Come Follow Me: D&C 88
D&C 87, the Prophecy on War and Slavery, was given on Christmas Day, 1832. It was an amazing, but unnerving, prophecy.
A few days later, the Lord would begin to give Joseph a prophecy over a few weeks that would be known as the "Olive Leaf." A revelation filled with wisdom and peace for the Saints to rejoice over.
The Holy Spirit of Promise
The Lord first explains a new role of the Holy Ghost: Not only is it the testifier of the Father and the Son, as well as the Comforter and Constant Companion of the faithful, but now we learn that it is the "Holy Spirit of Promise," or the "Other Comforter."
This is an important concept leading towards the concepts of the temple. We learn that the Holy Spirit of Promise must seal an ordinance or act upon a person for that event to be sealed on earth and in heaven. In other words, there is a line upon line, precept upon precept of progression in having the Holy Ghost.
We begin with the "Light of Truth" or "Light of Christ," which we will learn more regarding of it in D&C 93..
As a process, receiving the Holy Ghost on levels is an important part of the Doctrine of Christ (2 Nephi 31; 3 Nephi 11). I've discussed the Doctrine of Christ in the CFM for the Book of Mormon, both here and here. In this doctrine, we step through Faith in Christ, Repentance, Baptism/Ordinances, Holy Ghost on higher and higher levels, until receiving a fullness.
And so, with the Holy Ghost, we begin with the Light of Christ, often compared to the conscience. Next, the Holy Ghost attends a person's conversion, as they hear the gospel message and are converted. When a person chooses to follow Christ in faith, they repent, are baptized, and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
The Gift of the Holy Ghost promises the potential "constant companionship" of the Spirit. With time, obedience, and growing towards Christ through His Doctrine, we can obtain more and more of the Holy Ghost's companionship, until it is constantly with us.
When we obtain to a consistent level of righteousness, the Holy Spirit of Promise can then seal us to that level of holiness. Eventually, we can receive our calling and election made sure by the Holy Spirit of Promise, meaning that as long as the person does not commit murder, he/she will be sealed to eternal life (D&C 132).
The Light of Truth
"This Comforter is the which I give unto you of , even the of the celestial kingdom;
"Which glory is that of the church of the , even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son—
"He that up on high, as also he below all things, in that he all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the of truth;
"Which truth shineth. This is the . As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was .
"As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;
"As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made;
"And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you .
"And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your ;
"Which proceedeth forth from the presence of God to the immensity of space—
"The which is in all things, which giveth to all things, which is the by which all things are governed, even the of God who upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things." (vs 4-13)
The Comforter not only promises or seals us to eternal life, it also is connected to the Light of Truth, or the Light of Christ. It shines in and through all things. While there is a biological element to life and evolution, the Light of Christ is a guiding force that steered evolution. Everything from the Big Bang forward has been touched and massaged by the Light of Christ.
People since Orson Pratt have pondered just what the Light of Christ is and does. Pratt suggested, and others have expanded upon, the idea that the Light animates all things, giving basic natural law to all things. So, quarks and sub-atomic particles have certain natural abilities. Some gather to form a higher level of "Intelligence" such as atoms and molecules. As intelligences continue gathering in higher forms, they obtain greater abilities (oxygen atoms have certain properties, but increase their abilities when combined with two hydrogen atoms into a water molecule). Eventually, these can be combined to create sentient life forms - such as spirits and mortals.
That it "fills the immensity of space" seems to be an amazing thing, until we consider that dark energy and matter, which really isn't dark, but that we're unable to directly detect it, amounts to 95% of all matter and energy in the universe. This isn't to say that the Light of Christ is dark energy, but that it could be there filling all things with God's natural law, and we can't detect it with scientific instruments.
Another way of looking at this is something I recently read in Charles S. Inouye's newly released book, "Zion Earth, Zen Sky." He tells of learning something new about the relationship between the earth and sun. We normally think of the earth traveling around the sun, which in one sense is true. However, while we see the sun as a yellowish-red disk in the sky, it actually extends outward for billions of miles in all directions, well beyond Pluto's orbit. This part of the sun is invisible to us. The Heliosphere includes the solar winds and radiation. It is similar to earth's atmosphere, which is a very real part of the earth, even though we can't see it with the naked eye. When we consider the heliosphere as part of the sun, we can surmise that the earth travels through the sun!
In this way, we can also see how the sun we see in one spot, influences the entire solar system and that God, though a physical being that takes up limited space, can have his own "heliosphere" or dark energy that goes out and influences all things, give life to all things, and allows him to see/understand all things happening at once.
For me, it is amazing that Joseph Smith would understand such key concepts as we're beginning to understand only in the past century. IF dark energy = Light of Christ, then we have a possible evidence of how God works behind the scenes of Creation, including the Big Bang, development of galaxies and solar systems, the beginnings of life billions of years ago, and the rise of intelligent life in the image of God.
The Kingdoms and Resurrection
"And the and the are the of man.
"And the from the dead is the redemption of the soul.
"And the redemption of the soul is through him that all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the and the of the shall inherit it.
"Therefore, it must needs be from all , that it may be prepared for the glory;
"For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with , even with the presence of God the Father;
"That bodies who are of the kingdom may it forever and ever; for, for this was it made and created, and for this intent are they .
