Man sins. God forgives sins.
Gently Raise the Sacred Strain, LDS Hymns, 146.
WE ARE ALL FAMILIAR WITH the riches of the world. But herein is an extraordinary opportunity to ponder the infinite riches of eternity. Within these pages lie the keys to greater knowledge, greater happiness, greater peace, greater prosperity in this world, enhanced vision of the possibilities of the Lord’s chosen people, and finally, the ultimate keys to eternal life.1 (D&C 38:39; 6:7; 14:7.) These keys can inspire priceless goals (including the goal of eternal life), add youth to the aged, and bring wisdom to the youth. These pages tell of ancient Israel and of latter-day Israel, and of the rest of the Lord’s chosen people from the beginning of time, and even before, and then on to Israel’s divine destiny in the eternities to come. All is explored in the context of the infinite riches of eternity. “And the riches of eternity [are] within the compass of those who are willing to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (JS, 1 HC 235 (1831); 1 Ne 15:36.)
Moreover, we will consider what may be a wonderful surprise, and if not a surprise, in any event, a glorious blessing for those who are not of Israel. (Abr 2:10.)
And through it all we will see the infinite compassion of the Supreme Rulers of the universe and their infinite “concern for the one” - for you, for me, and for all of us.2
1 1 Ne 4:14; Mosiah 2:22; President Thomas S. Monson, Treasure of Eternal Value, First Presidency Message, April Ensign 4 (2008).
2 Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Concern for the One, General Conference, May Ensign 17 (2008).
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Perhaps it goes without saying that I stand as a witness of the truth of these things, having received a testimony of these things by personal revelation. As a husband, as a father, as a grandfather, and as a chosen witness of the Lord (Isa 43:10-12; 49:3), I desire to leave a record of my testimony that Jesus is the Christ (the Savior, Redeemer, and Messiah), and that he lives. We sing of Him. “How Great Thou Art.” (LDS Hymns, 86.) I am a witness that Jesus of Nazareth is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. (Mosiah 18:9.)
I solemnly witness that Joseph Smith was a true prophet like Joseph of Egypt, “a choice seer.” (See pages 418-449 herein.) I bear testimony that God has restored the pure gospel to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith, that “choice seer,” raised up by the Lord in these latter days in fulfilment of the promises to Joseph of old (JST Gen 50:26; 2 Ne 3:6-7,15), and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth. (Ch 17 Joseph and Ephraim’s Birthrights.) Latter-day Israel, now being assembled in the Church, have the divine commission to be a light to the Gentiles and to gather the rest of Israel. (D&C 86:11.)
I bear witness that the First Presidency and the Twelve (special witnesses of Jesus Christ), hold the keys of divine authority, the keys of the priesthood, to administer the saving ordinances and covenants to the seed of Abraham and to all people who will receive them, the same as held by the apostles of old, and no one else does. Their testimony to the world of The Living Christ may be read in the Church News and in the Ensign magazine.19
I bear solemn testimony that true prophets have presided over the Church from Joseph Smith’s day until this, in an unbroken succession of authority, holding the keys of the priesthood, President Thomas S. Monson being the
19 This testimony of the First Presidency and the Twelve appears in the Church News p 3, Week ending Jan 1, 2000, and again in Dec Ensign 9 (2004); and see Jan Ensign 10-15 (2009).
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most recent. He is not only a prophet for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he is the Lord’s prophet and mouthpiece to the entire world. He is as important for the safety and well-being of God’s children in our day as were Joseph of Egypt, and Moses, in their days.
Finally, I testify that The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in purity and simplicity, and lays out the means to eternal life. (3 Ne 27:13-27.) It is an irrefutable second witness of the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and his mission among mankind, as the Only Begotten Son of the Father. (1 Ne 13:41; 2 Ne 33:10-11; Jacob 4:11; Alma 12:34.) No mortal man could write a book of such pure virtue. Certainly Satan could not. We must therefore conclude that it was written by the finger of God through his early American prophets, just as it says. But we do not rely on logic for our testimony, but upon personal revelation through the power of the Holy Ghost. We have the marvelous promise of the Prophet Moroni, that everyone may know the truth of the Book of Mormon through personal revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3-5; and see John 7:16-17; 3 Ne 11:29-40.) This is the source of my testimony, and I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
“We don’t ask any people to throw away any good they have got; we only ask them to come and get more.” (JS, 5 HC 259; TPJS 275.)
My prayer is that this testimony, and the testimonies of all those whose names appear in this book, will be carried throughout the world, and that the contents herein will be published and proclaimed to the ends of the earth, that the hearts of those who read it will be touched by the Light of Christ, by the spirit of Elijah, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, and feel the great love of the Savior for all people. (3 Ne 17:5-25; 11:41; D&C 1:20-23.)
Now it is my hope and prayer that you will enjoy and be lifted up by the concentrated luxury of pondering the glorious eternal truths, the riches of eternity, that are gathered herein relative to the Lord’s chosen people and to all mankind. (D&C 6:7; John 15:5.)
For within these pages lie the keys to greater knowledge, greater peace, greater happiness, greater prosperity, greater fidelity between husband and wife, greater harmony in the family, greater hope for despairing fathers and for heart-broken wives and mothers, greater unity among their children, and greater gratitude to our Father in Heaven for the marvelous things he has done. Included herein are the keys of knowledge by which families may endure forever, the most precious of all the gifts of God. The truths contained herein include “the plain and precious” pure knowledge and the “covenants” had in ages past in “the book of the Lamb of God.” (1 Ne 13:26,28-29,34-35,40.) They are of more worth than the riches of the whole earth.
Dellas W. Lee
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Man Is Eternal
There is no end to matter;
There is no end to space;
There is no end to spirit;
There is no end to race. 1
IN A WORLD WHERE SO few things are permanent, it is glorious to realize that man is eternal. I believe it is fair to say that at some point in the course of life, most people will wonder about their origin and their destiny. What can we know about these things? Are there definitive answers to these questions, and if so, how are they to be obtained? The Prophet Joseph Smith has said that there are definitive answers, and that people can have them, and that they are to be received by inspiration from God, from our Beloved Father in Heaven himself. (Faith begins when we hear the gospel plan. Rom 10:17; JS, 3 HC 379.) In an address commemorating the death of James Adams in 1843, the Prophet Joseph said that knowledge of these things can be obtained only by spiritual experience (personal revelation) – “experience through the ordinances of God.” Said Joseph the Prophet:
All men know that they must die. ... What is the object of our coming into existence, then dying and falling away, to be here no more? It is but reasonable to suppose that God would reveal something in reference to the matter, and it is a subject we ought to study more than any other. ... If we have any claim on our Heavenly Father for anything, it is for knowledge on this important subject. Could we read and comprehend all that has been written from the days of Adam, on the relation of man to God and angels in a future state, we should know very little about it. Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject. (6 HC 50 (1843); emphasis added; TPC JS, 419.)
All people can have a sure knowledge of these things for themselves through personal revelation. The Prophet Joseph taught, “It is the privilege of the children of God to come to God and get revelation.... God is not a respecter of persons; we all have the same privilege.” (WJS 13-15; Moro 10:7; D&C 121:1-7.)
