Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Church Ain't The Kingdom, Part Four

This is the concluding entry in my series on the Kingdom of God. Please click on the following links to read  the previous entries: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.


When Joseph and Hyrum Smith were unexpectedly murdered on June 27th, 1844, the church lost the one man who held the highest office in the church -Joseph's brother, Hyrum. The Lord had previously appointed Hyrum Smith to be prophet, seer, and revelator, and Hyrum already held the office of patriarch, which Joseph declared was the highest office in the church. It was certainly more important than the office of president, which was the office Joseph held.

Had Hyrum not been killed the same time Joseph was, there is little question that the patriarch would have been elected president by the people to replace Joseph, and had their brother Samuel not died mysteriously[1] the following month, the mantle of patriarch would have fallen on Samuel, who also would have certainly been elected to preside.
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[1]There were many in the church at the time who believed to their dying day that Samuel Smith had been deliberately poisoned to prevent him from succeeding his brothers in office. See "Brigham Young's Hostile Takeover."

All of this was moot, however, because in Joseph's opinion the church no longer needed a leader. We now had the Book of Mormon and modern revelations; members ought to be able to govern themselves from here on out with the help of those tools, as long as they did not forget to seek continuous, personal revelation from the Lord.

Joseph Smith had been trying to step back from governing of the church ever since Hyrum was appointed patriarch, since that was really the only office of the priesthood necessary now that there was sufficient scripture to guide the church. If additional revelations were necessary, Hyrum had been anointed to receive them. Still, the people wouldn't leave him Joseph alone. Yet once he was gone, his assertion that he wasn't really needed was proven by the experience of those members who chose to stay behind after Brigham and the others removed themselves to the Rockies.

Of the estimated twenty thousand members of the church in 1844, only about half of them chose to move to the Rockies.  It was too dangerous for any Mormons to remain in Nauvoo, so they scattered and settled elsewhere; some relocated to other parts of Illinois, others to Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and around the Great Lakes area.

With a few exceptions [2], these "Plains Mormons" as they came to be known, didn't have a particular leader, nor did they feel they needed one. Most did not think of themselves as a break-off of the main body of the church the way we who are descended from the Utah Church tend to think of them; they saw themselves as separate branches of the same church, and they thought of the church in Utah as just another branch of the church they all belonged to. When missionaries from Utah came through on their way to serve missions in the British Isles, they were welcomed, fed, and put up by these plains Mormons just as though they were all of the same denomination.
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[2] Most notably the Cutlerites in Iowa, the Strangites in Michigan, and the Wightites in Texas.

The schism between the Utah Mormons and the Plains Mormons did not really take hold until years later, when Joseph's son and Hyrum's son rose to adulthood and began feuding with each other over which of them held the proper "authority" from God to lead. That was also about the time most of these plains Mormons incorporated under the umbrella of the newly formed Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which I think was a mistake. The "Josephite" church was now no more legitimate than the "Brighamite" branch. Both were incorporated entities, and the members of both churches subjugated their dependence upon the Lord in exchange for their dependence upon the Church.

Joseph Steps Away
Earlier, during the Kirtland/Missouri/Nauvoo period, Mormons did not think of the church as a monolithic institution as we do today. When Joseph spoke of the church, he was referring to the members, not to an organized hierarchy the way we think of "The Church" in modern times. The Lord defined His church as "whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me," and that is the definition understood by the early saints. The church was the members. It existed independent of any leader or group of leaders.

What leadership bodies the Lord had formed in Joseph's day were strictly limited so that each would be a check against the other. Each were equal in authority; there was no top-down hierarchy as we have today with the president at the top of the pecking order. The First Presidency had very limited authority to preside (over the priesthood, not over the members), the High Council existed to settle disputes between members, The Seventy were independent of the Quorum of the Twelve, and the Quorum of the Twelve's authority existed only outside the existing church boundaries. The Twelve Apostles had no authority whatsoever to govern in any capacity within the church.

There were two other bodies, but neither had governing authority within the church, either. One was the Quorum of the Anointed, which was presided over by both Joseph and his wife, Emma who had authority equal to her husband. This was not an administrative body of any kind, it was more of a place where spiritual and religious matters were discussed between those who were interested in discussing such matters.

The other body was the Council of Fifty. Most members of the church had no idea this council even existed, as its very existence was a closely kept secret, for reasons discussed in part two of this series. Joseph Smith assembled this council, gave the men their instructions, then handed it off to them to accomplish the purposes to which the council was established. He fully expected them to follow through with the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. Whether Joseph knew he was not long for this earth or not, it's clear he wanted no presiding role in the kingdom, as the kingdom was to have no leaders of any kind.

Benjamin Franklin Johnson, at age 24 one of the youngest members of that council, left us a description of Joseph's hand-off to the council in his autobiography:
"At one of the last meetings of the Council of Fifty after all had been completed and the keys of power committed, and in the presence of the Quorum of the Twelve and others who were encircled around him, he [Joseph Smith] arose, gave a review of his life and sufferings, and of the testimonies he had borne, and said that the Lord had now accepted his labors and sacrifices, and did not require him longer to carry the responsibilities and burden and bearing of this kingdom, and turning to those around him, including the 12, he said "And in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I now place it upon you my brethren of this council, and I shake my skirts[3] clear of all responsibility from this time forth,' springing from the floor and shaking his skirt at the same time." (Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life's Review, pg 89, as quoted in Rogers, The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History, pg 41, emphasis mine.)
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[3] This was a fairly common idiom in 19th century America. Joseph's "Skirts" would have been a reference to the lower and loose part his coat that hung below his waist, and to clear one's skirts meant "to avoid any blame; to absolve (someone) from taint or suspicion; to wash one's hands." (See A Dictionary of American English, Vol IV pg 2135, University of Chicago Press, 1942)

Johnson's description of that event is important, because as we shall see, in the retelling of this incident by others over time, small but important details were changed or omitted in order to give the impression that this event took place within a meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles and not during a meeting of the Council of Fifty. As discussed in part one of this series, the Council of Fifty was separate and distinct from the church, as was the proposed Kingdom of God, and Joseph Smith was adamant in making that distinction stick. Where the Quorum of the Twelve consisted exclusively of men who were members of the church, the Council of Fifty was made up of both members and non-members. It was decidedly not an organ of the LDS church, but was to operate independent of and separate from the church.

B.F. Johnson died in 1905, and it would appear that his autobiography was not published until 1947, long after his passing.  Historian Michael Quinn notes that the published version dropped Johnson's references to the Council of Fifty, "thus giving the impression that Joseph Smith gave the instructions exclusively to the Quorum of the Twelve." (Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, pg 412, note 33) Quinn also observes:
A recent publication of Johnson's manuscript statement subtly reverses his emphasis that smith spoke to "one of the last meetings of the Council of Fifty...in the presence of the Quorum of the Twelve." E Dale Lebaron, "Benjamin Franklin Johnson in Nauvoo: Friend, Confidant, and Defender of the Prophet," Brigham Young University Studies 32 (Winter/Spring 1992):186, deletes that phrase and substitutes this introduction: "Joseph made an unusual presentation to the Quorum of the Twelve and some of the Council of Fifty." That magnifies the role of the apostles and reverses the priority Johnson's original quote gave to the Fifty. 
If you're wondering why these Church sources found it necessary to alter Johnson's wording in order to change the reader's perception about who was being addressed, we need to recall the turmoil taking place in Nauvoo immediately following the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum.

I have little doubt that at the time, Brigham Young felt the immediate need to step up the program Joseph had charged the Council with initiating. The enemies of the Mormons did not seem to have their bloodlust palliated by the murders of the president and the patriarch; they wanted to drive all the Mormons out of the state for good. And although Brigham's later actions in Utah proved him to be an autocratic ruler, in August of 1844 he displayed no such characteristics. He did not propose himself as president at that time, but suggested the Twelve as a body would be better candidates than Sidney Rigdon to help organize the saints to prepare to leave Nauvoo. That was really the extent of the controversy in the weeks following Joseph's assassination. It had little to do with who would replace Joseph Smith as ecclesiastical leader, but more to do with who was better fit to help organize the saints to prepare to leave Nauvoo.

We tend to think that following the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum, the saints in Nauvoo packed up and left almost immediately. They did not. They didn't leave until the winter of 1846, a year and a half later. And even then they just crossed the river into Iowa and built another settlement of tents and log cabins where they remained for another year.  Brigham Young and most of the members of the Council of Fifty continued to meet regularly, and they seem to have had every intention of building up the kingdom of God once they got to their destination. Unfortunately they lacked one essential element. They forgot what Joseph had told them was necessary in order for the kingdom of God to exist: oracles. Said Joseph,
"Where there is a prophet, a priest, or a righteous man unto whom God gives his oracles, there is the kingdom of God; and where the oracles are not, there the kingdom of God is not." (Documentary History of the Church, Volume V, pg 257)
As pointed out previously in "Where Did The Oracles Go?" we learn that the word oracle as understood by Joseph Smith was not the same as we often think of an oracle in modern times. These days when we think of an oracle we often have in mind a person or a prophet, whereas when Joseph Smith used that term, he was referring to the message that was conveyed through a prophet. The word refers to the message; an oracle is the communicated message that comes from the Lord, through His prophet. The prophet is not the oracle. The message is the oracle.

