Episode 101:

The Hidden Invitation in Think Celestial

Hi, everyone. Welcome to a new season of the Latter Day Disciples podcast, I’m so excited to be joining you today. For those of you who might be new, my name is Megan. I’m the host of this podcast. We are entering our 3rd season. It’s amazing how quickly 2 years can go by when you are engaged in the Lord’s work. Oh, my goodness that just reminds me of missions. 

Anyway, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be addressing you here at the beginning of a new year. it’s the beginning of 2024. Right here at the start, and I think that it’s an exciting time for many of us to be contemplating and meditating and reviewing all of the things that we learned in the previous year. And then hopefully we are beginning to set some intentions for our coming year, things that we want to learn, things that we want to grow into. For our topic today– I’ve actually had this in mind for a few months now, and I’m really excited that the time has come to share this episode–I wanted to take this opportunity again here at the beginning of a new year to share some of the perspectives and thoughts that I have had from considering President Nelson’s October, 2023 conference address entitled ‘Think Celestial.’

I’m going to use some of the things that he talks about to maybe present these things at a deeper level, and perhaps inspire some new insights for you, hopefully, about what it actually means to think celestial and what the process looks like for us to be able to do that. Disclaimer. I always try to discuss doctrine from a scriptural perspective and I also want to be sure to invite all of you to use your own powers of study and meditation and discernment and determine what resonates with you and what doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, that’s okay. It’s okay to put these things on the shelf…I’m not an authority, I’m no one, right? Let the spirit be your tutor and hopefully as we go through this podcast, I can invite that power enough so that you can get some of the thoughts and things that will be most applicable for you as you enter this new year of existence in 2024.


Before we get into some of the things that President Nelson talks about, I want to take a step back and actually define what a kingdom is. And maybe that’s such a silly thing to do because it seems so basic for our understanding of doctrine. I think more often than not, we think of kingdoms–and when I say kingdoms, the celestial terrestrial and celestial kingdom kingdoms–as ‘this is just heaven’ and that there are these degrees of heaven, three kind of separate bodies in heaven. And while I think that there is an element of ‘these are a place that you go to. Sometimes I think we overemphasize that these are places and we fail to recognize that degrees of glory, as we call these kingdoms, are degrees of light.  And light is something that we embody. It is truth. It is spirit. We learn that in  Doctrine and Covenants. I love this scripture. Listen to the equation that’s in this, “For the word of the Lord is truth and whatsoever is truth is light. And whatsoever is light is spirit, even the spirit of Jesus Christ and the spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world.” Think of that. That is the light of Christ. That is a telestial level of light, right? Because we are in a telestial state right now. “And the spirit enlighteneth every man through the world that hearkeneth to the voice of the spirit.” Okay. so we have an invitation to obtain more degrees of light, more degrees of truth, more degrees of spirit, and the word of God. “And everyone that hearkened to the voice of the spirit cometh unto God, even the Father. So this is the highest degree of glory. This is the highest degree of light. This is celestiality. It is the degree of light that God has obtained. So when we talk about kingdoms, when we’re talking about degrees of glory, I want you to think of it as a spiritual state of being and not a place. And there’s a lot of evidence for this. We’re going to go over a lot of different things that kind of flesh that out but I will just put a note for you to study on your own, go to Doctrine and Covenants 76– and we’re going to go through a lot of it today–but I want you to read really carefully and see where it mentions death. And what I think you’ll find is that you can’t find it. You’re going to see resurrection, which is interesting because we should hopefully be experiencing spiritual resurrections, right? Spiritual rebirth before an actual physical resurrection later on. But these kingdoms of glory, these degrees of light–I’m going to make the case that these are things that we move into now. These are things that we are supposed to be obtaining more of; the word of God, more truth, more light, more spirit now. And in that way, our spiritual state of being can grow over time.