1 “If You Could Hie to Kolob,” LDS Hymns, 284.
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John Henry Evans captured the essence of the Prophet’s teachings on these things in these words:
Experience is the great desideratum. Nothing else can be depended upon as a means of acquiring spiritual knowledge. Spiritual knowledge can therefore be as definite, as certain, and as dependable as physical or social knowledge. This idea is deeply fundamental in the religious philosophy of the Mormon prophet. 2
If man is eternal, he must have had a preexistence before coming into mortality. “Preexistence” is a convenient contraction of “premortal existence.”
That man has an eternal past, a preexistence, is a glorious reality. The poet William Wordsworth was touched by this inspired thought, and between 1803 and 1806 he wrote these words:
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy! 3
The Poet Henry Wordsworth Longfellow was also thinking of the eternal nature of man when he surrounded these words with great insights into the purpose of life:
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul. 4
During the short life of the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord revealed more about the eternal nature of man than could be found in the entire Bible before Joseph’s time. (Ch 2 As An Intelligence.) We sing of this reality – “There is no end to being.” 5
Job probed the eternal nature of man when he asked these questions:
17 What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him?
and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?
18 And that thou shouldest visit him every morning,
2 John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith: An American Prophet, 348.
3 William Wordsworth, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood,” as quoted by President Thomas S. Monson, I Know That My Redeemer Lives!, General Conference, May Ensign 22 (2007). Ch 3 Man As A Spirit.
4 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, A Psalm Of Life.
5 “If You Could Hie to Kolob,” LDS Hymns, 284.
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and try him every moment? (Job 7:17-18.)
Not only is man eternal, but it has been revealed that “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” (D&C 18:10-15.) And why is the worth of a soul so great? (D&C 88:15.) The major reason, as President Monson has graphically illustrated, is because of man’s “capacity to become as God.” 6 We might infer from this that the human personality is the most precious thing in the universe, and it is. (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, You Matter to Him, Gen. Conf., Nov Ensign 19 (2011).) In the words of Brother John Henry Evans:
In Mormonism man is the center. Everything converges in him. All the spiritual forces of the universe find a focus in him, with a view to his development. The earth was created for his benefit. It is to be his permanent home, his heaven of the hereafter. Also man is, literally and not figuratively, the child of God, and as such inherits the nature and potentialities of his Parents of the spirit. God, therefore, is watchfully anxious for the welfare of his child – more so than any earthly parent could be. In a sense God exists for the glory of man, not man for the glory of God, as in the age-old Christian dogma. ...
Given the priesthood, a man at once becomes important in his own eyes. ... Indirectly this priesthood has an almost equal influence on the woman. ...
Priesthood thus [becomes] a great leveler ... – not by bringing any man down, but by lifting all men up. 7
Coupled with the eternal nature of man is the eternal truth that inherent in man is personal autonomy, the capacity to choose for himself – agency – as so poetically and dynamically expressed in these words:
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
(Invictus, by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903); Moses 4:3; 4 HC 45n; Ch 27 Patriarchal Virtues.)
It is also heartening, and wonderful to know, that intimately connected with the eternal nature of man (who is possessed of agency) is the companion reality that “Adam fell that man might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25.) The Prophet Joseph Smith confirmed this great truth with the statement that, “happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.” (5 HC 134-135 (1842).) And Latter-day prophets continue to remind us
6 President Thomas S. Monson, My Brother’s Keeper, General Conference, May Ensign 46 (1990); and see Our Sacred Priesthood Trust, May Ensign 54 at 56 (2006); and The Service that Counts, Nov Ensign 45-46 (1989).
7 John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith An American Prophet, 226. Compare supremacy of the individual versus supremacy of the state, Mark R. Levin, Liberty and Tyranny, 3-4.
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of this wonderful truth, that our reason for being is happiness. 8
The origin and potential destiny of man
Further questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? And where are we going? The Lord has answered all these questions with scintillating clarity through abundant revelation to his prophets in these latter days.
President Hinckley has said the following,
The eternal nature of man has been revealed. We are sons and daughters of God. God is the Father of our spirits. We lived before we came here. We are here to test our worthiness, acting in the agency which God has given to us. When we die we shall go on living. Our eternal life is comprised of three phases: one, our premortal existence; two, our mortal existence; and three, our postmortal existence. In death we die to this world and step through the veil into the sphere we are worthy to enter. This, again, is unique, singular, and precious doctrine of this Church which has come through revelation. 9
Man is “the tabernacle of God,” “the temple of God, and ... the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” (D&C 93:2,35; 1 Cor 3:16; D&C 88:12.)
Thus the grand secrets regarding the origin, nature, and divine destiny of man have been restored in our day. They have been stated in two sentences. The first by the Father himself, “For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.) The second by President Lorenzo Snow, “As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become.” 10 This couplet expresses truth revealed first through the Prophet Joseph Smith: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens.” (6 HC 305 (1844).) President Kimball put it this way, “Man is a god in embryo and has in him the seeds of godhood, and he can, if he will, rise to great heights.” 11 In speaking of the good or evil man can do with his tongue, Elder Holland said, “think of yourself and of her [your wife] as the god and goddess you both inherently are.” 12
God, having obtained all knowledge and having conformed his life to all eternal truth, became the Great Patriarch of the universe, and reigns over all his creations and spirit children in a heavenly patriarchal order of government, a heavenly kingdom, a heavenly family, in justice, mercy, infinite love
8 President Thomas S. Monson, Finding Joy in the Journey, General Conference, Nov Ensign 84 (2008).
9 President Gordon B. Hinckley, The Great Things Which God Has Revealed Through Joseph The Prophet, May Ensign 80 at 83 (2005).
10 The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, 1, as quoted by President Gordon B. Hinckley, Don’t Drop The Ball, General Conference Priesthood, Nov Ensign 46 at 48 (1994).
11 Teachings Of The Presidents Of The Church, President Spenser W. Kimball, 1; John 10:34(30-36).
12 Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, The Tongue of Angels, General Conference, May Ensign 16-17 (2007).
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and every other Godly virtue. This is eternal life. God’s work and glory is to make this available to all his children. (D&C 84:37-38.) We were with him before we came into the world. (D&C 93:20,23,29.)
God revealed these grand secrets, this great truth, to Adam and Eve, our first natural parents, and showed them that this is the pattern they and their children must follow to achieve exaltation and eternal life in a celestial kingdom of glory, patterned after the celestial kingdom in which they were nurtured as spirit children of God. He brought Adam and Eve together by his divine power, thereby creating a patriarchal order of the priesthood through eternal marriage for them, under which their children could be sealed to them forever – eternal families, and thereby also establishing the kingdom of God among them, patterned after the patriarchal order of heaven. (Ch 28 Adam.) So also today, eternal families are being organized into patriarchal orders of the priesthood through eternal marriage in the temples of the Lord, through which eternal patriarchal families may have eternal life through the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ. (Ch 11 Birthrights; Ch 19 Eternal Marriage; Ch 24 Patriarchal Priesthood.)
