As has been noted, the process of obtaining a place in Zion is that of seeking and obtaining an audience with Christ. It is during that divine interview that we may ask for any righteous endowment, including the greater gift of being translated, and thus becoming a Zion individual. It is also worth observing that it is not necessarily the pathway of every individual to be translated—especially in days prior to the actual establishment of Zion. In these days the greater request may be many other things. But, the fact remains that to be in Christ’s presence is to become Zion, no matter what we may request of Him.
One of the great privileges of the gospel that has existed in many dispensations is the privilege of obtaining a personal visitation of the Lord. The scriptures are replete with accounts of those who have sought and obtained this great gift. A notable few of those who have obtained the privilege of conversing with the God of heaven face to face include Adam (and most of his contemporaries), Enoch and his whole city, Noah, Melchizedek and his city, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph (of Egypt), Moses, Aaron and seventy of the elders of Israel, Elijah, Elisha, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Peter, James, John, Paul, Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, the brother of Jared, Alma, Moroni, Helaman, Nephi (III), the Nephite Twelve, thousands during Christ’s appearance at Bountiful, and Joseph Smith with many of his contemporaries. It is also undoubtedly true that countless others, whose names are unknown to history, also obtained this consummate gift in mortality. In our own time Apostles have the same privilege of being personal witnesses of Christ to bear testimony that they have seen Him face to face.
Joseph Smith explained it this way:
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. Strengthen your faith; cast off your doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid His hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid His hands upon His disciples, why not in latter days? (Joseph Smith, HOTC, 2: 195.)
It is worth observing that even during times of spiritual decline and darkness, many faithful sought and obtained this grand blessing. Many of the Old Testament prophets prevailed with the Lord while all around them wickedness reigned.
So sublime is this visitation, and so vast the blessings it bestows, that it is literally impossible to overstate its attendant blessings. In the following pages we will examine these blessings, as well as the requirements laid upon those who would be so bold as to seek the face of God.
Let us begin by observing that we are literally commanded to seek His face.
And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life. (D&C 101:38)
Moses sought to bring his people out of spiritual darkness into the full light of the glory of God. He sought to prepare them that they might do as he had done, ascend the Holy Mount and see the face of God. He labored diligently to prepare them to enter within the veil.
19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22 For without this [the power of godliness] no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory. (D&C 84:19-24, comment added)
Please observe that verse 22 clearly defines “the power of godliness” as that which makes it possible to see the face of God, to be in His presence and to enter into His rest, which is the fullness of His glory (v24).
It seems no more tragic for the children of Israel to reject the invitation to enter into the fullness of God’s glory, than for us to likewise reject the same invitation through failure to realize it is being offered to us, or even worse, to fail to believe we are capable of prevailing with the Lord.
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)
It requires monumental faith to translate a promise given to all mankind, into a personal belief as seemingly audacious as “I can seek and obtain a personal audience with my Savior.” It almost seems irreverent to so believe, as if one is leapfrogging an entire paradigm of mortality—which is that God only appears to prophets, period. The internalization of a belief that you, or I, can and even must, find ourselves on the other side of the veil in this life is almost superhuman.
Mortal frailty notwithstanding, the promise has stood through time, sounding a divine invitation to awake, and behold.
© May 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.