A Telestial Law

James Talmadge has a quote that I really like. He says, “The three kingdoms of widely differing glories are organized in an orderly plan of gradation. We have seen that the telestial kingdom comprises several subdivisions. This is also the case we are told with the celestial, and by analogy, we conclude that a similar condition prevails in the terrestrial. Thus the innumerable degrees of merit amongst mankind are provided for in an infinity of graded glories. The celestial kingdom is supremely honored by the personal ministrations of the father and the son.” So when we think of it this way, we come to understand that the kingdom we inherit is defined by the light that we are willing to accept into our beings, the truth that we accumulate and embody here and the increasing degrees of spirit that we become endowed with as we abide by the word of the Lord to us. Those are the things that define the kingdom to which we will eventually belong and to which we belong now; this is a frequency that we resonate with more than a place we are assigned to.  I love this understanding of the individuality of each child of God that it’s not three kind of basic places that we get assigned to, that’s kind of an evangelical belief, where we just divided heaven into three different places.  But really, it’s about a spiritual state of being. It’s about how much light you, as an individual, choose to accumulate in this life. 


I know Joseph Smith had a beautiful quote that he said about how he knew that Paul had experienced three degrees of glory and had ascended to the third heaven, but he knew of another man who had ascended to the seventh heaven. And if you read ascension texts, you will very often hear more than three heavens, you’ll hear seven or eight or eleven heavens. So, I think that’s beautiful. I think that captures how we are each so unique and that the Lord, that God, respects our individuality, even in our agency and how much we are willing to accept and grow in this life. It is not arbitrary. Our eternity is not arbitrary, in the least. 


Okay, so now that we have that idea that a kingdom is not so much a place that we would go to when you die, iIt is a state of being that we embody now. One of the things that I want to highlight is that the light of each kingdom, so the degree of glory that we are trying to resonate with also has a corresponding law. And the law of the kingdom is the frequency that we have to learn to resonate with. And that is a whole process that we will go into later. But I will show you how spiritual ordinances that we receive from Jesus Christ can teach us what law we are currently under, because those ordinances are the things that make us capable of resonating with that law. 


Let’s break that down a little bit. Okay. So let’s talk about here, in this realm–and I would say at the level of development that most everyone is, in and out of the church–most all of us are at a telestial level of glory right now and the law of a telestial glory is the law of justice. It is the law that says ‘an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’. It is the law that says, ‘If you commit a sin, there will be a punishment for that sin that you will be subject to.’ Now the spiritual ordinance that enables us to live that law is the light of Christ, this beautiful endowment of light that we all come with into mortality that defines our ability to discern between good and evil. If we couldn’t discern between good and evil, then the law of justice would have no impact. And we could not even resonate at a telestial level of glory. 

A Terrestrial Law

Now let’s talk about a terrestrial glory. The law of the terrestrial realm, I believe, is the law of mercy. It is the light of Christ plus a greater degree, a greater endowment of light and truth and spirit called the Holy Ghost, which we receive as an endowment of spirit through the merits and mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. No one can enter into a terrestrial glory unless they have received, in actuality, that gift of the Holy Ghost. We’ll talk about that a little bit later on, the spiritual ordinances and how those differ from the physical ordinances. They’re not the same thing and very rarely do they happen at the same time. So this is something that we need to be looking forward to, right? In order to live the law of mercy that Jesus Christ alone has made available to us, that is something that we have to receive.

The Celestial Law

And then finally, a celestial glory. I believe the law of the celestial realm can be defined by the law of love. And what I mean by that is not the love that we tend to focus on and experience in this telestial sphere. I mean a love like Jesus Christ; embodying love itself for all mankind in infinite degrees of power and expansiveness. God defines this glory themselves in the book of Moses when they say, “This is my work in my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of men.”  So that celestial glory God is defining right there. It is the resonance of exaltation in the pattern of God, meaning we receive exaltation and then we turn around and make sure it is made available to others. It is that degree of perfect love.


Thinking Celestial

Now starting to think about this in the context of President Nelson’s talk and Think Celestial, I think that it becomes really clear when we start to think this way… that almost none of us are thinking celestial and almost none of us are capable of thinking celestial yet because we have not yet received the gifts of grace from Jesus Christ that make it possible.  And in order to do that, we have to go degree by degree, it is light upon light. We can’t skip this terrestrial degree of light. And again, we’ll talk about the physical ordinances because those do come into play, those are important, but just because we’ve made covenants in the temple does not mean that we have entered into or been sealed into that covenant just yet. President Nelson alludes to this in his talk. 


