Thoughts about the Endowment – by John R. Crane
“This is why you are required to be sober, to be honest, that you could ask and receive, knock and it should be opened, and that when you sought for things you would find them. It [the endowment] is putting you in possession of those keys by which you can ask for things you need and obtain them. This is the Key by which to obtain all the glory and felicity of eternal life. It is the key by which you approach God. No impression which you receive here should be lost. It was to rivet the recollection of the tokens and covenants in your memory like a nail in a sure place, never to be forgotten…You have, by being faithful been brought to this point, by maintaining the things which have been entrusted to you…You have now learned how to pray. You have been taught how to approach God and be recognized…Those who have learned to approach God and receive these blessings, are they better than you? The difference is, they have been permitted to have these things revealed unto them. The principles which have been opened to you are the things which ought to occupy your attention all your lives. They are not second to any thing. You have the key by which if you are faithful, you will claim on you and on your posterity, all the blessings of the Priesthood.” (Amasa Lyman, 21 December 1845, JD, 225-26).
Six Principles – Two Interlocking Triangles
I would like to explain the Endowment in terms of six principles. These principles work together in two groups of three, so we could think of them as two interlocking triangles. Each principle exists in a gradient scale or various levels. The reason they form triangles is because each of the principles enlarge and enhance the other, and when we raise the level in one principle, we raise in the other principles as well. Similarly, when we lower the level in one principle, we lower the level in the other principles as well. The overall effect is an upward or downward spiral. The first three principles which underlie all material existence are Affinity, Reality, and Communication (ARC).
- A = Affinity is the desire of two beings or objects to be near one another. It is love, charity, emotions, mercy, desire, appetites, and passions, the mark of the compass.
- R = Reality is agreement, faith, uprightness, loyalty, justice, unity, honor, exactness, the mark of the square.
- C = Communication speaking and listening, duplication, viewpoint, cause, distance, effect, constant nourishment of both body and spirit navel mark. While not specifically used in the temple service we take the cross or letter X as a symbol here – cross communication horizontally and vertically – symbol of victory of spirit over flesh
A + R + C = Understanding.
We can explain all human behavior through these principles. We can explain all of physical creation through these principles. We can explain how to come to God through these principles.
There is another triad of principles: Knowledge, Responsibility, and Control. The KRC triangle is like the ARC triangle in that as we increase in one attribute, we increase in the other attributes as well, and conversely. So we have an increasing spiral and a decreasing spiral. These three principles work together in the temple endowment. We are given knowledge, then we are put under covenant (responsibility) to obey the knowledge we received. Then, we are given additional power (control) in the Priesthood. Then we receive additional knowledge, etc.
- R = Responsibility – Lehi spoke of things which act (cause) and things which are acted upon (effect). Responsibility is ability and willingness to be at cause. Full responsibility is not fault; it is recognition of being cause. One is as much like God as one can take responsibility. Volumes could be written on this concept alone.
- C = Control – Willingness to start, change, stop or in other words, create, uphold, and destroy.
We could look at these two triangles as two equilateral triangles: one pointed up and one pointed down. The triangle pointed upward could symbolize manifestation on the material plane or mankind focusing their thoughts on God. It could also symbolize the pyramid or temple, or the earthly Zion looking up toward heaven. The triangle, which is pointed down could be seen to represent manifestation of the spiritual, God’s focused attention upon mankind, the heavenly Zion looking earthward.
Actually, the idea of the earthly temple being a pyramid is not too far-fetched. Joseph Smith taught that the mission of Elijah was to build to temple of God up to the capstone, which is the Messiah. Also in Eph. 2:19-22 we read the following:
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
When we combine the upper triangle and the lower triangle, we have the six-pointed Star of David: symbol of the union of the physical and the spiritual, of the joining of God and man, of the merging of the heavenly Zion and the earthly Zion. This calls to mind the following scripture, which outlines the first covenant God made with Enoch. The Restoration will not be fully complete until this covenant is fulfilled. To me, this is one of the most beautiful and meaningful scripture in all our body of literature.
“And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant, which I made unto thy father Enoch; that, when men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth, the city of Enoch which I have caught up unto myself.
“And this is mine everlasting covenant, then when thy posterity shall embrace the truth, and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy;
“And the general assembly of the church of the first-born shall come down out of heaven, and possess the earth, and shall have place until the end come. And this is mine everlasting covenant which I made unto thy father Enoch.” (JS Inspired Version Gen. 9:21-23).
This is further echoed by Paul in the same letter to the Ephesians: (1:10).
“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.”
Just as the KRC theme is woven throughout the Endowment, so is the theme of ARC.
Affinity – What we popularly think of being functions of the heart, the Lord ascribes to the bowels. In the D&C are multiple references to the bowels being the seat or source of charity and compassion (love, Affinity). In the initiatory ordinances, the bowels are washed and anointed that they might perform their “proper function”. Perhaps this proper function has to do with love.
Reality – What we popularly think of as being functions of the mind, the Lord ascribes to the heart. In the D&C, the Lord often speaks of the heart in these terms: “heart is sincere”, “harden hearts”, “thoughts and intents of the heart”, “the honest of heart”, “singleness of heart”, “treasure these words up in your hearts”, “united in their hearts”. In the initiatory ordinances, the breast (not the mind) is washed and anointed that it might “be the receptacle of pure and virtuous principles”.
