Notes for my writing

This blog is made up of notes on the gospel as found in the only true and living church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes notes that are either excerpts from or ideas for books I either have in draft or may yet write.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Temple, Sentinels, Keys and Knowing how to Ask

There are a number of scriptures and quotes that are all connected as they all refer to various aspects of the same thing, but the connection is easy to pass over.

Quote 1. Brigham Young taught the saints that

“Let me give you the definition in brief. Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.” (Journal of Discourses, 2:31.)

In this quote we learn that the endowment is to enable us to walk back to the presence of the Father. We learn that to do so we will need to pass by angels who stand as sentinels. The means to get by them is portrayed here as giving them key words, signs and tokens.

Quote 2.

Moses 4:31 "So I drove out the man, and I placed at the east of the Garden of Eden, cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life."

Where is the tree of Life? It is in the Garden of Eden where God comes to speak with man freely. It is a place God comes.

In this quote we learn that after man fell God placed cherubim (a plural of cherub, which is some sort of angel) and a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life. These are the "angels who stand as sentinels" Brigham Young was referring to being able to pass by. If you want to get back to the tree of life, you have got to be able to get by the sentinels that keep the way.

Quote 3.

D&C 132: 18 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.

 19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

So in the previous quote we learned that there are angels that guard the way of the tree of life. We see the same thing referred to here, but with more detail. It says that "the angels and gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass". Of those who are worthily sealed in the temple it states: "they shall pass by the angles, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things". So here we learn that, yes, there are angels we will need to get by, as well as gods.

Quote 4. 

2 Nephi 9:41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.

 42 And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.

 43 But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever—yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints.

Now we learn more. Previously we learned there are gods that we need to get by, but now we get to a more specific reference to the temple, though it is all part of the same picture. "Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate...and whoso knocketh, to him will he open". 

Quote 5.

Ether 3:8 And he saith unto the Lord: I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.

 9 And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?

 10 And he answered: Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.

 11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?

 12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.

 13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.

Those who are endowed should be able to recognize more than the text explicitly states as the Brother of Jared enters the presence of the Lord. Here we see that, yes indeed, there is Christ serving as the keeper of the gate, and he is not employing a servant there.

Lehi's dream also uses the tree of life imagery. We miss much of the point of Lehi's dream if we do recognize it as intimately connected to the story of the fall, in which Adam and Eve were cast out of the presence of God and cast out of the Garden of Eden, and angels were placed to guard the way of the tree of life. In fact, in Brigham Young's statement he said the things learned in the temple allow us to "walk back to the presence of our father". He refers to walking along the same strait and narrow path we see all through the scriptures which also appears in Lehi's dream.

It needs to be made perfectly clear that I am not trying to suggest at all that these things all happen in a moment. We do not "pass by the angels" along the path at 5 pm and reach the tree at 5:10 pm. Our progress along the strait and narrow path is much slower and these experiences may be spread out over a lifetime or stretch far beyond that as we progress along the path back to our Father's presence. Yes, we may learn signs and tokens that allow us to discern a ministration as being from God, which allows us to then safely pass that point on the path to the tree of life, but they symbolize experiences which we may not get through until well past the end of this mortal life. Yes, as in Lehi's dream, many make it to the tree of life in mortality. But many, and probably really most, die well before reaching the garden of God and the tree of life. However, all who die following the path will continue their chosen route to its completion after this life.

Now I want to move in a different direction before we cover the last quote I had in mind. When we read some of Joseph Smith's discussion of this, it is useful to recognize that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young sometimes use the word "keys" in ways different than the way they are commonly used in the church today. Today, the phrase is almost exclusively used to refer to the keys to preside over the church and the keys to unlock the ordinances of the church to individuals who are worthy to receive them. In older days the phrase was used more freely to refer to anything that locks or unlocks the same way a key does.

Recalling Brigham Young's teaching from above:

“Let me give you the definition in brief. Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.” (Journal of Discourses, 2:31.)

We see the word "key" used in the above famous statement by Brigham Young, i.e. "key words". This is a very sensible use of the term "key" as a key is always something that locks or unlocks. In this case, the word key means a key that allows one to pass by the cherubim who stand as sentinels guarding the tree of life. These particular keys unlock the way to the tree of life.

One sees this use of the word "keys" by Joseph Smith in another context dealing with heavenly beings. Following his instruction on how to detect whether a heavenly messenger was from God by offering to shake its hand, Joseph Smith taught

D&C 129:9 These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.

Joseph Smith calls these "three grand keys" because they open up a means to discern what heavenly messengers were from God. It is not unrelated to what Brigham Young discussed.

So now we are ready for:

Quote 6.

"[Joseph Smith] spoke of delivering the keys of the Priesthood to the Church, and said that the faithful members of the Relief Society should receive them with their husbands, that the Saints whose integrity has been tried and proved faithful, might know how to ask the Lord and receive an answer; for according to his prayers, God had appointed him elsewhere." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 226)

and with the additional context we get in Brigham Young's statement about the endowment, it becomes clear that the "keys of the Priesthood" referred to here by Joseph Smith are the same as those keys in the endowment referred to by Brigham Young. The keys of the priesthood Joseph Smith said that the relief society members would receive with their husbands are exactly the keys referred to by Brigham Young that allow one to get past the cherubim, the angels who stand as sentinels, as well as the gods that are set there, that we may arrive at the tree of life.

