Meeting Christ in This Life


DoctrineOfMeetingChristMy friend Eric has e-published another free book on Lulu. This one is entitled, “The Doctrine of Meeting Christ in This Life: Jacob’s Ladder, the LDS Temple and Greater Things.” It is 144 pages. His first one (110 pages) was about the Plan of Salvation symbolized as One Eternal Round. He also published a short booklet (68 pages) about the Sacrament. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/eternalround

Eric was my Bishop a few years back. I also served as one of his counselors in the Bishopric. We now serve together in the Stake Presidency. Well, sort of. He’s the Executive Secretary and I’m the Stake Financial Clerk. But positions in the Church certainly don’t matter a hill of beans, do they? I only mention this to let you know that Eric’s a good guy and can be trusted. He’s a physician here in our local area.

The booklet is mainly a compilation of quotes and scriptures. A few words from his introduction might give you a feel for the content and Eric’s focus. He also included a Step 0, which is to Study Christ, to learn about Christ, and expressed a hope that our time spent on this lower level is short. In other words, we all should be a little further up the ladder by now in following Christ, seeking to meet Him.

Spiritual Progress on Jacob’s Ladder

So pick up the little booklet from Lulu. It’s free and is a thoughtful and well-organized compilation. Quoting the introduction, “Jacob’s ladder, symbolically applied to our own personal spiritual progression, has 3 principal steps:

Step 1:  Telestial Level – Follow Christ
Step 2:  Terrestrial Level – Meet Christ
Step 3:  Celestial Level – Know Christ

“For us, Step 1 occurs in this mortal life. Step 3 occurs after this mortal life. This book would like to suggest that Step 2 can occur in this mortal life (Hence the title). On this salvational ladder, knowledge makes up the steps. Faith, hope, and charity make us attempt to climb the steps. Grace, provided through the Atonement of Christ, is the power that actually moves us up the steps.

“Nothing is worth more than the spiritual climb up this ladder. Nothing should be allowed to distract us from the path to knowing Christ. Mortal life is too precious and short to waste on the relatively less important things. I do not place my faith in the Church, which is an organization of imperfect humans. I place my faith in Jesus Christ. I have membership in the Church because I feel it helps me progress along this path.”

The Ladder Leads to Christ

Eric has gone to great lengths to compile these quotes and scriptures in a logical and comprehensive manner. He leads you step by step or rather rung by rung up Jacob’s ladder, providing evidence that meeting Christ is not only a doctrine of the Church but is the central theme of the gospel – something we all MUST do. I like the format of an e-book. You can keep it handy for reference in electronic format.

The chapter on Jacob’s ladder is enlightening. I had the pleasure of being taught by Bishop Chun on a regular basis in the combined third hour instruction that took place once a quarter. He was continually reminding us to wake up, like Jacob needed to do in order to begin his ascent up the ladder. Of course, Bishop Chun was also a fan of the Matrix so maybe “wake up” meant even a little more to him.

The Temple is a Map

He writes about the temple being a map: “How is the temple endowment a map? Our spiritual understanding of the symbols shows us where we are, how close we are to God’s presence. The hidden treasures of gospel understanding will remain hidden to the spiritually unenlightened mind. The mysteries are ingeniously concealed within the symbolism of the temple ordinances.

“How much we are able to see, discern, and understand is a measurement of our spirituality. Understanding the symbols is what endows us, because personal revelation is required to understand the symbols. Continuing to receive until we are at such a spiritual level that we can pierce through the veil and enter the presence of the Lord—that is being endowed with spiritual power from on high.”

Obtaining Knowledge

I have been re-reading Denver Snuffer’s first book (second edition, 2008), The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil. I’m in Chapter Four – Nephi’s walk. The focus of Denver’s message, or actually Nephi’s, is that we must act upon what we believe in order to have sufficient faith to come unto Christ and save our souls. A man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge.

But the kind of knowledge we’re talking about here is the kind that comes from obedience. When you learn a principle and then live it, you obtain your own personal witness of its validity. You then have knowledge. That’s another step up the ladder. The trick is to know what knowledge is most important to obtain and then to let nothing stand in your way of obtaining that knowledge experience.