Communication – In the initiatory ordinances, the various sense organs and mouth are washed and anointed that they might perform their functions of seeing and hearing, and the lips “that they may never speak guile”. The ears are anointed that we may “hear the word of the Lord”. In this mortal sphere listening is the primary means of contact with God, through the Holy Ghost. We are to listen to the promptings which we receive and to “live by every word which proceedeth forth from the mouth of God”. We should also listen to and be attuned to the word of God as He speaks to us through our fellow man. We should learn to recognize God in everything. Speaking “guile” is to communicate with deceit and subtlety. The original Greek word used meant a bait or a snare. To “speak guile” is to speak with a double meaning with the intent of ensnaring or avoiding being taken in a snare, or being “caught with guile”. To “speak guile” is to lie. The opposite of guile is to say what you mean and mean what you say. Romans 10:9 states that if we believe in our heart (the heart again) and confess with our mouth that Jesus is the Christ we will be saved. However, the word “confess” in the original Greek means to speak openly based on deep conviction based on knowledge. If we are speaking of things which we know not, of pretended knowledge, we are speaking with guile. But if we are speaking from a deep conviction based on personal knowledge and experience, we are bearing a true testimony or witness.
Signs and Tokens, Marks in the Garment
When we are given the signs and tokens of the Priesthood throughout the course of the Endowment we are instructed never to reveal them except at a certain place which will be shown. What I am talking about here is that “certain place”: in the prayer circle and at the veil.
Joseph Smith taught that these signs and tokens are means by which we can detect impostors. Brigham Young taught that these signs and tokens are a series of challenges and responses, which we must use to pass by the sentinels who guard the way back to the Presence of God. I view them in a more positive sense: as signs of greeting and recognition among equals, and as living symbols which we perform with our bodies on the physical level which should reflect (if our heart is pure) corresponding changes or attitudes on the mental and spiritual levels.
When we make the signs, there is an unseen person on the other sign making a mirror image of the same sign. Try this: have another person stand opposite you across a holy altar and make the signs of the Priesthood together. This is easier to demonstrate than describe, but your hands should interlock. When you have made the sign, just stand there and hold it for awhile. Notice how you feel. Notice the energy flowing between the two bodies. This is particularly noticeable in the First Sign of the Melchizedek Priesthood. You hold out your right hand, palm upward, hand in cupping shape as if you were about to receive something. Your partner’s left hand, palm downward, above your right hand, as if he were giving you something, and vice versa for the other hands.
The marks in the garment and the signs and tokens also correspond to ARC. The mark of the square and raising the arm to the square signify Reality; the shape corresponds to the letter “L”.
The mark of the compass and raising the hands high above the head corresponds to Affinity; the shape corresponds to the letter “V”.
The mark over the navel is a reminder of the need for constant nourishment of body and spirit. Spiritually, this nourishment is accomplished through Communication. The mark is shaped like a straight line, but if we were to draw lines connecting all the sacred marks, this mark would be at the center of a large “X”. This letter is one form of the ancient symbol of the cross. This symbol was known and revered long before the time of Christ. The vertical bar superimposed over the horizontal bar symbolizes the victory of spirit over the flesh. It also symbolizes communication between us and our fellow man (horizontal), and between us and God (vertical).
Together these letters L-V-X spell LVX, which is Latin for light.
Where do we see the symbol “X” or the imagery of the cross represented in the Endowment? In the names of the two tokens: “The Sign of the Nail”, and “The Sure Sign of the Nail”. Also the interlocking of the little fingers suggests to the mind the letter “X”.
The Sure Sign of the Nail
In the Tarot deck is a card called The Hierophant. This card represents communication or revelation from God, primarily through the medium of sound. The Hebrew letter corresponding to this card is “vav”, the Hebrew word for “and” – a conjunction which joins other words and sentences together. “Vav” also means “the nail”. Here is a meditation on vav written by Paul Foster Case, an expert on the Tarot and the ancient Jewish teachings called the Kaballah:
As that which uniteth all things
In the world of the manifest
I am rightly known by VAV, the nail.
Because I am all, and in all,
Therefore am I the link or bond
Which joineth together
The parts of the fabric of existence.
In all the universe there is no break.
By bonds indissoluble
Each point is fastened to every other.
This has interesting implications for the Sealing Power of Elijah, doesn’t it? Think about when a couple is sealed for time and eternity and they take one another hand in hand over the alter in the grip which is also known as The Sure Sign of the Nail. This interlocking of the little fingers has a very beautiful symbolism representing the intertwining of two bodies. When bodies interlock, it always implies a degree of control or ownership. But when only the little fingers interlock, it symbolizes only the slightest possible degree of mutual control or compulsion, and only the slightest possible degree of submission. This symbol represents the couple intertwined in affectionate embrace, yet granting to each their individuality and the realization that in a true eternal union, couples are together only “because of their desire”.
The Second Sign of the Melchizedek Priesthood
“He [Joseph] also spoke concerning key words. The g[reat] key word was the first word Adam spoke and is a word of supplication. He [Joseph] found the word by the Urim and Thummim. It is that key word to which the heavens [are] opened.” (Joseph Smith, 15 June 1843, J of WC, 133-34).
The first word Adam uttered is “Pey” or “Pay”. This is a word and also a Hebrew letter which means “the mouth as the organ of speech” In the Kaballah, the mode of intelligence assigned to this path is called the “activating intelligence”. It stirs up activity, sets things going, produces changes, effects transformations. It implies drawing power down from above, it is a flash of lightning, a sudden momentary glimpse of the truth, a flash of inspiration which breaks down the structures of ignorance and false reasoning.
The words “Pay Lay Ale” are actually “O God, Hear the words of my mouth.” Spoken backwards. I’m not sure of the significance of this. This could be the proper use of the Hebrew language, or perhaps it signifies that this world is a mirror image (hence backwards) from the other side. The words are repeated three times while the hands are positioned at three levels, perhaps signifying a supplication to the God of the Celestial Kingdom (the Father), the God of the Terrestrial Kingdom (the Son), and the true God of the Telestial Kingdom (the Holy Ghost).