This last quote deserve special attention as it goes much further than the others. Joseph Smith adds to what Brigham Young said these keys were for. He said these keys would be given "that the Saints whose integrity has been tried and proved faithful, might know how to ask the Lord and receive an answer;"

Joseph Smith also taught:

In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it. When we begin to learn this way, we begin to learn the only true God, and what kind of a being we have got to worship. Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer. When we understand the character of God, and how to come to him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us.

From the context in which this was given it seems clear that the phrase "when we begin to learn this way" refers to learning by revelation through the power of the Holy Ghost. In the preceding paragraphs Joseph Smith was pointing out that what he learned by revelation was backed up by other translations of the bible, even if it did not agree with the King Jame version. In the paragraph that follows this quote Joseph Smith states that "The Holy Ghost [knows more than all the world put together], anyhow, and He is within me, and comprehends more than all the world: and I will associate myself with Him."

Given that the fruits of  "beginning to know how to approach him, and how to ask so as to receive and answer" are that "he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it", I suppose it is no surprise that I have no real idea what he is talking about when he refers to "knowing how to ask so as to receive an answer". But it is fascinating nonetheless.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Interesting points from Joseph Fielding McConkie's "Becoming Master Teachers"

I collect here for my own use and other's enjoyment some memorable quotes from Joseph Fielding McConkie's article "Becoming Master Teachers".

Each paragraph that follows is a quote from some part of that article.

First of all, drink from the fountainhead; that is, teach the scriptures from the scriptures. When we read the scriptures, they do not always tell us what we need to know because we are not looking for the right


Sometimes we feel like we have to improve on the scriptural story because we are afraid it will not be interesting to our students. So we focus on a hair-raising or emotional story in its place. You see the same kind of thing in a testimony meeting in which people feel like they have to have a story to tell or they cannot bear testimony. This kind of thing can get in the way of the bearing of a pure testimony. We get in the habit of using a lot of doctrinal substitutes and a lot of faith substitutes. We would be better served if we just spent our major attention and effort on asking, "What is this saying, where is it taking us, and why?"


I was up at my father’s place with my brothers and sisters, and we were having family home evening. My father was giving us a lesson on one of his favorite scriptural texts. He was teaching us from the scriptures. I am sure if the point was to tell a lot of personal experiences, he would be the man to do it, but that is not what he told his family when we got together. He taught us from the scriptures. A particular text came up, and I said, “Look, when you teach that, you teach it with greater clarity, greater power, greater force than anybody else in the Church. But if I say the same kind of thing at BYU, my colleagues jump on me and tell me to slow down. They say, ‘You’re going beyond the period that ends the sentence.’” My father said, “Look, if you cannot go beyond the period at the end of the sentence, it means you do not have the Holy Ghost. And if you do not have the Holy Ghost, you have no business teaching in the first place.


I was up at my father’s place with my brothers and sisters, and we were having family home evening. My father was giving us a lesson on one of his favorite scriptural texts. He was teaching us from the scriptures. I am sure if the point was to tell a lot of personal experiences, he would be the man to do it, but that is not what he told his family when we got together. He taught us from the scriptures. A particular text came up, and I said, “Look, when you teach that, you teach it with greater clarity, greater power, greater force than anybody else in the Church. But if I say the same kind of thing at BYU, my colleagues jump on me and tell me to slow down. They say, ‘You’re going beyond the period that ends the sentence.’” My father said, “Look, if you cannot go beyond the period at the end of the sentence, it means you do not have the Holy Ghost. And if you do not have the Holy Ghost, you have no business teaching in the first place.”

Now, let me take that story and combine it with another story. Many years ago, my dad came down and spent a day with the faculty. During the course of the question-and-answer session, he was asked a particular question. In response to the question, he gave some background on how he wrote his Messiah series. He said that when he wrote The Promised Messiah (1978), “I took the scriptures and read the standard works from cover to cover as if I had never read them before in my life. Then I listed everything that I learned about the Messiah, and then I wrote the book. And when I wrote The Millennial Messiah (1982), I took the standard works and read them from cover to cover as if I had never read them before, and I listed everything I learned, and then I wrote the book.” Now, a little commentary—if anyone on that faculty had been given a research grant to write The Promised Messiah or The Millennial Messiah, they would have hired some research assistants. They would have collected everything that everybody who is anybody in a position of authority had said on the subject. Then they would collate all the information, put it together, and write it in a book. But that really is not the way Bruce McConkie thought. He never bothered to look up what anybody else had said on the subject, save the scriptures themselves. So he went back and drank at the fountainhead. He added this comment: “Now, I have to be responsible for what I write and how I came to that knowledge. I never quote another man unless he said it better than I could and unless I could justify what he said from the scriptures.” Then he added, “Last week, for the first time in my life, I quoted Parley P. Pratt, and I did so because he said it better than I could, and I can justify what he said from the scriptures.”