Identity and self-esteem
It is well known that there is a great deal of relationship between a person’s self-image (his perception of his true identity) and his daily behavior. Eugene L. Roberts, a former coach at Brigham Young University, gave a colorful illustration of this, during the course of which he wrote, “People can be either eagles or hogs in their leisure time.” 13 A person’s self-image is largely determined by his personal perception of his identity during his leisure time – who and what he thinks he is, what he does, and what he thinks he may become. If his self-image is healthy, his self-esteem will be high, he will be more happy, and his performance in all undertakings will be more dynamic and more productive. People choose various ways to build their self-image, but none is as lasting and solid as when built upon “the stone of Israel,” the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matt. 7:24-27; D&C 50:44.) The more a person conforms his life to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the better will be his self-image, the higher will be his self-esteem, and the greater will be his happiness.
How important is it that the children of Israel know their true identity? We learn much from the response of Sister Elaine S. Dalton during the news conference after being sustained as the General President of the Young Women’s organization, along with her counselors, Sister Maria Nielson Cook, and Ann M. Dibbs. In view of how hard it is for the youth and people all over the Church in these times, Sister Dalton was asked how she and the presidency would instruct the young women so they will stand up for what they believe and not sacrifice their values. Sister Dalton replied:
13 President Gordon B. Hinckley, Don’t Drop The Ball, General Conference, Nov Ensign 46 at 47 (1994); and see President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down, May Ensign 59 at 60 (2009).
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How will we help them be strong? I think the main way that we can help young women in these times be strong, is to help them understand their identity – help them understand that they are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves them. As they come to understand and know that destiny and their identity, and know that they can pray to him and that he will be there and that he will help them, and he will even lead them by the hand, I think that will help them a lot to be able to stand up against some of the pressures and the temptations and the things that they face. ... Again, I think that the message is the same message probably that all of your mothers have given you for as long as you have lived, “Remember who you are.” Remember who you are, and that there is power and strength and freedom and joy in living a virtuous life, and that as you live that virtuous life, even though everyone around you is pressuring you to do otherwise, in their heart they are counting on you to stand up, to stand for truth and righteousness, and as you do that you will become a leader, a leader in the world for good – force for good. 14
How important is it, not only for motivation to live a virtuous life, but also for doing temple and missionary work, that the children of Israel know their true identity? How important is it to fidelity between husband and wife? The Lord covenanted with Abraham that through him and his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Sometimes we waiver in these responsibilities. I believe it is because we periodically lose sight of our true identity or because we have not adequately known our true identity – namely that man (his intelligence) is eternal, that God is literally the Father of our spirits, and that we are indeed the children of Abraham, with special birthrights. (Ch 2 As An Intelligence; Ch 3 As A Spirit; Ch 6 God Has A Chosen People; Ch 7 Israel Chosen People; Ch 11 Birthrights.) With that periodic lapse of awareness of our true identity we lose our self-image, and with our self-image we lose a measure of our self-esteem, and with the loss of self-esteem goes our missionary motivation and other motivations that should attend the children of Abraham, including a firm memory of covenants made in the temple. (Ch 15 Covenant of Abraham.) If we forget who we are and why our responsibilities are different from the rest of the world, our missionary efforts will soon flag and fade away. I believe that if, as individuals, the children of Israel – particularly the sons and daughters of Joseph – would maintain a scintillating awareness of their true identity they would maintain a sustained effort in their Abrahamic responsibilities – to proclaim the gospel, to labor for the perfection of the saints, and for the redemption of the dead. 15 A clear awareness of our true identity has a similar impact on all other aspects of our existence – on our inclination to obey or disobey the commandments generally, our thirst for knowledge and desire to learn, and on whether we will be happy or sad.
14 Sister Elaine S. Dalton, General President of the Young Women’s Organization, News Conference, April 6th, 2008, broadcast over the Church Satellite and over KBYUTV.
15 Elder David A. Bednar, Becoming A Missionary, General Conference, Nov Ensign 44 (2005).
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President Harold B. Lee delivered a marvelous address on the impact of self-image, in which he points out that knowledge of our divine nature elevates our self-respect, and that self-respect elevates our behavior. After quoting the words of Isaiah, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea ... whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace saith my God, to the wicked” (Isa 57:19-21), he continued:
As I have prayerfully thought of the reasons why one chooses this course [to wander away from truth] which is dramatically described by the prophet Isaiah – when one who has departed from the path which would have given him peace is like the troubled sea, casting up mire and dirt – it seems to me that it all results from the failure of the individual to have self-respect. ...
A lovely mother in a nearby community wrote this to me, “I love America, I love my husband, I love my children, I love my God, and why is this possible? Because I truly love myself.” Such are the fruits of self-respect. Conversely, when one does not have that love for himself of which this sister speaks, other consequences can be expected to follow. He ceases to love life. ... his wife ... the home ... the country, and eventually ... his love of God. ... “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Cor 6:19-20.)
If we can get a person to think what those words mean, then we can begin to understand the significance of the words of the renown psychologist, MacDougal, ... “The first thing to be done to help a man to moral regeneration is to restore, if possible, his self-respect.” How better may that self-respect be restored than to help him to fully understand the answer to that question, “Who am I?” 16
Thus man is a son or daughter of God, with the seeds of godhood within him or her. But that is not all. Man is, or may become, a son or daughter of father Abraham, one of the Lord’s chosen people. (Abr 2:9-11 .) His awareness of this helps him understand his true identity and his infinite potentiality.
And President James E. Faust made these inspired observations,
Dr. Fred Riley, a prominent social worker, has treated many athletes who identify themselves as athletes rather than as children of God. He relates: “what happens when they can’t play basketball? Their identity is shot.” Their self-worth is related to their physical skills rather than their character. Many who achieve world-class recognition may not like themselves. Some of the rich and famous, even though they have great talent and ability, are insecure and succumb to drugs, alcohol, or immorality, and their lives become shattered.
16 President Harold B. Lee, Understanding Who We Are Brings Self-Respect, General Conference, Jan. Ensign, 2,3,4 (1974); emphasis added.
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Instead of being happy with who they are, they become dissatisfied and discontent. They measure their self-worth solely in terms of their talent and accomplishments instead of who they really are inside. It is not always true that the more you achieve, the happier you will be or that you will like yourself more. ... Who you think you are and who you really are can be two different versions of yourself. From an eternal perspective, these two versions need to come together. God knows you and what you can become because He has known you from the beginning when you were His spirit sons and daughters. What you become will depend in large measure upon how you follow righteous principles and do good works. You may ask, “How do I learn to like myself?” I suggest five ideas that may help. 1. Change Bad Behavior. ... 2. Forgive Ourselves and Others. ... 3. Gain Confidence by Making Good Choices. ... 4. Give Service. ... 5. Choose Happiness. 17
A search for our identity is a search for the security and safety that comes from an understanding of our full potential, and from an understanding of the principles of truth, which if applied, will enable us to achieve that potential – our ultimate capacity, our highest nature and disposition, the capacity to experience a fulness of joy. Thus, the discovery of our identity consists of an understanding of our potential and an understanding of the eternal truths that will enable us to achieve our potential, which in turn brings greater faith, hope, strength, happiness and ultimately, a fulness of joy.