The Prayer Circle
The ARC theme is repeated again in the prayer circle. First in the instructions, then in the actual function of the circle. The instructions are that there only the best of feelings (Affinity or Love) should exist in the circle, and the participants are requested to join together in exercising their faith on behalf of the persons whose names lie upon the alter (Reality or agreement). Finally the participants are asked to listen to the words of the prayer and repeat them in unison (Communication).
Following the instructions, the participants reenact all the signs of the Priesthood. We are told never to divulge these signs “except at a place which will be shown [us] hereafter”. This is the place. The ARC theme is repeated in these signs. Then the participants pair off into couples. Normally, in the LDS Endowment service, each couple consists of a man and a woman. However, the Twelve meet regularly in the Salt Lake Temple and conduct prayer circles. Here are twelve men pairing off into couples consisting of two men, so a couple does not necessarily need to be a male and a female.
Each couple is joined by the Patriarchal Grip (Affinity or Love). All around the circle each person raises his or her left arm to the square and rests it on the shoulder of the person to their left. Each member of the circle bears an active and a passive role in executing this sign, which signifies unity (Reality or agreement), upholding one each other’s faith. Note that previously in the endowment, the shoulders are washed and anointed that they may bear the burdens that will be placed thereon. This sign symbolizes “bearing one another’s burdens”. Note also that within each couple, the signs of love and unity are made, and all around the circle the sign of unity is made.
On the night of the Last Supper, it is believed that Christ also taught His Apostles the True Order of Prayer and further stated that “wherever two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in your midst”. Everything in the Prayer Circle suggests to the mind a gathering in the Name of Jesus Christ, from the manner of gathering, to the signs made, right down to the very marks worn in the clothing of all participants. Therefore, if the members of the circle have “the best of feelings” and are united in their faith, and have the pure desire to communicate with God, there is no reason why the Lord should not be pleased to appear in their midst. (I can testify from personal experience that this is indeed the case). At the center of the circle, John acting as voice and making the Second Sign of the Aaronic Priesthood stands at the edge between this world and the next, and he might well be reaching for something on the other side of the veil.
The prayer, while not following a prepared text, does follow a general formula. John first acknowledges the occasion and setting for the prayer, mentioning the temple, the robes, and the order of prayer. He then proceeds to thank the Lord for the blessings received, always going from the general to the specific: i.e. from the Gospel, to the Restoration, to this particular occasion. He then proceeds to ask the Lord for specific blessings, again ranging from the general to the specific. He usually invokes blessings upon the leadership of the Church and the presidency and workers of the temple. He especially asks for a blessing for the persons whose names lie upon the altar. To properly conduct a prayer circle, John must possess the Sealing Power, and when he invokes that power in the course of the prayer, rather then invoke it directly by name, he uses the phrase “we ask thee in a special way.”
Joseph Smith told the people that they do not know how to pray and get their prayers answered. However, he taught these keys to many individuals including Hyrum Smith and William Law.
“Let my servant William Law also receive the keys by which he may ask and receive blessings; let him be humble before me, and be without guile, and he shall receive of my Spirit, even the Comforter, which shall manifest unto him the truth of all things, and shall give him, in the very hour, what he shall say”. (D&C 124:97).
I want to bring up one point, which is often neglected in this discussion. We do not bring our agenda to the altar and tick off a list of requests to the Lord. We are to follow the Spirit, even the Comforter, which shall give us what we shall ask for. We have to be careful what we ask for, and we should always make sure that what we ask for is in accordance to the Will of God.
Other Interesting Notes about the Prayer Circle
When I conducted prayer circles, I was especially impressed to have six couples present in the circle if possible. This would make a total of 13, including the person acting as voice. Many people have been conditioned to believe the number 13 to be unlucky, but this is simply superstition. In the Hebrew language; each letter of the alphabet is also a number, and each word has a number assigned to it; and different words which map to the same number are often related to one another is surprising ways. In this particular case, the number for the Hebrew word for “unity” is 13, and the number for the Hebrew word for “love” is 13. I don’t know if there is a Hebrew word for communication or communion, and I don’t know if the word (if it exists) maps to 13, but I would like to believe that such is the case.
The number 13 was sacred to the Mayans. I also understand that the Zodiac really consists of 13 constellations instead of the usual 12, but one constellation is omitted to fit some preconceived notion about the number 12 and trying to make everything “fit”.
One of the New Testament Apocrypha books contains an account of Jesus teaching His Apostles at the Last Supper how to perform a “dance”. During the course of this “dance”, he was to offer a prayer and the Apostles were to repeat back the words of the prayer. This symbolism is repeated in art above my fireplace I have a Picasso print showing 13 persons dancing around in a circle with a dove flying through their midst having an olive branch in its mouth.
Few of us have been to England to see Stonehenge. Those to do will find a partially ruined pile of stones which is now off-limits to visitors. However, in Washington State, on the Columbia River, in Maryhill, not far from my birthplace is a fully-reconstructed replica of Stonehenge. Nobody knows why the original monument was constructed, but railroad magnate Sam Hill built his replica as a memorial to the soldiers who were sacrificed on the altar of World War I. I once toured the site and indeed found a large stone alter in the center of a circle of twelve stones. These twelve stones were arranged in groups of two with each pair of stones joined at the top by a lintel. This immediately suggested to my mind a prayer circle. There seems to be something powerful in just these lifeless stones arrayed in this order. I sensed that there is something greater behind this ancient pattern, but what that is remains unknown for now.
The Five Points of Fellowship
In the New Testament the Greek word “koinonia” is translated as “fellowship”. It means communion, sharing, partnership, to partake of. In the ARC formula, it represents Communication on the deepest possible level. The five points are physical points of bodily contact, but as is so often the case, there is a deeper spiritual meaning. They are called “The Five Points of Fellowship”, but if you also consider the points of contact in the Patriarchal Grip, there are really seven points of physical contact.
