The Testimony of Jesus
A recent reading of Doctrine and Covenants Section 76 got me thinking. Fast and Testimony Meeting today got me frustrated. Long story short I decided to write. As an LDS culture I think we’re setting the bar too low and missing “The” mark (yes capitalized and quoted). I say this hesitantly. Don’t dismiss me as an apostate yet. Hear me out. I’m not recommending that anyone leave the church or do anything more drastic than repent. I know I certainly need to repent. What I’m about to outline is straight from our scriptures. The problem I’m finding is that often scripture doesn’t really align with many of the standard ideas that we toss around in LDS culture. We are teaching our kids (and each other) that if they perform certain ordinances culminating with getting sealed in the temple and enduring to the end, presumably faithful in the church until they die, then they will be saved and exalted in the world to come. We will live with God some day, after we die of course. We use phrases like saving ordinances, forever families, becoming like Heavenly Father, coming unto Christ, etc. without really examining the import and details of these goals or what the scriptures say that it takes to obtain them, perhaps because we assume we have already obtained. Are we like the Born-Again Christians, but with a longer checklist?
What is Testimony?
One of the most critical difficulties we face in this day and age is determining what words mean. What did the prophets actually mean when they wrote the stuff they wrote? Accessing the Holy Ghost would be extremely helpful in this quest. This requires more action on our part than having hands laid upon our heads after being baptized. Please note that the believer is simply being instructed to receive the Holy Ghost at that point. After having received and after mentioning how he and Oliver prophesied, Joseph described the effect of the Holy Ghost this way: “Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.” (JSH 74) Why do we assume that simply by belonging to the church he established that we automatically understand what he understood?
In addition, may I recommend finding a copy of Webster’s 1828 Dictionary? This dictionary preserves the language of the day. It sheds more light on the meanings of words in use at the time the Prophet Joseph lived in mortality.
[L. testimonium.] A solemn declaration or
affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact. Such
affirmation in judicial proceedings, may be verbal or written, but must be
under oath. Testimony differs from evidence; testimony is the declaration of a
witness, and evidence is the effect of that declaration on the mind, or the
degree of light which it affords.
(Webster’s 1828 Dictionary – Testimony)
Webster defines testimony as the declaration of a witness. His definition of the noun/person form of the word witness is this:
3. A person who knows or sees any thing; one personally present; as, he was witness; he was an eye-witness. 1 Peter 5.
Conveniently Webster cites 1 Peter 5:1 which states: “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.” Peter was an “eye-witness” to these events.
Here is a more concise modern definition of the word testimony. This conforms to the 1828 definition.
tes·ti·mo·ny - Noun
1. A formal written or spoken
statement, esp. one given in a court of law.
2. Evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something.
(Google.com search string – “define: testimony”)
The following is the most complete definition given in the study helps to the LDS scriptures.
Testimony – Knowledge and a
spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. A testimony can also be an official
or legal declaration of what a person perceives as truth (D&C 102:26)
(Guide to the Scriptures)
What I am getting at is this. Could the prophets be talking about more than a feeling? Is there something more significant that we must seek than simply feeling good about a concept? The Guide to the Scriptures points out that testimony comes by the Holy Ghost. I do not dispute that statement, however I feel to say that in most cases when describing testimony (even and especially one given by the Holy Ghost) the prophets hold a higher standard than a burning in the bosom (D&C 9:8). The prophets speak of serious revelation. D&C 8:2-3 explains how Oliver would receive revelation. “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation.”
Moses 6:61 sheds more light on this type of connection to Heaven. Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment. This definition is far more expansive than the burning bosom or the good feelings we might commonly attribute to the Holy Ghost. Consider Nephi’s treatment of the concept of receiving testimony by the Holy Ghost.
And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men. For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him. For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round. (1 Nephi 10:17-19)
Nephi’s description of gaining testimony would more closely mirror Webster’s definition and how we use the term in the secular world. Nephi is an eye-witness just as Peter is. Nephi’s honest inquiry was followed by a miraculous vision and the receipt of further light and knowledge. The record that he left for us teaches that all who believe and diligently seek should expect similar proof.
Testimony in a Court of Law
Imagine yourself a spectator at a murder trial. The prosecution calls a witness to the stand. “Place your hand on the bible and raise your right arm to the square. Do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”
“I do,” states the witness.
“Do you know who killed the deceased victim?” asks the prosecutor.
“I know that the defendant, the man sitting over there, killed the deceased,” the witness points to the defendant.
“Thank you very much. You may cross examine.”
The prosecuting attorney sits down, and the defense attorney approaches the witness.
“How do you know that the defendant killed the deceased?” asks the defending attorney.
“Well I just know.”
“Can you be more specific?”