 I think that if my father was sitting across the table from you and responding to your questions, he would take exception with the basic premise that he had an exclusive right to interpret doctrine. I do not think he would have believed that for a moment. In fact, in the context of getting answers and getting instructed by them, I would often go to him and ask, “What about this?” and he would say “Look, you have access to the same sources that I do.” He sincerely believed that I had the same right to get the same answers from the scriptures he did and that getting answers was not the exclusive providence of a particular office. In fact, I think that although this is an idea that we use to keep everybody in line, it is potentially dangerous and destructive to gospel scholarship because in a way, what we are saying is, “OK, Richard, you can be an echo, but you cannot be an independent witness.” The scriptures do not teach me that. The scriptures teach me that I have an obligation to be an independent witness. I used to teach the class for the CES graduate program on the Doctrines of the Restoration. I would often pose these questions: “What does it mean to follow the Brethren? Does it mean you can only think what they have thought and quote what they have said, or does it mean that you should have an independent spiritual experience and an independent testimony and get it the way they got it?” Their response was the first. In a sense, we have raised a generation who do not realize that they have the right to think and to get answers. This is a little facetious, but it is almost as if when you are eight years of age you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost on the condition that you will not use it unless whatever you receive has been cleared through general Church channels. And in that mentality I see a very real danger. I saw that danger when a stake president called me and said, “Hey, I have this problem in my stake. Can you help me find a quotation that says thus and thus?” And I said, “President, you are the leader of the stake, just teach them. Just say it. The Spirit has borne witness to you what they need to be taught.” And he said, “Oh, I can’t do that. I have got to have a General Authority statement.” 


It is just a handoff: this man said something, and we have picked it up and handed it to you as though nothing went through us. 


It has. Again, I believe that one of the greatest needs we have is to drink at the fountainhead once again. Get off the Internet and get into the scriptures. Get into the Sacred Grove. We need personal experience. Frankly, that is what Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was talking about in his recent conference talk on the Book of Mormon (October 2009). Some of our members have not laid their foundation on scriptural understanding but on information from the Internet. Then, when faced with objections to the Church, they do not know how to handle them. They have not laid the foundation that they should have, and they are jumping off the good ship Zion. It is a terrible tragedy. So Elder Holland offers this solution: get back into the Book of Mormon. Opponents of the Church may be able to write some question that we cannot answer, but they cannot answer the Book of Mormon. They cannot crawl around it, and they cannot climb over it—it is there. And when you put your foundation on that, you do not jump off the good ship Zion.


The Internet has greatly facilitated our ability to find things, but it has not facilitated our ability to understand things. I am from the old generation of teachers who taught without PowerPoint presentations; and frankly, in my judgment, many PowerPoint presentations are without power or point! They can be an excellent tool, but sometimes they allow us to get lost in the presentation. We might be greatly blessed if we went into a classroom and turned off all the media helps except the lights. 


If you are preparing a Sunday School lesson on 1 Nephi chapter 15, you should first sit down and read it. Then you think about it, you pray about it, and you draw your conclusions about it. And it is not until you have done all of that that you look to see what anyone else has said. If I wait until after I have done my own studying before I read a commentary, then when I come across something that I had missed, I am more appreciative of it. Or I come across something and say, “Wait a minute! That doesn’t fit.” But if I read the commentary first, the course of the river is already set. I am not saying that we should not read commentaries; I am just saying that there is an important order to follow. 


 It is always based on your own reading. You are adding to the light you have gained. You are always more appreciative of others’ insights after you have worked out your own by doing the best you can. Then you can read something that reaches far beyond what you were thinking, and you can say, “How did I miss that?” or “That’s wonderful.” I do not think you have that experience if you have not done your own reading first. I have had this happen many times when teaching a class. We read a passage as a class and ask, “Now what is this saying?” You get programmed responses that have been handed down from generation to generation—responses that have nothing to do with the text but that students have accepted as the answers. I have to say, “Oh my goodness, come on! Read the text again, and comment on it.” Sometimes I have to ask two or three or more times before I get somebody who finally does not give a canned response and actually considers what the text is saying. If you and I have been hired to go into a classroom and teach the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants or the Pearl of Great Price, then that is really what we ought to teach. 


You must trust it. This is what I keep telling my wife and others. When you get up to speak, you have to trust the Spirit. People resist and say, “Oh, I cannot do that. I have to have a prepared text. I have to have my notes.” Well, at some point, we have to venture out and trust the Spirit. Really good things happen when we trust the Spirit. Frankly, it takes some time and experience to learn that the Spirit is trustworthy, that he is going to be there. You tell yourself, “I’ve got something prepared so that I’m not going to be embarrassed to death, but I’m going to go up there and be flex- ible enough so that if the Spirit starts to move me in a particular direction, I can follow it.” This is what you do when giving a priesthood blessing. You do not want to predetermine the blessing. What you do is lay your hands on a person’s head and restate promises that belong to everybody or give general, good counsel and feel your way until the Spirit gets hold of you and gives you some particulars, but you have to be willing to trust the Spirit. 


I think a teacher inherently has an obligation to teach. I do not have any business going into the classroom and saying, “Now, here is today’s lesson. Richard, what do you think about? So-and-so, what do you think about it? I am glad that everyone came with their own personal plan of salvation; let’s evaluate them all and discuss them.” Rather, I walk into class and say, “Look, here is the subject that we are dealing with. Let me review. Let me highlight. Let me read again with you what the scriptures are saying about it. Let’s get clearly in mind what has been revealed to us on this matter. Okay now, with that background, let’s stop for you to ask whatever questions you ought to ask to make sure that you can focus in on this, you can apply this, you can believe this and it makes sense to you.” It is not that we get to redecide the gospel together. Sadly, we do too much of that. I can remember in seminary when the supervisor would come by with a chart he would mark to show how many students said something in class. There was this feeling that everyone in the class had to say something to be involved, everyone had to have an opinion, and class discussion was extremely important. Superimpose Jesus as the teacher, and it would be as if he were asking: “Peter, what do you think about baptism? Do you think it ought to be by immersion?” This is the wrong approach. If you are a teacher, you go prepared to teach. You go in and say, “This is the subject. Here is what the scriptures clearly teach. Let’s review it together; then let’s struggle with it together to make sure that we understand it as well as we possibly can.” But we are not inviting everybody to bring their own plan of salvation, listen to them all, and decide as a class which one we like best, based on who is the most persuasive or how we think it ought to be.


