Some Thoughts on the Endowment
These are some of my thoughts on the endowment. I will not reveal anything here that I have covenanted not to reveal.
Consider yourself respectively, Adam and Eve
To understand the blessings in the endowment, we are told that we all must consider ourselves Adam and Eve respectively. Adam and Eve are saved beings. They fell, they struggled through apostasy to obtain true messengers, and to ultimately, in their mortal bodies, again be in the presence of God.1 We too, each struggle through apostasy whether we know it or not. We have each fallen, we must each be redeemed. We must do it in this life—as did our father Adam.
The kingdom in which we now live
Consider the phases of the endowment: Garden, Telestial, Terrestrial, Celestial. What is the world or kingdom in which we now live? If we cannot progress through kingdoms, then why do we do so in the endowment? If we are in a kingdom now, and you say to yourself, progression is for this world only, then who are the ministers for each kingdom?
"These are they [telestial beings] who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial; And the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial. And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation." (D&C 76:86-88)
"These are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father. Wherefore, they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies celestial, and differ in glory as the moon differs from the sun." (D&C 76:77-78)
Do we struggle to obtain the ministrants for the kingdom in which we now live? If we think we inherit terrestrial glory, then should not the Son be personally ministering to us?2 Likewise, the Father if we expect celestial glory? Is this a good measurement to gage to which kingdom we now belong? How bright is our star if we have not even the ministering of angels?
I am looking for messengers from my Father
What happens in the Telestial Kingdom? Adam seeks for true messengers from his Father. Would true messengers from his Father would necessarily mean that they stood in, and came from the presence of the Father, and had been entrusted with a message to deliver?
"And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings." (Luke 1:38:19)
If you believe that is Thomas S. Monson, then consider his recent statement from conference, where he essentially says he believes the testimony and witnesses of others who have seen the Lord.3 Consider some of Brigham Young's statements where early he declared Joseph Smith stood in the presence of the Savior, and he, Brigham, was an apostle of Joseph Smith. Later at age 62 he hoped by the time he was 80 to receive communication with the Lord face-to-face. Later at age 65 he declared again that he hoped to see any heavenly being, and that he still hoped to receive the Lord when 80.4 Brigham died at age 77. I don't know if he realized that blessing, but I hope he did.
"And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased? Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved? Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain." (Moroni 7:35-37)
When do all these things happen? In the flesh. Adam is learning his exaltation in the flesh. It is only possible to progress after we leave our probation under a specific set of circumstances.
The Power of Melchizedek
"All Priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself." (Joseph Smith, TPJS Section Four 1839-42, p.180)
There is a portion of priesthood which brings a man into the presence of God. Moses had this. Joseph had this. What is the portion that Israel kept when Moses was taken out of their midst? What power of heaven does Aaronic priesthood possess? Or perhaps more accurately, into what association does Aaronic priesthood, bring us?5 There is another portion which Joseph never expounded upon, because he needed the temple to be completed, under the conditions and timeframe the Lord outlined.
We desire all to receive it
Because God loves and sacrifices for the wicked5 he desires all to receive it. Only a few will receive it.6
Look at D&C 121, among others. How can the power you hope to receive be given to you, when you cannot restrain yourself under the power you now suppose you have? Just because those higher than you demonstrate they must be obeyed by virtue of their priesthood office or title, does that mean, you can afford to do likewise? How far are you willing to bet your salvation by trusting in the arm of flesh? The glory we hope for cannot be polluted by our failings here, by our pride and our lust for power and dominion. Mortality provides a perfect opportunity to show ourselves and God what it is we want,7 which is something that cannot be done after the dissolution of the body.
Joseph came and said some things were never in his nature to commit. If this is true, then there must be some preparation before he came. He had prepared such that he was one of the "noble and great". He had a "soul" which means a spirit and body. You can dispute that, of course, and say it doesn't really mean "soul" or you could consider Joseph, Abraham, etc., were something other than the vast majority of "spirits" being tested by "them", that is the Eloheim, or Godhead.8
We must rise up. The Lord desires all to receive it, but we must rise. The Lord commands us to do so. Melchizedek's people would not have formed Zion, had they not arisen and repented.9 The Lord commands all, equally to arise. He does not command one to arise, and then all else to follow.