Hence, without communication from the king, there can be no kingdom. Where the oracles (messages) are not, there the kingdom of God is not. That makes perfect sense, because it would not be an easy thing to reside in a kingdom where you never had any interaction with your king.

I think it's a pretty simple thing to figure out why God withheld his oracles from the Mormons following the deaths of his servants Joseph and Hyrum. In order for revelation to flow from God to man, man has to be obedient to God. By the time the apostles fully took over the church, the saints were anything but obedient.

Whatever reasons Brigham Young had for ignoring God's commandments, whether he did so out of blind ambition or simply because he felt it would be more expedient under the circumstances, there is no denying that Brigham and the Twelve consistently flouted the very protocols set up by God for the governing of His people, instead instituting their own ways of doing things.  And most of these usurpations took place before the saints ever left Nauvoo. These arrogations of authority are documented on the Radio Free Mormon site, as a two-part audio presentation titled "Apostolic Coup d'etat: How the Twelve Apostles, in a Breathtaking Power Grab, Assumed Absolute and Complete Control Over the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." You can read the transcripts of both episodes by clicking here, and here.

The Kingdom Of God Slips Into Second Place
After the saints had been in Utah for awhile, this whole idea of establishing a kingdom of God on earth was put on the back burner, until it was eventually forgotten entirely. By the time of Brigham Young's death in 1877, he had become the richest man west of the Mississippi, richer than any baron in San Francisco, and his riches were obtained in no small part from trafficking in liquor and tobacco.

The Mormon "kingdom of God" had become Brigham's personal fiefdom, more comparable to that of the Book of Mormon's wicked King Noah than the Kingdom of God. Rather than a kingdom where the people ruled themselves under God's perfect law of liberty, the Emperor of Deseret  had come to rule his people with an iron hand while many below him suffered immensely.

Joseph Smith's grand vision given him by God to lay the foundation of the kingdom of God on earth was abandoned by the very men he had entrusted to establish it. In time it was dead and all but forgotten by succeeding generations.

But there was a problem that kept this idea of a kingdom from expiring fully. During the 1970s, historians were given freer access to the Church archives. They began combing through diaries, documents, and other sources no one had seen for generations. Hyrum L. Andrus is said to have  opened crates of records that had been nailed shut since the pioneers loaded them on wagons before leaving Nauvoo. Rumors and brief mentions were scattered among these documents that hinted of an unknown episode in church history when Joseph Smith hand-selected a group of fifty trusted men with the object of launching something that would exist entirely separate from the church; something these scattered documents were calling "The Kingdom of God." How to reconcile these rumors of an unfulfilled kingdom of God on earth with the already established church that existed in the here and now?

Well, one way is to spin the narrative -change the story so the curious are convinced that the kingdom of God Joseph Smith spoke of establishing was the church itself, and not something separate and distinct from the church. And also change the story so this mysterious "Council of Fifty" isn't even in the picture when you have this church/kingdom thing being spoken of by Joseph; you make it appear to be all about Joseph Smith passing on his authority to the Twelve Apostles, giving the Twelve authority to run the church after he was gone.

Wilford Woodruff Mis-Remembers
In 1897, when Wilford Woodruff was 90 years old, and believed he had outlived every other person who had been present that day in the council who might contradict his version of the story, he told it one more time, leaving out for the umpteenth telling anything that would indicate the meeting involved anyone other than just the Twelve Apostles. Woodruff's testimony differs a bit from the first person account in B.F. Johnson's autobiography, but Woodruff throws in a supernatural bonus about the color of Joseph's glowing face, which is kind of a nice touch no one else ever thought to mention about that experience:
"I bear my testimony that in the early spring of 1844, in Nauvoo, the Prophet Joseph Smith called the Twelve Apostles together and he delivered unto them the ordinances of the church and kingdom of God; and all the keys and powers that God had bestowed upon him, he sealed upon our heads, and he told us that we must round up our shoulders and bear off this kingdom, or we would be damned. I am the only man now living in the flesh who heard that testimony from his mouth, and I know that it was true by the power of God manifest to him. At that meeting he stood on his feet for about three hours and taught us the things of the kingdom. His face was as clear as amber, and he was covered with a power that I had never seen in any man in the flesh before."
But there was someone else still living who recalled being in that room the same day as Wilford Woodruff. President Woodruff must have forgotten Benjamin F. Johnson was still alive and that he had also been in attendance at that meeting long ago. Johnson happened to recall things a little differently than Woodruff had. For one thing, there had been at least 38 other men at that meeting in addition to those twelve apostles. Johnson outlived Wilford Woodruff by seven years, and in 1903 he wrote a letter to George Gibbs that was consistent with the account in his autobiography, with the added benefit of some details Woodruff had neglected to mention in his account:
"It was at Nauvoo early in 1844 in an assembly room common to the meeting of a Council or Select Circle of the prophet's most trusted friends, including all the Twelve, but not all the constituted authorities of the church, for Presidents Rigdon, Law, or Marks, the High Council, nor President of quorums were not members of that council, which at times would exceed fifty in number. Its sittings were always strictly private, and all its rules were carefully & promptly observed and although its meetings were at times oftener than monthly and my home at Ramus [Illinois] over twenty miles distant, I was present at every session, and being about the youngest member of the council, I was deeply impressed with all that transpired, or was taught by the Prophet....
"And now returning to the council and the 'last charge.' Let us remember that by revelation he had reorganized the Holy Priesthood, and by command of the Lord had taken from the First Presidency his brother Hyrum to hold a patriarch...All these keys he held, and under these then existing conditions he stood before that association of his select friends including all of the Twelve, and with great feeling and animation he graphically reviewed his life of persecution, labor and sacrifice for the church and kingdom of God, both of which he declared were now organized upon the earth. The burden of which had become too great for him longer to carry; that he was weary and tired with the weight he so long had borne and then he said, with great vehemence: "And in the name of the Lord, I now shake from my shoulders the responsibilities of bearing off the Kingdom of God to all the world, and here and now I place that responsibility, with all the keys, powers and privileges pertaining thereto, upon the shoulders of you the Twelve Apostles, in connection with this council; and if you will accept this, to do it, God shall bless you mightily and shall open your way; and if you do it not you will be damned. I am henceforth free from this responsibility and I now shake my garments clear and free from the blood of this generation and of all men," and shaking his skirt with great vehemence he raised himself from the floor while the spirit that accompanied his words thrilled every heart as with a feeling that boded bereavement and sorrow.
"And now, my dear brother, after 60 years have passed, at 85 years in age, I bear to you and to all the world a solemn testimony of the truth and veracity of what I have written above, for although so many years have intervened, they are still in my mind, as fresh as when they occurred; no doubt as a part of fulfillment of a prediction by the prophet relating 'testimonies I should bear of his teachings, after I had become hoary with age.' " (Benjamin F. Johnson Letter To George F. Gibbs, quoted in Rogers, The Council of Fifty, ibid. Emphasis mine.)
Regardless of how Johnson's biography was later doctored by others prior to publication so it would fall more in line with President Woodruff's recollections, we can see from Johnson's letter to George Gibbs that his memory of the events remained essentially the same as in his earlier manuscript. The notable difference between Johnson's version of the event and Woodruffs is that Johnson recalled that the entire Council of Fifty were present at the time, whereas Woodruff's recollection mentions only the Twelve Apostles, of which he himself was a member. And although Woodruff makes mention of "the church and kingdom of God," only Johnson bothers to point out that Joseph had drawn a clear distinction between the the two as separate and distinct entities. (see Rogers, ibid, footnote pg 43.)

Benjamin Johnson's memory was by no means flawless. He seems to have forgotten that Sidney Rigdon and William Marks were indeed members of the Council of Fifty, but given he was describing a body that had ceased to exist for more than half a century, we can forgive him that oversight. Those small details are insignificant compared to Wilford Woodruff's selective memory of the event, which has contributed over time to the myth that Joseph Smith had ordained, and set apart the Twelve Apostles prior to his passing and given them authority to govern the Church in his absence.

The problem with Woodruff's interpretation is that if Joseph had done any such thing, it would have been in direct contradiction to the Lord's instructions given by revelation to the Twelve outlining their specific and very limited responsibilities. It would also constitute a complete reversal of the warnings Joseph had given to the Twelve on multiple occasions where he reminded them they were to have nothing to do with governing the Church. Now that we finally have access to the minutes of the Council of Fifty, we can see that Joseph gave the Twelve no such charge. If he addressed the Twelve specifically in that meeting, it was to emphasize they had been given the responsibility for "bearing off the kingdom to all the world," which would have been consistent with their duty to go into all the world and preach the gospel. That instruction is quite different from "I hereby authorize you to stay home and manage the Church from your comfy executive chairs at Church headquarters."

Wilford Woodruff was not the first to get it wrong. Less than a year after that memorable meeting with Joseph Smith before the Council of Fifty, Orson Pratt had somehow got it in his head that Joseph had been talking exclusively to him and the other eleven apostles. Pratt was corrected in that mistaken assumption by, of all people, Brigham Young.

I reported on this incident in greater detail in a prior post I titled "Did The Lord Choose Not To Anoint The Lord's Anointed?" I hope you'll go back and review that one because it contains essential excerpts from the minutes which effectively put this controversy to bed.  However, I'll briefly summarize that episode here.