:I remember when I was a stake president in a student ward, a young man poked his head in my office and said, “Hey, I just wanted to introduce myself to you. I’m a member of your stake.” I asked him what he did. He told me that he was the elders quorum instructor. I said, “I hope you are doing a good job.” He told me, “Oh, I never depart from the lesson manual.” I told him, “If all the Lord wanted was for the manual to be repeated, then we would have sent a tape recorder. But we didn’t send a tape recorder. We sent you because you have the Holy Ghost and you have the priesthood and you have some marvelous experience.”


I think the answer is that I do not know yet, and I will not know until I get into the classroom. That is the exciting thing about it. I know fairly well what we are going to talk about and what we are going to cover, but how we are going to respond to questions and what we are going to teach— we just do not know these things. So, that is what I know: I do not get to know until I get there. 


You cannot teach what you do not know, and you should never waste time teaching what does not matter

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The restoration of Sacrifice and the Aaronic Priesthood

Joseph Smith taught that since sacrifices existed before the days of Moses, then they must at some point come forth in the restoration. He even makes specific reference to how it related to the Great Sacrifice being offered, i.e. the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ fulfilled the law of Moses, but all ordinances that existed before Moses' day will be restored and sacrifice as it existed before Moses is always practiced when "the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manfest".

Thus we behold the keys of this Priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah that He talked with him [Noah] in a familiar and friendly manner, that He continued to him the keys, the covenants, the power and the glory, with which He blessed Adam at the beginning; and the offering of sacrifice, which also shall be continued at the last time; for all the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by the Priesthood, under the directions and commandments of the Almighty in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensation, therefore all things had under the authority of the Priesthood at any former period, shall be had again, bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all the Holy Prophets; then shall the sons of Levi offer an acceptable offering to the Lord. "And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord." (See Malachi 3:3.)

It will be necessary here to make a few observations on the doctrine set forth in the above quotation, and it is generally supposed that sacrifice was entirely done away when the Great Sacrifice [i.e.,] the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was offered up, and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of sacrifice in future; but those who assert this are certainly not acquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the Priesthood, or with the Prophets.

The offering of sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the Priesthood. It began with the Priesthood, and will be continued until after the coming of Christ, from generation to generation. We frequently have mention made of the offering of sacrifice by the servants of the Most High in ancient days, prior to the law of Moses; which ordinances will be continued when the Priesthood is restored with all its authority, power and blessings.

Elijah was the last Prophet that held the keys of the Priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and deliver the keys of the Priesthood, in order that all the ordinances may be attended to in righteousness. It is true that the Savior had authority and power to bestow this blessing; but the sons of Levi were too prejudiced. "And I will send Elijah the Prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord," etc., etc. Why send Elijah? Because he holds the keys of authority to administer in all the ordinances of the Priesthood; and without the authority is given, the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness.

It is a very prevalent opinion that the sacrifices which were offered were entirely consumed. This was not the case; if you read Leviticus 2:2-3, you will observe that the priests took a part as a memorial and offered it up before the Lord, while the remainder was kept for the maintenance of the priests; so that the offerings and sacrifices are not all consumed upon the altar--but the blood is sprinkled, and the fat and certain other portions are consumed.

These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the Holy Prophets be brought to pass? It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses' day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.

It may be asked by some, what necessity for sacrifice, since the Great Sacrifice was offered? In answer to which, if repentance, baptism, and faith existed prior to the days of Christ, what necessity for them since that time? The Priesthood has descended in a regular line from father to son, through their succeeding generations. (See Book of Doctrine and Covenants.) (October 5, 1840.) DHC 4:207-212. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Four 1839-42, p.172)

Interestingly, Joseph Smith describes this as happening in a day when the temple will be built and "the sons of Levi be purified". That brings to mind D&C 13 which states that the Aaronic priesthood will remain on the earth until the sons of Levi offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness. Then the Aaronic priesthood will no longer be necessary. The Aaronic priesthood is only a portion of the Melchizedek priesthood, and it didn't exist as a separate thing before the days of Moses.

"Answer to the question, Was the Priesthood of Melchizedek taken away when Moses died? All Priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith Section Four 1839-42, p.180)

and also

A High Priest is a member of the same Melchizedek Priesthood with the Presidency, but not of the same power or authority in the Church. The Seventies are also members of the same priesthood, [i.e., the High Priesthood], are a sort of traveling council or Priesthood, and may preside over a church or churches, until a High Priest can be had. The Seventies are to be taken from the quorum of Elders, and are not to be High Priests. They are subject to the direction and dictation of the Twelve, who have the keys of the ministry. All are to preach the Gospel, by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost; and no man can preach the Gospel without the Holy Ghost.

The Bishop is a High Priest, and necessarily so, because he is to preside over that particular branch of Church affairs, that is denominated the Lesser Priesthood, and because we have no direct lineal descendant of Aaron, to whom it would of right belong. This is the same, or a branch of the same, Priesthood, which may be illustrated by the figure of the human body, which has different members, which have different offices to perform; all are necessary in their place, and the body is not complete without all the members. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith  Section Two 1834-37, p.112)

At some point the Aaronic priesthood will no longer be necessary, as it did not exist as a separate thing until the days of Moses. It was not in the beginning and it will not be in the end. It exists as a preparatory priesthood which was put on the earth until the sons of Levi do offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Lectures on Faith teaches about becoming one

Fascinating teaching in the lectures on faith. We often hear the scripture quoted in John that Christ want us to be one as he is one with the father. However lectures on faith interprets things differently than we usually like to. The mechanism is that Christ will give us his glory so we might be one as he is one with the father, rather than the other way around, where we become one with each other and consequently Christ gives us his glory. Sure, we are not to have contention among us, and to try and be one, but obviously there is a reason this clarification was taught.

