Sunday, January 25, 2015

So you think you're Celestial Material?

So you've been married in the temple.  Or you haven't, but have been through all you believe the temple has to offer.  You're pretty sure, according to what's taught at church, that you're aaaalmost celestial material.  If you've been married in the temple, you're probably pretty confident that you have hit all the benchmarks required of you, and now the only task at hand is to endure to the end, faithful.

(This was a pic I took several months ago, when my nephew went through the temple for the first time before his mission.  He was going to receive his "endowment", or gift.  Sun just before noonday, when he was to arrive.)

What does enduring to the end mean?  It likely means you go to the next stage of life, whether that means to get married, or to do so in the temple.  After that, you listen to the Spirit and have babies, whom you rear in righteous, and then they too go to the temple and repeat the process.  This is how we endure to the end, right?  We don't flub up, commit adultery, start using drugs, and most certainly keep the Word of Wisdom.  We sustain our leaders and magnify our callings.  We endure and grow in patience and virtue and inevitably are pretty much surely considered celestial material.  Add in becoming Bishop or Stake President, and if we're lucky we might even make it to become a General Authority.  Or shake their hand. ;) 

My friend and I used to make up mottos at girl's camp, and one that stuck for a very long time was that we were going to make it in the Celestial Kingdom.  Yes, we were going to the CK.

If someone would have told me that my interpretation was incorrect, I would've told them they were insane.  

So what if someone told you your interpretation was highly incorrect?  What if you learned, despite your emotional confirmation that you're a pretty good, righteous person, that your expectation is incorrect?  What if you meet God when leaving this life, and have quite the shocker brought to your attention that while you thought it was you who was making it to the CK and everyone else was unfortunately not accepted (because of course they weren't baptized and part of his One True Church), it was actually not the case?  What would you do?  Would you be shaking in your boots, wondering why you deserved to be taken and swindled in this manner?  Deceived?  

If it were me, I would be crying, sobbing actually, asking God why he didn't correct me along the way.  

What does it mean in Philippians 2:12, to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling"?  Why would Paul say this to the Philippians, if they had already become part of Christ's church?  

In D&C 76, I got a crazy wake-up call the other week.  I mercifully learned more recently to wrestling the scriptures to mean something everyone else would tell me, and began interpreting them for myself, as they stand.  When I actually read D&C 76 according to the words on the page, I was blown away.  In this section, the qualities of those who inherit this Celestial glory are set forth, specifically in vs. 50-70.  I'm going to list the qualities out in bullet form, because I do really well with lists.  Here is my interpretation.  Feel free to take it or leave it, but it's pretty much largely copied directly from D&C 76.  Those that are "Celestial" are as follows:  
  • They come forth in the resurrection of the just.
  • They received the testimony of Jesus - meaning Jesus appearing and testifying of himself.  (This is explained later in vs. 74, when the Telestial are explained, yet the understanding is largely ignored in mainstream Mormonism.  Sorry if this hurts, but it's true.)
  • They believed on his name.  
  • They were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, according to the commandment (3 Nephi 11:25) which he has given.  {We don't do it this way anymore, but have changed the words ever so slightly.  In Revelations Book 1, where the original copy of the first revelations is recorded, in the area where the baptismal prayer is instructed, it reads "calling them by name having authority given me of Jesus Christ I baptize thee in the name of Jesus Christ the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Ghost amen."  It says the same words in 3 Nephi ("having authority given me of Jesus Christ"), however someone, somewhere changed the word "authority" to "commissioned".  So we say "having been commissioned of Jesus Christ", rather than "having authority..."  In Isaiah 24:5, it is prophesied that when we change the ordinances (of which baptism is a crucial one), we have broken the covenant.  It reads, "The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.  Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth..." (Isaiah 24:5-6).  Is changing the words of a covenant ordinance, in fact, changing the ordinance?}  
  • They kept the commandments (see Isaiah 24:5 once again) and were washed and cleansed from all their sins.
  • They received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and SEALED unto this power.
  • They overcame (what? the world?) by faith.  Interesting that the Sons of Perdition were also overcome, but by Satan (vs.30).
  • They were sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise (which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are both just and also true).
  • They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
  • They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things.  (What in the world does this mean?)
  • They are they who are truly priests and kings.
  • They are they who have received of his (the Father's) fulness.
  • They are they who have received of his (the Father's) glory.  Not just the glory of man, or of the church, or of the "Priesthood" as we know it commonly.  I believe this is something magnificent, that we cannot even fathom in our limited estates, unless we receive it truly.  
Whoa Nelly!  This is only a third of the list of what we know regarding these people who are celestial.  Before I go on, one insight I have gained from this is that the Celestial truly is in glory like the sun.  It is one giant fireball of Glory.  Hot, bright, lighting the entire solar system and then some.  Going on.
  • These are priests of the Most High.
  • These are after the order (pattern, system, organization) of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.  {Both terms are special names, in and of themselves to be pondered.  This verse alone could likely be expounded greatly by someone who truly understood the mystery and vastness of what is the Priesthood, and what are these special names.  I am not one who yet understands completely enough to begin to expound.  I think Denver Snuffer offered an eye opening talk on the Priesthood which is best read in context of his other writings, but is definitely worth studying.  This link is to the 5th talk in a series of 10, which is best understood after reading his books, in my opinion.  Reading it out of context can dam up one's progression.  But it is worth studying, as I believe he's on to something.}   
  • They are gods!  GODS!  (This reminds me of Annalee Skarin's book, "Ye Are Gods".)  
  • They are even the "Sons of God".  What does this verse mean for those of us who say everyone is a child of God?  Are we calling ourselves something that we have not yet achieved?  Or are we already children of God?  Is this a false tradition?  It makes me feel good to sing "I Am a Child of God", but I wonder, having read this now, if there is so much more here I don't understand.  
  • All things are theirs, whether in life of death, or things present or future.  They are all theirs, and they are Christ's, and Christ is God's.
  • They shall overcome all things.
  • They glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet, rather than in man.
  • They shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.
  • They shall be brought with Christ when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.  (How are these people different – those of his whom he reigns over, vs. those he brings with him?)
  • They (again) shall be part of the first resurrection, which (we presume) is also the resurrection of the just.  
  • They come unto Mount Zion, unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all.
Regarding this last point, have any of us who claim to be CK material experienced being brought to Mount Zion?  The "City of the Living God"?  Has anyone reading this experienced what it's like to be in this holiest of all cities and places?  I do not imagine the Celestial Room in the temple counts, as pretty as it is, but I could be wrong.  
  • They have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn.  At my daughter's baptism last April, the bishop mentioned something about how "Now [she] had joined the Church of the Firstborn."  I think that is a misunderstanding of the term.  Unless attending church each Sunday means she is joining an innumerable company of angels/general assembly and CoE/CoF.  I think the Church of the Firstborn is quite different than many of us believe.  Again. :)   
  • Their names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all.
  • They are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant, who wrought out this Perfect Atonement through the shedding of his own blood.  Interesting how here it is said that he shed his own blood.  
  • And finally, 
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 sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.  
I don't know about you, but I'm certainly not there yet.  And I wonder what it will yet take for me to get there.  Each one of these points could easily be dug into and discussed for quite a bit of time.  I'm not an expert and don't know what it all means, but I have come to the conclusion that I must certainly refocus, and work out my salvation with fear and trembling before God.

"O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day."  (Mormon 9:27)

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