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By in large, Zion is much more than what we as Latter-day Saints seem to think it is. Definitions range in our minds anywhere from the geography in and around Jackson County, Missouri, to the area of Salt Lake City, Utah, to the “True Church” in general; to the New Jerusalem as it will exist in the millennium. Each of these things can be correctly called Zion in some sense of the word.
That Zion which will receive Christ when He returns, which will be the City of the Living God during the millennium and capital city of His kingdom during that era, that Zion is a little bit of each of these, and far more than any of them.
It may take most of a lifetime to understand Zion-what it is, where it is, what it has to do with the dispensation in which we live, and how we personally fit into this amazing vision. When the truths of Zion are instilled into a soul by the Holy Spirit of God, something is added beyond the mere facts of what Zion is. What is gained is a truth so astonishing that it changes souls. The truth whereof we speak is twofold. First, it is the astonishing facts of what Zion actually is, and second, it is the sure knowledge that we-you and I-can obtain a place within it, without waiting for an actual city to be built in Missouri. We will discuss these things in depth as we continue.
When one at last understands what Zion truly is, the obligation of obtaining citizenship in that great society may seem overwhelming to the humble soul-and well it should. It is a journey intended to take a lifetime, to tug at one’s heartstrings; to test to the utmost, and to purify and refine the already clean. Yet, this journey is one that millions will walk, and it is not beyond us. Even more importantly, doing so is vital to our salvation.
Why is it vital to our salvation? Because we have been tasked with building Zion prior to the Lord’s Second Advent, and as we will discuss in detail further on, the Lord will not return until Zion is here to receive Him. Can we ignore such a divine responsibility, and still hope to be counted valiant?
Though the journey to Zion may seem astronomical without the lens of great faith to bring our desires into sharp focus, there truly is a well-marked pathway to becoming a part of Zion today. This realization is startling to everyone who comes to understand it, and very life-changing.
The way into Zion has always existed. We have been upon that exact path our entire gospel lives. We are just now rediscovering our personal place upon the path, and our obligations relative to establishing Zion. As has been mentioned, the doctrine of Zion is not new. It is, in fact, as old as Adam. We are just now coming to believe what our faith has already taught us.
It may well seem paradoxical to think of having to learn to believe what our faith has already taught us. One would think if we had faith in something, we would also believe it. But a mental inventory will reveal that much of what we know by faith, we actually don’t believe applies to us. Speaking personally, I have found that I have faith that these great miracles are true, and possible, but at times have also believed that they don’t apply to me, or that they were meant for other people, or another day and age. I have had to teach myself to believe that those things which I know are true are all available to me when I follow an inspired path to obtain them.
Examples may include revelation, visions, miracles and healings. As the miracles become greater and greater our faith remains strong, but our belief becomes weaker and weaker that they apply to us. Examples of these greater miracles may include speaking in tongues, raising the dead, walking on water, building Zion, becoming translated, speaking with angels and even with God Himself, and almost all other profound blessings of the gospel. Yet, the scriptures repeatedly promise them to us. A little further on we will discuss the convergence of faith and belief in depth. For now, the point being made is that we know many details about the latter-day Zion, and have faith that it truly will be built prior to the Lord’s return, but our belief structure may not include us personally building it.
This much is astonishingly true-one cannot discover what Zion actually is without yearning to be a part of it. To catch a glimpse of Zion in its true light, and true glory, is to suddenly see the mind of God, to understand the meaning of mortality, to understand the mystery of godliness, to view the purposes of the latter-day gospel in a far brighter light, and to finally comprehend those things which “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.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Much more than a place, or a city, or a society, Zion is a state of being. To be a part of a perfected Zion society in any dispensation, we have to become a Zion individual. It is roughly like saying, to live in the air, one must become a bird. To enter the rarified environment of the latter-day Zion, when it has reached its full potential, requires a specific and powerful change to recreate a body and soul into the Zion format.
As we continue to explore Zion throughout this book it will become apparent that to be a participant in Zion is to be become pure, to be endowed with the fullest priesthood power, to rise above the mortal sphere, to be endowed with power that transcends life and death, to have authority in heaven and on earth, and to quite literally dwell with God.
