The Path of the Ancients


Most of my life I viewed the gospel taught about in the scriptures, and the one we are living in the latter-days as somehow being different. It seemed as if the ancient faithful had a greater gift, more miracles, more prophets and prophecies, and more access to the Lord. I just didn’t see the grand events of scripture (like Elijah’s fiery chariot and Moses’ dividing of the Red Sea) happening today. I wondered why the Lord was so willing to talk to Nephi and his people, and I had yet to recognize a single peep from the heavens.

It wasn’t until the Spirit taught me what the whole gospel plan looks like that I could understand how those of ancient glory had arrived at the blessings and miracles that defined their lives in scriptural history.

The value of the graph below is that it demystifies the miraculous process of walking the path the ancients used to obtain their great blessings. The ancient righteous were not born to spiritual greatness, they fought for it, sought it, paid the price for it, and having obtained, they recorded their lives, probably without ever suspecting their words, and their journey would become a part of scripture.

Seeing their path makes it easy to realize that theirs was the same as ours. There is only one way to obtain these blessings, and it has always been the same. These glorious things must be accomplished sequentially, one by one, line upon line, until we have traveled as far as our obedience qualifies us. It generally is not possible to skip a step, or to seek for a blessing when there are lesser accomplishments between us and the ones we think we want.

The principles and ordinances are listed along the bottom of the graph below. You will recognize your own life in this list. These are the things you have done since childhood, and to this day. If you are a seeker of righteousness, you are somewhere on this path.

The spiritual effect of participating in those ordinances, and applying those principles, and the associated blessings, are listed along the top. These things are some of the blessings which we desire most to have. These are the outcome of our walking the path laid out along the bottom.

The blue graph between indicates the degree of sanctification we have obtained as we progress. This graph could also be thought of as the degree of truth, light and Spirit which we possess. You will notice that most of our life’s journey is spent with slowly increasing spiritual power. We travel a long ways before our spiritual strength begins to progress steeply upward, which begins somewhere around having one’s calling and election made sure and rises exponentially from there.

 The vertical dashed line is approximately the limit of what most Latter-day Saints believe is possible for them to personally obtain. It is, in a real way, the veil of unbelief. These things beyond are the “greater things” which are very available to us, but which many people cannot see because they just don’t believe it is possible for themselves to participate in these things.

Referencing the graph, we may surmise that if in our lives we are receiving revelations and seeing visions, then we have been born again, received temple covenants, begun the process of consecration, and are approaching having our C&E made sure. Using this means, it is easy to evaluate your own progress – and thus plot a course to greater things.

Brother John

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

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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26 Responses to The Path of the Ancients

  1. Trevor says:

    John

    Is translation something that applies to a couple? Or more just the person? Take the 3 Nephites for example. There isn’t any mention of their wives and it got me thinking how does a spouse fit into that doctrine? Or how would that whole thing work?

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    • John Pontius says:

      I have asked this question myself, and I honestly feel that it is an individual blessing. It seems undesirable to think of spending hundreds of years away from family, except that I don’t believe this is what happens. Christ said that the 3 nephites request for translation was “the greater gift”, which means to me that this is a higher and happier outcome than either death and spirit world, or going directly into resurrection and eternal life. I just trust God to make these unknown things work to our blessing and advantage.

      John

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  2. dmarie says:

    Thank you, John. Your answer is perfect!

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  3. dmarie says:

    Hello John,
    On the graph, you mention “spoken directions”, and I’m wondering if that is something that happens from then on, or just once in a while? I expect this may seem like a very rudimentary question and that I’m far down on the graph as far as progression goes, but it is something I’ve wondered about. As it is now for me, I sometimes wonder if I’m even following the promptings of the Spirit, as I think the thoughts I receive are so natural to my experience that I may not be actually responding to promptings at all, but just trying to do the right thing. I really appreciate your unblog. I feel it is one of the blessings Heavenly Father has placed on the earth at this time to help us prepare for Christ’s second coming. You have helped me see my potential in progressing. Thank you so much.