Seek the Face of the Lord

We are to seek the Lord’s face. We start with a desire to believe. Nephi heard his father tell of his visions and dreams. At first he was skeptical. He decided to ask God to help him believe. He says the Lord visited him and softened his heart. We know the response of his brothers. Sam believed Nephi’s words but Laman and Lemuel hardened their hearts. Nephi’s first visit was to simply soften his heart.

Have we had that first visit from the Lord? I have. But it only comes if we ask. I have had my heart softened towards the things of God. I have asked Him to help me accept difficult doctrines and to have the courage to act upon them. Like Nephi, there was no rushing wind, no parting veil, nothing material happened. But I had a desire to receive, I asked for it, and I received. Skepticism and doubt vanished.

Hear the Voice of the Lord

Nephi teaches us the next step in the path when he reports back to the Lord on his efforts to share his testimony with his brothers. He then hears the voice of the Lord saying, “Blessed art thou Nephi, because of thy faith…” I think we just left a large number of church members behind. I would say the majority have experienced step one in that they had a softening of the heart, else why would they come to church?

But this hearing the voice of the Lord thing, that’s where we lose a lot of people. Of course it was not an audible voice. The voice of the Lord came into his mind. I can’t tell you how many conversations and private dialogs I have had with people who said, “How can I tell the difference between my own thoughts and the voice of the Lord?” This sacred subject has received a lot of attention over the years.

Visions or Dreams

The ability to hear, just like the ability to accept what is heard, is directly related to keeping the commandments. The more faithful you are in obeying the word of the Lord to his prophets, the more prepared you are to receive his voice individually. The cleaner your personal life is the better you can hear his voice. When the Lord speaks to you, you will know it. It is accompanied by a quiet peace in your heart.

Sometimes the Lord chooses to speak to us in a vision, also called a dream. I know few people who have open visions, but know many who have communicated with the Lord through dreams. Don’t discount dreams as a legitimate method of the Lord to answers the prayers of his children. I have received some sacred visions in this manner. I know when a dream is from the Lord. I record them in my journal.

Daily Walk With the Lord

The next step or rung on the ladder is to understand the process of the daily walk with the Lord. God is not some distant being who cares nothing for you. He is someone who cares enough about us that He will help us accomplish whatever it is He asks us to do. Just like Nephi had the faith to say, “I will go and do,” we too must walk each day with the assurance that the Lord will help us step by step.

Start each day with prayer. Tell God what it is you need to accomplish that day. Tell him why you are trying to do what you must do. Ask him to help you and to walk with you as you step through the process of each task. Talk to Him as you encounter difficulties during the day. Listen for His calm reassuring voice telling you that you can do it or suggesting alternative ways to accomplish your task.

A Pause on the Ladder

And that’s about as far as I’ve come in my third re-read of Denver’s book. I have my pen and highlighter out and am marking each step and each part of the process so I can say I understand and evaluate where I am. I am pleased to say I am at least up to this point. I desire to see His face, I have heard his voice in my mind many, many times. I can also tell you that this daily walk with the Lord is a real thing.

I know we can meet Christ in this life. I have not seen His face yet, but I know where I’m at on the path. He has asked some difficult things of me. I have failed some tests and passed others. Tests that used to come at me over and over again now seem to have served their purpose and no longer appear on the path. I am so very grateful for a living and loving God who lets me know where I am in life.

Invitation to Dialog

Where are you? I invite comments. I love the dialog. Thanks for reading my story.

17 Responses

  1. Thanks for your kind words. The only clarification I’ll make now is that I watched (& have) an edited copy of “The Matrix” (since the original movie is rated R).

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    • You know, in all these years, I’ve never seen the Matrix, but have read so much about it. Someday, perhaps I could borrow that edited copy. Thanks for sharing your e-book. There were many quotes in there I hadn’t seen in a long time or ever. I can appreciate the many hours it must have taken to compile them all.

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  2. I have seen Christ and felt the wound in His wrist.

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    • Details, anonamouse….This is a public forum. Others want to know more. So do I. Tell us about yourself. At what point in your life did this happen? What was the situation that brought this about? What was the purpose of the meeting? What did you gain from the experience? How has it blessed your life? What advice would you give to others who are seeking to know and understand the Savior better?