Having said all that, I am convinced that the previous paragraph is a textbook example of knowing things by faith without believing them. As we read such statements, each assertion “feels” true, so little thought is given to translating them from truisms into personal beliefs. Consider for a moment one of the statements just above. “To be a participant in Zion is to rise above the mortal sphere.” What an amazing statement! Our initial reaction is to believe the words, because the Holy Ghost accords to the soul that they are true. They were try of Zion societies past, and will be true again. But, there is raw power in those words that apply to us today. To rise above the mortal sphere is not to leave mortality, but as a mortal to no longer be subject to the trials of mortality, to live beyond pain, hunger, even death. Such privileges have belonged to past generations of Zion individuals, and will belong to this dispensation of those who seek and obtain Zion.
We are speaking of the powers of godliness, power that transcends life and death; power over personal injury, immunity to disease and sickness, and to literally have power over our own death.
Such a Zion lifestyle exceeds our present paradigm so powerfully as to make it inconceivable-not in the perception of Zion someday being like this for someone, but in the perception of Zion being like this in our day, for you and me. We can’t conceptually place ourselves in that Zion. In other words, we don’t believe what our faith actually tells us. Thus we have ceased to strive for the very thing which would bring us our greatest triumph in mortality, and our greatest joy.
What we may not also grasp is that Zion is not unlike the Celestial Kingdom in that one must meet rigorous qualifications to enter. Zion is in fact the “City of the Living God,” and Christ will live there and rule the earth from Zion during the Millennium. This makes Zion a function of the divine presence, and those who dwell there will of necessity be changed to endure-or better stated, to enjoy the presence of Christ.
Unlike the Celestial Kingdom though, Zion is not on a celestialized globe. Zion will begin on this earth in this day of wickedness, before the world is cleansed prior to the Second Coming. The Latter-day Zion is a phenomenon of mortality, and will be established among living mortals-you and I hopefully-on this earth prior to the Lord’s return in glory. We will discuss and document these assertions in detail later.
The blinding truth before us is that Zion is not beyond our reach. God does not task us with impossible assignments. Zion is a state that has been obtained in the past, and will be obtained again in this dispensation, possibly by hundreds of thousands, prior to the Lord’s return. The question before us is only whether we, meaning you and I, are willing to pay the price to be a part of it.
What can be more fantastic that this? There is in fact one truth that transcends even the glorious possibilities of Zion. We will discuss this fully later, but in brief, it is that it is within our capability to establish Zion in our lifetime. Everything we need, every doctrine, every priesthood ordinance, every truth and power and principle that is required of a mortal to personally qualify for and enter Zion exists today within the latter-day church. Nothing is missing. Nothing remains to be revealed. No statement or proclamation of the living prophets needs to be made. It is all present, now, in its complexity and completeness. All we must do is see what we already possess with an eye of faith, obtain inspired believe it is ours to claim, and then be willing to pay the price to do so. Of course, only the living Prophet can tell us when it is time to gather and build the city of Zion. But, we can, and even must, obtain a Zion stature and privilege before we would be invited to become a part of that great city of holiness.
When we as individuals enjoy the full effect of every ordinance and covenant available to us, we will become a Zion individual-not just in the millennium-but now, in this life, in this pre-millennial world. We are the seeds that the Sower has scattered upon the landscape of mortality. Those seeds who take root in this dispensation, and that weather the storms that refine and define us, and reach their divine birthright, will bring forth the full fruit, and we will become Zion.
We trouble ourselves a great deal about the timing of the Second Coming, and about making preparations to endure the rigors we assume must precede it. We want to be among the “wise virgins” whose lamps are full, so we store food like squirrels, and pay our tithing, which we humorously refer to as “fire insurance”. We often rehearse to ourselves that “no man knows the day or hour” when the Lord will return. Yet, we do know that He won’t return until Zion has been established. So we may say with certainty that we do know that as long as Zion does not exist, the time is not accomplished for His return. In this sense we do know when He will come. He will come when we have built and populated Zion.
