Episode 78: Putting on Christ Pt. Two
ft. Steven Bishop
Steven: Elder McConkie taught this in plainness, “Mere compliance with the formality of the ordinance of baptism does not mean that a person has been born again.” (Bruce R. McConkie , Mormon Doctrine, “Born Again”)
Now why will our separation from God end when we’re spiritually born of God? Because we will have come into his presence and we’ll have experienced redemption in him. And when we experience redemption in him, we know it. And he knows that we know it, and we know that he knows that we know it. That’s when we will know God. Let me backup and continue that. I apologize.
Now notice that he said to teach these things freely unto our children. We have–I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or how it developed, but in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a lot of us have this weird feeling when we hear the term born again. And I think that’s because of perhaps our brothers who are known as Born Again Christians. But we need to adopt this term and not be afraid of it. It is a real term. It is a real experience. And it’s when we receive the promised blessing, the Holy Ghost. And we can teach this to our children when they’re very, very young, and it’s okay. Let’s continue.
“Certainly, the adversary is pleased when parents neglect to teach and train their children to have faith in Christ and be spiritually born again. Brothers and sisters, many things are good, many are important, but only a few are essential.” (D. Todd Christofferson)
Now, notice there’s only two things, two essential things that we’re to accomplish here on earth. One is to be physically birthed or to be born physically. Now, if you’re hearing my voice, it means you’ve already accomplished that. You can check that box. The only other thing that he’s talking about here next is spiritual rebirth is the next thing that is essential of the two things.
So why is being born again essential? Which is the same, by the way, as being born of the Spirit, being born of God. These are all synonymous. We went through some of the synonyms.
This is why Elder Christofferson says that only a few are essential, being birthed into this life physically and being spiritually reborn while in mortality, while in this life.
Doctrine and Covenants section 76 talks about being quickened by a portion of the telestial, or being quickened by a portion of the terrestrial, or being quickened by a portion of the celestial. When Adam was baptized, it says in Moses that he was quickened in the inner man. He received and was quickened by a portion of the celestial in that experience when he was born again. This is our objective. There is nothing more important than this. We seek the Lord. And by seeking him and surrendering all to him, that endowment will come naturally of its own accord through seeking him and surrendering all to him.
Elder Christofferson taught: “Authorized messengers (speaking of the missionaries), they offer the incomparable blessings of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance and the gift of the Holy Ghost (“the promise”) given through the laying on of hands), opening the way to Spiritual Rebirth and redemption.” (Redemption, April General Conference Address, 2013).
That’s the redemption in Christ that I’ve been speaking to. That we can all receive in mortality and know it.
Elder Christofferson taught, “The greatest service we can provide to this life… is to bring them to Christ through faith and repentance, so they may experience His redemption.”
Wait a minute. Experience His Redemption. Is that possible? Well, not only is it possible, it is absolutely essential as he has taught.
This redemptive experience is available for all. God is no respecter of persons. It happens when we are willing to sacrifice our all to Him. This is when we will receive a ‘perfect faith’ or ‘power to become the sons of God.’
Now notice, “But as many as did receive him, (now see D&C 39: 4-6 but I’m quoting from John 1: 12-13) to them gave he power to become the sons of god, even to them that believe on His name–i. e. exerciseth faith on his name– Now notice, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God.” God performs the second birth, the spiritual rebirth. The lectures teach us that the words “faith” and “power” are synonymous. That’s why I underline the word power above. We receive an endowment of a perfect faith from God directly when we fulfill the requirements to obtain the promised blessing..
Now being baptized in his name has at least a couple meanings. Obviously, in the church and gospel and through the ordinances, we are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. But it also refers to being baptized in his name, meaning Christ, which means the anointed one, or to receive his holy anointing of light, baptized in his holy anointing of light, having perfect faith, which comes as an endowment through obedience to the doctrine of Christ. And unless we have this perfect faith, we cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And this perfect faith–now follow me on this–if we use reason we know that as imperfect mortal beings, there’s no way that we, of ourselves, in and of ourselves, can develop a perfect faith, that a perfect faith can only come from a perfect being, a God. And that God is Christ, God the Son.
When we receive of this perfect endowment of faith from God, we will have obtained a living hope in Christ. What hope is that? It is the hope in the promise extended to us for both the Holy Ghost and of eternal life that we will have received directly from Him. And if we have been given this fulfilled promise (an actual knowledge from the Deity), we will have also become filled with His pure love or Charity.