From the lectures on faith:

[Christ] had said, in another part of his prayer, that he desired of his Father, that those who believed on him should be one in him, as he, and the Father were one in each other: Neither pray I for these (the apostles) alone, but for them also who shall believe on me through their words; that they all may be one: that is, they who believe on him through the apostles' words, as well as the apostles themselves: that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee: that they also may be one in us.

What language can be plainer than this? The Savior surely intended to be understood by his disciples: and he so spake that they might understand him; for he declares to his Father, in language not to be easily mistaken, that he wanted his disciples, even all of them, to be as himself and the Father: for as he and the Father were one, so they might be one with them. And what is said in the 22nd verse is calculated to more firmly establish this belief, if it needs any thing to establish it. He says, And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one. As much as to say, that unless they have the glory which the Father had given him, they could not be one with them: For he says he had given them the glory that the Father had given him, that they might be one; or in other words, to make them one.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Grace follow up

A follow up to my post on grace.

The scriptures teach that Christ is "the great Jehovah, the eternal judge of both quick and dead". They also teach that he is our advocate. He is both.

I wrote previously that we couldn't dwell in the celestial kingdom if we were not abiding the entire law of the celestial kingdom. When I wrote that, I had in mind this statement by Joseph Smith, among other things:

"Jesus said, There are many mansions in my Father's house, and I will go and prepare a place for you. House here named should have been translated kingdom; and any person who is exalted to the highest mansion has to abide a celestial law, and the whole law too."

A clearer account of this same fact is given in the lectures on faith, Previous to this paragraph Lectures on Faith spends extensive time explaining all the ways in which God is perfect, and explaining that he cannot be missing any of that perfection in the least degree.

"But to be a little more particular, let us ask, where shall we find a prototype into whose likeness we may be assimulated, in order that we may be made partakers of life and salvation? or in other words, where shall we find a saved being? for if we can find a saved being, we may ascertain, without much difficulty, what all others must be, in order to be saved - they must be like that individual or they cannot be saved: we think, that it will not be a matter of dispute, that two beings, who are unlike each other, cannot both be saved; for whatever constitutes the salvation of one, will constitute the salvation of every creature which will be saved: and if we find one saved being in all existence, we may see what all others must be, or else not be saved. We ask, then, where is the prototype? or where is the saved being? We conclude as to the answer of this question there will be no dispute among those who believe the bible, that it is Christ: all will agree in this that he is the prototype or standard of salvation, or in other words, that he is a saved being. And if we should continue our interogation, and ask how it is that he is saved, the answer would be, because he is a just and holy being; and if he were any thing different from what he is he would not be saved; for his salvation depends on his being precisely what he is and nothing else; for if it were possible for him to change in the least degree, so sure he would fail of salvation and lose all his dominion, power, authority and glory, which constitutes salvation; for salvation consists in the glory, authority, majesty, power and dominion which Jehovah possesses, and in nothing else; and no being can possess it but himself or one like him: Thus says John, in his first epistle, 3:2 and 3: Behold, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be; but we know, that when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And any man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.--Why purify himself as he is pure? because, if they do not they cannot be like him."

Do we reach that in mortality? No, mortality is where we set our course. But there has been a prevailing set of protestant set of ideas making headway among members. These ideas include:

Protestant falsehood: The atonement means that when I am baptized I am perfect in the scriptural sense and am worthy of the celestial kingdom at baptism because I have taken on Christ as my advocate and Savior.

This protestant idea is corrected by the above teachings of Joseph Smith.

It is also corrected by statements by the brethren to the effect that repentance is the condition for forgiveness through the atonement. That means I am not forgiven through the atonement for some sin that I have not yet repented of. Maybe I am not being charitable enough toward my neighbors. Maybe I am too quick to lose my temper. To some degree everyone struggles with pride. The fact that Christ is our advocate doesn't change the fact that the condition for forgiveness for a sin is repentance. He makes the forgiveness possible, but repentance is always the requirement. Frankly, just because we have a covenant does not change the fact that all of us have, at times, driven away the Holy Ghost through our behavior. We experience this loss of the Holy Ghost even though we have been baptized, and made a covenant with Christ as our Savior and advocate. If we are not worthy to be in the presence of the Holy Ghost we are not worthy to be in the presence of the Father and the Son. We have enough experience in this life alone with the Holy Ghost to know that our covenants do not grant us license to misbehave and still have the Holy Ghost to be with us, nor do they change what is sin and what is not, nor do they grant us a status of perfection that is above and beyond who we have actually become at that point in our thoughts and actions. If we can offend the Holy Ghost and drive it away, the same action would also not be allowable in the Celestial Kingdom in the presence of the Father and the Son. If our covenants with Christ would keep us in the celestial kingdom even without being prepared to live as perfectly as the lectures on faith portray, then those same covenants should just as well allow us to keep the Holy Ghost with us even if we aren't behaving the way that we should here in mortality. But having Christ as your Savior and advocate doesn't do that. The Holy Ghost leaves when we do wrong and we know and experience it. However, the gift of the Holy Ghost is a much lesser experience that dwelling in the presence of the Father and the Son, and it doesn't require the same degree of behavior to have it granted. For instance, in the presence of the Father and the Son we have a perfect knowledge or our state and the wicked are so miserable that they would rather be with the damned souls in hell. We can have the gift of the Holy Ghost with merely the level of good behavior required to enter the gate of baptism. Of course, we grow into that gift, receiving it more clearly and powerfully as we continually improve our behavior. It is a gift that we can receive by degrees as our repentance merits it.