The Rigdon Rivalry Results In Revilement
Seven months after the prophet's death, there was still a bit of controversy over who should be leading the church. The controversy eventually shook out to a choice between the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles. One faction favored Sidney Rigdon, since he was the only remaining member of the First Presidency. Rigdon proposed to direct the saints to leave Nauvoo and remove themselves to Pennsylvania.

Those opposing Rigdon were led by the Twelve apostles, who proposed that rather than being led by one man, the church was better served in the hands of twelve men operating as a body. The proposal of the Twelve was that the saints leave Nauvoo and remove themselves far away from the United States, over the Rocky Mountains, to settle either in Oregon or California.

As part of an effort to discredit Sidney Rigdon, apostle Orson Pratt was preparing to publish a pamphlet he titled "A Farewell to Rigdonism" in which Pratt planned to describe how Joseph had met with the Twelve prior to his death and appointed the Twelve to take responsibility for leading the church.  So at a meeting of the Council of Fifty on March 25th, 1845, Orson Pratt wants to know how many apostles would be willing to sign on as witnesses that Joseph had anointed the apostles with authority to lead the church.

Brigham Young, chairman of the Council, gently reminded Elder Pratt that no such ordination of authority had ever taken place. He told Pratt to go ahead with his pamphlet if he wanted, but to leave the Twelve out of it, and reminded Pratt that Joseph had not been speaking to a meeting of the Twelve at the time Pratt was thinking of, but he was speaking to this body, the one they were meeting with right now, the Council of Fifty.[4]
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[4] You can read the record of the actual exchange between Orson and Brigham in the Joseph Smith Papers: Administrative Records, Council of Fifty, Minutes pages 378-380. See also my earlier piece featuring this subject, "Did The Lord Choose Not Anoint the Lord's Anointed?" for excerpts.

That put the matter to rest, and Orson Pratt dropped it. We don't know whether he ever published that pamphlet or not, because no copies seem to have survived. But what we learn from the minutes of the Council of Fifty on March 25th of 1845 is that Brigham Young reminded Pratt that there was no “anointing” of the Twelve by Joseph Smith in any earlier meeting, and the “keys of the kingdom” had not been given to the Twelve.  Instead it was, as Brigham reminded those present, “this council of fifty which had to bear the responsibility,” meaning that there was nothing uniquely given by Joseph Smith to the Twelve, that Joseph was addressing the entire council, Mormon and non-Mormon alike. Elder Pratt seems to have forgotten that non-Mormons were present, so Joseph was not likely to ordain everyone in the room to be a servant to the Church. Pratt was mistaken if he thought Joseph Smith had passed his ecclesiastical authority on to that body.

Print The Legend
Largely because the minutes of the Council of Fifty have been locked away in the vault of the Church for so long, the myth promoted by Wilford Woodruff and others has gained prominence for the past century and a half, along with the false teaching that the Church and the Kingdom of God were one and the same. There are at least two tragedies that have resulted from this misunderstanding. First, we have all been raised to believe that it's perfectly normal for the apostles to govern the Church, even though they were specifically prohibited from doing so by revelation from the Lord, as well as by repeated warnings from Joseph Smith.

The second tragedy is that all efforts to establish the kingdom of God on earth were ultimately abandoned because, let's face it, the apostles found it much easier to stay close to home and build up the Church than it would have been for them to go out into the world and bear off the kingdom. As Denver Snuffer wrote,
"They neglected the 'kingdom of God' because they were preoccupied with acquiring complete, unfettered control to dictate over the church and hold at defiance any who dared to challenge them. They reign over the Seventies and stake high councils with impunity. Their autocratic control holds the approximate 30% of those who remain nominally active in the church in complete submission. [4]
"They have the 'keys of the kingdom'–which kingdom has lapsed into complete oblivion. But they’ve parlayed that into dictatorship over the other organization, the Church."
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[4]According to a recent estimate I have seen, total number of members who remain in attendance are now down to 25%.


Paul Toscano reminds us how much better things would be for the church if the apostles were to take seriously the duties assigned them by the Lord:
"I have said this directly to at least two of the Twelve, and I will say it here again: The apostles need to get out of town, permanently. 
They need to travel somewhere like China and preach the gospel that Jesus preached and perhaps become martyrs there for Christ's sake -since some of them are so keen to make martyrs of others. At least they need to stop inducing comas with their conference addresses. And, they need to get out of the real estate business. They need to think much less about the temporal and much more about the eternal -they really do- not because I say so, but because Mormon scripture says so." (Mormonism In Crisis: A Critique and a Defense, pg 10.)
A constant drumbeat of mine on this forum is that we Mormons, as a people, have neglected to accomplish the purposes God put us here for. And why have we neglected those purposes?  Primarily because we have been waiting on the leaders of the Church to do it for us.

Well, how is that working out so far? How far along are we in accomplishing the purpose of the Lord?  We were supposed to have established Zion refuge long before this, but that never happened because we were waiting on the leaders to tell us how to set it up. The kingdom of God never materialized because the leaders have insisted it's already here, in the very organization they happen to be the managers of.  As far as they're concerned, that Church they manage is the kingdom of God, so what more needs to be done besides getting your friends to take the missionary lessons?

All this in spite of the fact that our founding prophet made it very clear that the church is decidedly not the kingdom, and that our efforts should be focused on building up the kingdom, not in building up the Church.

Daniel's prophecy of the kingdom of God remains unfulfilled, largely because we have no oracles. And why are there no oracles? Because members of the Church keep waiting on their leaders to convey those oracles to them, instead of seeking personal oracles from God for themselves.

Church leaders tell us we should keep our eyes riveted on them, that our salvation depends upon our obedience to their decrees. Yet how much closer to Zion have we gotten by waiting on them to receive revelations to guide us? Joseph Smith told the Saints in his day that they were becoming darkened in their minds because they were depending too much on the prophet and not on their own ability to receive personal revelation from God in their lives. He said that every man should stand for himself and depend on no man or men in that inevitable state of corruption that religions always devolve into.

Do you recall not long ago when church membership was growing literally by the millions? Church leaders were quick to point to that as proof that the Church is the Kingdom of God on earth, rapidly fulfilling their warped interpretation of the prophecy of Daniel in the belief that this "Church" would grow and grow until it soon filled all the earth. Remember that?  We don't hear that boast anymore now that convert baptisms have shrunk to almost nothing, do we? 

When are we going to see the kingdom of God established on the earth? Are we supposed to just wait for the leaders to figure out that the kingdom is something distinctly different from the Church? How long do you think that will take? When are the leaders of the Church going to put the establishment of the kingdom back on their list of priorities?  How is Zion ever going to come to pass if the leaders don't get started on it? Who the heck is in charge here?



You are.



                                                              *****

Related Sources
The Church Ain't The Kingdom (Part One)

The Church Ain't The Kingdom, Part Two

The Church Ain't The Kingdom, Part Three

Did The Lord Choose Not To Anoint The Lord's Anointed?

How Jesus Christ Was Ousted As Head Of The Church Of Jesus Christ

Brigham Young's Hostile Takeover

King Brigham

Where Did The Oracles Go?

Joseph Smith's Last Dream (Whiteboard Presentation)




44 comments:

Andrew Gulledge said...

Hello, Rock. I have enjoyed this series, but I'm struggling with something. Maybe I need to reread, but it seems like the Johnson letter to Gibbs undermines your argument. It seems like Joseph is speaking to the Twelve within the Council of Fifty, and not the Council of Fifty generally. Also, I didn't see a link at the end to RFM's "Apostolic coup d'etat" episodes, which are great. Thanks for all you do.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oh, I have no doubt he was specifically addressing the Twelve at that point, Andrew.
Recall the several factors involved in launching the kingdom of God that members of the council had to consider. First there was the understanding of what it was, how it would operate, etc. Then there was the job of finding a suitable location for the first "branch" of the kingdom. Some members would be assigned that task, others charged with dealing with disputes in the actual experiment, and so on.

But what was it Joseph Smith charged the Twelve with? He said they would have the responsibility of "bearing off the Kingdom of God to all the world." That would appear to mean they would have the hardest job, just as the twelve already had the toughest responsibility in the church: that is, they didn't have the luxury of staying home, they had to be off preaching the gospel to all the world.

Similarly, as emissaries of the Kingdom, they probably wouldn't be among those members of the council who would be scouting the first location, nor sitting as judges once the kingdom was established in its new location. They would be bearing off the kingdom throughout all the world. Teaching about it. Witnessing that it could be done. Preaching the good news that the kingdom is here.

This would not only be consistent with their existing role -to preach the gospel to all the world- but would probably supercede it. Preaching the gospel of Christ was step one, but let's look at the United States and Britain at the time. Most converts to the church had already long ago been converted to Christ. What the Lord was really looking to establish on the earth was His kingdom. Yet what are Mormon missionaries still doing? Trying to convince people to join our church when they should be preaching the good news that the kingdom of God is on the earth. They can't do that because the kingdom is not here yet. So they're stuck trying to raise baptism rates instead of showing the promise of living in peace.

The Twelve in Joseph's day seemed to have a hard time getting it into their heads that their role was OUTSIDE church boundaries; Joseph was constantly warning them not to interfere in the church, yet here was Pratt convinced Joseph had told the Twelve they had responsibility for running the church, when what he told them was they had the responsibility to bear off the kingdom to all the world.