When we receive this perfect endowment of faith from God, we will have obtained a living hope in Christ. Now what do I mean by that? It is the hope and the promise extended to us, for both the Holy Ghost and of eternal life that we will have received directly from him during our spiritual rebirth. And if we have been given this fulfilled promise and actual knowledge from the Deity, we will have also become filled with this pure love or charity.
Now notice, faith, hope, and charity in bold. The perfect endowment of faith, and I remember and can bear witness to everyone hearing my voice. I remember where I was standing in my home when I received that perfect faith. And I won’t go into detail about that because it’s very sacred, but I just want the listener to know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of power, that we are entitled as children of God, estranged, but as children of God, through adherence and obedience to the doctrine of Christ, we are entitled to receive that endowment of a perfect faith, which leads to a living hope, a knowledge of God through personal redemption, with his sure promise of having been extended to us of eternal life, of course, subject to enduring to the end, which then also is accompanied and leads to being filled with God’s love; charity, the pure love of Christ, which is the fruit of salvation in Lehi’s dream. Again, notice faith, hope, and charity.
Fellow seeker, when we receive a redemption in Christ, we obtain the knowledge of God, not just “about” God. “And my prayer to God is that they…come to the knowledge of God, yea, the redemption of Christ… (Words of Mormon1:8)
So when we receive a redemption in Christ, we obtain the knowledge of God, not just about Him because we will know who it is that redeemed us. There’s no way that we cannot not know that something transformational has occurred. We may not know in the moment that we were born of God, but we will know that something transformational has happened. Now notice the words of Mormon. You know, I look at Words of Mormon and there’s one chapter and think, why? And you may think, why was Words of Mormon even included in the Book of Mormon? It’s very short chapter, I mean, why not just pass by it? Well, verse eight has our answer. “And my prayer to God is that they come to the knowledge of God, yea, the redemption of Christ…” I bear all who hear my words, solemn witness that the knowledge of God that we can obtain is through a redemption in Christ, not because of our own righteousness, because in that moment we may have no righteousness, but it’s received because of his righteousness or rather because of our faith in his perfect righteousness.
Now again, this is not the knowledge about Jesus Christ, this is a knowledge that comes through an encounter with him. When we are born of God, and we know him through the manifestations of this experience, his spirit, when we are born of him or born of God.
And we “know Him” through the manifestations of His Spirit when we are born of Him or Born of God (Ether 4:11).
And I invite you to read this, the verse in Ether chapter 4, verse 11, we’re commanded when we obtain the manifestations of his spirit. We are commanded to bear record, and hence, that’s what I’m doing today.
This level of knowledge is on the same level “as if” they had seen Him! “…that thereby whosever should believe (i.e., exercise faith) that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he and already come among them.” (Mosiah 3:13)
Now this level of knowledge is the same level as if we had seen Christ. Notice Mosiah chapter 3, verse 13, “…that thereby, whosoever should believe–i. e. exerciseth faith–that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins and rejoice with–here’s the key word for being born again–exceedingly great joy–the fruit of the rebirth–exceedingly great joy. Now notice, what is the level of this rejoicing that we can experience? Even as though he had already come among us. It’s the same level of knowledge when we receive that remission of sins, we experience redemption, we experience a joy. We experience a joy that causes us to weep tears of joy for months. For months on end, so great is our joy.
Now notice these verses from the scriptures. “…after having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God…” “Having been visited by the Spirit of God; –just like Nephi said, ‘I was visited of the Lord’ and Mormon said that he was visited by the Lord and tasted anew of the goodness of Jesus, right? This is when they received the first comforter– having conversed with angels, having been spoken unto by the voice of the Lord; and having the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and also many gifts–why is this? Because when we receive the Holy Ghost, we receive, severally, these gifts–the gift of speaking with tongues, the gift of preaching, the gift of the Holy Ghost…” These are the fruits given severally to them that, “believe” or exercise of faith. Notice that being “visited” is the manifestation of the Spirit of God, which witnesses of the Father and of the Son. This is when we receive Him and are “Born of God” and obtain a “perfect knowledge of Him” and we rejoice with the same exceedingly great joy as if we had seen Him, or as if He had already come among us.