- Brother John
– John Pontius, “The Triumph of Zion”
(The following is posted, without alteration, with permission from Darin Perkins and Terri Pontius)
Date: March 15, 2014 at 1:13:32 PM MDT
To: Terri Pontius
Subject: Dear Sister Pontius,
Dear Sister Pontius,
My name is Darin Perkins and I am currently incarcerated in the Sevier County Jail in Richfield, Utah. I have six months remaining on a five-year sentence. I’m writing to you to express my deepest gratitude for your wonderful husband. I’ve read Visions of Glory, The Triumph of Zion, and Journey to the Veil. These books have made a profound impact on my life. I take that back – they’ve changed my life. I just finished Journey to the Veil, and there wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t overwhelmed by the Spirit. Most people on the outside wouldn’t believe that statement, but it’s true. I have had many amazing experiences that are helping me prepare for life upon release. I know God has a plan for me, and the information in these books is helping me realize my true potential.
I know it’s been two years since your husband passed on, but somehow I feel he has helped me understand these concepts from beyond the veil. I hope that doesn’t sound strange. Your husband is a remarkable man whose work has carried on in the spirit world.
For the past 4-1/2 years I’ve made the most of my incarceration by serving others. I’ve devoted my life to the Savior, and these books along with the Scriptures have helped me teach others these sacred truths. As a result, many are coming to the knowledge of the truth. The scales of darkness are falling and the light of Christ is filling our souls.
Again, thank you for everything.
“Spencer’s Vision Compared to the Vision of Isaiah”
The near-death visions of “Spencer,” as related by John Pontius in the book “Visions of Glory,” find scriptural support on many individual points, particularly from Isaiah. Covering but a third of Spencer’s visionary experiences, “Visions of Glory” lacks the theological and political backstory that Isaiah’s vision of “the end from the beginning” supplies. For more about “Visions of Glory”, please click here.
|Friday, April 18||PROVO|
Time: 7:00-9:00 pm.
Place: ScenicView Academy, 5455 North River Run Dr, Provo, UT.
Directions: Off north University Avenue, west & north of Utah Community Credit Union. Click here for map.
Entrance: $10/person at the door.
|Thursday, April 24||PORTLAND|
Time: 6:30-8:30 pm.
Place: Lake Oswego West End Building, 4101 Kruse Way, Lake Oswego, OR (Willamette Room).
Directions: From Freeways I-5 and Hwy 217, take Exit #292 East to Kruse Way. Turn left on Daniel Way to 4101 Kruse Way. On the corner, you’ll see a white building set back from the road. Park behind the building. Click here for map.
Request: Please wear NO perfumes, colognes or scented lotions of any kind.
Entrance: $10/person at the door.
Contact: Lorrie Anderson, 503-522-1323.
|Friday, May 2||LAS VEGAS|
Time: 7:00-9:00 pm.
Place: American Heritage Academy, 6126 S. Sandhill Rd, Las Vegas, NV.
Directions: I-215 East, exit on Sunset/McCarron (Airport), east on Sunset, north on Sandhill. Click here for map.
Entrance: $10/person at the door.
|Friday, May 9||BOISE|
Time: 6:30-8:30 pm.
Place: Boise Hotel and Conference Center, 3300 Vista Ave, Boise, ID (Cascade Room).
Directions: On I-84, take Exit 53. It is located on the Northeast corner of Vista Ave. and I-84, across the street from a Texaco gas station. Click here for map.
Entrance: $10/person at the door.
“We have no business here other than to build up and establish the Zion of God. It must be done according to the will and law of God, after that pattern and order by which Enoch built up and perfected the former-day Zion , which was taken away to heaven, hence the saying went abroad that Zion had fled. By and by it will come back again, and as Enoch prepared his people to be worthy of translation, we through our faithfulness must prepare ourselves to meet Zion from above when it shall return to earth, and to abide the brightness and glory of its coming.” (Pres. Brigham Young, Annual Conference held in the St. George Temple, April 6, 1877; JD 18:356)
Nephi’s opening words in the Book of Mormon state that he had been born of goodly parents. In one-half of the first verse he mentions that he was taught in the learning of his father, then writes about his father for several more chapters, recording Lehi’s prophetic calling, his visions, dreams and tremendous revelations.