“No. Not really. I’m not sure that I can. You might misunderstand. It’s a feeling.” The witness appears somewhat agitated.
“A man’s freedom is at stake here. He may even face the death penalty. You must be more specific. Did you see the defendant kill the deceased?” cries the defender in exasperation.
“I can’t really answer that.”
“Did you or did you not see the defendant kill the deceased?”
“I am a witness to the murder. I know that the defendant killed the deceased.”
Following the Prophet
And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament. These are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus. These are they who deny not the Holy Spirit. These are they who are thrust down to hell.
The testimony of Jesus is very important. Verse 83 states that these people (who did not receive it) have not denied the Holy Spirit. It implies they have had some sort of spiritual experience. Verse 74 of the same section explains that the terrestrial kingdom includes those “who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.” Starting in verse 51 Joseph explains that those who inherit celestial glory “received the testimony of Jesus,” and they accomplished several other important milestones in that process.
In verses 98-101 Joseph again clarifies who will inherit the telestial kingdom.
And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world; For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas. These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch; But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant.
Joseph is naming off true prophets. He even names Jesus Christ in that list. Again he indicates they “received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus.” Furthermore he indicates this in verse 109: “We saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore.” This is the only mention of how many souls might end up in a given kingdom. It seems to imply that most people end up in the lowest or telestial kingdom. This runs counter to the comment that I have heard often in relation to temple work that most everyone who has their work done accepts it. Jesus makes a statement that supports D&C 76:109 when he says that “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt 7:14)
The Testimony of Jesus
Clearly this article is building up to a discussion of the question “What is the Testimony of Jesus?” I’ve pondered several possibilities. Obviously I’m ruling out the idea that the testimony of Jesus is the type of testimony I might bear in Fast and Testimony Meeting where I might say “I believe in Jesus and that He is my Savior. I know this is His Church. etc.” I can only use myself as an example because I do not know what others have witnessed. I am not an eye-witness yet in this life. As a life long member I feel that many of us make these types of statements because of the feelings and even simple proofs we have received along the way. But I do not know how many have been “eye-witnesses” as Peter and Nephi are. I do not think it is improper to state such belief as I have in the past. It would be helpful if we chose our words appropriately. These feelings we have are only the beginning. We must move along the path or we are literally damned. We must ascend.
Another possibility is that the testimony of Jesus is one such as Peter has. He is an eye-witness to His life, death and resurrection. Nephi also witnessed the same events in vision. But the language in D&C 76 leads me to believe this is not “the” testimony of Jesus. The witness of Peter, Nephi and the prophets is the type of testimony that we should all seek to gain personally. That is to say that we ought to seek to obtain real testimony; to see and hear and know. My feelings and belief are only a small seed that could grow into such a witness as Nephi clearly explains in 1 Nephi 10. However, this type of testimony is not THE testimony of Jesus.
It is possible that Revelation 19:10 defines the testimony of Jesus. In this verse an angel tells John the Revelator that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. It is my opinion that this comment ought to be taken in context instead of as a snippet, and that it supports what D&C 76 is telling us. John is chastised for attempting to worship the angel. The angel tells him, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” It makes more sense when you consider that the angel was indicating that he had achieved at least the same level as John on the spiritual ladder. He is a fellow servant and a brother. He has walked the path.
I believe that the testimony of Jesus spoken of in D&C 76 is when Jesus has seen and heard enough of any person’s actions that HE testifies of their worthiness to His Father. In any man or woman’s case, that would be the singular testimony given by the Savior, would it not? Would it not be His testimony that you have been found worthy that is the key to your salvation?
Joseph Smith explained the concept of the testimony of Jesus. Source: Words of Joseph Smith - Joseph Smith, Andrew F. Ehat, Lyndon W. Cook
Chapter second Epistle of Peter. The first four verses are the preface to the
whole subject. There are three grand Keys to unlock the whole subject. First
what is the knowledge of God, Second what is it to
make our calling and election sure. Third and last is how to make our calling
and election sure. Ans, it is to obtain a promise from God for
myself that I shall have Eternal life. that is the
more sure word of prophycy. Peter was writeing to those of like precious faith with them the
Apostles First to be sealed with the
Holy Spirit of promise that is the testimony of Jesus Second how is he to get that Holy Spirit; Ans
except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God; second except a
man be born of water and the spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
What is it for a man to obtain salvation Ans, It is
to triumph over every foe or ascend far above all enemies for the last enimey to conquor is death and untill that is done you have not obtained salvation.
(21 May 1843 (Sunday Morning).
man can be the minister of Jesus Christ, except he has the testimony of Jesus
and this is the Spirit of Prophecy. Whenever
Salvation has been administered it has been by Testimony. Men at the
present time testify of Heaven and of hell, and have never seen either—and I
will say that no man knows these things without this.