Here is another way to look at the Five Points of Fellowship. This calls for a practical demonstration. Pretend that there is a world called flatland where everything is two-dimensional. The whole world exists on the surface on your desk, or on the floor. Then let’s say you are a three-dimensional being trying to explain yourself and your existence to the inhabitants of flatland. Wouldn’t you be as a god to them? They would find you incomprehensible and your claims unbelievable. But supposing you found a way to introduce them into your world of three dimensions. Here, we need two volunteers from the audience. One person needs to lie flat on the floor as if he were a flatlander. The other volunteer needs to stand up above him in three-dimensional space. Now, let’s have the person standing up reach down and grab the person lying down and try to pull him up. Hint: try using the Five Points of Fellowship. Brace your foot against his so he doesn’t slip. Place your knee against his for further stability. Etc. Your feet and knees will help steady you while you support each other and with pull with your arms.
You could liken this to God at the veil pulling us up from the limited world of three dimensions into His world of 4 dimensions (or more).
You could also view this in light of one person helping resurrect another from a grave.
You could also view this at an intimate embrace between two brethren, signifying greeting, welcome, or mutual recognition.
I think many of these points are illustrated in this beautiful poem written by a Mason, on order which also practices this particular ordinance of fellowship. To me, the sentiments expressed in this poem are very beautiful and could well extend to the sisters as well as to the brethren.
The Five Points of Fellowship
Foot to Foot, that we should go
When sickness brings a brother woe,
To cheer him on his bed of pain,
And nurse him back to health again.
Knee to Knee, whene’er we pray,
At early morn, or close of day,
A brother’s name should claim a share
In every thought and every prayer.
Breast to Breast, thee still to keep
A brother’s secrets hidden deep,
To all the world but us unknown,
And to hold them sacred as our own.
Hand to Back, with firmest grasp,
Encircling arms and friendly clasp,
We should be found at duty’s call,
To stay a brother’s tottering fall.
Mouth to Ear, whene’er we find
To err a brother is inclined,
We’ll counsel give in gentlest tone
And breathe it to his ear alone.
Then Foot to Foot and Knee to Knee,
True brothers we should ever be;
With Hand to Back and Breast to Breast,
Each striving still to do his best,
We’ll whisper words of hope and cheer,
With Clasp to Clasp and Mouth to Ear.
This is the type of fellowship or communion (ARC) we enter into when we are introduced into the Presence of God and into the Holy Order of God. This is the same type of fellowship that was to prevail in the School of the Prophets as evidenced by this greeting which was to be given:
“And this shall be the order of the house of the presidency of the school: He that is appointed to be president, or teacher, shall be found standing in his place, in the house which shall be prepared for him.
“Therefore, he shall be first in the house of God, in a place that the congregation in the house may hear his words carefully and distinctly, not with loud speech.
“And when any shall come in after him, let the teacher arise, and, with uplifted hands to heaven, yea, even directly, salute his brother or brethren with these words:
“Art thou a brother or brethren? I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen.
“And he that is found unworthy of this salutation shall not have place among you; for ye shall not suffer that mine house shall be polluted by him.
“And he that cometh in and is faithful before me, and is a brother, or if they be brethren, they shall salute the president or teacher with uplifted hands to heaven, with this same prayer and covenant, or by saying Amen, in token of the same.
“Behold, verily, I say unto you, this is an ensample unto you for a salutation to one another in the house of God, in the school of the prophets.” (D&C 88:127-130).
Peter, James, and John and The Holy Order of God
The Holy Order of God is the heavenly component of the earthly School of the Prophets.
Following is both sides of a discussion I had over the Internet with a man named Allyn Rigby a couple of years ago. He lives in Utah and I live in Washington, so I have not met him personally, but we used to correspond by Email for a number of months. My impression of him is that he is a very humble spiritual man. His faith is simple, but very strong. One night we started discussing this concept and I was amazed that two people who came from such different backgrounds could have almost the same beliefs, differing only in terminology. This is further testimony to me that the Spirit of the Lord will teach us all the mysteries of the Kingdom, if we have ears to listen.
The Holy Order of God is also called “The Fathers” or Elohim. From among the Elohim, there are individuals who serve various offices necessary for the administration of the plan of salvation: Adam, Eve, Redeemer, Holy Spirit, Elias, Elijah, Messiah, etc. You can look at this two ways: It is God’s Holy Order, or the Holy Order of Gods, but since God is one (and if the members of the order are like God: are one) it is the Holy Order of God.
“There are 144,000 Fathers, and Jesus’s Father is the spokesperson for the quorum. All have the same power and authority. Yes some have office of Elohim, others Joseph etc. There are many offices, and they go by the office in which they work in. Just like you would call Bishop, Bishop or President, President. But the Father and Mother are different and Mother is Mother. As far as the Holy Ghost it to is an office, and many usually family members that have died get to fill this office. It is the only way they can grow on the other side. But there is one who is head of this office. The Holy Ghost is the mind and will of God. (See Lectures on Faith).” (Allyn Rigby).
I think we are talking about the same thing. Let me share a few insights I have received on this subject. First I agree with everything you have said.
In addition, when we receive “the more sure word of prophecy” or in other words “when our calling and election is made sure,” we are introduced into this Order or quorum, or perhaps we might say, reassured or reminded of the place we have held in this quorum. (I say this because this quorum has existed as long as God has existed. Does not the word “redeemed” mean to bring a person or thing back to the point at which they were originally?) At that point we become members of this quorum in equal standing, and the Father can truly say to us “all that I have is yours.” This not only applies to the riches of eternity (not necessarily material wealth, but much more), not just the power of God, but the fellowship and support of this quorum, and also the knowledge, concerns, thoughts, insights, and responsibilities which this quorum shares. At this point we are granted eternal life.
