John and the Kingdom of God
READ Matthew 3:1-6
Jews were looking for a Messiah to save them from the Romans, but what Kingdom
did John preach was at hand?
The kingdom of heaven.
constitutes the kingdom of God or Heaven (on earth)?
God has given His oracles (revelations)
to man (see TPJS 306:2).
They have authority to perform saving
ordinances that are recognized in heaven and can be sealed by the Holy Spirit
of Promise (see TPJS 308:2).
John have the keys of the kingdom of God or did the Jewish leaders, who had
legitimate authority to perform the temple sacrifices, have them?
According to Joseph Smith, John wrested
the keys of the kingdom from the Jewish leaders, and they didn’t even know they
had lost their authority (see TPJS 276).
The Jewish leaders still had the temple,
the ordinances, the fine trappings of wealth and prestige that came with
priesthood office but they were rejected by God. Yet the multitudes still
followed them and John was killed.
READ TPJS 307:2-308:2
“As touching the Gospel and baptism that
John preached, I would say that John came preaching the Gospel for the
remission of sins; he had his authority from God, and the oracles of
God were with him, and the kingdom of God for a season seemed to rest with John
alone. The Lord promised Zacharias that he should have a son who was a
descendant of Aaron, the Lord having promised that the priesthood should
continue with Aaron and his seed throughout their generations. Let no man take
this honor upon himself, except he be called of God, as was Aaron; and
Aaron received his call by revelation. An angel of God also appeared unto
Zacharias while in the Temple, and told him that he should have a son,
whose name should be John, and he should be filled with the Holy Ghost. Zacharias
was a priest of God, and officiating in the Temple, and John was a priest
after his father, and held the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, and was
called of God to preach the Gospel of the kingdom of God. The Jews, as a
nation, having departed from the law of God and the Gospel of the
Lord, prepared the way for transferring it to the Gentiles. But, says one, the kingdom of God could not
be set up in the days of John, for John said the kingdom was at hand. But
I would ask if it could be any nearer to them than to be in the hands of John.
The people need not wait for the days of Pentecost to find the kingdom of
God, for John had it with him, and he came forth from the wilderness crying
out, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is nigh at hand,” as much as to
say, “Out here I have got the kingdom of God, and you can get it, and I am
coming after you; and if you don’t receive it, you will be damned;” and
the scriptures represent that all Jerusalem went out into John’s
baptism. There was a legal administrator, and those that were baptized
were subjects for a king; and also the laws and oracles of God were there;
therefore the kingdom of God was there; for no man could have better authority
to administer than John; and our Savior submitted to that authority Himself, by
being baptized by John; therefore the kingdom of God was set up on the
earth, even in the days of John.”
is God’s message through the “oracles” to man?
Come and be baptized.
READ Matthew 3:7; JST Matthew 3:7-9;
is at the heart of the problem that the High Priests and Pharisees have with
They will not soften their hearts to
believe his words.
They jealously guard their “right to
preside” in the priesthood and the gate of salvation (only they have the power
to bring seed unto Abraham).
They will not humble themselves and
The fruits of repentance do not flow from
them, despite their priestly titles or outwardly misaligned religious piety.
God’s forgiveness dependent on your good works or “fruits of repentance” or are
those good works proof of your repentance and His forgiveness?
They are proof that you have genuinely
and humbly repented and that He has forgiven you – and you are now filled with
the Holy Spirit.
You cannot do enough good works to
qualify for forgiveness – we are unprofitable servants.
Baptism of Water vs. Fire
READ Matthew 3:11-12 (JST 3:38-40) and 2
John was baptizing by water but not by Fire and the Holy Ghost, what was his
It was a witness unto the Father that those
baptized were willing to take upon themselves the name of Christ.
is the difference between the baptism of water and the baptism of fire?
Baptism of water is an outward ordinance
(via Aaronic Priesthood); it is an ordinance with a covenant whereby we promise
we will be willing to take upon ourselves the name of Christ, keep His
commandments, and always remember Him (a commitment to offer a broken heart and
contrite spirit) – it is a “gate” we must enter.