If the apostles today were doing what the apostles were doing 2000 years ago, we would honor them. It's not a job I would want. They spent most of their time away from home, never knowing where they would lay their heads or get something to eat; and only coming home occasionally for short periods, then back out again. This new crop under Joseph Smith had the opportunity to preach the kingdom, but they rejected it, and, as Joseph promised, they were damned. They just didn't know it yet.

Anyway, recall that Joseph told them they they would have responsibility for bearing off the kingdom "in connection with this council." They wouldn't be carrying the weight of the kingdom alone, but they did have a specific role in going out and preaching about it. Can you imagine the difference? Suppose you are an apostle of the restoration; what would be greater, to go out into the world and preach the good news that there's a new Christian denomination that has just been formed, or preach the good news that the kingdom of God is on the earth?

They chose the booby prize. They chose governing a piss-and church over the preaching the kingdom.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

By the way, in my view being "damned" does not mean you've lost all hope of redemption. It means being condemned. I don't think that means being condemned to hell for eternity, but it's certainly not the same as being accepted. To be damned means being condemned, and in religious contemplation that means "not found worthy." I interpret that as meaning "not found worthy to abide with the Father." I think in the scheme of eternal progression, a person can always dig himself out of the pit he has dug for himself, but it's always better to get it right the first time.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Andrew,
As for the links to the apostolic Coup d'etat episodes those are contained within the two posts I wrote on the topic, and they're on the list at the bottom. The transcripts contain links to the audio podcasts. right near the top.

DeeLyn said...

I agree we are in charge of getting our own revelation for our lives and discerning for ourselves what is truth and error and right and wrong.

For Christ taught us not to trust in mortals to lead us or receive revelation for us, for they will always lead us astray unknowingly, even those who claim to be prophets, for they are all very fallible and often wrong and often fall for false revelations and visitations of false Christs, false angels, etc.

Thus following the Golden Rule and our conscience is all Christ seemed to teach us to do.

SB said...

So Rock, how do the principles of the KoG differ from that of the American founding generation? And I'm not talking the Constitution per se (I'd prefer the Articles of Confederation tbh) but of a federated republic. Of self governing communities tied together by a common cause? Of ward republicanism? Where unity and diversity can both be maintained, and where we all aren't forced into the same mold.

matt lohrke said...

Off-topic, but how long before this happens at LDS general conference?

https://youtu.be/3EiZVY1Cgsk?t=14m20s

Hopefully not long. This is the greatest thing I've ever seen.

He rightfully calls out John Macarthur and his "doctrine of cessation," which basically states that all the gifts of the spirit and pentacostal experiences ended with death of Christ's apostles.

Liberty Ghost said...

Another fine effort Rock. I always feel that I'm fed when I come to your site. Thanks for all your hard work.

Dale B.

matt lohrke said...

Rock - I'm curious about your comment above regarding "eternal progression." How does one reconcile that view with what Alma taught? He taught that this life is our time to prepare to meet God, that there's not post-mortal or second-chance repentance, that after we die we either go to rest or darkness and there we stay until the resurrection (no hoping around kingdoms or whatever) when we are brought before God to be judged of works while done in the flesh, and that if we are judged worthy, we dwell with God, never to go out again. (Alma 32:32-36, 40:11-14)

Also, Christ said to the Nephites that after death "no man can work." (3 Nephi 27:33)

Then those who never had the law or never had salvation declared to them are covered by the Atonement. They are rescued from death and hell. (2 Nephi 9:25-26) God's atonement covers every contingency for the entire family of Adam.


Just curious.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Matt, I haven't a clue how to reconcile my feelings on that subject with Alma's teachings. It's just my personal view of things. I don't think we get confined to one degree of glory where we are stuck for all eternity. I believe we can work ourselves out and keep climbing the rungs.

I'm not enough of a theologian to justify any of this through scripture. Just my opinion, that's all.

I do like that guy putting MacArthur in his place. MacArthur is a devil. He teaches the doctrine of government being the "higher power."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

SB,
I tend to agree with John Adams (was it him or James Madison?) who said if men were angels we wouldn't need a constitution, and that the constitution was made for a moral and religious people, that it is wholly unsuitable for any other.

Jefferson had faith in state sovereignty. If the states were all under the control of a central government, where would anyone go to escape oppression? With the existence of free states, a person could just leave a more oppressive state and move to a freer one. I think that was the idea behind the Kingdom of God. "Here's a place you can live free. You are welcome here as long as you don't interfere with the freedom of anyone else." People who couldn't live by that simple golden rule would not feel welcome, and leave of their own volition. That's my view, but I could be wrong. There's a lot we don't know about how the Kingdom would operate, or how buttinskis would be asked or forced to leave. Bottom line, I don't think such an environment would appeal to anyone but the freedom minded. I wish we had more of Joseph's teachings on the subject; I hate to speculate.

DeeLyn said...

Matt,

Why would a loving God send his children down here when he knows hardly any, if any, will make it back to him? For according to the writers of the NT Gospels, (who supposedly quote Christ), we must live all of Christ's commandments in order to gain Eternal Life, yet who can do that? Even Christ supposedly taught few will make it back.

Christ supposedly taught that his Atonement & Eternal Life are only for those who keep all of his commandments. It appears even Christ's Apostles wondered who would ever merit Eternal Life since Christ's commandments were so near impossible.

So the NT can't have quoted Christ correctly or be all true, for there must be progression in the next realm or God would not be a loving God, nor would he send us down to earth (if he had a say in it), nor would we come, for it would have been better had we stayed in heaven if we could never return there.

I believe the better we live our lives here, the further ahead we will be in the next life and have a happier return rather than a sad one.

We have to think outside the Mormon Box for the whole truth, for no religion has all truth. All teach a mix of truth and error, and we must discern the falsehoods so we can see clearly. We have to reason it all out for ourselves, no one can do this for us.

For example, we can't just assume that the BoM or 3 Nephi 27:33 are completely true, just because JS claimed they were. Maybe Christ never really said that or appeared to the Nephites at all or maybe they never existed. We must have an open mind to consider all view points in order to find the truth.

Countless people who have Near Death Experiences experience and see that there is progression on the other side, mainly by learning from and experiencing the mistakes we made this life and how they affected others.

It seems most of our progression happens after this life, when we have a better view of ourselves and things as we/they really are and we see what we really did on earth in hindsight.

MrHFMetz said...

I have a great respect for President Joseph Fielding Smith. Nevertheless in his Doctrines of Salvation, volume 1, chapter 14, he is confusing Church and Kingdom at several places on the first two pages of this chapter (pages 206 and 207 in my - Dutch - publication) calling the Church of Jesus Christ the Kingdom of God.
Also difficult for me to accept is the idea he promotes, in this series of three volumes, that the three kingdoms of glory, telestial, terrestial and celestial are like three trains that are each on different rails going into three different directions that will never meet one with another. I find that a kind of a sectarian way of thinking, and the truth may be quite different.
Now that the idea of eternal progression has come up in this discussion, I remind you there is a very interesting essay by J.J. Dewey (which was once also in part published on this web blog) that goes into this topic. The whole essay can be found on
https://www.scribd.com/document/135909616/JJ-Dewey-Infallible-Authority
The topic we are dealing with here starts on page 70 "Eternal Progression", but the whole essay is very worth the time reading, and has also been written with a sense of humor. I liked reading it and found it very interesting. It may be worth mentioning it here. Greetings, R. Metz.

Mr. Finch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Finch said...

There is progression within a given kingdom.

If an individual is resurrected into the terrestrial kingdom they do not then obtain a new resurrection into the celestial kingdom. They are resurrected into a body that is appropriate to their kingdom.

Those who have the ordinances resurrect celestial, those who have salvation resurrect terrestrial, and those who paid for their own sins resurrect telestial (The one exception is the unpardonable sin. Once paid, then the individual inherits the kingdom of their qualification).

If this were not true then at some point Lucifer and his 1/3 will progress into the next kingdom. That is, they might at some point qualify telestial. That is so funny I can't help but laugh.

Each resurrection is to a wonderful kingdom. Except for those who had knowledge of a greater kingdom and failed to qualify, everyone will be satisfied. Those celestial to be servants, those terrestrial to be servants in their capacity, and those telestial to live glorious lives; so long as they do not violate the agreements of the resurrection to the point of dying the second death if that is possible.

Those cast out simply do not agree to the laws of Christ. There may be some terrestrial cast out but I do not think so. There are some terrestrial cast out and they will have the gnashing of teeth in the realm of Satan. Thus, they reject the gift of the resurrection.

It is all a natural process. The wicked will gravitate to their comfort zone, and the righteous to theirs. Those who are guilty will never qualify celestial and will be happier terrestrial. If that does not satisfy then they resurrect telestial. Everyone will be at home in the kingdom of their resurrection; except for those who know they could have had so much more. They will be in eternal damnation no matter what kingdom they are in.

Folkhard said...