"And they who are not through the which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom." (vs 15-21)
One of the "natural law processes" is resurrection. Here we find that all things go through a redemptive change. To create the first instance of this natural law of resurrection required one to first open the door. We live in a universe built on entropy. While there is energy, it can grow and expand. However, eventually, without an infusion of energy from outside, the universe will eventually run out of power and die. The Light of Christ infuses the initial spark that brings forth order and life. However, to obtain to a higher form requires higher levels of energy or power from God. Even the earth will go through such a change, becoming a higher form.
This is dependent upon a person or planet's desire to obey the laws of God, whether natural or higher laws. To "fill the measure of one's creation" is to fully follow Christ and live a celestial law.
To be "saved" means to be rescued from Outer Darkness, and into a kingdom of glory. This requires a basic faith in Christ and repentance. Beyond that, we must follow the path of the Doctrine of Christ, and steadily work our ways to higher levels of holiness. To enter a kingdom requires one to live by its laws, not through fear or duty, but by one's own nature. Verse 28 calls it the "natural body." We must learn to naturally obey the laws of the kingdom we desire. In doing so, God then knows we can be trusted to handle the powers and rights and responsibilities of that kingdom.
"And they who remain shall also be; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.
"For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift." (vs 32-33)
This is the perfect description of a son of perdition. It is someone who is offered salvation, but refuses it. They choose to hate Christ and become his enemy, rather be rescued from Outer Darkness. They would rather suffer the pangs of hell in Spirit Prison, than repent and have Christ rescue them from those pains. They wouldn't be happy living under God's laws, wishing to be a law unto themselves. They are happiest in Outer Darkness, miserable in a kingdom of God. This is where God's love and the gift of agency are so precious. God will force no man to heaven. He loves ALL his children, even those who turn fully away from him. Yet, he only encourages and pleads for them to return, knowing to force them would bring them even greater misery and increase their hatred.
"And again, verily I say unto you, that which is by law is also preserved by law and perfected and by the same." (vs 34)
Each kingdom has a law connected to it. For that kingdom, it is a natural law. Those who live the law of a kingdom are preserved by it. Those in Outer Darkness have the Light of Christ as their law, which brings basic life and order to them. We do not know if entropy works upon them or not.
Those in kingdoms of glory are governed by higher levels of natural law, which preserves them: the telestial by the power of the Holy Ghost, the terrestrial by the power of Christ, and the celestial by the power and presence of the Father. Each infuses a kingdom with law, light, truth, power, priesthood, and Presence to fill those people, creatures, planets, etc, with greater order and ability. They no longer are bound by the basic entropy of this universe.
"For cleaveth unto intelligence; receiveth wisdom; embraceth truth; loveth virtue; cleaveth unto light; hath on mercy and claimeth her own; continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.
"He all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever." (vs 40-41)
As we are infused with light, whether the Light of Christ, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, Jesus or God the Father, we are increased in intelligence, wisdom, truth, etc. For those who receive a kingdom, they will be able to "comprehend all things" of that kingdom and the kingdoms below it. For the Celestial, all things will be present before him or her. This does not necessarily mean that all the past and future are constantly before them, but that the present is before them. As the heliosphere pierces all things in the solar system (the sun even sends out particles that can pass through solid masses, like the earth and us!), God and his celestial children can be in and around and through all things, too.
Teach the Doctrine
"And I give unto you a commandment that you shall one another the of the kingdom.
"Teach ye diligently and my shall attend you, that you may be more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;"Of things both in and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the , and the judgments which are on the land; and a also of countries and of kingdoms." (vs 77-79)
What is doctrine? It is truth and facts of things which are true. That said, some doctrine is more important than other doctrine. Faith in Jesus Christ is far more important as a doctrine than the doctrine of not telling little white lies.
Then again, much of what Latter-day Saints and Christians believe is not doctrine, but speculation. Jesus is the Christ, who atoned for our sins is a doctrine. How exactly he atoned for our sins is up for debate. Evolution, Young Earth Creationism, Progression between kingdoms/no progression between kingdoms, the location of the Book of Mormon events, and so much more are all speculation.
There's nothing wrong with speculation, as long as it is labeled appropriately. A theory is okay, as long as it is accepted and known to be a theory. We are to be "instructed more perfectly in theory." Theories are good, because they lead to greater knowledge.
Too often, the Church and its members have had to back pedal on theories that were embraced as doctrine: Adam-God theory, curse of Cain, priesthood ban, polygamy required for exaltation, etc. There are still theories that some hold as doctrine, which divide the Saints: such as whether the Book of Mormon events occurred in the United States or Mesoamerica.
People, these are THEORIES. You can have your favorite theory, but don't turn it into a doctrine of salvation! To do so is to add to/take away from the pure gospel of Christ. It becomes a point of contention and possible apostasy.
In Church, we teach the doctrines, but it is okay to discuss and consider theories. Note that the doctrines and theories not only include those things found in scripture, but also history, geology, astronomy, etc. All truth belongs to God and His Church. Hold fast to the actual doctrines. Be flexible when it comes to theory. Check your beliefs and determine just which theories you hold as doctrine, and relabel those things. In doing so, faith increases and abounds, contentions decrease, unity increases among the Saints.
Once again, the Lord provided an amazing revelation. As unnerving and fearful the Prophecy on War and Slavery was, this Olive Leaf offers great hope, peace, and enlightenment to any who study it and ponder its teachings.