Brigham Young and Bruce R. McConkie both taught that baptism does not suddenly make us prepared to dwell in the celestial kingdom (the Brigham Young talk is actually one of those posted on my blog). Both portray it as something we must prepare for over a long period of time. The point is that making a covenant with Christ so that he becomes your Savior and advocate doesn't make you ready for the celestial kingdom. Whether Christ is your Savior and advocate or not, you are still not ready for the celestial kingdom right after baptism. You have to progress forward from the gate of baptism to the point where you are ready for the celestial kingdom just as taught in the lectures on faith.

Protestant falsehood: The atonement either magically means after death I will be different and not want to sin anymore, or it changes the definition of what is sin so that I can still be the same person in heaven I was at death. Once I am "saved", who I am is not really the point anymore.

Alma is quite clear that we will be possessed of the same spirit after death as we are before. We are not magically transformed. We do put aside the flesh, and its inclinations will leave us of course. But our spirit is the same spirit being it was after death as it was before. As to the rest of it, just contrast it with the lectures on faith.

Protestant falsehood: The judgement takes place at death. That is when I have to be ready for heaven or hell.

We set our course here in mortality, but we can't actually enter the celestial kingdom until we are living the celestial law, and "the whole law too" as Joseph Smith puts it. Fortunately there is a space of time between death and the final judgement in which we continue along the same course that we set in mortality. The spirit world is on this earth, but the Father dwells on a planet that is not like this earth (D&C 130:6-8). In fact, even though Christ spent three days in the spirit world, after he was resurrected Christ stated that he had not yet ascended to his father who is in heaven. Apparently his Father was not to be found in the spirit world. The spirit world isn't where the celestial kingdom is. Also from the vision of the redemption of the dead it seems clear that having the Savior's presence in the spirit world is no more common than having him present in this world is. We do not have to be fully prepared for heaven at death. Generally we all die with a very, very long ways left to go. But the important thing is which path we set as our course in the days of our probation. That is the course we will be able to finish after mortality. But our mindset is very different if we see our sins as something we must all get rid of here or after this life before we will enter the celestial kingdom, as opposed to if we see them simply as a manifestation of Christ's ability to save us in our sins (which he doesn't, he saves us from them).

Finally, as a postscript, the broad definition of grace I used in my post on grace is reasonably close to the one in Mormon Doctrine and I believe it matches the scriptural usage. The creation as an example of God's grace was not originally put forth by me, and the same goes for some of the other examples I cited. Just listen to the talk I mentioned in my blog post. Also, I went over every use of the word "grace" by Joseph Smith in Teachings some time ago, as I recall his use of it is quite consistent with my use of it in my previous post on grace. As I recall he used it to simply mean the mercies of God bestowed on men quite independent of whether they were direct results of the atonement or not. But some time has passed since I did that check, so feel free to check it yourself.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Christ's example on official church positions and limiting family size

I was in a brief online discussion of birth control and limiting family size in which one person stated that they believed the official position of the church on family size is that it is just between the husband, the wife and the Lord. Actually, as I understand it, the official position is that the law given to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden to multiply and replenish the earth is still in force, and that we are under covenant to keep that law if we want an eternal family (assuming the wording of our covenants is part of the church's official position). However, let us proceed on the premise that this person was correct and that the official position of the church on family size is just that it is between the husband, the wife, and the Lord.

The matter of birth control and limiting family size is no different than the issue of divorce as addressed by Christ.

Mark 10:4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

There we have the official position of the Church written by Moses, but it is still the truth that it was suffered to be that way "because of the hardness of their heart"

Then Christ teaches that despite the official church position, there are still spiritually destructive consequences.

Continuing Mark 10.

10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.
11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

The church can apparently have an official position that just represents the hardness of the hearts of the general membership, but the spiritually destructive consequences still remain. We always should stand for the truth, teaching it frankly as Christ did. He made no bones about what the actual case was. In fact, limiting children is, just as divorce, one of those things that "from the beginning it was not so".

I accept everything stated about birth control and limiting children by prophets as true. If I can accept something a prophet said in 5000 years ago as truth and not just "culturally irrelevant today", I can accept something a prophet said 60 years ago as truth. Practices may change to accompany the hardness of our hearts or the righteousness of our hearts, but I make no bones about the fact that the truth remains.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mothers day should be about Mothers

[Originally posted as a comment on a Mormon Women Stand facebook post arguing that Mother's day should honor motherhood, which was met with much disagreement]

I remember how busy my wife and I used to think we were when we were single. Now we look back at those days and laugh. The demands of a child are there constantly. There is nothing I dealt with as a single person that compared. Sure, there were trials, but there is a difference between trials and sacrifices. If the atonement was just suffering with no benefit to anyone else, we would revere the Savior for his faithfulness in tribulation, but it simply wouldn't be the same. His sacrifices made to redeem mankind from an endless torment make them infinitely more venerable than if he had simply endured tribulation. Instead, he trod the wine press alone as a sacrifice that brought about redemption to mankind. Enduring tribulation forced upon one is worthy of praise, but it can never have the value of sacrifice made as a personal decision for the benefit of others. If Abraham had been faithful after losing Isaac in a tragic accident it would never have amounted to the same thing as if he was willing to sacrifice his son as a choice.