Even a fulness (From D&C 76)
Each has two stages or tokens, a beginning and a fulness. Aaronic: see that all men have the light of Christ. The Gift of the Holy Ghost is a fulness, as well as the ministering of angels. Adam did not obtain this by "religion" but by searching diligently in the light of Christ until he obtained true messengers.
Melchizedek: when Christ appeared unto the Nephites and ministered to each one individually, perhaps they could be said to have received the first token. Likewise with the Brother of Jared. When Christ prayed for them and he came back and his countenance smiled upon them, this was the fulness. It is through his merits that we obtain the sure sign, but it is not complete without the ministration of the Father.
In the temple rites Joseph left us, there are three levels, each one being associated symbolically with different associations of heaven. Each association has two levels, a beginning and a fulness. The first is an Aaronic association, where, if we are faithful to the light and knowledge received, we receive angelic ministrants who have a specific mission to prepare the recipients for something greater. The second or Melchizedek has to do with an association with and sanctification through the Son. In the third, we symbolically receive the Holy Spirit of Promise as we converse with the Father through the veil. This is the Patriarchal order. We become a child of promise, continuing through the eternities. Three degrees, three ministrants, three priesthoods, three members of the Godhead.
A Patriarchal Surety
We don't understand the three priesthoods of which Joseph's spoke. We have some fragmented information which are basically notes taken by those who heard him. They give us a pretty good idea of the content, but it appears many of the details were intentionally ambiguous. It was not made clear to the people then. He said "The mystery, power and glory of the priesthood is so great and glorious that the angels desired to understand it and cannot: why, because of the tradition of them and their fathers in setting up stakes and not coming up to the mark in their probationary state."10 If angels cannot comprehend it, then how are we expected to do so? "Go to and finish the temple," he said, "and you will then receive more knowledge concerning this priesthood."11 He was anxious for the saints make the sacrifice necessary to finish the temple in the timeframe God had specified, so that the fulness which they had lost, could be restored. The temple was never completed, though Joseph transmitted the rites in the red brick store.
Have you ever noticed similarities between when Joseph had his exaltation sealed and what we learn as we converse through the veil in the symbolic ceremony through which we pass?
"For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father." (D&C 132:49)
I don't believe that Calling and Election is the beginning as some people have suggested. I don't believe it's "relatively easy" as some have suggested. Calling and Election is the very end of the process. Joseph's calling and election was made sure in D&C 132:49. Compare this verse to the name of the last token. After you receive the name of the last token, you enter into presence of God. This is not parting the veil to behold the Savior, this is parting the veil to enter in the presence of the Father. It's the very end of the process where you receive patriarchal priesthood, where you become a child of covenant. Think both of what this token is called and what its name is.
"And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it." (Genesis 28:12)
"Paul ascended into the third heavens, and he could understand the three principal rounds of Jacob's ladder--the telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms, where Paul saw and heard things which were not lawful for him to utter. I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them." (Joseph Smith, TPJS Section 6, p. 304)
"Paul saw the third heavens, and I more." (Joseph Smith, TPJS Section 6, p. 301. Also see, The Words of Joseph Smith pg. 202, 207, 211-212, 214)
“I know one who was caught up to the seventh heaven and saw and heard things not lawful for me to utter” (Joseph Smith as quoted by Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner. Journal and Memoirs of MaryElizabeth Rollins Lightner, typewritten copy, BYU Library, pg. 4)
"I got this question handed to me on Saturday: 'what is the first rung on Jacob's Ladder?' It is to have your calling and election made sure through the Holy Spirit of Promise. That is the beginning." (Denver Snuffer: First Rung)
Though, as I have suggested, Calling and Election is the end of the process. I suggest that it is the end of the process in mortality. In eternity, angels continue to ascend (or descend) upon this ladder. They progress or regress. They thrive or fall. They continue.
We reach for fellowship and receive a wound
I am indebted to another for the beginning of this understanding.
Think about the token. This token is not just a sign for the Son of God, it is a sign for all who will take up their cross and follow in His path. We all receive it.12 This ought to inform us of quite a bit. It should inform us how popular we will be. It should inform us how few there will be on the straight path. It should show us how difficult it is to recognize a true messenger when they come, who's only credential is that they bear a message from God. It ought to show us the falseness of some current teachings which assure us we cannot be lead astray.