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  3. Tim

    I enjoy your blog and like this post. i have trouble with your doctor friends classification. I have gotten a lot of light from the following classification. Abraham Gileadi teaches that Isaiah describes 7 levels on Jacobs ladder.
    We enter life on
    step no. 3- Jacob-Israel, invited into the family of God.
    Step no. 4- Zion-Jerusalem- worthy of Zion, not kings and queens but servants. The requirement is to repent and return.
    Step no. 5- Son-servant- adopted as a son of Christ in his kingdom, exalted to become kings and queens, given a mortal limited mission by God.
    Step no. 6- Seraph-savior (note the small “s”) adopted as a son of The Father in his kingdom, exalted to become kings of kings, given a mortal expanded or global mission by God, one where the individual is a savior of his people. Those above level 6 are gods, even sons of God.
    Step no. 2-Babylon
    Step no. 1- Perdition

    To meet Christ is to know Him seems to be the way the scriptures use the word “know”. Doctrinally the idea that those who meet Christ face -to-face in this life are at a terrestrial level is, in my judgement, not scripturally justified. Thanks for the link I’ll read the book.

    Keep up the good work.

    McKay

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    • Those are good observations.

      Yes, Gileadi’s 7-step ladder is more comprehensive. There are steps above and below the 3-step ladder (I briefly touch on this in a different book).

      But for this book at least, I wanted to focus just on the 3 steps Joseph Smith delineated: “Paul . . . could understand the three principal rounds of Jacob’s ladder—the telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial glories” (TPJS, 304-5).

      (Yes, there are 3 “principal” rounds, but they are not the ONLY rounds.)

      Knowing Christ is eternal life (John 17:3). One can meet Christ and not have eternal life (e.g. Judas).

      Therefore, meeting Christ is not the same as knowing Christ.

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      • Heh . . . well, maybe Judas wasn’t the best example . . .

        Joseph Smith met Christ during his mortal life, but that didn’t mean he then at that time had eternal life. (For one, he was still mortal.)

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      • Eric
        Thank you for the response. I like the Judas example.
        McKay

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  4. I agree, meeting Christ in this life is not the same as knowing Him in the full sense. If I could add some insights to this wonderful conversation. Alma spoke of the lesser and greater portions of the word. This explains the difference between testimony and conversion. So many saints think that a testimony of the truth is enough to save them when conversion is the key to exaltation. The difference between the called and the chosen.

    Alma 12:10,11
    “And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; 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.
    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; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.”

    The lesser portion of the word and the greater portion of the word together constitute the fulness of the gospel.

    The Lesser portion of the word
    —————————————-Testimony
    Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
    Repentance
    Baptism
    Gift of the Holy Ghost
    Melchizedek Priesthood
    Washing and Anointing
    Endowment
    Temple Marriage

    The Greater portion of the word
    —————————————Conversion
    Purification
    Baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost
    (This cleanses us of all sin and we no longer desire to sin at all.)
    Born Again (No longer struggling to overcome the natural man. Spiritually begotten sons and daughters unto Christ. Mosiah 27:25,26)
    Fulness of the Priesthood By God’s own voice (Helaman 10 D&C 50:26-30 JST Gen:14:28-31)
    Personally know Christ face to face (D&C 93:1)
    Sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise (The Holy Ghost fills your entire soul and the Father tells you that you are going to be exalted)
    Calling and election made sure
    Sanctification (and by the blood (of Christ) ye are sanctified) Truly becoming a saint.
    Church of the Firstborn (Lds members who are prepared for exaltation and those who are already exalted are members of this church)
    Possible translation

    The above events can happen in any order that the Lord chooses them to happen. These could be even years apart from each other. Testimony gets one through the temple where promises of becoming converted are made. The events of conversion take place as the blessings of the promises made in the temple become realty in this life. When we are washed and are promised to become clean in the initiatory session of the temple, it becomes fulfilled when the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost make those promises reality in this life. “And by the Spirit ye are purified.” This conversion events are what the Book of Mormon tells us we need in this life. Believing that these scared events can happen is what will lift the condemnation that we are all under. We lift the curse individually as we become converted and reap the great blessings that conversion brings. Thank you.

