D&C 132:15-30 — LeGrand Baker — marriage covenant

D&C 132:15-30 — LeGrand Baker — marriage covenant 

December 14, 2006

My friend Kevin wrote:

1) How or what is the best way for us to learn what our pre-earth covenants are or do we ever learn of them before they are fulfilled. Also, is there any way to differentiate between fulfilling a pre-earth covenant and simply achieving an important milestone in our personal development.

2) Could you explain D&C 132. Especially vs. 17-29. I think it is. There is much debate about that here and I was wondering your perspective / the perspective of other prophets & apostles since you can look that up while I can’t.

3) Is there a way to help others feel sacred time (this is really the equivalent to feeling the Spirit in many ways from my understanding which is THE key to missionary work)

4) referring to Jeremiah’s standard that prophets must have had a sode experience. Does that mean that those who have that type of experience ( seeing the grand council in heaven, seeing Christ or God the Father —because I think they require the same level of significance) are or will be called as prophets and apostles.

5) What is (in your opinion) the best way to become better at recognizing and understanding the Spirit/ what is the best way to increase faith.

My response:

Those are some wonderful questions. Let me take them one at a time.

1) How or what is the best way for us to learn what our pre-earth covenants are or do we ever learn of them before they are fulfilled. Also, is there any way to differentiate between fulfilling a pre-earth covenant and simply achieving an important milestone in our personal development.

I think the first answer to that is to learn to be patient. The reason we come here without a memory is so we can discover is our integrity is strong enough that we will do what we know we should just because we feel that’s what we should do. The second answer is just be happy. It makes no sense to me that the Lord would assign us a task that was contrary to our individual personalities. So the key to fulfilling the covenants is to keep the commandments so we can be guided by the Spirit, and do the things that make us feel most fulfilled. Then, if we get to a juncture where we are about to make an incorrect decision, the Spirit will give us instructions, or else he will give someone else instructions to help us re-direct our paths (as in a church calling, for example). Otherwise, he will pretty much let us live our lives our way. After all, that’s what we came here to do.

2) Could you explain D&C 132. Especially vs. 17-29. I think it is. There is much debate about that here and I was wondering your perspective / the perspective of the prophets & apostles since you can look that up while I can’t.

Kevin, these verses must be understood in light of the first 14 verses. I think I sent that to you already. If you don’t still have it, let me know and I’ll send it again.

Those verses define the new and everlasting covenant as the covenants we made in the pre-mortal existence, and that we keep in this life (thus, everlasting and new). I will be happy to tell you what I think the next verses say, but please remember that what I am about to write is only my opinion, and is not to be taken for Church doctrine. I don’t have anything that the modern brethren have written about that, but here is my take on the matter.

The first word of verse 15 is “therefore,” so the first 14 verses are the introduction to the discussion, and after verse 15 we have the conclusion.

15    Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.
16     Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.

Remember this was not a revelation that was written for the general Church membership, or for the world at large, but it was specifically for Emma. So here the Lord is only talking about people who have had the opportunity to make and keep temple covenants. He is not talking about people who may embrace those covenants after they are dead and hear about them in the spirit world.

17   For these angels did not abide my law [that can only have meaning if they had the opportunity and chose not to do so]; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.

I think that means that if they choose to not make and keep those covenants while they were on the earth, they probably won’t change much when they get dead. So they will not qualify themselves to enjoy celestial blessings.

18   And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.

I understand there is a Protestant preacher in SLC who has taken it upon himself to marry people for time and eternity. What this says is that because he doesn’t have the proper authority, his marriages will have no eternal effect.

19  And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

If God promises someone their marriage is for eternity, he will keep that promise. They may sin, but if they repent and do not become sons or daughters of perdition, then they may reclaim those blessings. That, of course, is conditional on whether or not they choose to repent. God is not going to drag anyone kicking and screaming into the Celestial Kingdom.

20     Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

That is simply a re-statement of what D&C 76 says about those in the Celestial kingdom.

21  Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.
22   For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.

Those two verses clarify the question about whether God will drag them into the Celestial kingdom just because he made a covenants that they have chosen to forsake. Covenants are made by two parties, and both have to keep their part, or the covenant becomes void.

23  But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.
24  This is eternal lives [ that is plural. Its about families] —to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.
25  Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.

This is the same principle. God can’t keep a covenant if the other party rejects the conditions and the blessings of that covenant.

26  Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.