So this is something that I think the Lord teaches Joseph and I believe Sydney Rigdon in Doctrine and Covenants 76 when they receive this beautiful vision of eternal progression and all these degrees of light and glory and how magnificent it is to be children of God. And when trying to turn around and make this a sacrament and teach others, one of the things that is said in that chapter is, “That great and marvelous are the works of the Lord and the mysteries of his kingdom, which he showed unto us which surpass all understanding in glory and in might and in dominion, which he commanded us that we should not write while we were yet in the spirit and are not lawful for man to utter, neither is man capable to make them known for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him and purify themselves before him to whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves that through the power and manifestation of the spirit, while in the flesh, they may be able to bear his presence in the world of glory.”


Again, Joseph and Sidney had to receive a greater endowment of the Holy Spirit. I would say that this was even greater than just receiving the Holy Ghost, as an additional endowment on top of the light of Christ. I think this is a whole additional endowment beyond that, because the Lord talks about how they needed to purify themselves. And there is a process for that as well. All of that to say is that there is a process behind our becoming able to think celestial and it is beautiful and I’m excited to share it with you. 

Okay, so let’s go back and start at the very beginning. Let’s start where most of us are. Most of us are at a telestial level of light and we are under the telestial law so let’s learn what that means and what that looks like in Doctrine and Covenants 76 versus 10 to 105. It describes the telestial glory. These are they who ”…received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant. Last of all, these are they who will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn and received into the cloud. These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie. These are they who suffer the wrath of God on earth. These are they who suffer the vengeance of eternal fire.” 


Okay, I can hear you and I’m sorry. I know that you’re listening to this and you’re like, what the heck, Meghan, why are you saying that about me? That’s horrible. And also it’s not true. I’m a member of the Church. I have a testimony of Jesus Christ. I believe the prophets and I have made covenants.


Okay, so let’s break this down a little bit and try to understand in the context of these degrees of light that we’re talking about.

Receiving a Testimony of Jesus Christ

First off, I think it’s helpful to understand what receive means.  “They received not…” So it can be to take or obtain something intellectually, as in, to get an opinion or a notion for others. It also means to embrace. To allow, to hold and retain. To admit, to welcome, to take in or on, to hold, to contain, or to be endowed with. So again, remembering, this is the vitality of the atonement of Jesus Christ, this is why we cannot exalt ourselves no matter how perfectly we are able to execute our to do list. There are just some things we cannot do, they have to be received and they are received as gifts from Jesus Christ. 


Let’s break this down a little bit. “They received not the gospel.” What does that mean? Earlier in the same chapter it says, “This is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us, that he came into the world, even Jesus to be crucified for the world and to bear the sins of the world and to sanctify the world and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness, that through him all might be saved whom the Lord had put into his power and made by him who glorifies the father and saves all the works of his hands, except those who deny the son after the father has revealed him.”  Okay. So this is the gospel. Now, again, it’s one thing to intellectually believe this, we believe that Jesus Christ came and that he was crucified and that he died to save, to heal, to cleanse. It is another thing to receive by endowment, the gifts of grace that he is extending to us. That means relinquishing the law of justice that says “I have to do X, Y, and Z before Christ will do A, B, C.” It’s a whole different pattern of thinking, and we’re going to come back to it as we talk about the terrestrial kingdom. 


Receiving the testimony of Jesus Christ. You can tell that this doesn’t mean what we think it means, because in the terrestrial kingdom, it says that ‘they didn’t receive the testimony of Jesus Christ in this life, but they did in the next life.’ So why would not everyone do that?


Especially if we assume that you die and you immediately see Jesus Christ. It’s obvious that it means something different. This is what it says, they define what a testimony of Jesus Christ is at the highest level. In this chapter–it’s a familiar verse–it says, “And now after the many testimonies, which have been given of him, this is the testimony last of all, which we give of him that he lives, for we saw him, even on the right hand of God.” That is the highest degree of a testimony of Jesus Christ. It is not only to believe in him. It is not only to exercise faith in him. It is to receive his personage to you. It is a testimony of Jesus Christ because you have know, because you have experienced.  The same goes for prophets.  In that verse that describes the telestial kingdom, it says they did not receive the prophets. The prophets are those who have had this witness and they share it for the purpose of inviting others to do the same. And we learned that in Revelation 19 verse 10, it says, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, that is what makes someone a prophet is that they have received the Lord on that level. It’s incredible.