Therefore, in accepting the premise that knowledge of “who am I ” is just as important as these prophets say it is, that it will have just that much impact on a person’s life and behavior, we will undertake in the coming chapters to explore the premortal identity and nature of the Lord’s chosen people, their mortal identity and potentiality, and their divine destiny. 18 For perspective, we begin with a brief preview. It starts in the premortal world.
God’s premortal offer
In the premortal existence, our Father in Heaven offered to his spirit children the unspeakable gift of eternal life, or exaltation and eternal celestial glory, through a marvelous plan which he calls “the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine only Begotten,” sometimes referred to as “the great plan of happiness.” (Moses 6:62; Alma 42:8.) “Eternal life” is the kind and quality of life enjoyed by our Father in heaven, which is particularly descriptive when we realize that one of the names of our Father in heaven is “Eternal.” It is godly life. It has within it, and is a product of, an uplifting and exalting heavenly Spirit that can be experienced only to a degree in mortality. It is suggested by the Lord’s words, “which whispereth through and pierceth
17 President James E. Faust, Who Do You Think You Are?, First Presidency Message, March Ensign 2 (2001).
18 Alvin R. Dyer, Who Am I?
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all things ... while it maketh manifest” (D&C 85:6), “which is sweet above all that is sweet.” (Alma 32:42; Ch 19 Eternal Marriage; Ch 44 The Lord’s Inheritance.) This offer of eternal life, or life of the Gods, is the product of the indescribable love and infinite sacrifices of our Father in heaven for his children and of the Savior Jesus Christ. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19.) The plan would entail a mortal probation of trial and testing, but a pattern of rescue would be provided. 19
In that premortal realm some of God’s more valiant children manifested great love for the truth and for the Father and his Firstborn Son, as evidenced by their obedience to the gospel taught by the Son. (JST John 1:1.) These were God’s elect and chosen spirit children – “mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth.” (Isa 42:1(of dual application to the Savior and to Israel); 45:4; Matt 24:31; D&C 29:7; 33:6 “mine elect.” ) Because of their thirst for knowledge, truth, and light, these spirit children, through obedience and covenant, became heirs to eternal life by birthright, on the condition that they would take upon themselves the name of the Lord Jesus Christ during the days of their probation – days of trial and testing in mortality – and strive to pattern their lives after the holy order of the Son, as this sacred name implies. (Ch 4 Man As A Mortal; Ch 5 Foreordination.) And if they would not have the opportunity to hear the gospel in this world, then thereafter in the spirit world.
The elect and chosen of the Lord were those who were valiant in their testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ in the preexistence, demonstrated by their love of the truth and obedience to celestial law. (D&C 76:79.) Some misguided people have taught false concepts with respect to the elect and chosen of God. The Zoramites, for example, believed in a false concept of election. They had developed their concept into a “craft.” It is written that the truth “would destroy” the “craft” of the Zoramites. (Alma 31:16-18; 35:3.) The Zoramites equated election to predestination. They claimed to be elected and chosen for eternal life, while all others were consigned to hell, and that was all there was to it. But the true doctrine of election is not predestination. No, not at all. The true doctrine of election, or foreordination to eternal life, is conditional upon obedience to the laws of the gospel, both in the premortal world and in this. (D&C 58:31-33; 130:20-21.) Some were more obedient and therefore became more intelligent than others. That is, some received a greater degree of the light of truth than others. But the least of the elect were valiant in their testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and met the minimum standards in order to be elected or foreordained to eternal life. 20
There is great power in a believing disposition, great power in a desire to believe the truth. (Alma 32:16-18, 21, 27-28, 42.)
These more faithful spirit children, the elect, the chosen servants of the Lord, were “called” (1 Ne 21:1-5), “chosen,” and “foreordained” in the premortal
19 Elder Richard G. Scott, Truth Restored, General Conference, Nov Ensign 78 (2005); President Henry B. Eyring, Help Them on Their Way Home, General Conference, May Ensign 22 (2010).
20 D&C 76:79; Brigham Young and Willard Richards. 4 HC 256 at 258. And see Eldon R. Taylor, I Have A Question – foreordination vs predestination, Dec Ensign 29 (1990); Ch 5 Foreordination..
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world (Jer. 1:5; Rom. 11:1-2; Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Tim.1:9) to assist the Lord to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all his children who desired it (Moses 1:39; Abr. 3:22-23), and to be “joint-heirs” to eternal life “with Christ.” (Rom. 8:17.) This sacred responsibility to serve, and this glorious opportunity for eternal life were sealed upon the heads of these chosen spirits by sacred covenants in the heavens, and these possibilities became their birthrights in mortality. (Isa 45:17; Rom. 8:28-30; Ch 11 Birthrights.) And some “shouted for joy” at the prospect. (Job 38:7.)
On the other hand, mortality would not be without its risks, for there would be a final judgment. The unrepentant would suffer great anguish and torment – “even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.” (2 Ne 28:23; D&C 19:4-20; Rev 14:10.) But the very existence of divine punishment is compelling evidence of the premortal existence of mankind. For what just God would subject his children to punishment for disobeying the plan without having first obtained their consent to be governed by the plan? The absence of consent and agreement would make God tyrannical and unjust. But God is just and merciful, and all-wise, and he has lovingly nurtured his children for ages in their premortal family. And so he has provided a plan, a Redeemer, and “a space for repentance” in mortality. We all understood and accepted the plan before coming here. (JST John 1:1-4; Alma 42:5.)
Chosen people would inherit sacred birthrights
As the Lord had promised, from Abraham’s time on, these choice spirits would come into mortality through the lineage of Abraham and thereby become natural heirs to the birthrights which were promised to Abraham and his seed. ( Abr. 2:11; Ch 14 Abraham’s Birthrights.) Abraham’s chosen seed, or the children of Israel, would receive the blessings promised in the covenants the Lord made with Abraham, provided they would obey the commandments as did Abraham, as did fathers Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, and as did fathers Adam, Enoch and Noah and the other faithful fathers before and after them, and as they themselves did as spirit children in the preexistence. Among other covenants, the Lord promised Abraham and his posterity through Isaac, that they would be blessed “above measure,” that is, to have eternal life, and that through Abraham and his seed all the nations of the earth would also be blessed with the opportunity to accept the gospel, and to have eternal life. (Gen 22:18; Abr. 2:9,11; Ch 15 Covenant of Abraham.)