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    • John Pontius says:

      Dear dmarie,

      Sorry, I’m not sure how or when I answered your question, but the answer is that these things come and go as our needs evolve, and as our righteousness allows us to receive them. Speaking from my experience (because it is the only experience I’ve experienced 😉 ) I still receive most of my revelation as promptings and feelings. I have just learned to recognize the flavor of them, and I really try to continually be in tune to them, but of course mortal weakness still kicks in. I receive spoken revelations, and visions less often, and only when the lesser form of promptings isn’t enough to deliver the message.

      There seems to be a rule with God, that he uses the least form of revelation necessary – maybe it’s a “green” thing there too. It really would be disconscerting if an angel appeared every time just to tell you to drive the speed limit – so I think it is merciful too.

      I hope I didn’t just confuse you. Let me know,

      John

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  4. Toni says:

    Thanks for your compassionate reply.

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  5. Clarice says:

    John,
    You said this above:” Before Christ leaves, He asks if there is a gift we would like after He returns to the Father. This gift is our actual “endowment.” This is the moment when we may ask to be translated, if it is apropriate, and our heart’s desire. Most people ask for something other than translation.”

    I’m just curious what you think(or know, maybe) what other people would ask for besides translation. We have talked about this a little before. I cannot imagine asking for anything other than translation. I’m just wondering what else could compare to that.

    Also if you hear the words”your sins are forgiven”, I thought that was being born again, is it more, like C&E. I think we mortals like to have things explained in a very specific way. But I am starting to believe that these things we are talking about tend to run together and happen more than once, with increasing power. And seem to overlap somewhat. It really is taking a step out in the dark and letting the Savior lead you back to him.

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    • John Pontius says:

      Clarice,

      Your comment is actually insightful. I can count three times I experienced the rebirth before I was able to hang onto the blessing and not slip back. The words of C&E are not the same for every person. I’ve heard many different versions of C&E language. Some experience a lengthy spiritual experience, some a few seconds of spoken words, others have profound experiences, and some are almost unnoticeable. I don’t know why this is exactly, but the words are less important that what the Spirit informs you is taking place.

      These things do overlap, and at least initially, they sometimes repeat. C&E and greater things isn’t something you want to fall from because that very well could make you a son of perdition.

      I love your final analysis – Step out into the dark, and let the Savior lead you to Him.

      Great comment.

      JMP

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      • Clarice says:

        John I would like very much to hear more about this: “I can count three times I experienced the rebirth before I was able to hang onto the blessing and not slip back.” Maybe a blog about it…

        What do you mean “hang on to the blessing and not slip back”?

        Did you understand at the time(s) that you had been reborn, or only in hindsight did you realise that you had been reborn?

        And you still didn’t tell me what on earth someone would ask for instead of translation. 🙂

        Thanks, Clarice

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        • John Pontius says:

          Dear Clarice,

          I will try to remember to comment on the multiple rebirths principle when we move onto the rebirth discussion. It is actually very interesting, and a great relief to know that repentance keeps working.

          If I don’t remember, please remind me.

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  6. Toni says:

    I have experienced many miracles and revelations, and have been shown/told the future enough that when I make a mistake because I didn’t know the future, I condemn myself, but I cannot believe that I am as far along that line as that graph shows. Perhaps the trials I’m having are blinding me. Perhaps my self-perception of being incompetent at life (I am most definitely NOT among the rich and powerful and competent) causes me to believe I am incompetent at spiritual things. Or, perhaps, I really am not very far along that path. I can’t do anything but keep trying. Going the other direction on the path is not something I willingly cooperate with.

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    • John Pontius says:

      Dear Toni,

      I didn’t interpret your comment as too negative, it feels more frustrated than negative. I’m not in a position to understand how these things work for everyone. I do know that some people have “gifts” of the Spirit, which they just have, and which are not an indication of where they are on the chart.

      I have a Hawiian friend who has been able to see spirits from her early childhood, yet she struggles with WoW issues and other basics.

      Your last two sentences are the right answer – just keep doing all you can, and then trust Christ to make up the difference. These things take time and a lot of patience. But, they do work just as the Scriptures indicate.