There are some approaches in the scriptures conserning the progression from one kingdon to the next highest. One approach is the limitation, the incompleteness of the information. Everything that is revealed only goes to a certain point, the end of an aeon, a period of time.
The beginning and content of the next chapter will not be disclosed. The vision of the three realms (D&C 76) allows this idea of the limitation of a period of time.
Seen in this light, the book Mormon's statement about life after death ends there, just at the "inventory". Here are those who have done good and those who have done evil. The next "ladder rung" of eternal progress to be climbed is not addressed here directly. The revelation ends with the "inventory" of qualifications for a certain level. The possible rise from one empire to the next higher realm is not addressed in concrete terms here either, nor is it explicitly excluded. How so?
In D&C 76:113-118 it is said that the vision here has an end, that not everything was allowed to be written down by the recipients, that there are still witheld secrets, and that they can be revealed to individual persons by God. It's a clear cut for me. Up to this point I reveal to you the circumstances of life afterward, but all the rest will not be revealed to you.
In D&C 76:44-48, the sons of predition are spoken of. The end (therefore an end?) and the extent of their suffering will never be experienced by any man. But interesting is the statement in verse 46 "... except those who will take part in it;... except those who are ordered to do so" (D&C 76:48) Footnotes (44a) are important for understanding these verses. It refers to D&C 19:6-12, where there is definite talk of an end.
Thus these verses offer some back doors to deny the end of development, the end of cognition and the stagnation of the soul.

Mormonism allows this idea to take hold. The Church has not yet given an official statement on the progress from one kingdom into a higher one. Fairly, it has to be said here that in the past as well as today, there are advocates and opponents of these positions within the church leadership. 35] Since there is no official statement, it is left to the members to believe one or the other, or to consider themselves valid.
All the beliefs of mankind can only be snapshots of the path in this context.
Joseph Smith said:
When we are taught by His commandments, this is done with regard to eternity; for God sees us as if we were in eternity. God dwells in eternity and he does not see things as we see them ".
For example, here are some quotes from church athorities:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xQqZgS0YmZn5b1ePX_v3pVqM_qsP9D2q13tuoRwvJUM/edit

This comment has been mostly translated with deepl.com. translator.

MrHFMetz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Gulledge said...

Happy to have prompted such thoughtful replies! Keep up the good work, Rock.

MrHFMetz said...

MrFinch, thanks for your reply, but honestly, did you read Dewey's paper? If not,I suggest you do.
Everything is in motion in our universe. As for "sons of perdition" etc., spirits that go downward will eventually end up in their native element, Brigham Young said. So where is the limit upward, I might ask.

Mr. Finch said...

Okay, we are a group of people that have visions and dreams and revelations. In one such experience I was in the spirit world following the death of a cousin. While there I noticed one individual whom did not have salvation. How I was able to identify this is unknown to me; however, I saw it. Thus, after we pass over from here to the spirit world we commingle just as we did in the preexistence. As such, we have, do now, and will commingle with those qualifying celestial, terrestrial, and telestial.

Scripture tell us that of the telestial, the stars of heaven, one third followed Lucifer and were cast out (ex. Rev. 12:4, 8:11, etc.). The remaining two thirds of the stars, the telestial, were born and are being born upon this earth in mortality. Thus, all of the stars of the preexistence qualified there, and they, most of them, will confirm that qualification here. The same is true for those of the celestial and terrestrial, the sun and the moon (ex. Rev. 12:1).

Thus, it appears an individual qualifying telestial there can increase here for a greater reward; a greater kingdom. On the other hand, someone qualifying celestial there can loose that honor and become qualified to a lesser kingdom here; and that is the gnashing of teeth.

It is for this reason that anyone who does not hear the gospel message while in mortality has an opportunity after death to accept the kingdom of their qualification. That is, if they lived a terrestrial life then they have salvation to that kingdom.

Further, it is one thing to qualify celestial in the presence of the king; but it is entirely different to qualify celestial while blinded in mortality. One can not then who qualified terrestrial while blinded come back to qualify celestial while not blinded.

Our rewards are based upon our actions in the presence of the King and then our actions blinded in mortality. There is no further test. Consequently, we receive our reward in the kingdom of our choice and we are held to that choice in the resurrection.

Let us say I want to be a doctor. However, I did not qualify to go to the school for doctors. However, now after 30 years I want to go to medical school. Can I go back through high school to re-qualify. No. It is set in stone, I will never be a doctor, the highest honor of mortality. The same is true for the celestial kingdom. The qualification for that kingdom was in the presence of the King in the preexistence. Now while in mortality those who made the grade again have a shot at the highest honor of the kingdom. Yes there will be some exceptions by the King to allow others this honor. But I doubt these will come from the "D" students; the stars of heaven.

Folkhard said...

How do you feel about this quotes, Mr. Finch? And how do you interprete the symbols oft he temple endowement? Isn`t the tempel endowement exactly a symbol for passing from one kingdom to another?
What are the tempel work for?
The problem, we humans have ist the sight from our understanding. We use examples of our experience hier on earth and project this experiences into the eternity. This cannot work.

“None would inherit this earth when it became celestial and translated into the presence of God but those who would be crowned as Gods — all others would have to inherit another kingdom — they would eventually have the privilege of proving themselves worthy and advancing to a celestial kingdom but it would be a slow process [progress?].”
-Brigham Young, in Wilford Woodruff Journal, 5 Aug 1855

“I am not a strict constructionalist, believing that we seal our eternal progress by what we do here. It is my belief that God will save all of His children that he can: and while, if we live unrighteously here, we shall not go to the other side in the same status, so to speak, as those who lived righteously; nevertheless, the unrighteous will have their chance, and in the eons of the eternities that are to follow, they, too, may climb to the destinies to which they who are righteous and serve God, have climbed to those eternities that are to come.”
-J. Reuben Clark, Church News, 23 April 1960, p. 3

“The brethren direct me to say that the Church has never announced a definite doctrine upon this point. Some of the brethren have held the view that it was possible in the course of progression to advance from one glory to another, invoking the principle of eternal progression; others of the brethren have taken the opposite view. But as stated, the Church has never announced a definite doctrine on this point.”
-Secretary to the First Presidency in a 1952 letter; and again in 1965
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xQqZgS0YmZn5b1ePX_v3pVqM_qsP9D2q13tuoRwvJUM/edit

Mr. Finch said...

Yes Folkhard, I understand what you mean and I can provide scriptural evidence for the other side of the coin as well.

However, let's look at this rationally. There are two paths: we live in mortality, then we sin, repent, are forgiven, and resurrect. Or, we live in mortality, then we sin, pay for our sins, and resurrect. Those are the only two options that take us to the resurrection. Thus, one is the resurrection of the justified and the other is the resurrection of the damned. That is, anyone who participates in the resurrection will be as clean and sin free as they were on the first day of their mortality. If they are not clean then they do not resurrect.

Such was the case for the preexistence. We lived, sinned, repented, and we were forgiven to be born into mortality. Or we lived, sinned, and paid for our sins to be born into mortality. That is, when born in mortality we had a clean slate; we started anew.

Such is the case after the resurrection. We start anew in our next life cycle. We are again clean to begin with and then we sin; however, the game changer is the commitment to Jesus Christ to maintain our resurrected body because without him we can not survive the resurrection. That is, we of the resurrection are forever beholding to him to maintain that gift of perfection and with out him it does not exist. We are not perfect in and of our selves. No, we choose to sin against the laws of God. Thus, we will never be clean without Christ. That is, we will never be apart from him once we have the gift of mortality, and the gift of the resurrection. Our entire existence is dependent upon him forever.

There are those however that choose not to accept his gift. In the case of mortality, Lucifer and his one third choose this option and the same will be true for the resurrection; Cain and his followers will choose to be their own Gods. The problem for them is that they do not have the ability to sustain a resurrected body. No one does except Christ.

Since Christ is the author of the resurrection, then it is his and only his to bequeath to others that have been born upon this earth. The pattern will most likely follow the preexistence type set. Those who follow his laws in contrast to those who do not. The reward here is to be born into Israel. The reward there will be to be resurrected to celestial glory. We can not go back and be reborn into Israel; however, we can come in via adoption. I do not think we can be adopted into Israel after we have died. Likewise we will not be adopted to the celestial kingdom after the probation of our mortality.

We lived and we were born. Again, we live and we are born. The first was the preexistence to mortality, and the second is mortality to immortality via the resurrection. In both cases, our standing is based upon our willingness to obey God. Better put, our willingness to obey the governing laws.

While it is true that after eons of time we all may live perfectly to those laws, we will forever be bound to Christ as our father of the resurrection that we enjoy. That is, we will forever be his, and as such it is his resurrection to give according to the laws of the kingdom.

Some to live with him for ever, and some to he apart from him forever; some justified via salvation, and some not. In the end it is eternal law that sets the standard and justifies the rewards. We have no right except those given to us by Christ, he being the father of our resurrection. Some bodies celestial, some terrestrial, and some telestial; it is all bound by law.

Mr. Finch said...

Perhaps understanding what a god is will aid in understanding the kingdoms.

So lets look at Revelation 16:13. "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs (gods) come out of the mouth of the dragon (out of the mouth of Lucifer), and out of the mouth of the beast (out of the mouth of the Verse 13:1 beast), and out of the mouth of the false prophet (out of the mouth of the Verse 13:11 beast).

That is, John saw three unclean spirits like gods coming from the false godhead. Some speaking for Lucifer, some speaking for the beast, and some speaking for the false prophet.