These are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends13 because I had no apparent beauty that man should desire.14 I was mocked, scourged, told I had a devil and crucified.15 Follow thou me.16
"The endowment you are so anxious about, you cannot comprehend now, nor could Gabriel explain it to the understanding of your dark minds." (Joseph Smith, HC 2:22, p. 309)
What was the reason for this darkness? "President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel--said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church--that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls--applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall--that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves...." (Joseph Smith, TPJS, Section Five 1842-43, p.237)
Joseph sought, like Moses, to sanctify his people. To bring them into the presence of God. In the end, they were unwilling, just as ancient Israel.17 What we were left, is a beautiful ordinance that symbolically show us the way back to God, where we receive in truth, what we have received only in symbol.
The whole plan of the Gospel as it relates to the responsibility of Adam and Eve to obtain the heavenly gift is contained in the endowment. It is a tool to teach light and knowledge, not a tool of control.
My mind is dark, but I am allowing light to begin to pierce it, upon the principles God has ordained for obtaining light. I thank the Lord that thou has sent us a true messenger, and that I am worthy of not only the theory of Aaronic priesthood, but the actuality of Aaronic priesthood. That I have been found worthy to be here at this time, in this fourth generation, that I have cast away enough unbelief, to receive the prophets. I have found there is greater happiness and peace and rest for my soul.
1. "And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God." (Moses 5:10)
"And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water. And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man. And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying: Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost. This is the record of the Father, and the Son, from henceforth and forever; And thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity. Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons. Amen. (Moses 6:64-68)
The scriptures do not reveal everything that happened to Adam at this time unless you understand the key to unlock it. It is here that Adam is baptized by water, receives the Holy Ghost or baptism by fire, is redeemed from the Fall and brought back into the presence of God, adopted as a son and obtains Melchizedek priesthood.
"Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, who were all high priests, with the residue of his posterity who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing. And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel. And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him: I have set thee to be at the head; a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a prince over them forever. And Adam stood up in the midst of the congregation; and, notwithstanding he was bowed down with age, being full of the Holy Ghost, predicted whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation." (D&C 107:53-56)
2. "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (John 14:23)
"And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy. John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false." (D&C 130:2-3)
"Then I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it." (Joseph Smith, HC 5:20)
Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am; (D&C 93:1)
"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." (D&C 76:117-118)
3. "I have read—and I believe—the testimonies of those who experienced the grief of Christ’s Crucifixion and the joy of His Resurrection. I have read—and I believe—the testimonies of those in the New World who were visited by the same risen Lord. I believe the testimony of one who, in this dispensation, spoke with the Father and the Son in a grove now called sacred and who gave his life, sealing that testimony with his blood. Declared he: '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; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father.' The darkness of death can always be dispelled by the light of revealed truth. 'I am the resurrection, and the life,' spoke the Master. 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.' Over the years I have heard and read testimonies too numerous to count, shared with me by individuals who testify of the reality of the Resurrection and who have received, in their hours of greatest need, the peace and comfort promised by the Savior." (Thomas S. Monson, He is Risen!, Sunday Morning Session, April, 2010 Session.)
4. I will say that I never dictated the latter part of that sentence [regarding being sustained as a prophet, seer and revelator]. I will make the remark, because those words in that connection always made feel as though I am called more than I am deserving of. I am Brigham Young, an Apostle of Joseph Smith, and also of Jesus Christ. If I have been profitable to these people, I am glad of it. The brethren call me so; and if it be so, I am glad." (The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 3, p. 1347.)
1859 (age 62): "I have flattered myself, if I am as faithful as I know how to be to my God, and my brethren, and to all my covenants, and faithful in the discharge of my duty, when I have lived to be as old as was Moses when the Lord appeared to him, that perhaps I then may hold communion with the Lord, as did Moses. I am not now in that position, though I know much more than I did twenty, ten, or five years ago. But have I yet lived to the state of perfection that I can commune in person with the Father and the Son at my will and pleasure? No, though I hold myself in readiness that he can wield me at his will and pleasure. If I am faithful until I am eighty years of age, perhaps the Lord will appear to me and personally dictate me in the management of his Church and people. A little over twenty years, and if I am faithful, perhaps I will obtain that favour with my Father and God." (JD v. 7, no. 37, p. 243, September 1, 1859)
1862 (age 65): "I think it likely that after a while I may be able to so humble myself and become like a little child, as to be taught more fully by the Heavens. Perhaps, when I am eighty years of age, I may be able to talk with some Being of a higher sphere than this. Moses saw the glory of God at that age, and held converse with better beings than he had formerly conversed with. I hope and trust that by the time I am that age I shall also be counted worthy to enjoy the same privilege." (JD v. 10 no. 4, p. 23)
5. "Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness." (D&C 13)
5. See article: God is Love. Please, at this point, consider yourself as one of the wicked. It's not just those other people who commit sin that you don't happen to have a problem with. If you haven't had your calling and election made sure, then you are wicked. I am wicked. Stop applying terms like wicked to everyone else. We are not in the right way, otherwise, we would already be exalted, and we would have a promise.