      JMP

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  7. Adam, Lindon, Utah says:

    I love the chart. I can testify of two things, one that the baptism of fire is real and two that sanctification or the purifying and changing of the body is real. I have experienced both.

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  8. Donald says:

    John, I thought C&EmS came with an ordinance? The 2nd anointing?

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    • John Pontius says:

      Donald,

      That is a common perception, but it is a separate event. The SA only occurs in the temple and C&E can occur in or outside of a Temple. Most often it is a profound (more sure) personal experience (prophecy) where you hear the voice of the Father declaring your rights to eternal life.

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      • Donald says:

        I’m confused John…. I think I can sort it out… with some help.

        We know our calling and election is sure when we hear Father declare something like this:

        Psalms 2:7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

        at some point (after CEMS) we can receive the SA (a sacred and personal temple experience) and the 2nd Comforter will come to us? It is the SA where we are taught further ordinances prior to Christ entering introducing us to the Father?

        I need to do some more homework…. I need to re-read TTOZ. 🙂

        Please feel free to not post this comment if it is inappropriate.

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        • John Pontius says:

          Dear Donald,

          Each of these events, Calling and Election, Second Annointing and Second Comforter are separate blessings. They each have their purpose and occur in their proper order. I do cover this in TTOZ, but I don’t discuss the Second Annointing.

          Here it is in a nutshell:

          C&E = a private voice-only acknowledgment by the Father that our Election to the Celestial Kingdom is made sure.

          SA = A temple ceremony initiated by the Prophet or his appointed, to conduct a ceremony which includes further priesthood blessings for men and women, and includes the Washing of Feet. This ordinance must be ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise like all other ordinances, and may or may not lead to greater things depending upon the worthiness of the participants. It does not include a personal appearance of Christ. It is generally reserved for long-time and high-profile church leaders, such as mission presidents, 70’s and other GA’s. It is NOT essential to exaltation, and can occur outside of the temple by a personal appearance of Christ, or may not occur at all.

          2nd Comforter = A personal appearance of Christ, generally outside of the temple, where we view the great “Vision of All” and are shown our role in that vision. We also receive our calling to whatever we are called to do from there on. Before Christ leaves, He asks if there is a gift we would like after He returns to the Father. This gift is our actual “endowment.” This is the moment when we may ask to be translated, if it is apropriate, and our heart’s desire. Most people ask for something other than translation.

          I hope that helps. Chapters could be written on this subject. This is the condensed version.

          John

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      • Donald says:

        Thank you John. That was helpful. I will re-read (soon) TTOZ. I’m sorry for being a little slow…. I’ll get there. 🙂

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  9. Kris says:

    How does one know when their C&E is made sure? I know that I have experienced things beyond the C&E line–I know the Power of the Priesthood, and miracles have happened in my life, hope that my heart is pure–but I do not KNOW that my C&E is made sure. I hope that it is…seek for this with all my soul…but do not know without a doubt. Maybe I do not fully understand the concept. Do you have any posts that explain this principle in more depth? I feel like a babe in the gospel–there is sooo much to learn.

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    • John Pontius says:

      Dear Kris,

      It is possible to not recognize the C&E, but generally people understand it, they just can’t believe it happened. They have an experience where they the Spirit told them very loudly that “Your sins are forgiven”, or “You will be exalted”, or “Your calling and election is now made sure”. There are many ways that it comes, but it is a personal revelation to you in the privace of your own life.

      I just looked through the Un-Blog archive, and there are dozens of references to C&E. There were too many to notate for you in this reply. I have also writen a great deal on this subject in “The Triumph of Zion”. I also plan to cover this subject thoroughly as we progress through the Un-Blog over the next few months.

      It will all come in its due order. We serve faithfully – we walk in the light of the Holy Spirit – and we wait. I don’t know of another way.

