Tuesday, September 13, 2005
My Religion and Me
WHERE DID I COME FROM? (CONTINUED)
ASSIGNMENT OF MISSIONS
Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand council of heaven before this world was. I suppose I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council.1
Some may suppose that this refers only to those mighty and great ones who stood at the head of dispensations like Adam, Abraham, Enoch, Noah, Moses, etc., and does not imclude us; but every one of God’s children is important to him and has an opportunity to make a contribution if he will.
President J. Reuben Clark said:
I like to think that it does include those of us of lesser calling and lesser stature… and I like to think that perhaps in that grand council something at least was said to us indicating what would be expected of us, and empowering us, subject to the re-confirmation here, to do certain things in building up the kingdom of God on earth.2
As the Church expands in its worldwide mission, we can see that there is a great variety of work to be done in building the kingdom. Each one of us is very important to the Lord and his work. No son or daughter is without dignity in the sight of God, and every assignment in the Church or life which may contribute to human happiness is significant and deserves full effort and dedication. There is a crying need today for leadership in many areas of activity. There are many indications that those who live in these last days are specially chosen and have, in fact, been held in reserve to come forth in this era. Many are told this in their patriarchal blessings, and an indication of this idea is provided in the Doctrine and covenants as follows:
Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers—
For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God—
Therefore your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until the restoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began. (D&C 86:8-10)
There is, then, much work to be done, and out of all the world you who are privileged to be members of the church undoubtedly received such important assignments in heaven.
This does not preclude the fact that in other dispensations great and noble spirits also were born to fulfill their work.
There are three important activities in which we participated in our former home of which we are given some knowledge through the revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith:
1. Upholding and sanctioning of Christ’s plan
2. Assignment of missions
3. Assignment of lineage
Some of the brightest spirits that dwelt with the Father are making their appearance among this people. Brigham Young’s conviction was that the rising generation to which you belong would rise up and be greater in the gospel than he or his brethren.
You may remember it and lay it to heart and, if you wish, write it in your journals, that some of the best spirits that have ever been sent to earth are coming at the present time…3
The missions no doubt differ widely, It is, however, the testimony of our prophetic inspiration that these chosen spirits are not only great in opportunity, but are great in three other ways:
1. They were fore-appointed.
2. They were organized and interrelated.
3. They were set in the pattern of lineage.
The timing depends upon when our preparation fits best into the plan of the Father. The Lord has told us that his house is a house of order and not one of confusion. He, therefore, knowing the end from the beginning, make his assignments according to a pattern. The fact that we are only dimly aware of the pattern or not aware of it at all does nothing to change it. We must, therefore acquaint ourselves with what has been revealed concerning the orderly nature of not only the universe, but of all things within it—including each of us, each life, and each mission to be performed. As the Prophet Joseph concluded:
Hence the importance of embracing and subscribing to principles of eternal truth by all men upon the earth that expect eternal life.4
The earth was brought into being according to plan, for no project so great would be left to chance by so great an intelligence as our Heavenly Father. Here on earth we see the organizations of men established to accomplish certain things. We find armies, companies, nations, and empires, all set into patterns of various sorts. Only in organization is there accomplishment. Could our Father lack the skill to organize and understanding to do so, and his children demonstrate such skill and understanding?
ORGANIZATION INTO FAMILIES
We are told that all the children of our Heavenly Father who were to come to earth were
organized into a family with Adam as its patriarch and head. According to the Prophet Joseph Smith:
The Father called all spirits before Him at the creation of man, and organized them. He (Adam) is the head, and was told to multiply. The keys were first given to him, and by him to others…
I saw Adam in the
This is why Adam blessed his posterity; he wanted to bring them into the presence of God.5
Later the Prophet elaborated on this theme:
The organization of the spiritual and heavenly worlds, and of spiritual and heavenly worlds, and of spiritual and heavenly being, was agreeable to the most perfect order and harmony: Their limits and bounds were fixed irrevocably, and voluntarily subscribed to in their heavenly estate by themselves, and were by our first parents subscribed to upon the earth.6
What exactly does this mean to those of us who live on earth today? At least this much: Our agreement or covenant to enter mortality was made (to take upon us flesh and bones in one decision of many which was both completely voluntary and without recourse). We cannot now decide not to have bodies. We understood somewhat the details of what we would face in life’s trials, life’s hazards, life’s opportunities, and the resultant promises.