Israel broke their covenant and were scattered
However, Biblical history records that many of ancient Israel, the children of Abraham, did not love God and the truth, as Abraham had done, nor as they had done in the pre-mortal world as the Father’s elect spirit children. As a result, they lost (at least for this world), the everlasting covenant given to Adam and Eve, along with the opportunity to have that most precious of all
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gifts, eternal marriage. Instead they were organized under the law of Moses and the Aaronic Priesthood. But they had difficulty living this lesser law also, and in general those generations of Israel failed in their sacred responsibility as the Lord’s chosen people in this world. As a consequence, and as had been prophesied, instead of being blessed, ancient Israel were cursed as to the land inheritance the Lord had given them, 21 and as a result they were scattered throughout the world, and they were cursed in other ways, 22 thereby rendering themselves unable to be a blessing to the nations of the earth in ancient times, which was their foreordained mission under the covenant of Abraham. (Ch 15 Covenant of Abraham; Ch 36 Scattering of Israel and Judah.) Israel could be the Lord’s chosen people and his chosen servants only as long as they were willing to keep the commandments. “For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.” (John 8:39; 2 Ne 30:1-2; 1 Ne 11:35; Hel 15:3-4,17.)
Israel would be gathered again in the latter days
In accordance with the word of the Lord, ancient Israel were scattered. But the Lord Jehovah also promised that in the latter days Israel would be gathered again. The prophets make it clear that the Lord foresaw the time when Israel would repent and be obedient and thereby eventually qualify as his chosen people and chosen servants, so that the purposes of the Lord for this world would not be frustrated. (Lev 26:40-46; Deut 4:29-31; Mal 4:1,5-6; D&C 2.) Therefore the Lord said he would be merciful to Israel, even though he knew they would violate the covenant and would be scattered among the nations. “For I will be merciful unto my people, but the wicked shall perish.” (2 Ne 23:22; Isa 13:22.) Justice must be done, but Israel would not utterly be destroyed in their scattered condition; they would eventually be gathered again so that they could perform their Abrahamic responsibilities and eventually achieve their divine destiny (Lev 26:44; Mal 3:6), for the Lord is “mighty to save.” (2 Ne 31:19.) “For Israel shall be saved ..., and no power shall stay my hand.” (D&C 38:33.) The Lord would not break his part of the covenant, even though Israel would break theirs. (Ch 37 Gathering.) Because of his patience, gentleness, long-suffering and kindness, and because of his marvelous love for Israel, he knew that in the latter days Israel would repent and become “a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation unto the Lord.” (Ex 19:6.)
Throughout the scriptures, the Lord refers to those of Israel (and all others) who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ as “saints.” They are disciples
21 See Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Supplement, 23 (1988); Gen.13:14-17,14na; 15:5-7; Deut. 4:25-27; 28:25.
22 1 Kings 9:7; 2 Ne. 10:6,22 – the Jews; 2 Ne. 1:11 – the Lamanites; 2 Ne. 15:1-7.
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of Christ. “The saints of the Holy One of Israel,” are those “ who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.” (2 Ne 9:18.) Paul speaks of behavior that “becometh saints.” (Rom 16:2.) It is Christ-like behavior. Those who accept the gospel, whether of Israel or of the Gentiles, “are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Eph 3:19-20.) Those who accept the gospel in this dispensation, whether of Israel or of the Gentiles, become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They become “the covenant people of the Lord,” the seed of Abraham and of the house of Israel. (1 Ne 14:14; D&C 84:34; Abr 2:10.) Members of the Church are not perfect, but the Lord has referred to them as those who “are essaying [striving] to be my saints.” (D&C 125:2.)
So the Lord ordained that in the latter days the heavens would again be unsealed, and light and truth would again be poured out upon the heads of his chosen people, and they would be gathered again, in order that they may fulfil their divine and foreordained mission to gather the rest of Israel, and all who will. (Isa 49:1-6; D&C 86:8-11.) Moreover, the light of truth would also be poured out upon “all who will,” meaning the Gentiles, the children of Japheth and of Ham. (Abr 2:10; Moses 5:9; 6:68; D&C 39:4; 86:8-11.) No longer would the Lord hide his face from “the house of Jacob” (2 Ne 18:17; Isa 8:17), and he would “make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.” (Jer 31:31.) “For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land, and the stranger [Gentiles] shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Israel.” (2 Ne 24:1; Isa 14:1.) This latter-day assurance is in accord with the Lord’s covenant with Abraham, for the Lord said, “I have covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.” (2 Ne 29:14.)
But in the latter days when the arm of mercy was about to be stretched out to gather Israel back into the fold, Israel and the rest of humanity would be in gross spiritual darkness. Of that day the prophet Nephi said, “all the nations of the Gentiles and also the Jews ... will be drunken with iniquity and all manner of abominations.” (2 Ne 27:1.) And the Savior said that it would be a day of “wars and rumors of wars ... And the love of men shall wax cold.” (D&C 45:26-27.) This is our day.
As mentioned above, ancient Israel failed to qualify for the fulness of the gospel and the higher priesthood when the Lord offered it to them through Moses, and so they were given the law of Moses instead. (JST Ex. 34:1-2.) During Christ’s ministry the gospel was accepted by a few of the tribe of Judah, and many Gentiles, but it was soon lost through apostasy. However,
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the prophets foretold that in the latter days the everlasting covenant or the gospel of Jesus Christ would again be restored so Israel could be gathered and carry out their mortal mission as saviors on mount Zion. (Jer 31:31-33; Obad. 1:21; D&C 86:11;133:26-32; Isa. 5:26; Acts 3:21 – “times of restitution of all things;” 2 Ne 15:26; D&C 113:6.) Only through a restoration could the covenants of the Lord – “the promises made to the fathers” – be offered again to Israel. (D&C 2:2.) Accordingly God raised up Joseph Smith the Prophet, conferred the keys of the fulness of the Priesthood upon him, revealed the fulness of the gospel through him, and through him restored The Church of Jesus Christ, with all the rights, truths, and organization that existed in purity in the meridian of time as established by Christ. This is “the dispensation of the fulness of times,” foreseen by Paul. (Eph 1:9-11.) And God gave the Prophet Joseph authority and power:
1 ... power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking of the church collectively and not individually.” (D&C 1:30(17-39); 136:38.)
The restoration of the Church would be a marvelous work and a wonder. (Isa 29:14.) Many truths would be restored, in particular the true nature of God. Speaking of the great truths revealed through Joseph the Prophet, President Hinckley said,
The first of these, of course, is the manifestation of God Himself and His Beloved Son, the risen Lord Jesus Christ. This grand theophany is, in my judgment, the greatest such event since the birth, life, death, and Resurrection of our Lord in the meridian of time. We have no record of any other event to equal it.
For centuries men gathered and argued concerning the nature of Deity. Constantine assembled scholars of various factions at Nicaea in the year 325. After two months of bitter debate, they compromised on a definition which for generations has been the doctrinal statement among Christians concerning the Godhead.
I invite you to read that definition and compare it with the statement of the boy Joseph. He simply says that God stood before him and spoke to him. Joseph could see Him and could hear Him. He was in form like a man, a being of substance. Beside Him was the resurrected Lord, a separate being, whom He introduced as His Beloved Son and with whom Joseph also spoke.
I submit that in the short time of that remarkable vision Joseph learned more concerning Deity than all the scholars and clerics of the past.
In this divine revelation there was reaffirmed beyond doubt the reality of the literal Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This knowledge of Deity, hidden from the world for centuries, was the first and great thing which God revealed to His chosen servant.