It seems shortsighted to assume that Nephi’s gratitude to his parents was entirely for his education, rather than the tremendous spiritual heritage of being the son of a prophet of God. The first event recorded in the Book of Mormon was Lehi’s vision where he was privileged to look into heaven and see:
God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God. (1 Nephi 1:8)
Nephi, living now in the Americas, was writing as an older, matured and powerful prophet himself. He understood the wonderful heritage his righteous parents had bequeathed him. It is no wonder he began the record of his life by recording his father’s prophetic calling.
There is a powerful tie between one who has his calling and election made sure, and his posterity. Nephi understood this fully, and in writing the account of his own ministry, could scarcely begin without paying proper tribute to his parents to whom he owed so much. Indeed his opening words still publish his gratitude and respect twenty-five hundred years later, for he understood clearly that his great blessings were in large part due to the promises made to his father, Lehi.
Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration, explained:
“The servants of God are sealed in their foreheads, which signifies sealing the blessing upon their heads, meaning the everlasting covenant, thereby making their calling and election sure. When a seal is put upon the father and mother, it secures their posterity, so that they cannot be lost, but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father and mother.” (Smith, Teachings, 321)
Notice that the seal is placed upon the heads of the parents when they have their calling and election made sure, not when they are married in the temple. Elder McConkie adds this valuable insight when commenting upon the above quotation:
“‘The servants of God are sealed in their foreheads, which signifies sealing the blessing upon their heads, meaning the everlasting covenant, thereby making their calling and election sure. When a seal is put upon the father and mother, it secures their posterity, so that they cannot be lost, but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father and mother.’ (Teachings, p. 321.) Thus if both parents and children have their calling and election made sure, none so involved shall be lost; all shall come forth to an inheritance of glory and exaltation in the kingdom of God.” (McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:493)
Families are eternal in nature, which means their structure predates this world. In other words, they were organized before the world was created. The foreknowledge of God gave Him power to assign celestial children to celestial parents. Perhaps even then we did not realize the full import of those familial relationships, nor the powerful wisdom and purpose of those assignments.
When a person makes their calling and election sure in this life their children become participants in those same blessings. To say it differently, when those great promises are given to a parent, one of the great blessings associated therewith is the revealed knowledge that their children are of like spiritual virtue, and similarly foreordained to make their calling and election sure. These are more than good kids, they are spirits foreknown by the Lord, to be the elect of God. The parent is unaware of this until the promises are given, of course. Nevertheless, it occurs.
My perception of the process is this: When the promises are given to the parent, the children are promised exaltation by virtue of the children’s righteousness. The children’s righteousness is both premortal and future, as is the parent’s to a large degree. These children are celestial in their own right, and their eventual reward is secured by their own righteousness. What is secured by the parent’s righteousness is the privilege of being a parent of these valiant spirits. In other words, the children and parent are sealed together by virtue of their combined righteousness. The children are exalted by virtue of their own righteousness.
It should be apparent that these children are not “predestined” to such greatness, but may through their own disobedience fail to measure up to the promised blessings. Still, known that your exaltation extends to your children and grandchildren is of supreme comfort, and a source of great spiritual power.
Consider the account of Alma the Younger, son of the prophet Alma, who had been persecuting the church and fighting against God. Finally the Lord sent an angel to arrest Alma’s decay and spoke these words to the wayward son:
“Behold, the Lord has heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith . . . And now I say unto thee, Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.” (Mosiah 27:14, 16)
This divine communiqué had an immediate and lasting effect upon Alma’s son. He mended his ways and in due time became a prophet in his own right.
How many distraught parents do you suspect have begged the Lord to intervene in their children’s lives but received no such miraculous relief from the Lord? Understanding that God is no respecter of persons, and is absolutely, eternally just and fair, why is it that Alma’s son got what appears to be preferential treatment? The angel gives the answer in explaining why he had come: “That the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.”
Why did Alma have this faith which was sufficient to open the heavens and call forth angels? It is my belief that the larger part his extraordinary faith was because he had heard the Lord’s own voice promising him eternal life, for himself and his posterity. Therefore, in spite of his son’s evil behavior he knew his son’s true celestial nature.