6. "The story of the end of this creation culminates in the last, great day, when Satan is loosed again for a season: 'But when the time cometh that evil fruit shall again come into my vineyard' will happen after the period of Paradise. In the allegory, it is when 'evil fruit' returns. In John's vision it is when 'the thousand years are expired.' (Rev. 20: 7.) John describes how 'Satan shall be loosed out of his prison' at that time. (Id.) When he is, he 'shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth.' (Rev. 20: 8.)
"Despite all the Lord of the vineyard has done for His trees, the accuser will still find fault. The things of God will again be challenged, criticized, debated, accused and maligned. The Lord's motives will be questioned, and His means will be derided. Why so little natural fruit? What right is there to discard the bitter fruit? Is not the worth of each soul great enough the Lord of the vineyard should have done more? Why should so much of the fruit have been gathered and burned? How can the Lord have the best interests of the vineyard in mind when there were so many who have not been gathered as natural fruit? What of those who came into the vineyard and were produced through wild branches, how can it be fair to leave them for the burning when they were given an unfair challenge? Their plight is not of their own making, and the Lord of the vineyard is unfair!
"You see it is one thing to claim you believe in and follow the Lord when in your mistaken arrogance you assume His plan requires nothing from you and will exalt you to the sides of the north. (See Isa. 14: 12-13.) But it is another thing when you realize 'the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved.' (D&C 45: 2.) Then will they lament: 'O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out. Yea, in that day ye shall say: O that we had remembered the Lord our God.' (Hel. 13: 33; see also 3 Ne. 8: 24.) When all men stand before God and realize He did expect obedience, sacrifice, consecration, chastity and a godly walk of all who are saved, then many who profess to follow Him when it was to their vanity and pride will find they cannot profess to follow Him when it is to their shame and condemnation. They will, with the accuser, join in denouncing the Lord. They will also compass the camp of the saints and make war against them and their Lord.
"The Lord of the vineyard has done all He could, and respected the agency of men. The arguments at the end of the Millennial Day will prevail. John reports that the number of those who align with the accuser will be so much greater than the camp of the saints, that they will 'compass the camp of the saints about' because their numbers so vastly exceed the mere 'camp' of the righteous they will be able to entirely surround them. (Rev. 20: 9.)" (Denver Snuffer on Jacob 5)
7. See article: The Telestial Glory of D&C 76.
See article: Intelligence, Spirit and Body.
8. "The scriptures are a mixture of very strange doctrines to the Christian world, who are blindly led by the blind. I will refer to another scripture. "Now," says God, when He visited Moses in the bush, (Moses was a stammering sort of a boy like me) God said, "Thou shalt be a God unto the children of Israel." God said, "Thou shalt be a God unto Aaron, and he shall be thy spokesman." I believe those Gods that God reveals as Gods to be sons of God, and all can cry, "Abba, Father!" Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods, even from before the foundation of the world, and are the only Gods I have a reverence for." (Joseph Smith, HC 6:23, p. 478)
9. See article: The Roar of Lions Heard Out of the Wilderness.
10. 27 August 1843, Words of Joseph Smith, p. 247, James Burgess Notebook.
11. HC 5:28.
12. See article: Christ is the Prototype of the Saved Man
13. "And then shall the Jews look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God. And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king." (D&C 45:51-53)
14. "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." (Isaiah 53:1-4)
15. "But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils." (Matthew 12:24)
"And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?" (John 10:20)
"When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him." (John 19:6)
16. "And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them. And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me." (2 Nephi 31:9)
17. See article: Ezekiel 14