The Temple: the door to exaltation
There are many wonderful answers surrounding the question of obtaining exaltation. Joseph Smith provided an abridgement to the aged old question of how when he explained that the fulness of the priesthood is received only in the temple.
How? Through washings, anointings, solemn assemblies, oracles in holy places, conversations, ordinances, endowments, and sealings. (D&C 124:40) It is in the temple that we enter into the patriarchal order or the order of the priesthood that bears the name “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.” (McConkie, A New Witness, pg. 315.)
Section 84 is commonly known as the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood.
“And…all they who receive this priesthood receive me…and he that receiveth me receiveth my Father…and this according to the OATH and COVENANT of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.” (D&C 84:33-44)
So what is the difference between the oath and the covenant?
It takes two parties to make a covenant, but any person can swear an oath. Man and deity enter into the covenant of the priesthood, but only the Lord, meaning the Father, swears an oath. (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, pg. 313)
The story of cutting off the head of Laban is gory and unnecessary to an American.
Here are a couple of perspectives on this story.
1) Laban’s mortal experience was over according to God. God gave Laban his life. Nephi was commanded by God to take the life of Laban.
- The boys tried to get the plates three times.
- Laban had three opportunities to give Lehi’s boys the plates.
- The Spirit constrained Nephi to kill Laban three times.
- Laban mortal probation was over which is a shadow of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy just prior to the birth of the Savior in Helaman 13:38 where he says…
Question: When do we receive the actual remission of sins?
Answer: Sins are remitted when we receive the Holy Ghost, not in the waters of baptism (McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 290.) It is the Holy Spirit of God that erases carnality and we become clean when we receive the fellowship and companionship of the Holy Ghost.
At birth there are three entities present: water, blood, and the Spirit.
At baptism there are three entities present: water, blood, and the Holy Ghost.
At the crucifixion there was water and blood spilling from the side of the Savior to indicate death. His Father had left Him, the Holy Spirit was 50 days away and the Last Supper typed of our new birth and covenant.
Baptism is a death, a burial, and a resurrection.
Perhaps the most well known Isaiah passage concerning messianic prophecy is found in 2 Nephi 19:6 which is the equivalent of Isaiah 9:6. Let’s set up the passage first. Isaiah is dealing with King Ahaz and in his prophetic utterings Isaiah wants to shock the king with his futuristic insights. “Therefore,” quoting Isaiah, “the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
The third reason the writings of Isaiah provide such difficulty is his education. Isaiah was among the educated elite of his day. He was raised in the big city of Jerusalem and spent his entire life preparing to serve the Lord. He was aggressive in dealing with the skeptics of his day for he was a prophet in his own city and did not use diplomacy with his tongue:
“The Lord…hath made my mouth like a sharp sword…and made me a polished shaft. The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. “
“Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”
The writings of Nephi become a ‘key’ as it were, to unlocking the mysteries of Isaiah. Full comprehension is therefore relegated to those who accept the Book of Mormon as the word of God. For those whose pride blocks the insights provided by divine intervention, the clarity of Isaiah is looking through a glass darkly and the precepts are coded in a script or tongue undecipherable except to those carrying the blood of Israel.
Given the heavenly restrictions under which Isaiah operated, his message was deliberately obscure, much like the Savior, Who spoke in parables. Isaiah cloaked his message so only those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, can.
Why does the Lord restrict access to truth and gospel principles to His children? For the same reason disciplinary courts are benevolent acts of charity. Knowledge and priesthood authority without the requisite understanding puts the holder under greater condemnation for misuse.
Knowing as we do that the Holy Ghost is the Minister of the Father and the Son—appointed by them, because he is a spirit, he performs a special service to mankind. He delivers truth and light through the Light of Christ and his influence can dwell in each of us simultaneously. In other words, the influence of the Holy Ghost can be everywhere at the same time.
However, no member of the Godhead dwells in us in the literal sense, but all of them dwell in us figuratively to the extent that we are like them. If we have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16), which we receive by the power of the Holy Ghost, then Christ dwells in us. (McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, pg. 271-2.)
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
Baptizo is the transliterated word from Greek. The New Greek Lexicon defines baptism as…
- To dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge.
- To wash, to make clean with water.
- To overwhelm.
“And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God as was Aaron” (Hebrews 5:4).
How was Aaron called? By his brother Moses, the prophet, who then laid hands on his head and conferred the priesthood upon Aaron. Where did Moses get the authority? From Jethro, his father-in-law, a Semite, who held the Melchizedec priesthood (D&C 84:6-7).
And where do modern-day Christian ministers and leaders derive their priesthood authority? From schools, universities, and institutes. From a calling they feel deeply and sincerely. I do not question the sincerity of another’s belief, but God explained clearly the process of getting the priesthood, it must come from one who already has it.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesian 4:5). Either sprinkling a child is correct or immersion when 8 is correct, there is no in-between. These represent two different baptisms. Infant baptism isn’t new; it was practiced in the days of Abraham (JST-Genesis 17:4-8, 1), and in the days of Mormon and Moroni (Moroni 8).
The Lord is eloquent in His indignation. First He explains why little children don’t need baptism.
“And…little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.”
Baptism began with Adam, the first man. “He was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was…brought forth out of the water. And thus he was baptized.” (Moses 6:64-65)
This established the pattern. All of the apostles and prophets were baptized and all performed baptisms. Documented records of prophets being baptized include Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses (Moses 6:47-68; 8:19-24; JST-Genesis 17:3-7; 1 Corinthians 10”1-4).
In Isaiah 48:1 we read the “house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel and [had] come forth out of the waters of Judah.” This refers to baptism (1 Nephi 20:1).
Baptism carries an interesting connotation when speaking to people who consider themselves Christian in the Protestant and Catholic fashion.
With few exceptions, the ordinance of baptism has been distorted so dramatically that the only two features of origin still remaining are the presence of the person being baptized and the substance of water. Other concepts such as power and authority, mode, meaning, age, metaphors, similes, and purpose are lost and forgotten.