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    • I love your statement that “events can happen in any order that the Lord chooses them to happen.”

      The ladders, steps, etc. are all simply human constructs to try to break up the unfathomable into finite pieces comprehensible to our limited minds. The works of the Lord transcend any type of artificial “order” we mentally impose on things.

      (. . . And because of that, for one example, people don’t need to worry about whether or not the second anointing is available to them in this life.)

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      • I agree. More and more the brethren are trying to get us to see these events in our lives. But do we really believe them? Hopefully enough of the saints will seek and find these promises true in their lives, us included. Thanks.

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  5. I just found this blog + excited to go thru it. I have an interest in those NDE books, but also clicked this link on to see what it had to say. I understand much of what you speak of but being so far below the first rung on the ladder, stinks….I may not even be to the ladder yet. I have a long + sad story + really I hope is through grace + mercy to be saved and not totally cast out. To obtain a Celestial Glory for me would be an impossibility. I have no idea why I choose to come here to this life + have this mortal experience. Granted much of my life is choice driven…and I have reaped what I have sown. I dont know if I will be forgiven or ever have a great life or even be happy…but I have a little hope of being rebaptised again. its small but it will take a miracle. Ik hope to gain some insight + knowledge from this site….also some hope

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    • Hi Army Green. Thanks for your comments. Hope is a wonderful thing. The more we pray for it, the more willing the Lord is to help us find it. I hope you do find your way back to being baptized. We all rely on the mercy and grace of the Savior. Otherwise, we would all be cast out. Miracles are real. Given sufficient time and energy, we can convince the Lord we want that miracle and he will grant it. We just have to prove to him that we are willing to do whatever he asks and to sacrifice what the spirits tells us to sacrifice – our pride, our vain ambition, our fears, our worldly ways, anything that stands in the way of coming unto Christ. God bless you in your efforts to do so. I hope what I have written on these pages will help in some small way. Please feel free to email me with any private questions you may have: tmalonemcse at gmail.com. – Tim Malone

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    • A General Authority visited my former stake and acknowledged that (under certain circumstances, I’m sure) even murderers have been allowed to be baptized.

      There’s always hope.

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  6. Tim + Eric, thanks for the nice words! I keep plugging away! There’s a ton of info on this site…I’m over whelmed..lol. I will get thru it slowly….
    I do have a little hope, it has taken a while…I need to keep praying + scripture reading. For some people this isn’t a big deal, but for some one that’s been in my place, wowzers…a tough thing indeed! But persistence I’ve heard is another word for “faith” that part I can understand. I will be in touch and post a few comments here and there, once I get thru the pages..lol

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    • Hey Army Green. I’m glad you found my site and are finding some value from it. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you but it’s helpful for any new reader here. Please remember that all these essays are my own opinions and do not represent official church doctrine. They are more of a journal of my spiritual discovery as I go through this life. I write about some controversial stuff. You’ll also find some junk on here that is barely related to religion – essays that I wrote for some college philosophy and literature classes. We all need to keep praying and reading the scriptures every day. You’re right it can be a tough habit to get into if it’s not something you have been doing for a long time. Satan is obviously opposed to any light that you gain. If there’s ever anything you want to discuss just leave a comment or shoot me an email for an offline chat.

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      • Tim, Right on. I understand that from reading other lds members books…Im 36 (male) so I have a pretty good grip on what I think or have understanding about. However there is still an infinite amount of possibilities which is what makes some learning so fun and exciting…I know that the lds standard works, or literature is only going to get you so far, and then if you want an advanced knowledge or getting more you will have to read and dig more then what you’re fed via church for 3 hours……….what amazes me, as being a person ex’d and seeing from the outside-inn…the amount of people whose scriptures are still shinning and new! The gold isn’t worn off the pages yet…Im like, “Wow….you ever touch those things?” lol…But some of the ideas and things I have discovered via reading, people in the church have no idea about or have gave no thought too…or even care…some of its simple really…sew ya…I appreciate the offer to contact via email….if i send a message you will recognize my address pretty quick…lol….but I look forward to reading some more..Theres alot to read!!!!

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