This is repeated in Verses 9:17-21 and the number of them were "two hundred thousand thousand." Thus, in Verses 9:16-21, 200 million are like gods. How is that possible?

They are like gods because they are laws unto themselves. Thus, to be a god is to be law.

Since we who are of the resurrection are beholding to Lord Jesus then there is only one Law for us, only one God; Lord Jesus.

This idea that somehow we progress to become our own law is false doctrine. We will never be a god but the Sons and Daughters of a God.

The wonderful thing is, that we are allowed to have children. Nevertheless, we will never be a god or as a god; a law unto ourselves. That right belongs to our Savior, our law, our God.

That Law is sealed to the Father of our spirits. Thus, in reference to our God; Lord Jesus, we also have our Father and his (Lord Jesus') Father, whom is another God; another law in his own right. These two are Gods of perfection; perfect laws unto themselves.

I hope this clears things up. There has been a lot of misinformation surrounding this subject with the idea that we become gods and laws unto ourselves. That right belongs to the Saviors and to those whom are godless that follow Lucifer.

Similarly, there are eternal laws that govern the kingdoms. The lawless receive a kingdom of lawlessness. Those who adhere to some law receive that degree to which they follow; enough for the resurrection of the damned. That is, they will never be comfortable living with Christ.

Then we have those who love and live with Christ; the saved. These are limited by their ideas of inequality to God. That is, these are repentant souls that can not move to the level of friendship with Lord Jesus. They prefer to worship him on a pedestal. Lastly we have the friends of Christ. These whom are comfortable to live and rub shoulders with Christ. They are secure in their thoughts, actions, etc. They are not ashamed. They are free of guilt and adhere to celestial law and that is our objective.

If we are celestial then we can withstand the presence of perfection and live comfortably. If we belong to another kingdom then we are bound to the eternal laws established for that kingdom. One can not simply move from the laws of one kingdom to the laws of another kingdom. We are bound to the laws in the resurrection that we qualify and agree to.

Eric Kuntz said...

The vision of the three realms in D&C 76 are actually Death, Hell & Fire. With the Celestial Kingdom being the lake of fire & brimstone.

Mormons must give their secret Masonic signs and tokens to enter the Kingdom of the Devil, just like the Masons do.

Joseph Smith is the only one to teach three distinct glories, if it were true than Jesus Christ Himself would have taught this fact. But you will not find that doctrine taught anywhere in scripture.

Mr. Finch said...

Hi Eric Kuntz.

First I would like to apologize to Rock for being off topic on his thread.I will stop posting off topic if you (Rock) direct me to do so.

Eric, if you want to learn then this is a great place to do so. You have three points and the first links the three realms in D&C 76 to Death, Hell & Fire; where? Perhaps Rev. 6:8 (for Death and Hell) that links to 17:16 for the fire? Please show me the link to which you refer so that I can reason out scripture with you.

Your second point is that Mormons are like Masons that have signs and tokens to enter the Kingdom of the Devil. I do not know of such a kingdom and do not believe your assertion.

Your third point is impossible to prove. How can anyone know that Joseph Smith is the only one to teach three distinct glories? There have been innumerable societies upon this earth and some of those may have taught three distinct glories.

So Eric why are you here? To attack the Mormons and Masons? That is not Christ like. Put your best foot forward and let us reason together those things of lasting value and knowledge of God's work.

MrHFMetz said...

These are great quotes, Folkhard. I did'nt know some of the early Brethren entertained such ideas. As you say we lack understanding and interpret things from our own – limited – perspective. We don't know enough to make certain claims about how things were and how things are to be. I think we are kept in the dark with a purpose, just as we know nothing about our pre-existence. We are raised and educated in this limited concept of eternity as one vast singularity, but it is not like that; eternities have a beginning and an end. After this eternity has been fulfulled , another eternity will start. It reminds me of two places in the D&C that “God's course is one eternal round” (DC 3:2 and 35:1). I never had a clue what this expression means but there may be a connection here. This being true it may even be so that eternities begin all the time at any place in the universe. The idea of an eternal progression that we are discussing here may find its place in this context. How much perfection can one reach being forever confined to a telestial sphere? Is that what the Creator had in mind for us? So what will happen in the next eternal rounds? B.H. Roberts says ”they may arrive where these were, but never where they are.” D&C 76:112 says “but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end”. But I suppose every eternity has its own God and Christ. Is there a connection here too?
This is all very speculative, but I am sure the great visionary Joseph Smith knew more about it and was not able or allowed to preach it. I just know that once he was talking with W.W. Phelps at one time when this same topic came up (read on one of the lectures given by the late professor Hyrum Andrus on the Pearl of Great Price – also on youtube). I cannot find the quote right now.
Anyway, just ideas; off topic, sorry; thanks for the quotes. Regards, R.Metz.

MrHFMetz said...

I especially liked the quote from President Lorenzo Snow; I too have children, you see. Bye now. RM

Eric Kuntz said...

Truth is my agenda. Nothing else. The word of God is the standard by which I measure truth.



Joseph Smith was given by God only one assignment…translate the Book of Mormon…everything else he did, was his own doing.



Here is a handful of scriptures that talk about Death, Hell & Fire.



7 For behold, after ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit, that ye must be hewn down and cast into the fire?



8 Behold, will ye reject these words? Will ye reject the words of the prophets; and will ye reject all the words which have been spoken concerning Christ, after so many have spoken concerning him; and deny the good word of Christ, and the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and quench the Holy Spirit, and make a mock of the great plan of redemption, which hath been laid for you?



9 Know ye not that if ye will do these things, that the power of the redemption and the resurrection, which is in Christ, will bring you to stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God?



10 And according to the power of justice, for justice cannot be denied, ye must go away into that lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever, which lake of fire and brimstone is endless torment. (Jac 6:7-10)



11 O my brethren, hearken unto my words; arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell that ye may not become angels to the devil, to be cast into that lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death. (Jac 3:11)



20 For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.



21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.



22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.



23 Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment. (2Nep 28:20-23)

Mr. Finch said...

Thank you Eric. I have a better understanding of where you are coming from. You accept Joseph as a prophet bringing forth the Book of Mormon and question his calling to do more than that. If I am wrong in this assessment then please correct me.

It is true that prophets have specific callings and at times they go beyond that calling, and Joseph made his fair share of mistakes. However, if we were there we would have protected him in his calling. Such is the case with Denver Snuffer. How do we treat him? Do we know his calling? Yes he has made mistakes in his life, we all do, but does that disqualify him in his calling. Can we recognize a true prophet when he is among us? I met Denver a few weeks ago and wanted to visit with him, but there are so many seeking his time that I yielded humbly. I was however able to shake his hand and thank him for his work.

If I had an opportunity to meet Joseph I would have stood by him in all that he did; mistakes and all. Only Lord Jesus is perfect. Nevertheless, I would have had compassion upon Joseph and I still do; I consider him a friend.

The scriptural references that you included in your last post do not have death, hell, and fire capitalized. Thus, the layer of interpretation from your previous posting is not the same as this one. It was for that reason that I went to Revelation for the capitalized references as noted in my previous post; sorry about that. That is, Death and Hell in Rev. 6:8 reference specific people. On one layer these two individuals are the beasts of Verses 13:1 and 13:11, and on another layer these two individuals are Elijah and Elisha. You do not have to believe this but the Book of Revelation has multiple layers and in some places more, and in other places not so many.

So let us look at verse 23 that you have referenced above. There are at least two interpretative levels to "death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil." So lets look at the second: "death and hell," and "death and hell and the devil." These quotes are relative easy for us. These three individuals are listed in Rev. 20:10; "And the devil (from verse 23 above) that deceived them (the people) was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are (Rev. 19:20) and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

(One side note, the kingdom of the lake of fire and brimstone is permanent and this is a plug for the permanency of the kingdoms after this life that I spoke to in my previous postings above.)

Mr. Finch said...

Continuing; the beast and false prophet were cast there in Verse 19:20; "And the beast was taken and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him with which he deceived them that had received the mark of he beast and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone."

Thus, we can see that the people "they" in Verse 23 (in your post above) are the people that take the mark of the beast as I have shown. That is, they are grasped with death and hell; the beast and his false prophet of Revelation Chapter 13. These people "must go into the place prepared for them (v. 23 above)" "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night who worship the beast and his image and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name" (Rev. 14:11).

As you can see, Verse 23 is about the beast, false prophet, Lucifer, and the people that take the mark of the beast. This is not the LDS but are future beasts and their followers that kill the LDS. "And it was given unto him (the mouth of the beast that is the false prophet of Verse 13:11), to make war with the saints and to overcome them and power was given him (the false prophet) over all kindreds and tongues and nations" (Rev. 13:7, also see Dan. 7:25).

Now going to the verses prior to Verse 23 above, look at Verse 20. "At that day"; what day? The day in which the beast and the false prophet and Lucifer that combined are Satan and those of Satan, "shall rage in the hearts of man."

That is, the verses you quoted above are about the coming last days that are yet future to us; so these verses do not support your assertion in your previous posting that links Death, Hell, and Fire to D&C 76. Do you have any other references that might support your assertions?

Eric Kuntz said...

I like you calm attitude Mr Finch, it a rarity. Many people when presented with a different point of view fly off the handle and just defend their position.