Meaning of his perfect reality and divinity through that visit, through tasting of his spirit, being immersed in it. Now, notice that Alma’s knowledge was not “about” God, but in fact, “of” God-meaning, the perfect knowledge of him. Notice also that being born of God requires having “tasted” or experienced the knowledge of God through his Spiritual “Birthing” or “Spiritual Rebirth.”
“…yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls.” (Alma 37:8) Notice that to be brought to the knowledge of God is to be saved.
It is through the salvation of their souls that they obtain the knowledge of their God and not about him only. Notice also that to be brought to the knowledge of God is to be saved.
”And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors and teachers.– Now, why did he give the church this and us this? For what purpose?–For the… edifying of the body of Christ: till–so until when?–we all come in the unity of the faith, and of –what?–the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man [in Christ], unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:11-13) We will obtain this knowledge when we diligently seek Him.
“They shall be brought to the true knowledge,” (remember, not all knowledge is not of equal value) “which is the knowledge of their redeemer, and their great and their true Shepherd and be numbered among his sheep.” (Helaman 15:13) [i,e, be adopted by Christ and “gathered” to Israel, which is numbered with the family of Abraham]
When we are wholly converted unto the Lord through the spiritual rebirth, even as on the day of Pentecost, we will have been adopted by Christ, redeemed by Him and come to the true knowledge of Him.
Now, for Christ’s words directly on Salvation: “For behold, in my name are they called, and if they know me, they shall come forth, and shall have place eternally at my right hand.” (Mosiah 26:24)
”…If They Know Me…” Not all knowledge is of equal value, especially when it comes to salvation. Fellow seeker, we are not coming unto the Church. We are coming unto Christ Himself, the very personage of glory! This can be a stumbling stone, well, not this in particular, but there’s something else that can become and has become a stumbling stone for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And I will attempt to describe this stumbling stone. We may focus on the church and building a testimony in the church that the church is true. And guess what, It is. A thousand percent. We may focus on the Book of Mormon, in obtaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon that it is The Word of God. And guess what? It totally is. Then we may focus on obtaining a testimony of our prophet, that he is a true prophet of God. And guess what? That is all true. But you’ll notice, the Lord said, “If they know me…” knowing if the prophet is the true prophet of our church today. will not save us. Knowing that the church is true and it is, will not save us. Knowing that the Book of Mormon is true and it is, will not save us. All of these things are given to us to assist us in developing faith In the true and living God in Jesus Christ and in his father. Why is that? Because we’re saved by grace through faith. Everything in the church and gospel of Jesus Christ is there to assist us in accumulating more and more and more faith onto a specific point. And that point is a point of complete surrender and falling down and crying out. And surrendering our all to Jesus Christ in person.
Now, notice the word mighty. If it were a wimpy change, then the Lord would have used the word wimpy, but he didn’t use the word wimpy. He used the word mighty. It’s a mighty change that happens to us. Why? Because we will have come into his presence, shrouded, of course, by the veil and experienced a remission of sins as though by spiritual fire. Because of this experience–which by the way, in Putting on Christ, I liken it to the experience that we may have had, now let me just back up, I liken it to the knowledge obtained by many who have had a near death experience. Many people who’ve experienced this near death experience and phenomenon, describe leaving their body, going into this tunnel, following this light, and then they end up into the presence of this divine being who we know to be Christ, or God, the Son. And then they come back into their bodies, you know, they’re told, “Well, this is not your time…” or whatever, but they come back and then they can’t even speak of it without breaking down in tears because they have obtained a new knowledge. Now they didn’t receive a remission of sins. They didn’t receive the Holy Ghost, but they came into the presence of God and partook of his grace, a level of his grace; his peace and his love. They experienced all of that. So, when I talk about the level of knowledge we obtain through spiritual rebirth, what I’m talking about is that level of knowledge specifically. Okay? We can come into the presence of Christ, be witness to, of His reality and the reality of the Father, empowered by the Holy Ghost, which is one of his charges to bear witness, to be a testator. And this all happens during spiritual rebirth. So the reason why the experience is mighty is because Christ will have engraven his name upon the fleshy tables of our own hearts. And after that experience, we will never again be the same as we once were. My rebirth happened the same month and year that resident that Elder Christofferson gave the conference talk on redemption was 2013, April.