What about covenant? Meghan, I’ve been to the temple. I go all the time. I’ve made covenants. Okay. Let’s talk about that. Establishing a covenant..we establish a covenant by participating in ordinances and these ordinances, the broader purpose of them is to initiate and enable a process of transformation. God cannot be in a covenant with natural men and women. We are their enemies. They cannot do that. And so instead they have submitted a pattern that we obey, and as we obey that pattern, they endow us with those gifts of grace made available through the atonement of Jesus Christ, enabling us to be transformed so that we can actually keep a covenant with them.

So an ordinance is required. All parts of an ordinance are required to form a covenant, there are three parts. There’s the physical ordinance. This is the baptism of water. This is what we participate in an endowment session. And most of these are highly symbolic, they have beautiful teachings associated with the physical ordinance, where, and if we apply those teachings, they’re teaching us how to keep the law of that ordinance, the law of the covenant on that level. And then after we’ve done that, as we learned in the temple, we receive a token. We receive a sign back from Jesus Christ that says that he has accepted us into a covenant. That is the spiritual part of the ordinance. And without the spiritual part of the ordinance the ordinance is not complete. We have not yet moved into that structure.


Think about how merciful this is. This is so beautiful to me, because a covenant– as in forming a relationship with the God of the universe–that is not something that anyone should do lightly, and it is not something that would be fair for people to enter into when they don’t completely understand that. And so it is so merciful that we make this sign, we say, “I want to be in a relationship with you. I’m willing to get baptized to do that.” And then we obey, we show by our actions, not just the sign that we make on one day, but by our consistently living by the terms that the Lord establishes for us that we do immerse ourselves in living water. We relinquish our other gods to show the Lord, “You are our God”. And then in his perfect timing, he gives us that sign, that spiritual component. That first one that we receive is called the baptism of fire and the Holy ghost that puts us in a conditional covenant with the Lord. It’s beautiful. And it is merciful.


And this is how–this first example that we gave of baptism by water and baptism by fire–that is how we can move from telestial to the terrestrial glory. We cannot do it by ourselves. No matter how many signs we make, we can be baptized a thousand times. And as Joseph Smith said, you might as well baptize a bag of sand without the Lord coming back and giving us that sign. Until that time, we are still under the law of justice. We remain in our sin. We have not yet been justified by the Lord. And if you were to die in that state, there will be a time that you have to suffer for your own sins because you did not allow Christ to suffer for them in Gethsemane. His atonement is still respective of our agency. You can learn more about that in Doctrine and Covenants 19. I know that’s something that we don’t talk about very often. We tend to talk in really broad terms about the infinite nature of the atonement and it is infinite, but it’s only as infinite as you allow it to be for you. 

'These are They that Died Without the Law'

So we’ve talked about this telestial level, hopefully we have a better understanding of what it means to not be receiving the testimony of Jesus Christ. No sweat. I haven’t, we’re all working on that. But to receive the gospel, to receive the mercy that Jesus Christ wants to give us, to receive the ordinances that he’s extending to us. As soon as we are prepared to actually live that covenant with him and we show him that by our actions. 


So now we are transitioning, we have been endowed by the Lord and transformed so that now we can withstand a terrestrial level of light and live the terrestrial law. This is captured in Doctrine and Covenants 76 verses 71 through 79, and we read, “And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold, and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the Firstborn–which is a celestial glory–who have received the fullness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun in the firmament.” Now I’ve heard some people say, “I don’t really want to be with terrestrial people.”  It’s not good enough, basically, is what they said, not realizing that almost all of us are at that level right now. We have the glory of a star, which is a degree of light. We have received that beautiful endowment of the light of Christ. We all have that. We differ in the amount of glory that looks like some people might have more light of Christ than others. There’s a lot of variety, there’s this gradation. We tend to look at the glory of the moon that’s associated with the terrestrial space. And we look down on that and we’re like, “That’s not the sun. That’s not very good.” Again, it’s a big step up from where most of us are. But the thing that I want to highlight about the moon is that this is not a bad thing. The moon’s light is a reflection of the light of the sun because they have received the light of the sun in a greater proportion than the stars have. The moon is a beautiful symbol. It is a symbol of the divine feminine. It serves as a sign, it serves as a guide. It has a magnetic pull. It has influence. It has influence on my children, you guys. The full moon, my children legitimately turn into werewolves. Okay. Track it. You’ll notice if you go and look at when your kids are losing their mind, go look at where the moon is at. I’m not kidding. But there it is a much greater degree of it is a greater endowment. Than what most of us have yet experienced. It is a good thing. We should be hoping to receive the glory of the moon. We have to before the glory of the sun is even a possibility. 