      JMP

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  10. jareth says:

    Very interesting , i at one time also wondered about the course of the ancients and would consider how it seemed like they so easily completed the course to actually speaking and seeing the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I can see my own life in this graph, but i have a question about it brother pontius.
    My question is , do you think it is possible that you can experience different frequencies and fluctuations of the spirit? , meaning do you think it is possible because of the power of faith that you can reach beyond the veil of unbelief even a little bit, but still yet not be born again?. I can think in two or three times in my life when i have had a small rebirth, because of a major repentance, and my first small rebirth came from actually having an overall change in my nature at one point five years ago, but i know that i have not yet reached the first rebirth or the one that grants you sanctification
    Yet what causes me to question is that the Savior has allowed me to peer into the future as it may seem, he has allowd me to recieve great revelations, have visions, dream dreams, and he has allowed me to know that i “can” reach beyond the veil of unbelief i have no doubts that it is possible only in and through him. That is why i ask, if it is possible to experience the spirit in smaller degrees of greater things beyond the veil of unbelief, not saying that i have gotten to that point yet, but what my idea is , is that perhaps the Savior is in my own life showing me what is possible in my future and what i can have, im not sure that is a rough estimate of my spirituality to this point. I am in no way suggesting that you can skip a step, just wondering if you can experience higher levels in a prepatory manner, and if you can gage your spirituality as actually begin closer to the first rebirth than your own mind imagined itself being. That may be a confusing question but overall this post has helped a lot thank you , it was very interesting for me to see and think about 🙂 Brother Jareth.

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  11. John D says:

    John, I’m not sure how you see this going forward but here is a special to me and I would love to hear from others.
    This is from my missionary journal

    11-14-1979 Nevada, Las Vegas Mission

    The Lord has blessed us this month; we’ve picked up some great people and we baptized Marvin in the 3rd ward, he’s a cool guy! I feel so good about things, I’m doing all I should, and I’m where I should be, It’s a wonderful feeling to know that. I feel very close to the Lord, I have been studying the Savior and praying for a confirmation of my testimony of him. I want so much to know him better. We are working as hard as we can; my prayers are different now 45 – 90 minutes at night. I have to wait for my companion to go to sleep to have my real prayer or I feel funny and can’t concentrate.
    I had an experience last night, one that I don’t know how or if I should explain, but I don’t want to ever forget it.
    We live in the basement apartment of a member’s home and once you turn out the lights its pitch black, even after your eyes adjust. I had just finished Jesus the Christ for the 3rd time, I love that book! After my prayer I got into bed, I felt wonderful, so I continued to pray while in bed, but the spirit was so strong I got back out of bed and knelt down and prayed some more, I have never had a prayer like that, I really did speak to my father in heaven. After I finished I got back into bed, the spirit was stronger than ever. I was in tears with love for the Savior. My bed is in the corner of the room and as I sat there I realized that I could see the entire room, and that the light was coming from above and behind me, but as I turned to see what it was it moved and then I realized it was me, my head was glowing to the point that our completely dark room was light. I knelt down again and prayed some more and was blessed with the spirit in a way that is beyond words. It was wonderful. I think something more was going to happen but I started to feel a little overwhelmed, I was afraid to look up from my prayer and open my eyes, I think there was an angel in the room, but I think it was just more than I could handle, I didn’t feel worthy or ready for more, I don’t know, but the spirit lessened some and I got back into bed and thanked the Lord for what had happened and asked for forgiveness of my weaknesses. I was given complete peace with the Lord. My room was still light, when I fell asleep; the Holy Ghost spent the night with me it was beyond anything I have ever experienced, it’s impossible to put into words. I think I had a very special experience not many people have and more could have happened had my faith been stronger. I’m pretty sure an angel was in the room but for what ever reason I was afraid to look up.

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    • John Pontius says:

      John D,

      I loved this account of your spiritual experience. It is beautiful and I felt the Spirit as I read it. We are going to be talking about these things as we go on. I am not qualified to say what this was, but you are. I’m sure you have figured it out by now. Thank you so much for sharing.

      JMP

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  12. TDG says:

    I suppose someone could receive his or her endowments before being born again or even having a firm testimony, so by receiving temple covenants do you mean for example:
    1) going to the temple and receiving the temple endowment
    2) living ones life in accordance with the temple covenants, which includes praying for an understanding of what the LORD means by the covenants and then measuring the actions in your life by your best understanding of the covenants.
    3) Having the endowment sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise?

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