This year I have been serving as a Sunday School teacher, so posts on this blog have slowed down.

On a weekly basis, I will post potential class discussion material at

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Spiritual wickedness in heavenly places

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities [archē], against powers [exousia], against the rulers [kosmokratōr] of the darkness of this world [aiōn], against spiritual wickedness in high places [epouranios]” (Ephesians 6:12).

We are wrestling a figurative, spiritual battle against things that are not “flesh and blood.”

The Greek words archē, exousia, and kosmokratōr can have more than one meaning. In addition to representing opposing forces, these words can also represent individuals. Since these individuals do not have flesh and blood, the words are referring to evil spirits.

The last phrase in the above verse mentions spiritual wickedness in epouranios, which is usually translated as “heavenly” or “celestial.”

In what ways could there be wickedness in heavenly places even now?

“Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down” (Moses 4:3).

“And worlds without number have I created . . . there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man” (Moses 1:33, 35).

“Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God” (D&C 93:38).

During the premortal existence, people exercised their agency and lost their innocence, and therefore needed to be redeemed.

Assuming the plan of salvation is similar in other worlds, this process is continuing to occur.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The mental-spiritual meaning of 666

“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (Revelation 13:17-8).

“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:1-11).

To the extent that the seventh day symbolizes the rest, or presence, of the Lord (as mentioned here), then on this level of symbolism:

The first “6” of “666” represents the failure to reach the presence of the Father (celestial glory).

The second “6” of “666” represents the failure to reach the presence of the Son (terrestrial glory).

The third “6” of “666” represents the failure to reach the presence of the Holy Ghost (telestial glory).

Therefore, the resulting condition is outer darkness.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Four and twenty elders

“And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. . . . The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:4, 10-1).

“And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. . . . And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:8, 14).

“And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned” (Revelation 11:16-7).

“And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia” (Revelation 19:4).

“Q. What are we to understand by the four and twenty elders, spoken of by John? A. We are to understand that these elders whom John saw, were elders who had been faithful in the work of the ministry and were dead; who belonged to the seven churches, and were then in the paradise of God” (D&C 77:5).

“What have we to console us in relation to the dead? We have reason to have the greatest hope and consolation for our dead of any people on the earth; for we have seen them walk worthily in our midst, and seen them sink asleep in the arms of Jesus; and those who have died in the faith are now in the celestial kingdom of God. And hence is the glory of the sun” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 6:315).

“There are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones . . . Secondly: the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory” (D&C 129:1, 3).

Since both resurrected beings and spirits can be in “heaven,” it is possible for a being to be in both “the paradise of God” and “the celestial kingdom of God,” as mentioned in the above quotes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The sealing power: making our calling and election sure

Joseph Smith said the following:
The Doctrine of Election -- St. Paul exhorts us to make our calling and election sure. This is that sealing power spoken of by Paul in other places (Ephesians I. 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 any thing 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. (History, 1838–1856, volume C-1 [2 November 1838–31 July 1842] [addenda]," p. 8 [addenda], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed August 30, 2017; see also History of the Church 3:379-80).
A person can be sealed to their spouse, children, etc. However, the culminating sealing is to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, or sealed to eternal life.