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And upon the reality and truth of this vision rests the validity of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.23
A part of “the marvelous work” the Lord would do “to recover [His] people, which are of the house of Israel,” would be to bring forth the Book of Mormon “for a standard unto [His] people, which are of the house of Israel.” (2 Ne 29:1-2,14; Isa 29.) The Book of Mormon would restore the “plain and precious” parts of the gospel that were removed anciently from the records from which the Bible was compiled, and would clarify the covenants that were offered to ancient Israel and to the Jews in Christ’s day. (1 Ne 13:28.) The deaf would “hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind” would “see out of obscurity.” (Isa. 29:18.) Then through the restoration of the gospel the “hearts of the fathers” would be turned to the children and the “hearts of the children” would be turned to their/the fathers (Mal 4:5-6; D&C 2), and Israel would begin to be gathered home from their long dispersion. (Deut 30:1-4; 2 Ne 10:7-9; 15:26-30; 29:14.) They would be gathered to the stakes of Zion and to the lands of their inheritance. (2 Ne 10:8-14,19; 2 Ne 21:11-12; Isa 11:11-12; 2 Ne 24:1-2, Isa 14:1-2.) The promises made to the fathers would be planted “in the hearts of the children” in the temples, thereby establishing the precious patriarchal order of the priesthood for the children through celestial marriage. The children would then turn their hearts to their/the fathers and they would labor in the temples for the redemption of their kindred dead until an unbroken chain of patriarchal orders are welded together back to father Adam and mother Eve, who will stand at the head of one grand patriarchal order of all their children who are willing to accept it – the House of Israel (a house that prevails with God) forever – under Adam, under Christ, under God. (D&C 2; Mal. 4:5-6; D&C 110:13-15; 138:46-48.)
First the tribe of Ephraim and his fellows gathered
The gathering would go on for a long time. It would begin with the seed of Joseph (Ephraim), and spread to the Lamanites, which are a branch of the loins of Joseph (of both Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob 2:25), then to the rest of the house of Israel, including the lost tribes and Judah (3 Ne 16:4-7; 21:26-29), and at all times an invitation would be held out to the Gentiles, some of whom would also accept the gospel during “the times of the Gentiles” or “fulness of the Gentiles,” which time we are now in. However, a substantial portion of scattered Israel, as well as the lost ten tribes, and Judah, would not be gathered until after the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (D&C 133:26-35; 45:51-52; Ch 37 Gathering.)
The Lamanites, “a remnant of the house of Israel,” would be gathered by the Lord’s chosen servants who would take the Book of Mormon to them,
23 President Gordon B. Hinckley, The Great Things Which God Has Revealed Through Joseph The Prophet, May Ensign 80-81 (2005).
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and they would be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Title page, Book of Mormon; 2 Ne 30:3-6; Enos 2:11-15.) This is also happening in our day.
Conversion of the Jews would be slow
According to the prophets the hearts of the Jews would be softened gradually. A few of the Jews would begin to believe in Christ during the times of the Gentiles. As they begin to do so a spirit of returning to Jerusalem would fall upon a remnant of them and they, along with many who would not yet believe, would begin to return to the land of Jerusalem, which we are seeing in our day. (2 Ne 10:7-9.) But this is not the gathering of the Jews to Christ by acceptance of the gospel spoken of by the prophets, which is yet to be fulfilled in the future. At some point after the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, a significant portion of scattered Judah, perhaps a majority of Jews the world over, will come to believe in Christ, accept the gospel, and many will return to Jerusalem. (2 Ne 25:15-18; 30:7-8; 3 Ne 20:29-46; 21:27-29.) Then after the Savior descends upon the Mount of Olives, the unbelieving “remnant” who have returned to Jerusalem will also come to believe in Christ and accept the gospel. (D&C 45:43-53; 133:35; Ch 41 Prophesied Events (23),(24).)
The Prophet Mormon wrote that it (the Book of Mormon) is “Written ... to Jew and Gentile... to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God....” (Title Page, Book of Mormon) From this we infer that after the times of the Gentiles, the Book of Mormon will be a significant instrument in the conversion of the Jews in the last days. (2 Ne 25: 16-18; 3 Ne 16:4-5.) It’s greatest influence and gathering power will come upon those Jews who are still scattered among the nations. (2 Ne 25:15-18; D&C 45:24-25; Ch 41 Prophesied Events (23),(24).) This will be before the appearance of the Savior on the Mount of Olives.
Then will come the conversion of the unbelieving “remnant” who will have returned to Jerusalem and be waiting for their Messiah to come. (D&C 45:43-44.) They also will be brought to a belief in Christ and to accept the gospel, but this will be mainly through the Savior’s miraculous appearance on the Mount of Olives and rescue of his people in Jerusalem during the battle of Armageddon. (D&C 45:48-53; 133:35.) It will be this, perhaps more than the Book of Mormon, that will testify and witness to the unbelieving Jews of Jerusalem that Jesus is the Christ, their Messiah and Redeemer.
After the Jews are persuaded to believe in Christ, then “the Lord will ... restore his people from their lost and fallen state.” (2 Ne 25:15-17.) Scattered Judah will eventually be gathered “from the four quarters of the earth” and their covenant relationship with the Lord will be reestablished. (3 Ne 16:4-5; 3 Ne 20:29-46; Ch 40 Call to Judah.)
Thus we see that the work of gathering Israel would be carried on among the various branches and tribes of Israel at various stages of the “times of the Gentiles,” and thereafter. The gathering of some would be concurrently with
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the gathering of others, with varying speed, depending upon the particular branch, tribe, and era. The main body of the lost ten tribes would be prepared to accept the gospel over a long period of time, but their gathering would not be completed until after the times of the Gentiles. (D&C 133:26-34; Ch 37 Gathering; Ch 41 Prophesied Events (16) and (19).) The preparation of Judah would also be over a long period of time. The scattered remnant of Judah would be gathered into the fold after the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled, that is, shortly before the coming of the Savior. The remnant that returns to Jerusalem would be gathered to Christ after his appearance on the Mount of Olives. (Ch 37 Gathering; Ch 41 Prophesied Events (24).) But some of the tribe of Judah while in their scattered condition would “begin to believe in Christ” earlier than the culmination of these two major gathering movements among the Jews, “and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ shall also become a delightsome people.” (2 Ne 30:7; 1 Ne 13:39.)