Now, what else do we learn about it? It says, “These are they who died without law.” Typically we hear that and we translate that to, ‘they just didn’t have the gospel, and so they didn’t know any better. And so they were sinful, but they were still pretty good people. And so that’s what they end up here.’ I want to relook at ‘what without law’ means with the understanding that without can also mean outside. So rather than thinking, oh, they just died. They didn’t have any law. We’re all under a law right now. We’re all under the law of justice. Rather, they were outside of the law. Meaning they had come out under the law of justice and had come under the law of mercy because they accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ, not just intellectually, but in themselves, they’ve recognized that there is no amount of doing that I can do to save myself and so I’m not going to try, I’m going to let the Lord. I’m going to let his atonement do for me what it can. Which is an infinite amount of things. Instead of saying they didn’t have the law, they were outside of the law of justice under the law of mercy. “And these are they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited and preach the gospel unto them that they might be judged according to men in the flesh who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh but afterwards received it.” So knowing that they had understood mercy, they got this endowment, they got this greater degree of light, this actual reception of the Holy Ghost. They were justified. The penalty for their sins was covered by Jesus Christ. They had that redemption. However, they were in the stage of the process where now we are being sanctified, now we are being cleansed. And they died in that state. So they did not receive the testimony of Jesus Christ again, Christ coming to them in the flesh. But once they died. And I don’t know what amount of time, probably different for everyone, but after some time after their death, they received Jesus Christ.


And this is so significant. I think this is another thing that we tend to misunderstand is we believe that death is a transformative portal and it’s not, and we have a scripture about that, but I’m going to read a little bit later, but how you die here is how you will be once you’ve entered that next phase of your development. What’s important to know is that if we don’t receive Jesus Christ here that doesn’t mean we’re going to automatically receive him after this life. I know that’s harsh, but think about this, think about–I want to say it’s D&C 138, I think, when Joseph Smith had a vision of the realms of heaven–when Christ was crucified and he came to heaven and the people rejoice because they were going to be with Him,  the first fruits of the resurrection. And He commissioned people and said, go and minister to those who are in prison. It’s because those people were not yet prepared to receive Jesus Christ. And if you listen to near death experiences, it’s really interesting how more often than not people don’t see God, they see an angelic guide or they see an ancestor, they see someone else who’s there to help them. This is not a death sentence. This is not a spiritual death sentence. I think there is way more mercy than we know in all of eternity because there’s way more love than we know. But these are those who, after a period of time after their death, they are prepared and they do receive Jesus Christ, which is so beautiful. “These are they who are the honorable men and women of the earth who were blinded by the craftiness of men.” This is really important. So once we come out from under the law of justice and are now under the law of mercy, we’ve allowed the atonement to sweep away the penalty for our sins and now we’re in the process of purging our sin, of completely removing the stain of sin. We’re in this process of sanctification. And sanctification–from what I understand–includes purging of all uncleanliness and an intense education in discernment. We see this pattern in the endowment ceremony, that when Adam and Eve are in a terrestrial space, they have Satan come to them, and he is tempting them and he wants to teach them and manipulate them and in that terrestrial state they are blinded. We are all blinded by the craftiness of men, but they die in that state. We are all already in a state of deception. It prevents us from knowing the one true God. If we weren’t in a state of deception, then we would be prepared to receive Jesus Christ in the flesh right now. And we’re not yet. So these are they who were working through that process. And it just so happens that process is more completed once they have passed through death.  So some things to think about there.