(Before 8 August 1839 (1))
any man that does not receive revelation for himself
must be damned for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophicy
for Christ says ask and you shall receive. And if he happens to receive
anything I ask will it not be a revelation. And if any man has not the
testimony of Jesus or the spirit of God he is none of his Christ's namely And if not his he must be damn'd.
(9 July 1843 (Sunday Morning).
These quotes from the prophet contain many deep concepts. I recommend reading 2 Peter 1 and studying the subject(s) at length as Joseph did. However, let us not get hung up on the syntax of the phrase “the testimony of Jesus.” In comparison, we speak of charity as being the pure love of Christ. Does the pure love of Christ mean that Christ loves us purely? Does it describe the pure love we have for or about Christ? Or does the pure love of Christ mean the type of love Christ has? We recognize that it is the latter. Charity is a synonym for Christ-like love. It is Christ’s love.
Similarly the testimony of Jesus is His testimony, not our testimony of Him. To receive the Testimony of Christ is to hear from His voice “This day you are my son.” It is His “solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact… given under oath.” In this case the fact declared before the Father is that you are spiritually begotten of Jesus and are His child. It is to be sealed to Him. He becomes your Eternal Father and you become His son adopted and sealed to Him by His word. Thus your salvation is made sure by the Holy Spirit of Promise (His promise).
For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him. (1 Nephi 10:18)
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matt 7:13-14)
Prior to Joseph’s death we built two temples; one in Kirtland and one in Nauvoo. The mainstream LDS view of this history is that the doctrine of the church was not complete until the temple ordinances were restored in Nauvoo. While it is clear that new ideas and revelations were received along the way, I think these two temple periods can be examined in parallel to understand the core doctrine that Joseph was trying to teach.
In Kirtland Joseph published the Lectures on Faith and presented them at the School of the Prophets. This set of seven lectures is the doctrine portion of The Doctrine and Covenants. It was later removed in the early 1900s but the title of the book remains The Doctrine and Covenants, even though it currently only contains the covenants or commandments section. If you have not yet read Lectures on Faith, please read them. In summary, Lectures on Faith teaches that in order to be saved one must by faith obtain a knowledge of God and knowledge that God approves of their sacrifice. I.e. to have one’s calling and election made sure. Consider these excerpts:
It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him… Those, then, who make the sacrifice will have the testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of God, and those who have this testimony will have faith to lay hold on eternal life, and will be enabled, through faith, to endure unto the end, and receive the crown that is laid up for them that love the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Lecture 6)
For where faith is, there will the knowledge of God be also, with all things which pertain thereto revelations, visions, and dreams, as well as every other necessary thing in order that the possessors of faith may be perfected and obtain salvation; for God must change, otherwise faith will prevail with him. And he who possesses it will, through it, obtain all necessary knowledge and wisdom until he shall know God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he has sent: whom to know is eternal life: Amen. (Lecture 7)
As John 17:3 indicates, “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." We must in reality come to know God, face to face. We must see and hear and know as Nephi explained. The ordinances restored at the Nauvoo temple outline the same process but in allegorical format. We are taught to consider ourselves the main players in the story of Adam and Eve. “Your endowment is to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord which are necessary for you... to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels…” (see Journal of Discourses 2:31) This is the process of coming to know God. We converse with the Lord at the veil and then enter his presence. An endowment is a gift. (again see Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) The temple endowment is a gift of further light and knowledge. It is instruction and invitation given authoritatively. But we must act on this understanding or we will not obtain the goal.
Jesus identified the process when he spoke with Nicodemus. “I say unto thee, Except
a man be born again, he cannot see the
Adam went through the same process. “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;… Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons. Amen.” (Moses 6:65-66,68)
Nephi explains what we must do in order to complete the process of our rebirth in chapter 32 of 2nd Nephi. “And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way... behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do. Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.” (v 1,5-6) While I do not recommend skipping out on going to the temple, it stands to reason that one who is meeting with the Savior in the flesh is on the right track regardless of temple ordinances, hence the emphasis on the Holy Ghost and completing our rebirth by following Christ through it. Jesus then shows the way to the Father. He IS the way. (John 14:6)
Lecture 7 adds more light to this process. “Thus says John, in his first epistle, 3:2 and 3: Behold, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be; but we know, that when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And any man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.--Why purify himself as he is pure? Because, if they do not they cannot be like him.”