President Joseph Fielding Smith taught, “Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fibre and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten.” (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 48)
President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “He [Enos] had now come to realize that no one can be saved in his sins, that no unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of God… that there must be a purging, a new heart in a new man. He knew it was not a small thing to change hearts, and minds and tissues.” (‘Prayer’, New Era, March 1978, p. 14)
We are never again the same after this encounter and being cleansed, baptized by God.
That’s why knowledge is more than faith. That’s why we become a witness, because we will have received a sure knowledge, not just of God, but of the salvation that we have partaken of in and through him. That stems from, of course, faith and repentance, the doctrine of Christ, executing the doctrine of Christ. Now, whatever we may value more than him is what stands in the way of Him. We must surrender it all.
Now, I know many people–I’m going to go back to the stumbling stone–I know many people who are coming under the church. Now, the church is true. But the church is not, let’s say, a perfect church because it’s run by flawed, although righteous mortals. The reason why the church is true is not because everybody in it is saintly and holy. That clearly is not the case. It’s true because our leaders, the first presidency, the quorum of the global apostles and the combined quorum of the 70, they hold the keys of the priesthood authority, the higher priesthood, which we are told in the Doctrine and Covenants is the key, even the key of the knowledge of God. And that’s why that confirmation ordinance has to be done one by one who is holding the higher priesthood. So, the whole point really for the true church is to allow me, myself, and I–and I want you to repeat the same in your own words, the me, myself, and I–to come to the knowledge of God personally and individually ourselves. That’s when we are holy and truly converted unto the Lord. And when we are converted unto the Lord, then our Directive from God is to strengthen our brethren, is to minister to our brethren. What does it mean to minister? Why the focus on ministering? Ministering is to lead the candidate of salvation to salvation. That’s what ministering is. It’s not delivering cookies, although that’s wonderful. And it’s not delivering bread. And that’s wonderful also. But true ministering is teaching the purity of the doctrine of Christ so that the candidate of salvation can make it to the tree of life, fall down, cry out, and partake of its fruit, the fruit of knowing God and salvation.
The “greater priesthood” holds “the key… even the key of the knowledge of God.” (D&C 84:19).
The knowledge of God referenced above is beyond that of faith. As Joseph taught, ” For there is a great difference between believing in God and knowing Him – knowledge implies more than faith.” (Lectures on Faith, p. 77)
For members of the church in mortality, there is a time allotted unto us to repent and be born again. Today is the day of our salvation. Now is the time to prepare to meet God! Understanding the reality of this, that mortality is our little timeline, will bring us to our knees in brokenhearted repentance, or at least it should.
”..therefore–Alma says– I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life–now, uh, this could actually be Amulek speaking–but after this day of life–so the day of life, the day is reference to mortality–which is given 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.” Why do you think that we approach God or seek our salvation, ‘in fear and trembling before him’? Because we realize our time predicament, our time limited predicament. The Lord himself said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate;– now Nephi says the straight gate, the culmination of the straight gate is when we receive the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost–for straight is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life– he’s meaning eternal life–and few there be that find it;– few there be that will within the church obtain the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost–but wide is the gate, and broad the way which leads to death, and many there be that travel therein–now notice– until the night cometh–the night means after this life, after mortality–wherein no man can work.” (3 Nephi 27:33)
Now is the time to prepare to meet God. This is an awesome scripture. “And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent–When? It says in black and white–while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation; and their time was lengthened,–Who lengthened their time?God. He lengthened the years of their lives so that they could experience his redemption–according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent…” Goes right into the doctrine of Christ. “…hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you in an hour–Now, what’s his voice? It’s the straight, narrow path. It is the rod of iron, which is the light of Christ that we are to hearken to, that’s his voice that leads us to the tree to then fall down, offer up all that we have and are surrender all to him, cry out to him for his mercy so that we can partake of his salvation and redemption. That’s what it means to hearken unto his voice. And when do we have to do that by? Well, before the end of the day of this life, lest death shall overtake you–in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved. Listen to him, who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him.” (D&C 45:2)
We must receive and enjoy the actual Holy Ghost in this world and endure to the end so that we might enjoy His presence in that eternal world. In Moses, it says, “Even so, ye must be born again…of water and of the Spirit…–that’s what it means to be born again–that ye might enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come…”Now, what are the words of eternal life? Well, the Lord said in the Doctrine and Covenants, he says, “My words are spirit.” So, to enjoy the words of eternal life is to be given the promise of eternal life–and I’m talking about the conditional promise of eternal life, because we still have to endure to the end–but it’s to receive the promise of eternal life through a spiritual, all encompassing, all knowing communication from the heavenly realm to our souls directly. And we are to enjoy his words of spirit and of our own salvation in this world. And eternal life in the world to come. And then it says, even immortal glory. So that’s when we receive the actual, the full fulfillment, right?