Joseph Smith spoke truly when he said we had to consecrate our all and be willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the Kingdom of God. But, remember all the other members of this quorum have done the same and are willing to give their all for you and to love you with all their heart, might, mind, and strength, just at they ask that you give your all to them and love God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.
This induction into the quorum takes two forms: public and private. The private part which may come before or after the public part is when the Father comes to us individually and says, as Joseph Smith taught, “son, thou shalt be exalted.” We receive something called the Voice of Jehovah. Which means we can speak in the Name of Jesus Christ (not the name “Jesus Christ,” but the unutterable name which is revealed to us individually), and to all creation it is the same as if Jesus Christ Himself spoke. Now, this doesn’t happen all at once. It probably occurs in stages, like the writings of David A. Whitmer describe, although, I don’t believe all the steps and identical for every person. The “public” or outward part of this induction is the Second Anointing ordinance. However, this part is secondary to the first part, and if the Church is not in a position to bestow this ordinance for whatever reason, the Lord will make His own provisions.
At this point the learning really begins. We have to grow in our priesthood and learn our powers and duties, just like in any other priesthood calling. Of course this is to be expected since we have only come this far by listening to every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God, through the medium of the Holy Ghost, then through the ministration of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What does this quorum do? One major function is to extend itself out to its full compliment of membership. Another function is to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth so that the will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven. As you can see, this quorum functions on both sides of the veil, and in all three degrees of glory. While all members of the quorum are worthy of exceeding great glory, many elect to sojourn in lesser kingdoms where they may seek out other souls and bring them to Christ, and seek out members of the quorum who have become separated, and bring them back into the main body.
As a member of this quorum, we are entitled to all the benefits of membership in the quorum including participation in the councils of the quorum and the privilege of having regular visitations from members of this quorum.
How does this quorum work? It works the way God works. This world is the Telestial World, and this quorum is doing the work of the Holy Ghost on this level. God is working with all peoples on all levels in this world, according to their level of understanding. Because we are not all at the same place in life, there is no “one size fits all” church. This doctrine was taught by Brigham Young and by Alma in the Book of Mormon (Alma 29:8) However, we must keep in mind that all truth comes from the same Source and leads to the same goal.
This is not a power or ego trip, and people seeking status or station do not generally reach this point. In addition, God has proven them in all things. Truly, everything the fathers do, they do in love. They exercise their priesthood in accordance with Section 121, “without control or compulsion,” and as a result their “dominions flow unto them forever and ever.”
This quorum may be called “the Fathers,” or “the Elohim.” I believe the group contains women as well. The word “elohim” is always translated “god” in the Old Testament, but it is actually a plural word. So it actually means “gods.” Somebody once asked a Rabbi why the first words of the Bible “In the beginning, God …” was not more correctly translated “In the beginning, the Gods, …” The rabbi said, “Because if we did that, the rest of the Bible wouldn’t make any sense.” Note also that the word “eloh” is a feminine word and the suffix “-im” is a macsuline plural ending. So the word is not only plural, but also refers to both the masculine and feminine at the same time. Of course in the King Follett Address Joseph Smith rendered the translation “In the beginning, the head god of all the other gods, ….” I have seen this same rendering in some Jewish interpretations of the Bible, so he is not alone in this view.
“The power to seal is the mind and will of God. But love is the only thing that will hold this seal together. Yet there is the Holy Spirit of Promise and that is Joseph Smith Jr. He is the only one on this earth that holds this power and office. Everything else is to become such, but he seals Husbands and Wives and families. There may be more to this, but this is what I know at this time. I learn so much that it changes fast. The more light and knowledge that I receive, the faster things change. I move into a greater area. If this makes sense.” (Allyn Rigby).
I agree with most of this. One of the members of our group had a revelation from Father and Mother in which they said: “We are together because of our desire.” That says a lot to me. They have a love which is eternal and which goes beyond all bounds of time and space. This is the love which makes a sealing eternal. This is the love which all the Fathers have for one another.
The Holy Spirit of Promise
Personally, I don’t know about Joseph Smith being the Holy Spirit of Promise. I won’t say he is, and I won’t say he isn’t. I just don’t know. I agree that we have to be open and keep learning. Let me explain my hesitance: I think Peter, James, and John and Moses, Elias, and Elijah are not totally out of the picture. Neither are Adam and Noah. I have read some writing which say they out and out gave their keys to Joseph Smith, and other writers say they simply committed their keys to Joseph Smith, but hold him and the church accountable for their use, and they could come and take them back and give them to others. We know these keys will never again be taken from the earth, but we don’t necessarily know (at least I don’t) that they couldn’t be taken away from Joseph Smith and given to another or others, or exercised personally by these specific individuals should they choose to return to the earth.
In the following, I am not trying to detract from the mission or ministry of Joseph Smith, Jr. I am just trying to point out and elucidate the mission and roles of Peter, James, and John.
In D&C 7:1-8 the Savior told Peter that John had a greater work to perform among men than the work he has done before: namely to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation. And unto Peter, James, and John the Lord gave this power and the keys of this ministry until the Second Coming. In D&C 27:12-13, the Lord talks about Peter, James, and John ordaining Joseph Smith to the apostleship and also mentions that He has committed to them (these three) “the key of my kingdom and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times, and for the fullness of times.” See also D&C 128:20-21.