THE ASSIGNMENT OF LINEAGE
Finally, the Prophet learned by vision through the Urim and Thummim that his own blood line, his own familial inheritance, came down through Abraham—and that into the house of Israel some of the choicest spirits that dwelled in heavens have been, and will continue to be, sent. It was made known to him that Abraham, chosen before his birth, had comparable fidelity, proved himself on earth, withholding nothing, likewise did Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob, and Jacob’s son Joseph. It was make known to the Prophet Joseph Smith that he was of the lineage of Ephraim and that upon him much power was to be laid in the last days.
What of us? We too are of Abraham’s family. Those who join the Church become members of that family which is the family of the prophets, the seed of Abraham and the elect of God. It is not a “closed shop,” an arrogant caste of people who think of themselves as special (as if God needed an excuse for blessing them). It is the product of an eternal merit system—the continuing embodiment of the truth that when we fulfill our covenants, the living God fulfills his and that when we violate them we “have no promise.” (D&C 82:10)
In history the “chosen” have often rebelled themselves into degradation and darkness, and the darkened have often risen to the pinnacle of blessing. The Book of Mormon tells and retells that story with matchless vividness.
CLUES IN OUR EXPERIENCES
In addition to the revealed word of the Lord in these latter days, our Father has kindly
provided us with rich experiences with things spiritual to verify, personally, in each life the official declarations that are made through the prophets. Some of these are attested to in fast and testimony meetings, and some are held to sacred to be mentioned by individuals to whom they have come. Anyone, however, who seeks shall find. And he who is watching shall be given signs which his faith will reveal to him as true. Those who live by the Spirit have no need of further proof, and those who do not would not be convinced by a sign if it were given. It is by means of small wonders in our lives that we come to that greater knowledge for which our spirits hunger.
Such relatively intangible evidences as the following are given to us:
( I) felt as if I had always know it… They who love the truth and to whom it most
strongly appeals—were they not acquainted with it in a previous life?7
We doubtless knew all about faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost, before coming into this world, and when we hear the Gospel preached on earth there is something in it that appeals to us, and we say to ourselves, I have known that always; it is nothing strange; it is an old friend, a familiar voice.8
These are what might be called spiritual memories. They seem brief, fleeting, and hard to remember, yet they enable us to make decisions of life safely and in tune with the will of the Father. There was much that Christ knew beforehand, and it is the teaching of President Joseph F. Smith, for one that as he did so did we.
Our knowledge of persons and things before we came here, combined with the
divinity awakened within our soul through obedience to the gospel, powerfully affects, in my opinion, all our likes and dislikes, and guides our preferences in the course of this life, provided we give careful heed to the admonitions of the Spirit.
All those salient truths which come home so forcibly to the head and heart seem but the awakening of the memories of the spirit. Can we know anything here that we did not know before we came?9
Thus, what is kindled by the word of the Shepherd is the “hidden word” of our interior. President Hugh B. Brown has said:
Sometimes during solitude I hear trough spoken with clarity and freshness; uncolored and untranslated it speaks from within myself in a language original but inarticulate, heard only with the soul, and I realize I brought it with me, was never taught it nor can I efficiently teach it to another.10
We did not come to fail; we were trained not only to achieve but to lead others in achieving. We were prepared for this period in earth’s history when there is ripening in iniquity the accumulated sins and estrangements of centuries—a time of unmatched evil—that we might be tried. Here again, Christ is our example. It is
1. Joseph Fielding Smith, comp., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938), p. 365
2. J. Reuben Clark, Jr. in Conference Report of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Oct. 1950, pp 170-171.
3. Brigham Young in Journal of Discourses, 26 vol. (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1855-86), 11:117.
4. Teachings, p. 325.
5. Teachings, pp. 158-59.
6. Teachings, p. 325.
7. Orson F. Whitney, “The Undiscovered Country,” Improvement Era 23:100 (Dec. 1919).
8. “Sermon by Apostle Orson F. Whitney Delivered at the Funeral of Nellie C. Taylor,” Young Womans Journal 21:300 (June 1910).
9. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1968), pp. 12-13.
10. Truman G. Madsen, Eternal Man (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1966), p. v.