Angels bring the keys to the Prophet Joseph Smith
The beginning of the fulfilment of these prophetic declarations began with the appearance of the Father and the Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820, followed by the visit of a number of heavenly messengers from Book of Mormon, New Testament, and Old Testament times – the Angel Moroni in September, 1823, John the Baptist in April, 1829, Peter, James and John, in June, 1829, and Moses, Elias, and Elijah, in April, 1836, and others. (JS-H 1:27-54; D&C 13; 27:12; 110; 128:21.) Once the vital priesthood keys and authority were thus conferred upon the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, the divinely appointed servants of the Lord, the kingdom of God was then set up as foreseen by the prophet Daniel, “and it shall stand for ever.” (Dan. 2:44.) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally organized on April 6th, 1830. (D&C 21.) The Church is the instrument or the “ensign” foreseen by Isaiah, through which latter-day Israel are fulfilling their latter-day mission as the Lord’s chosen servants, the foundation having been laid by “a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people.” (Isa. 11:10-12.) The “root of Jesse” is the Prophet Joseph Smith. (D&C 113:5-6.) For his monumental faith, intelligence, service and sacrifice, forever we stand in great honor and tribute to this prince of peace, the “root of Jesse,” the Prophet Joseph Smith, and we cannot say enough for him. We sing of him, “Praise to the Man.” (D&C 135; 136:37-40; LDS Hymns 27.) We testify of him. These events mark the beginning of “the times of the Gentiles” or “the fulness of the Gentiles.” (Rom 11:25; 1 Ne 15:13; JS - H 1:41; Ch 17 Joseph and Ephraim’s Birthrights.)
Israel will indeed ultimately fulfil her foreordained responsibilities, as the past almost two hundred years have demonstrated. In these latter days, Israel, mainly the seed of Joseph (1 Chron 5:1; 1 Ne 22:8: “Gentiles” – metonym for
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“Ephraim”) will do a marvelous work. This will be done mainly by the tribe of Ephraim and his fellows. (Gen 48:14,18-19; D&C 133:25-34.) They are called to gather and to lead Israel (1 Ne 22:8-12; 22:6; Isa 49:6) and all people who will come, to the Savior (1 Ne 21:6; D&C 86:11), to the Redeemer, the Lord of lords, the King of kings, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (2 Ne 19:6; Isa 9:6), the Holy One of Israel, the God of Israel and of the whole earth – our God. (2 Ne 9:18-20; 3 Ne 11:14; 22:5: Isa 54:5.) He is the Great Mediator of fallen man, and only through Him can we be reconciled with the Father. (D&C 132:12.)
The New Jerusalem
At some point in the latter stages of the times of the Gentiles and before the coming of Christ, which period we are now in, the city and temple of the New Jerusalem, or city of Zion as it is also called, will begin to be built. It will be built in America, the land of Joseph, the center stake being in Jackson County, Missouri. (Articles of Faith: 10; D&C 57:3-4.) It will be characterized by the great peace that shall be there, “And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you,” the Savior told the Nephites after his resurrection. (3 Ne 20:22; 2 Ne 22:6; Isa 12:6; D&C 45:66-67.) It will be built and inhabited mainly by the seed of Joseph, which consists of both the remnant of Joseph (the Lamanites), and the other branch of Joseph who will bring the gospel to the Lamanites. (Ch 38 The New Jerusalem.) The building will be done under the direction of the prophet, under the direction of the Savior, when the time is right. (3 Ne 21:23-24; Ether 13:3-6,10.) In this dispensation the Lord has said:
3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri..
4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. (D&C 84:3-4(3-5).)
Before the New Jerusalem (the city of Zion) is built, the Lord will “set [his] hand again the second time to recover [his] people, which are of the house of Israel,” meaning the work and the spirit of gathering of which we have been speaking, will begin among all the house of Israel and be manifested at one level or another, among all the tribes. (2 Ne 29:1) The words of the Book of Mormon will “hiss forth unto the ends of the earth (2 Ne 29:2),” and be a powerful instrument in reaching the children of Joseph – both the branch that ran “over the wall” anciently (children of Lehi), as well as those branches of Joseph that have “run over the wall” in these latter days (immigrating to early America) – usually referred to as the “Gentiles” in the Book of Mormon. (Gen 49:22; 2 Ne 30:3-6.) But the gathering of the rest of the tribes will come later, after the times of the Gentiles. (3 Ne 21:26-29.)
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Nevertheless, during the gathering of the seed of Joseph, which has been taking place over the past almost two hundred years, some of the Jews will begin to believe in Christ “and they shall begin to gather in [to the stakes of Zion] upon the face of the land.” (2 Ne 30:7; Jer 30:1-3.) As we have observed, many of the Jews have been touched by the “spirit of return” and some have been returning for more than a hundred years. They are rebuilding the city of Jerusalem as foretold. (Jer 30:18,24.) Some of the Jews have come to believe in Christ as the Messiah, both in Jerusalem and in other parts of the world. But as seen, the vast majority of the Jews will not accept Christ as the Messiah until “the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” As the gospel is being taken to scattered Judah, the ten tribes will be gathered to the New Jerusalem. (D&C 45:46; 133:26-35.) Some time thereafter the Savior will set his foot upon the Mount of Olives and the unbelieving “remnant” will recognize their long-awaited Messiah. (D&C 45:25,30,43-44,48-53; Zech 12:1-10.)
The coming of the Lord in glory
Then comes a partial cleansing of the earth “by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning.” The cleansing will precede the Millennial era. (Isa 4:4; 2 Ne 14:4; 2 Ne 30:9-18.) Most of the wicked will be destroyed, or will have destroyed themselves, and there will be few people left. (2 Ne 20:19; Isa 10:19.) The wicked will be burned and the filth in Israel will be purged, but the righteous will be left. (2 Ne 14:4; D&C 45:49-50, 55-57.) The honorable people of the earth and those without the law, the heathen nations, will also remain, “and it shall be tolerable for them.” (D&C 45:54.)
The Savior’s coming will be preceded by “a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy; and he will spare his people, yea, even if it so be that he must destroy the wicked by fire.” (2 Ne 30:10; Ch 41 Prophesied Events (27).)
The Millennial era
The Lord created the earth to be inhabited, and he created his children so they could possess it. (1 Ne 17:36.) He also designated specific portions of the earth as promised lands for the posterity of Abraham, which posterity would be very great. The land is promised to them as an everlasting inheritance on the condition of righteousness. 24 In due time the Savior will establish two world capitals as the centers around which Israel will be gathered near the beginning of the Millennium when the Savior will come to reign. (Ch 43 Millennial Israel.) Those who are left of Israel will gradually spread out from the two major centers until the earth is universally inhabited, and the kingdom of the Lord will fill the whole earth, as foreseen by Daniel. (Dan 2:34-44.) The two world capitals will be the New Jerusalem, or Zion in America (2 Ne 10:7-14,19-21) – the land of inheritance for the seed of Joseph (3 Ne 15:12-13) and Enoch’s people, and the other capital will be Jerusalem in the Holy Land, a land of inheritance for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (2 Ne 12:3; Isa 2:3.)
