Seek the Face of the Lord (Part 2)


Continued from “Seek the Face of the Lord (Part 1)

Beyond human unbelief, the enemy of our souls does not want us to believe such lofty things, and carefully steals the precious seeds of veil-rending belief before they even touch the rich soils of our soul.

Still, the promise stands, and all mankind is invited to enter in.

Elder McConkie declared:

Seeing the Lord is not a matter of lineage or rank or position or place of precedence. (TPM, pp. 569)

Joseph Smith said:

God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what he will make known unto the Twelve, and 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 . . . from the least to the greatest. (Teachings, p. 149)

We who, largely inaccurately, consider ourselves the “least saint” can take great hope from the foregoing promise. The reason this promise is extended to all is that God will lead us to the veil as fast as we are able, or perhaps better stated, as fast as we are willing to bear it.

The process to approach the veil is clearly defined in scripture:

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 93:1)

Chapters could be written on this divine formula. The power of what it tells us is that every soul who follows this process may partake of the divine gift—not just the anointed few, but every soul. The process is thus defined.

1- “Forsake your sins.” Though this process must include repentance, it reaches much farther than simply repenting faster than one sins. It is a state of forsaking, walking away from sin, abandoning it, and living life as sinlessly as mortals may. To do so is to drink from the divine river of grace. It is to qualify, through obedience to law, for a retooling of the soul which makes sinless living far more than merely possible, but joyful. No mortal can forsake sin so completely without the power of Christ’s grace. However, when obedience, fueled by unconquerable desire, taps into the power of the atonement, all things are possible—all spiritual refinements, including forsaking all sin, becomes not just possible, but sweetly distills upon our souls as the dews from heaven. We become pure in heart, not by our own discipleship, but by the discipline of obedience, and the upgrading of the soul by God. (Mosiah 5:1-5)

2- “Come unto me.” How can one come unto Christ unless one perceives where Christ is? Faith, repentance, and baptism bring the seeker to Christ a significant distance, but much, much more remains to be done to truly come unto Christ.

To come unto Christ one must hear His voice, and turn toward the sound thereof with faith-born desire. We must struggle if necessary, walk when able, and eventually run toward the sound thereof.

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. (Revelations 3:20)

If any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him! Notice though, that we are the ones who must open the door!

What a marvelous promise. Christ’s voice is Light and Truth and Spirit. (D&C 84:45) To walk with his voice is to walk in the light, surrounded by truth, guided by His Spirit. To walk without His voice is to walk in darkness, lies and confusion. Throughout scripture the Lord laments that man is walking in darkness at noon day. (D&C 95:6) Christ laments over and over that He is a light shining in darkness, and the darkness does not perceive the light. (D&C 6:21, 10:58, 34:2, 39:2, 45:7, 88:49)

More than in any other way, we come unto Christ by hearkening to His voice. Every other criteria follows as naturally as day follows the night: Ordinances, ordination, covenants, contracts, promises, perfections, visions, visitations and glories unspeakable all flow from this one obedience, and in no other way. It is not possible that someone unwilling to follow His voice would stumble into these glories, no matter how many outward ordinances they wiggled themselves into.

3- “Call on My name.” The language here is interesting, and powerful. These words can’t imply calling upon Him in prayer, since we have been instructed to pray not to Christ, but to the Father. Why then instruct us to call on His name? What use must we make of His name?

The answer lies in the fact that, as fallen mortals, we are not invited to pray unto the Father in our own right. Since we must petition the Father for all blessings, this is an obstacle of eternal proportions. Since no unclean thing (including voices) can come into the presence of the Father, as mortals, we simply are not worthy to petition the Father in our own behalf to ask for blessings—let alone to petition for forgiveness, intercession, insight, visions, miracles, or visitations and a fullness of His glory.

It may be easier to consider the audacity of asking for an interview with an earthly king. Even if our cause is just or our need overwhelming, we commoners would have no privilege to ask for relief from the king. Most kings shroud themselves in bureaucracy to avoid just such contact with the masses. We would be stopped at the outer gate, long before reaching his ear. We have no personal claim upon his time, or upon his power.