We received the fulfillment of the promise here. And I’m being born again and receiving the Holy Ghost, but then, exaltation, we can receive that actual eternal life in the world to come in the next life, which happens after the final judgment.
So I want to talk a little bit about testimony versus true whole and full conversion. So the greatest example we have about testimony versus conversion is from the apostle Peter. So remember that he witnessed all of the miracles of Jesus. Well, maybe not all, but if not all, mostly all. He walked on the water himself, remember, he got out of the boat and he bid the Savior come unto him in the water. And later, on the Mount of Transfiguration, heard the voice of Elohim, witnessed the transfiguration of Christ, and saw the resurrected beings of Moses and Elijah on the Holy Mount. And was later told by the Savior himself, he had yet to be converted. Remember, he said, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” He said this after all of these events of testimony, if you will; Peter had still not been converted. Now, for those who are listening to the sound of my voice, if you think that you have a strong testimony, compare your testimony to Peter’s testimony. So, with all of his events of testimony, Peter’s events of testimony, if you will, he still had not yet been converted. He still had not been filled with God himself, that divine spirit of intelligence and power by the Holy Ghost.
Yet on the day of Pentecost, God filled him with the glory of Himself by the power of the Holy Ghost, and Peter partook of his Divine Consciousness. Now this consciousness is an experiential reality during spiritual rebirth, and it is the oneness prayed for by Christ. In fact, it’s in the Lectures On Faith. Let me just turn to that real quick. So in Lecture 5 it says, this would be verse 18 of the Lecture 5, “Do the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute the Godhead?” Joseph’s answer? “They Do.” Now, the next one says, verse 19, “Do the believers in Christ Jesus, through the gift of the Spirit–which in this context means the gift of the Holy Ghost when we’re born of God– become one with the Father and the Son, as the Father and the Son are one?” What do you think his answer was, Joseph’s answer? The same. “They do.” And then notice what Joseph references in this context. He references two verses from John 17, 20 through 21. “Neither pray I for these–the apostles alone–but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be one as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
I bear solemn witness that when we are born of God, we taste, it’s not a fullness, but we taste of a Christ consciousness. We taste of His divine consciousness. And through that experience, we have an idea, at least through that experience, what he’s talking about in these verses in John 17. This is how they are one. They’re not one by getting into each other’s bodies. They’re one because the same fullness of the divine consciousness that is in Christ is also in the Father. And the same divine consciousness that’s in the Father is in Christ. And true spiritual rebirth, a portion or an experiential knowledge of that same divine consciousness. Now that doesn’t remain as a permanent endowment, but at least we know through the experience what exaltation, we have a clue as to what exaltation and this oneness will be like. And when we receive this level of knowledge, a perfect knowledge of Christ or God the Son, it can never be taken from us. It is a perfect knowledge. We will defend this knowledge unto death.
Elder Christofferson taught: “If we remain firm and steadfast, come what may, we achieve the conversion the Savior intended when He said to Peter, ‘When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren,’ a conversion so complete that it cannot be undone” (Firm and Steadfast in the Faith of Christ, 2018).
A conversion so complete that it cannot be undone. Now, why is that? Why is he saying that can’t be undone? It’s because once you have a perfect knowledge of something, it’s no longer belief or faith. It’s knowledge. It can’t be reversed. Faith is dynamic, right? We can grow in faith and we can lose faith, but knowledge is knowledge. Once we obtain that knowledge, it can never be removed from us. Or, as the Prophet Jospeh Smith taught, “Knowledge implies more than faith.” (Lectures on Faith 7:18)
So the whole intent of the gospel is for us to initially become cleansed by God. Why? For “no unclean thing” can “dwell in his Presence.” Why is this important?
“And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name,– Again we talked about this. This is not just to be, to have his name used in the ordinance, but to be baptized in his Anointing of Light, to be baptized into Christ, the light of Christ, immersed in his light, to receive that holy anointing by Christ–that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.” (3 Nephi 27:19-20) Well, there you have it, that is the doctrine of Christ; faith and repentance unto being baptized in his name and sanctified so that we can be held spotless. Why is that important? So we can return to his presence. That’s the whole journey.