The Goal

Let’s talk about celestial glory.  This is what we’re aiming for!  In order to think celestial, this is the degree of glory that we need to receive. This is going to be Doctrine and Covenants 76:51 through 70. I’m not going to read all the verses, but you certainly can when you have time to go back and study that. “They are they who received the testimony of Jesus and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given–That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy
Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;” This is so powerful you guys. So they receive Jesus Christ. They are prophets and prophetesses. These are priests and priestesses and Kings and Queens. They receive him. And why do they receive him? Because they established a covenant by receiving the physical and spiritual ordinances. Light upon light ,until they could withstand and receive the reception of the Second Comforter, who is Jesus Christ himself, while in the flesh. These are they”…who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.” So they successfully undergo that process of sanctification, of all of the dross being pulled out of us, of the very stain of sin being removed from our souls. And very often that includes really intense trials, Abrahamic trials, such as when Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, Isaac, even though he had almost been sacrificed by his father and all of the trauma that he must have healed. I think sanctification has a lot of healing associated with it.


Okay, let’s talk about the Holy spirit of promise. This is something that is so beautiful and I don’t think we understand. So president Nelson actually quotes this scripture in his talk. He reads Doctrine and Covenants 132 verse seven and he says, “And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise… are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection of the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.” Okay. So what is this saying? It says that we have to be justified, sanctified, and be sealed as heirs by this Holy Spirit of promise.


What is the Holy Spirit of promise? We learn in Doctrine and Covenants 88 verses three through five, it says, “Wherefore–the Lord is speaking–I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.” –You can read that in the Joseph Smith translation of John 14.– “This Comforter is the promise, which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom; Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ, his Son.


So John in John 14 is talking about another Comforter the Lord will send. And who is that other Comforter? The Second Comforter is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the one who comes to us and seals us to him. This is the ordinance of the washing of the feet that the apostles received, and it is as literal as that event was for them. You will not be sealed to the Lord without you knowing it. It will be the defining moment of your existence. 


Now he says, “Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death or things present or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” We have been sealed into the eternal family of God and they have received the sealing power as described in Helaman, that came upon Nephi where the Lord said that whatever you ask, it will be done. If you say to this mountain, depart hence. It will depart hence. That is the fullness of the priesthood and the priestess hood that is made available to those who are transformed into a celestial degree of light and glory. And it says, and they shall overcome all things future tense. Why? Because they’re still in their mortality right now. This work is done in the flesh. 


In Alma 34, 32 through 35. We read that this life is the time to prepare to meet God. What does that mean? We’ve met God. We came from God. We’ve already been introduced. He goes on to say, “Behold, the day of this life is the time for men to perform their labors. And now, as I said unto you before, as you have had so many witnesses, therefore I beseech of you that you do not procrastinate the day of your repentance unto the end for after this day of life, which is given to us to prepare for eternity behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness, wherein there can be no labor performed. You cannot say when you are brought to that awful crisis that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Now, you cannot say this for that same spirit, which death possess your bodies at this time that you go out of your life, out of this life, that same spirit will have the power to possess your body in the eternal world.


Okay. There’s a lot there. So let’s redefine what meet means,  meet as in ‘to be introduced to’. Likely not what Alma is teaching here. Again, we came from God. We know God, we know them intimately enough to trust them implicitly with our eternal destinies. I think perhaps a better definition of the word meet in this context would be to come to join or to be united with, in other words, to be made at one with God, I love how Alma defines repentance with the words, “I will return to my God.” And how literally can we do that? Much more literally than we often think or teach.


Back to the celestial degree of light that we are hoping to embody and achieve. These are they who are just men (and women) made perfect through Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant who wrought out this perfect at-one-ment through the shedding of his own blood. They have been justified, hence they are just and they have been made perfect in that they were sanctified. How differently would we approach the command to be perfect if we understood that it means to be sanctified? We’ll talk about that a little bit more. “These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all whose glory, the son of the firmament is written up as being typical.” This degree of light is self perpetuating. We create the light now because we have been made one with God and that light gives life. We are begetting life because God is love and exaltation. Their glory is to be exalted, to exalt other people. That’s the level of love and light that we need to learn to resonate with if we want to learn to think celestial. President Nelson defines in his talk that thinking celestial means being spiritually minded. And we learn from the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob, that to be spiritually minded is life eternal.

This is Life Eternal

So what is life eternal? What’s the equation that we can make here? John 17:3 says, “And this is life eternal that they may know the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” I love the Hebrew root word, yada–probably said that wrong–but it’s translated as know, to know or to have knowledge, and it is a much broader sweep than our English word know. To know in a Hebrew sense is not to be intellectually informed about some abstract principle, but to apprehend and experience reality. Knowledge is not the possession of information, but rather it’s exercise or actualization. So think about this beautiful equation we just found, think celestial equals spiritually minded equals life eternal equals experience God. So beautiful. 