You said "Now going to the verses prior to Verse 23 above, look at Verse 20. "At that day"; what day? The day in which the beast and the false prophet and Lucifer that combined are Satan and those of Satan, "shall rage in the hearts of man."

That is, the verses you quoted above are about the coming last days that are yet future to us; so these verses do not support your assertion in your previous posting that links Death, Hell, and Fire to D&C 76."

I agree with your statement "that day is yet future to us". But that does not mean "so these verses do not support your assertion in your previous posting that links Death, Hell, and Fire to D&C 76."

Here is a mystery of the scriptures for you to ponder: ALL scripture is future to us . What you may think is in the past is just a foreshadowing of what is to come again.

Snuffer teaches that Joseph Smith was called to do more than just translate the Book of Mormon, which is unscriptural...therefore he a teacher of false doctrines, therefore he is a false prophet. He is decieving many. Stay away. Stick to the Word of God only. Only God can save, if you follow ANY man you will be deceived.

God told Joseph Smith he had one gift...to translate the Book of Mormon and not to PRETEND to any other gifts. But Joseph couldn’t resist the temptation to pretend beyond God’s commandments and came up with all kinds of evil doctrines and practices. (See & compare the original revelation of D&C 5:1 which is the Book of Commandments 4:1)

Mr. Finch said...

Thank you Eric for liking my calm attitude. The Book of Revelation is my favorite and sometimes I drift into Isaiah but that is about the limit of my drifting. I am a one book kind of guy. However, Revelation Chapter 17 forces me into Daniel. So the emphasis that you place on LDS scriptures is a little out of my comfort zone. Yes I can go there but I generally prefer not.

So first off I would like to thank Rock for being kind enough to let us continue along this dialogue.

Secondly, I do see what you mean; I should have spoken my final points a little clearer. I said: "That is, the verses you quoted above are about the coming last days that are yet future to us; so these verses do not support your assertion in your previous posting that links Death, Hell, and Fire to D&C 76. Do you have any other references that might support your assertions?"

Let me rephrase that: The verses you quoted (7-11 and 20-23) are about the future kingdom (for the lack of a better word), of The Lake of Fire and Brimstone within which Death (the beast), Hell( the false prophet), and Fire (Lucifer) will reside along with all of those that take the mark of the beast. That period of time, lets say the 7 years of tribulation, is yet future to us as well as the ending of the next millennium (1,000 years in the future). Since these events are not referenced in D&C 76, then your reference to them is not supported in the connecting link as you have asserted. If I am wrong then please show me the connection between the 7 years of tribulation as well as the ending of the 7th millennium (Death, Hell, and Fire in the kingdom of the lake of fire and brimstone) to D&C 76. That is, I do not see the link that you are asserting.

Mr. Finch said...

In reference to all scripture being future to us, I believe you are correct with few exceptions.

With regard to Denver Snuffer, he has his opinions and I have mine. It is not necessary for men of equal standing to follow one another. If his position is that Joseph was called to do more than deliver the Book of Mormon then that is okay with me. Who am I to demand that Mr. Snuffer believe what I believe. He may have some greater knowledge than I. That does not necessitate that I follow him. I stand with God in my own right. That being said, I can not deny that he has an incredible grasp on scripture. If God chooses to use Mr. Snuffer's knowledge to the benefit of others then so be it. Who am I to tell God what to do. I also like JD Farag, Amer Tsarfati, and others; however, they do not reach the level of Mr. Snuffer for some very basic reasons; they do not have the Book of Mormon.

At first when I read Rock's reference to Snuffer, a few months ago, I simply was not interested. Then one day I was doing this and that on the computer and checked him out. The evidence was undeniable from the first words that I read; he had spoken at a conference. I simply recognized his spirit; it is that simple. Another man that displayed this kind of spirit was Ron Wyatt. I suppose you would say that he also was not a prophet called of God to his calling; he was Seventh Day Adventist and disowned by that church in a similar manner that Snuffer was disowned by the LDS church.

I looked at D&C 5:1 and T&C 4:1 as you requested. First let me ask you to consider Nehemia Gordon (spelling may be incorrect) whom is a Hebrew linguistic scholar and is featured on Michael Rood's program "Rood Awakening." Gordon has found several ancient manuscripts yielding a more precise reading of the New Testament books. My question to you is, Should we discount his work because it is not in line with what we have been taught? I say to you: No! We should consider all such works so we can have a more precise understanding of gospel truth. Having said that, I must tell you that I have found an error in the T&C; however, that error does not invalidate the work; I have also found errors in all scriptural works and they are not invalidated.

We however have been taught that no errors exist in the Bible. So what do we do when contradictions exist as in the case of Rev. 7:5-8. Where is the tribe of Dan? I could include other examples but to do so would consume to much space.

I assume that you know that the LDS church leaders stacked the deck; that they trimmed and cut away portions of the D&C. As a matter of fact, the Savior addressed them in Isaiah Chapter 28 as the "drunkards of Ephraim."

Eric Kuntz said...

Yes I agree, they (LDS Leaders) are the "drunkards of Ephraim" for sure

Here are some more scriptures that warn us about these deceivers.

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Ephesians 4)

13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3)

11 But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return. 12 For their works do follow them, for it is because of their works that they are hewn down; therefore remember the things that I have told you. (3 Nephi 27)

7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15)

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3)

9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark. (2 Nephi 28)

26 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost! (2 Nephi 28)

Mr. Finch said...

Some additional information that I would like to share on the subject of the resurrection. According to Rev. 15:7, the celestial kingdom resurrects first. "And one of the four beasts (Lord Jesus, see chapter 4) gave unto the seven angels (the 144,000, see chapters 6&7) seven golden (gold is the celestial metal) vials full of the wrath of God (ordinances of the resurrection) who liveth for ever and ever."

That is, the 144,000 who work in the temple (v. 7:15) that according to brother Snuffer is not necessarily 144,000 but an unknown number, are given the ordinances of the celestial resurrection via Lord Jesus (v. 15:7).

Basically, this takes place after the two witnesses (v. 11:11), Michael and John, the subjects of Chapters 10 and 11, participate as members of the four resurrected beasts (God the Father and Lord Jesus are the first two) and having the ordinances of the resurrection (v. 15:7), begin the resurrection of the "justified." This is also seen in Ezekiel Chapter 1.

As a consequence of Michael and John's resurrection, the celestial transformation of the earth begins that from the viewpoint of the wicked that are yet upon the earth, it is the third woe (vv. 16:18-21).

I mention this to reinforce the distinction between the resurrection of the justified and that of the damned which occurs 1,000 years later and most likely in mass. The resurrection of the justified is very personal. For instance, the father performs the ordinance of the resurrection for his wife and children (men and unmarried women) who in turn (the men, celestial) participate in resurrecting their wives and children and so forth. Thus, the Father of the resurrection, God the Father, who resurrected the Father of the resurrection, Lord Jesus, resurrects Michael, the father of the human family, and John the presiding authority over the keys of the resurrection (v. 1:18), and the resurrection of the justified begins with the celebration as noted in Chapter 4 that is the setting apart of the 144,000 to that calling.

Also a side note: Verses 16:1-18 are simply a filler to the main point of the text ending at Verse 15:7. Notice that the earth is a sea of glass (v. 15:2); a celestial planet because the resurrection has begun (v. 11:11). This resurrection is Chapters 4, 5, and 6 (in it is an application to the resurrection). However, to the wicked, this is the third woe (v. 16:18-21).

MC said...

Interesting thoughts Mr. Finch.

I couple of questions:

Can you provide any scriptural support for your assertion that Micheal and John (I'm assuming Adam and John the Revelator) are the two witnesses spoken of in the book of Revelation, or are you basing your belief solely on the fact that Snuffer said so?

Also, are you suggesting that the earth will be transformed into its celestial state prior to or at the beginning of the millennium? If so how will terrestrial beings be able to dwell on the earth during this time?

My understanding is that the earth will be transitioned from a telestial to a terrestrial state prior to or at the very beginning of the millennium. Then at the end of the millennium the earth will be transformed into its celestial state. This would also explain why Christ is on the earth during the millennium, but God the Father is not.

Mr. Finch said...

Thank you MC, these are good questions.

To the 1st question. I do not know if Mr. Snuffer is into the Book of Revelation or not. That is, I have read some of his work but not all. I learned about Mr. Snuffer's comment on the 144,000 via Keith at a picknick in Boise. I would have liked to discuss this with Mr. Snuffer but did not have the opportunity. Nevertheless, I accepted his message about 144,000 (via Keith) because it was right. Yes, I had some difficulty letting go of something I held so dearly, but what Keith told me was correct and I yielded to this new information. Even today I want so badly for the 144,000 to be a "set in stone" number because it is so fixed in my psyche, but everything in the Book of Revelation is metaphorical: the four beasts, the 24 elders, and the 144,000. On another note, the foundation for understanding the BoR is in knowing the various levels of a given verse or set of verses and this took me years to find.

I sincerely doubt that Mr. Snuffer knows that the two witnesses are Michael and John.

Mr. Finch said...