So, where do we start? Well, we start with the end in mind. So, that picture that I asked you to embed into your psyches, which was the picture of our embrace with Jesus Christ. “Where there Is no vision the people perish.” I would ask you to embed that into your mind, visualize that and hold to that with your might and allow that vision to increase your desire to know him on another level; to come to a perfect knowledge of him through faith as an act of his grace in our lives. And then let this desire burn within us. Let it work in us. Let it increase within us until it hurts. And until we actually arrive at a space where we become–now, notice this word desperate–we will become desperate to know him because we’ll have been seeking and seeking and seeking under every rock, every stone, and we will have been unsuccessful in finding him.
My seeking lasted me, perhaps, a couple of decades. You think I got to the point where I just got a little weary and I was about ready to give up? But I couldn’t because he implanted this desire in my soul that would not go away. Now, why did he do that? Because he gave me a calling. And my calling is one of assisting, however faint and meager power, to demonstrate or show the patterns that are in scripture, to highlight those patterns. They’re already there, but to highlight those patterns that can lead us to taste of that level of grace in our lives and thereby come to know him. Let this desire work in you until you become desperate to know him. And if you continue in this, “process” you will cry out with a willingness to do anything, and I mean anything. You will be willing to sacrifice your wife, your wife or spouse, your children, your houses, your lands, your good name, your everything, everything that you have and are. You will become willing and even desperate to surrender all to that Being we will have not seen with our natural eyes but we’ll come to know with a surety that he is real, that he lives, that he is the Holy Messiah, full of grace and truth, that he is Jesus Christ, the living son of the living God, that he is our Redeemer, our personal Redeemer. How could that not be mighty, learning of him on that level? How could it not be mighty? How could it not create a mighty change in anyone’s hearts? It’s impossible. Partaking of this level of grace is what all the scriptures are talking about, all of these synonyms of being born again, born of God, born of the spirit, the mighty change of heart, partaking of the fruit, all of these things, all of these synonyms in scripture are pointing us to the same actual experience in our life; it’s when we are actually reconciled to God, the wall of partition is leveled and we come into his presence shrouded by the veil and we know him.
Now, I want to introduce a powerful affirmation that I promise you, no matter how long it may take you, it may take you years, it can also happen quickly depending upon the intensity in our seeking and our willingness to surrender all. But if we use this affirmation with eyes closed and we use this affirmation in the evenings or in the mornings–I prefer evenings or mornings because that’s when we can experience better this stillness, there’s not anything going on in the world. Our minds are not yet racing. We’re allowed to have our minds relax, and then we can focus down into our heart space, kind of down in the center of our being. And we can use this mantra and repeat this mantra until it sinks deep within our souls, that mantra is, “I will give up all that I possess… to know thee.” Now this is taken from King Lamoni’s father from two separate verses. But I can promise all who hear my voice in the name of the Savior, Jesus Christ, that if we endure in using this affirmation, perhaps late at night, early in the morning and close our eyes and get out of all the distractions of the world, just put them aside and go into our holy place in our homes or our sacred space in our homes and we use this mantra repeatedly, eventually it will sink in. And actually what we’re doing by speaking these words is we’re actually exercising faith. If we speak those words and visualize the embrace of Christ, coming to know him on another level, we will be led to him because that will sink deep into our hearts and we’ll arrive at a place and a space in time where we will be willing to surrender all. Now, when we use the affirmation in the beginning, let me just tell you, you’re going to feel like you’re lying. And that is because you will be. We all are. But that’s not the point. The point is that as we continue–and maybe lie is too harsh of a word, it may not ring true to us in the beginning, in our hearts, because there are varying levels of our willingness to sacrifice for God–this affirmation by experiential means, eventually will sink deep, and I mean way deep, into our hearts. And it will then allow our hearts to get to that level of willingness to surrender our all to him. And when I say all, I mean all. It’s the willingness to surrender, okay? Not necessarily that we have to surrender all. We just have to be willing to surrender all. So “I will give up all that I possess to know thee.” If we do this over years, and it could potentially take many years, but if we are diligent– this is just a tool, it’s just a tool– there are many tools, but this is one that I view as a very powerful tool that we can use to lead us to prepare our hearts for the mighty change.
