteousness is not the world’s virtue (see TPJS287:2).
Calling and Election: A More Sure Word of Prophesy
READ TPJS 332:2-333:1 and 342:1-3
“Now, there is some grand secret here, and keys to unlock the subject. Notwithstanding the apostle exhorts them to add to their faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, etc., yet he exhorts them to make their calling and election sure. And though they had heard an audible voice from heaven bearing testimony that Jesus was the Son of God, yet he says we have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place. Now, wherein could they have a more sure word of prophecy than to hear the voice of God saying, This is my beloved Son. Now for the secret and grand key. Though they might hear the voice of God and know that Jesus was the Son of God, this would be no evidence that their election and calling was made sure, that they had part with Christ, and were joint heirs with Him. They then would want that more sure word of prophecy, that they were sealed in the heavens and had the promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God. Then, having this promise sealed unto them, it was an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Though the thunders might roll and lightnings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather thick around, yet this hope and knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble and tribulation. Then knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.”
How does Joseph Smith use the word “keys” and how is it different from the way the word is used in the Church today?
Joseph uses the word “keys” to mean knowledge, usually secret or sacred or not widely known or able to be comprehended, which is used to “unlock” some important but difficult subject.
The modern Church uses the word “keys” to mean the authority by which the Church is administered; it is the authority to direct the work of God, i.e. “priesthood keys”.
It is interesting that knowledge of the mysteries of God is not needed if one has “keys” as they are now defined in the Church; knowledge of the mysteries is gained by direct interaction with God but authority can be given to men and God can somewhat walk away from day to day operations because He has already done His atoning work and the rest is up to the ministry of men using their authoritative keys (see 2 Nephi 28:4-6). But that is not how Joseph Smith is using the word here; implied is that there is something important about obtaining the knowledge or having the experience with God that the “keys” are there to unlock.
What does it mean to have your calling and election made sure?
To have part with Christ.
To be a joint heir with Christ.
To receive a “more sure word of prophesy” or promise of your salvation, exaltation, and eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
To have that promise or hope “sealed” unto you by one who has the authority to do it (God Himself).
What does “more sure word of prophesy” refer to?
Christ is promising you, from His own lips, that your salvation (which is still a future event, and thus a “prophesy”) is the most “sure” or guaranteed hope (or promise) of eternal life that you could ever receive (see TPJS 336:4).
If He fails in His promise, then He will cease to be God, as He is a god of truth.
At this point, your Godhood is up to Him as much as it is up to you; either that or through His foreknowledge, He knows you will become a God – however, since faith is the principle of action and power in God Himself, this implies that the events of a future eternity may not be known by God with a surety – hence the need for faith. OR, it is known to God because of His omniscience in sitting “outside of time” but still has to occur at a point in time which hasn’t “happened” yet.
Why is seeing Christ in vision and hearing the voice of the Father testify to Christ’s divinity not the same as and not as important as calling & election and receiving the Second Comforter)?
While seeing a vision of Christ or having any miraculous spiritual experience or revelation is a wonderful thing and will give you important further light and knowledge, it is not a saving ordinance that you can have faith in unto your salvation.
You must remain diligent and obedient, pressing forward with faith in Christ, while waiting upon the Lord, until you receive a hope or promise for yourself from God.
Seeing Christ in a vision or even a visitation is different from feeling the wound in His side and the prints of the nails in His hands, wrists, and feet and knowing, with your mortal, physical senses, that standing before you alive is a man that was dead – the living Christ.
Why does the Lord make someone’s calling and election sure; why isn’t dying faithful to, and active in, the Church enough?
Enduring active in the Church until you are “safely dead” gives you no assurances from God that you can have faith in, that YOUR salvation is secure (see LoF 6:2-6).
Without such a promise or hope or knowledge from God Himself, you will “grow weary in your mind and faint” in the face of the trial, trouble and tribulation you will face on earth, if you hope to be saved.
You MUST have the knowledge that only the Lord Jesus Christ can give you; He is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven and your part in it.
The fact that you are “safely dead” through your activity in the Church without receiving this assurance from God means that you are unsafely dead… the only way to be “safely dead” is to have first received the assurance from God Himself while you were alive.
READ TPJS 171:2 and 341:1
“The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.”
“Contend earnestly for the like precious faith with the Apostle Peter, “and add to your faith virtue,” knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity; “for if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Another point, after having all these qualifications, he lays this injunction upon the people “to make your calling and election sure.” He is emphatic upon this subject—after adding all this virtue, knowledge, etc., “Make your calling and election sure.” What is the secret—the starting point? “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” How did he obtain all things? Through the knowledge of Him who hath called him. There could not anything be given, pertaining to life and godliness, without knowledge. Woe! woe! woe to Christendom!—especially the divines and priests if this be true.”
What must you do to have your calling and election made sure?
Exercise faith in Christ and repent of all your sins.
Be baptized in water.
Receive the “first comforter” or baptism of fire.
Abide in or keep faithful to the covenant you made at baptism by continuing to humble yourself before God by realizing your dire need for His grace, and His greatness and mercy in extending it, seeking with your whole soul for righteousness and truth, living all of the commandments and words of God you have been given including those given just to you.