Your second question is very astute. I had reservations in my previous posting to which you refer because there is so much going on as the resurrection begins. So let's go further back in the resurrection to that of the Savior in which he (Lord Jesus) resurrected himself via the power that was given to him (John 10:17). As such, Lord Jesus is the Father of the resurrection because he holds the position of "power." Take a look at Verse 13:2 and notice that the order of the Godhead is: the "power" that is the Father, the "seat" that is the Savior, and the "great authority" that is the Holy Ghost. Thus, as the power to take up his own life, he is the Father of the resurrection.

Next, Verse 11:11 tells us that "the spirit of life from God entered into them," the two witnesses that were killed. That spirit of life is the resurrection of Lord Jesus. Thus, the two witnesses received the gift of the resurrection from Lord Jesus in Verse 11:11. This is the only point in scripture that Lord Jesus gives anyone the gift of the resurrection. Following the resurrection of the two witnesses, Lord Jesus calls the 144,000 to heaven and this is Chapter 4. Can you see it? "They ascended up into heaven in a cloud, and the cloud (vv. 1:7, 14:14) is the 144,000 of Verse 14:1. Thus, after the two witnesses are resurrected then the entire group of 144,000 are called to heaven (v. 11:12) and this begins the resurrection of the justified. Thus, the cloud that is the 144,000 is set apart at the meeting in Chapter 4 to do their work in the temple (v. 7:15). This setting apart is the "golden vial of wrath" to the people upon the earth because it contains the authority to resurrect the celestial dead as well as all the dead and it is this authority that causes the earth to transition killing them (the wicked upon the earth). This resurrection follows the pattern of the birth of mankind into mortality with a few exceptions the most obvious of which is that the telestial is resurrected last and most likely in mass. Thus, the resurrection begins with the celestial: Lord Jesus, then Michael and John whom then give the authority to resurrect to the 144,000 in Chapter 4.

The act of doing celestial resurrections upon this earth celestializes the earth. Notice that Lord Jesus resurrected into his mortal body that was not celestialized until after he left the planet. However, when he returned to resurrect Michael and John then the planet began its transformation (v. 11:13). He, Lord Jesus, as a celestialized being stood upon the Mt. of Olivet and resurrected his two witnesses.

It may be the case that the transition of the earth into a celestial planet takes 1,000 years or more. Nevertheless, it is called celestial by using the words "sea of glass" in Verses 4:6 and 15:2 as referenced in D&C 77:1.

Mr. Finch said...

Your third point is perhaps the best.

How does God the Father fit into all of this? I do not know. It is clear that someone is tempted by Lucifer at the end of the 1,000 years (v. 20:8). However, it seems that these tempted are the literal dead that are now placed into the lake of fire along with Lucifer (v. 20:10) and not a new generation of telestial.

For me, another question is Where do the telestial resurrect if they resurrect last? Perhaps on another planet? The same may be true for the terrestrial.

MC said...

Mr. Finch,

Thanks for the thorough reply.

Before I respond to your comments, let me just say a word or two about Denver Snuffer, since you have brought him up a few times now.

It seems you have only very recently discovered Denver and the remnant movement. It also seems that thus far you are on board and soaking everything up.

I would strongly encourage you to use extreme caution with Denver's teachings. Do NOT take ANYTHING he says as correct, without verifying it in the scriptures and early teachings of the restored church. Denver does give one lots of food for thought with some of the things he teaches, but that doesn't make it correct. Nor does it make him a true prophet, like many people believe. You'll have to decide for yourself if Denver is the Lord's spokesman and whether or not you should follow what he teaches. We each must stand on our own and not trust in the arm of flesh. As for me I do not believe he is a true prophet, as I believe that many of his teachings are not supported by the scriptures.

Now back to the book of Revelation.

Yes you are correct that the sea of glass is referring to the earth in its celestial state, D&C 77 makes that clear. However, when I read the passages about the sea of glass in the scriptures, I do not get any indication that this is to happen at the beginning of the millennium. Is there a particular reason why you believe that this happens at the beginning?

As for the 24 Elders and 144,000 High Priests being metaphorical and not literal, I'm not sure. I could see it going either way.

Based on what we know from D&C 77 and the Book of Daniel 7 about John the Revelator being Elias who will restore all thing,s and Adam being the Ancient of Days who will hold a grand council in Adam-ondi-Ahman, I consider it to be highly unlikely that either of them will be one of the two witnesses sent to the Jews mentioned in Revelation.

MC said...

As for the resurrection, I'm not quite sure how all that works either. My understanding is that there have already been righteous people on this earth who were resurrected at the resurrection of Christ and quite likely since that time as well. Joseph Smith taught us three grand keys on how to detect messengers who appear to us as an angel of light. One type of angel that can appear to use is that of a just man made perfect, who has not yet been resurrected, and another is an angel who has already been resurrected.

Based on this alone, I don't think that the resurrection of those who are to inherit celestial glory will begin the transformation of the earth into its celestial state.

Rather it is my understanding that celestial beings can set foot in a terrestrial place, but not a telestial one. This is why the angel Moroni was floating in the air when he appeared to Joseph Smith and also why Christ was always floating in the air when Joseph Smith saw him (and John the Revelator in his vision of the last days I might add). These resurrected celestial beings literally could not set foot in a telestial world. However once the world is elevated to a terrestrial state at the beginning of the millenium both celestial and terrestrial beings/people can dwell on it, but no telestial.

I believe you are correct that the earth changing into a higher order will be the woe that comes upon the wicked. As the earth is transformed into its terrestrial state the changes will destroy the wicked, while the righteous (those of a terrestrial order or higher) will be protected from the destruction in the New Jerusalem.

Where do the telestial people resurrect? Great question. I don't know. I haven't given that any thought to be honest. According to D&C 76 those of the telestial kingdom will be as innumerable as the stars of heaven and as each star differs in glory so will each of the members of that kingdom differ in glory. Could that mean that they each go to different planets (stars)? Or perhaps they are all on a single planet, but somehow kept separate from each other? I don't know. I suppose without a personal vision on the matter, we'll have to wait until the Lord reveals the details on it.

Very interesting thought about the battle of Gog and Magog at the end of the millennium being a battle between the dead (and quite possibly/likely resurrected dead) and not a battle among mortals. You might be on to something there, for how could mortal telestial beings exist on a terrestrial (and especially a celestial) earth? I'll have to study and ponder on that one for a while. Great thoughts.

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Mr. Finch said...

Thank you, MC; the sea of glass at the beginning of the millennium is proved as follows:

1) We start at the beginning of the resurrection in which the two witnesses are resurrected in Verse 11:11. These two witnesses are then told to "come up hither" as stated in Verse 11:12 that links to Verse 4:1 in which John is told to "come up hither." Thus, Verses 4:1 and 11:12 can be harmonized to say that Lord Jesus told his two witnesses one of which is John to "come up hither"; additionally, "they ascended up to heaven in a cloud." This "cloud" is mentioned in Verse 10:1 in which "another mighty angel came down from heaven clothed with a cloud" and in Verse 14:14 in which "upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man." Notice that in Verse 14:15 the one sitting on the cloud from Verse 14:14 is told to attack. The one giving the instruction is Lord Jesus. Thus, the cloud that is the sharp sickle and a weapon of warfare in Verse 14:15 is the 144,000 of verse 14:1. Therefore, the cloud of Verse 11:12 is the 144,000 who are called up to heaven by Lord Jesus in that verse.
2) "Round about the throne were four and twenty seats and upon the seats were four and twenty elders" with crowns of gold (v. 4:4). This is the first reference in the BoR to the 24 elders so I will cut to the chase and tell you that the 24 elders are the 144,000 as are "the seven Spirits of God" (v. 4:5). They had been "sent forth into all the earth" (v. 5:6) when they destroyed the beast (vv. 12:7-12, 14:16, 19:19-21) and gathered the saints of God from throughout the earth to Zion (v. 12:14 with respect to the resurrection). Thus, the 144,000 are represented in Chapter 4 as the 24 elders.
3) Presiding at this Chapter 4 conference is God the Father and Lord Jesus. Then Verse 4:11 tells us that during the conference the 24 elders that are the 144,000 say "Thou art worthy O Lord to receive glory and honor and power for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." Who is worthy that created all things for his pleasure? God the Father. What is the pleasure that he received? The immortality and eternal life of man. How is this a pleasure to God the Father? Because they, the celestial, are resurrected to be like him, celestial. Therefore, the sea of glass that is the earth in its celestial state (v. 4:6, 15:2) is before the throne of God during this conference, and it fulfills the purpose of its creation. It is at this time (v. 4:11) being resurrected Celestial. Further, the celestial resurrection does not necessitate that we first resurrect terrestrial. Where does this false doctrine come from? The earth resurrects celestial only. The question in my mind is how long does it take for the earth to complete its celestial resurrection. Perhaps 40 years?

Mr. Finch said...

MC,
another possibility might be that there are three stages for the earth and this would be more in line with your analysis.

1) the baptism that was Noah's Flood
2) the confirmation of the Holy Ghost that is the burning that is coming
3) and the resurrection at the end of the 1,000 years

That would accommodate the terrestrials during the 1,000 years. One thing for sure, there will be no telestial so the war at the end can only be spiritual warfare in which Lucifer and all who follow him are placed in the lake of fire and brimstone (metaphorically speaking).

Therefore, the celestial resurrections during the Millenium would be contained in the temple that is in heaven and not upon the earth. Or, upon the earth in the temple but as I see it the temple does not descend until the resurrection of the earth is complete.