In D&C 77:8-15 we read an explanation of portions of the book of Revelations. We read about the four angels who have the “everlasting gospel” to commit to the nations. They have the power to seal unto life, etc. The “everlasting gospel” is not the Telestial gospel; it is the Celestial gospel. The angel ascending from the East (ascending not descending, because he is already on the earth) possesses the seal of the living God and instructs the angels not to destroy the earth until “we have sealed the servants of God in their foreheads.” We are told in verse 9 that this is Elias who was to gather together the tribes of Israel and restore all things. Those thusly sealed are the 144,000. They are to administer the everlasting gospel. They are to be ordained by the angels. (Not by the officials of some church). Those saved will not be limited to these 144,000, but the book of Revelations teaches that these will be the first fruits of God unto Salvation. Verse 14 discusses the future mission which John received. He was the Elias who was to come and restore all things. D&C 133:36-38 talks about the angel flying through heaven having the everlasting gospel and “who shall appear unto MANY that dwell on the earth.”
From Section 77, verses 9 and 14 we see that none other than John the Beloved was to be that Elias, the angel flying through the heavens, to whom was given the Seal of the living God over the twelve tribes of Israel. This was his future mission: to lead this company of angels as they go about ministering to those who shall be heirs of salvation, sparing the earth of certain destruction, until they are able to seal the servants of God in their foreheads. Behold, is not this the Holy Spirit of Promise?
Elias and Elijah
One of the biggest sources of confusion in Restoration doctrine is the distinction between Elias and Elijah. An “Elias” is an office (a forerunner) and is also the Greek name for Elijah. “Elijah” was the name of an Old Testament prophet, mighty in faith and power who was taken up to heaven without tasting death. And we also refer to “the spirit and power of Elijah”.
Before Messiah comes, God promised the return of the prophet Elijah. In this preparatory role, Elijah was to perform the role of an “Elias”. The source of much of this confusion is Joseph Smith, himself. Section 77, revealed in 1832 reveals the future mission of the coming Elias (John the Beloved). However, in later writings and revelations, Joseph Smith ascribes all the functions of the mission of the above-mentioned Elias to Elijah. Perhaps in Section 77, he was using the Greek version of the name of Elijah, or perhaps he was referring to the office on an “Elias”, or perhaps Joseph Smith’s knowledge of this subject was incomplete in 1832, and he later grew to a greater understanding as witnessed by the following 1844 quotations, which seem to suggest that John the Beloved is to perform his mission in the latter days as the long-awaited prophet Elijah, and that they are in fact, one in the same person.
Joseph Smith explains the differences between the two offices as follows:
“This power of Elijah is to that of Elias what in the architecture of the temple of God those who seal or cement the stones to their places are to those who cut or hew the stones preparing the way for the other to accomplish the work. By this we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise, i.e. Elijah. To obtain this sealing is to make our calling and election sure which we ought to give all diligence to accomplish.” (The Words of Joseph Smith, 10 March 1844, p. 335).
Another illustration of the differences of these two offices and further evidence that the latter-day missions of John the Beloved and the Prophet Elijah are one in the same is that the book eaten by John in the 10th chapter of Revelation “was a mission, and an ordinance, for him to gather the tribes of Israel; behold, this is Elias, who, as it is written, must come and restore all things.” (D&C 77:14).
“And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” (Rev. 10:10-11).
This indicates he had a future work to perform, a work greater than the work he had previously done. (D&C 7) At the time Christ gave him this promise what work had he previously done, or any of the Apostles for that matter. They had not yet been fully converted. The Savior on this same occasion asked Peter if he loved Him and told him to feed his sheep. If John had previously lived and served as the prophet Elijah, he would indeed have done a previous work, but up to this point, in his current lifetime as the Beloved Disciple, he had done little except learn at the feet of the Master and carefully observe the life and ministry of Christ so he could later record it in his Gospel.
Continuing in the Book of Revelation:
From this we understand that to John was given a rod with the instruction to measure the temple, the altar, and those who worshipped in the temple. To measure is to hold up to a standard, to judge, and if all it not in order, to adjust, or to purify. Would not this be suggestive of the work of the spirit and power of Elijah? To another it was given to the outer court of the temple, known as the court of the Gentiles, and to measure the city. Would this not be more suggestive of the more temporal aspects of the Priesthood and be suggestive of the work of the spirit and power of Elias? Or Moses?
“He shall send Elijah the prophet and he shall reveal the covenants of the fathers in relation to the children, and the covenants of the children in relation to the fathers that they may have the privilege of entering into the same in order to effect their mutual salvation. And I saw another angel ascending from the east having the Seal of the living God and he cried etc. Hurt not the earth nor sea nor trees till we have sealed the servants of our God in our foreheads. Now I would ask who knows what is the Seal of the living God, Behold the ignorance of the world. A measure of this sealing is to confirm upon their head in common with Elijah the doctrine of election or the covenant with Abraham. “ (Words of JS p. 239-42).
D&C 77 refers explicitly to John and Elias as being one and the same. However, in the above quotation, Joseph Smith seems to tie John and Elijah together.
And another quotation from Joseph Smith,
“It means to seal the blessing on their heads, meaning the everlasting covenant thereby making their calling and election sure. When a seal is put upon the father and mother, it secures their posterity so that they cannot be lost, but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father.” (page 242) This speech by Joseph Smith was recorded by three separate eyewitnesses.
In Malachi we read:
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: (and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple), even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his (the messenger’s) coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. (Mal. 3:1-3). (Parenthesis and comments mine).
Who is the Lord’s messenger who shall prepare the way before Him? Who is the messenger of the covenant whom the Jews delighted in? Who shall be like a refiner’s fire and fullers’ soap? Who shall sit as a refiner and a purifer of silver to prepare the sons of Levi that they may offer a righteous offering unto the LORD? Could this be the messenger who comes in the spirit and power of Moses (or Elias?
In chapter 4, Malachi then refers to another messenger with a different mission: Elijah. The messenger of the covenant, not the LORD, is going to be like a refiner’s fire, preparing the sons of Levi, (or in other words, those who have been prepared by the spirit and power of Elias), building the Temple up to the capstone (Elijah), for the greater revelation of the Messiah, who will suddenly come to his Temple.