Stay faithful and true to the Lord “at all hazards” – meaning to love Him and submit to His will, as He thoroughly proves you outside of His immediate presence via affliction and trial, using the opposition so widely prevalent in this mortal world.
Seek for and listen to the guidance God gives you through His Holy Spirit or angelic messengers speaking to you (see 2 Nephi 32:1-6).
Obtain a knowledge of Christ through personal experience with Him while doing His works and following His words to you; allow the virtues you have gained that are His (you are becoming like Him, in this small way) to help you recognize Him when He appears to you or is in your midst but unseen (see Moroni 7:48).
How long is the process between be baptized by fire and calling & election?
It is as long as you make it; He is no respecter of persons, so the dependency is you.
We learn “line upon line”; how quickly we progress is a function of how open our hearts are to correction, repentance and developing capabilities we do not have now (as the fact that we must learn means either a) we believe things and do things that are wrong and need to be corrected, or b) we do not know all of what we must know to enter God’s presence.
Regardless of our opinion of our readiness to be elected, in most instances, God must make us wait; most of the time He is waiting on us because we are not yet focused enough (Isaiah 66:2), or we are not yet ready to obey what He needs to reveal to us (see Daniel 10:11-13), or because what we perceive as “waiting on Him” is actually our being gradually exposed to His glory so that we can bear it (see Exodus 24:15-18) – this is what makes us holy enough to be able to abide in His presence without wanting to flee.
But Joseph says it can be “soon”! There is no set time you must wait, there are no earthly ordinances (i.e. the Second Anointing) that must be performed first, nor are there any Church callings or even Church priesthood you must receive first; the keeper of the Gate is the Holy One and there is nothing that can bind or constrain or stop Him from extending to you this promise; the “heavenly gift” is always passed directly from God to mortal.
READ TPJS 333:2
“Compare this principle once with Christendom at the present day, and where are they, with all their boasted religion, piety and sacredness while at the same time they are crying out against prophets, apostles, angels, revelations, prophesying and visions, etc. Why, they are just ripening for the damnation of hell. They will be damned, for they reject the most glorious principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and treat with disdain and trample under foot the key that unlocks the heavens and puts in our possession the glories of the celestial world. Yes, I say, such will be damned, with all their professed godliness. Then I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it, etc.”
What does Joseph’s prophesy regarding all churches that deny the doctrines of calling and election and the direct revelation of Christ (Second Comforter)?
They will be damned; “they” is referring both to all of the leaders, priests and teachers, as well as the poor souls who believe and follow them blindly (see Matthew 23:13).
These churches profess to be Christ’s but focus on (and boast about) religion (commandments and ordinances), piety (standards and outward behaviors), and sacredness (rites which mirror sacred things but are not actually those things) while crying out against (or redefining what they mean by…) true prophets who have entered into God’s presence, angels, visions, revelations, and miracles; those that have rejected the fullness of the gospel of Christ, which includes the doctrine of calling and election, will be rejected by God (see 3 Nephi 16:10).
The reason that they are damned is that they know enough about God to know that they don’t have His Spirit with them and do not really know Him; their scholars may know some things about Him, and they may try to constrain people into living “good” lives (as they have defined it) but they are damned because of their priestcraft, since they know better – they know that the heavens are “brass” or dead silent to them but they put on a pretense as if it were not the case; they will not admit their problems and repent.
They are damned because they trample under feet (or mock) the very key that unlocks the heavens and puts in our possession the glories of the Celestial world: the Second Comforter and making one’s calling and election sure by a more sure word of prophesy. They proclaim that seeking after it is a “familiar tactic of the adversary” and attempt to scare people away from attempting to actually come unto Christ in the flesh; as this is completely anti-Book of Mormon and anti-Christ, one has to assume that those who proclaim these things have never seen Him and do not know Him, and you would be right, as by their own admission they are only “special witnesses of the NAME of Christ” not the PERSON of Christ (see Dallin Oaks “Boise Rescue” fireside on June 13, 2015).
What does Joseph Smith, who unlike the rest of the world proclaimed to all that he had stood in God’s presence, admonish you to do?
Go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourself.
Wait patiently on the Lord until you obtain this more sure word of prophesy or promise of your salvation.
Implied is that Joseph has experienced these things and that he is inviting you, on behalf of the Lord, to have faith and seek after them yourself, so that you won’t be damned but saved in the Kingdom of God.
The Second Comforter
READ TPJS 171:2-172:5
“The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses. 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 perfect 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.”
What is the Second Comforter?
It is the ministration of Jesus Christ to you, whereby you know with a surety that He is the God of Israel and the whole earth, was slain for the sins of the world but has overcome death and lives again; this is done via the “ceremony of recognition and witnessing” described in 3 Nephi 11 (see Ether 3:17-20; 3 Nephi 11:10-17)
It is a comfort to know of His literal reality, given that He has the power to save you from sin and death, and to wash away the tears that have been caused by all of the afflictions present on this earth.
What blessings will be yours after receiving the Second Comforter?
After the initial ministration, the Lord will appear to you from time to time, even to the point of taking up His abode with you (a “habitation” with God).