This is still the same principle, except that he is pointing out that they will have to suffer for their own sins, because they have rejected the blessings of the atonement. If they are willing to do that, then the conditions of the covenant are still in force. The principle is very simple. God will do all in his power to save his children—the only thing that will prevent him from doing that is if they choose not to be saved.

27  The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world, is in that ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant, saith the Lord God; and he that abideth not this law can in nowise enter into my glory, but shall be damned, saith the Lord.

It isn’t that God won’t save those people, it’s that he can’t, because they have ceased to be the kind of people who will permit God to save them.

28  I am the Lord thy God, and will give unto thee the law of my Holy Priesthood, as was ordained by me and my Father before the world was.
29  Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.

Now we are back to the original question: How does God justify those men for having more than one wife. The answer is that they received instructions “by revelation and commandment” according to covenants made before the world was. “Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines” (D&C132:1) The issue is not polygamy, it is the justification of polygamy. The answer is in the pre-mortal covenants.

30  Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins—from whose loins ye are, namely, my servant Joseph—which were to continue so long as they were in the world; and as touching Abraham and his seed, out of the world they should continue; both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them.

That’s the covenant the Lord made with Abraham, and his multiple wives were the mechanism by which that covenant was fulfilled.

Kevin, that’s the way I understand that part of the revelation. Please let me remind you once more, what I have written is only my opinion, and is not to be taken for doctrine. So please don’t share it with anyone who will take what I have written to be the doctrines of the Church.

3) Is there a way to help others feel sacred time (this is really the equivalent to feeling the Spirit in many ways, from my understanding, which is THE key to missionary work)

I think there is. As far as I can tell, the most universal experience with sacred time is the feeling people have when they love another person for what they are inside, without reference to what they appear to be or not to be. As a missionary, if you wish to experience another person in sacred time, all you have to do is love them. And if you want them to experience you and the gospel you represent in sacred time, all you have to do is love them. You see, if you really do love them, and they are receptive to the Spirit that teaches one to love and to be loved, then they will know that you love them, and respond the same way. It is nothing you can force, and it is nothing you can fake, and it is nothing you can teach — it is only something that you must BE. But really caring about someone else takes energy, and like everything else, one must develop the stamina to do it, until doing it is just what one IS.

4) referring to Jeremiah’s standard that prophets must have had a sode experience. Does that mean that those who have that type of experience ( seeing the grand council in heaven, seeing Christ or God the Father —because I think they require the same level of significance) are or will be called as prophets and apostles.

The answer to that question is something you and I will never know. People who have such experiences just don’t talk about them unless the Spirit insists that they must. They never use their telling about spiritual experiences as currency with which to try to purchase honor or respect or a reputation. I can find no evidence that one must be an apostle to see the Saviour, or, conversely, that everyone who sees the Saviour will be an apostle. The key to your question is these words by Alma.

9  And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries [sode – including those parts of a sode experience that are taught in the temple.] of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

So it is the listener, not the speaker, who controls what is said in the conversation. The speaker should not say what the listener cannot understand.

10  And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; [the heart is the center of one’s being. It is both the intellect and the emotions. If one hardens one’s heart, one chooses to neither academically know, nor spiritually feel, the truth.] and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

“In full” means in full. I see no restrictions on what one can learn except one’s desire to know and ability to keep his mouth shut. Lots of people would like to know, but don’t know enough to not talk about it.

11  And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries [They will simply forget even those parts of the sode that are taught in the temple]; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this [not knowing the mysteries of Godliness] is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12:9-11)

The statement in the D&C is also relevant here.

18  Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
19  And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. (D&C 130:18-19)

He is not talking about bits of textbook information. He is talking about a principle of intelligence. The only kind of intelligence that we can take with us into the celestial realms of sacred time is that which is worthy of being in the reality of sacred time. That is our love for the Saviour and our love for his children.

5) What is (in your opinion) the best way to become better at recognizing and understanding the Spirit/ what is the best way to increase faith.

I’ve already answered that question the best way I know how. Spirituality is not getting revelation in a vacuum. It is loving the Lord and speaking with him as your dearest friend. When one does that, one doesn’t talk about it much, one just IS that. When you talk with a friend, he talks back to you. I think that’s all there is to it. There is a condition though: It has to be real: The Saviour said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Ours will be rather quiet. We will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day with our children and grandchildren. Other than that, nothing very exciting. I know members of the Church are very kind to missionaries on Christmas, and that nothing is quite like being with your family. But I hope you can also feel their love.

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