So this is the invitation. What is the broader invitation in think celestial? I believe that it is to undergo the transformative process that is made available to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which culminates in a knowledge of God because we experience God because we receive Jesus Christ, the literal being, while we are here in mortality. 

Now, as we talked about previously, the transitions between these degrees of glory are not leaps that we can make by ourselves. We cannot. We are not capable of thinking celestial unless we receive these gifts of grace, those spiritual ordinances. This pattern is clearly outlined in the temple endowment and the scriptures. Our prophets have testified of the reality of this opportunity to come into a fullness of God by being transformed by Jesus Christ. They have shared their personal witnesses that they have received Jesus Christ in the flesh.

If you want to read the Book of Mormon in a whole new way this year, go through the Book of Mormon and look for every prophet and prophetess who testifies that they experience the reality of receiving Jesus Christ in the flesh. That book will open up to your mind in a whole new way, and it’ll be a much more empowering and enlightening experience than reading the Book of Mormon for the umpteenth time.


Let’s talk about applying the pattern of the atonement of at-one-ment,  of meeting God by being brought into a unity, into joining with God. I love how in his talk, Think Celestial, President Nelson talks about Jesus Christ. I love how he talks about the atonement. Jesus Christ condescended into mortality. He laid aside his own exaltations. He was already a God. And he did that to show us a pattern by which we can come into a fullness as he has. And this pattern is often called by us the atonement of Jesus Christ–stay with me here–the atonement of Jesus Christ is a pattern that we need to be applying in order to come into at-one-ment on a celestial level of light.


Now, more often than not, almost always, when we talk about the atonement, we talk about it as an event and act that was performed by Jesus Christ in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. That is true. It was a cosmic event performable only by God on behalf of their kingdom. What we don’t understand, though, is that what Christ exhibited during that event is a pattern for us to apply on our levels. Indeed, it is the pattern that will eventually culminate in our own salvation and exaltation, just as it did His. I think when it comes to the atonement, we tend to think of it as an excuse to no longer follow the pattern that Jesus Christ said, because a cosmic atonement was only capable of being read out by him. And that’s true. But the pattern that he applied in that event is our pattern too. The pattern of the atonement is to submit ourselves to every word that we receive from God. And when I say that, the commandments. I mean the scriptures, most especially, I mean personal revelation. The word that he’s sending to you because they know you better than you know you and they know exactly what you need to be doing every moment of every day in order to return to them.


So we receive, we submit to every word we receive from God. We obey with perfection. Which is possible because they will not give you anything that they know you can’t do. Nephi teaches us that. And we suffer whatever they require for us to suffer for our good. That is what Christ did in the garden and on the cross. And it’s what we must do to be partakers of the same light that our heavenly parents have. And which Jesus Christ offers us. This is the truest sense that I have yet found of absolute repentance. As we begin to embody this pattern with intentionality, the Lord moves us in a covenant relationship from made–remember when we were talking about D&C 132–we go from made, ‘we made a covenant’ to we ‘enter into a covenant’ and finally, we are sealed in covenant. This is increasing in light and spirit and glory and law. This is how we move from telestial to terrestrial to celestial. 


When we receive the token of the baptism of fire and the Holy ghost, we talked about how we transitioned from being under the law of justice, where our sins are answered upon our own heads, whether in this life or the next to the law of mercy, where we are covered, kafar, that all important root word in the Hebrew by Christ’s sacrifice; Him having suffered all that we would allow him to suffer on our behalf, we become at one with Christ’s spirit and we receive that greater endowment of light to help us continue now in a terrestrial space of progression. We have made a conditional covenant with Jesus Christ and he has accepted us into that. We then move into a period of refinement of testing of sanctification of purification, the purpose of which is to align our spirits with our flesh and to become at one with our whole selves. This is purifying suffering. The suffering of the telestial level. Suffering because of sin, because of guilt, because of shame, because of consequences of our choices or someone else’s, because of pain that we don’t let Jesus Christ take from us. I equate that with the scripture and in the Book of Mormon that talks about the sorrowing of the damned. And that suffering is largely in vain as far as it does not produce the fruits of repentance, which are increasing degrees of light. But once we accept Jesus Christ’s offering by following the pattern of at-one-ment, then our suffering becomes purifying. It becomes sanctifying. We have the dross being removed from us. We’ve already accepted Jesus Christ, and now he is helping us. We are suffering to heal ourselves. And our generations. We are coming clean from the blood and sins of this generation. 