Baptism of fire is an inward ordinance
(via Melchizedek Priesthood); it is the “sealing” of the ordinance of baptism
by water whereby one’s sins are actually burned away and the individual is
sanctified and receives a mighty change of heart through receiving the Holy
Ghost; but if the terms of the covenant are not kept, the baptism of fire will
not happen, as God is not bound by a broken covenant (see also 2 Nephi 31:17).
is it possible to be baptized of water and not receive a remission of sins?
Yes, if you do not live the terms of the
covenant, you will not receive the baptism of fire and you will remain in your
However, you have your entire life to put
your whole soul on the altar of the Lord – but do not procrastinate the day.
The ordinances, like baptism, are outward
signs or witnesses to God of an inward change.
Ordinances are an authorized invitation to go to the Lord and receive
the blessings promised in the associated covenants.
The Baptism of Christ
READ Matthew 3:13-14, JST Matthew
3:43-46, and 2 Nephi 31:5-7, 9
was Christ baptized by John?
John was the legal administrator (held
the oracles – which is different than “being” an oracle – which is a wrong
interpretation of the word, if you believe Joseph Smith in the “Teachings”
section quoted above).
Christ’s baptism was also a witness or
covenant, but His was to the Father – that Christ would be obedient unto the
Father in keeping His commandments.
Christ is our example in all things (to
be saved we must be “precisely what He is, and nothing else” see LoF 7:9).
was the “sign of the dove” for?
For John, it was a physical witness to
him of the successful administration of the ordinance – which was his calling:
to baptize the Messiah.
The dove is an emblem of truth and
innocence which the devil cannot copy (see TPJS 311:4).
was the dove chosen to represent the Holy Ghost?
The bird in Egyptian iconography
represented awakened single-pointed consciousness or Akasha or the “primary
substance” out of which all things are formed – the space or ether or energy
which extends from God to fill the immensity of space – the holy spirit (see
King Tut’s mask as an example of how it was used).
“Not from what moves in the waters nor
from what creeps or prowls on the ground and hardly ever from four-footed
beasts is this imagery borrowed; but, in the main, only from winged creatures
that can lift themselves above the earth and, as it were, live between us and
heaven. Angels before God's Throne are pictured with wings as Seraphs. With the
descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Son of man, there is mention of the form of
a dove. That it might have wings to fly upward is the secret prayer of the soul
that is bound to the dust. And so it conforms to the order of creation, it
corresponds to the Divinely ordained state of things, and it therefore appeals
to us as something that is entirely natural that in order to express the most
tender and mystical kind of religion, the winged creature is held up to us as a
symbol and that boldest imagery serves to picture to us what it is "to be
near unto God," to make it, as it were, visible to our eyes and
perceptible to our feelings.” (Donna B. Nielsen)
READ Hebrews 5:5, Psalms 2:7, Mosiah 5:7
and D&C 11:28-30
is an argument that the actual words spoken by God at Christ’s baptism were
those found in Psalms 2:7; what are the similarities and differences between
being physically begotten and spiritually begotten?
Christ was physically begotten when Mary
was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost – the Father was the co-creator of His
Christ was spiritually begotten when the
Father proclaimed Him “clean from the blood of this wicked generation” unto all
the Earth (see D&C 88:74-75).
would the Father tell Christ that “this day have I begotten thee” at the time
of Christ’s baptism?
When a soul
condescends to enter a tabernacle of clay on a mortal earth, they must ascend
back to Heaven again – following each “rung on Jacob’s ladder” until they
arrive back in God’s presence to reclaim the blessing of exaltation they had
attained to previously but had laid aside.
The Father is
acknowledging Christ as a “Son of God” at His baptism, which is a necessary
rung on the Ladder.
The whole idea
of condescension is that these “souls” (spirit and celestial body) have already
attained to an exalted status on previous earths in prior eternities but are condescending
or going below their “station” by taking upon themselves a mortal body again to
perform some mission and/or to attain to further glory on this earth (like
Christ attaining to the resurrection of the dead for Himself, for example).
might have these verses been changed by later Church leaders?