“I will give up all that I possess to know thee.” Eventually we will all arrive to the whole truth of this particular affirmation and statement, we really will get to a place where we really are willing to give up all that we possess. An example of what I love about meditation..[in] prayer we talk to God and a lot of times we hang up the phone right after we say, ‘amen’, we don’t listen.
So this is an example of diligently seeking Christ through listening, which is through meditation. So I view prayer as speaking to God, for the most part, and I view meditation as listening to God. We need to do less talking sometimes and more listening. And we need to set aside times during the evening or early morning to just listen, to feel after God, to feel after his presence, like that song points to in the beginning.
Now, notice, it appears, well, first, you notice that she put her hand over her heart and she had her eyes closed. She was feeling something. She was feeling a connectivity with her Creator. She puts her hand over her heart because that allowed her, and it allows me, to be able to concentrate on my compass, which is the light of Christ that comes to me, through my heart space, it directs me through my heart, right? The spirit works through feelings. Now, this is the issue with having a hardened heart, because if our heart is hardened, it’s going to bounce off that just like a rock or a stone. This is the parable of the sower, right? The seed that’s planted, well, the spirit works through feelings. So if our heart is hardened, then we cannot grasp onto the rod of iron, his revelatory light that leads us to partake of the fruit of his grace and knowledge and salvation. We can’t. So that’s why we have to do everything within our power to obtain a softened heart, and it’s hard in this world to obtain that because we live in a fallen world and we’re dealing with people who lie to us, who steal from us, who take advantage of us, and then we harbor resentment. That resentment harboring effect creates the hardened heart. So this is why we need to offer to him a broken heart, because then it lets His light into us, to come in, and that’s an act of our own agency. The Holy Ghost is delivered unto the heart, not into the heart, Nephi says. That’s an act of agency, to allow His light to come in.
”Men are born again by following the light of Christ–that’s the rod of iron, it gives us personal revelation, directing us to partake of salvation and redemption in Christ and knowing Him–to the point where they receive the actual enjoyment of the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Mormon Doctrine 2nd Edition, “Light of Christ,” p.447). We see the difference here. Now, this will occur after we offer our broken hearts in a spirit of contriteness and complete surrender, falling down. (2 Nephi 2:6-7) In our painting, remember, there was a gentleman who was down on one knee, he was falling down. He was in the depths of his own mini Gethsemane, his own crash site, spiritual crash site, if you will. He was going through the depths of his own repentance, and he was crying out.
”Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah, for he is full of grace and truth.” Now what type of redemption? It’s talking about redemption from sin, redemption from the fall? Well, it tells us in the next verse, “Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin,–this is how we receive the remission of sins–to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit;–now, notice in bold and capitalized letters–and UNTO NONE ELSE can the ends of the law be answered” (2 Nephi 2:6-7). So, I can do everything within the gospel, well, excuse me, within the church program, right? And I can do all that I’m supposed to do, that I’m called to do as a member of the church, but if I do not offer a broken heart upon the altar of my soul to Jesus Christ, in complete surrender, withholding nothing, then I cannot qualify to receive this level of grace, being baptized by his spirit. This is a law. And it is sure and unmovable.
Prior to partaking of the fruit of Salvation, our hearts must break before the Lord and be offered to Him in complete surrender. That’s the verses we just read. When we fall down and cry out for His mercy repeatedly, we can then, all in accordance with His divine will and timing, partake of the grace of the Savior that He intended for us. This is when we will know Him. Remember his words, “If they know me, they shall come forth and have a place eternally at my right hand.” Knowing God is Salvation.
Now the “Process” leading to the experience of spiritual rebirth is the process of arriving to this “all-in” committed “willingness” to do his will; and that of “offering-up’ or ‘sacrificing” all that we have and are upon the altar of our own souls.
Now notice the word “willingness,” and how it ties into our Sacrament Ordinance every week. What are we witnessing to every Sunday? That we may be willing to sacrifice ALL in order to be born of God, thereby being cleansed by God. In short, we are witnessing that we are willing to be born again, to take upon us his name. Now, are we all willing? Are we all willing to sacrifice our all to God? The answer is no, we’re not all willing. That’s why it says may, they may be willing. (D&C 20:77) Not all of us are willing. In fact, Few will be willing. That’s why the Lord said, “Few there be that find it”, meaning the gate of salvation, because few will be willing to sacrifice their all. So their journey to know God is to arrive at that destination of being wholly willing to sacrifice our all to God. This is when we will receive a new life in Christ. This is when Christ will come alive in us.