24 Gen 13:14-17; 2 Ne 10:10-17; Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manuel 23 (1988).
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The more we examine the people of Israel and their mission, the more we see how dependent they are upon the Lord, the Shepherd of Israel (Ps. 80:1; John 15:5(1-5); D&C 50:44), and his mission. The mission of the Lord Jesus Christ overarches and illuminates all else. This is because under the Father’s divine plan, the Savior – the Creator of heaven and earth under the direction of the Father – offered himself as an infinite sacrifice to satisfy the demands of justice for the transgression of Adam and for the transgressions of all those who will come to him “with a broken heart and a contrite spirit” and take his name upon them in their days of probation. (2 Ne 2:6-8; 10:4.) The reward to those who come to the Savior is eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God. (John 17:3; D&C 14:7.) The way to the Savior and eternal life, is obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel (3 Ne 27:13-21) as administered by the Church, which right and responsibility belongs to the seed of Abraham, the Lord’s chosen people of this day. (Abr 2:11; D&C 86:8-11.) All who come will be nourished by the Good Shepherd, and they will be taught how to nourish others. 25
As we noted earlier, the Priesthood has been restored, and latter-day Israel are now striving to follow the path of the Savior as they labor diligently to carry out the mission of the seed of Abraham. Their mission is to lead people to the Father through Christ by declaring the gospel to Israel and all others, by laboring for the perfection of the Saints, including their own families – with fathers as patriarchs exercising the spirit of their calling, and by laboring for the redemption of the dead by assembling family histories and rendering temple service. 26 The marvelous power of the spirit of Elijah – the power of the patriarchal priesthood – was restored by Elijah to aid modern Israel in this, their latter-day mission.
All those who accept the invitation to come to the Savior with a broken heart and a contrite spirit (2 Ne 2:7; 3 Ne 9:20-22), and strive to fulfil their mission as the seed of Abraham, and who endure to the end (2 Ne 31:16), will qualify to be of the family of Christ and become the Savior’s own inheritance (Deut 32:9) – his sheep (1 Ne 22:25(22-25)), his jewels (Mal 3:17), his people. (2 Ne 8:16; Ch 44 Lord’s Inheritance.) They will have part in the first resurrection and be with the Savior through the Millennium.
The Savior will “reign over the house of Jacob forever” (Luke 1:33; 1 Ne 22:24), and he “shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” and “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.” (sa 9:6-7; 2 Ne 19:6-7.)
25 President Henry B. Eyring, Feeding His Lambs, Feb Ensign 4 (2008).
26 President Spencer W. Kimball, A Report of My Stewardship, General Conference, May Ensign 5 (1981).
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Israel are foreordained to be joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17), and if they continue faithful they will reign with the Savior on earth for 1000 years during the Millennium (D&C 29:11; 43:29-30; Ch 43 Millennial Israel), and in due time “all that the Father hath” shall be given to them (D&C 84:38), and their “dominion shall be an everlasting dominion and without compulsory means it shall flow unto [them] forever and ever.” (D&C 121:46; 76:95; 93:16,20,27-28.) In this resurrected and glorified condition they will be crowned with glory, immortality, and eternal life. (D&C 81:6; 88:17-20; 121:46.) They will be privileged to enjoy the fellowship of the Savior not only for a thousand years, but for worlds without end. (Ch 27 Patriarchal Virtues; Ch 44 Israel Are The Lord’s Inheritance.)
As we contemplate the grandeur of God’s plan and his unsearchable love for his children, would we not be inclined to exclaim – “all honor, glory, majesty, power, might and dominion be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; and may Israel’s prayers and songs of praise ascend up to them forever and ever, worlds without end!” (Jacob 4:8; Rom 11:33.)
Four stages of the earth’s existence
President Joseph Fielding Smith described the four stages of the earths existence as follows:
This earth is passing through four grand degrees or stages: 1. The creation and the condition antedating the fall. 2. The telestial condition which has prevailed since the fall of Adam. 3. The terrestrial condition that will prevail when the Savior comes and ushers in the millennial era. 4. The celestial or final state of the earth when it has obtained its exaltation. 27
We are currently abiding in stage 2, the telestial state of the world. The millennial and the celestial stages still lie ahead.
Sons and daughters of God are inseparable
The sons of Israel are incomplete without the daughters of Israel. To the extent that husband and wife are one, his mission is your mission, and your mission is his mission, and in that sense what is said to him herein is said to you. The sons and daughters of Abraham can help each other accomplish their mission more effectively and more valiantly through a better understanding of the identity, nature, potentiality, and mission of Israel. And they can thrill as they contemplate the grandeur, grace, mercy, justice, glory, and goodness of our beloved Father in Heaven as revealed in his marvelous plan for the salvation of his children, and our children, through the labors of the sons and daughters of Israel, the Lord’s chosen people.
27 JFS, 1 DS 82; emphasis added ; D&C 29:22-23; 43:30-31; 88:101-115; Rev 20:1-9
ISRAEL THE LORD'S CHOSEN PEOPLE
The daughters of Abraham may choose to share in the responsibilities of the seed of Abraham, whether married or single, which is to lead people to the Father through Christ, by declaring the gospel, by laboring for the perfection of the Saints, and for the redemption of the dead. These are the “works of Abraham.” (John 8:39; D&C 132:32.) Sister Sheri L. Dew declared this message to the Relief Society Sisters:
Prophets, ancient and modern, have urged us to come unto Christ (see Moro. 10:30). ... Regardless of your marital status, your age, or the language you speak, you are a beloved spirit daughter of Heavenly Father who is destined to play a critical part in the onward movement of the gospel kingdom. 28
Priesthood holders have the burden of the unique responsibilities that belong with the priesthood, whether single or married. It is the brethren, husbands and fathers, who are struggling to become clean from the blood and sins of this generation (that is, striving to do the “works of Abraham” as the Lord’s chosen servants) by faithfully carrying out their priesthood mission as the sons of Abraham to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people. (Jacob 1:19; Mosiah 2:27-28; D&C 88:75, 85, 138; 112:33; Ch 18 Mission of Joseph.) While the daughters of Abraham also covenant to do the works of Abraham, and at the appropriate time, to be mothers in Israel, they are not responsible for the blood and sins of this generation as are the brethren. They may serve as missionaries if they desire, and in many other ways, but they do not have the inherent responsibilities of priesthood holders. The brethren are washed clean from the blood and sins of this generation by magnifying their calling in the priesthood. (D&C 84:33-34; Jacob 1:19; Mosiah 2:27-28; D & C 88:75,85,138.)
Abraham’s birthright was to receive the temple ordinances, including the Patriarchal Priesthood, and thereby receive all of the unspeakable blessings that accompany those sacred privileges. (Abr 1:1-2.) This is also the foreordained birthright of the sons of Abraham. (Alma 13:1-4.) Inherent in this birthright is the reciprocal heritage of the daughters of Abraham – the foreordained birthright to enter the new and everlasting covenant of marriage with a worthy priesthood holder, who thereby become patriarchs and matriarchs of the family. This grand birthright blessing of the elect is sure to be received by every faithful son and daughter of Abraham, either in this world or the next. The combined responsibility of these couples is to lead themselves and their family, through the atonement of Christ, back to their Heavenly Father in their heavenly home, where they may be crowned kings and queens, priests and priestesses, which is eternal life. (Rev.1:6; 5:10; D & C 76:56; TPJS 369-376.) Only together may they have eternal life. (Ch 19 Eternal Marriage.)
28 Sister Sheri L. Dew, “Are You The Woman I Think You Are?”, General Relief Society Meeting, Nov Ensign 91,93 (1997).