Among the sons of Levi, there is to be a refining and a sifting or a sorting process. Under the spirit and power of Elias there has been a calling, but under the spirit and power of Elijah, there will be a choosing. Hence the scriptural adage: “Many are called but few are chosen.” Another word for “choosing” is “election”. Those thus called through the spirit and power of Elias and chosen through the spirit and power of Elijah are in effect “the Church and Kingdom and the Elect of God”.
Making Your Calling and Election Sure
The early-day brethren taught and understood this principle. I will now quote their words without comment.
“Make your calling and election sure. Go on from grace to grace until you obtain a promise from God for yourselves that you shall have eternal life. This is eternal life, to know God and his son, Jesus Christ; it is to be sealed up unto eternal life and obtain a promise for our posterity. Whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. This is the power of Elijah, to seal or bind or turn the hearts of the fathers to their children sealed against all sin but the sin of shedding innocent blood, and the sin against the Holy Ghost.” (The Words of Joseph Smith, 10 March 1844, p. 334).
“‘You have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn.’ And for what were they brought thus far? I answer that they came to these person ages to learn of the things of God and to hear revealed through them the order and glory of the kingdoms of God. I would ask again, Is there a word on record that was revealed by those angels and spirits? If there is, where is it to be found? Again I inquire, what is the order and organization of the spirits of the just made perfect? Let me tell you, brethren. That which is to be revealed which was kept his from the foundation of the world will be revealed to sucklings and babes.” (The Words of Joseph Smith, 13 August 1843, p. 240). (This will occur one person at a time).
“Reading the experience of others, or the revelations given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience in these things, through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Truth in reference to these matters can, and may be known, through the revelations of God in the way of his ordinances, and in answer to prayer. The Hebrew church ‘came unto the spirits of just men made perfect, and unto an innumerable company of angels, unto God the Father of all, and to Jesus Christ the Mediator of the new covenant;’ but what they learned has not been, and could not have been written. What object was gained by this communication with the spirits of the just, etc.? It was the established order of the kingdom of God, the keys of power and knowledge were with them to communicate to the saints, hence the importance of understanding the distinction between the spirits of the just, and angels. Spirits can only be revealed in flaming fire, or glory. Angels have advanced farther, their light and glory being tabernacled, and hence appear in bodily shape…The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work, hence they are blessed in departing hence. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings and emotions, and are often pained therewith.” (The Words of Joseph Smith, 9 October 1843, p. 253-54).
“What did they learn by coming to the spirits of just men made perfect? Is it written? No! The spirits of just men are made ministering servants to those who are sealed unto life eternal, and it is through them that the sealing power comes down. “ (The Words of Joseph Smith, 9 October 1843, p. 254).
“Now, if there be any heirs of salvation in the 19th century, why not those ministering spirits be sent forth to minister for them? And if sent forth, why should they withhold their glory and their personal presence from those to whom they administer? Why not reveal themselves as they did in ancient times, personally and bodily, so that the eye of the individual to whom they administer may behold them? We can see nothing whatsoever that indicates, to the least degree, that these privileges are to be withheld from the children of men.” (Orson Pratt, 28 September 1873, J.D. 16:212-13).
“It is the privilege of the children of God to come to God and get revelation…The Father could not be glorified in the Son on any other principle than we coming to God, asking, receiving, heavens open, visions, etc. They are done away because of unbelief. ‘I will pray the Father and he shall send you another comforter.’ There is one comforter, and another comforter to abide with you forever, reach to things within the veil, know that you are sealed. If you get it, it will stand by you forever… We may come to the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn, spirits of just men made perfect, unto Christ. The innumerable company of angels are those that have been resurrected from the dead. The spirits of just men made perfect are those without bodies. It is our privilege to pray for and obtain these things…God is not a respecter of persons; we all have the same privilege. Come to God; weary him until he blesses you, etc. We are entitled to the same blessings: Jesus, revelations, just men and angels, etc., etc. Not laying again the doctrine of Christ go on unto perfection. Obtain that holy spirit of promise. Then you can be sealed to eternal life.” (The Words of Joseph Smith, Before 8 August 1839, pp. 13-14).
“I know that everyone who, following the whisperings of the Spirit, develops faith, is baptized, and receives the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands by those having authority, may, by compliance with the teachings of the gospel, receive the gifts and power of the Holy Ghost. And I bear further witness that every such person who, having come this far, will follow the Prophet’s admonition to ‘continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God,’ may obtain the more sure word of prophecy.” (Marion G. Romney, April 1977 General Conference, in Ensign, May 1977, p. 45).
The Work of Restoration to Continue: The Coming of Future Messengers
The work of John the Beloved (the Elias or Elijah who was to come and restore all things) and his fellow angels is just as necessary in the Restoration as was the work of Joseph Smith. In an address to the Quorum of the Twelve, Joseph Smith taught the following concerning the return of these angels to assist in this great latter-day work.
“Let us seek the glory of Abraham, Noah, Adam, the Apostles, who have communion with these things, and then we shall be among that number when Christ comes.” (July 2, 1839). DHC 3:383-392. (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 159, 162). (Words of Joseph Smith, pp. 10, 12).
Brigham Young once stated that “strangers” from both sides of the veil would appear among men to aid and direct this work, and that their appearance would be no different from that of ordinary men. Annalee Skarin saw all of this in a vision which she had in the 1950’s:
The Mission of Peter, James, and John
To sum it all up we have the team of Peter and James working on the other side, and John working on this side in connection with the 4 other angels mentioned ministering the everlasting Gospel to those who shall be heirs of salvation. These angels are ordaining these heirs into the Holy Order of God. Think about the temple ceremony. Peter, James, and John work among the children of men first without revealing who they are, then in their true character. They work with those who would be heirs of salvation, preparing and teaching them in all things, even up to the point where they approach the veil and converse with the Lord, Himself.