You will be made a Son of God; really a Son of Christ, who is the father of your rebirth and salvation.
He will prepare you to the point that you can enter into the presence of the Father (see 2 Nephi 32:4-7); then He will bear His Testimony to you, in the presence of the Father that you are clean and should be exalted – this is what is known as receiving the Testimony of Jesus (see D&C 88:75); He will manifest (reveal) the Father unto you so that you can be sealed up to eternal life by the Father Himself, in the presence of His Holy angels; and you will then act as witnesses of the promise or hope of exaltation you have been given.
You will see the visions of heaven.
You will be taught or tutored by the Lord face to face, as one man speaks to another in plain humility – you will reason together with Him as He teaches you the mysteries of the Kingdom of God (see D&C 50:10-12; Ether 12:39).
What is the relationship between the Second Comforter and Calling & Election?
The calling and election is the giving of a promise of your salvation to you by the one who cannot lie about it – Christ; the Second Comforter is knowing with a surety that the man who made that promise is the God of the whole earth and was slain for the sins of the world.
After one has received the promise of salvation from Christ (making one’s calling and election sure), then it will be one’s privilege to receive the Second Comforter and confirm the living reality of the God (Christ) who can make and keep that promise (see TPJS 171:1).
Firsthand Knowledge of Heaven
READ TPJS 339:5-341:2
“I am going to take up this subject by virtue of the knowledge of God in me, which I have received from heaven. The opinions of men, so far as I am concerned, are to me as the crackling of thorns under the pot, or the whistling of the wind. I break the ground; I lead the way like Columbus when he was invited to a banquet where he was assigned the most honorable place at the table, and served with the ceremonials which were observed towards sovereigns. A shallow courtier present, who was meanly jealous of him, abruptly asked him whether he thought that in case he had not discovered the Indies, there were not other men in Spain who would have been capable of the enterprise? Columbus made no reply, but took an egg and invited the company to make it stand on end. They all attempted it, but in vain; whereupon he struck it upon the table so as to break one end, and left it standing on the broken part, illustrating that when he had once shown the way to the new world nothing was easier than to follow it.
Paul ascended into the third heavens, and he could understand the three principal rounds of Jacob’s ladder—the telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms, where Paul saw and heard things which were not lawful for him to utter. I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them.
The Lord deals with this people as a tender parent with a child, communicating light and intelligence and the knowledge of his ways as they can bear it. The inhabitants of the earth are asleep; they know not the day of their visitation. The Lord hath set the bow in the cloud for a sign that while it shall be seen, seed time and harvest, summer and winter shall not fail; but when it shall disappear, woe to that generation, for behold the end cometh quickly.
Contend earnestly for the like precious faith with the Apostle Peter, “and add to your faith virtue,” knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity; “for if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Another point, after having all these qualifications, he lays this injunction upon the people “to make your calling and election sure.” He is emphatic upon this subject—after adding all this virtue, knowledge, etc., “Make your calling and election sure.” What is the secret—the starting point? “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” How did he obtain all things? Through the knowledge of Him who hath called him. There could not anything be given, pertaining to life and godliness, without knowledge. Woe! woe! woe to Christendom!—especially the divines and priests if this be true. Salvation is for a man to be saved from all his enemies; for until a man can triumph over death, he is not saved. A knowledge of the priesthood alone will do this.”
Why does Joseph Smith treat the ideas and opinions of others so rudely?
These doctrines (calling and election and Second Comforter) are so vitally important to our salvation that there is no room to trifle with them.
Joseph speaks as “one with authority and not as the scribes” because he has experienced these things for himself; he has gazed into heaven and is not putting forward a scholarly opinion but knows the truth from his own experience. He knows the Lord and is sure of his standing before Him.
Joseph sounds arrogant to all those who have never parted the veil; especially to the vast majority who secretly don’t believe it is even possible or that there really is a veil to part or a God who waits behind it; Joseph is coming from a fundamentally different paradigm.
How many rungs are there on Jacob’s ladder?
At least five; telestial, terrestrial, celestial, and two that are higher still, which the white stone given to all those who inherit the celestial kingdom reveals (see D&C 130:10); if outer darkness is a rung, then there are at least six; I have heard others say there are seven.
It says that Paul ascended into the third heavens, it does not say that he ascended to the highest heaven.
Incidentally, Joseph Smith saw 100 times more about the afterlife than he was allowed to share with us in D&C 76, so the fact that it may be a lot more complex than what he was allowed to share with us in D&C 76 is very high.
Why were the things Paul and Joseph saw not “lawful to be uttered”?
Some things must be known (for your salvation) but cannot be taught by one person to another – they must be taught by God and/or experienced personally to be understood.
Joseph alludes to the fact that if he were to go “off track” with regards to the expectations of teachings people already have from the scriptures (if he were to go beyond their current level of knowledge and comfort) that they would try to kill him (see TPJS 393).
It is merciful that God deals with us a “tender parent”, giving us knowledge and intelligence only as we can bear it; light is gained through obedience to commandments or eternal law, so the pace and depth of what we learn has always been and will always be, up to us (see D&C 130:18-21).