Some of the suffering on this level is also because of increased opposition from the adversary who perceives us having received the endowments we need to progress in light and glory. He will amplify attempts to confuse or distort our understanding of the one true God. And some of our suffering is of that level and more especially too, we have suffering as again, as an Abrahamic test, the suffering of Abraham being told to sacrifice his only son. And what that triggered in him, I can only imagine, again, I think he did a lot of healing before the Lord brought that up. But the suffering of choosing God, even over the people we love most, sometimes. It can often be paradoxical and excruciating. However, as we faithfully submit to whatever the Lord requires us to suffer and sacrifice, we are again allowing him to transform us. We are receiving more and more light until finally we can bear the light and the power of hearing the voice of the Lord declare to us that we will have eternal life. And this is when we have entered into an unconditional covenant with Christ. We are now unified, body spirit, and Christ spirit; we have been made one. And then finally, but not finally, because this progression is eternal, we will be prepared to live a celestial law, the law of unconditional, unyielding, unfailingly perfect love, because we have received that love. We have received that love and we have experienced that love for God. And now that love can become universal. Our suffering then on that level, as we are still applying the pattern of the atonement of the at-one-ment, of submitting to the Lord of obeying and of allowing ourselves to be transformed through suffering, the suffering on that level is willingly offered, not just for ourselves, but it’s for other people too, this is redemptive suffering. That’s what Jesus Christ’s atonement was. I believe that’s what Joseph Smith showed when he was suffering in Liberty jail. That suffering was a redemptive suffering. It was suffering on behalf of the sins of others. As we embody this kind of love, we become at one with God. God, our heavenly parents who are love.

The Hidden Invitation

The scriptures go on to say that, “They are they who are the church of the Firstborn, they are they into whose hands the father has given all things. They are, they who are priests and Kings priestesses and Queens who have received of his fullness and of his glory. And they are priests and priestesses of the most High. Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons and daughters of God; wherefore all things are theirs, whether life or death or things present or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s and Christ is God and they shall overcome all things, wherefore let no man glory in man–don’t glory in yourself, don’t glory in the light that you have, you do have light, but it’s not your light and it can be increased rather–rather, let us glory in God who shall subdue all enemies under his feet. I praise God for Jesus Christ, whom they have sent. Without his willing suffering on our behalf he would not have qualified to offer us these spiritual ordinances, these transition points between the degrees of glory that enable us to live higher laws and receive greater and greater endowments of light and spirit and truth and glory. We’re all at different points in spiritual development, the kingdom of God is here right now. It’s in us and the celestial kingdom are those who will allow Christ to transform them light upon light until they can resonate with the glory of God, who we know dwell in everlasting burnings. 


The hidden invitation and to think celestial is to accept this Jesus. Get rid of the belief that somehow you have to suffer for your own sins, or you have to do X, Y, and Z before he will come to you. And instead, take the mercy that he wants to give you. Accept his atonement for exactly what it is. We show him, by our very breath, that he is our desire. And that we are willing to get rid of anything else in our lives. That’s how we allow him to give us those gifts of grace that we just cannot and never will be able to earn for ourselves. This is the only way in which you and I will ever be able to truly think celestial. “And what is it that you shall hope for? Behold, I say unto you that you shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection to be raised unto life eternal. And this because of your faith in him according to the promise.” 


I love you guys. Thank you for being a part of this community. Thank you for letting me share. A few thoughts with you. Again, I pray that you will turn to the Lord and let him be your tutor. He knows you so well, and he wants you to let him have you. I hope that throughout 2024, we all will choose to submit to the power of the at-one-ment, of the pattern of atonement that Jesus Christ ran out perfectly. He showed us how to do it and he is beckoning, he’s beckoning us to come unto him, to return to God in the most literal ways that we can. I love you guys so much, wishing you all so much love and increased light in this new year.


Thank you guys so much.


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