Motherhood is not tribulation. It is far greater than enduring tribulation. It is sacrifice. It is sacrifice made again and again. It is learning to make one's work and one's glory the immorality and eternal life of one's children. It is the schoolhouse of Godhood, and the instructor is the almost complete sacrifice of one's own life and interests in the pursuit of raising your children.

Some of the things said by critics here make me think of Lady Catherine de Berg in Pride and Prejudice who, speaking of playing the piano, states "If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient." There are some sacrifices that are worthy of being honored. Those who didn't fight in the battle, whatever other good they did in life, do not need to be honored for veteran's day.

When we have forgotten to honor mother's daily choices to sacrifice herself for her children we have only shown that we have not yet learned to be like Christ, who, in his agony on the cross, still thought of and cared for his mother, instructing his disciple to provide for her.

Also, we need to drop the dogma of inclusiveness. Let's be honest. Satan's plan in the premortal life was far more inclusive than the Father's. His rebellion cost him and those who followed him everything, but lets not pretend it wasn't the most inclusive plan of all time. When Christ taught in John 6 and many of his followers turned away from him, never to follow him again, there is no indication that he behaved in the way modern depictions of the savior would have him do. He didn't fret and beg them to return to him. He didn't apologize for his teachings and try and alter it to be less offensive. This is particularly interesting as most people there seemed to be leaving him over a misunderstanding of his teaching, and being the Son of God, he could not have failed to recognize that. Certainly, he could have been more inclusive, but Christ as seen in the gospels seems more concerned with testing and refining his follower's faith, knowledge and devotion than with getting the largest number of followers by being the most accommodating. He even does so at the cost of losing many of them at times. Certainly if one word defines the biblical Christ, the word "inclusive" isn't it. The word "refiner" would be closer.

Satan's plan was not just more inclusive in the premortal life, it is the most inclusive one in this life. While all are invited to enter, Christ still stands at the gate and requires repentance. He is always telling them to go and sin no more. This is not inclusiveness at its best. Satan will take you down his road as you are. He doesn't care what choices you are make, that is why his road is broad and popular. Christ wants you to repent, and describes his route as strait (meaning narrow). It isn't a particularly inclusive road or accommodating to alteration. In fact, only by holding tightly to his word, the Iron Rod, will it be possible to complete Christ's course. Everyone is invited, but in the end the price paid by Lamoni's father is a universal one. All must give up their sins to know him.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The sacred gift of Parenthood

When God offers us a body, he offers us the possibility of joining with him in his most prized endeavor, his role as a parent. He gives us the ability to take one of his spirit little ones and take them into our home in the most helpless of conditions as a parent in a joint parentage with himself. In that helpless state, he offers us the ability to have tremendous influence over the life and even eternal destiny of one of his beloved spirit little ones. When we have made temple marriage covenants, then we have taken things further, and our temporary parentage has the ability to become eternal. We are being offered the ability to share God's prized parentage with himself, to become, eternally, a father or mother over one of his little ones not just temporarily, but to share in that parentage eternally.

There are some gifts that are so sacred that they cannot be turned down without offending God. If Christ offers to wash our feet and we turn it down, he may respond as he did to Peter that if we refuse this gift we can have no part with him. Some gifts are too sacred to be turned down without serious consequences.

If Christ offers to let you feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feel, and you hesitate, not because it is so sacred, but because it just doesn't interest you, then you have turned down a sacred gift.

When you have been sealed in the temple and God offers you the right to share his sacred parentage over his little ones, his spirit children, who have previously only had an all knowing Heavenly Father and Mother to as their parents. When he offers that sort of a gift to mortals, and offers it not just temporarily, but as an eternal possibility, we cannot turn it down without offending God. It is too sacred an honor.

Monday, May 5, 2014


First, a brief note. Bruce R McConkie gave a marvelous description of grace and the relationship between grace and works in a talk entitled “What think ye of Salvation by Grace?”. The audio version is particularly good, and it is the clearest discussion I know of on the topic of works and grace.

Now, for the post. The term grace has nothing to do with making allowances for sin. Most particularly, the grace of God has absolutely no affect to alter the truth that God cannot look on sin with the least degree of allowance. In other churches, the term grace is used to mean that the atonement of Christ changes the equation “No unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God.” Other churches teach that the atonement of Christ changes this unalterable fact one way or another. They are particularly fond of offering loopholes for moral transgression, either declaring it largely or entirely irrelevant to spirituality or declaring it a sin, but one of little consequence, or by making it very easy to fix. There are many variations on this theme.

So let us teach some truth here about grace. First off, when we speak of the grace of God, it is not limited to the atonement of Christ. The plan of salvation given by the Father is provided by the grace of God. The creation is a manifestation of the grace of God. The necessary environment we need to gain exaltation was provided by the fall and that environment is provided to us by the grace of God. Our physical body is a gift granted to us by the grace of God. These are manifestations of God’s grace that did not require the atonement. The grace of God is the gifts and endowments he grants to men out of his love and mercy.

When we were small children we were generally ignorant of all the work our parents did to take care of us. Food, clothing, a home and toys appeared magically as it were, and we took no thought about our parent’s efforts to provide them to us. So it is with us and our Heavenly Father, who provides all that is necessary for us, though hopefully as adults we can wake up to a sense of gratitude for his mercy and grace in providing all for us. These many manifestations of his love, provided to us without any work on our part are all manifestations of the grace of God.

