[Editor: This is the eleventh article in a series of excerpts from Jeffrey M. Bradshaw’s new book, entitled “Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood.” Links to the full series are found at the end of the article. Color and black-and-white editions of the book are available on Amazon.com and at selected LDS Bookstores (including EbornBooks, BYU Bookstore, and the FAIR LDS Bookstore). An iBooks version is can be purchased from the Apple iBookstore. Downloadable articles and a pdf version of this book are available at www.templethemes.net
Author: In discussing temple matters, I have tried to follow the model of Hugh W. Nibley, who was, according to his biographer Boyd Jay Petersen, “respectful of the covenants of secrecy safeguarding specific portions of the LDS endowment, usually describing parallels from other cultures without talking specifically about the Mormon ceremony. This approach earned him a great deal of trust from both General Authorities and from Church members” (B. J. Petersen, Nibley, p. 354). For Nibley’s views on confidentiality as it relates to temple ordinances, see, e.g., H. W. Nibley, On the Sacred and the Symbolic, pp. 553-554, 569-572.]
D&C 84:35-37 teaches an important aspect of the order of the priesthood; namely, that no one can receive the Father or the Father’s kingdom until he has received the Son, and that no one can receive the Son unless he accepts the Lord’s authorized priesthood servants:
And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
“He That Receiveth My Servants Receiveth Me”
In New Testament times, Peter, James, and John were given the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood to represent the Lord in directing the work of salvation on the earth. Likewise, in the last dispensation, the Lord specifically told his Saints to receive the Prophet Joseph Smith’s word “as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.” Conversely, he who rejects the Lord’s servants rejects the Lord and the Lord’s prophet. Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “The man who will not sustain the bishop of his ward and the president of his stake will not sustain the President of the Church.” Elder Melvin J. Ballard explained that these principles operate even in the next life:
Some folks get the notion that the problems of life will at once clear up and they will know that this is the Gospel of Christ when they die. I have heard people say they believe when they die they will see Peter and that he will clear it all up. I said, “You never will see Peter until you accept the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, at the hands of the elders of the Church, living or dead.” They will meet these men to whom this right and authority has been given, for this generation shall receive it at the hands of those who have been honored with the priesthood of this dispensation. Living or dead, they shall not hear it from anyone else.
“He That Receiveth My Father Receiveth My Father’s Kingdom”
Those who receive the Father eventually receive the supernal blessing of His kingdom. D&C 84:38 reads:
And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
This verse corrects a common misinterpretation of the final part of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, where some have falsely concluded that when the Father gives all He has to one of his children it somehow diminishes what He can give to the others. Differentiating the eventual fulfillment of the promise of election from the “spirit of Elias” and the “spirit of Elijah” through which the ordinances discussed previously are administered, the Prophet described the “spirit of Messiah,” whereby the Savior was given “all power in heaven and in earth” and “enthroned in the heavens as King of kings and Lord of lords.” These blessings of the “spirit of Messiah” are available to all those who endure to the end in faithfulness.
The righteous dead in Old Testament times, who received every blessing and promise of the Melchizedek priesthood during their lifetimes, yet required the completion of Christ’s atonement, resurrection, and ascension before they could be enabled to receive their full exaltation. A similar idea is expressed the following passage from the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah, a popular text among early Christians:
And he took me up into the seventh heaven… And there I saw all the righteous from the time of Adam onwards... But they were not sitting on their thrones, nor were their crowns of glory on them. And I asked the angel who (was) with me, “How is it that they have received these robes, but are not on (their) thrones nor in (their) crowns?” And he said to me, “They do not receive the crowns and thrones of glory… until the Beloved [i.e., Christ] descends in the form in which you will see Him descend… And when He has plundered the angel of death, He will rise on the third Day… And then many of the righteous will ascend with Him, whose spirits do not receive (their) robes until the Lord Christ ascends and they ascend with Him. Then indeed they will receive their robes and their thrones and their crowns, when He has ascended into the seventh heaven.”
“Eye Hath Not Seen”
We cannot in this life fully comprehend the full extent and meaning of God’s promised blessings. As the Apostle Paul wrote: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” D&C 76:54-59 reads:
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