Wayward Children (Part 1)


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, knowing 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

© April 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

(From “Following the Light of Christ into His Presence, p 189-192)

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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12 Responses to Wayward Children (Part 1)

  1. Kaitlyn says:

    Oh wow! D: You know, I actually think you’re right. My kids will receive exaltation and be righteous themselves if it so be that they listen to the words of their mother. And this will be because my testimony is an undeniable one and also because God does answer my prayers. I hope my future children will always choose good over evil! Because I’m going to teach them only the things in which I feel is good. 🙂

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  2. Gina says:

    I believe that we are all in this together even friends that i have come to know people that i have come to know as though i have known them before, but we are in this all together if we don’t stay close to his Love we all forget what we all meant to one another.

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  3. Gina says:

    Does that mean we chose our companions? could we have been in the life before this all together and chose one another, and that if we came here to hold to our lives in Faith and in his Love that we would remember what was forgotten and hold to our marriages not in an earthly thought of what we think love is, if our children chose us, and we chose them would we not have chose one another to be their parents?

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    • I do believe that at least in celestial marriages, and maybe even in most marriages, that we chose our spouse. But, like many things we promised to do, some of us don’t follow the whisperings of the Spirit and have to knock around a little before we get it right with the right person. Like my grandfather used to say, “I don’t understand everything I know about it yet.”

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  4. kenh says:

    My understanding is that God the Eternal Father knew the destiny of each and everyone of us before any of us became His spirit children while we were intelligences. He knows the end from the beginning. He did not decide who would succeed or fail to return to Him but knows what our decisions would be and of course their outcomes. Alma 13 discusses this about the premortal righteousness of those who would be given the fulness of the gospel in this life. So he sends to each and every righteous premortal spirit, as their earthly children, equally righteous spirit children. He knows that eventually these earthly offspring through the faithfulness of their earthly righteous parents that these children will find their way back to the promises that they and their earthly parents made before the foundations of the earth and claim celestial blessings. And thus God[‘s perfect eternal knowledge works perfectly with our agency. Thank you John.

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  5. Chris says:

    I have been thinking about this same thing (securing blessings up and down family lines). I think that this very idea is what (at least in part) is being talked about in Malachi 4:5-6.

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  6. James says:

    Thank you for your insights in this post. I’ve been quite preoccupied with this topic recently and you’ve confirmed much of what I’ve come to understand and certainly added thereto. I particularly like the principle of “What is secured by the parent’s righteousness is the privilege of being a parent of these valiant spirits”. Wow I never thought of it that way! Our existence is truly timeless but nonetheless the logistics going on up there seems so amazing.

    The recent unblog that put forth the hypothetical comparison between 2 faithful priesthood bretheren and their wayward children really got me thinking; the one whose C&E gave him the confidence to petition God for relief according to the promise, while the other, though faithful, did not have the same confidence and so did not obtain the same promise. Justice was served in both cases.

    Within the last month or so I (again) heard taught in sunday school the idea that we must ‘earn’ our way to exaltation. I also heard a faithful member friend comment that C&E makes it possible to fish your wayward children out of hell (I opted not to comment in either case). Both ideas defy the principle of the atonement and the justice of God, so I cannot accept them. We do not ‘earn’ a place at God’s side, nor do we secure a ‘get out of jail free card’ for our family by our righteous acts. I understand that every one of God’s offspring obtains the Promises by obedience to Law, with no exceptions. The fact that many of these valiant souls are bound by earthly familial ties is more than merely a lucky coincidence. It’s all laid out in advance by Those who know the end from the beginning.

    James

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    • That was exactly my point, that all of these blessings were premortally arranged so that it does not violate agency, justice or mercy. We can’t understand infinite things with these finite brains – so we fall back to faith, which is that however it works, it is eternally fair and just. This means that God has it figured out and we don’t. The only way I can think to describe it is that all of these things were known by God before we were born, and the deck was stacked and shuffled. In other words, God is dealing from His special deck – which thing we should be very grateful for.

      I also don’t believe in “earning” salvation. We merit these blessing through the atonement and by obedience to law.

      Regarding fishing children out of hell, I believe by the time there is a hell (perdition) that we will have done all the fishing we are going to do. This mortal life is important, but it isn’t the whole of our life or the extent of our agency. As long as we have agency we can repent and change, which is what these covenant children will do (I believe). Repentance ends at the judgment day, which is still a very long ways off.

      Thanks for the comment. I think you’re right on,

      JMP

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  7. darrell brashear says:

    That is such a comfort. It is my feelings that it works the other way as well, wherein if a person is the first to arrive at the point of having thier calling and election made sure in thier family and secures blessings for those ancestors who have gone on before them. I would like to hear any comments on that 🙂
    Brother D.

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    • Lance says:

      Darrell,
      That’s an insightful comment. I also wonder if obtaining one’s calling and election serves to secure blessings for our parents and ancestors.
      Lance

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