However, continuing the analogy, if the master whom we obeyed and served, and who loved us and championed our needs, was the favored son of the king, and heir to the throne, we might prevail upon him to intercede with his father, the king. Factor in that we were not mere servants, but adopted sons and daughters, and in this setting we could rightly petition our master and adoptive father to intercede with the king.

The actual interview might go something like this: We would stand outside of the throne room while our intercessor goes before the king. He might well say: “O king, I, your beloved son, am here to intercede for my faithful servants, whom I love, and who love and serve me. In my behalf, please hear their request.” At this point the Father is acceding to his worthy son, and can invite us into his presence. We then humbly plead our cause “in the name of Jesus Christ.”

To “call upon” His name, thus, is to invoke our covenant relationship with Christ when calling upon the Father. It is to stand, not behind Christ, but upon His atonement in our behalf, which makes us able to make righteous requests of the Father. Christ thus implores the Father in our behalf. We do not pray through Christ, nor does He relay our prayers, but we pray to the Father in the name of Christ.

I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom; and verily, I say, even as many as have believed in my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them. (D&C 38:4)

We might well imagine the futility of asking Jesus Christ to intercede for us when we have not been faithful, or have not, through obedience to His voice, made him our “master”, and the speaker of our words and doer our deeds. In such a case it may be in fact unlawful for him to bring our cause to the Father.

Since we are considering the principles of Zion in this book, how does calling upon the name of Christ relate to our topic? It is because of the quotation above. Christ’s intercession for us is not limited to answering our prayers in times of need. When we “believe in His name” as profoundly as Enoch did, then Christ will plead before the father in our behalf, to let us become a member of Zion. This is the hidden virtue of the above reference.

To whom is this great blessing of becoming a Zion individual promised? Who has actually been translated? According to the words of Christ above, everyone who believes on His name in this degree of righteousness has become a Zion soul. “Even as many as have believed in my name.” Such a statement almost makes the mind spin. The burning question that arises is “what does it mean to believe in His name?” because everyone who has done so, according to the above reference, has been taken up into Zion. We will explore this principle later on, but for now, to believe in His name is to simply believe without reservation that through the atonement “I” may become a Zion individual, and quite literally be translated if that is our righteous desire.

Our relationship with the Father, our hope of divine intervention in our lives, our salvation, our hope of redemption, our hope of Zion and eternal glory thereafter, is all in the name of Christ.

Hence, we must call “upon” his name.

4- “Obey my voice.” This is a topic upon which much has been written of late, and many general authorities have taught. Everywhere in scripture the injunction is the same; those who obey His voice will be exalted—those who do not, will not. More than obedience to the commandments, more than obedience to law, more than obedience to any doctrine or principle, obedience to the voice of the Lord is listed as the dividing line between righteousness and wickedness. (D&C 84:44-50)

Christ’s voice begins as the voice of our conscience. This means that conscience is the most rudimentary manifestation of Christ’s voice. Other, purer manifestations follow as greater obedience to this tiny voice of truth calls them forth. Promptings, insights, bursts of understanding, doctrine distilling upon our souls, revelations, visions, conversations, angelic visitations, and even the divine presence, are increasingly more pure manifestations of revelation. One cannot evolve to the greater forms without first perfecting the lesser.

Most mortals vastly under esteem the power of obedience to Christ’s counsels, which are promptings from the Holy Spirit. Most journeys back into the Kingdom will consist of millions of small obediences, rather than a few huge ones. Rendering service when it is not deserved, saying a kind word to unkind people, being friendly to the unfriendly and humble before the proud, dispensing grace when we know it is right, being helpful only because the thought quietly surfaced amid the jumble of the day, saying family prayers when it is right but inconvenient. These and a billion other small things are what bring us to Christ.