Remember Paul in the New Testament, “Nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Something to that effect, I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s what he was meaning, that the Christ comes alive in us, we become awakened in Christ, we receive a portion of his divine consciousness. Now that’s just a beginning. It’s going to feel like the end. It’s going to feel like, “Wow, I’ve made it, take me God now.” Because that’s exactly how I felt. We’re going to feel like “I’m so ready. I’m done.” And you know what? We are ready. When we are born of God, we are ready to go home. And on so many levels, I wish he would have taken me then. But had I been given the choice, I would have stuck around because I would have wanted and do wish to help others, including my own family who have not yet received this endowment to partake of that same fruit of which I partook. Isn’t that like Lehi? His dream, he looked around for his family. All he wanted is for them to partake of the same experience. I mean, hey, if we see a good movie, a really good movie, don’t we tell everybody about it? We want them to go see it so they can enjoy it, so they can experience it for themselves, so they can be uplifted. Well, how much so would we want to share the experience of salvation, of being redeemed in Christ? And we’ll find after that experience that we kind of have to be careful with who we share it with because people are not ready. Most people in the church are not ready to hear these things because we don’t hear these things a lot. But it’s all in the scriptures, and it’s the whole point of the Book of Mormon. Everything in the Book of Mormon is leading us to this experience of salvation and redemption. Of course, conditional salvation, we have to endure to the end. Why would we not want to tell people about it? But we have to use good judgment sometimes, like who we speak to, like in this podcast. This is a podcast intended for members of the church who are seeking. It’s not being listened to [not normally] by the non-member. That’s not to say that they can’t gain value from this, but what our discussion is about, it’s really intended for the diligent seeker.
So, the ordinance says, “That they may witness that they’re willing to take upon them the name of thy Son…” which is to be born again, to put on Christ.
Now notice, “And whoso–this is from the Lord–and whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple” (D&C 103:28). Wow, that’s pretty heavy. The Lord also said, “whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple”(Luke 14:33) That’s pretty heavy. “I will give up all that I possess to know thee.” “I will give up all that I possess to know thee.” “I will give up all that I possess.” Eventually, through this affirmation and allowing him to sink deep, we really will be willing to give up all that we possess to know him. Now, remember one important thing. We don’t necessarily need to give up all that we have and are, we just have to be “willing to do so.” Big difference, right? Recall that Abraham himself walked down the mountain together with his son, but did the Lord emotionally test him? You bet he did. I mean, the Lord took him to the wall, and if we follow the same path, we also will be taken to the wall. That’s my witness.
Now, notice this quote from the Apostle Delbert L. Stapley is amazing. It’s taken from an October 1965 conference report entitled, “This Pearl Beyond Price.” “The price of possession is one’s all. –I’ve underlined the word all and it’s mentioned four times–No individual can become a citizen of the kingdom of God by partial surrender of his earlier allegiances. He must renounce everything foreign to the kingdom, or he can never be numbered therein. If he willingly sacrifices all that he has, he shall find that he has enough. The cost of the hidden treasure and of the goodly pearl is not a fixed amount alike for all; it is all one has,–it’s the widow’s mite–and the poorest may come into enduring possession. His all is a sufficient purchase price.
How will we demonstrate our love for Him? Through the same willingness to sacrifice our all. Most of the tests of mortality are crafted by our Creator to see if we will in fact be willing to make ‘like’ consecrated sacrifices to God.
How did Christ show his love to us or for us? Through His Sacrificing “all”. I don’t think anyone would say that he didn’t sacrifice his all for us. How will we demonstrate our love for him in return? Through the same willingness to sacrifice our all. In fact, most of the tests of mortality are crafted by our Creator to see if we will, in fact, be willing to make like consecrated sacrifices to God. Again, our willingness to do so, not necessarily that the Lord would require the sacrifice of our all. Huge distinction and difference, right? We just have to be willing to, and it’s a state of the heart. We may speak the words we’re willing to. We may think the words. But only God knows when we truly are wholly willing to sacrifice our all, and when our heart reaches that level of willingness then we will be the second person to know, the first person will be God. We will be the second because he will immerse us in spiritual fire and fill us with his love through a manifestation in power by the Holy Ghost.
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