It is also true that the gift of redemption provided through the atonement of Christ is offered to us as a manifestation of that same grace. No work on our part could have redeemed us. Our works have no power to redeem us from the fall, to bring us out of hell. Without the atonement we would all become devils and angels to the devil. We have no power to save ourselves.

We know our abilities. Which of us could bring ourselves into heaven? Could resurrect ourselves? Could we make our families eternal by our own power and means? We are mere men and women and can do no such thing. The ability to obtain these blessings are all offered to man by the grace of God. No amount of mortal effort alone can provide any of them. They are simply outside the means of a mortal man.

However, the fact that redemption is made available to us through God’s grace does not mean that mankind is not required to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It does not alter, in the least degree, the fact that God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. It does not, in any way, alter what constitutes sin. It does not mean that a man can enter to live in the celestial kingdom of God while still failing to keep the full celestial law in the least degree. The offer of the atonement in no way compromises or alters that fact.

The atonement offers redemption, the opportunity to change and be cleansed of our past transgressions. It offers us the possibility to progress from grace to grace until the perfect day. It offers us the ability to be cleansed of our sins and freed from the effects of them. Without that intercession, we could not become clean and be worthy even of the gift of the Holy Ghost, much less be worthy to dwell in the celestial kingdom.

The change that is wrought in our hearts must be forged by our own wills – we must choose to subject our will to the will of the father. We must choose to obey the commandments. If salvation was based on God’s choices of who to change rather than our own choices of who to obey, then we would not be choosing, rather God would be. It must be us that chooses, but in the choosing God grants us light and power that we have no ability to bring to ourselves. I serve my neighbor, and I can feel my soul filled with light, peace and joy. I cannot generate that light and joy, it comes from having the presence of the Holy Ghost to be with me. As we choose that change, the Lord’s spirit is poured out upon us and we are capable of living better than we could have lived without it. We are enlightened by it, we perceive what is right and wrong more clearly through it, our hearts are more charitable. The Lord bestowing his spirit on us is a manifestation of the grace of God, as we cannot force the Holy Ghost to do something, we can only make choices that would allow ourselves to be worthy of it. Without the cleansing power of the atonement we could not be worthy of any spiritual blessing. We could not be comfortable in the presence of the Holy Ghost, much less the presence of the Father and the Son.

Progressing from grace to grace

There are points at which significant changes take place, and the scriptures give these special attention. For instance every man is born into the world with the light of Christ to provide spiritual guidance. That gift is not given by mankind, it is a manifestation of the grace of God. It is a merciful and loving gift. Those who follow that light which will lead them into the true church will be washed at baptism and become worthy to have the gift of the Holy Ghost. The light offered by the Holy Ghost is much brighter, it is the presence of a member of the Godhead. It is, again, a gift offered to us that we cannot grant to ourselves. It is a greater manifestation of the grace of God. When we are baptized and confirmed, we have progressed from one grace to another. We have progressed from the grace which granted us the light of Christ to the grace which grants us a baptismal covenant and the gift of the Holy Ghost. We still have the light of Christ, but we have made new covenants, received new promised blessings, have received new spiritual endowments. We have progressed from one grace to another.

As we continue in the church we may be endowed. We are given further light and knowledge, along with more serious commitments. We are given greater spiritual guidance if we will keep the greater commitments made in our endowment covenants. We have progressed from the grace we obtained at baptism to another grace.

It is critical to recognize that the path does not end there. There are other graces that we may obtain.  How does one know that. Two ways.

First, the description of Christ progressing from grace to grace teach that Christ progressed from grace to grace until he received a fullness, even the fullness of the Father. If the conclusion of these progressive steps is godhood, then there are more steps than baptism and endowment.

Secondly, are not there other promises made to us if we just keep the covenants that we make?

D&C 107: 18 "The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—

19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant."

We do not generally, as a church, stand at that point where we have received the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. But that is promised to us as a grace that we can progress to. When we are worthy, it will be imparted, but it will be a spiritual endowment. Our works have no power to grant to ourselves, it will be a merciful gift from a loving Heavenly Father.

When we have the heavens opened to us, will that not be a greater spiritual endowment with greater spiritual light, knowledge, and greater commitments required of us than the temple endowment? Will that not be another grace the Lord bestows?

What of when we progress to the point that we are worthy to commune with the general assembly and the church of the Firstborn? Joseph Smith taught of such experiences that they serve a purpose. They are so we can learn to come up to the level of such beings. Is that any different than the gift of the Holy Ghost really? Is it not another grace we can progress to? Then, having progressed there, it then provides greater light and spiritual endowments that aid us in progressing to the next one.

When we can enjoy the communion and the presence of the Father and the Son, then we will have progressed from grace to grace. We will have progressed from the grace of the light of Christ, to the grace of the baptismal covenant and gift of the Holy Ghost. We will have progressed from there to the grace of temple covenants and spiritual endowments, to sealing ordinances, and from one grace to another progressively until we have progressed to that grace at which we can enjoy the communion and presence of the Father and the Son. And when we have progressed from grace to grace until we have received, as Christ did, the fullness of the Father, then there is nothing else to receive.

Are there not additional covenants if we just keep the covenants that we make?

D&C 59:4 "And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me."

Don’t we even already know that there are covenants, such as the united order, that we do not yet keep? Will they not be accompanied by greater spiritual blessings?