Why? It is because each act of right-doing comes to our understanding through revelation from the light of Christ. We draw nearer and nearer to Him by the small things that quietly add up to eternal glory.  These principles, and the blessed results of learning to obey Christ’s voice, are vast, a few of which are:

  • Promptings constitute the voice of Christ.
  • Promptings communicate the will of Christ.
  • We are obeying Christ when we obey promptings.
  • Promptings constitute our primary means of knowing the will of Christ.
  • “Knowing” what is right constitutes revelation, no matter how it came to us, a feeling, a thought, an understanding, even as a tradition or habit.
  • His grace is the only means of becoming perfect. We grow from “grace to grace”. (D&C 93:13)
  • Hence, we receive His grace by obeying His voice.
  • Obedience is the first law of heaven.
  • We come unto Christ by doing His will.
  • We become Christ-like by always doing His will.
  • Christ gives us His “grace for (our) grace” as we serve others according to His direction. (D&C 93:20)

5- “Keep my commandments.” Lastly, having done all other things, the penitent must keep the commandments—all of them.

So much has been written and said to encourage us to keep the commandments that literally nothing can be added to clarify what is meant, and what we should be doing. What may yet remain to be said is this, that obedience for the sake of obedience, or mere obligation, is a formula for frustration and spiritual burnout. There are simply too many commandments for us to even have them all in our minds, let alone upon our lips and hands. The classic harried laborer in the Church who runs exhausted from home to church to home to church with a tired smile that resembles a grimace more than a grin, is the prototype of this phenomenon.

However, the Lord has provided a perfect way for us to keep the commandments almost without noticing it. It is so precious and soul-saving that anyone who applies it will succeed. It is rare to hear it spoken of. Those who learn this great secret do so in the process of their personal quest, and rarely step back to analyze what they have done, or to smith it into words that they can share.

It works like this: You live your life in obedience to the still small voice. If you are aware of its presence, you will hear it. It will constitute many promptings to do thing, or perhaps, to not do something. The key is to do exactly as it guides you without hesitation.

This is the process.

End of description.

Tomorrow: Seek the Face of the Lord (Part 3)

Brother John

© May 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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4 Responses to Seek the Face of the Lord (Part 2)

  1. Pearl says:

    That scripture also moved me back in the summer of ’98. What followed was the biggest trial of my life thus far. Even though I have the desire for greater things, part of me is “gun shy” if that makes any sense. I know everything must be places on the altar. I know everything is required. The trial was hard – not harder than many others have faced… but the pain of it still holds me back unfortunately… even if it’s not totally a concious decision.

    Like

    • John Pontius says:

      Of course. Fear does that to everyone. It just takes time, and Father understands. I always advise people to school their lives to obedience, and just let the Lord take care of where the chips fall. Just keep resetting your compass when fear steers you away. The empowerment of the atonement will strengthen you and eventually it will just stay set. Thanks for your comments. Brother John

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  2. James says:

    Thank you Brother John for this and many other posts that are so pleasant to read and ponder.

    Prior to becoming acquainted with this unblog and the wonderful books written by Brother John, one of passages that motivated me to seek for greater enlightenment, or to even desire knowledge and understanding beyond what we commonly assume to be ‘enough’, was Abraham 1:2:

    “And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.”

    So a follower of righteousness who was already a High Priest according to the right belonging to the fathers (lineage of Noah), sought for greater happiness, peace, and rest; also for greater knowledge and to become a greater follower of righteousness. Seemed like if Abraham’s desires were for such ‘greater’ things, why shouldn’t all of us desire them? Who doesn’t want greater happiness, peace, rest, knowledge in their lives? Of course, who wouldn’t need greater rest after being tied down to a sacrificial altar… It would appear that Abrahams eventual meeting with Melchizedek, his personal visitation from Jehovah and calling, ministry, and covenant, all began with his desire for these ‘greater’ things. This falls well in line with what Brother John is sharing with us.

    Further, after reading TTOZ and the ideas in these posts, Abr 1:4 seems to allude to the Divine visitation and fullness of the Priesthood being discussed:

    “I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed”

    So already possessing the High Priesthood according to ‘the right belonging to the fathers’, Abraham sought for greater Priesthood privilege ‘according to the appointment of God’. Later he talks of the ‘records of the fathers, even the patriarchs, concerning the right of Priesthood’ which were preserved in his hands. I would surmise it was the records that awakened Abraham to these ‘greater’ things and fostered his desires to pursue them.

    James

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    • John Pontius says:

      James, this a great comment. I believe it is this same desire that drives everyone who achieves greater things spiritually. These great blessings aren’t a lottery you win, they are the result of a lifetime of searching and obedience. Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.
      Brother John

      Like

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