In my estimation, the underlying and overwhelming message of the scriptures is that we need to find Christ in reality; that we need to connect to heaven and witness these things for ourselves. In the process of walking this path we receive the testimony of Jesus. These are necessary steps in order for us to obtain the higher kingdoms. Doctrine and Covenants 76 concludes with this statement:
But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion; Which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful for man to utter; Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him; 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 76:114-118)
Why does the Lord give us eye-witnesses? Simply because hearsay is not admissible in court. Primary-source accounts are believable. This is reason pure and simple. When a man who has seen and heard bears testimony it is power and impacts upon the soul of the listener. As Oliver charged the twelve in 1835, “You have been indebted to other men, in the first instance, for evidence; on that you have acted; but it is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven for yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out; although many will not give heed, yet others will. You will therefore see the necessity of getting this testimony from heaven. Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face.” [Pp. 195–96 History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Vol. II. 2nd ed.]
The second Lecture on Faith addresses this issue. I recommend reading it. Moroni 7 also explains. I will end with Mormon's words. They are far better than mine. I find myself among the residue of men and deeply desire that I may successfully repent and obtain the faith spoken of that I might gain testimony in the same way described in the scriptures. I find great excitement in the idea that God is no respecter of persons and that He manifests Himself to all who diligently seek Him. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Moroni 7:22 For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.
23 And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come.
24 And behold, there were divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men, which were good; and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them.
25 Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ.
26 And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.
27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?
28 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.
29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.
30 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.
31 And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.
32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.
33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.
34 And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved.
35 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?
36 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?
37 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.
38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.
Other References for Further Study
D&C 130:3 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.
John 14:23 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.
D&C 130:1 When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.
John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
D&C 93:1 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 93:26 The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth;
D&C 88:63-68 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you; And if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation. Behold, that which you hear is as the voice of one crying in the wilderness—in the wilderness, because you cannot see him—my voice, because my voice is Spirit; my Spirit is truth; truth abideth and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound. And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.
Alma 34:34-36 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked. And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb..
Revelation 3:16-22 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
The words of Joseph Smith:The Doctrine of Election
St Paul exhorts us to make our Calling & Election shure. This is that sealing power spoken of by Paul in other places (See Eph I. 13.14. In whom ye also trusted, that after ye heard the work of truth; the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. Which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of his glory.) That we may be sealed up unto the day of redemption, this principle ought. (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed any thing to Joseph, but what he will make known unto the Twelve & even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to--bear them. for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor know ye the Lord for all shall know him (who Remain) from the least to the greatest, How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power & the other comforter spoken of which will be manifest by Revelation.
First and Second Comforter
There is two Comforters spoken of [one] is the Holy Ghost the same as given on the day of pentecost and that all Saints receive after faith. Repentance & Baptism. This first comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind enlightening the understanding & storeing the intellect with present knowledge of a man who is of the literal Seed of Abraham than one that is a gentile though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the Literal Seed of Abraham it is calm & serene & his whole soul & body are only exercised by the pure spirit of Intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile is to purge out the old blood & make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost, in such a case there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body & visible to the eye than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence
The other comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest & perhaps understood by few of this generation, After a person hath faith in Christ, repents of his sins & is Baptized for the remission of his sins & received the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands) which is the first Comforter then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering & thirsting after Righteousness. & living by every word of God & the Lord will soon say unto him Son thou shalt be exalted. &c When the Lord has thoroughly proved him & finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazard. then the man will find his calling & Election made sure then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter which the Lord hath promised the saints as is recorded in the testimony of St John in the XIV ch from the 12th to the 27 verses Note the 16, 17, 18, 21, 23 verses. (16.vs) & I will pray the father & he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; (17) Even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you & shall be in you. (18) I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you (21) He that hath my commandments & keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. & he that loveth me shall be loved of my father & I will love him & will manifest myself to him (23) If a man Love me he will keep my words. & my Father will love him. & we will come unto him, & make our abode with him.
Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more or less than the Lord Jesus Christ himself & this is the sum & substance of the whole matter,
After Second Comforter Obtained - Visitations
that when any man obtains this last Comforter he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him or appear unto him from time to time. & even he will manifest the Father unto him & they will take up their abode with him, & the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him & the Lord will teach him face to face & he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God, & this is the state & place the Ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious vision Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St Paul in the third heavens, & all the Saints who held communion with the general Assembly & Church of the First Born &c.
Cultivating the Spirit of Revelation
The Spirit of Revelation is in connection with these blessings. A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the Spirit of Revelation for instance when you feel pure Inteligence flowing unto you it may give you sudden strokes of ideas that by noticeing it you may find it. fulfilled the same day or Soon. (I.E.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God will come to pass and thus by learning the Spirit of God. & understanding it you may grow into the principle of Revelation. until you become perfect in Christ Jesus
(Wilford Woodruff Journal, Willard Richards Pocket Companion
Council Meeting of Presidency and Twelve Apostles on June 27, 1839 (Commerce, Ill.))