During the Third and Fourth Centuries the
debates over "adoptionism" were causing doctrinal havoc for the
As they solidified control over the
movement, the leaders of the developing Historic Christian faith had a
plan to cure the schism involving arguments that Christ was just a man who had
been "adopted" at His baptism to become the Son of God.
The original words spoken at His baptism
came from (see Psalms 2:7); these words seemingly supported the
The answer was simple - change the text
of the Gospels. So, they edited the words and changed them from saying,
"Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee" to instead,
"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (see
That drove a stake in the heart of the
"adoptionist" arguments. Bart D. Ehrman has shown how this, and other
controversies, affected the text of the New Testament in his book The Orthodox Corruption of
Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the
READ D&C 93:19-20, 27-28, 36, 39; and
does one become a “Son of God”?
Keep the commandments.
Receive “grace for grace”.
Grow in truth and light.
Come unto the Father.
Receive a fullness of His glory.
Communion with God & Temptations
READ Matthew 4:1-2 (JST)
was Christ doing with God in the wilderness for 40 days?
Communing with God through meditation.
Receiving heavenly messengers to prepare
Him for His ministry.
Ascending the fiery portal and entering
the presence of God for light/knowledge, comfort and ordinances (covenanted
does it mean to “commune” with God?
To be in His presence.
To KNOW Him – it is intimate.
To remember the “kingdom of God is within
Eventually to know Him as you are known,
which requires being sanctified, purified and like Him so that you can comprehend
READ Matthew 4:3-4
is Satan tempting Christ to do?
Satisfy His physical needs.
End the fast on Satan’s terms instead of
Doubt His divine sonship.
Prove that He was God by doing what only
God can do (turn “stones” into “bread” or give life to an object that would be
“dead” without it).
READ Matthew 4:5-7 (JST)
was the second temptation?
Become famous by showing a sign to the
people of Jerusalem of His power.
Create a crowd of sign-seekers as
disciples instead of humble followers who heard God’s message from an otherwise
uncredentialed and unlikely source and had to exercise faith.
READ Matthew 4:8-10
was the third temptation?
To “partake out of season” in what was
really Christ’s birthright anyway – to be the King of Kings - to trade
“suffering servant” for His coming in glory earlier than He should have.
It was an offer Satan couldn’t really
deliver except short term.
is the overarching theme in Satan’s temptations to Christ?
All of Satan’s temptations were designed
to sow seeds of doubt in Christ – “if thou be the Son of God”, even though He
had received the High Priesthood with its sealing power and had just communed
with God in His presence for 40 days.
Satan wanted Christ to prove in a
miraculous way that He held God’s power.
Since Christ held the sealing power and
since that power can only be employed as directed by His Father, Satan was
trying to get Christ to lose that power by misuse and by so doing, lose the
ability to be our Savior.
If he had succeeded, our chance for
atonement and resurrection would have been destroyed and we would have become
angels to the devil – which was Satan’s plan from the beginning.
these temptations legitimate or was this just an exercise in futility on Satan’s
They had to be legitimate temptations for
Christ to win a victory over sin.
Christ suffered temptations just as we
all do, but owing to His gifts, the level of temptation was much higher than we
will ever encounter here.
There is an interesting implication here
about how the mortal veil or flesh affected even Christ – if there could have
been no doubt at all in Christ’s mind regarding who He was and what He had just
received, it would have made no sense for Satan to have even tried – so either
Satan is stupid (untrue) or the nature of this mortal condition made it
possible for even Christ to be tempted by Satan’s specific temptations – the
idea that one might be losing one’s mind when one rends the veil and sees the
heavens (and must prove to others and even themselves that it was all real by
doing something miraculous in the physical world as proof), is possible.
Christ Calls Disciples
READ John 1:35-51
did the disciples ask Christ “where dwellest thou” – that seems like a random
question of no consequence to have made it into the Bible?
They were really asking “are you really
the Lamb of God descended here from heaven?”
Do you dwell on earth or in heaven or
If both, how do you ascend to heaven and
yet abide here on the earth in a body?
It is interesting that Christ replied
“come and see” and led them to a physical dwelling of some kind – but the next
day told Nathanael that he would see the heavens open and angels “ascending and
descending” – proof that Christ knew the “way” to heaven from this mortal world