As I have shown, all this is clearly taught in the D&C and by the prophet Joseph Smith. It is no secret doctrine, but it is certainly not taught by the LDS church. I first reviewed these scriptures years ago, and I just reviewed them the last couple of days in preparing this writing. What I have read rings just as true for me today as it did then.
However, there are some passages which, on the surface, seem to contradict what I have just stated. The first passage is D&C 110:11-16 where Moses, Elias, and Elijah appear to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland temple and commit to them the keys of various dispensations. Reading further in Section 112 seems to clear up the confusion. D&C 112:15-17 states that the keys given to Joseph Smith and Thomas B. Marsh shall not be taken from Joseph Smith until the Lord comes, but these keys are the apostolic keys.
D&C 112:30-33 clarifies this whole issue so well, I am quoting from it in full:
“For unto you, the Twelve, and those, the First Presidency, who are appointed with you to be your counselors and your leaders, is the power of this priesthood given, for the last days and for the last time, in the which is the dispensation of the fullness of times. Which power you hold, IN CONNECTION WITH ALL THOSE WHO HAVE RECEIVED A DISPENSATION AT ANY TIME FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION; [emphasis mine]; For verily I say unto you, the keys of the dispensation, which ye have received, have come down from the fathers, and last of all, being sent down from heaven unto you. Verily I say unto you, behold how great is your calling. Cleanse your hearts and your garments, lest the blood of this generation be required at your hands.”
D&C 132:7 and 132:45 mention specific priesthood powers and keys which were given to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. However, nowhere can I find that the keys which Peter, James, and John possess were ever handed off to Joseph Smith.
In addition, in D&C 63:21 the Lord explains that he showed Peter, James, and John the pattern by which the earth would be transfigured, and that Joseph had not yet received the fullness of this account. To my knowledge, neither he nor any of his successors in the presidency have yet received this fullness, nor have they received the fullness of the record of John as promised in D&C 93:6.
The Redemption of Zion
Would you like to know how this all knowledge and understanding started for me? I had a bishop in a ward at BYU that taught some very important things to me. He also said that you don’t have to wait for Zion to start consecrating your all to the Lord. You can basically sit down right now and dedicate your life, your time, your talents, and everything you have been blessed with or will be blessed with for the building up of Zion and for the establishment of the Kingdom of God here upon the earth. I did just that, and the most wonderful things started happening in my life. That’s when the heavens started opening up for me. I have developed a real passion for establishing Zion. It’s like patriotism, only it goes a lot further. I continually pray that the will of the Lord will be done on earth as it is in heaven, so that someday the heavenly Zion will be pleased to join Zion on earth.
“He is right, but Zion is in your heart. That is the Holy of Holies, this is where you will learn to vibrate and move like the wind. This is how you will see the city of Enoch, and become a member of the Church of the First Born. This is how you translate and resurrect your self. The I AM of you will do all of this, all we need to do is listen to the spirit and obey.” (Allyn Rigby).
Going along with what Brother Rigby says above, I once was praying about Zion and I asked the Lord: “Where is Zion”? His reply was: “Wherever you are.”
“Now I believe that before the redemption of Zion, there will be a voluntary feeling to carry out the celestial law. I found my belief on the prophecies that are given in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants”. (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16:158).
Observations about the Three Degrees of Glory:
Celestial: Those who are valiant. To be valiant means to be faithful and true despite all temptations and indications to do otherwise. This sometimes may mean defying constituted human authority such as churches. Peter said: “We ought to obey God rather than obey man.” Celestial individuals radiate the light of God in their beings. They receive the light of God and it passes through them like light passing through a pure crystal and the light shines on and on. This is what is meant by glorifying God.
Terrestrial: These are honorable men and women who were not valiant. They fell into the trap and allowed themselves to be blinded by the craftiness of men. These possess no light of their own, neither to they allow the light of God to pass through them, but they are happy to live on borrowed light, and reflect the light they have received.
Telestial: These are the crafty men who lie in wait to deceive honorable men and women. They set themselves up as their own light and thus do not glorify God in any way. Because of this, their light is darkness.
Our present world is of the Telestial order. In it are individuals of potentially all three degrees of glory. Individuals of this degree of glory radiate or reflect light to a much lesser degree. They are like crystals of varying degrees of purity. Some on this level are so impure that they neither radiate nor reflect light.
Holiness to the Lord
This document has barely scratched the surface as to what could be learned from the Temple Endowment. As human beings we learn best when we can be taught on multiple levels simultaneously. The temple Endowment combines learning of the spiritual, mental, emotional, symbolic, and physical levels. It is truly “the Lord’s university”. Over the east entrance to every temple reads the words “Holiness to the Lord”. This should be our attitude as we partake of the Endowment. Every level of our being (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) should be in tune and focused on a single goal: that of loving and worshipping God and seeking to be one with Him. This is what is meant by holiness. Ask yourself: if Jesus were to suddenly come to what we call “The House of the Lord”, would He find holiness there? If Jesus were to suddenly come to you, would He find holiness there?
This discussion has focused on the meaning of the symbols presented in the temple Endowment. Indeed, we have introduced additional symbols as an aid to further understanding. Please understand that these symbols are only aids in understanding. We do not worship the temple, we do not worship the ordinances presented there, neither do we worship the workers performing the ordinances, nor the priesthood with which they perform the ordinances. We worship God. We acknowledge His authority and we seek to further add to His glory by obeying the Everlasting Gospel, so that we may develop our own, innate, god-like attributes, so that we may become even as He is.
© 2010 John R. Crane