Joseph also taught:
The Bible says, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” Now, the word turn, here should be translated bind, or seal. But what is the object of this important mission, or how is it to be fulfilled? The keys are to be delivered, the Spirit of Elijah is to come, the Gospel to be established, the Saints of God gathered, Zion built up, and the saints to come up as Saviors on Mount Zion, But how are they to become Saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth, and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them, that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them, and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfils the mission of Elijah; and I would to God that this temple was now done that we might go into it, and go to work and improve our time, and make use of the seals while they are on earth. (History, 1838–1856, volume E-1 [1 July 1843–30 April 1844]," p. 1866, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed August 30, 2017; see also History of the Church 6:183)
He also stated:
The spirit, power and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the keys of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fulness of the Melchizedeck Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth, and to receive, obtain and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God even unto the turning of the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven. Malachi says “I will send Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come, and he shall turn the hearts of the Fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Now what I am after, is the knowledge of God, and I take my own course to obtain it. What are we to understand by this in the last days? In the days of Noah, God destroyed the world by a flood, and he has promised to destroy it by fire in the last days; but before it took place, Elijah should first come, and turn the hearts of the fathers to the children &c. Now comes the point. What is this office and work of Elijah? It is one of the greatest and most important subjects that God has revealed. He should send Elijah to seal the children to the fathers, and the fathers to the children. Now was this merely confined to the living, to settle difficulties with families on earth? By no means, it was a far greater work. Elijah! what would you do if you were here? Would you confine your work to the living alone? No, I would refer you to the Scriptures, where the subject is manifest that is, without us they could not be made perfect, nor we without them; the fathers without the children, nor the children without the fathers. I wish you to understand this subject, for it is important, and if you will receive it, this is the Spirit of Elijah, that we redeem our dead, and connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven and seal up our dead to come forth in the first resurrection; and here we want the power of Elijah to seal those who dwell on earth to those who dwell in heaven. This is the power of Elijah and the keys of the kingdom of Jehovah. Let us suppose a case; suppose the great God who dwells in heaven, should reveal himself to Father Cutler here, by the opening heavens, and tell him, “I offer up a decree that whatsoever you seal on earth with your decree, I will seal it in heaven,” you have power then, can it be taken off? No, then what you seal on earth by the keys of Elijah, is sealed in heaven, and this is the power of Elijah, and this is the difference between the Spirit and power of Elias and Elijah. For while the spirit of Elias is a forerunner, the power of Elijah is sufficient to make our calling and election sure, and the same doctrine where we are exhorted to go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, but of laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead &c. We cannot be perfect without the fathers &c. We must have revelations from them, and we can see that the doctrine of revelation as far transcends the doctrine of no revelation, as knowledge is above ignorance; for one truth revealed from heaven is worth all the Sectarian notions in existence. This spirit of Elijah was manifest in the days of the Apostles, in delivering certain ones to the buffetings of Satan, that they may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus; they were sealed by the spirit of Elijah unto the damnation of Hell until the day of the Lord, or revelation of Jesus Christ. Here is the doctrine of election that the world has quarreled so much about; but they do not know anything about it. The doctrine that the Presbyterians and Methodists have quarrelled so much about, once in grace always in grace, or falling away from grace, I will say a word about, they are both wrong, truth takes a road between them both; for while the Presbyterian says “once in grace you cannot fall,” the Methodist says “you can have grace to day, fall from it tomorrow, next day have grace again, and so follow on changing continually,” but the doctrine of the scriptures, and the Spirit of Elijah would show them both false, and take a road between them both, for according to the scriptures, if men have received the good word of God, and tasted of the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, it is impossible to renew them again, seeing they have crucified the son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame, so there is a possibility of falling away, you could not be renewed again, and the power of Elijah cannot seal against this sin, for this is a reserve made in the seals and powers of the Priesthood. . . . Again, the doctrine or sealing power of Elijah is as follows; if you have power to seal on earth and in heaven then we should be wise, the first thing you do, go and seal on earth your sons and daughters unto yourself; and yourself unto your fathers in eternal glory, and go ahead, and not go back, but use a little wisdom, and seal all you can, and when you get to heaven tell your father that what you seal on earth should be sealed in heaven, according to his promise. (History, 1838–1856, volume E-1 [1 July 1843–30 April 1844]," p. 1920-2, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed August 30, 2017; see also History of the Church 6:251-3)
In summary, the entire human family can be sealed to each other, but that final step, being sealed to the Lord, is essential for fulfilling the mission of Elijah.

The family tree must be connected to the true vine:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15:1-8)
Through the sealing power, we can connect ourselves with our fathers in heaven. That connection is needed, since we cannot be perfect (complete) without the fathers; we must have revelations from them.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The sons of Moses are Melchizedek Priesthood holders

“And the sons of Moses, according to the Holy Priesthood which he received under the hand of his father-in-law, Jethro . . . Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years. And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God. And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God” (D&C 84:6, 17-9).

“Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses—for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord” (D&C 84:31).

“And the sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, upon Mount Zion in the Lord’s house, whose sons are ye” (D&C 84:32). “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. Light and truth forsake that evil one” (D&C 93:36-7).

“For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron” (D&C 84:33-4).

Monday, July 3, 2017

The meaning of “oracle” and “oracles”

The Old Testament word “oracle” is from the Hebrew dĕbiyr, “the holy of holies.”

“And the oracle [dĕbiyr] he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the Lord” (1 Kings 6:19).

The New Testament word “oracles” is from the Greek logion, “utterances” or “(spoken) words.”

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles [logion] of God” (1 Peter 4:11).

Like the New Testament, the Doctrine and Covenants uses the word “oracles.”

“Nevertheless, through you shall the oracles be given to another, yea, even unto the church. And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house” (D&C 90:4-5).

“Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name” (D&C 124:39).

“I give unto you my servant Joseph to be a presiding elder over all my church, to be a translator, a revelator, a seer, and prophet. I give unto him for counselors my servant Sidney Rigdon and my servant William Law, that these may constitute a quorum and First Presidency, to receive the oracles for the whole church” (D&C 124:125-6).

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Make your calling and election ‘bebaios;’ receive the ‘bebaios’ word of prophecy

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling [klēsis] and election [eklogē] sure [bebaios]” (2 Peter 1:10).

“We have also a more sure [bebaios] word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).

“The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood” (D&C 131:5).

“That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope [elpis] set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure [asphalēs] and stedfast [bebaios], and which entereth into that within the veil” (Hebrews 6:18-9).

Since a person whose calling and election has been made “sure,” who has received the “more sure” word of prophecy, can still fall, the word “sure” in the KJV Bible does not mean “absolutely guaranteed under any and all circumstances.”

Make your calling and election steadfast/firm/secure.

Receive the steadfast/firm/secure word of prophecy.

. . . And then endure to the end.