God’s sending forth an angel did not result in Alma the younger receiving an unfair advantage, it resulted in Alma the elder receiving blessings he had been promised, and Alma the younger taking his premortally promised place. Alma the elder had perfect faith that he could make this request because of the Lord’s own words, and did so with tremendous faith and impact.
Laman and Lemuel, the sons of the prophet Lehi, were similarly unrighteous and their father undoubtedly prayed as fervently, and with equal faith as did Alma the great High Priest. The Lord sent angels to Laman and Lemuel as well, and gave them numerous, undeniable witnesses, all of which they eventually rejected. While the scriptures are silent on this subject, it appears that children thus sealed up by promises to their parents may willfully reject their own promise and position. It may be this principle which is echoed in the words of the angel to Alma the younger: “Even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.” (2 Nephi 27:16). Even though the angel had come from the presence of God to call Alma’s son to repentance, Alma the younger could still choose to be cast off if he desired, but it would be in the face of the absolute knowledge that he was choosing evil rather than good. The most inviolate principle of this life is our God-given agency with which we choose our own reward. This agency remains fully operative in all of God’s children regardless of their parents’ righteousness.
- Brother John
– John Pontius, “Following the Light of Christ into His Presence”
I was very frightened in my young life of the bullies in the school, especially of Jake.
He was a year older, bigger and just plain mean. He seemed to delight in terrifying me. At least once a week Jake hit me, or did something aggressive and mean to me. I went home with many bruises and black eyes because of him.
Those were the days when adults figured it was best for boys to work out their problems and learn to stand up to themselves, so my mother and grandparents urged me to learn to defend myself rather than interfering in my life. I finally got up the courage in 5th grade to fight back. In my life rehearsal, I watched that day. I also saw my newfound courage from his perspective, which included the horrible abuse that he was receiving from his father.
When I stood up to Jake and hit him back, it totally changed his thinking about his world. I saw that he felt powerless and victimized himself. My little act of courage showed him that he was not. He never bullied me or anyone else again. He was changed by that experience. He became my friend because I had unknowingly given him the key to his own freedom from tyranny.
Our new friendship allowed Jake to resolve his own relationship struggles with his father. He was emboldened by my action to stand up to his father. Just as Jake stopped bullying me, his father stopped abusing him when Jake refused to submit, and actually left shortly after that.
Seeing the impact that my friendship had upon him was a revelation to me. I had never suspected that there was any motivation for his bullying except meanness.
After the vision I understood why he had taken his frustration out on me and others.
From my life rehearsal I learned that this was all divinely engineered, that we both needed this close relationship, and it had to start with his bullying me in order to heal him. I saw that I had agreed to all of this prior to our birth. Our divinely ordained friendship had a lasting impact in his healing and his relationship with his family, and upon me. I could not have learned these things without him.
What I learned by seeing all of this was that our relationship was engineered by God, and had a significant impact upon both of us. We both changed. I quit being afraid of bullies and of life in general. Not only did my actions begin the healing of his abuse, but his part in my life began my healing as well. I realized that fear was not necessary and that I could stand up for myself and actually make friends because of my courage.
That realization still influences me today. Our relationship was ordained and engineered by God to save us both. In my thinking today, it was well worth the few bruises it cost me.
The last thing we did before Jake graduated and moved away was to perform in the musical Oklahoma. He played Jud, and I played Curley. In the musical Judd and Curley are both in love with Laurey. Curley confronts Jud about his bullying and they become friends of sorts. But, after Laurey agrees to marry my character, Curley, Jud breaks into the wedding and threatens Curley with a knife. In the ensuing brawl Jud falls on his knife and dies. Curley of course, gets the girl. The play was a metaphor of our relationship, which was not lost on either of us.
I have often pondered why God would let me see this life rehearsal knowing that I was not actually going to die. My assumption prior to this experience was that you see your life rehearsal just one time, when you actually die. I wondered for years why would God give me this powerful insight into my own life, and then send me back into mortality.
– As quoted by John Pontius, “Visions of Glory”